Pre-credit sequence. Nobody can believe that Troyzan’s finally gone, though he’s left Kat struggling to make sense of his parting words, “Do it.” Kim is physically relieved by Troyzan’s departure. There’s also the question of how Christina ended up with that extra vote against her, leading to Alicia’s not-so-surprising realization that Christina really isn’t all that smart. Alicia has, in fact, decided that Sabrina is a bigger threat than Christina and she’s changed her priorities. “Little do they know that I’m at the top, controlling everything. I’m the most powerful player in this game,” Alicia has decided. My instinct would be to laugh and point, but weird things keep happening this season. Maybe she’s right?
Without Sprint, we would have no families. It’s morning on Day 31 and Tree-Mail is emblazoned with the word “Sprint,” which can only mean one thing: Aggressive product plug! Or, rather, visits from home. They have video-mail, courtesy of Sprint. Sabrina’s brother tells her that her absence is a void in everybody’s heart. “I never thought Sprint could be so good to me!” gushes Sabrina, who knows the way this game is played. Tears. Alicia has a pretty sister who’s super-proud of her. Tears! Chelsea’s dad says everybody at home is rooting for her. Tears!! Christina’s dad just got a kidney transplant. Tears!!! Kim’s sister is looking forward to spending time with her. Tears!!!! Kat’s got a cousin who she’s REALLY close with. Tears!!!!! Muscular Mark Twain’s wife calls him “Tweety” and he admits he doesn’t deserve her. Tears!!!!!! Sabrina respects Muscular Mark Twain’s 30-year marriage and she wants to give MMT and Mrs. MMT some quality time together and she hopes the other women will do the same.
Tears and hugs. Jeff Probst greets them at Reward. Family time! Kim’s sister sprints out. [See what I did there?] Tears and hugs! Kim’s father sprints out. Tears and hugs! Chelsea’s dad sprints out. Tears and hugs! “After 31 days of being the tough woman out here, I think what everyone is seeing out here is the little girl,” Probst says, half sweetly, all condescendingly. Sabrina’s brother sprints out to greet her. Tears and hugs! Alicia’s sister sprints out. Tears and hugs! Kat’s cousin sprints out and she crawls on her knees to him and then jumps into his arms and wraps her legs around them as the squeal and swear in a made-up cousin language. It’s utterly bizarre, but probably sweet. But definitely bizarre. Muscular Mark Twain gets on his knees and waits for his wife to sprint out. Tears and hugs! “We have a quantum entanglement,” Muscular Mark Twain explains. Awwww. She’s his constant.
LolKat. The Reward Challenge asks players to work their way through a line, tethered to the knotty rope. Want to know what they’re playing for? Family time, duh. Also? Lots of food. Twist! The loved ones will also be tied to the rope. They’re running the challenge together. Sabrina and her brother lag, as do Muscular Mark Twain and his wife. Meanwhile, Kim-n-Sis and Kat-n-Cuz push into the lead. It’s Kat and Robbie! They hug and wrestle enthusiastically as she yells, “I won one, guys!” Kat chooses Kim to join her on reward, showing there are no hard feelings from last week’s reward. Kat also chooses Alicia. She has a reason: She wants to party with Kim and Alicia and get drunk. No. Really. That’s her reason. Well, that beats the heck out of giving Christina time with her ailing father or letting the aging lovebirds be together. They also get to take a Sprint phone with them. Everybody else has to say farewell to their loved ones and live with the fact that they just weren’t as fun to get drunk with. Sabrina and Chelsea agree that Kat should have picked Christina and Muscular Mark Twain. Oh well. Kim’s going on reward, but she also knows she’s going to have to do damage control afterwards.
Let her eat cake. Kat and her drinking buddies arrive at a tropical resort. Kat’s still pumped. She acknowledges a possible mistake in picking, but Kat isn’t one to dwell. On anything. Kat observes, “I’ll just eat my cake, get drunk and go back to camp and deal with them later. “What’s the dizzle?” Robbie inquires, as a revisionist narrative is spun in which Kat and Alicia have been with Kim the whole time and they’re all the guardians of the game. “Do I believe this is the final three? Yes. Do I want to jinx it? No,” Kat says. Kim, meanwhile, goes aside and breaks down her strategy with her sister, explaining that the dizzle is that she thinks she can beat Kat and Alicia. They all use their Sprint phone to take pictures and videos.
Kat on a hot tin roof. Back at camp, there’s commiseration. Sabrina swears that she would have declined an invite in favor of Muscular Mark Twain, calling Kat “selfish.” Sabrina observes, “Kat is a bratty 22-year-old who doesn’t deserve to go to the end.” The target has shifted. Chelsea thinks that nobody wants to go to the end with Kat because of Troyzan’s parting words, worrying that her social game may be dangerous. After commercial, Kim and Chelsea parlay. Chelsea wants Kat out, but Kim wants to target Sabrina, because she’s smart and she could get Jury votes. Kim has decided that she isn’t going to feel safe without Immunity, so she’s planning on trying. Well, OK.
Drowned Kat. The Immunity Challenge offers players to lean forward off of a balancing beam, holding onto a bar behind their backs. It’s all about endurance. “All you have to do is hold on. That’s it,” Probst says. Sabrina is the first out. Alicia smiles broadly. Muscular Mark Twain goes out next. After 20 minutes, Alicia bails, robbing the cameraman of his favorite piece of cleavage-cam. Chelsea goes down next, followed by Christina, leaving only Kat and Kim. Hey! Kat and Kim! That’s a bit like that Australian show that NBC remade really badly a few years ago. Kat’s falling out of her top, twitching and whining. Kim isn’t moving. Kat goes down and we all sense that Kim could have gone for hours. Kat, crying in frustration, almost refuses to high-five Kim. Chelsea’s still sure Kat should go out next.
Kat’s in the cradle. Kat’s grumpy. “To lose to someone who’s 28-years-old,” Kat grumbles, pointing out that Kim is positively decrepit. Alicia and Kat are resolute that Sabrina should go next. “It’s amazing how we control the show,” struts Kat, whose cockiness is not all that endearing. It’s also not that well-earned. Alicia’s paranoia shifts in the wind and after watching Sabrina bomb out in the challenge and watching Kat show some measure of fortitude, Alicia has a new sense of danger coming from her bubbly chum. Alicia goes to Kim and proposes her new anti-Kat platform, which Kim isn’t liking at all. Kim’s point is that while Kat is sympathetic, Sabrina could actually sway jury votes. Chelsea, who keeps harping on Kat’s selfishness, is happy to have an ally in Alicia. Both Kim and Chelsea know that this next vote will be a blindside and it’ll change the progress of the game. I don’t think we saw enough to make me believe Kim isn’t going to get her way.
Tribal Council. Kat describes her Reward choice as the hardest she’s made in her life. Kat also says it hurts her feelings, because she doesn’t want to look at their sad faces. Probst goads Kat about why she brought Kim along after Kim dissed her, but Kat repeats her, “I just chose who I wanted to have a good time with” strategy. “I don’t think strategy had anything to do with it,” Sabrina says, warning that Kat will regret the decision. “I am 22 and I am a little naive,” Kat agrees. “That’s her way out every time she screws up,” Chelsea says. “22 is not that young,” Chelsea adds. “Is this whole Tribal Council about me?” Kat asks. Alicia praises Kat’s effort at the Immunity Challenge, but then she and Sabrina tear Kat to pieces for her post-challenge behavior with Kim. Sabrina warns everybody that she’s going to vote emotionally if she’s on the Jury. “If it is going to be a blindside, it’s going to be pretty funny and pretty exciting,” Kat says. “If it does, cool beans. If it doesn’t, touche,” Kat adds, regarding a possible blindside.
The vote. Kat writes Sabrina’s name down. Sabrina writes Kat’s name. Touche, as Kat would say. Probst tallies: Sabrina. Kat. Kat. Kat. Kat. You can see the innocence in Kat’s eyes die. It does not appear that she found that to be funny *or* exciting. She exits crying, the first woman to leave the game in a long, long time. “I’m proud of myself, but I just don’t believe it was my time to go,” Kat says. “I left before Christina and Tarzan,” she wails. “I’m gonna go down as the most naive person in the whole game. I’m going to beg Jeff to let me play again so that I can redeem myself.”
Bottom Line. Oh, Kat. I don’t know if she’s ever going to be viewed as the most naive player in “Survivor” history. Erik Reichenbach still probably gets that prize. But I think it’s easier to justify being a 22-year-old guy duped by a group of cute, eyelash-batting girls. And Erik’s previous performance in the “Micronesia” season, while hardly Mensa-level, was more “genially youthful” than “cluelessly naive.” Kat goes down in the latter category for sure. She won’t look at it this way, but she was lucky to make it as far as she did, since she was a hair away from being eliminated in the season’s first or second episode. But was eliminating Kat here the smart move or was it based on a variety of faulty premises? Alicia was needlessly impressed by Kat’s strength on one particular challenge. Kat’s been OK at challenges, but regardless of her alleged youthful strength, she’s also been a liability at other challenges. And Chelsea was needlessly bitter about Kat’s selfishness. If we’re being honest, didn’t Kat’s stupidity in failing to take Muscular Mark Twain and Christina on the Reward simply alienate two Jury members permanently? The entire premise that Kat’s social game would get her votes seemed to have been based on Troyzan’s whisper and not on any kind of relationships that we saw between Kat and anybody else on the Jury. I just personally think that if I’m Chelsea, I should be confident enough to know that if I’m standing next to Kat making my final statements, I’m going to be able to crush her. Kat remains exactly the person I would want to take with me to the end, while Sabrina or even Alicia, two people who might be able to assertively hold their ground, are bigger threats. I’d have kept Kat, personally. And with the current Jury composition, I don’t get casual willingness to keep Muscular Mark Twain around. I wouldn’t want to set up the possibility that sexism and sympathy might determine the million bucks.
Bottom Line, II. I wish we’d seen a little bit more of the process that led Kim to decide it’d be best to go along with the group and boot Kat, rather than Sabrina. Because of the editing, Kim ended up looking like a bit of a follower in this circumstance, which was a change in her overall narrative. She gets points, obviously, for making the adjustment when she knew the tide was going the other way, rather than being a straggling vote for Sabrina. While it was notable that Kim told her sister she was willing to go to a Final 3 without Chelsea, we’ve yet to see either one of them admit when it’s going to be the right time to turn on each other. That’s probably the piece I’m most interested in as we move into the last couple weeks of the season.
What’d you think of Thursday’s episode? Was the right choice made?