Sometimes Survivor is all shock and sizzle, but sometimes things just go exactly the way you expect. This episode was one of those.
First up is the Redemption Duel: Semhar vs. Christine. The order of the day is balancing a wooden statue on top of a long, thin pole. Semhar psyched herself up for the challenge with some freestyle poetry about taking off her clothes and giving birth without any drugs. This went on longer than you can possibly imagine. Even Coach rolled his eyes at one point. It’s abundantly clear that whatever Semhar is searching for, she’s not going to find it on Survivor. Christine sends her home handily, sparing us all a season’s worth of awkward feminist poetry.
Upolu’s pre-challenge kerfuffel is all about Brandon. He did what he could to square his whole “I hate Mikayla” thing with Jesus, natch, but didn’t think to try and square it with Mikayla. She gathered up what ‘tude she could muster and raised the subject with her, to which he responded by getting angry, dragging her in front of the rest of the tribe, and gloating about how he’s got an alliance and she doesn’t.
So sayeth the Lord, “Neener neener, neener!”
I made fun of Matt quite a bit last season because it strikes me as so silly that someone would go on Survivor and drag Christ along with them. Matt drew strength from his faith, though, and applied that strength to the game in every single challenge. Brandon, on the other hand, seems to spend most of his time apologizing to Jesus for being an absolute ass. Something’s plugged into the wrong socket, here.
Brandon does his penance by taking off his shirt and letting the rest of Upolu in on his Hantz-iness. I’m not really sure what this accomplished, other than fulfilling some personal drive to punish himself for sinning. Two more episodes and he’ll be scourging himself with a whip made out of palm fronds. If his fervid desire to please the Lord gets any stronger, the girls on Upolu aren’t going to have to worry so much about getting voted off as which one of them Brandon’s going to drag up to the volcano in an act of sacrifice.
Meanwhile, the Survivor editors cursed under their breath as exactly enough interesting gameplay happened over on Savaii that they had to awkwardly snip in thirty seconds worth of red tribe footage. Ozzy tells Keith about his immunity idol, and then (unbeknownst to Ozzy) Keith turns around and tells Whitney.
The immunity/reward challenge was the swimming/athletic/puzzle hodgepodge that always populates the early season. It’s neck and neck for a while, but Upolu pulled ahead thanks to Coach’s uncommon skill at the grappling hook. They get coffee and tea and stuff too, which made the girls giggle a bit but won’t actually have any impact on the game.
There was no scrambling back at Savaii. Everyone knows it’s either Papa Bear or Cochran. Neither of them does any scrambling. Papa Bear makes himself a really pathetic-looking fake idol, but that plan is doomed to failure for obvious reasons.
Tribal council was predictable, but my finely-honed Jim-sense tingled at one point. Dawn dodged a question about being on the outs (which she is) by saying that relationships in the tribe were shifting every day. Nice safe non-answer floated by an underdog who knows she’s not in immediate trouble. Fair enough. Papa Bear followed that up by challenging her, and pointing out that she is on the outs, and that she should just admit it. Which is the unpopular truth.
Jim immediately calls Papa Bear on the ploy, insisting Papa Bear is just trying to stir things up at the last moment. And, by the way, he thinks there’s a lot of truth to what Dawn said about shifting, or whatever. Papa Bear cut Jim off, but the jab was already delivered: Dawn got the reassurance she was seeking, and Papa Bear looked every bit the desperate, scrambling big lug he was.
I don’t think Jim’s interjection had any effect on the game state, but I did notice it. It was the right thing to say, at the right time, and he said it in the right amount. I hope I’m not wasting my time keeping an eye on this guy.
Who’s gonna win? The Savaii alliance (Ozzy, Keith, Jim, Whitney, Elyse) is in control of their tribe, and I’m having great difficulty determining which of them (if any) is in control of their alliance. And of course it’s for nothing if Savaii turns out to be the weaker tribe. If they keep trading immunities like this, I think the red team is in a good position to work together after the merge and produce a winner. I hope it’s Jim, after a well-played game of not doing anything stupid.