One time, when my husband and I were walking past a Circus of Books, a rough-looking guy outside asked us for a dollar. Neither of us had a dollar, so we said, “Sorry,” and kept walking. The guy got up and very frantically said, “Come on, man, I need it! I really need it!” Unfortunately, we still didn’t have a dollar, and because he was shouting he scared off other people who might have. Sometimes logic or a sound argument, when shouted, works against, rather than for, a person. Such was the case, this week, with Troyzan.
With Jay voted off last week, Troyzan begins the episode in a state of heightened anxiety, knowing he’s next on the block: He misdirects this desperation at Christina, shouting at her and Alicia (who didn’t even vote for him). He struts out a lot of his own unflattering psychology in the third person — “This is just Troyzan versus everybody else!” — and continues his hard-headed, antisocial scrambling the following morning, cornering Chelsea and firing off a few rounds of “I deserve to be here.” This kind of logic is tricky, because Survivor winners are rarely decided on the basis of merit and how well they can make monkeys eat pieces of fruit off their heads; far more frequently, the winner of Survivor is the kind of person who can sweet-talk and manipulate their way out of situations like the one Troyzan has found himself in. Chelsea reminds Troyzan that this is, after all, a social game: He has to be likable to win. She also brings up Jonas, with whom everyone was sad to part, and tells Troyzan to take his fate like a man. Troyzan, in a private moment with the camera, takes this little morsel of sexism and makes it into a big bowl of ugly gruel: Isn’t it just like women to take your house, your food, your things, and then dump you out on some dusty highway, sad and alone and without an alliance? What? It has been previously mentioned that Troyzan wants to win very badly, but now it’s clear that what was meant by “very badly” was “at the expense of appearing like a sane person.”
Tree mail arrives with envelopes of $500 for each of the contestants, meaning that it’s Survivor auction time. I love the auctions, and not just because people routinely spill their purchases all over the castaways sitting in front of them. This time, there’s no pooling of funds or sharing of winnings, probably to make the game straightforward enough for poor Kat, who loses the hang of bidding in $20 increments and nearly has a heart attack when she discovers that the BLT she won contains bacon. Chelsea gets three doughnuts and an iced coffee for $160, Sabrina blows $400 on chips, dip, and a margarita, and Leif forsakes glamor for functionality by dropping some funds on a protein shake and a couple of tiny bruised bananas. Kim buys herself one of those awkward showers that happens about a foot over from the bench where the other tribe members sit, everybody whistling and heckling as she tried to focus on brushing her teeth, for $40. I would pay $40 not to do that. Kim immediately follows her shower with the purchase of another item: a very large bowl of peanut butter with sticks of chocolate for dunking, just to kill some of the pain. Alicia spends her entire $500 on a letter from home, in this case from her father, which makes everybody cry and prompts Tarzan to shell out the $500 he was planning on squirreling away to fix his Jeep for his letter, which he doesn’t share with the group. For whatever reason, this makes Tarzan infinitely more likable and everyone is seeming very misty and united until Troyzan reveals that he’s moved not only because of the Letters from Home Effect but also (and maybe mostly) because he is so, so alone in this game. He then spends $420 on an advantage at the next challenge, outbidding Christina (who was encouraged to bid by the other women, who’d squandered their fortunes on snacks) and sending him past Round 1 of the upcoming challenge, upping his odds of winning immunity. Kat bids on a cake that everyone has 60 seconds to share, eating with their hands like pigs with hands might do.
Troyzan decides to supplement his challenge advantage with a hunt for the maybe-replaced hidden immunity idol, since his was flushed last week. He doesn’t bother to be subtle, so everyone gets paranoid and halfheartedly turns over a few rocks while eyeing Troyzan. Troy fakes that he’s discovered the idol, tearing off some cloth and making a big production out of stuffing his pocket with it. Nobody is entirely convinced, but it’s enough to get them thinking. The immunity challenge is a three-round leftovers plate: Untie the rope knots to find the ring, bounce a coconut off a trampoline into targets, and finally the coconut slingshot tic-tac-toe game. Is it rocket science, thinking up new games? We couldn’t just throw some kind of charades or Pictionary element at these people, just to keep things exciting? Troy skips Round 1 and is joined at the coconut trampolines by Tarzan (surprise!), Kim, and Chelsea. Tarzan and Troyzan duke it out in the final heat, with Troyzan snatching immunity and then parading back and forth in front of the losers, hooting about how he’s turning his efforts up to 11 and nobody fucks with Troyzan.
Tarzan is beginning to look like he should audition for The Bachelor next to Troyzan. His dance card is comparatively full. Later he gives Troyzan a little advice about handling himself with nobility — yes, the guy who flung his disgusting underpants into the communal laundry pot, the guy who freely chats about other people’s breast implants — to which Troy responds that he’s just a competitive guy, and it’s too late for him to pretend to be a charming person with self-control and a nice shiny veneer. Chelsea and Kim, faced with the possibility of Troyzan having two immunity idols but knowing he has at least one, discuss whether to vote off a woman (likely Alicia or Christina) or one of the men (Leif or Tarzan) and wind up deciding that they’d go with a guy because they don’t want to freak out the ladies. Leif and Tarzan, knowing that they might be in trouble, share some time in the ocean as Tarzan tenderly washes the warpaint off Leif’s face. It’s creepy, but not too. Those letters from home really get everybody in touch. Troyzan has figured out a good pitch to try to shake things up before tribal council: If he, Tarzan, Leif, Alicia, and Christina got together, they could take out Kim and then dismantle the women’s alliance and take each other to the final five. It’s not a bad scenario, but Troyzan has made himself seem so ickily driven and barren of any kind of social thermometer that he just kind of alienates everyone with his suggestions.
At tribal, Troyzan and Sabrina get into it pretty heavy, with Sabrina criticizing Troy’s overzealous behavior and Troy raising his voice and calling Sabrina “Mrs. Truth” in a way that does nothing to revive his credibility. Troyzan lays out the plan again: It’s simple mathematics! It’s not going to benefit Troyzan, but Alicia and Christina, to get rid of Kim! Chelsea and Kim remain calm, using Swiss cheese logic that Alicia and Christina won’t necessarily be the first girls voted out and that Troy has to win all of the immunity challenges for his plans to work. If tone of voice and appearance of sanity were not an issue, Troyzan would have molded the game just the way he wanted at this tribal council. But he was just freaking everybody out with his “I need it, man, I really need it”s. The votes are four Leif, three Tarzan, and two Kim. After spending like $100 on a Carnation Instant Breakfast and baby bananas, Leif is sent away to Jury Island to think about what he’s done.
Next week! Kat is crying, potentially feuding with Kim, and Troyzan “moves in for the kill” by telling her to wake up and pushing a hard sell at her. If he had any sense, he’d be caramelizing coconut to accompany his pleas. That’s what Jonas would have done. Man, I miss that guy. I have to admit that I’m psyched that Kat’s still in the game — it’ll be fun to see what kind of strategy she pulls as things progress and allegiances become less obvious and sturdy. Could she be the dark horse? Or is she more like this horse?