After Troyzan was voted off last week, I heard some griping about the fact that there were no men left on Survivor: One World save for ol’ Tarz. I get that. I also find it less interesting to watch a group of same-gendered people on a survival game show, because the more diversity you throw at a social experiment, the better — plus, the women’s established alliance was making the elimination order too predictable. Thirty days into the game, Tarzan’s starting to seem like a great person to keep around as long as possible, resembling the sweeping dog from Alice in Wonderland and not exactly killing it in challenges. It’s probably not going to happen, but it makes you wonder if Tarzan could actually deliver an impressive case before the jury. He probably has a crazy backstory, and given the chance he might be able to rope in some of his wild ponies of verbiage and trot them out for the final tribal like a manipulative professional.
Anyway, it’s been a month, and everyone is pleased that Troyzan has left the building. Alicia, who thinks she has the most power in the game (as does Kat — neither of them is correct), meditates on the threat level of Sabrina (which, because she’s well-spoken and a lot smarter than Christina and Kat, is pretty high). Tree mail arrives in the form of a box with the Sprint logo on it, and while people get all jazzed about watching their “video mail,” the editors of Survivor put us through what seems like kind of a lot of shots of people squealing about Sprint like it was a box of doughnuts. Not that Survivor’s product placement people ever had any shame, but this is getting ridiculous. Everybody gets to watch a message from his or her loved one, and the tropical reeds and familiar sand tips us off to the fact that the family members and friends and weird cousins named Robby are all on! The! Island!!! Tarzan and his wife (a 30-year marriage, no children, soul mates happily trapped in a “quantum entanglement”) and Christina and her dad (he had a kidney transplant, probably will only live for 10 more years, gut-wrenching and honestly very affecting sobs from Christina) are this season’s please-just-let-them-hang-out-for-a-while-God-it’s-all-so-sad castaways, so everyone’s rooting for them to win the reward challenge, which is a picnic with their visitor.
Today’s challenge involves the survivors and their guests being tethered together with rope and unwinding themselves from a series of poles to reach the rope’s end. I’ve seen more riveting things in my life, I guess. Kim, with her sister Beth, and Kat, with her cousin Robby (she lives with him, works with him, and crawls through the sand at him when she first spots him — I find it hard not to go to a Flowers in the Attic place, but I know that that’s probably reading too much into their dynamic) pull into the final stretch, but Kat wins and chooses Kim and Alicia to join her with their loved ones on the picnic. Her reasoning: There will be margaritas at this picnic, and Kat can’t wait to kick back and get waaaaaaasted with her best friends forever (who neglected to take her on the reward they won last week). The excluded castaways look heartbroken as Kat rambles on selfishly about margaritas and friendship bracelets and things, and suddenly it seems as though Sabrina might be spared her trip to jurytown this week.
Among some “What’s the dizzle?” from cousin Robby and burps from Kat at the sleepover-funtime picnic, Kat sounds off about how sure she is she’s in the final three with Kim and Alicia. Kim confides to her sister Beth that she knows she can take down Alicia and Kat if they were the final three, and she’s right: Alicia runs her mouth (remember when she was Colton’s sidekick?) and Kat just denied a lady whose dad is on the decline and a man whose wife is his soul mate an opportunity to have a picnic with them. Back at camp, the unmated soul Tarzan wonders aloud, “Maybe if I begged she would have taken me,” giving everyone the saddest grandpa feelings ever. They’re pissed, pissed at selfish, stupid Kat, and they want her gone (though Tarzan himself argues that she’s so dumb, they might as well get rid of someone more threatening this time around). Chelsea was spooked by Troyzan’s parting whispered “Do it” to Kat at last week’s tribal, and tries to get Kim onboard with voting Kat out after Kim returns from the reward. Kim’s torn: She doesn’t want to go against Sabrina, a nice upstanding person and an early alliance of hers, but at the same time is worried that she has less of a shot of winning against Sabrina, who was pretty open about the fact that she would have shared the reward with Tarzan and Christina (and is not a terrible person).
For immunity this week, everybody stands on a ledge while holding a handle attached to a rope behind their backs. Probst unwinds the rope in increments, lowering the perched castaways toward the water, and the last one standing wins. After 10 minutes, Sabrina gives up (maybe strategically, sensing that she was being perceived as a threat?), followed by Tarzan, Alicia, and Chelsea. Christina is next, so after more than an hour it’s Kim versus Kat again. Kat tries to whine Kim off the ledge by letting her know that she’d really, really like to win this time. Kim doesn’t bite, and Kat crashes into the water, crying and refusing to high-five the victor and generally being a poor loser asshole about things. Everyone notices this, naturally, and Kat makes little effort to smooth things over, complaining to the camera that she’s humiliated to have been bested by an ancient 28-year-old. She also indulges in some fate-tempting: “Sabrina has no idea her ass is on the line, that’s why a blindside is so great!” Moments later, there's a shot of flies eating a makeshift trash can full of crab bits — the implication is that Kat's festering wickedness and immaturity are grossing her fellow castaways out the door. (Some cinema studies for your term paper.) Kim and Tarzan appear to be the swing votes, since Chelsea’s made it pretty clear who she wants ousted, and Kim delivers instructions to Tarzan as to how to vote. He says, “Yes, boss lady.” Now Tarzan is becoming charming — this game, with its twisty turns.
Troy joins the jury at tribal looking totally bananas and very crabby about his place on the bench. He’s wearing what I think might be palazzo pants. Jeff asks Kat about choosing her buddies for the reward challenge, and Kat mentions that her feelings were hurt, somehow, by either the reception of her decision or the act itself of making the decision of whom to take (which, she insists, wasn’t strategic — yes, of course it wasn’t strategic, because it would have been a terrible strategy). Sabrina suggests that Kat will end up regretting her decision, and Kat pouts about the fact that tribal council is becoming all about her. Tribal continues to be all about Kat: her youthful naivete, her lousy sportsmanship, and what being 22 means in general (stupid decisions driven by lust for margaritas, eye rolling, etc.). The conversation then turns, as it usually does, to blindsides. Kat delivers the hypothesis that blindsides are always “fun and exciting” because they are either “cool beans” or “touché.” I would love to hear more of Kat and Robby’s conversational badminton game: Between all the "dizzles" and "cool beans," it’s like a high school play based on a Smash Mouth song. But guess what turns out not to be fun and exciting? When Kat is sent home with six votes, she bursts into tears on the loser’s walk and continues to blubber in her exit scene during the credits, worrying that she’ll be called the most naive player ever and promising to beg Jeff Probst to invite her back to play again and redeem herself. Yikes. Maybe for Survivor: Mall Island (which I would watch, obviously).
Next week! A black-and-white milkshake of Tarzans: There he is being weird and blooper-reely, but then the next minute he’s all slick-haired and serious, “But I want to win the game!” Which Tarzan is the real Tarzan? Did re-entangling with his wife somehow inspire Tarzan to start busting out some strategic moves? How would he defend the poop-pants incident to a jury? And if nobody says “the game is afoot,” has the game become something else, like a taco? In the Jeff Probst appreciation zone, the masses are clamoring for Jeff to compete on the show, which would be a great idea other than the fact that it would be horrible to see someone try to fill his hosting shoes. What if the job somehow fell to Mark L. Walberg, the man who looks like a Sim of himself and who has been forever tarnished by his association with smutty Temptation Island? It would tarnish Survivor irreparably.