Survivor Recap
Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 27, 2010

It's his (almost) naked mugshot.

Previously on Survivor, Wendy started talking at Tribal Council and then never shut up. The editing makes it look like Holly betrayed her, but we’re pretty sure Wendy’s oft-mentioned husband would have voted her out if he were part of the group. Generally speaking, the first person voted off the show is only memorable if they are named Dolly the Sheep Farmer, but this time, a goat farmer made herself stand out by being possibly the most annoying Survivor in history.

Also, Jimmy Johnson was there.

Over at the Espada (old people tribe), we’re realizing that Survivor has packed this group full of Type-A personalities. You’ve got Jimmy Johnson (of course), but the rest of the group includes Marty (a tech executive, formerly of Yahoo!), Jimmy T. (a rowing champion), Dan (a real estate magnate), Jill (an ER doctor), Holly (a swim coach) and Tyrone (a fire captain and triathlon “hobbyist”). At this stage of the game, someone is usually picked to lead, but no one really wants to emerge in that position. This time around, there are more chefs than servers, and you can see this when it rankles Jimmy T. as Jimmy Johnson takes control. Thing is, there’s no one who’s a more proven leader than Jimmy Johnson – perhaps other than Colin Powell.

On the other hand, Marty decides that he’ll sit back and let Jimmy Johnson take charge, because it puts the former football coach at the forefront of people’s minds as the culprit if things go badly.

Over at La Flor, Sash is talking with NaOnka and he’s telling her that he wants to create a “minority majority.” He states that he is “half black” and wants to form an alliance with NaOnka and Brenda, “the Asian sensation.” For her part, NaOnka just seems to be pissed that no guys are paying attention to her except for Sash. Also, she doesn’t like that girl with no leg. What if it falls off and stuff? There have been two episodes, and she’s brought this up twice…that we’ve seen.

We learn something about Espada’s Holly in the next segment. She’s not a fan of escargot. In fact, what happens over the next several minutes makes us reconsider Wendy being the craziest person in their two-person alliance. Based on the limited information we have, she watches Jill eat some snails and somehow determines during this time that they are inedible. Obviously, a swim coach would know better than a medical doctor what is good to eat and what is not. When Jill offers Holly some snails, the swim coach loses her mind, takes the pot and walks away to dump it, leaving her tribemates dumbfounded. We mean this literally. Jimmy T. yells after her, “Are you losing it? Are you having a meltdown?” No; in fact, it’s only just begun.

The snail incident is revealed to the rest of the Espada tribe, who bemoan the loss of the protein after agreeing that they’re healthy. The last person to chime in about her odd behavior is Dan, who has been quiet and innocuous thus far. Holly overhears him, however, and he becomes her current object of her obsession…though we’re guessing not the first this week.

What is her reaction? As promised in the previews, she fills Dan’s shoes with sand and throws them in the water. “The New York City boy, Danny, he doesn’t like sand on him. So, let’s just fill his shoes up, and then, put them somewhere…make sure they’re tied. Take them up here.”

No, we don’t know why it’s important that the sand-filled shoes be tied.

She then makes an even more ominous comment (hard to believe, hard to believe, we know). “I’m not going to sit back anymore and let them rub things in my face. I’ve been too nice up to this point, but the game has just begun.”

When we first researched Holly for this season, we prepared a ton of Sue Sylvester in Glee jokes. We don’t think she’s going to be around long enough for us to use many of them, though. This segment is as hard to watch as the Tribal Council episode last week. There’s a difference between a reality show freak out and legitimate creepiness.

Seriously, Espada tribe. You might want to sleep with one eye open.

It’s not long before Dan wonders where his $1600 shoes are. You don’t have to be Batman to figure out it was Holly, given the way she acts. Even so, she decides to go ahead and tell the group what she did. She puts her hands on Dan’s knees, leans in (stranger danger!) and makes her pronouncement. This all unfolds in just a matter of ten seconds.

“She stole my shoes. She stole my shoes! She stole ‘em! I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and if she were a guy, I would have knocked her right out.” -- Dan

“It’s a good thing that the team knows that.” -- Jill

As for Tyrone, he reinforces our earlier assessment about sleeping with one eye open. “Holly keeps getting stranger and stranger, and every time she speaks it becomes more evident that she’s crazy. So I’m gonna keep one eye on her, and one eye on my shoes,” he says.

NaOnka is really going to have to work to keep up with this kind of crazy. If she’s going to keep up with Holly, she’s going to have to take Kelly B.’s prosthetic leg and beat her up with it.

Oh, hey. We’ve just switched to NaOnka. Let’s see what she does.

“Who move my sock? Who took it out of my shoe?” NaOnka asks. Oh our gosh! Holly has struck again! How did she get over to the La Flor island without anyone seeing her?

Of course, since NaOnka just sees some socks sitting there, she figures she can take them and wear them. Because they’re Fabio’s, this doesn’t sit well with him. He’s all, “Dude…not cool.” He tries to talk to her about it, but she pretty much yells at him until he shuts up.

“I don’t want people to think I’m, like, a B-I-T-C-H, but the boy is stupid.”

Right on cue, Fabio (aka Jud) sticks his face in the fire. Just think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen your pet – say a cat or a dog – stick its face in a fire? (If you have, we’re sorry for your loss.) We predict that Fabio’s method of elimination from the show will very to Mike Skupin from Survivor: The Australian Outback.

Over at Espada, Holly talks to Jimmy Johnson about her personal conduct and how it might affect her in the future. At this point, we remember that there was a time when Jimmy Johnson had to coach Michael Irvin. Basically, what he says to her boils down to “Holly, I was going to use you as a weak member of my alliance, but I’ve met you now so I’m reconsidering. I once had a player busted for cocaine possession at his 30th birthday party, but you’re still too crazy and boneheaded for me. In the meantime, I will be nice to you while I plot your elimination.”

We are 21 minutes in, and we’ve only just now had our first Probst sighting. We’ll only see one challenge (Immunity and Reward are rolled together) this week thanks to all the crazy the editing crew has had to sift through.

The challenge has the teams crawling through a pile of mud to some straw, where they will have to dig to find four balls. Once they have all four balls, a relay team of tribe members will toss the ball across to each other until they get it in a goal basket. Probst asks the senior citizens if they will use their Medallion of Power, which will give them the opportunity to start with one of their four balls already in the basket, as well as allowing them to sit a theoretically weak player. Espada uses the Medallion, which seems like the right thing to do.

What’s great about this challenge is that it is in fact breaking from the typical ones the show has been doing lately. There is no puzzle at the end (yay!). The challenge itself begins surprisingly, as Jimmy Johnson gives Espada an early lead by besting Brenda straight up in their duel. Since the older tribe started with a one ball advantage, they’re left with only having to complete two legs, while the younger group has slightly more than three.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Kelly B., who NaOnka hates for only having one real leg, absolutely kills it in this challenge, pushing herself through the mud incredibly quickly and digging through the straw with ease. Meanwhile, NaOnka is the player who got to sit out for La Flor (Espada chose to sit Dan as their weak link).

Partially thanks to Kelly B.’s dominant run and an impressive effort from Alina, the younger tribe has their four balls first. They get a ball in their barrel before the folks from Espada get to the mat with their three balls. Even so, Benry has some trouble getting other balls in the goal, while Tyrone and Co. have one drop, but get all of their balls in their barrel with relative ease. With their one-ball advantage (that just sounds weird), they win the challenge, taking home Immunity and Reward. They are allowed to choose between taking a tarp or fishing gear, and they immediately go with the fishing gear (have we mentioned that Jimmy Johnson is a deep sea fisherman, too? Because he is).

Holly is happy that they won, because she knows full well that she would voted out tonight if they hadn’t been. Jimmy Johnson says, “Everyone’s got their fingers crossed that she’ll get back on the page, but my past experience with individuals that have had setbacks like that [Michael Irvin], it’s easier to have the second setback [Michael Irvin, who has had many, many setbacks].” Don’t worry, Holly. If it keeps on going poorly, Jerry Jones will just have Jimmy Johnson fired and hire Barry Switzer to coach you.

Along with their fishing gear, the Espada tribe gets the clue for the hidden immunity idol, let’s just say that Jill figures out the clue a lot faster than, oh, say the ladies from La Flor last week. To their credit, all of the members of this group are pretty calm, and Jill eventually shares her info with Marty and Dan. The three of them start looking around, and after a few moments, she steps on the idol and she and Marty dig it up.

“The idol, Jill, we got it! I’ve got the idol, baby! I’ve got the first…we’ve got the first idol!” -- Marty

(Marty is one of those managers who takes credit for his employees’ work, isn’t he?)

Over at La Flor, the contestants are figuring out who needs to be voted out tonight. Kelly B. and Alina, think it needs to Brenda, because she’s prettier than they are and Chase likes her. Fabio thinks it should be NaOnka, because she stole his socks. Let’s cut to Shannon, and his wisdom about who should go.

“Chase is constantly going off to Brenda all the time. I mean, I don’t know if he’s getting blinded by a woman…”

He points out to Benry and Chase that if the girls to band together along with Sash (who he apparently also considers to be a girl), they’ll have, like, a chick majority and stuff. That can’t stand. Shannon thinks we should go back to the days when women couldn’t vote. Then, their opinion in Tribal Council wouldn’t matter. He so wishes he could live in the Victorian era.

NaOnka notices that Shannon is talking to all of the La Flor tribe members. Although she hates Fabio (because he’s upset that she stole his socks), she recognizes that Shannon is wheeling and dealing, and therefore a bigger threat. She sets out to make him a target. Little does she realize that Shannon is perfectly capable of doing that himself.

If you thought last week’s Tribal Council was a doozy, it’s a drop in the water compared to this week. A couple of days ago, Kelly B. was the clear target of the La Flor tribe, mainly because they see her as a huge threat for the million bucks if she can go a ways in the game due to her handicap. However, all she needed to do for this vote is keep her head down and let other people speak up and make themselves a target.

Remember how we said that Shannon would talk his way out of the game just a paragraph or two ago? We were speaking in theoreticals then. Now, there is tangible evidence.

Probst’s first question seems innocuous enough. He asks Shannon whether the difficulty of Survivor has surprised him. This has the same effect as lighting 100,000 bottle rockets at once. He discusses camping, and his fellow competitors, especially the ones who like girls more than boys. He makes a thinly disguised attack on Chase, who immediately recognizes and says, “He’s talking about me.” This is the closest thing we have to levity in the whole episode.

Shannon rants some more, at which point Fabio raises his hand and asks for the floor. He tries to settle Shannon down, giving him some surprisingly good advice about playing the social game better. Shannon’s not having any of it, though. He’s pissed at Chase and wants everyone to pick sides, preferably his.

Sash sagely tells Shannon, “You’re digging your own grave.” What is Shannon’s reply?

“I’m just going to get this out of the way right now. Are you gay?”

This might be the most uncomfortable moment in Survivor history. Sash scoffs dismissively. Benry wishes he could crawl into a hole. Fabio says, “Fuck.” Even NaOnka thinks Shannon has gone too far. That’s right. NaOnka.

An argument ensues about which one of them has slept with more women (since Shannon is only 30, his wife of 11 years probably should be concerned by this). Shannon’s counter is, effectively, that Sash’s hometown New York City is full of “teh gay.” Even if we understood the point of this, we still don’t understand why he’d be bringing it up. After all, his entire Survivor strategy seems to be built on allying with men who choose men over women. If Sash is gay (and he has said many times that he is a ladies man), he’s a perfect compatriot.

The rest of Tribal Council is a foregone conclusion. Whereas Wendy had waited until after Probst had called for a vote to make the speech that slit her own throat, Shannon has already gotten it out of the way right at the start. The only aspect of the vote that intrigues us is whether his assumed allies, Alina, Benry and Fabio (Jud), still vote as previously planned. Or, will they punish Shannon for his John Rocker impersonation?

Poor Jud doesn’t know what to do and is very funny about it. “I guess this is still our game plan? I don’t really know.” He’s not really voting with Shannon so much as sticking with his other allies.

Benry, on the other hand, can’t wait to vote Shannon out. He doesn’t even hesitate.

The only disappointment is that Alina remains so riddled with insecurity about Brenda that she cannot do the right thing. For all our criticism of NaOnka, she recognized that targeting a player simply because she dislikes them is a zero sum game. That’s right, Alina. NaOnka has more Survivor savvy than you thus far. It sucks that you didn’t always get invited to the spring formal by that cute boy you liked, but you’re a grownup now and it’s time to let it go. Brenda’s not getting uglier any time soon…unlike Shannon, who gets uglier every time he opens his mouth.