Survivor: One World Recap
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
March 8, 2012

I am so happy because we won the immunity challenge! Now, to smooth things over with Colton...

Previously on Survivor, the women finally showed some spine as they won their first two challenges of the season. One of them was more important than the other since it forced the men to eliminate one of their own. In a somewhat surprising development, previous tribe leader Matt was the first to go. Perceived as a threat by several members of the Misfits Alliance, Matt did himself no favors by alienating Troyzan further right before the vote.

Significantly, the four men without immunity idols in the power alliance all catered to Colton’s every whim, a disturbing development as we move forward. The only good news in this regard is that the tempestuous redneck wanted to vote Bill off the island rather than Matt. Ergo, Colton did not get everything he wanted last episode. He does have more power than anyone else in the game at the moment, though. A scenario similar to this is how Rome burned while Nero laughed uproariously.

Tonight’s episode begins with the MaNoNo tribe dealing with the ramifications of the vote. Michael makes several blanket statements, anyone of which would be deeply disturbing on its own. With the writing on the wall about his status in the game, he pulls no punches about "the old guys, the little guy, the gay guy who doesn’t work," etc. Humorously, Tarzan and Troyzan confer at the T-Zan stump regarding strategy. They wholly dismiss Michael as "periphery." In the short term, they are right.

Let’s summarize the current status of the MaNoNoNoNo tribe. There are eight players. Five of them joined one alliance while the three others were a part of an alliance led by Matt, whose absence is noteworthy. Jay has floated from alliance to the other but how much Team Madness aka Colton’s Cronies trusts him remains to be seen. This leaves Michael and Bill on the outside looking in.

The only thing Michael has going for him is that he isn’t African-American, something that clearly bothers Colton. We would not use such terms if we were not sure on the point. Colton’s use of “ghetto trash” last week had uncomfortable overtones as did several other comments. This is the least comfortable development on Survivor since NaOnka bullied a one-legged woman. And the previews for tonight have us concerned that the situation will depreciate further before people gang up on Colton and vote him out.

There are times when we question the authenticity of Survivor. The start of this season is a perfect example of why. After the women seemed incapable of even the most rudimentary tasks for the first week, they have found their sea legs just as the men fall apart. This is like in pro wrestling when the good guy beats up the bad guy for a while then the bad guy beats up the good guy for a while. You’ve seen Rocky III. You know the deal.

Monica, our favorite player on Salani thus far, states that she can sustain herself indefinitely. Why, there is a feast at camp. It is comprised of "coconut, snails and rice." Okay, nobody will win Top Chef with those ingredients, yet Monica believes the situation comes down to "mind over matter." We would go to war with Monica any day of the week. Unlike Kat and Alicia, she is a fighter.

The men, still bitter over losing the net and canoe at the previous reward challenge, arrive at the women’s camp. Jonas smoothly states that he is from Hawaii and this makes him an expert on nets. He makes this argument. We are not joking. The women are understandably nonplussed by the "Trust me, I’m Samoan" argument. What we take from this segment is that Jonas does not have much in the diplomatic skills arsenal. Of course, he stills comes across better than Troyzan, who dismisses the entire female gender as too emotional. We hope for his sake that he’s gay because no woman is ever going to sleep with him again.

Probst sighting!

There are three choices for the reward challenge. The players may select doughnuts and beverages, pillows and blankets, or a tarp. In order to make their choice, a team has to use slingshots to obliterate panels a set distance away. There is a Connect Four element to the game in that there is not a stated number of panels required to secure victory. Instead, a team must break five consecutive panels on the five by five grid.

Before they ever knock out a panel, the men are chanting “Doughnuts!” to one another. This strikes us as a short-sighted decision, but we never have to question it since the men get destroyed…destroyed like a panel being targeted by slingshot projectiles. In between awkward attempts to talk smack by Kat (“Smell that!” means what exactly? Smell the slingshot? The wooden paneling? Jeff Probst?), the women hit many targets. In fact, the victory is such a foregone conclusion that Kat does an impossibly awkward white girl dance one round prior to their victory. If we had a gun pointed to our heads and had to choose between Kat, Alicia and Colton, we’d take the bullet. Without question, we’d take the bullet.

The reward challenge victory signifies the third consecutive victory for the once hapless women. Not bad for a bunch of netting amateurs who aren’t from Hawaii. Before madness can take hold of the other women (i.e. Alicia and Kat), Monica firmly states that they should select the tarp. There is a brief huddle before Monica’s force of will prevails. The more Monica takes charge, the better the women do. This is not a coincidence.

The men tell themselves that the outcome was luck. In fact, a couple of the men say this in front of the women. Then, they return to MaOhNoYouDidn’t and continue to describe how they are dominating. One of them has the audacity to indicate that the situation is a tie, which angers Jonas. He states that the men are ahead by one and since he is from Hawaii, we lack the island wisdom requisite to question his logic.

Between challenges, the participants have some time to kill. Leif uses this opportunity to attempt to eliminate himself from the competition. Having befriended Bill, Leif casually notes that he had been unwilling to vote against his friend at Tribal Council. This is the first Bill has heard of the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. Bill thought he was popular. He and Leif now have something in common in that Leif used to be popular. He is not now.

Michael is walking in the water by the beach when he takes note of this conversation. Proving himself in the art of the manipulation, Michael quickly takes this news to Colton, who he has deduced is a hot-headed reactionary. Colton replies in a manner that only Colton could. “That little munchkin is about to get knocked back to Oz, I swear. Call him over here.” Colton is appalling.

What we conclude from this turn of events is that Michael is serious about advancing in Survivor. Yes, his behavior is unbecoming and truly unfortunate for Leif, who only tried to speak openly with a friend. Still, Michael curries favor with the current power player in the game while simultaneously painting a target on someone else’s back. Clever.

Leif absorbs a beating for his transgression. Surprised by the line of questioning, Leif attempts to deny that he told Bill anything. Unfortunately for him, placing people on the defensive is one of Colston’s few skills in life. He lies by saying that if Leif comes clean now, it’ll be forgiven but that if he doesn’t, all bets are off. Leif comes clean and Colton berates him for being so unreliable. Remember two episodes ago when Colton was so pathetic and weak that he cried when neither tribe would talk to him? Good times.

“He’s turning into an annoying little Oompa Lompa.” – Colton, revealing yet another bigoted aspect of his character

The women are having such a quiet episode that the only aspect of the day that passes for drama for them involves the upcoming immunity challenge. The notification indicates that a puzzle will be included in the competition, as has become standard for Survivor. Kat, in a rare burst of self-awareness, asks to be partnered with someone better at puzzles. She is lacking in more than just dance skills (seriously, there are like 700 dancing videogames…buy one, Kat) and accepts this.

Alicia immediately offers to assist her BFF. Kat denies this request because she wanted someone who was, you know, good at puzzles. Alicia takes offense at the manner in which Kat is (effectively) calling her stupid. This all but assures that Alicia will volunteer to handle the puzzle portion of the challenge. From what we have seen from Alicia thus far, we wouldn’t trust her to do the Picture Find in Highlights. The women’s momentum appears certain to end.

Probst sighting!

The challenge tonight is straightforward. A pair of players will race across a series of teeter totters to reach puzzles on the other side. After the completion of a puzzle, they must cross another teeter totter to the next challenge. Once all of the puzzles are completed, there is a race back to the finish line. And this competition makes the Reward Challenge look like the 2011 World Series in terms of competitiveness.

Tarzan and Colton are the first competitors for the men while Alicia and Chelsea compete for the women. The men complete their challenge and Jay and Michael head to the second puzzle. The women continue to work on the first one. As Probst states, “It is the easiest puzzle and it is taking them a long time.” The men finish the second heat as Bill and Troyzan begin the third and final one.

The frustrated women onlookers demand that their teammates simply look at the men's solved puzzle and copy it. This infuriates the men. Leif tells the women that they suck while Tarzan yells out “CHEAT! CHEATER!” Alicia responds with a thought provoking “Kiss my ass!” Several moments later, Alicia and Chelsea finally solve the easiest puzzle whose solution they studied carefully for several moments. It is not a proud moment for the educational systems in Illinois and South Carolina. Sabrina and Kim head toward the second puzzle but the men solve the third one before they finish it. Alicia’s need to prove that she can do puzzles has ended the women’s winning streak.

“That was a blowout. That barely qualified as a challenge.” Jeff Probst utters these words. How does Alicia respond to the humiliation? She smiles and giggles. It is funny to her that she tried and failed so completely. Monica and Sabrina look on with unmitigated hatred at this act of self-centered immaturity. Monica wants so badly to rip Monica’s face off. Even Kat is disgusted by Alicia. The F in BFF no longer stands for forever.

Christina believes this turn of events cracks the door for a reversal of fortune. She believes that the Salani alliance is vulnerable. Sabrina agrees. She informs Kim that Alicia has to go. This catches her counterpart off guard. Kim had believed that Christina would be the next player eliminated. Sabrina’s desire to “shake things up” is uncomfortable. If Alicia isn’t eliminated after this nonsense, the women deserve to lose this game.

At the men’s camp, Bill is giddy over this turn of events. He knew he was in trouble. A win at the immunity challenge affords him three days to smooth things over with the members of the Misfits Alliance. Bill’s first step is to broker peace with Colton. What Bill does not realize is that the color of his skin is enough for Colton never to relate to him. This is an unfortunate truth.

Bill begins the conversation in a cordial and friendly manner. “I just want to squash some beef between us. Let’s handle it like adults, bro.” Bill’s incorrect assumption is that Colton is an adult. He is met with a reply of, “Oh my God, I don’t want to talk. I just want to lay here. I don’t want to think about this game.” Bill presses the matter because he genuinely wants to smooth over the situation. This makes the child-like Colton all the more intransigent. It even makes him come up with the craziest plan in the history of Survivor.

The problem is that Bill has underestimated the enmity his tribemate feels toward him. There is nothing he can do about it, either. Colton is racist while Bill is African-American. There is absolutely no gameplay involved in what occurs next. All of it is the subtext as well as the cause and eventually the effect of something much deeper and more profound than the game of Survivor. Bill is not aware of the unmitigated hatred Colton has directed at him over the past several days. In Colton’s fractured mind, Bill is completely responsible for all of the suffering the gay Alabaman has experienced since his arrival on the Survivor set. It doesn’t have to make sense and in fact it could not make sense. It is what it is.

Other members of the tribe are equally oblivious to what unfolds. What they see is Bill grow angrier as Colton behaves more and more deplorably. Survivor is a game of personalities forced to deal with one another during high pressure circumstances. Jay, Michael and Jonas are reduced to voyeurs as Bill finally loses his calm.

Bill unleashes the words he has withheld for the sake of diplomacy. “Listen, you little stuck up brat…You don’t sit around and talk to people everything you want to.” Colton’s fear of the black man has been escalated to its highest level. He attempts to flee the conversation but Bill blocks his way. The latter gentleman still seeks resolution even as he recognizes on some level that the situation has grown untenable. Colton is reduced to fleeing in terror and venting to the camera in a monologue. His “strongest” personal attack is that the comedian’s jokes are not funny…that’s every day of Dane Cook’s life, dude. The one moment of honesty is when he describes his unnatural hatred for Bill. This statement is primal.

The other tribe members witness their ostensible leader being upset. What occurs in the following moments is incomprehensible. We believe it is fair to describe this as the closest reality television has ever come to lynch mob mentality. Colton tells his side to Troyzan and Jonas, eventually leading them to The Crazy. His impulsive idea is to ask the women if Manono could take the place of Salani at Tribal Council. Astoundingly, Jonas briefly considers the idea. We presume it is because of the novelty of the idea, but Colton jumps on this as encouragement for the premise.

Within moments, Colton attempts to convince several members of his alliance to indulge him with regards to The Crazy. They do. We anxiously await the person who returns sanity to the conversation. At first, we expect Troyzan to be the one as he is clearly just tolerating Colton’s rant. When Jonas does not dismiss the idea out of hand, Troyzan finds himself in a conversation with two people who are both championing a bad idea. He does what any member of middle management does if they have reached the logical conclusion of the Peter Principle. He goes with the flow rather than making waves. Jonas confides to the camera that he feels the same way.

Jay is the next member of MaNoNoNononoMYGODINHEAVENNO who is asked to go to Tribal Council. To his credit, Jay states that this is a hasty decision. During the 20 minutes of television wherein this is debated, Jay is the only player who demonstrates the requisite level of common sense. None of the other men finds the courage to stand up to the mad man they have placed in control of their tribe.

The funniest part occurs when Troyzan recounts the events to Tarzan. He makes the entire situation sound like Bill is totally at fault and that Leif is equally unreliable. We are not even clear on how Leif was introduced into the conversation. Tarzan takes pause for a moment then quickly acknowledges that this is a fantastic idea that requires immediate action. Remember last week when we lamented Matt’s celebration of going to Tribal Council? Imagine how we feel about this. It is one step beyond throwing an immunity challenge. They won the damned challenge. Now, they want to go to Tribal Council anyway. When none of these men wins Survivor, remember this turn of events. And all of you sociological behavior students, here is your research paper topic. Lemming behavior has never been displayed better on network television. One man’s bigotry leads several others to follow him off the cliff into the oceanic mouth of madness.

This is really happening.

The men request the opportunity to go to Tribal Council. Even Kat, dumbest of the players this season, innately understands this is a terrible idea. But wait! It gets weirder! Tarzan calls the members of Manononevergonnawin together. At this point, he calls out Leif for his treachery. This is particularly odd in that Tarzan has firsthand knowledge of none of this. All he has is Troyzan’s description of events, a description that does not match reality in any meaningful way. Leif is informed that they will be going to Tribal Council and that he will be voted off.

Okay, this is not completely accurate. At first, Tarzan states that they will only make such a move if everyone agrees. He calls for a show of hands to reinforce the support for the idea. Hilariously, only Colton and Tarzan raise their hands. Everyone else is looking around wondering when the joke will end. It has to be a joke, right? Undeterred, Tarzan berates the people who do not raise their hands. Even though no one else ever endorses the idea, the men wind up at Tribal Council anyway.

We find ourselves wondering what Michael is thinking as all of this unfolds. All he wanted to do was instigate a bit in order to enhance his status within the tribe. After Matt was voted out last episode, this was a savvy play on his part…in theory. In execution, he has lit the match that started the forest fire that burned down the entire encampment. Michael had no idea that Colton was this crazy and because of this, the men are about to vote out one of their own who has done nothing wrong other than be a black man on a tribe run by a racist white kid.

As one would expect, Tribal Council is bizarre. Probst’s face is sparkling as he mentally envisions the ratings and the social media discussions that will ensue once this episode airs. All of the dumbest moves in the history of the show are dwarfed by this. A player was seduced into giving up his immunity necklace. Another was voted out when they had a pair of immunity idols. And a Harvard student was played for a sucker by one of the dumbest people in the show’s history. NONE of these events compares to a tribe choosing to vote out one of their own after winning an immunity challenge. And that is before we factor in the underlying rationale for the voting behavior. Not only is this unprecedented, it feels like the low point in the history of Survivor. Why? Colton tries to explain his actions.

The gist of his logic is that Colton hates Bill because the comedian is poor and needs to get a real job. No, really. When pressed for an explanation, the gay man explains that this is not because Bill is black. He proffers the subject matter himself, which is telling. Colton explains that while he went to a school that was primarily Caucasian, he does have African Americans in his life. Who is he referencing? Why, his family’s maid, of course. Yes, Colton is Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help.

Bill comports himself impeccably. He explains his career choices as he also notes that a man who has never worked a real job in his life is criticizing someone who has been on their own since they were 17. “You haven’t worked an honest day in your life or had to actually go out and get a job.” The elephant in the living room remains but that reply is gold. Bill concludes with “For the love of God, I work with people and for no one.” Unable to provide a respectful reply, Colton mirrors Alicia from the first Tribal Council when he replies, “Whatever.” This is what stupid people say when they have nothing to say.

A couple of other peculiar moments occur during Tribal Council. Nobody ever told Leif that he is not being eliminated. At least, that is the way he behaves. He begs the forgiveness of his tribemates and appears on the edge of tears. Meanwhile, Tarzan grows tired of the underlying race relations topic that is never fully explored. He points out that “Colton has been painted in the wrong light”. Then, he rants about the nature of race relations in our country before censoring himself from further dialog.

We are unsure of where he stands on the issue so we will take Tarzan at his word about wanting people judged based upon their behavior. Assuming he holds true to this, his primary ally in the game, Colton, should be his largest target as we move forward. Few players in the history of Survivor have backed the wrong person the way that Tarzan has. In his mind, Colton is a super-genius who can carry the MaNoBlackPeople alliance to the final six. We have seen nothing from Colton that validates such a belief as the only thing he has done in this game was be handed an immunity idol. And as a "good Republican," he should have refused that handout. That’s our problem and we will deal with it. What matters is that Tarzan is giving Colton far too much benefit of the doubt at the moment. We will be curious to see the moment where Tarzan sees Colton for who he really is.

In the interim, we watch in stunned silence as the members of the formerly dominant men’s tribe vote out Bill for no good reason on a day where they had won the immunity challenge. For better or for worse, this will be among the most discussed moves in the history of Survivor. If you find the person who believes it was the right play, please give them our email address. We want to ask them how they could possibly believe it. Bill, you seemed liked a good dude. We are sorry to see you go. Good luck with the career Colton doesn’t want you to have.

“He’s a struggling stand-up comic.” – Colton, as he makes obnoxious air quotes. Amusingly, this turn of events could make Bill one of the hottest young comedians in the history. Colton’s racist behavior will make Bill the story of the season. Hopefully, Bill uses this time in the spotlight to secure his future in his chosen field. We would love nothing better than for Colton to live the rest of his life forced to watch Bill’s talent celebrated on all of the popular talk shows.

As for Colton, next week’s preview hints that the tribes will change, which is historically the way that the producers of the show tweak the rules such that villains get their appropriate comeuppances.

Finally, Colton has unintentionally created a new version of the game, Speed Survivor. Why wait every three days to eliminate someone when you can quickly eliminate people ever few hours based on their ethnicity and other cultural differences? An entire season of Survivor could be completed over a long weekend.