Survivor Guatemala Recap
Big Ball, Big Mouth, Big Trouble
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
October 21, 2005
Previously on Survivor, Stephenie won an immunity challenge. No, that's not a typo. Stephenie won an immunity challenge. There was some other stuff with man-eating crocodiles, a cement pond and a self-centered frat-boy (Is that redundant?) but really, who cares? Stephenie won an immunity challenge! The odds against this were about the same as your chances of winning the $340 million Powerball lottery.
Brandon is introspective at the start of day 15. The easily befuddled farmer is working through some troublesome thoughts. Not the least of them is the fact that the aforementioned frat-boy, Blake, has been eliminated from Survivor. As he pensively tells the camera, there used to be four people in his alliance. Now, there are only like three and stuff. One person is gone, man. Gone. Gone. Gone. Brandon's depression is a country music song waiting to happen. There is a distinct Brokeback Mountain vibe to the whole thing, but we'll leave it at that.
Since misery loves company, Brandon meanders over to Bobby Jon, seeking to commiserate on the shocking turn of events. Unexpectedly, Bobby Jon acknowledges that he was one of the people who assassinated Blake. The Alabamian unabashedly states that while he has regrets about the way the tide has turned, he did what needed to be done. As shocking as it might be to Brandon, Bobby Jon must inform him that not everyone at camp enjoyed endless variations of "Dude, I was so wasted this time when this cop pulled me over." Or "Dude, my girlfriend's breasts put watermelons to shame." Or "Dude, I tried rubbing ointment on it, but the itching and burning never went away." At this point, it behooves us to thank the editors of Survivor for not focusing more on Blake. Even in small doses, he was a special sort of aggravating.
Not everyone is upset with recent events, though. Brian gleefully announces that his group has gotten a "Get Out of Jail Free Card". While physically weak, frail, pathetic and any other synonym for feeble you want to use here, Brian is obviously taking the meta-game aspect of the contest quite seriously. He has already successfully manipulated Blake into talking himself off the island and now he's focused on getting a majority for his group. If Brian can make it to the merge, he has a chance to go a long way in this game as long as he does not burn a lot of bridges along the way.
Nakum's situation is noisier. Bugs are buzzing, bugs are biting and bugs are pissing the contestants off. Apparently, the rain attracts them in record numbers and it's been Umbrella Weather the past couple of days. Zookeeper Cindy must have also had a couple of beekeeper classes. She's using her Survivor buff as a mask to keep the hungry critters from dining on her face.
Day 15 is generally the point in the competition where people have decided who they hate and want to date. We saw this with Blake vs. everyone at Yaxha save Brandon. Now we're seeing it with Margaret and Judd. The hostile doorman continues to show the type of hostility toward women that screams Mother Issues. His argument here is exhibit A for how much players rationalize when attempting to find a reason to want a player eliminated. Margaret has a sore thumb and it annoys Judd because "that puts the team down". Congratulations, Judd. You've just made the season's thinnest argument.
Hmm, Probst has requested that Nakum bring the immunity idol with them for the presumed reward challenge. That's an early warning indicator that we are about to see the dreaded Reality Show Twist. It's also indicative of the fact that the producers of the show realize they're at a sacred Indian burial ground, and they don't want to risk incurring the wrath of evil spirits. Stephenie's possession of the immunity idol does not definitely guarantee such calamitous repercussions, but they are savvy not to take the chance.
The challenge brings to life the idea of "He's got the whole world in his hands". Tribal duos face off in an attempt to push a giant ball across a goal line. It's tug-of-war with a giant globe. The first contest sees Danni and Amy face off against Steph and Cindy. This battle is evenly matched at first with Steph and Cindy managing to pin Danni against a tree. After a time, though, Steph returns to her losing ways. She and Cindy get bulldozed on the way to the finish line. Yaxha wins the first heat out of the needed three goals scored. Jamie and Judd quickly even the score for Nakum as Judd's *ahem* girth proves too much for spindly Brandon and his unfortunate partner, Bobby Jon. This leads to a testosterone-laced encounter after the match. Bobby Jon and Jamie start chest bumping and mouthing off. We have no idea what Bobby Jon screams during this confrontation, but it sounds like he really means it.
The third heat is when tragedy strikes Amy. The tough police officer previously fell during an earlier challenge and appeared to hurt her ankle. In the interim, she has been hobbled, but has managed to overcome the obstacle. This competition proves too much for her weakened leg, though. It buckles and she gets mowed down by the runaway globe. Amy bravely attempts to get up and assist teammate Gary against Steph and Judd, but she is unable to put any weight on the leg. Nakum wins the heat (thanks once more to King Hippo Judd) and Amy is forced to limp over to her team.
At this point, she's informed that it's "women on women". Hot! Despite the titillation of Probst's phrasing, this is bad news for Amy since it's her turn again. She joins Danni against the much smaller Cindy and Steph. This seems likely to be a blowout, but Cindy stumbles against a tree, allowing Danni and gutty Amy to push through the line. They win a second heat for their team, setting up a huge fifth contest. Brian and Bobby Jon take on Judd and Jamie (aka Bobby Jon's new mortal enemy) for the reward. Judd slips for a moment to make things interesting, but then he eventually bull-in-a-china-cabinets his way to the finish line. Nakum wins the reward challenge.
There is a second challenge right afterward for Nakum. This is to determine immunity for the night's vote at tribal council. Both tribes are going to vote a member out tonight, so there is only individual immunity. The winner of this second competition will be the only player on either tribe that is safe for the evening. This leg is a simple retrieval phase followed by an unscrambling of the puzzle pieces contained in a bag. An odd moment occurs here as Rafe begins to decipher his pieces. Nearby Judd shouts out the answer to Rafe, allowing the Ivy Leaguer to win the competition. Judd fails to realize that this prevents him from attaining immunity, so this strikes us as a terrible ploy. But it does increase his odds of elimination, so we have no problem with the stratagem.
Rafe shares in our confusion. Back at camp, he monologues about how great it was that he won the first individual immunity challenge. The shock in his voice is unmistakable. Meanwhile, both camps see a variation on the same theme. Both Jamie and Bobby Jon claim victory in their conflict. Each man assures his comrades that he was moments away from punching the other guy's lights out. At this instant, they could pass for twins. The machismo interlude quickly passes and all of the contests move along to deciding how vulnerable they are at the night's vote. If only Judd had been shouting the answer in their ear at the immunity challenge...
"Just southern people. We're crazy and we know it." –Jamie, not speaking for the authors of this column.
Did we mention that Judd was the conquering hero at the immunity challenge? Just in case any of his tribe members have forgotten, he is there to lord it over them. And this time, there's alcohol involved. The reward challenge victory earns Nakum burgers and beer, meaning that everyone not named Judd gets to enjoy an afternoon of his personality enhanced by alcohol. It's enough to make a sober person proactively join A.A. Judd rants and raves about this and that while stealing the beers of other people. Then, when he is called on the fact that he's a lousy beer thief, the inebriated village idiot starts randomly screaming at people. If this were a party, the entire congregation would leave the room at this moment and go get a breath of fresh air. Everybody knows this guy. Usually, we just urinate in his beer then cackle as he drinks it but the other members of Nakum do not have this luxury. They are stuck with him, at least until the evening vote. And Judd's behavior is not the action of a man who feels vulnerable about the vote.
Tribal Council is like staring into the eye of madness. Judd melts down in historic fashion. Anyone who has a loved one who imbibes too much knows the discomfort of such a moment. Judd flips out and cannot come back from the lunatic fringe. The moment of psychosis occurs when Jeff Probst asks Margaret about sportsmanship. The seemingly innocuous question allows her to indicate that two members of the tribe, Jamie and Judd, are boorish. America's least favorite doorman takes offense at this all-too-accurate evaluation of his character. He starts ranting about how he plays to win and that everyone in his tribe had cheeseburgers because of him. The froth develops across his mouth as he balefully glares at Margaret and reminds her of their first encounter, a moment when she allegedly informed him he had attention deficit disorder. Where in the world would she ever get that idea?
We have no time to ponder this as Judd marches forward into the madness, shouting repeatedly about how he's a winner. Probst dutifully interjects at this moment, noting that winning is not the same as good sportsmanship. This causes Judd to grow further imbalanced. Now the host of the show has vilified him, and that just doesn't sit well. As we discussed a couple of episodes ago, Judd has hero-envy issues. He wants to be the man, not the crazy guy with whom people refuse to make eye contact. Probst, he just doesn't understand. He's glib. Judd, he knows things. He's done research. He's recently impregnated Katie Holmes to prove his heterosexuality. He's a...he's a good guy.
Judd doesn't stop there, either. He tells that bitch Margaret that she better shut her mouth or he'll give her the revolving door slap. At this point, she describes him (accurately) as a bully and states that his posturing does not fool his tribemates. He interrupts her right there and begins to take a straw poll of the group. The question raised is whether Judd listens to everybody. As the hackles on his neck try to jump off his body (and presumably flee in terror), he asks Cindy. Her reply is, "Yes but.." Before she can complete her train of thought, he has cut her off and moved on to the next guy, Rafe. He too stumbles over a reply, causing Judd's sycophantic underling, Jamie, to shout, "Rafe, have an opinion!" With the two gigantic men threatening to flip out, the remaining women and the slender Rafe all cave in, acknowledging that he listens to everybody. It's a chilling scene.
In point of fact, almost any other circumstance would see Judd voted off the show right then and there. Unfortunately for Margaret, though, all of Judd's talk about winning serves as a kind of unusual foreplay for Stephenie. She almost achieves climax as she hears the husky dude describe how Jamie and him are the studs who will lead the group to victory. Stephenie is thinking threesome at that moment, not "I'm voting this guy off". Cindy and Rafe might want to stand with Margaret but since Lydia isn't with them, their choice is to either burn the bridge with Judd forever or bite their tongue in the short term. They choose the latter and Margaret, bum thumb and all, is voted off the show. Judd surviving this tribal council should give Tom Cruise hope for Mission: Impossible 3. People will ignore heavy dosages of crazy when it suits their purposes.
There is no way that Yaxha's tribal council can follow that. In fact, the most noteworthy aspect of their discussion is that immunity challenge winner Rafe is allowed to watch as well as give one member immunity. The rest of it seems to be a series of nice comments involving Brian followed by a brief discussion about Amy's knee. The editing alone tells us all we need to know. The members of the tribe are debating Amy's health vs. Brian's frailty. Before this may be settled, Rafe is allowed to become a fly in the ointment by choosing a person to be protected from the vote. The logical play here would be Amy, because her survival means an easier time in future immunity challenges. The trick is that his reward is not revealed until after the votes are made, meaning that nobody can plan for the potential upheaval. When the votes are revealed, Brian quickly receives the needed quorum. His only hope is that Rafe threw him a lifeline on the way back to his camp but alas, that does occur. Gary is given immunity, meaning that Brian does not survive until the merge. All the strategy in the world could not overcome the fact that his strength in challenges was questioned. This week's edition of Survivor was a huge win for the jocks over the nerds. Ogre would be so proud.