Survivor: All-Stars

Episode Eight: Pick a Tribemate

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

For his next trick, Lex will be voting Bruce Campbell off the island.  Bastard.

Bedraggled and disheveled, Kathy looks like a homeless drug addict at the start of this episode. She talks to herself as the camera voyeuristically overhears, but we’re fairly certain that even if it weren’t there, she would continue with her Fight Club-esque discussion. Kathy fancies herself as a master Survivor strategist, while we on the other hand, have mentally fitted her for a straightjacket. There’s a fine line between power player and raving lunatic in this game.

Once her tribemates return from their elimination of Colby, Kathy laments that her hug count was significantly higher onboard the luxury yacht than it is here in the rain. Maybe it’s because you’re wet and gross, crazy lady!

Like a cowboy left out in the desert and presumed dead, Colby has managed to leave behind an imprint on his teammates thanks to the presence of his forgotten Indiana Jones hat. Perhaps due to pangs of guilt, Lex promises to return it to the intrepid explorer in time for the fourth film. “Colby was wrong to distrust everybody,” Kathy says immediately after he is blindsided in an elimination vote.

As Kathy continues to point out the foibles of teammates (while lamenting the lack of tribal unity), the entire season’s core flaw is crystallized. The problem is not that we’ve seen all these competitors before. Thanks to all the post-Survivor functions they've done, all of these people have already spent waaaay too much time together. In real life, some of them have dated (and broken up), while others have deepened pre-existing jealousies, resentments and animosities. As a result, their only discussions involve whining and back-biting gossip about what's wrong with everybody else. Picture a Corporate Retreat from Hell in which you and all your loathsome coworkers were forced on a month long road trip in a leaky, underventilated school bus with bad shock absorbers and you've got the general idea. Kathy and Shii Ann are the worst offenders, but really, all of the players other than Rupert, who doesn’t know anybody, have exhibited similar conduct.

Survivor: All-Stars – one giant bitchfest.

Driving home the point, Shii Ann even manages to criticize the way Colby exited the game. How dare he not fall at Shii Ann and Jerri’s feet and lavish praise on them for their exceptional play (despite the fact that it was all Lex’s idea).

The contrasting confessionals of Ethan and Jerri also exemplify our current frustrations with the game. While Jerri repeatedly pats herself on the back for winning a 3-2 vote solely because her laziness wasn’t perceived to be as much of a threat as Colby’s established excellence, Ethan vents about Lex’s strategy. It’s not that the former winner doesn’t understand the logic behind the decision, he feels left out of the loop, particularly since he and Lex had been friends since their season. Jerri is bragging; Ethan is thinking. Who gets more face time? That’s right – the Wicked Witch of the West.

Both tribes receive tree mail, which reveals that an ambassador from each team must be sent to the other group. The members of Chapera, the Power Tribe, are concerned that such a ticket might be one way (and who can blame them?), so none of them volunteer. They draw straws, which means that the unluckiest tribe member will be forced to go. Obviously, that’s Jenna. Conversely, Mogo Mogo barely has any discussion. Kathy might as well hijack the boat on the way out the door. What’s particularly amusing is that clueless Shii Ann, arguably the worst judge of character in the history of the show, has transferred her feelings for Richard to Kathy. Oblivious to the imminent betrayal, Shii Ann is the pathetic dope being ultra supportive of her favorite teammate. She looks a lot like Ol’ Yeller right before they took him into the woodshed.

After an extended amount of over-thinking, it turns out that all the ambassadors are required to do is pick three items to plunder from the opposing tribe’s camp in the upcoming reward challenge. Rather than enhancing her popularity with the opposing tribe, Kathy now finds herself their mortal enemy for her would-be thievery. Color us amused.

It's Probst Time! Any lumberjack would understand the rules of this reward challenge. It’s a good, old-fashioned log roll! Two people jump on and spin until one of them falls off. While simplistic in nature, this event is one of our very favorites.

As with virtually every other challenge thus far, Ethan (literally) gets his ass kicked, which makes us wonder just what he’s done to receive such bad mojo. In the first heat, he barely beats Rupert but receives a sound thrashing on the way down as he hits the log. Next time out, Boston Rob is able to continue his personal jihad against all things Ethan by whipping him emphatically. In the end it comes down to Amber vs. Kathy. To the surprise of no one, the ballerina has better balance and athleticism than the bitter old woman. Chapera’s victory means that they will be plundering Mogo Mogo’s grill, a bag of rice and their Hawaiian sling (aka fishing spear). This is like letting C. Montgomery Burns come over to the Simpsons’ house and take some stuff.

When Jenna arrives to raid the church-run orphanage, the nuns of St. Mogo Mogo implore her to reconsider her wicked ways. They beg her to not plunder all the rice, instead leaving behind enough for short-term subsistence. Jenna is befuddled by this request, as she was expecting to be received as a heroine. After all, she did bring them some soap, a toothbrush and some toilet paper. That’s way better than, like, eating and stuff, right? “Well, you could eat the toothpaste,” flashes through her head, but at least Jenna is smart enough not to say it out loud.

With the arrival of the fishing spear at Chapera, Rupert springs to life in a manner we haven’t seen since last season. He starts stroking the sling and muttering, “my pressssshusssss.” If Jaws showed up near the beach tomorrow, we’d half expect Rupert to jump on her back and start stabbing.

Cue the porno music. It’s time to remind people that there is some sweet lovin’ going on for a change. The notion that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is fully illustrated in Rob and Amber’s comments. Amber on Rob: “The flirting was a huge strategy in the beginning, then I got caught up in it and feelings emerged.” Rob on Amber: “Amber is slammin’…Her ass is smokin’, too.” Hark, fair Juliet! Romeo doth approach!

Rob doesn’t just reserve his commentary for Amber. “[Rupert] looks like Grizzly Adams, but he thinks he’s Aquaman in the ocean.” Don’t get too flattered, though, big guy. Rob also says, “Now that we’ve got the spear, we don’t need him. I’m not sure we ever did.”

Of course, the difference between Rob this season versus his last outing is that he’s able to back up what he says now. After Rupert returns with seven excellent catches, the Robfather goes out and bags 11 of his own. Why in the world did Chapera have to steal the rice of the starving tribe? They’re not even eating it!

As for Rupert, he seems to have a pretty good handle on Mariano as well. “Sometimes I really like Boston Rob. Other times, I see kind of an arrogant pain in the ass.” You and all of North America, buddy.

Today’s immunity challenge is “Blow, Throw and Shoot,” where Jerri proves that she does in fact blow more than any other Survivor on this show. The first portion of the challenge involves shooting at a target with a blow gun, while the second utilizes a spear. The team that gets closest to the bull’s-eye in each leg will receive two arrows for the final round. Each team gets one arrow regardless of whether they win at all.

As alluded to previously, Jenna takes it for Mogo Mogo in the blow dart round. This victory is something of a surprise since Amber’s had so much practice recently. Poor Rob. Round two goes to Chapera as Rupert uses his vast experience with spears to “drill the bull’s-eye.” Each team then has three arrows going into the final archery round.

Mogo Mogo selects Jerri to do the shooting, while Chapera sends out their challenge MVP, Rob. Frankly, neither of them is ever going to qualify for the Olympics in this sport (they’re no Geena Davis). Despite Rob’s braggadocio about his brother the archer training him, he goes one for three, and that one isn’t all that close. It’s enough to beat Jerri, though, sending one more still-to-be-determined Mogo Mogo team member to the chopping block.

Fun moment: for the first time this season, Probst chooses this time frame to directly address his rumored ex-girlfriend, Jerri Manthey. “Jerri, you stepped up into a make-or-break position; it didn’t work out. You look frustrated.” Her curt, sardonic reply of “Really, I wonder why” is so cold that it threatens to begin a second Ice Age. If she’s responsible for putting Ray Romano back in theaters, we are so going to TP her yard.

It’s time to play “It’s Anybody But Ethan.” Oh, why bother? It’s Ethan.

In a move that sharply divides our opinions, Lex continues the strategy he began to implement with the Colbster’s elimination. He talks to Jerri and reaffirms their alliance as he informs her that he will vote off his good friend Ethan in order to further weaken the competition. In an unusually upfront move by a Survivor, Lex follows this conversation by going straight to the source, looking Ethan in the eye, and confirming that he will be voting off the only remaining previous winner. We can’t decide whether Ethan is more disappointed over his actual elimination or simply being chosen before Jerri, whom he views as a worthless and undeserving player. Either way, it’s obvious that this turn of events is hurtful to the altruistic soccer star. Having seen all the other prior winners eliminated in quick succession, Ethan is well aware that he wouldn’t be making a deep run this season, anyway. Even so, having his friend turn on him is a blow he hadn’t expected to absorb.

David thinks that Lex’s strategy of eliminating physical threats while stringing along weaker players is representative of the fact that he has learned from the mistakes that cost him during Survivor: Africa. This is a mercenary move that creates short-term hazards for the only man remaining in a tribe of women. From a meta perspective, though, Boston Rob is now the sole remaining player who can compete with Lex’s athleticism.

On the other hand, Kim’s just pissed that Ethan and Colby are both gone. Out of the men remaining who might remove their shirts, one has too many tattoos, two are never going to qualify as beefcake, and the other one is too much of a jackass to be attractive. In all seriousness, though, Kim simply doesn’t like the kind of game play that requires close friends to shiv each other. Not only is it ethically troublesome to keep weak players around simply because they’re not considered threats, it’s also proven to be a fatal tactic in many of the other seasons.

Both of us really dig Lex, though, so we’re hoping it plays out the way the voices in his head are envisioning it.



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Saturday, December 15, 2018
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