Episode Eleven: Sour Grapes
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
It’s night 30 at Jacaré, and Mark Burnett does his best Ed Harris in The Truman Show imitation by somehow summoning stormy weather to mirror the turbulent anger emanating from Heidi and Jenna. The only remaining witches of the coven do nothing to hide their disgust with the turn of events that has seen them flip-flop from hunter to prey.
Ever-nervous Rob decides to address the elephant in the living room. Rather than do the unexpected and be honest by admitting that he screwed Alex for deeper advancement, this year’s ultra-weasel goes to the place we’ve come to call Rob Reality. In this dark corner of his mind, he is the Buffy-esque champion, protecting all the good Survivors from the Hellmouth. While in the Real World, it might have been that Alex was voted off because he was decent and upfront about his plans once the coalition moved into the final four, Rob Reality sees the world from a different slant. In this shadowy land, Alex was the deceptive, manipulative Big Bad, who had to be staked in order to preserve the tribe from destruction by the forces of evil.
Puppet-boy Matthew chimes in by parroting every word Rob has ever told him.
Later, by the campfire, Jenna and Heidi have a heart-to-heart with Captain Dishonesty. Since all other feminine wiles have proven fruitless, they resort to the old standby: crocodile tears and heavy doses of guilt. At this point, Rob realizes he has the upper hand in the relationship with a woman for the first time ever, so he decides to leverage what power he can. He ominously asks his sexy counterparts what they’re willing to do to survive. We’re not totally sure what the implication was, but Heidi can’t tell him she’s not willing to do “that” quickly enough. Just watching the exchange makes us want to take a shower.
After a zoom shot of a disgusting growth on Jenna’s face, Matthew goes into detailed explanation about how it rained for two hours – duh, it’s a rain forest. Their shelter isn’t waterproof, and the water that has come through the roof has made them miserable (more so, anyway). As a solution, Matthew proposes that they build a second shelter to use for the people and their belongings, while the original will be used to protect the fire, which begs the question of how the fire keeps going under a leaky roof. Before they finish, another storm hits, so the group frantically tries to line palm fronds on the roof to complete the project.
Well, almost all of the group, that is. In a brilliant strategic move, Jenna and Heidi decide that since one tribe member stabbed them in the back, everyone else deserves to pay, so they do nothing. Actually, this isn’t really that big a change of their previous tactic of doing nothing because they assumed that they had the final three locked up, so everything is basically status quo.
Refusing to go down so easily (hey now!), Heidi and Jenna discuss the deception with Christy. Since Heidi won’t be screwed without reciprocation, she tries to convince Christy to band with them because if they go back to a girls vs. guys approach, they have a chance of getting in the final three. For some reason, the two remaining Heathers think that it’s reasonable that the remaining Martha Dumptruck would band with them after basically treating her like the dirt underneath their fingernails for the past few weeks.
Since apparently Christy is now the wild card here, Rob approaches her next, and informs her that in his long talk with Jenna and Heidi, the girls said that they couldn’t believe that Christy was going to last longer in the game than they were. Christy does a little dance. She says that though she thinks she could go farther with the girls (and we here at BOP thoroughly support this notion), this master judge of character prefers Rob and the other guys due to their honesty. We can only assume that Butch aka Ned Flanders is honest enough for the both of them. Christy’s decision to stick with the guys is celebrated with a round of good ol’ spit handshakes.
The reward challenge this week is a puzzle, so we can immediately rule out Heidi and Jenna as the winners. It’s actually a fairly complicated matter, requiring digging, paddling a native Amazonian boat, and answering questions correctly to complete the snake-shaped puzzle. Heidi and Butch are eliminated immediately because there are only four boat paddles for the six people. Once the other four get to the canoe, all except for Matthew decide to swim, that is until Rob realizes he’s a sissy and that the other shore is a long way away so he goes back to the boat. Matthew has a ridiculous lead throughout the entire race, and wins the reward.
Rob acts gracious in his loss, but the hug he offers Matthew is less than heartfelt. “You deserve it and we’re happy for you,” Heidi and Jenna say through clenched teeth and bitter tears.
Nonetheless, when Jeff asks Matthew if he’d be willing to give up his reward, a visit with his mother, so that his tribe mates can spend time with their families in his place, the reward challenge winner generously says yes, which causes Heidi and Jenna to hug him for real. This causes Rob even more bitterness, since they’re apparently more willing to hug a psychopath than to get anywhere near him.
After a bunch of happy reunions, Matthew makes the comment that he felt really good about what he had done. In fact, he said the whole thing made him feel like God for a moment. There’s nothing about him that’s not creepy.
After the family members leave, Jeff says that he also believes in the philosophy that it’s better to give than it is to receive and informs Matthew that he’s going to get to spend the day with his mother after all. The group is truly happy for him and the Mark Burnett Experience finally manages to have a genuine, heartfelt moment that didn’t feel as though it had been completely manfactured for the cameras.
Matthew and his mother go off for their dinner, and he makes the comment that his relationship with his mother is far from typical. The whole thing is just a little bit too Colby for us, if you know what we mean.
Back at the camp, things are apparently like a rap video in Rob Reality, as the entire crowd drinks copious amounts of wine in celebration of a terrific day. They’re all so wasted that Christy gets her foot stuck between two trees, and Butch is so smashed that he reenacts the entire Vegas episode of The Simpsons (we’re still not sure which one of the girls is his new wife, though). As Rob comments, he’s in a speedo and the girls are in their bikinis…and this has really absolutely no significance whatsoever other than to give us the willies.
Matthew and his mother are still enjoying a completely different kind of disturbing evening. After they finish their dinner, an Amazonian tribe approaches. Amazingly, Matthew doesn’t spring into action with his knife because he believes they’re under attack, but instead they enjoy the lilting strains of the natives’ out-of-tune flutes.
Back in Rob Reality, he’s hanging with the hot chicks, and the prom theme is “We’ve Got Tonight, Soiled Underwear, and Five Bottles of Wine.” He can’t understand why they’d want to dwell on the bad, and fortunately, a bunch of alcohol on an empty stomach makes them see the light.
Even so, Rob is forced to reboot. Realizing that he needs to be able to be in a final two with someone even more reprehensible than himself, he had previously planned to take Matthew – because he’s a “spaz.” Now that Matthew is the “patron saint” of immunity challenges, he’s going to have to find someone else who is universally hated. Hilariously, he settles on Jenna. He reasons with her that if the two of them go to the final two, she has a great shot, but she’s not buying it. At all. In all seriousness, kudos go to Jenna for recognizing that he’s just a scam artist and she makes sure the entire camp knows it.
Though Rob makes the comment that being in camp with Heidi and Jenna is like hanging out with two very angry ex-girlfriends at the same time, we all know that he’s never dated a “real live girl” in his entire life.
The fallout of the entire thing is that Rob’s plans are made public, and Jenna has exposed him to the entire tribe for his Clay-esque duplicity. She directly asks Matt what Rob’s ultimate plans were, and he answers that the design is for the four of them (Rob, Matthew, Christy and Butch) to go to the final four. She tells the others that she’s just been fed a different story, which involves her not only being in the final four, but also being Rob’s invited guest to the final. Rob’s only thin excuse is that he’s lying to her. Fortunately for him, he’s been so deceitful up to now that everyone is likely to believe he’d lie to anyone and everyone on the opposing side, thereby accidentally invalidating a lot of what Jenna attempted to accomplish. Score one for the bad guy.
Rob spends the bulk of the next segment confirming the gullibility of Butch and Matthew. Heidi then goes to Christy for a last-ditch plea. “Hi, Christy, is it? I love your shorts! I just noticed that you’ve been here for the last month!” Still trying to decide which team to play for, Christy insists on being wined and dined, and really doesn’t trust the Heathers enough to commit to this plan.
Survivor’s ratings in Florida must have been dropping, so CBS asked Burnett to appeal to their usual octogenarian crowd by making today’s immunity challenge a combination of skeet shooting and shuffleboard. Doing so will settle a very important debate once and for all: which Survivor is best at air hockey.
Butch winds up with the most hits, breaking six, but unfortunately only five of them are his own. Jenna, who has always relied on the kindness of strangers, gets a bunch of hers broken by tribe mates, while Matthew winds up with only one puck that he earns on his very first shot. There’s a lot of jockeying for position, but it eventually comes down to Jenna’s final shot, which supplants Heidi’s puck and lands her the immunity necklace.
Despite their close friendship, Heidi still looks quite disappointed as she watches her cohort knock her out of contention.
Back at the campsite, Rob is in hyper-paranoid mode as he goes to make sure that his quorum remains safely in place. The advantage Survivor viewers have over Survivor players is that we have the ever-vigilant camerawork and editing of Rob Burnett and Co., so we know the behind the scenes stories. That is why when Christy is honest with Rob about the fact that she might consider voting for him, she thinks she is being a good and decent person, and even something of a team player. This notion is in stark opposition to the fact that everyone who has seen the last two episodes of the show is cringing because they realize that she has just effectively put a tattoo on herself that says “Dead Meat.”
Sure enough, as soon as one of Rob’s alliance members demonstrates the ability to think for herself, he immediately starts formulating new plans to protect his position, which has thus far been at the expense of the honest player. Rob develops a bold plan to break bread with enemy Heidi, who has shown both a recent mean streak in her Survivor tactics and also a beneath-the-surface feud that makes her want to advance further than Christy.
For her own part, Christy has begun to demonstrate what can only be described as smug superiority, the same personality trait that put a dagger in Deena. With her perverse enjoyment in finally having the upper hand with Jenna and Heidi becoming a problem, she accidentally positions her head squarely on the chopping block. Sure enough, when Rob approaches Heidi, a woman who loathes him, she still instantly accepts the gracious offer to go to the final four. Poor Butch has been backstabbed somewhere in the area of 757 times and has no idea about any of them. Heidily ho!
At tribal council, the group of people Rob has betrayed (they’re being referred to as the jury) are brought in just in time to watch Christy profess her position of the power in the game. Fifteen seconds later, she follows the recent trend of power brokers by walking off the stage with her torch extinguished. Rob has now screwed more people than Wilt Chamberlain and John Holmes combined.