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After suffering through this week’s installment of Survivor Nicaragua, one must wonder: Just how desperately does Mark Burnett need money? It was bad enough when they started filming back-to-back seasons in one locale. Now they devote about a quarter of a show to an infomercial, masquerading as Reward, for what is clearly going to be another Bad Fat Jack Black movie. (Not that he’s ever made a good one.)
For those of you who were too busy with Thanksgiving eve activities to watch last week’s clip show, here are a few of the reveals.
•Jane really prepared to be on Survivor. We’d already seen her tell Chase how she did P90X. She also bought a sauna and sat in it for hours to become accustomed to high temperatures. And on that subject (heat): I’d wondered how she got that fire started in the woods to cook her “private fish.” Seems she went back to camp, sent everyone to the beach to look for crabs and helped herself to a bowl full of hot embers.
•The original Espada tribe was a disaster. The guys sat on the beach for hours debating the best way to build a shelter. And then when they did get it constructed, it collapsed in the middle of the night!
•Chase sings. Caterwauls, actually. Everyone had to politely listen to his maudlin original ode to his recently deceased father.
•Naonka stole the flour and buried it. Then she promptly forgot where. The whole tribe had to go searching for the spot, which she claimed she marked with “sticks laid on the ground in the shape of an arrow.” Fabio was incredulous, Dan furious.
•Fabio is a total klutz. Videos of him conking his head on the roof of the shelter, walking straight off a six-foot drop, falling out of a tree, getting attacked by a swarm of bees, stepping on a thorn, and nearly blinding himself by rubbing his eyes after handling chili peppers. Here’s the montage: Survivor Video - Fabio Needs a Bubble - CBS.com
•Holly nearly had a meltdown, thinking that the tribes were going to be “mixed up” with the city kids going to LaFlor and the country kids invading Espada. Or vice versa. It totally made no sense, either way.
•Dan is a vegetable who has such a bum knee he can barely get from one side of the shelter to the other. I can only assume someone is keeping him around because he’s a controllable vote.
“PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF THE WORDS I USE WHEN I GO OFF ON ‘EM”–Naonka
Picking up right where we left off two weeks ago, NaOnka is proud of getting her friend Brenda kicked off the island, “Bitch, you made me look good.”
Purple Kelly, on the other hand, is bewildered. She was left out of the loop entirely, “I was completely left in the dark. Having Naonka, Chase and Sash turn on me put me at the bottom of any totem pole for any alliance.” And, she’s miserable, “I just don’t know how long physically I can put up with it.”
It does look pretty bleak. It’s pouring rain and everyone is huddled, shivering under the fire-damaged tarp. Naonka complains, “When my joints get cold, they get stuck, they freeze.” I hear that’s quite a common problem for witches.
FINDING YOUR HAPPY PLACE
Fabio, though, is ready to tough it out, “The elements are obviously a factor out here. You have to find a mental happy place and say, this is temporary, I can deal with this.”
Naonka and Chase are off in the jungle. Naonka, without much ceremony except to say “I’m gonna give you the key to the game. Here’s the idol. You’re my boy.” hands him her immunity idol. Judging from what we’ve seen displayed of the mental acuity of this jackman, I half-expect him to start looking around for a door to unlock. No, he knows what he has in his hand–and he’s suddenly in his Happy Place. He thanks Naonka, “I appreciate the hell out of this.” Privately, he confides, “If NaOnka doesn’t quit the game, I’m still not gonna give her the idol back.”
What the??? Holly has been the one taking care of NaOnka, protecting her from her own mistakes, mothering her. NaOnka said herself that she “loves Holly.” So she gives the idol to Chase? I’d say what I think about that, but it would get bleeped.
DUMMIES FOR DUMMIES
This week’s reward challenge is once again based on another great work of literature (previously we saw The Three Little Pigs Challenge), Gulliver’s Travels. The tribe will be divided into two teams, chosen by what Probst likes to call a “schoolyard pick.” Each team must free an eight-foot, extremely heavy dummy from the table to which it is lashed like William Wallace in Braveheart and lug it over, under, around and through a series of obstacles. The winning team will be treated to an afternoon at the Survivor Cinema viewing the upcoming movie adaptation of Swift’s epic. Enough with the product placement, Survivor. Puhleeeze. Anyway, I have hope: the last season there was a movie reward, Amanda ended up a in a hair-pulling brawl.
Yellow team is Fabio, Sash, Jane and Kelly Purple. Blue team is Holly, Naonka, Chase and Benry. Dan gets picked by nobody and has to watch the event with his legs dangling off a Brobdingnagian-sized chair. He’s thrown in his chips with the Blue Team.
The race is close, but Blue wins. Jeff congratulates Dan, “Dan you picked the right team to back. No effort. All reward.”
THEY WISH THEY COULD QUIT YOU
NaOnka steps forward to make her big announcement: “Jeff, I’ve given this game 110%. This will be my last day. I wanted to go out with a Bang.”
Jeff is not pleased. “So you’re quitting. Anybody else want to quit?”
Shyly, Purple Kelly raises her hand and reckons she’s finito as well.
Oooh, Jeff is steaming, “Well, I’m not good. I’m going to give you the afternoon to think about it.” Then he makes an offer to the winning team: if one person will give up the reward trip, he’ll trade a brand new waterproof tarp and enough rice to last the tribe for the rest of the competition. There’s just the briefest of silences, and then Holly volunteers, “I’ll do it. I have to take care of these guys.”
Meanwhile, Benry is berating NaOnka that she needs to step up, that she’s leaving and Holly needs to eat. Forget about that. NaOnka give a hoot about whether other people starve? Not gonna happen, folks, “I wasn’t about to step down after I gave 110%. I’ll get you the tarp and the rice? Unhhh, unhhhh.” I’m thinking it should have been Dan who offered to forgo reward: it wasn’t as if he’d expended any energy in winning it, and he’s the one who spends about 99% of his time lolling around the shelter under the tarp.
WHAT WOULD JIMMY JOHNSON THINK?
The losers, and Holly, are back at camp. Holly is trying to talk Kelly Purple into sticking around, “You came here for a reason. You need to suck it up. If you quit, you’re always going to be the girl who quit Survivor 21, Nicaragua.”
Kelly’s not buying Holly’s hand-me-down Coach Jimmy’s motivational speech, “I’m cold. I’ve been sucking it up for 28 days. There’s nothing left to suck.”
Meanwhile, over at the infomercial Cinema and Candy Shoppe, Naonka is preening, “We’re going to Tribal Council tonight and it’s just all energy. If I stayed, man, I can win a million dollars.” Maybe its all that Twizzler sugar that’s made her completely delusional? Let’s consider why NaOnka would get the votes to win the million: Stealing Fabio’s socks? Stealing the flour and forgetting where she buried it? Ranting ad nauseum about KellyB’s prosthetic leg, threatening to throw it in the fire? Stabbing her acknowledged best friend (and the person who showed her where to find the immunity idol) in the back at last Tribal?
HAND OVER THOSE TORCHES, BUT PLEASE, I INSIST, TAKE A FRONT-ROW SEAT ON THE JURY.
The tribe gathers round the campfire, rain soaking them to the bone. The jury–Alina, Marty and Brenda–file in. Jeff opens the proceedings, “We are here because today at Reward Challenge, both Naonka and Kelly Purple said they wanted to quit.” The jury is so shocked that their mouths open and close like guppies gasping for oxygen.
Jeff tries to put some suspense into what by now is an obvious outcome. Jane rattles off a list of platitudes about “every day not being a walk in the park,” “going the extra mile,” “hangin’ in there” and “life’s not a piece-a-cake.” Benry brags, “Winners never quit. Quitters never win. I was raised by that motto.” (Feel free to share these gems of wisdom at your next cocktail party. Your friends will appreciate it.)
Probst confronts NaOnka about her unwillingness to help out the tribe, “NaOnka you’d already told me you wanted to quit. You didn’t volunteer to take one for the team. Do you thing that’s selfish?
NaOnka is utterly defiant about her decision to go on the reward, “It was like a celebration. It was beautiful.” And she is ever so proud of her stint on the island, “I’m the only African American still here. I’m a strong black woman.” The camera focuses on Sash, who’s no doubt wondering what category NaOnka is putting him into, and what the heck part of the big “minority alliance” she failed to comprehend. Saying, “I’m content,” she affirms, “I’m gonna quit.”
Jeffs coyly asks Naonka is she really thought she had a chance to win. Well, of course I would have won if I’d stayed, was her reaction, because of, she says, “my attitude, my spunk, my charm.”
LAST PURPLE SUNSET
Jeff dangles the one in eight chance at the million dollars before Kelly Purple, but she too has made up her mind to leave.
Well, then, Jeff asks NaOnka, “What do you think should happen to your torch?” NaOnka seems puzzled. She looks over to the jury and inquires, “What happened to theirs? It got smuffed?”
Now comes the part that has me screaming at our Beloved Host: he says he’ll be keeping NaOnka’s and Kelly’s torches as a reminder that they quit, but that they’ll get a seat on the jury and vote to pick the million-dollar winner. Aside from the fact that NaOnka will probably still vote for herself, this is just wrong. If they don’t care enough to stay in the game, then they darn sure ought not to get to hang out at Ponderosa and have a say in the outcome of the game.
On the jury bench, Marty is looking daggers. He’s audibly swearing, “That is just so F*ing twisted.” Alina is sobbing. Some might think she’s heartbroken to have had her place taken by a couple of quitters. I’m betting she was just terrified at the thought of having to sleep in the same bunkhouse with NaOnka.
With a not-at-all cordial, “You wanna go? GO.” Jeff smuffs first NaOnka’s torch and then Kelly Purple’s. He tells the remaining players, “Well, there’s a very clear theme. Desire. You guys have a one in seven shot. No more excuses. It is time to play this game.”
Kelly: “I am very sorry for Brenda, Marty and Alina. I feel bad.”
NaOnka: “I feel like I owe nobody an apology, not even myself.”
Next week: “The knives come out, and the blades are sharpened.” Righhht. Unless this season takes a dramatic turn, they’ll be dull butter knives. Kiddy-sized ones.
So what do you think? Is it really possible that an inert object (akaDan) could win this thing? Is it fair that two quitters are on the jury? Will Sash’s double-crossing Brenda come back to haunt him? And, finally, let’s have a show of hands: how many of you Survivor fans are Facebook Friends with Naonka Mixon?