Has Survivor, in TV parlance, “Jumped the Shark?” With tonight’s episode, it definitely “Jumped the Mullet.” One nearly a quarter of a century old.
Fun facts to know and tell:
-a mullet is a fish that’s shaped like a barrel
-the word mullet derives from the Latin mulletus, meaning mule
-the term mullet may be used to describe an individual acting in an incredibly stupid manner.
I’m hoping the Senate includes Viewer Trauma Compensation in its new Health Care Bill, because it’s going to take years of intense psycho-therapy before I’m able to rid my mind of the indelible sights and sounds of Shambo’s orgasmic delight as Bret gives her a scalp massage. Yes, what better way to celebrate surviving another Tribal Council than by delving one’s fingertips deep into the primeval slime of Shambo’s skull? Gratuitously Gross.
Morning dawns and Shambo looks like Big Bird Having A Bad Hair Day. She feels the need to confide in Russell, “I need to wet my head. I need a haircut.” Though he doesn’t say so to her face, Russell’s reaction is Haircut, Hell! “She needs to shave it off. That’s nasty. It’s where she keeps her food. Bananas. Coconuts. Peanuts. If I didn’t need her vote, I’d get rid of her.”
Even Probst gets into the act. As AIGA gathers for the Reward Challenge, he asks her what she calls her hairdo. Oooh, says Shambo, “It’s Shambalicious! It has a Name? Sheesh. I think none of us were surprised to learn she first adopted this style in 1986. Same year Chernobyl blew up. Coincidence?
While others are concerned with Matters of Coiffure, Natalie and Brett bond with a Bible Verse Smackdown. Most of the quotations they’re sharing seem to be from Ephesians. Not saying there’s any subtext here, but if I remember those vacation Bible school flash cards correctly, it was written by a guy in prison pretty ticked off that his fellow Christians spent all their time squabbling. Brett has apparently found the key to Nat’s heart, “God, Brett is such a sweetheart. We’ve had conversations about several books and the Bible.” Book of the Month Club not mentioned.
After last week’s two Immunity Challenges, the survivors are happy to learn that today there’s a reward to be won: a trip to a nearby island, dinner with the villagers, and a night’s sleep on real mattresses. They draw lots to pick captains for two teams—it’s going to be Natalie and Russell. Natalie picks first and chooses her new buddy Brett. How will this be perceived by the other FOA-FOAns and by their lackey Shambo. Does this mean Natalie is not-to-be trusted? Russell’s suspicious mind is already on over-drive. He mutters to Shambo, “What’s up with Nat picking Brett first?”
The teams wind up with Natalie, Brett and Mick on one side and Russell, Jaison, and Shambo (picked last, as always) on the other. Dozens and dozens of coconuts are suspended by interwoven ropes. Individuals from each team will alternate pulling out one rope at a time from the maze, trying to release as few of the coconuts as possible. The first team who lets 100 coconuts fall will lose. Is there skill involved? Perhaps, but it seems to me to be another one of those challenges in which the winner will be randomly chosen.
Natalie keeps yammering that she and Brett are the “Prayer Warriors.” They make Mick hold hands with them and pray for coconut suspension. Natalie exhorts Brett, “Let God guide your hand on the next one.” God is apparently either out doing more important works, or He doesn’t give a big flying flip about the “Prayer Warriors” because Mick pulls the rope that supporting about forty-eleven dozen coconuts and they come tumbling down. The heathens, led by Russell, win Reward and are off to commune with the natives.
REWARDED IN DIFFERENT WAYS
If the Samoans are forming any opinions of their American visitors based on table manners, the relationship between the two nations is about to be set back to prehistoric levels. Watching Shambo thrust her hand down into the roasted pig, grab a hunk of meat and cram it into her mouth puts me in mind of, well, a pig. But no matter, this is all she has ever wanted from life, to be One with the Samoans. Making a slightly less than elegant toast, “To the Samoans!” she sighs, “It superseded my expectation. I LOVE you guys!” She means Jaison and Russell, not the Samoan gentlemen.
Jaison can’t resist a bit of whining, “I didn’t even know what a reward was. I haven’t had one.” Still, he’s enjoying himself. I believe that the fire-baton twirler might have been his favorite. Russell, it hardly needs to be said, is gloating over the fact that the others back at camp are surely dying of starvation, dehydration and despair. Nor does he waste the opportunity to make Shambo and Jaison believe that they are his Chosen Two for the Grand Finale, and all others by they are doomed to a fate of jury-dom. As for that little vixen Natalie, he tells us that the minute he gets back to camp he’s pulling her aside and giving her about a two-hour “talkin’-to.”
Back at camp, Brett goes all granola and suggests that Mick and Natalie join him for some snail-gathering and a sunset on the beach, “in a weird way creating our own Reward.” He confides in Mick (who judging by the amount of pixelation required to cover his derriere has lost a ton of weight) that being surrounded and outnumbered by the FOAns is a bit like “having a bunch of strangers take over your house.”
Natalie is still enamored of Brett, —“If I have to be standing next to a GALU, Brett is awesome. But I’ve been with Russell from the first day. Hard to balance your heart and your head. Hopefully my mind will be clear enough to look at the game.”
That night, Russell, Jaison and Shambo luxuriate on the promised mattresses. Jaison can barely tolerate Shambo’s absurd behavior: “You’re like a forty-five year-old acting like a seven-year-old. “ Shambo is oblivious to the criticism.
With the victors safely back in camp, Russell makes good on his promise to interrogate Natalie and put her back on the straight and narrow path of Doing What Russell Tells Her To Do. Number one on today’s To-Do list for Russell is getting rid of Brett, “If we can prevent Brett from winning immunity, today will be a good day. He’s a little punk. He’s 110 lbs. He’s not a threat to win challenges. He’s a threat to win a million dollars.” I’d say that’s a justified fear—the whole jury will be filled with GALU tribe members, none of whom has been heard to utter unkind words about the “little punk” tee shirt designer.
For the immunity challenge, each survivor must race out into a field where there are six stations of varying numbers of items—piles of fish, crabs crawling around a table, a pen of pigs, a stack of rocks, some athletic octopi. They must accurately count the number of items at each station, race back and retrieve the corresponding numbered tiles. Those numbers must then be located on dials in one of the ubiquitous “survivor-combination-locks”, a rod pulled out and the lock unfastened.
Natalie and Shambo aren’t even competitive. Natalie keeps fretting over her fish-enumeration. Jaison is the first to think he has the combination, but his numbers are wrong and he heads out to re-count. Mick and Russell are working frantically. Though last back to the table, it’s Brett who gets his lock undone first and who wins immunity—for the second week in a row.
The survivors head back to camp to the accompaniment of some really scary vaguely African-sounding music. In the foreground, we see a coconut half stabbed by a machête. Is a tribe member about to be stabbed in the heart? The tension is nearly unbearable. Not.
Now there’s a hitch in Russell’s Master Plan. He’d counted on getting rid of Brett next, guaranteeing himself an all-FOA Finale. What to do? What to do? Maybe he should get rid of Mick? No, says Jaison, “if we’re gonna have a shot at Brett, we gotta have Mick. It’s Shambo: let’s do it.”
Gotta reassure Mick in any event, thinks the Master-Mind. He begins to rave about how much he hates Shambo, “Shambo, she gets on my nerves. She always wants to talk to you three inches from your face. You gotta smell that [bleep] breath.” He mimes gagging. Mick’s a bit suspicious of Russell’s new-found antipathy for Shambo and wonders if he’s the one in jeopardy.
Shambo confronts Russell, “Why did Jaison just stop talking and take off when I came up?” Ohh, “he’s just disgusted,” Russell reassures her, “he’s just done talkin’.” Shambo is very aware of her value, “I attributed more helpfulness to FOA FOA than anybody.” Yes, you did dear. Saved their bacon, that’s for sure.
By himself, Russell muses, “My decision is either Mick or Shambo. We need Mick to beat Brett in challenges. Shambo ain’t gonna put my name down; she ain’t gonna win a challenge, and she ain’t gonna win the million.”
LAST NECKLACE NIGHT
Jaison, having nothing better to do, wonders if Russell is going to play his Hidden Immunity Idol this evening. After all, it’s the last time it can come into play. Shucks, Russell replies, “I’m jes gonna put it around my neck, and walk in wearin’ it. Russell being Russell.”
The new jury, having added Dave and Monica at the last Tribal Council, troops in. I wonder if everyone has taken proper notice that Monica, wearing saffron, is drop-dead gorgeous. Dave, by contrast, still looks like Wolf-Man Jack.
Doing his hostly duties, Jeff points out that Brett is the only true GALU left in the game, because Shambo is clearly a traitor. The recognition makes Shambo beam with pride. Natalie concedes that Shambo probably hasn’t won any friends on the jury among her old tribemates; Jaison notes that Brett is the one guy who could probably sweep the jury votes and Mick wants everyone to put a little check mark in the “loyalty” box by his name. Russell starts his campaign for jury votes, making nice with Shambo, “She’s helped us tremendously. I trust her as much as I trust any FOA.” Trust. Disgust. Tomato. Tomatoh.
Jeff politely inquires if “anyone with the immunity necklace around his neck” would like to play it. No thanks, says Russell, “I’m just going to keep it for a souvenir.” Might as well: he certainly hasn't needed it recently.
To no one’s surprise save her own, Shambo is voted off and becomes the seventh member of the jury. Laura’s thrilled. As she toodles off in her black knee socks and boxer-briefs, Shambo grins as if she’d just spelled B-I-N-G-O on her card. In her exit interview, she seems proud to have been FOA FOA’s pawn, and seems perfectly happy to have been so unceremoniously dumped, “The FOA FOA is a very loyal group as they should be. I’m proud of them.” Then she makes a nice remark thanking military families and I feel guilty for snarking. But know this, people, I stand by my appraisal of the Mullet.
Tune in Sunday night at eight—our long tropical nightmare may actually end. Jeff Probst says so, “For the final five, it’s WAR!”