Survivor Episode 2 (9/22): What a Tangled Web He Weaves
Previously on Survivor, the sixteen new contestants learned that they would be joined by two legendary losers, Bobby Jon and Stephenie. Stephenie’s Yaxha tribe and Bobby Jon’s Nakum tribe raced 11 miles through the jungle for the better camp and flint. Former NFL quarterback Gary tried to keep his identity a secret while Blake had an unhappy encounter with a thorny tree. In the end, Nakum barely won reward and, the tribe’s men barely survived the ordeal. At the immunity challenge, Nakum paid the price and Stephenie experienced her first tribal immunity win ever. Jim and his torn arm muscle were sent home.
Saving the Best for Last
Night 3 and Day 4
As the episode opens, a discouraged Bobby Jon and the rest of Nakum stumbles back to camp. Bobby Jon tells us that it feels like he lives at tribal council and is paying rent there. After saying that he is ready for that to change, Bobby Jon throws up yet again. Margaret feels like Nakum doesn’t have the energy to suffer an emotional hit. They are suffering enough physically. It was a sick feeling knowing they had to go to tribal council and even worse coming back to camp.
The next morning all at Yaxha is harmony and light. In other words, Foreshadowing’s large feet are present. Someone says that he thought the other team was a powerhouse but guesses they weren’t. Stephenie pipes up and offers her opinion that Nakum doesn’t look like they are having fun. She blames it on Bobby Jon being so damn serious. Brianna adds that Yaxha is getting to know each other really well and thinks that everyone has great qualities.
Jamie tells us that it is better to be diverse like their tribe. After all, they have a bum (him), a police officer, a magician’s assistant, a fish monger, a gay guy (being gay is an occupation? Who knew?), and a landscaper. If only Jamie knew that the landscaper was also an ex-NFL quarterback. That might change his opinion of his tribe’s diversity.
Gary the ex-NFL quarterback/landscaper comes back to camp and casually mentions that a tarantula jumped on his arm. I guess after being run down by a 350 pound lineman, a spider’s not a big deal. Personally, I’d rather face the lineman. In confessional, Gary tells us that he told everyone he was a landscaper and not an ex-professional football player because no one asked him what he did fifteen years ago.
In a continuing show of Yaxha’s unity, Stephenie braids Morgan’s hair. Stephenie is psyched by her new tribe. She says that she is having fun and that camp life is much different than anything she experienced before. This is hardly surprising given that her first tribe set a record for consecutive immunity losses.
Over at Nakum, Judd announces that they have tree mail. The Survivor poet is up to his usual sucky standards. Nakum reads that hunger is a burden, you need energy to compete, you’ve been caught in a web of hardship, winning this one will help you compete. Or at least that’s close enough. Blake confesses that this was the last thing he wanted to hear. For some reason, he’s having a hard time breathing and really isn’t feeling up to a challenge. Maybe it has something to do with those thorns buried deep in his arm? He hasn’t slept for the previous three or four days and drinking water doesn’t seem to be helping.
Nurse Margaret is really worried about Blake. She says that he’s heaving and struggling to get his breath. She continues to minister to him placing wet buffs on his head while he’s lying on the ground and heaving. Brandon confesses that he’s worried about Blake’s ability to compete. We are then treated to more shots of Blake writhing on the ground. Not that I object to watching men writhe but did we really need this much of Blake’s struggles? Brandon closes the segment with the dreaded but. He thinks that Blake is a good guy and everything but Brandon is more one of those tougher guys. In other words, he thinks Blake is a wuss.
Per usual, Jeff welcomes everyone to the reward challenge and tells Yaxha to take their first look at the new Nakum minus Jim. He tells them that the challenge will involve racing one at a time up a ramp, and across a net to a rope spider’s web. Attached to the spider’s web are eight bags. The Survivors have to crawl on the underside of the web, untie a bag, drop in the water, and go back to the start with the bag. If anyone drops in the water without a bag, they have to return to the start and the next person will go. Everyone has to attempt the course at least once. Once everyone has gone, anyone can go in any order. The tribes learn that they are playing for fishing gear including worms, cork, hooks, a filet knife, weights, and twine. Yaxha chooses to sit out Amy.
First to take the course is Jamie and Bobby Jon. While Jamie makes quick work of fetching a bag, Bobby Jon stumbles and is slow getting back to the starting line. Brian hits the course next for Yaxha. Once Bobby Jon finally gets back to the start, Cindy takes off. She manages to make up a lot of ground and blow by Brian. Blake and Stephenie go next and are just about dead even. Yaxha takes a bit of a lead as Gary goes up against Brandon.
At this point, the challenge gets more difficult because the only bags left are at the back of the web. Brandon manages to pass Gary and give his tribe a lead. Margaret and Rafe are next on the course for their respective teams. Margaret manages to get a bag and head back to the start. Rafe, on the other hand, is the first Survivor to drop in the water without retrieving a bag. He then compounds his error by struggling mightily to get up the ladder and return to the start. Judd takes a header into the net. Once Rafe finally makes it back to the starting line, Morgan takes off on the course. Judd gives Yaxha a ray of hope by falling in the water without a bag. The rail thin Danni then takes her turn. Girl has some fierce hip bones. Morgan successfully returns with a bag. Brianna on the other hand drops in the water without a bag. Lydia takes off while Danni returns with Nakum’s sixth bag and Brooke takes her turn. Lydia manages to get Yaxha’s sixth bag and Jamie goes next for Yaxha. Even though Brooke successfully fetches the seventh bag, Jamie does as well and makes up a ton of time. The last two on the course are Blake and Brian. Yes, that Blake, the one who can’t breath and has been retching for days. It’s a close battle but Blake manages to barely beat Brian back to the finish and then collapses. Nakum proudly takes their fishing gear and a spent Blake back to camp.
Ants Aren’t Just for Dinner Anymore
As Brandon explains, the next morning Nakum gets up at “the butt crack of dawn” to take advantage of their reward and go fishing. Both Brandon and a feeling much better Blake manage to catch decent sized fish. We aren’t talking whales but at least the fish look like more than skin and bones.
Meanwhile, the food situation at Yaxha is much bleaker. Stephenie is pulling up a plant and examining its roots. Rafe says that maybe they should have some corn and tells us that everyone is in desperation food mode and is willing to try everything at least once. Well maybe not everything. No one takes Rafe up on his offer of an ugly ass grasshopper. Gary tells us that the tribe has had a busy morning ad everyone but Morgan is working hard. To illustrate his point, we see Morgan sitting, drinking water, and dangling her feet in the lake. Lydia on the other hand comes up with the clever idea of making a little cove/inlet to trap fish and then use a burlap bag to collect them.
Rafe and Gary decide to bring a portion of an enormous ant nest back to camp complete with ants to snack on. Stephenie doesn’t seem very impressed and asks if the ants can bite. When informed they can, she decides to stick with corn and water until she wins a food challenge. Rafe enjoys the ants commenting that they have a nice zing to them.
When Lydia returns to camp, Rafe politely asks her if she had any luck with the burlap sack clearly expecting the answer to be, “No.” He is stunned when Lydia calmly announces that she caught ten little minnows. She’s right; they are little but fish nonetheless. Rafe is not right when he says that’s a minnow a piece. That’s actually a minnow and a nibble on the tenth one a piece. Lydia fries up her catch and everyone enjoys the fish a great deal more than the ants. Afterwards, Lydia says in confessional that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. She’s clearly feeling good about her position in the tribe. That will change later.
At Nakum, Blake is breathing hard again and burping. Judd has had enough of watching Blake get coddled and complains both to the camera and to Brandon that Blake does nothing all day and mimics Margaret telling Blake to sit down, relax and get some water. Brandon kind of noncommittally agrees with Judd. Foreshadowing then bonks us all on the head as Judd says that he wants to be the hero.
Happy as a Pig in Slop
Bobby Jon is blowing into his hands and still not feeling well at Nakum when tree mail arrives for the immunity challenge. Bobby Jon proves that he can in fact read by reading it aloud. The tree mail says, “Blood sweat tears and mud today you’ll be giving it all stretching pulling scraping clawing this could be a brawl. The hardest work since you’ve arrived will happen here today. You decide how much sweat to give. Tonight one more goes away.” Bobby Jon again surprises me and is quick enough to figure out the challenge is going to involve a tug of war. Nakum then discusses technique to prepare for the challenge.
In confessional, Danni says that Nakum has a lot of good athletes but Yaxha’s right there too. She explains that they all know Stephenie is an amazing athlete from Palau. Then Danni drops the bomb. Because she works in sports radio, she knows that Gary used to be a professional quarterback. She makes me chuckle and quarterbacks everywhere wince when she says that quarterbacks aren’t usually as good athletes as the rest of football players but he’s been holding his own so we shall see what happens. Buck up Gary. She could have said kickers were better athletes than quarterbacks.
At the immunity challenge, Jeff takes the immunity idol back from Lydia. Sure enough, the challenge is a good old fashioned tug of war in a big muddy rectangular pit. Both tribes are connected by a common rope to which each participant is hitched by their own individual line. At opposite ends of the pit are flags for each tribe. There is also a rope anchored at each end of the pit. If a tribe can reach their rope, they can use it to gain some leverage and pull themselves to their flags. There is a little twist though. At any time, any member of either team can try to interfere with any member of the opposing team to impede their progress. Jeff tells them that if at the end of fifteen minutes neither tribe has retrieved a flag, they will move on to a series of one on one competitions. I think Mark Burnett was afraid if he let the team challenge go on indefinitely, someone like Bobby Jon would have died of exhaustion before giving up. Brianna wisely sits out for Yaxha.
Nakum starts off with a slight lead and we get treated to a primal scream from Bobby Jon. At some point, Brian gets bored and decides the rules of the challenge give him a good excuse to go wrestle with Danni. Margaret eventually pitches in to help Danni. We are then treated to a strange shot of Danni whispering to Brian which gets explained later. With one minute left, Blake tries to lead a charge for Nakum but the fifteen minutes expires before either tribe can get one of their flags.
The rules for the one on one portion of the challenge are simple. Each round is five minutes. The individual closest to their tribe’s flags wins a flag at the end of the five minutes. The members of a tribe can go in any order and as many times as they want. The first tribe to three flags wins immunity.
The first two to go for their respective tribes are Judd and Gary. At first, neither seems to make much progress on budging the other. Danni then decides it’s an opportune moment to yell that he’s a quarterback and you’re like a linebacker. Her ploy seems to work as Gary appears to be stunned and momentarily lose his concentration which is all Judd needs to make some progress. Gary eventually runs over and tries to tackle Judd, but it is too little, too late and Nakum wins the first flag.
Brandon and Jamie take on one another in the second round. They go back and forth until Jamie tries to make a move and falls down. This allows Brandon to drag him across the mud and actually claim a flag. After two rounds, it’s Nakum 2, Yaxha 0.
Jamie stays out there for Yaxha and Judd comes out for his second turn. Jamie makes a big move at the beginning of the round and has a huge advantage when Jeff tells them that there are 30 seconds left. Judd plays possum and finally with 8 seconds left, Jamie relaxes and Judd makes his move. He drags Jamie across the mud to claim immunity for Nakum as time expires. Judd got to play hero just like he wanted.
Like Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off
Back at Yaxha, everyone is trying to clean off the mud that is caked all over them from the challenge. Rafe says that it was a tough challenge, and they gave it everything they had but now they have to go to tribal tonight. Stephenie says that they just need to clean up and have a good dinner. She confesses to the camera that she is completely nervous and that the game is one big bag of nerves for her. She feels like she always has to be on her toes and always has to be watching. As it turns out, she’s right.
The guys are discussing who to vote out and Jamie is definitely lobbying for Stephenie to go. Gary isn’t so sure that’s the wise choice stating in confessional that Yaxha needs to keep strength on their side for the challenges.
Stephenie learns from Amy that there is talk of booting her. Despite what she said earlier, Stephenie seems shocked. She says that she thinks it is coming from inexperience on Jamie’s part and wonders why you’d want to get rid of the strongest girl at this point. She is determined to reverse the tide and states that she refuses to go early this time.
Meanwhile, Brian decides to ask Gary if he really is an ex-NFL quarterback. He tells Gary that Danni is a sportscaster and told him that Gary was a quarterback when they were wrestling in the mud. Gary lies not very convincingly and says no. In confessional, Gary admits that he thinks his only strategy is to deny it and play it by ear because he thinks he’ll be voted off immediately if his tribe learns about his former profession.
Later, things seem to have changed as we see Rafe, Gary, and Amy discussing whether to boot either Lydia or Morgan. Gary sees it as a choice between someone who is limited in challenges, Lydia, and someone who does nothing around camp, Morgan. Stephenie joins them and says that they should keep whoever is better at challenges. At this point, everyone seems to agree to get rid of Lydia. Brian definitely thinks this is a mistake and argues that Lydia does a lot around camp. Lydia may have been right about a key to a man’s heart; or at least his vote.
Brian then goes and tells Lydia she’s in danger and that she should speak to the others about why she should stay. That’s a move that could either help him in the future or back fire greatly. A worried Lydia takes his advice and talks to Gary. Gary can’t even look at her as she’s saying that she doesn’t think it is right to vote her off because she puts her heart and soul into ever challenge. Just before heading to tribal council, Rafe says that the main thing is that the tribe votes in a unified matter and that there not be some crazy vote that will leave them fractured back at camp. I’m pretty sure Rafe wouldn’t feel the same way if people were suggesting voting him out.
At tribal council, Jeff starts out with the ritual of asking them to each take a torch and light it and reminding them that fire represents life. Once every one is seated, Jeff asks Stephenie to catch him up on the status of the tribe and what her reception was like having already played the game before. Stephenie says that they were really welcoming and that they are one tribe but as always there are lies. Jamie is direct and says that Stephenie is a threat because she knows the game really well and is more like a boy. Sexist much Jamie? Jeff asks him who doesn’t play like a guy. Jamie ducks a little and just says that no one else plays as well as Stephenie. Jeff says to Lydia that looking at it from the outside, she might be the least equipped. Lydia looks at him firmly and says she is equipped. Jeff states to Morgan that he can see the tribe is unified but someone has to go home. Morgan blithely says that she thinks she knows what’s going on while Rafe repeats his earlier statement that he is basing his vote on keeping the tribe unified.
As they vote, we see Brian say that he hopes this worked and that he scrambled at the last minute. We see Morgan vote for Lydia while stating it’s the hardest decision she’ll make in the game. As it turns out, it’s the last decision she’ll make because everyone else votes for Morgan. We don’t even see her wave or say goodbye to the tribe. While Yaxha starts to head back to camp, Jeff says that he is a little confused because the tribe seems unified but the person voted off never saw it coming.
Nakum defies the crocodiles, Brandon declares that he’s never felt more alive which is probably his death knell in the game, and Amy is in trouble with what appears to be a sprained ankle but declares she’s not giving up.
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