I’ve been hearing the rumors for years. People on the internet claim their cousin in Poughkeepsie knows somebody who saw one. I never believed it until tonight. It is possible to put on an entertaining recap episode of a reality TV show. I wasn’t even planning on doing a recap of the recap, but if I don’t, there are sure to be whiners the rest of the season “I didn’t know THAT…”
So there I was, sitting on the sofa, leftover turkey leg in one hand, the remote in the other and the TV with the audio on its lowest setting. Just as I’d expected, there was Bwana Jeff doing the old 39 days, yada yada routine. And then she appears, strutting adorably across my screen like a Hollywood starlet in her sassy little white outfit. It’s Daisy! For those of you who’ve forgotten, we first met Daisy at the challenge when Shambo snatched her up, grabbed her around the neck and started slinging her around like a gunny-sack of potatoes. Remember how we cheered when she outsmarted Shambo later that night and escaped the dreadful coop?
It didn’t end there for our darling little chickadee. The awful troglodyte Erik spent days idiotically chasing her through the forest with a club big enough to take down a wildebeest, at the same time ridiculously cajoling her like an ornery cat, “Here, Daisy Daisy, Here Daisy Daisy.” He was on a personal vendetta against a fowl! How valiantly she fought, how loudly she squawked! Every time she flits away I cheer! Suddenly, I realize I’m waving the turkey leg like a cheerleader’s pompom. Shamefully, I slink into the kitchen and stash it in the refrigerator. Sighhh. If I liked vegetables, I’d become a vegetarian.
In the end, Erik rigs a net contraption; Daisy unsuspectingly walks under it and Shambo (who’s probably been lying there for hours on her fat stomach) cuts the cords and Daisy is taken back to her death-row cell. Ah, but there’s a mystery. Even in my distraught state I realize the conversation in the tribe is about their two chickens. I know they started with three. Daisy escaped. Even with my dreadful math skills, I’m certain that leaves two. Daisy is returned. Shouldn’t there be three again? Ah Ha, those sneaky producers are holding out on us again. Remember the fried chicken last week at the reward? Draw your own conclusion.
Bwana Jeff owes us an explanation. Since August, he’s been talking about Shambo as if she’s the Survivor equivalent of Oprah. He just loooves her so much; she’s a great player, one of his favorites ever. Since I’m sure Host Probst wouldn’t lie to us, there are only two possibilities: either he spent the whole six weeks in Samoa smokin’ coconut husks or between now and next week Doc Mick does emergency transplant surgery on the Sarge and gives her a whole new personality.
There’s a scene of Shambo and Laura together on the beach. Shambo’s blubbering. I’m thinking, okay, finally we’re going to get the backstory on Shambo and I’m just going to feel awful about disliking her. I shouldn’t have worried: she can make even a tragic event annoying. “It was on Okinawa. My sarge calls me and says, ‘Corporal Waters, go back to the barracks immediately. It’s a personal matter.’ I’m like: Who Died!? I didn’t even know.” She wipes her snotty nose on her shirt sleeve. (Note to viewers: if you’re bidding in the charity auction on EBay for a souvenir from this season, I do not, repeat, do not, recommend a purple tie-dyed tee shirt.) Laura’s quite the comforter: she remains immobilized on her towel and mutters, “Shambo, I’m just really proud of you.” Then after a long pause, “Try not to be so paranoid.” We only figure out that the departed is Shambo’s sister as she launches into one of her regular rants against Laura: “Laura invaded a private moment. Don’t make me throw up on your face.” Shambo can call Laura a viper all she likes, but it’s her mouth always spewing the vitriol. We see her terrorizing sweet little Monica into voting as she’s told, “Cut the bull*. Purple doesn’t exist. There’s no frickin’ Puff the Magic Dragon” That is exactly why small children should not watch television after eight p.m.
Did I mention that Shambo hates, loathes and despises Laura? In case there was any doubt, tonight there are what feel like dozens of scenes of Shambo on a tirade about how unfairly she’s treated by GALU in general and Laura in particular. Laura might have been lucky to have been sent home early; I’m pretty sure Shambo was carrying a shiv in one of those disgusting black socks lurking around her elephantine ankles.
If you’ve gotten the impression that Shambo drives everybody on the island crazy, that no one can bear to be around her, you’re on the right track. Jasmin ‘accidentally’ refers to her as Shamu. John uses the terms ‘overly aggressive’ and ‘tomboyish, and let me assure you he doesn’t mean tomboy in the sense of “Oh, your little sister’s such a tomboy. That’s so cute.”
The guys plot to use her vote, but they’re terrified of her blundering into ruining all their plans. When Dave tries to befriend her, she snarls “I’m nobody’s ninny.” (The jury will be back on that immediately after lunch from the vending machine.) After that encounter Dave is nearly reeling from the force of Shambo’s wrath, “Whuh, what happened, yo mamma drop you on yo head or something’?” Now don’t be offended by his language: a lot of Opera majors talk like that.
I’ve been on Jaison’s case pretty much from day one, accusing him of slacking off, whining, and riding Russell’s coat-tails. Here's this great-looking, articulate educated guy who seems to be a passionless player. But all is not as it has appeared. Tonight we see that after the mosh-pit slug-fest challenge when Ben gets thrown out, GALU and FOA are talking smack to each other. Jaison’s snarling like the alpha wolf getting ready to tear out a rival’s throat, “I try to play fair, but when other people don’t I’m not going to take it lying down. In the next one, I’m coming after John.”
Later, back at camp, he regrets his words: “I shouldn’t have said what I did. I regret it; I’m not like that. I know guys who get ahead doing stuff like that, but it’s not me. My dad got run off his land in Mississippi by the Klan and worked his way and earned a PhD at Stanford. Sometimes I feel like I have something to prove.”
For the first time all season he showed vulnerability and self-awareness. The show’s editors, by keeping that little vignette from us, missed an opportunity to create fan support and allow us to see the reasons behind some of his actions. Henceforth, at least until he blunders, I’m giving Jaison the benefit of the doubt.
Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Russell’s told so many stories to so many people all season that sorting out any underlying facts has been almost impossible. We’ve seen him lying, conniving and sabotage. We get more of that tonight: he’s off eating papaya alone while his tribe-mates go hungry. And in the middle of the night, after Daisy’s been returned to camp and locked up, he stealthily sneaks over and opens the cage door, “Time for me to create chaos.”
So what has been hidden from us? I cannot believe I’m about to write this, but the troll also has a warm fuzzy adorable side. In numerous scenes he talks about how much he loves his wife and children and giggles that his wife is going to kill him when she sees his shenanigans. He knows that in the real world these hot chicks wouldn’t give him the time of day but out here? Cuddle up and keep warm.
Russell and Mick had been warily circling one another in the early days on FOA, neither sure of what to believe about the other. On Day 15, realizing they’re probably going to need one another late in the game, they mutually confess their real-life statuses. Russell is expecting Mick to be shocked when he tells him, “I’m a multi-millionaire. I own an oil-tanker company in Houston. I made $1.7 million dollars last year. Five years ago I wuz livin’ in a trailer, livin’ check by check.” Mick, who’s kept his occupation from the tribe’s general knowledge, confesses that he’s a doctor, an anesthesiologist. To the camera, Mick muses that neither he nor Russell is exactly desperate for the prize money, “Physicians do pretty well, but we’re not murdering it like we used to.” Murdering it? Interesting choice of words methinks.
More of Russell’s alliance with Natalie is portrayed. In this one he is absolutely confident: he regards Natalie as a pet poodle training to follow him around and fetch his slippers. It would seem he’s planning to take Natalie to the finals, thinking it will be obvious to the jury that she’s been nothing but his “little toy” and doesn’t deserve their votes. And just in case Nat may be smart enough to figure that out, he makes her swear on a stack of Prilosec brochures that if they get to the final three that she won’t eliminate him just because she thinks he can beat her in the vote. Not shown: Natalie’s fingers crossed behind her tiny pink bikini bottoms.
Am I buyin’ Russell’s act? Nah, but my admiration isn’t nearly so grudging after seeing him tonight. Oh, heck, I’ll confess, I’m beginning to find his antics a bit endearing.
scene so far: It’s the middle of the night. The whole tribe, except for Russell, is asleep. He’s just opened the door of the chicken coop and is so giddy with excitement he decides to pull out his hidden immunity necklace, drop it over his head and parade around camp. But wait, he’s not alone! The hapless Dave is also up and about! Doesn’t bother Russell a whit: he calmly stands shoulder to shoulder with Dave at the fire, chatting away. I’m thinking maybe Dave’s going to wish he’d cut off that unabomber hair before he came on the show—maybe then he’d have been able to catch a glimpse of that rope on a rock swinging around Russell’s shirt-front.
Tune in next week. As Bwana Jeff says, “Can anyone stop Russell?” I don’t know, but I’m dying to find out why Russell crows, “I’m gonna write a book about how to win Survivor!” Please feel free to recommend your favorite grammar check software.
Confession: I tried to turn it off, really I did. But the last scene with Shambo and the Cellulites wedged into a tree trunk warbling "Eye of the Tiger" was too dreadful not to watch. After that, the only possible way I could fall asleep was to grab that drumstick out of the fridge and get some more tryptophan in my body. Admit it, you'd have done the same thing.