I'm so glad that there is only one thing to really talk about on last night's episode of Survivor, and I think that it's something that, just as the preview at the end of last week's episode predicted, we'll be talking about for a long time: the Brandon Hantz meltdown. Sure, there was a reward challenge and Reynold found the Idol that he played six hours earlier and it rained and some monkeys picked bugs out of each others' fur and ate them, but who cares. We need to talk about Brandon.
Now, I'm not exactly sure what happened or how the cause created the effect of Brandon essentially quitting the game, but you can not make sense out of a person who appears to be either dreadfully stupid or mentally ill. I think the gist is that Phillip was annoying him (I can see how easily that would happen) and he lashed out at him. Then he apologized to Philip, who said that Brandon better be nice to him or he would be voted off. Then Brandon went berserk and spilled the rice on the ground and then poured out the beans, leaving the entire tribe with nothing to eat. But his rationale made absolutely no sense at all. "Now vote me out, bitch," he screamed on the beach. Yeah, they are going to vote you out. That's not really the threat you imagine it to be. That's something you holler when you win an immunity challenge and show your haters that you're impossible to eject, not when they are assured to snuff out your torch.
At the immunity challenge, it was clear that something was amiss (and the producers probably clued Jeff into it before they even got there), and Brandon made a speech to the Fans and was called over to Jeff for the world's longest and most uncomfortable neck rub every aired on television. After Corinne's very measured speech taking into consideration both Jeff and the other tribe (is she in PR or something?) Probst saw that Brandon had essentially quit and that everyone would vote for him anyway so he held tribal council right there and sent Brandon packing. That was, of course, after Brandon and Philip shouted over everyone and threw easy pot shots.
Ever since the "Favorites" landed on the beach, Brandon has been saying that he was going to pee in the rice and beans so this seems like something he was determined to do. He said it multiple times. It's as if he sat at home and made up what he was going to do and just waited for the slightest provocation to carry out his plan. That is because he is insane or, as he hinted in his speech, people made fun of him for crying on his last season of Survivor so he would rather the world think that he is a mentally unbalanced psycho than someone who actually has and feels emotions.
But just look at his family — his uncle Russell is one of the most notorious assholes to ever play the game, and his cousin Willie had a spectacular a flame-out on Big Brother last season. Probst asked if it is "something in the blood," and I don't think that's true, but it's something in the completely misplaced values that everyone in the family seems to share: being seen as an aggressive badass is better than getting along or winning.
The central problem with Brandon's argument is that it is completely illogical to being on and winning this show. When Philip told him not to "bite the hand that feeds him," Brandon decided that he is the "author of my own fate," as he told us loudly a million times. That fate is going home. That fate is quitting. That fate is terrorizing and torturing everyone. That is the fate you want to construct? Shouldn't the fate be winning a million dollars?
Brandon would rather evict himself from the game than win it by someone else's rules. Doesn't he realize that if he kept calm he could have evicted Philip? Dawn, Andrea, and Eric were all his friends, and trusted and liked him. That's an alliance of five. That is enough to get Philip out. But rather than do that, he'd rather go ape and ruin the game for everyone. Again, it doesn't make sense, but, again, I'm not crazy.
Brandon did have valid points before going bonkers. Yes, Philip's "Stealth LTD" is stupid and his little nicknames are infantilizing everyone. Yes, he is annoying and takes the credit for everything. Yes, everyone made fun of him while Boston Rob took him to the end so that he could beat him in the finals so his confidence is entirely misplaced. But wouldn't it be better to spell out this case to everyone else rather than going berserk and assuring that he would be the one kicked out?
Now, I can see why he spilled out the rice. Before he left, his uncle, three-time Survivor loser Russel Hantz said, "You don't take no shit from no one. They try to tell you who's in charge, you pee in the rice. That's how you play like a man! That's how you play Survivor." That is why Brandon, never the brightest crayon the tool shed, had that "pee in the rice" thing stuck in his head — that is what Russell told him he had to do. Know what? Russell does not know how to play Survivor! If he did, he would have won by now. But he has lost. He has lost three times. That's more than anyone. Know who knows how to play Survivor? Sandra Diaz-Twine, who has won both of the two times she played. Why don't you follow her example of coalition building, dissembling, and being the constant swing vote. That seems to be much more effective and she did it (as Brandon claims to have played but did not) on her own terms.
So, yes, Brandon has his macho intact. He can go home and Russell and Willie and all the guys at the barber shop will be really proud of him. But everyone else watching will only talk about what a loser and idiot he is, and how he needs to seek help. That seems like a Pyrrhic victory at best. "My exit was glorious," he said after his eviction. No it was not, it was stupid. But he has his manhood. That's all that matters to him. What's more glorious? That no one saw you cry or a million dollars? Yes, Brandon — you chose wrong.
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[Photo Credit: CBS]