The worst part about watching Big Brother every season is that you know the producers have favorite house guests, and they try to massage the action of the season so the favorites can stay in the game. The good thing about Survivor, BB's classier network sibling, is that it always seemed too high-minded to do that. It would try to shake things up and make the game exciting, but who got voted out always seemed entirely up to the players. They've even lost some good ones when they decided to realign the tribes or throw a hidden immunity idol into the mix. It seemed like the integrity of the game was as high of a priority as making good television. Well, maybe not so much anymore.
Last week, we dealt with the emotional meltdown of a player that everyone who was unstable. A player who, despite the protests of Jeff Probst and other producers, seemed to have been cast just so he could have such an episode. On this week's episode, we had a tribe switch up that, well, it seemed like it was rigged. I don't know if it was, but it certainly seemed like it. If the integrity of the game is being called into question, maybe it's time to reevaluate.
Jeff called the two tribes together under the guise of a reward challenge, but then handed out eggs to each of the players. Each egg had two different colors inside, and everyone would have to burst the eggs to determine their new tribe. Crack, smash, splat — and we have a reshuffle.
The new tribes are "The Bold and the Beautiful" – Eddie, Reynold, Malcolm, Eric, Andrea, Sheri, and Brenda – and the "Not So Young and the Rest of Us" – Corinne, Philip, Michael, Cochran, Dawn, Matt, and Julia. What's funny is that this was a "random" draw, but one team is now poised to dominate and all the couples (Matt and Michael, Cochran and Dawn, Eddie and Reynold, Philip and Insanity) are all intact.
But that's not the worst of it. The episode started off talking about how the Fans tribe finally had a small victory when Brandon was voted off at the immunity challenge, and whether or not that meant they were going to rally. Isn't that a better story going into the episode than "We just made two tribes," especially because the tribes are so stacked? Doing it this week, when the tribes were at eight Favorites and six Fans means that each tribe now has four Favorites and three Fans. What do you think is going to happen? The Favorites are going to pick the Fans off and we'll have a merge made entirely of people who are having a second chance to play. And Reynold, since the editors seem to lurve him.
Why not wait one more week? Why not wait to see if the Fans could rally, win immunity, and force the Favorites to kick someone out? Then the tribes would be at seven and six. When you mix them up, you'd get one tribe where it would be even with Fans and Favorites, giving the Fans a fighting chance in the game. That does not seem to be something Survivor is interested in anymore. It's almost as if the thing is rigged for past players to make it to the finals. It's not enough that they already have more experience in the game; now, the deck is entirely being stacked in their favor.
Back at camp, exactly what you thought was going to happen starts happening: the Favorites start talking about which of then Fans they want to vote out so they can maintain their numbers. Well, not everyone is that loyal. Apparently Corinne would like to play with a gay. Corinne is the kind of girl who is all, "I LOVE MY GAYS!" But the gays (in this case, Michael) have no input on whether or not they get to be loved. No, she's like Elmira on Tiny Toon Adventures where she just scoops this thing up and smothers it with affection that it didn't even ask for.
Anyway, Corinne says that she would turn on her entire tribe so that she could play with a gay. When she says hilariously bitchy things, like declaring Philip to be as annoying as sitting next to a baby (with diarrhea) on a plane, it's obvious that, well, the gays would probably love to play with her too. That was the one good thing about the switch up, that we got to hear more from Corinne. We heard so much, I thought she was a goner for sure.
Philip was also thinking about flipping — or, at least, about getting Julia to flip to his side. Mostly, I think, because she is an attractive young lady and not with any sort of attributes she might have displayed otherwise.
At the immunity challenge, I had a striking sense of deja vu. Wait. Where did I see this before? Oh, last week. This was supposed to be the challenge when Brandon was voted out. They decided to just recycle it. That marks the first night in all 93.7 seasons of Survivor that the challenge builders got a night off. There was a long night of drinking in Manilla, as they finally didn't have to work the next day in the middle of the season. Next week's challenge is sure to suffer.
Anyway, the teams had to push a bunch of boxes across a field and then stack them up. Challenge, challenge, challenge; boring, boring, boring, the Bold and the Beautiful won by a landslide.
Everyone at the Young and the Rest of Us decided they're going to vote off Julia because... obviously. She was a Fan and she sucked at the challenge. Easy peasy. But then, the plan switched to vote out Matt because they know he doesn't have the immunity idol (too desperate, all the experienced players recognize) and they want to break up the power couple of him and Michael. This way, Corinne gets to keep a gay all for herself. We headed to tribal council and Matt and his gross beard were sent packing. Michael ran for cover behind Probst and says, "Don't let her get me!!"
But, yes, I'm afraid this starts a sad chapter in Survivor's history, one where it is more concerned with keeping returning favorites in the game and casting people who are unstable just to bring the "drama." The funny thing is that isn't why any of us fell in love with this show in the first place. We love it for the strategy, for the game play, for the human decisions that can change the balance of power forever, and not shifts made by producers meddling a bit too much.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: CBS]