If you haven’t noticed, the only thing I care about in this season of Survivor is the fate of Blair, the former Facts of Life actress who is wearing her jeans in the ocean (gross), doesn’t have any friends, and is trying to still win a million dollars. If you have been watching the show, you also know that we barely got to see any of Blair. Basically, this episode was the same as every episode we’ve seen so far: everyone scrambled for an immunity idol, Abi was crazy, Russell prayed, Malcolm was dreamy, Team Ponytail lost, and someone went home. That was it. That was the episode.
Initially I thought, “Wow, what a snooze.” Then I was reminded by my pal (over the internet only, I’ve never met the guy) Andy Denhart over at Reality Blurred that this was actually a pretty darn good episode. It’s just that it was different. There were no big moves, crazy play, blindsides, or teenage gay Republicans running around saying vaguely racist things and being awful. It was not Real Housewives of the Philippines. It was something better, it was classic Survivor.
This show has been on for the better part of a decade and it did what any show has to do in order to, well, survive. It got crazier, it adapted with twists to keep things fresh, it got more sensational and went after crazy players rather than interesting players. That is also fun to watch, but it is different from the game initially, which was slower, more deliberately paced, more about what would actually happen if a group of random Americans actually had to pull it together on a desert island. Last night we got some of that when Russell had his outburst at the challenge, where he pleaded with God for a victory and had his entire world view challenged. We saw it again later when Russell was very honest with Denise about how being beaten up as a kid changed his whole life and how he realized he could have power in the face of his attackers. It was real, it was touching, it was genuine. It was the kind of scenario that even the best writer couldn’t come up with, and that is why we tune into reality TV in the first place – for the glimpse of humanity that we never see on the various and sundried NCIS-CSI-SVU-LAPD-FX that clutter the dial.
But, yes, it was slow. It was a bit of a slog, which we’re not used to these days. We’re used to go, go, go Survivor, and we didn’t really get that. We didn’t get our Blair either! That’s because the dreary Team Ponytail has hogged all the action with their horrible losing streak. Oh, they’re so sad. Especially Malcolm. Oh, it pains me to see his gorgeous blue eyes fill up with tears as he loses. I just want to hold him. I just want to hold him in my arms and put his head in my lap and brush my hands over his bulging arm muscles and tell him it will be alright. Then I’ll take his hand and lead him into the ocean and wash all the mud off, scooping up water and pouring it over his hard, manly body as I scrape off the sand. And as our eyes lock and he steps closer, his head cocks to one side and he gets so close I can smell his breath right before….Oh, wow. Sorry. I got a little carried away.
Anyway, over at Team Blair, everyone is playing really hard even though they don’t need to because they haven’t lost a challenge yet. This time around it was Pete (who I always want to call Chris, but whatever) who was instigating drama for no reason. When RC Cola’s bag spilled out, he tossed out the clue for the hidden immunity idol so everyone would see it. He wanted everyone to know that RC found it and that she had kept it from them and to make everyone hate her. You don’t need to do this yet, Pete. You’re playing too hard! Anyway, RC shared the clue with everyone and then Abi refused to talk to her because, I don’t know. Abi has a severe medical condition called Bonkers and now she is convinced RC lied to her and we’re not sure about what and RC is all, “What did I do?” and Abi is all, “You know what you did and I’m not telling you,” and RC is all, “I have no clue,” and I’m all, “Shut up both of you this is super dumb.”
Over at Team Lesbian, Penner and Jeff firm up their alliance when they go fishing and they pull in the other lesbian who happens to be a boy. We only know this because his shirt is off and he has no breasts. Meanwhile the other lesbian, who is for sure a girl, is off fishing in a stream and she wants to make a girl’s alliance, as the lesbians always do. So, this team is divided along gender lines. They are also fishing in a river with a girl named Dawson and they think that we’re not going to make a Dawson’s Creek joke. Oh, they are sadly mistaken. Sadly.
OK, it’s challenge time. They had to haul pots full of rice through an obstacle course and then set them up on these little stands. Then, someone had to break all the pots with a boulder on a string. Since Team Ponytail only has three members, each of the other teams sit out half their squad and they both opt to have all the women sit out. This is a fun new challenge that we haven’t seen before and, yes, it ended up being very cinematic in its photo finish between Team Ponytail and Team Lesbian where the Sapphic Sisters eek out a victory and send Team Ponytail to tribal council for the fourth time in a row.
Back at camp the editors work really hard to make us think that each person wants a different person out and there is lots of double dealing going on, but we all know that Denise and Dream Date Malcolm are going to send Russell home. Oh, poor Russell. He wants to think he’s so great. He wants to think that he is made for excellence, and that may be the case, but it is not the case in this game. He just hasn’t been able to deliver at all. Here is a guy who has been Type A his whole life, thinking that if he puts his effort into something, he will be rewarded, and that is not the case here. He is outmatched. And he cries out to God to help him and God is not listening because he is watching The X Factor since that show needs all the help he can give it.
In the end, he goes home to pray to Lord, to take things more slowly, to look at the stillness and not be bored. No, that is what we’re supposed to do. Screw that. Next week we want more Blair and some fighting please. We can only take old Survivor for so long!
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: CBS]