Friday, February 19, 2010

Searching For Signal: #106 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 2

We start out at the Villains Camp. It’s night time, so they’ve got that creepy camera going where people look like aliens. Buckets of rain are pouring down, so everyone is huddled under their crappy shelter, whining because their lame hut isn’t keeping out the rain.

Folks, it’s almost Day Four, and your shelter still looks like something that pre-schoolers would make out of popsicle sticks and macaroni. Yet every one of you has played this game before. Why are you surprised that you need to have a decent place to live? Did you not get the brochure?

Then we focus on Boston Rob. He’s basically OVER all of these people right now, and the expression on his face indicates that he could go postal at any minute. In a sidebar, he vents about always being on lazy, loser tribes. Then he stomps off and wanders up and down the beach in the midnight rain. I’m half expecting Oceanic Flight 815 to crash land while he’s doing this.

Opening credits roll.

We’re still at the Villains camp, and it’s the next morning. We have a sunrise scene with Jerri and Coach flirting with each other, which causes me to lose interest in the pizza slice I had been greatly enjoying up to that point. Then we have a sidebar with Randy, who’s also not happy about the state of the shelter. (Then why don’t you do something about it, Randy and Rob? Just sayin.)

Eventually, everybody drags their lazy asses out of the shelter, and decide that they need to do something about their quarters. So we have several scenes that clearly demonstrate that no one knows what that “something” should be. When Parvati makes a suggestion about one of the design elements, Russell snaps at her and tells her to shut up. (Just what kind of sand is in HIS underwear?)

Then we zip over to the Heroes Camp, where everyone is still working together in harmony, accomplishing great things and dancing with butterflies. Their shelter looks like the Taj Mahal in comparison to the villains. They’re so productive, it wouldn’t surprise me if they built a factory and started manufacturing modular housing made out of hemp.

Then we have a sidebar with Rupert, where he makes it known that he wants to get rid of Stephenie. Really? What’s up with that? Rupert proceeds to march into camp and starts criticizing everything that Stephenie does or says. This is SO not like Rupert’s mode of operation in past seasons. Is his broken toe starting to get on his nerves? (And that beard of Rupert’s. I’m half expecting Ozzy to pop out of it, waving one of the Immunity Idols he never played.)

So then we have a sidebar with Stephenie, where she’s understandably a little mystified with the Rupert situation. She wants to challenge him, but is afraid that it will make her a target. (Good point to an extent, but darlin, you’re already a target for whatever reason. You need to do some damage control, stat.)

Back over to the Villains Camp, where they’re still working on the shelter, or at least still standing around and trying to decide HOW to work on the shelter. They really aren’t getting anything done, fiddling around with twigs and moss and coconuts. Rob gets fed up with all this pointless nothingness and stomps off, telling Sandra that he’s done.

Rob in a sidebar: “I wanted to be the diplomat this time instead of the dictator.” Okay, that’s very noble of you. But you’re in a tribe filled with people who have back-stabbed so many times that they have carpal tunnel. These people don’t know diplomacy from a pothole.

Rob wanders off into the jungle, with Jerri tagging along somewhat behind him. She’s carrying a machete for no explained reason. (Is she about to have her own form of tribal council, where she just kills people instead of voting them out? That would be an interesting but questionable change from the normal routine of people hauling around torches and sitting at a campfire.)

Suddenly, Rob drops to the ground, out cold. Jerri rushes up to him, still waving that damn machete around while she’s trying to wake him up. (Girl, get rid of the weapon. How do you think he’s going to feel if he comes to and you’re on top of him with a knife?)

Rob regains consciousness long enough to gasp “Get help.”

Jerri scampers off, running to find Medical.

And I’m thinking, there is a CAMERA PERSON filming all of this. Are you telling me that this cinematographer doesn’t have a walkie-talkie that he can grab and speed up this process a little bit? (“Yo, Jeff. I think one of your cast members just died. Can you help us out?”) But no, Jerri and her hair are leaping over fallen trees and avoiding Tarzan as he swings through the trees on his way to a lunch date with Jane.

So Medical finally arrives, babbling away in that odd Australian accent that has always baffled me. Their verdict is that he’s just fine, maybe a touch of the flu. (Flu? Do they HAVE flu on tropical islands? Who hired these people?)

Jeff wanders in, looking all crisp because he probably just stepped off a helicopter from Monte Carlo. He has a dialogue with Rob, wherein Rob fesses up that he thinks his debilitating condition is the result of not being evil. “I’ve got to stop being the good guy, it’s making me sick.”

There’s a new one. Exactly how do you write THAT up on your insurance claims? “I’m in bad health because I haven’t hurt anybody today.”

Rob gets a second wind, and wanders back into camp. All the Villains rush up to greet and hug him, in a display of total bogus crap. You know that every one of them is thinking “Damn, there’s still going to be Tribal this week.”

Time for the only Challenge on this episode, which is a combo Reward and Immunity. (The Reward is a tarp, rope and nails, which the Villains desperately need to enhance their pathetic, basically non-existent shelter. The Immunity part, of course, means that you don’t have to tromp up the stairs to the Ewok Village.)

In this competition, they have to run across the sand, two at a time from each tribe, and then roll these giant puzzle crates back to the staging area where everybody then stacks the heavy crates up to spell out their tribe name.

When Jeff announces that JT (as well as two people of the Villains tribe) has played this particular game before, the Heroes immediately agree that JT should call the shots during the puzzle part. This proves to be a critical plot point as the episode progresses.

At first, the Heroes are doing really well. They get all of their crates back first and start working on the puzzle aspect, long before the Villains reach that point. (As the Villains are desperately trying to catch up, one of the huge cubes whacks Parvati in the head during her run. To her credit, she shakes it off and keeps going. I have to give up a little bit of respect for that, even though I basically don’t care for her at all. Other people would have flopped on the sand and waited for Medical to show up and start speaking Australian.)

Sadly, the Heroes completely fall apart during the puzzle phase. (Déjà vu from last week, yes?) No one is listening to JT and there’s lots of arguing. (And to be honest, JT had such a confused look on his face, not even trying to work it out, that I don’t think it mattered WHO they were listening to.) They fail miserably.

And the Villains win Immunity, mainly because Rob took over, whipped those people into line, and showed incredible physical strength, at one point supporting one of the huge cubes all by himself. (Guess he got over that flu pretty quick, huh? Must have been a two-hour bug.)

As the Villains celebrate, James goes off on the other Heroes, screaming about “ONE VOICE!” and whatnot. Then he decides to focus specifically on Stephenie, and tries to rip her up verbally. Seriously, they were all screwing up, so I don’t know why he singled her out. (And folks, you don’t DO this in front of the other tribe, you do it later, just like when Mom would wait until you got home before she beat your ass for acting up in Church.)

Then we have James in a sidebar, where he spells out why he doesn’t care for Stephenie. She’s the only person in Survivor history whose tribe dwindled down to just one person before the merge, meaning that her tribe kept losing and she was somehow at fault. Okay, James, here’s the deal: Stephenie SURVIVED to the end of her tribe. Girl was doing something right. Your logic doesn’t compute.

But James does NOT let it go.

We head back to the Heroes camp.

Initially, we have JT in a sidebar, where he fusses about people not listening to him during the challenge. (Dude, I didn’t hear you trying all that hard to take control, just sayin.) Then everybody’s piled in the shelter, and James goes off again. His comments are somewhat fair, with the business about nobody listening to JT, but he goes too far. And then he says that he’s “not used to losing”.

Hmm. James did not win Survivor with his first two seasons. Doesn’t that count as losing? Did I not get a memo?

Cut over to the Villains Camp, where everybody (save one) is loving on Rob and the way he pulled the team together, allowing them to come from behind. Who refuses to join the party? Russell, of course, because the spotlight is not on him. In his desperate, needy bid for attention, he runs off and kills a chicken that is wandering by. Look, Napoleon and your short-man syndrome, you used a spear to kill a tiny animal while it was pecking at something on the ground. Not impressed. Neither is the chicken.

Back to the Heroes camp, where James is running around telling everybody that Stephenie has got to go, offering up his illogical reasoning that she was the last member of her tribe. His reasoning still does not make any sense, but some of his tribe mates are nodding their heads like this is the most intelligent thing ever uttered by someone who hasn’t bathed in a week.

Sidebar with Tom, Stephenie and Colby, where they realize that they’re on the outs with the rest of the tribe. (I hadn’t realized all THREE of them were outcasts until now. Thank you, Survivor editors, for once again only showing us part of the story.) Tom: “We need Candice and Cirie on our side, so we can send Amanda home.” They’ve got to get more votes.

So Stephenie races off to confab with Cirie, telling her that she’s probably next if she doesn‘t do something drastic. Cirie seems to be sympathetic to Stephenie’s cause. But we also know Cirie’s past, where she’s shown people sympathy before and then helped to send those people home. She’s done some manipulative damage in her time. In fact, I’m a smidge surprised that Cirie did not end up on the Villains tribe. She’s a hoot and all, I’ll grant you that, but she’s no saint.

Meanwhile, Tom is working on Candice. Surprisingly, Candice, doesn’t play any games or make fake promises. “I’ve gotta think of ME.” And right when she said that, my Survivor instincts kicked in, just like they did with Natalie last season. Do we have an underdog here that might just flip this thing around? Way too early to tell, really, but we’ll see. And didn’t Candice openly switch tribes during her season when Jeff gave folks the chance to do so? Somebody’s gonna remember that.

Next is a scene with Candice and Cirie, where they basically bond as they try to figure out how to vote. (Cirie had a grain of sand on the end of her nose, which completely threw me off. I tried to stay focused, but how could she not feel that chunk of quartz bobbing around?) The scene ends with Cirie saying “As long as it’s not us, it don’t much matter to me.”


Right away, James goes after Stephenie, throwing her under the bus with a vengeance. Stephenie tries to argue back, but he’s on a roll and not stopping. He’s seriously out of line, saying things that make no sense whatsoever. Stephenie points out his fallacies, but he’s not listening. Colby jumps in and defends Stephenie. Then Tom jumps in and does the same. James doesn’t care, he keeps ripping at Stephenie, using some language that has to be bleeped. James is not right in the head at this point.

Jeff actually tries to stop all this, pointing out that “we’re on day SIX” and this shouldn’t be happening if the tribe wants to survive.

Then Jeff switches directions by asking the tribe about past alliances, and how they are playing out today. In the ensuing discussion, Cirie, who was tight with Amanda at one point in a previous season but got kicked to the curb right at the last moment, basically says that she doesn’t want to be with Amanda at the end this time around. (Amanda doesn’t catch this at all and just stares at the fire, probably wondering if she can find something even smaller to wear during the next competition.)

But will Cirie actually write Amanda‘s name down?

So the tribe marches off to vote, and Jeff goes to “tally the vote”, which always means “arrange the votes for the most drama”.

Stephenie, Colby and Tom vote for Amanda. Everyone else votes for Stephenie.

As her torch is extinguished and she prepares to leave…

Stephenie: “Really needs to be a little less cursing at Tribal.”

James: “Keep your mouth shut.”

Tom, fed up with James: “Oh, come ON.”

My thoughts? Bad move on the tribe’s part, as we already have blind sheep doing stupid things. Stephenie is not my favorite. (She made an anti-gay slur in her second season, and things like that stick with me.) But she’s better than Amanda, and Cirie, when it comes to challenges, and this tribe needs to start winning things, pronto.

But the real focus is James. I don’t know what crawled up his butt, but he’s going to implode. Soon.

Stay tuned…


  1. Brilliantly written....I have watched every season of Survivor...I LOVE your take...almost better than watching it myself.

  2. I have never watched Survivor. Guess I don't have to start if I just read you.