Friday, April 9, 2010

Searching For Signal: #119 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 8

We start out with the Villains arriving back at camp after the ouster of Rob. As expected, Russell is being his usual blowhard self, while Parvati is throwing out lines like “I just love blindsiding people” and Danielle is doing a shimmy dance of celebration and backstabbing. Nothing new, really.

Cut to Coach in a sidebar: “Russell is a bully.” He’s playing to prove his power and not playing to win the game. Normally don’t care for Coach, but that was a pretty on-target. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but Russell’s ego is his own worst enemy.

Then we have Coach and Jerri standing on a beach, with everything looking all stark and dreary like we’re trapped in an Ingmar Bergman film where everybody is sad and people die. Jerri is quibbling about whether or not it was a smart move to send Rob home, and Coach surprises me again by directly confronting her: “Why were you so quick to get rid of him?” Jerri gets a little snippy about it, but really doesn’t answer the question. Why DID you do that, Jerri? You think Russell has any intention of paying it forward with you? But Jerri just stands there in a dramatic pose while the wind whips her mass of hair around, causing a planetary imbalance.

Another sidebar with Coach, talking about the Villains chances as a tribe: “We’re toast. Pray for the merge.”

Roll opening credits. (Followed by a batch of commercials, including one for the TV show “Medium”. Seriously? That show is still on? And is Patricia Arquette ever going to find a haircut that is actually flattering?)

Now we’re at the Heroes camp, where everyone is fiddling around with the shelter in some unexplained effort to improve it. Except for JT. He goes wandering off to find the hidden Immunity Idol. (Wait, isn’t HE the one that said they should all find it together and use it together? Interesting.) Amanda, who does have moments of inspiration from time to time before she lapses back into catatonia, decides to follow him.

We see JT find the Idol, followed two seconds later by Amanda confronting him about what he’s doing. He fesses up, and shows her the hallowed green thing. Then Candice comes running down the same path, and he has to show her. Within a few more seconds, the whole tribe knows. JT, doing some spin control: “I’ll give it to the first one of us that needs it. After the merge.” Good save, JT. But really, don’t you think there’s going to be some fallout from you breaking your own directive?

Turns out, yes there is. Candice wanders over to Amanda, who is busy adjusting her cleavage for the cameras: “Good thing you walked up on him.” Then Candice in a sidebar, where she proclaims JT the “slimiest thing” around. She goes on for a while about JT being Satan with a broken tooth. Come on, Candice. You’re the one that kept changing tribes every other episode in your original season.

But Candice isn’t done with the JT thing. She tracks down Amanda again, digging for dirt. “JT’s in an alliance with everyone. Is he in an alliance with you?” Amanda gets an expression on her face like she would rather stab herself in the eye with Rupert’s broken toe before admitting that she IS in cahoots, sort of, with JT. Then she comes back with: “Is he in an alliance with YOU?” They glare at each other for a while.

Cut over to the Villains camp, where Russell and Danielle are eating what appear to be barbequed rocks. Not sure what that was. Then we have more scenes with people talking about how hungry they are, and other scenes with weakened people lying on the beach, their energy depleted, especially Jerri, who apparently can’t lift her head because her hair is too heavy.

Luckily, tree mail arrives so we don’t have to see anymore of that mess. There’s a challenge coming up, but the description is kind of vague. Some of the Villains decide that it’s going to be an “individual” challenge, and therefore the tribes are about to merge. That’s not how I took it. Then again, I’m sitting in the comfort of my home, while these people are eating rocks and believing anything Russell says. In any case, the Villains decide to pack up everything in camp in case they aren’t coming back.

Time for the Reward Challenge.

Both tribes traipse into the playing area and have to pass a rustic little hut where steaming pizzas and sodas and such are on display. When the Heroes realize that the Villains have sent home Rob, all of their jaws drop. Jeff jumps on this, asking them what they think.

Rupert jumps right in and further confirms that he has lost his credibility and respect this season, spouting off about Rob’s departure confirming that this is the result of an “all-girl alliance” on the Villains tribe. How the hell did you get THAT, Rupe? If you’re really paying attention, you would realize that Russell is currently running the show over at the other camp. Oh wait. In order to realize this, you would have to get off your Yoda log and do some actual work. My bad.

Then Jeff stokes the fire by babbling about how long they’ve been out there on the island, and the tribes are whittling down. The Villains are cheering and waving their campfire accessories. The Heroes are gulping and not really relishing a merge at this point. (If they only knew about the dissension in the Villains camp, they would actually welcome a merge, since they would instantly gain some disgruntled flippers.) Jeff finally comes out with: “Everybody drop your…. expectations.” No merge. The Villains now look silly, and the Heroes look relieved.

On to the actual challenge, which is basically “Survivor Bowling”, with the first tribe to win three rounds gaining access to the pizza. The Heroes get off to a great start, solidly winning the first two rounds. Then they hit a speed bump in the third round, where Colby does a dumbass move and thinks he’s playing volleyball, spiking the ball instead of rolling it. Russell takes that round for the Villains. (Grrr.) Then Amanda seals it for the Heroes by taking the third round. The Villains now have to drag all that crap back home, with nothing to show for it.

Cut to the pizza feast a bit later, with the Heroes shoving crusty goodness into their mouths. While they chew, JT announces that he’s also a believer in the “all-girl” alliance in the other tribe. He thinks this means that Russell and Coach are now sitting ducks. Woo hoo!

Poor disillusioned people. Hope you really enjoy that pizza before you have to come back to reality.

Cut over to the Villains camp, where Jerri is just really mad. Period. She thinks the people who were convinced that this was a merge made the tribe look like idiots. (Okay, fair point. But girl, be careful. Any single thing you do when the numbers start to dwindle can shine a spotlight on you. Then again, you sent Rob home over Russell. You‘re not my favorite person right now.)

Jerri’s also not pleased that Courtney and Sandra sat out the Reward Challenge, because it means they HAVE to play in the Immunity Challenge, and that’s not a good thing. (Another fair point, but this announcement instantly pisses off Courtney, Sandra and Coach, who actually made the decision. Whoopsie.) Then Jerri heads down Suicide Avenue, singling out Sandra and slamming her unfairly, putting words in Sandra’s mouth that she simply did not say.

Sandra in a sidebar: “This is the worst tribe, EVER.”

Sandra and Courtney then get together on yet another random stretch of beach. Interestingly enough (to me, anyway), their anger is not directed toward Jerri, but toward Coach, who decided to have them sit out the Reward Challenge. Sandra is going to go put a fictitious bug in Russell’s ear that Coach is gunning to get Russell out of the game. Oh boy.

Quick scene with Courtney and Coach on the beach, with Courtney babbling away. “Everyone is just blindly going along with what Russell wants.” (Very true.) Then Courtney grabs this giant driftwood branch and uses it to make her way down the beach. The branch is thicker than she is. I don’t know how she was able to lift it, let alone use it as a support device.

Scene with Russell and Sandra, where Russell is going on about having spied Courtney talking to Coach, and therefore they must be working together. This man is so paranoid about everything . How does he sleep? Sandra doesn’t care about his mental hang-ups, at all. Once she can get a word in, she launches with her lie about Coach gunning for Russell. Which is somewhat plausible, until Sandra stupidly says that Coach is feeling bad about voting to send Rob home. Coach DIDN’T vote for Rob to leave, he voted for Courtney. Russell has got to know this.

But the damage has been done. Russell throws logic out the window. Any time he perceives a possible threat to his egomaniacal kingdom, he’s going to lash out. Sandra understands this, so you have to give her credit, despite her misguided intentions.

Sandra in a sidebar: “Russell doesn’t know what he’s in for.” True to an extent, because you just twisted him. But what is your follow-through going to be? Don’t just throw a brick and run. You need to be ready with another brick. And of course, new lies that synch up with your old lies. It’s hard work.

Another quick scene with Russell and Parvati. He’s in full “trash Coach” mode, repeating Sandra’s lies as if they were gospel. Parvati doesn’t care about the “why”, she’s psyched about the drama. If they send Coach home, the Heroes tribe is going to bite even further into the illusion that there’s this “all-girl” alliance going on with the Villains. And after the merge, the Heroes will race to align with Russell, thinking he’s on the outs. And Russell can get the scoop on what the Heroes are up to. High-five!

Time for the Immunity Challenge.

The Survivors have to basically run through a mud-filled obstacle course, grab a flag at the end of the course, then race back. The first tribe to get two flags wins. (Only two? For an Immunity Challenge? Is Jeff tired?) There are going to be pairs of runners belted together, as well as individual Survivors, depending on the round.

First up, we have Amanda and Candice going against Russell and Sandra. Everyone starts out with exuberance, but the Villains quickly fall apart. Correction: Sandra falls apart. Once she’s coated in mud (which takes about two seconds), she can barely move. Eventually Russell is just dragging Sandra along as she weakly chokes on mouthfuls of mud. The Heroes easily take the round.

Next we have Rupert versus Coach, and this one is actually very close until the sprint at the end, where Rupert just can’t run on that bum foot. The Villains take the flag and we’re tied. Finally, it’s JT and Colby against Parvati and Courtney. The guys pull it off and the Heroes win Immunity. Then the camera pans to Courtney lying in the mud pit. (You only know she’s there because you can see her eyes. Otherwise you would think it’s just a tree root.) It seems she’s sprained her ankle. Jeff signals for Medical.

Cut to the Villains camp afterward, with folks splashing in the ocean and trying to chisel off the caked mud. Then we have a sidebar with Coach, where he goes off on one of his Dragon Slayer rants, because he hasn’t yet done so this episode, and we gotta get THAT in. He’s mad about the “forced-five” alliance that he’s now in because Jerri flipped to Russell’s side. (Dude, you don’t have to do anything just because of Big Hair. In fact, you didn’t even vote the same way she did with the Rob thing. Why is everybody forgetting how Coach voted the last time? Even, apparently, Coach.)

Coach then wanders up to Russell, and tries to get the scoop about what’s going on. Russell, for once, really doesn’t have anything to say and just stands there staring out at the sea, probably looking for a cruise ship to float by with a “We heart Russell!” banner on the side. Russell explains his silence in a sidebar: “Coach is going home.”

Well, maybe not.

A very irritated Danielle comes running up to Russell. What are you thinking? “We need to KEEP Coach!” We’ve got to win some challenges, and we aren’t going to do that with Sandra and Courtney barely able to feed themselves. They really get into it, yelling and screaming, until Russell does what he always does when confronted with sound logic that he can’t get around. He calls Danielle a stupid girl and then stomps off. Nice.

Sidebar with Danielle, where she’s furious with Russell over the Coach vote.

Sidebar with Sandra and Courtney, where they really want Coach to go. (Of course they do, because it means they get to be useless for another week.)

Then, out of the blue, Russell comes running up to Parvati and still-steaming Danielle. He’s changed his mind. Danielle’s right. Let’s send Courtney home. (Where did THAT come from? What is he up to?)

Sidebar with Parvati, where she is just flummoxed by this crazy tribe. They cannot seem to work together. (To be fair, Parv, you’re only working with Danielle and Russell as you throw everybody else under the bus. Not exactly the best way to keep the tribe loyal, right?)

Time for Tribal.

Jeff gets right to the point: You’ve sent home Tyson, you’ve sent home Rob, and you’ve lost the last four challenges in a row. Bad decisions? Suddenly everybody’s yelling, either in denial or just because it’s fun. At one point, Jeff suddenly gets worked up about Courtney for some reason, and starts slamming her, calling her useless and saying that she sent Rob home. She didn’t VOTE for Rob. When Courtney tries to point this out, Jeff repeats it. Then he purposely stirs up Coach to go after Courtney. What is Jeff’s deal? Was the bill from Medical too high?

Finally Courtney has had enough, and she unleashes with exactly what she thinks about everything. And she’s 90% spot-on with what she says. (Which irritates half the tribe, since nobody wants the truth to come out at Tribal, because then you don’t get a blind-side and the ratings drop.) Courtney ends with “I’m a determined little bit**!” Sandra really enjoys that line. “You deserve a bump, girl.” And they do.

Time to vote.

Coach, Russell and Jerri vote for Courtney. Sandra, Courtney, Danielle and Parvati vote for Coach. What just happened? Not only did Danielle and Parvati split from Russell, they voted for someone that Danielle wanted to keep. Are they just mad at Russell and did it out of spite?

Or is there really an all-girl alliance after all? Hmm. Surely not. But we clearly were not shown some pivotal scenes that must have taken place at some point. And Russell may have just lost control.

In any case, the Yoga Slayer has exited the building…

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