Editor's note: This week, we had wanted to bring you the thrilling narrative of the ill-fated Contestant A. But in a strange and entirely unpredictable turn of events, a non-returning player on a season full of manufactured characters was only able to get in two confessionals the entire season. In the end, we felt that "...[silence]..." might have failed to accurately convey the action of the episode. So instead we turned to an old friend of the recap:
This week's guest voice: Producer J.
I've told you guys this before, but this may be one of our greatest seasons, ever. And this week's episode did not disappoint. Craziness in camp, craziness finding hidden immunity idols, craziness at Tribal Council. It's crazy!
Not Brandon, though, who is completely psychologically ready to play this season. We evaluated that carefully before sending him back out there. And as proof of this, he gave us a great moment when he tore into Dawn after the previous episode's Tribal Council. First, Dawn ended up going away in private to cry, and if there's one thing we can't enough of, it's tears. And even in the dark, our great camera crew was able to follow her, to capture the moment. We don't allow our contestants to physically attack each other, but if there was some way to get them to verbally abuse each other even more than they already do, we would do it in a heartbeat. Besides starving them, getting them soaked, depriving them of sleep, encouraging steroid abuse, and putting Russell Hantz on every season, of course.
But see, we didn't even have to do that last one, because this season we have multiple contestants pretending to be Russell Hantz, without our even having to encourage them to do so more than three or four times! To be fair, so far, some of them may be coming off as a cut-rate NaOnka, or perhaps a poor man's Jean-Robert, but give them time, they're still feeling out the role. We absolutely treasure the intent. Anyway, as he said, Brandon can literally feel the blood of his uncle Russell flowing through his veins. It's true, he had a transfusion before he came out. You can't fake wanting to breakdance. It's a pity that we had a phlebotomist on a couple of seasons ago, and not here, because he could have given a pinch of Russell blood to everyone else on the cast, and we could have had an entire season of Russell Hantzes. Can you imagine? Ratings would skyrocket, and it would be raining Emmys! Sweet, golden showers.
Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I already pitched this idea, and those wet blankets in medical already shot it down, saying it's unlikely the entire cast shares the same blood type, so it could be, you know, "dangerous." They threw scary words around like "blood clots" and "hemolysis." Also something about bodily fluids not actually changing people's personalities. But come on, it's still a great idea! It's not something dumb like jumping down 20 feet into a wrist-shatteringly inflexible cargo net. To be honest, I guess I don't know if Brandon and Russell have the same blood type. They may not even check that down in Louisiana. Maybe that's what Brandon was actually feeling. But either way, the result was gold, at least until he woke up the next morning and apologizes.
Speaking of apologies, I should say here that I'm not sure how we've gotten so far into this season with so little presence of Cochran, who was one of our absolute favorites going in. We were hoping for the same, paranoid, neurotic kid we had on South Pacific, but instead he's been a lot more calm and confident this time around. How are we supposed to point and laugh at the nerd, if he's comfortably ensconced in the dominant alliance? Best laid plans. So anyway, to remedy this, we found this great rock in which we forced him to do his confessional interviews. He resisted at first, muttering something about being a grown man, and not our poseable Ken's Ectomorphic Cousin Who Went to Law School doll. But in the end, he gave in when we told him we could completely edit him out of the show, like we did with that cowboy guy he appeared with last time. That got him moving.
Over at the fans camp, we have another imitation Russell Hantz-in-progress, in this case, Shamar. He's got the not-doing-any-work and yelling-at-his-tribemates parts of Russell's game down, although we're a little disappointed he hasn't burned any socks or emptied canteens yet. But the season is still young. Stay tuned! I swear, when we put him on, we had no idea he planned to do this. He just kept saying he wanted to make his tribemates miserable. How were we to guess this would be the result? But we love it, either way. Anyway, Shamar's spending his days laying around the shelter, chuckling occasionally, to conserve his hydration. We kind of wish he'd complete the Russell Hantz transformation, and spend a few hours looking for idols instead. But we'll take what we can get. I should mention there's also an imitation Boston Rob on that tribe, some woman named Sherri, but here's where I draw the line: Only Boston Rob is allowed to play Boston Rob. Take note, people. Show some respect.
Now the challenge. You may notice that this season we've gone a bit smaller and more compact in our challenges. No more epic journeys lugging cannons across the jungle, or long swims or paddles to ignite woks. No fire at all, actually. That's so 2004. But we do have a new theme: carnivals. We wanted to capture the feel of the excitement, grime, and hint of danger found in the games area of your local county fair, and bring it right to your TV screen. I mean, look at the cast. You could totally see a guy like Brandon or Matt working the Tilt-A-Whirl, right? Or, if you're lucky, Malcolm?
So anyway, gone are the boring puzzles that gave some of our lower-IQ contestants so many problems. In are ring tosses, fighting over rings, and tossing bean bags. Next episode we may mix it up, and have fighting over bean bags. No, wait: throwing bean bags through rings! There are just so many possibilities. And this cast gets it, they love the new theme. I could tell they were really hoping this week's reward was going to be a giant plush Jake the Dog, from their collective "Meh" when we revealed the fishing gear. Or maybe they were expecting deep-fried butter. I dunno, they like to complain. But they got back into it all once we started playing, or at least the favorites did, which was all we cared about.
This was a great challenge, because we had the diving in there to appease all those online "fans" who complain about how we don't do water challenges any more. There it is, guys! Enjoy! Mainly, though, we liked it because we were able to work our theme into the end. And you know what's great about ring toss? It's something your entire family can do in your back yard. Which, if CBS cuts our budget any further, may be where we'll be filming the next two seasons. And yes, we were thrilled that the favorites walked away with this one, because we were terrified we might lose another one of them, and we could only spare maybe Erik or Brenda. Any more would've been catastrophic.
We edited the part back at camp after the challenge a bit differently this week. In reality, the fans were all sort of mad at Shamar for yelling at people during the challenge. But we took a little creative license, and made it look like Reynold was angry at Shamar for being lazy. We get complaints about this a lot. We're not saying all African-American men are unhelpful layabouts, we're making it look like Reynold is saying that. Totally different. Besides, we had to do it, to make it look like Reynold was in danger of getting voted out. Otherwise his wandering off and finding the idol we'd planted directly in Shamar's usual path to the beach might've been a disaster.
There was a silver lining, though: this set up the absolute craziness at Tribal Council. When they were leaving for Tribal, it was pretty clear that Allie was going to get voted out, 6-4. But Reynold finding the idol made all sorts of possibilities. Would he give the idol to Allie? Would they vote for him instead of Allie? Would he go home with the idol in his pocket? Of course, all the answers ended up being "no," but still, that's what's great about the hidden idols: they create the illusion of doubt. Crazy, crazy, levels of doubtful illusion. Totally unpredictable, which is what makes this show so great.
All in all, Tribal Council was a satisfying conclusion to a great episode. We managed to cover bulges, always a favorite subject of mine. We finally got Shamar to fess up to being a Marine, in front of the whole tribe no less. His service had previously been a mystery wrapped in a USMC t-shirt, concealed beneath desert camo fatigues. One of the blond women talked, I think. Maybe even two. It was that crazy. And if that doesn't whet your appetite for the rest of this crazy, unpredictable season, then I daresay you're not really a Survivor fan. Or even someone we'd be willing to call a fan on a Fans vs. Favorites season.
Trust me, it's that good.
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