Survivor rebounded from a forebodingly bleak premiere to an almost seamlessly light and cheery sophomore episode. Well... okay, also bloody, bickery, and teary, and ultimately ending in another seemingly solid player getting knocked out way too early. And yet there was just enough emphasis on the lighter side of camp life that the major conflicts felt sufficiently balanced with feel-good triumphs and humor, such that the overall tone seemed more hopeful. Even Jason's sarcastic response to Jennifer's heartfelt Tribal Council plea for a second chance was pretty funny.
That's not to say we're ostriches, blissfully unaware that the catastrophic storm of medevacs isn't still looming. But for now, even if for just this episode, it was pleasant to remember that in addition to suffering, Survivor can also be about fun.
Idol time: WTF, Probst?
Prior to Cambodia-Second Chance, Jeff Probst talked about the creative team's logistical difficulties in trying to plan out an "evolution" of hidden idols as the S31-32 seasons aired, despite Kaoh Rong filming first, but airing second. So here you have it: the multi-stage skin-removal system that Tai ran into this episode is the result. We and others have long complained that modern "hidden" idols have been too simple to find - rarely requiring any clues, generally in a fairly obvious, unique place that could be described in a clue, often at eye level. So we applaud production for trying to make idols once again difficult to find. Very difficult.
On the other hand, there's a fine line between "difficult" and "physically impossible." Where by "fine line" we mean "massive gulf." Clearly, the key was in no way retrievable by simply climbing the tree production stuck it on. Not without a super-long ladder, or a crane, or something. Then again, Tai was shown digging up a "tool," allegedly intended to shove the key out of the box from below, which was never used. Furthermore, it appeared that the idol came with a 50-page set of instructions and diagrams, and that Tai, already worried that he'd been away from camp for too long, didn't have time to read the fricking manual. So we're left scratching our heads, almost as much as Tai scraped up his body. What exactly were Probst and crew intending here? Light maiming?
We suspect there's more to come, and that the idol is not actually as difficult to recover as Tai's bloody attempt it seem. After all, the big idol twist this season was supposed to be that two idols can now be combined into a super-idol (a.k.a. Tyler Perry idol, Yul Kwon idol, god-mode idol). That seems a little silly if nobody even has a chance of actually having one.
Until then, here's a short list of what we think the tool might be for:
Post-script: What was wrong with the San Juan del Sur set of clues and digging instructions? Apart from the fact that Keith found a spring-loaded one virtually without a clue.
On the water front
It turns out that both camps within the Brains tribe were probably right about the water. This was the first season shot in a new location. As such, the "well" (which as we understand it is usually a giant plastic container buried in the ground, filled with bottled water, then made to look like a well) water was probably as pristine as could be. So for the first few days, it's essentially water that's been poured from one container into another one. However, as time goes on, it becomes less and less potable. So Joe and Debbie were right... if it was Day 1. (Side note: It wasn't.)
The problem is, the tribes have to get the water from the well to their canteens somehow, and often that's by dipping either a canteen in directly, or taking some kind of scoop that's been sitting around near the well. Both of those methods (especially if the canteens or the contestants' filthy hands touch the well water directly) potentially transfer all kinds of germs directly into the water source, where they'll happily grow and fester in the tropical heat and humidity. People are swimming and aquadumping in the ocean, and all kinds of crap (literally) is getting on their skin, so when Joe snarls "Pathogens, my butt!" on Day 4, or so... yes, there probably are pathogens in there, and Joe's and everyone else's butts are a likely place from whence they came.
So to sum up: yeah, they should probably be boiling their water from that point on. And if they're re-using a well for a second season shot in the same location (such as Cambodia - Second Chance), then by all means yes: boil, boil, boil.
Kaoh Rong Episode 2 recaps and commentary
Exit interviews: Jennifer Lanzetti
Episode 2 Podcasts