TDT editorial note: Following NaOnka's lead, the following is a mashup of recaps you've already read, tweets we've already tweeted, and shows everyone has already seen, with additional bad behavior thrown in, just because. Consider it the Girl Talk of Survivor: Nicaragua Episode 8 recaps.
Editor's additional note: This recap is best enjoyed as a multimedia experience. The pacing of the text is such that it matches perfectly with Sufjan Stevens' "The Impossible Soul," if you sync hitting "Play" to the first word in the next paragraph**. Should you be some sort of speed-reading freak and reach the end of the recap before the song finishes, feel free to spend the rest of the audio experience imagining prismatic pegasi with tentacles for legs, and scorpion stingers at the end of each wing feather.
* Foonote within a note: This is only true if you're reading this on an iPhone 4, and using the built-in Safari browser. At least until we develop a TDT app. Which we have no plans whatsoever to do. Sorry***.
** By "next paragraph," we mean the one in plain text. We plan to bury these notes at the bottom of the recap eventually. It's not stealing, because it's for your own good.
*** Note within a footnote within a note: Not really****.
**** Note within a bunch of other notes: To be clear, the "not really" refers to the "sorry" part. As in, we're not really sorry*****. Although to be honest, we were just lying about the browser part. Hey, it's Survivor. People lie.
***** Although we are sorry****** about making you read all these notes. It really is a pointless, fairly juvenile exercise in being annoying to create interest in an otherwise dull part of the recap.
****** Again, not really. No, we're not sorry. You over there, we're not sorry. Everybody, we're not sorry, okay? We're done saying why we did it.
We've finally figured out NaOnka. More on that later.
For this recap, we have hired a thousand monkeys, working on a thousand typewriters. Soon, they will have written the greatest recap ever known. Let's see: "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?" You stupid monkey! Although the accidentally semi-literate monkey does have a point: the merge episode carries both good and bad with it. On the plus side, the merge brings food (at least until it's stolen), new buffs, and a relieved Jeff Probst, who no longer has to remember two whole tribe names.
The merge is also the time for introductions. The freshly minted Libertad tribemates (the name was chosen as an anagram for "Dilbert A." in honor of Scott Adams, who is in no way associated with the show) were introduced to their new buffs in Villains red, and encouraged to emulate Russell Hantz as much as humanly possible. Chase was introduced to Jane, the pair of whom bonded over their joy that Carolina girl Kelly B. had been removed from the game due to a glaring handicap: lack of a twang. And we, the viewing audience, were introduced to characters who had mostly been hidden up to this point, like Alina, Sash, Kelly Purple and Dan. One was booted, and two went back into hiding. Oh well.
Being a merge episode, there was way too much drinking going on to hold a reward challenge, but there was an immunity challenge. Normally, these are endurance affairs, allowing the person who most needs immunity to put mind over matter, gut it out, save their own hide, indulge in endless athletic cliches, and breathe in deep the Sporting Life. With that in mind, it's time for the Worker of the Week Award. We can't believe we've overlooked this week's winner for so very, very long. We simply could not function without his or her tireless efforts. So, a round of applause for... this inanimate steel rod! [Wild cheering]. And by that we mean: Dan. No, actually the steel rod all the contestants were trying to prevent from smashing tiles (if you can call Kelly Purple and Dan's effort's "trying") got all the action this week. Apart from at the end, where Jane demonstrated to her immunity co-winner Fabio how her dogs mount each other, and uh... we'll stop there.
After that, it was scramble time, although it was scrambling in the same sense as one of Jane's many fishes scrambles as it tries to escape her withered grasp. Because another benedit of the merge, if people don't like you, yet trust you, is safety: you have a decent chance at being carried to the end as a goat. Look at NaOnka! (She really, really, would like it if you did. Come on, it's not so hard). NaOnka stole food and cooking equipment, lied about it, "confessed" while making up a new lie, and received zero votes. Sure, the tribe was pissed when they found out about the stealing-and-burying charade, but this was mostly because the smarter ones realized if NaOnka was going this far overboard in copying Russell Hantz, their only hope for screentime was that some editor would feel extremely generous and at least put their confessionals on the CBS web site. Contrast NaOnka's King of Samoa-like position to that of Alina, who was universally hated (to be fair, she also didn't have a Carolina twang, so it was to be expected), and trusted not in the least. And this was before being named as an accessory to NaOnka's crime of Premeditated Spantzing (if imitation ham is Spam, imitation Russell Hantz is logically Spantz).
So even though it was passive-aggressive Alina that got booted, we have to credit aggressive-aggressive NaOnka for accurately reading the show, even if her chosen course through it cannot possibly lead to victory at the end. The thing is, NaOnka has figured out the first rule of Survivor is: get noticed. There are three types of Survivor players that get screen time: those that have character (Tom Westman), those that are characters (Big Tom, Cirie), and finally (almost exclusively in recent seasons) those that are playing characters (Sugar, Coach, Russell Hantz, Rupert). Getting noticed leads to invitations for an all-star season, which means more money plus an increased chance at another all-star season. Not to mention fan favorite cash.
So as we said, we've finally figured out NaOnka. She's a mashup. She's sampling various characters from past Survivors, and remixing them into a single, semi-coherent character-song of her own. Although, bowing to current editing and casting trends, 90% of those characters are Russell Hantz. (As a point of comparison, Kelly Purple seems to be doing the same, but has opted for more obscure selections: Zoe from Marquesas and Crystal from Gabon. While these are brave, out-of-the-box choices, it turns out they're a poor combination from an editing perspective. Which anyone who'd actually watched the show could have told her going in). Early on, NaOnka was winking at two-time winner Sandra ("I can get loud!") but eventually settled into a rut of riffs on two-time jury goat Russell "Greatest player they ever was" Hantz (stealing socks, bullying opponents, finding idols, burying half the camp). Although she did get creative, throwing in a brief cameo honoring O.G. quitter Osten Taylor. But then back to imitation Russell. Still, despite all the Spantzing, we all know where this is heading: should she get to the family visit, it'll be dead grandma time for NaOnka. Boo-who?