Oh, boy. I may be in a bit of trouble now. At the outset of Wednesday’s double dose of Survivor, I innocently tweeted out instructions for a new Survivor drinking game. The only rule was that you needed to chug every time someone said the phrase “voting bloc.” I figured you’d get a few Fishbach mentions, in between him also overstating this to once again be “the craziest most strategy-filled season of Survivor ever that is not even like a season of Survivor because it is a completely new game that is completely incomparable to every single season that has preceded it!”
So, just a few drinks, I figured. Just enough to get everyone a little toasty for the holidays. Little did I know that every single other contestant — and the host! — would pick up on that and also start promoting this code phrase and we would be inundated with voting bloc mentions for two straight hours.
Reports of massive inebriation have already come in from coast to coast as a result of this rampant overuse of a innocuous catch phrase that most people speaking it do not even seem to fully understand. (“Wait, I can’t call it an alliance anymore? Does that make me sound too “old-school’?”) Hell, I’m so wasted right now I think I’m writing a freakin’ Code Black recap…AND I’VE NEVER EVEN SEEN CODE BLACK!!!
The voting bloc branding is absurd, of course. But the dichotomy of someone like Ciera complaining that nobody has been playing this season with Fishbach calling it the most strategy-based season of all time has been kind of hilarious to witness. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. People have been playing, just not on Ciera’s side. And people have been making moves and switching sides, but it’s stuff we actually have seen before.
Coincidentally, serial under- and over-estimaters Ciera and Stephen were both booted this week. While they’ve both been a bit off in their public proclamations about the gameplay of this particular installment of the franchise, we can say this about the season and tonight’s swan song for them: This was the night when Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance turned from a very good season into a great one.
More twists, more suspect decisions, personal misery and crying, a Survivor throwback challenge, and two pulse-racing Tribal Councils. This is the stuff (our) dreams and (their) nightmares are made of, and I loved every second of it. So let’s be thankful this Thanksgiving for this double-dip of extraordinary episodes. We have two hours to get through and it’s a holiday, so I will attempt to jam through this as quickly as possible with all the odds & ends that deserve comments and commentary.
I loved the first reward challenge, which has become a modern day Survivor classic where Probst throws a ball out in the water and teams of three have to wrestle for it and toss it into a basket for a point. (Is it just me, or does this challenge always seem to take place in the rain?)
Again, because I am terrible person I love watching contestants push their faces down into the water and wrestle each other within an inch of their lives just so they can attend a Cambodian circus. I also love that Fishbach made no attempt whatsoever to hide his Joe obsession, as evidenced in the following Vine.
As has been the trend all season, Joe got the better of Stephen, and his team went on to win the reward three points to one. In any event, with all the balancing competitions we’ve had this season — seriously, it must be closing in on a record — it was nice to have a physical assault play out for a change. Surprised more bathing suits weren’t ripped off though. I’m sure the ladies that have been openly salivating over Joey Amazing all season were a bit disappointed by that.
Here Comes the Rain Again
I would say you’ll have to pardon the Eurythmics reference, but there is no need to pardon the Eurythmics because the Eurythmics are awesome! The first hour of tonight’s episode was one gnarly downpour after another. It started the morning after Tribal with Keith hovering under his hood and explaining that, “People ask me if Survivor’s fun. I tell them ‘Hell no! Survivor ain’t fun. Going on a cruise is fun. You know, goin’ fishin’ is fun. Goin’ to play golf – fun. This ain’t fun.’”
That quote, combined with his Tuk Tuk joyride, made me hate myself for originally not wanting to see Keith on this season. My beef with Keith — or Beef Keith, if you will — was that the guy was completely clueless about the game last time out. But I realized I need to stop being such a Survivor strategy snob and just enjoy Keith for who he is, which is a hilarious dude who just sort of hangs around, works hard, and makes the occasional wacky comment. I would not want 20 contestants like that, but we have enough gamers running around like crazy that it works to have someone like Keith to lighten the mood.
But we truly hit new depths of despair after the reward challenge as the rain continued to drown the tribe. “I’m scared that my body is breaking down,” cried Fishbach. And to be clear, I don’t mean “cried out.” I mean actually cried. The assault went all through the night and into day 26. “I need some ray of hope,” begged Stephen. “I just need the sun to come out for 15 minutes or something.” Such language is almost always followed by a break in the storm and the sunshine finally peeking through the clouds, but not this time. In a masterful piece of editing genius, Fishbach’s plea was immediately followed by…lightening and thunder. Absolutely brilliant.
“I’m not quitting. I’m not quitting. There’s no way I’m quitting,” Stephen kept repeating, more to himself than to us because he knew his credibility was on the line here. When you live and breathe this game like Stephen does with a blog and a podcast and a stream of bon mots on social media, quitting is not an option. But Stephen’s body was sending him other signals. “Severe gastrointestinal distress,” he called it, which also happens to be the name of my new death metal band. Check out our forthcoming Anal Leakage EP, in stores this holiday season!
NEXT: Safety or shelter?