While I was watching this latest episode of Survivor, I had a vision. It was a vision of Joel as a youngster in line at the school cafeteria. He picks up a Grape Nehi soda, only to hear chuckles from behind. ”What?” he asks a pair of teammates from his Pop Warner football team who are rolling their eyes. ”Dude, Grape Nehi is for losers,” replies one of the eye rollers. ”Only total weaklings who don’t like to kick major ass on an hourly basis drink Grape Nehi.” Poor Joel. He loves Grape Nehi. He’s loved it ever since he caught Radar O’Reilly chugging one on an old rerun of M*A*S*H. But heaven forbid someone think him a weakling, so he puts it back and grabs a Jolt cola instead.
Peer pressure never goes out of style. Make no mistake about it, people: We just witnessed a true masterstroke of Survivor manipulation. We all need to be bowing down at the altar of Tracy right about now. I cannot stress this enough: I loved, loved, loved what she put over on Joel. Seeing that one of her alliance members — either Kathy or Chet — was going to be sent packing, leaving her vulnerable, she made a move. But not your typical move. She didn’t backstab or lie or sell anyone down the river. She simply sized Joel up, found his weakness, and attacked it. What have we learned about Mr. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer? Yes, he’s insanely hairy. Yes, he enjoys yelling at teammates during challenges. But what else? He no like people challenging his authority. He’s so ridiculously paranoid of someone usurping his throne as tribe ruler that he’d just as soon cripple his team by voting off strong members should they decide to voice any opinion whatsoever, even if it matches his own.
Tracy saw this the same way we did when Joel sent Mikey’s pal Mary packing, so she skillfully preyed upon his insecurities once again. ”Why are you letting him call the shots?” she asked. ”Am I letting him?” Joel responded. ”Absolutely, dude. You’re rolling over. You’re frickin’ following him like a herd of cows down the road.” Just for good measure, she threw in some cow noises as well. On one hand, it was a risky move in that Joel could have taken offense and snapped her like a twig. The threat of ‘roid rage hovers over everything he does. On the other hand, she knew exactly which buttons she was pushing. Wanna get a guy to do exactly what you want him to do? Simply question his manhood. It’s just that easy. Another thing I loved about it was how…
”Yes. Hi, I’m sorry to interrupt, Dalton, but again, I need to emphasize the importance of today’s column in determining our future as a TV Watch.”
Ooooooooooookay, sorry about that. I think what Jason is trying to say is that I’ve made my point clear on how impressed I was with Tracy’s play and I should probably move on to other topics — like how Ozzy kicked his ass in a challenge again. But let’s start with something I love on Survivor even more than good ol’ fashioned peer pressure, and that’s when one contestant talks smack about another one as if they weren’t even there — even though they are! James saw fit to let everyone back at the Favorites camp know that ”I can’t believe we done that stupid crap last night,” referring to the decision to get rid of Yau-Man instead of Eliza, who was lying down just a few feet away. ”I’m still sitting here,” she piped up, in case he had overlooked her. ”I know you’re sitting right there, but you’re about to die.” Actually, I was the one about to die…laughing! The only thing more awkward was watching Ozzy and Kathy holding hands as they made off to Exile Island. Yikes! Where’s one of those fancy Men in Black memory-erasing gizmos when you need one?
How odd to see James and Ozzy, two guys who didn’t exactly show off their cerebral sides the first time around, actually displaying both brawn and brains this episode. First James came up with the puzzle solution, ”triumphant,” and then Ozzy went and found the hidden immunity idol at Exile Island. Although I do have to subtract a few points for that pathetic-looking fake idol he carved. It basically looked like a stick. A sharpened stick, granted, but a stick nonetheless. Dude, tie a leaf or something around it at the very least.
NEXT: More Eliza abuse