Jeffrey Neira/CBS
March 29, 2017 at 09:00 PM EDT


TV Show
Reality TV
run date
Jeff Probst
Current Status
In Season

It’s hard being the best. Which is why it is so frustrating when others try to tell you what to do when you know you can do it better. For instance, other Survivor recappers sit there dicking around for 10 pages while I zoom through a recap in, like, 30 seconds. If there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s brevity. None of this long-winded nonsense you find in other Survivor recaps. Not here!

And my track record in terms of predicting future Survivor winners is pretty much beyond reproach. Why, just look at my pre-game prediction this season when I wrote that Brad Culpepper would dominate in accuracy challenges, sway tribemates to vote against their best interest, outplay a former champion at Tribal Council, and win Game Changers. A lot of people said I was crazy and that I should make Malcolm my pre-game pick, but I had a sneaky suspicion that Brad was the better call. Don’t listen to all those “naysaysers” and so-called “Internet recap readers” who claim I actually picked Malcolm back in week 1. Hogwash! I picked Brad even though doing so CRUSHED MY HEART!

It was a strong selection, if I do say so myself. But, then, again, everything I do is strong. Have you checked out my 8-pack abs? Yeah, I’ve been spending a lot time down at the gym and I think the results pretty much speak for…

… Okay, I think that may have been pushing it too far with that last one. The reality is, I’m so emaciated and weak those 8-pack abs I was referring to are actually just rib cage bones protruding out of my body. Not a pretty visual, I know, but often the truth is not pretty. Welcome to the era of #AlternativeFacts, ladies and gentlemen! Where truth is in the eye of the beholder. Where Debbie can volunteer for an assignment in a challenge and then accuse someone else of forcing her to do it against her will. Where speed and competency in a challenge is completely open to debate. And where trash-talking your own team during a competition is a must.

There may not be a typhoon this season in Fiji, but Hurricane Debbie landed on the Mana tribe this week, and to quote my good friend LL Cool J, it was destruction, terror, and mayhem. I mean, it’s one thing to be upset and feel like you’re not being respected by your tribe for your physical contribution. It’s another thing to do it after you have just performed horribly (at least judging by the edit of the reward competition that was presented to us). And then it’s another thing to come back to your camp bragging about how incredible you were after said debacle. And then it’s another thing to bitch and complain while running an immunity challenge about how awesome you are and that nobody thinks you’re awesome. (“DON’T LET THAT FOOL YOU!”)

Anyway, that’s a lot of things. But perhaps the most remarkable moment of this entire incident is what the Survivor producers did with it, and it was something that we have rarely — if ever — seen before. It was small. You may not have even noticed, but it also spoke volumes. After the reward challenge — in which Debbie went from first to worst after dropping her ball numerous times on the balance beam, we saw a furious Debbie complaining to camera that Brad was running a dictatorship. And then we actually had a Survivor flashback! All of sudden, they started re-airing the footage we had already seen from before the challenge of Debbie volunteering to do the balance beam (“I have a really good sense of balance”) and then Brad responding (“Okay, then you balance”).

Has the show ever done this before? Perhaps in the early seasons where they also had wacky stuff like Jeff Probst narration, a giant gong, and a cheesy trunk of cash on the Tribal Council set, but I can’t recall. All I know is that it’s not every day you see production reshowing you something that already aired a few minutes prior to specifically fact-check the veracity of a contestant’s statement. Of course we are now living in a world where the current Time magazine cover asks “Is Truth Dead?” Did producers go too far in pointing out that Debbie’s version of events is Fake News? Should everything out of everyone’s mouth now be scanned for #AlternativeFacts?

My question is: Why so harsh on Debbie? Aren’t these just the actions of a true GAME CHANGER?! She is literally trying to change the game right in front of everyone’s eyes by giving a completely new narrative for what is actually happening! The game can’t change if the game stays the same! So she’s changing it by saying something absolutely different transpired. GAME CHANGER!

And why stop there? Next thing you know Debbie’s going to be telling us that all the goats are immunity idols and that Jeff Probst likes to look up to the sky as he tells people to “come on in” to a challenge. Unfortunately those stuffed shirts over at CBS insist on putting the kibosh on this radical new narrative thanks to their insistence on “actual events” and “facts.” Sad!

In any event, we can at least all look forward to next week, when Debbie spills the beans to her tribe about the upcoming quadruple elimination taking place in a hot air balloon while the castaways are bring serenaded “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by a Fijian Wang Chung cover band floating nearby in another hot air balloon.

Watch PEN Fan Forum: Survivor, on the new PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) here, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

But that’s next week. First, we need to finish up with all of this week’s insanity. And before we can do that, I will remind you that somewhere hidden in this recap is a super secret Survivor quiz question. Answer it correctly and you have a chance at winning J.T.’s original pre-game vote (as originally seen on my Instagram feed) for the person he wanted out first in the game. Congratulations to Kathryn, who won last week’s Malcolm vote by correctly identifying my favorite Survivor: Panama — Exile Island contestant as Sally Schumann! (Easiest question ever, by the way?) Best of luck to all, now on to the rest of the recap!

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