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OPERATION CODE NAME: Idol Hunt
Did you notice how I skipped right over talking about the Tearfest 2017 that took place once the players on reward found their love letters from back home? That’s because I have no heart and remain unmoved, no matter how much soaring orchestral or piano music you play under it.
Of course, Ben did credit the letters for giving him more fuel to play the game. (Wait, did he burn the letters as fuel to stay warm or something?) The former Marine then stumbled onto an idol clue, which in turn launched him onto a new objective. “My mission now is to get this idol!” he announced. To be honest, his mission didn’t look like it was going so hot, until he did what any and every player should do whenever they are searching for an idol — look exactly where the camera is pointing. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Another sure sign that you are looking in the wrong area for an idol is if the cameraperson goes and starts filming someone else. It’s like a game of “You’re getting warmer…warmer…oh, wait, colder…colder…now warm again…warmer…”
In any event, Ben finally looked where the camera was looking, finding the idol and then jumping up and down as if an Outback Steakhouse™ rib-eye steak was somehow involved. The idols just keep on coming.
A True Challenge Feet: Part 2
For the first immunity challenge, we were treated to a classic first seen (I believe) in Survivor: Caramoan, as players had to stand on a triangular platform out in the water for as long as possible with their toes balanced on very narrow footholds — so narrow that any big dude was in big trouble. That explains why JP was the first one out and possibly why Devon and Ben joined Lauren in channeling their inner Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel in choosing chocolate and peanut butter over competing.
You all know I am normally aghast when folks choose food over competing. How many times over the years have we seen someone who felt safe take the food and then promptly get voted out? Also, you came on Survivor to have this once — or twice, or thrice, or now four-time —in a lifetime experience, and now have this incredibly cool competition built in a crystal clear South Pacific lagoon just for you, and you decide not to bother? Lame!
Anyway, that’s how I normally feel. But if you’re a big dude like Devon or Ben and have no chance of winning because of your massive hooves and those tiny footholds, and need to fortify with nutrition for the homestretch, then I can be a bit more forgiving. I do wonder what it says to your alliance-mates, however. If I’m Ryan or Chrissy and see three of the four people who just went on a reward together all sitting out of an immunity challenge, I might be wondering why they all seem so comfy. Appearances are important.
In any event, the one person from that new final-four alliance who did compete, Ashley, won. Mike looked like he may take it, but then once again turned into a Chatty Cathy by yucking it up with Probst…and then dropping. Maybe the middle of an immunity competition is not the best time to be trying out potential new set material for The Coconuts.
JP’s Last Stand (Wait, who is JP?)
Man, JP was boring. I cannot stress that enough. He made for truly yawn-inducing television. And let me be absolutely clear about something: That is not a dis on the guy. If you are a boring reality show contestant, that most likely means that you are a perfectly pleasant well-adjusted member of society who does not have to resort to silly stunts and zany one-liners to satisfy an inner craving for attention and camera time. I bet JP is a totally solid dude. He just didn’t make for particularly interesting TV. Yet the fact that he was so unconcerned with making interesting TV makes me kinda like him. Yet it also simultaneously makes me wish he had stayed home in L.A. and posed for one of those hottie firefighter calendars instead — complete with some intentionally double-entendre laden quote about the size of his hose under the photo.
Anyhoodle, it wasn’t like losing JP made any huge dramatic impact, but the looks on Ryan and Chrissy’s faces certainly did. Other than Jeff Probst nonsensically staring at his feet when he tells people to come on in, there is truly nothing better that witnessing true looks of bewilderment as unexpected votes are read at Tribal Council. God, it’s good. Of course, I was a bit confused as well. Because why take out JP? Sure, he’s good in some physical challenges, but only some. And I don’t think he’s much of a threat in the individual puzzles sure to come as we get closer to the finale. Why not take out Chrissy here? Maybe they were worried Ryan would share his idol. Of course, that would mean him taking it out of his pants, and we know how loath he is to do that.
And the Oscar Goes To…
I gave a lot of credit to Devon for coming up with the Secret Spy Ben play, but let’s also hand out some proverbial hardware to Ben for his comedic and dramatic acting performance after Tribal. It would have been very easy to go over the top and lay it on way too thick, but Ben seemed to calibrate his response pretty perfectly. He expressed shock, confusion, and disappointment, but didn’t overdo it to the point where it seemed unnatural and made folks suspicious. I mean, I’m not saying Ben Driebergen is the second coming of Meryl Streep. But he’s not Tommy Wiseau either.
Orange Hat Alert
Nice to see Probst bust out the orange hat for the final two challenges. I’m going to go ahead and just skip the second reward one for the most part. After all, I think we all need a moment to recollect our thoughts after watching that video above, but suffice it to say it involved swimming, paddling, a puzzle, and people using their bodies to shove big logs through a narrow opening. (Hey, I don’t come up with these things.)
The final immunity challenge of the evening also involved multiple stages as players had to use a driving wheel to transport a key through a series of obstacles. That key would then unlock block puzzle pieces that had to be transported to the finish and used to solve a word puzzle that spelled invulnerable. (Recap continues on page 3)