Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers recap: 'This Is Why You Play Survivor'

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Survivor

type:
TV Show
genre:
Reality TV
run date:
05/31/00
performer:
Jeff Probst
broadcaster:
CBS
seasons:
35
Current Status:
In Season

“I don’t know why everybody wants to work with me. I think I’m a freakin’ weasel.” — Ryan

This week of Survivor was all about cause and effect for Ryan. Last week we laid out the pros and cons for Ryan in determining whether to oust Chrissy or Roark. My final takeaway was that it was probably a good move to keep Chrissy, under one key condition: as long as he could mend fences with Ali. That never happened.

The episode began with Ali asking Ryan why he blindsided her with the Roark vote. Ryan kept repeating over and over that he thought they were getting too close while Ali kept repeating over and over that she only knew her for four days. Interestingly enough, it was Ryan who lost his cool, raising his voice and contorting his face into all sorts of painful poses as if he was auditioning for enrollment in the Eliza Orlins Absurdly Over the Top Tribal Council Facial Expressions Academy. (Dean of Admissions: Hannah Shapiro.) It was the first real social blunder we’ve seen from my episode 1 pick to win it all.

Instead of asking Ali to speak privately and then very calmly explaining that he couldn’t risk the Healers reuniting at the merge and also couldn’t risk Ali having second thoughts about it because she had grown fond of Roark — while letting Ali vent and blow off some well-deserved steam — Ryan got overly defensive. And that just raised Ali’s apprehension. “I can’t have enemies in this game,” he told us. “So she may have to go.” And go she did. Losing Ali changes the math for Ryan’s decision last week. Instead of just a losing Roark or Chrissy decision, it now becomes a choice between the following two options:

Option A: Lose Chrissy and then Roark

Option B: Lose Roark and then Ali

Option B starts to not look quite as good now. Ryan may view Chrissy as just as strong an ally as Ali, but again, he just met her so how can he be sure? Plus, there are now only three Hustlers going into the merge, as opposed to four Heroes and five Healers. Who knows if those numbers will hold after the tribe swap — and yes, Ryan has positioned himself in a good place for a possible Hustlers/Heroes alliance to take on the Healers, but again, do you want to bank on that?

And then there’s this: Ryan may have shown his cards too early. Ryan knows he’s a weasel, and now others may know it as well. Chrissy and JP watched Ryan turn on one of his own and now he has to go explain to Devon and Lauren why he did it. Ask yourself this question: Would you trust Ryan 100 percent after that? If I were out there — and let’s all thank God I am not so you don’t have to stare at my pale, scrawny pathetic excuse for a body every week — I’d want to cut Ryan’s throat before he slit mine.

None of this means Ryan can’t still win this game. He remains in a decent position heading into the merge. I’m still fine with him as my pick to win. But I’m surprised he didn’t handle the Ali fallout better. There was a way to thread the needle and keep both Chrissy and Ali in the game and on his side — just feed Ali some mumbo-jumbo about not wanting her to have to get blood on her hands— but he wasn’t able to pull it off. Having a great social game is not just making people laugh while they split open coconuts for you. It is handling damage control in a way to prevent strategic fallout. Ryan was unable to do that this week. We’ll see if that was merely a blip on the radar, or a sign of things to come. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sign that we should recap the rest of episode 6, so let’s get to it.

Watch Fan Forum: Survivor on People TV here, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

“Down Goes Cole!”
Okay, that’s an outdated Howard Cosell boxing reference that will probably be lost on 98 percent of you — maybe 95 percent now that I made the mistake of overexplaining it. Anyhoodle, there was some food (or lack of it) drama over at the Yawa beach this episode. It started when Sex Doctor dropped his fish into the fire — which I swear is not a euphemism — yet still saved it and shared it. This was in stark contrast to Cole, who had caught a big fish and kept it all to himself. That certainly did not impress Ben. “Cole’s showing his true colors, and they’re not good.”

This leads into some squabbling about how much food to eat and when to eat it. Cole’s philosophy: “I think you should eat big when you have it.” And, to be clear, when Cole says “you,” Cole means “I,” because he also explained to us that “I need a bigger serving because without me there will not be victory for the Yawa tribe.” This attitude is not winning Cole many friends. Lauren argues that Cole is digging his own grave, but I don’t agree with that assessment. After all, digging takes waaaaay too much energy for Cole.

But just as we’re thinking about what a Wendy Whiner Cole is, he later full-on passes out and almost bashes his head in on bamboo. Luckily, Cole has a Sex Doctor and a nurse to take care of him, in what would under any other circumstances be shaping up as a tired but true plot from a late night movie on Skinemax (working title: Threeway Island).

Cole shrugs the whole incident off as “standing up too fast,” and we never see Survivor medical on the scene, so we have to assume it wasn’t too bad. (As Jeff Probst explains in our Q&A, however, medical did examine Cole to make sure everything was hunky dory — we just didn’t see it.) But if you think this weakness is not going to be pounced on by other contestants, then you have never watched Survivor. Either that or you are still daydreaming about Threeway Island. Mike points out that if Cole is feeling this way on day 16, how is he going to be feeling even deeper in the game? Good question.

Ben also points out that Cole “should have worried about appetite more than his six-pack” and while a six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best surrrrrrre would hit the spot right about now, I know what he’s getting at. Ben’s right in that the sculpted muscleheads are the ones who have traditionally suffered the most out there, going all the way back to the show’s very first quitter in Osten. More muscle demands more calories and protein, and when you are starved of those things, the body shuts down. It’s actually the skinny people like Ryan who are best equipped to handle the dramatic decrease in calorie intake. See, I always knew there were advantages to being a skinny dork! Maybe I should go on this show after all. (Recap continues on next page)

Two For the Price of One
If you didn’t read my Q&A with Jeff Probst last week, I suggest you do so. I asked what I thought was a pretty intricate, insightful question about hiding idols in identical spots on different beaches and whether producers worried that with so many tribe swaps and merges happening, it was basically giving one person two (or more) idols off of one clue. His one-word response was pretty hysterical, but I — to the surprise of absolutely no one — will now use more words. More words than are necessary, in fact.

But as I wrote last week and repeated on the Survivor Fan Forum show, I am not a fan of it. For one thing, it’s too much power in the hands of one person for finding one clue. We saw it last season with Tai as well. For another, all three idols on all three beaches were basically found off one clue (although Joe’s was moved a mere one foot over on this Levu beach). For the viewer, that takes away some of the fun of discovering where the idols are hidden. Once we know they are all at the wells, it takes away some of the discovery for us, and then it’s simply waiting until someone starts digging and automatically finds it. Look, I’m not going to get all up in arms about it, but we’ve had this happen two seasons in a row now, so hopefully producers now mix things up moving forward. They usually do.

Anyway, yes, Joe found his second idol. “This is why you play Survivor,” he announced, and he’s right. Joe is outplaying everyone on his tribe, although he is playing very out in the open and that could come to haunt him at the merge. Will those seeds that Ashley planted with Desi about flipping sprout? It’s worth keeping an eye on. You have to figure that Joe becomes a target next week at the merge. At least he should be.

Watch Fan Forum: Survivor on People TV here, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

A Swell Challenge
Ultimately what I’ll remember most about this episode was two awesome challenges. In the first reward one, teams had to race to a set of poles, use them to transfer a buoy across a balance beam and then use it to release a boat. Each tribe then had to pull the boat via rope out to a platform, from which one player had to use a slingshot to knock down two targets.

While the target portion may have sent Stephen Fishbach into an emotional fetal position as he relived his own personal Vietnam, I couldn’t help but love it. Not because Soko forgot to untie their knots before pulling their rope — although that was incredible. No, what I really loved was watching the gigantic swells that kept moving the platforms up and down like a rollercoaster. It’s easy from the climate-controlled comfort of our living rooms to forget this game truly takes place out in the elements, and water is one of the most difficult when it comes to challenges.

There have been challenges that had to be completely scrapped because currents were too strong. Or they have to reorder when those challenges will take place until the seas calm down. That’s what happened this season when what was supposed to be the first immunity competition swapped places with what was supposed to be the second one. And now, watching this challenge, you have a pretty big understanding of why that is. Hell, I almost got seasick from my couch watching this one as the platforms bobbed up and down. It’s as if the entire challenge was filmed by John Waters in Barforama. And yet I loved it.

And there was JP, as cool as a cucumber, just waiting it out until the swell passed before launching his winning shot. Look, I haven’t written that many nice things about JP this season so I’m going to repeat that last sentence over again and hope that at least somewhat makes up for it. And there was JP, as cool as a cucumber, just waiting it out until the swell passed before launching his winning shot. Not unlike 1980s new-wave superstars Duran Duran and American Idol champion Phillip Phillips, it was so nice it had to be said twice.

You Can’t Spell Immunity Without Unity
Now this was cool. I’ve always loved the individual immunity competition where players have to stack blocks that spell immunity one at a time without tipping over the platform on which they rest. I did it myself at EW’s PopFest convention (destroying my EW Morning Live cohost Jessica Shaw) and it’s a blast. It’s a fantastic spectator sport as well because not only can a stack fall at any time — taking someone seconds away from victory and automatically relegating them to last place — but there is a decent chance some jabroni will forget how to spell immunity as well, leading to instantaneous hilarity.

But challenge producer John Kirhoffer — who has been earning his money this season — and his team found a way to take a great challenge and make it even greater. Because now instead of a solo competition, four people had to each pull on a rope suspending a disc and then work together on a balance beam to stack blocks on that disc to spell out immunity.

This was genius. Evil genius. Because it required more strategy, more personal interaction and integration, and, yes, more finger pointing. Now, if you messed up, you risked pissing off tribemates as well. And you could see that play out as JP got frustrated when Ryan caused the Soko stack to drop a few times. Not that JP would know how to vote anyone out of this game (unless they were in one of those dreaded girls alliances!) but you could still see the new dynamics at play.

And everything happened that producers and viewers could want to happen. Yawa had stacked all of their blocks, yet as Cole was walking back to seal the deal…the blocks fell. First to worst. Just like that. Brutal. And glorious. Yet then they came back to win it anyway! It was crazy and wonderful. If people like me who still enjoy administering high-fives were not considered humungous losers I would give a collective high-five to the entire challenge team for this particular contest, and the night as a whole. Brilliant stuff.

Also, not to throw my red challenge flag to ask for an instant replay or anything, but did Devon really get his feet all the way back when Probst announced Levu as the second place finishers? I mean, I don’t think it really matters because Soko’s stack had just fallen (not as dirty as it sounds out of context) so Levu had plenty of time, but the way it was edited, it didn’t look to me like Devon had made his way all the way back. Go watch it again and see what you think. So I guess I am asking for an instant replay after all. (Recap continues on next page)

Ali’s Last Stand
I’ll admit it. I thought JP was a goner. As soon as he won the reward for his tribe and everyone started saying how incredible he was and he announced, “Without me there’s no way they’d be able to get through any challenge — no way,” I wrote down one word in my notes. And I wrote it in all caps. GONE. So when Soko lost the immunity challenge, my suspicions were confirmed. When they got back to camp and JP told us, “Ali is next and there is nothing she can do about it,” I laughed and said to myself: Nice try, Survivor producers, attempting to fool me with your clearly transparent red herring. I’m far too seasoned a viewer to fall for that. This is just one of those quotes you use to make a person look extra clueless and stupid after they are voted out. By the way, I love those quotes so never, ever stop using them.

I knew what was up. We all knew what was up. JP was toast. Ali wasn’t helping matters either. She attempted to have a heart-to-heart with Chrissy where she explained that her downfall in the game had been her loyalty, which is basically the Survivor equivalent of answering a job interview question of “What’s your biggest weakness?” with “I work too hard!”

Also confirming JP’s departure was that for some inexplicable reason Ryan was super worried that JP would go on some sort of dominant challenge-winning streak after the merge — which, by the way, made no sense seeing as there will be plenty of puzzles along the way, and I’m kind of guessing JP and puzzles mix about as well as Sofia Coppola and The Godfather III. But still, that unfounded fear pointed to JP’s ouster.

Watch Fan Forum: Survivor on People TV here, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

So off to Tribal Council we went, with everyone making not-so-thinly veiled digs at the fact that JP has no idea what he is doing. “I don’t see anyone else playing as laid back as JP,” said Probst. Let’s put that through the Survivor Translate-O-Meter 3000 and see what Jeff really means. BING! Oh, here it is: “I don’t see anyone playing less than JP.” Now it’s Chrissy’s turn to speak: “JP plays a quiet game.” Let’s also put that one through the ol’ Translate-O-Meter. BING! Here we go: “JP has no game.” And here’s JP himself while voting for Ali: “I got my game. You got your game. We’ll see who wins.” We’ll see how the Survivor Translate-O-Meter 3000 handles this one. BING! “I got no game. You got some game. We’ll see who makes it to Ponderosa first.”

But then…WHAT?!? It was Ali after all! Not JP, but Ali! Consider me fooled! Poor Ali. A lot of us were really high on her game. Not that we ever saw her make any moves, per se. But in those early days of the Hustlers tribe, she seemed to be the person everyone was gravitating around. She appeared to be carrying on the most conversations. When you’re talking to everyone, you are usually in pretty good shape, and Ali was. Even after the swap happened, Ali appeared to be a focal point in the new Soko tribe, and maybe that in itself was the problem for Ryan. So Ali is gone, but I have little doubt that we will see her again. Both producers and viewers thought she had a lot to give — she just didn’t get a chance to give enough of it this time around. Let’s hope we get more on our second helping when she is inevitably brought back as a returning player.

So that may be it for Ali, but not for you. That’s because we have a bevy of goodies for ya. There’s our weekly Q&A with the Hostmaster General himself, Jeff Probst, and an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Unfortunately, I’m out of town for work so won’t get a chance to chat with Ali on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) but will have some more cool stuff hitting next week, including the follow-up to our gallery of 35 former Survivor players sharing their favorite memories. And for more Survivor scoop, you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Did Ryan make the right move in ousting Ali instead of JP? Should idols be hidden in the same location on different beaches? And who is looking the best heading into the merge? Hit the message boards to weigh in and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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