I Am Thankful for Pain and Suffering I Can Watch but Not Feel
Remember a while back when I talked about how much I liked watching people suffer for my enjoyment? I meant it. And so when Jeff Probst promised “another brand new Survivor torture device,” I could not have been happier. I concede that this vaguely makes me sound like the Six-Fingered Man in The Princess Bride, but unless your name is Inigo Montoya and you are here to kill me, I can deal with that. The fact that this particular immunity challenge also forced everyone to pose in super awkward positions was a bonus.
Players had a bar resting on their shoulders, forcing them into an uncomfortable squatting position. If they went too low, their flag would pop. If they went too high, their urn would drop. So, essentially, they had to stand like Goldilocks and hope it was juuuuuuuust right. It eventually came down to Lauren versus Cole, with Lauren winning and then showing about as much emotion as one would expect from Lauren, which is absolutely none. But props to challenge producer John Kirhoffer for finding a brand new way to make people miserable on national television. Their pain was our gain.
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I Am Thankful for Alliance Infighting
Here’s a question: What do you do if you are absolutely, positively sure of what the right move is, but your alliance wants something else? What do you do? Insist on the right move, even if it paints you as a dictator and could cost you alliance loyalty later on, or go with the flow, even if that means that by acquiescing you may be putting your own game in jeopardy by leaving the bigger threat to play another day? Three more days, in fact.
Now, I’m not saying Ben was making the right move by targeting Cole. And I’m also not saying that his entire alliance wanted Joe out. But there was a version of this dilemma that he had to confront after announcing a plan to put four votes on Cole and three on the Sex Doctor. Not everyone was on board. Ashley wanted to know why nobody was talking about Joe, but Ben simply shut her down, announcing that “it’s a group decision.” Was it?
Because Chrissy and Devon then appeared to agree with Ashley on the need to get the idol-hunting, raw food-hating pot-stirrer out of the game. But when Chrissy approached Ben in a calm and collected manner about it, the former Marine began huffing and puffing and being super demonstrative in his apparent agony by hanging his head. When Chrissy explained that some people felt steamrolled, Ben snapped back, “No, they don’t,” which will hereby serve as Exhibit A to someone getting steamrolled.
From a viewer’s perspective, Ashley and Chrissy would seem to be right. Challenge performance aside, Cole does not appear to be the threat that Joe is. Even if it is true that Joe is loathed out there and would never win votes in the end, he can still be dangerous in other ways — chiefly, the ability to cause mischief and mayhem and draw votes away from the majority. Think about it. Who do you think is more likely to work an angle to split up the Heroes and Hustlers alliance: Joe, who has been continuously looking for cracks, or Cole, who is off licking his fingers somewhere? And seeing as how Joe has spent the majority of his time trying to poison Ben’s name in front of the others, if I were Ben I would want him out of the game PRONTO!
However, Ben for some reason doesn’t want him out. At least not yet. But in the process of imposing his will, he is failing at one major part of the game: imposing that will without people realizing your will is being imposed. Instead of deftly shaping public opinion to allow others to draw the same conclusion that he has, Ben at least now is giving off the perception — and perception is reality out there — that it is his way or the highway, and that is not a good look going forward. On the flip side, it is a good look rocking that hat all season. Plus, look at all the sun protection Ben is getting out of that thing. Smart choice in Survivor headwear — practical and stylish! (Recap continues on page 3)