Clarence lost the bucket challenge, but his ouster exposed a new villain for the show, says Ken Tucker
Survivor: Africa
Credit: Survivor Africa: Monty Brinton/CBS

Here’s the next castmember we’ll love to hate

Thursday night, ”Survivor” pulled its now-annual ”everybody’s in reruns let’s air a clip” show, which is just as well, because so much happened last week, in the Nov. 22 edition, that this provided an occasion to step back and give the game a good fresh squint.

As you’ll recall, last week the tribes merged, forming the felicitously metered ”Moto Maji” tribe. This new band of 10 then participated in the most torturous immunity challenge so far this season: Standing on a log, right arm attached to a rope, which was in turn attached to a big bucket of water. Any movement and the bucket tipped, drenching the luckless soul and eliminating him or her.

Theresa and Clarence were the last two standing, and then — remarkably, foolishly (it must have been the hot sun) — they played a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to decide which one would give up and take the water. (In return, the winner promised not to vote against the loser at tribal council.)

Theresa won, but even with her vote safe from him, Clarence was still the least popular guy, and off he went, home to make his weary rounds of CBS morning and evening talk shows (see’s Q&A here). (David Letterman, always the genial sadist, consigned him to the sandwich shop around the corner to conduct the interview from as far away from the host as possible.)

Last week’s episode offered a small but satisfying revelation: that Lex, he of the spikey black hair and voluminous tattoos, is not merely unpleasant but also condescending (his parting words to Clarence were ”Sorry, brother” — Lex had never exactly bonded with this African-American man) and increasingly unpopular himself: Two votes were cast against him. He’s also a bit of a dim bulb. Earlier, he’d gone to Clarence and told him, in the guise of honesty, ”We’ve all decided to vote you off.” ”As if that’s more ethical,” sniffed Kelly of Lex’s cruel announcement.

The Nov. 22 show concluded with Lex fuming, vowing to ”smoke out” those who had voted against him. Well, obviously, Clarence was one vote (the closing credits showed that, true to her word, Theresa cast the other, non-Clarence vote), and it’s probable that he heard about the deal Clarence had struck with Theresa, so what’s the mystery? Maybe the ink from his tats have seeped into Lex’s skull. In any case, he’s shaping up as a good ”Survivor” villain.

The best moment of the Nov. 29 episode: CBS’ shilling for us to buy ”The Survivor Buff”– one of those goofy scarf-things they all have to wear. Yeah, right… I’m gonna order a case of ”Moto Maji” ”buffs” as Christmas presents right away. Dream on, Mark Burnett.

Who’s your favorite ”Survivor” villain?

Survivor: Africa
  • TV Show