John is voted off. The surprise ouster of the self-proclaimed leader has changed the power structure, says Dalton Ross, and change is good
John Carroll, Survivor: Marquesas
Credit: John Carroll: David M. Russell

John is voted off

Something smells, and we’re not just talking about Sean’s seemingly uncontrollable flatulence. It’s the smell of perhaps one of the best ”Survivor” episodes…EVER! Okay, the kite-flying exercise and ensuing SCUBA outing were pretty lame as far as reward challenges go, but oh, the intrigue! And as far as unforeseen plot twists go, this was better than that time a dead Bobby Ewing showed up scrubbing himself in the shower on ”Dallas.”

A quick word to John, Tammy, Robert, and Zoe: YOU BLEW IT!!! How could those bozos not realize that by ousting Sean, Vecepia, Kathy, and Paschal in such quick order for the immunity challenge they were basically saying, ”Hey, in case you guys were wondering in what order we’re gonna vote you out, let us clue you in.” Even Paschal, who said advancing Sean would be shameful, couldn’t stomach such cockiness. He broke his promise to John that he wouldn’t vote against him after he saw the male nurse and friends celebrating after cutting down the coconuts. Apparently, the judge deemed this showboating to be excessive and in poor taste. You have to respect the robe, people!

Make no mistake, John’s dismissal is a HUGE shift in the balance of power. Never before has Mark Burnett been able to shake things up so late in the contest. Just like that, and we have a new quintet in charge, and while rooting for the likes of Sean (lazy, confrontational, nonsensical) and Kathy (just plain nuts half the time) may be difficult for some, it totally changes the face of the show, which is always a good thing. Plus, Neleh, Vecepia, and Paschal, while relatively boring, are much easier to root for than any of that other fearsome foursome.

The exiled John’s goodbye speech was so brilliant I’m thinking of making it my outgoing voice-mail message. To hear the obviously shocked former ringleader try and act pleased about his ouster (”My abs are incredible!”) before finally succumbing to tears of embarrassment was just plain genius. No, it’s not nice to laugh at other people’s pain, but the smugness and uncaring nature with which he dispatched other opponents makes it pretty damn easy.

Before we finish, let’s pause for a moment to recognize this week’s gratuitous product placement of the week, an ultra-satisfying Snickers candy bar! But they didn’t just SHOW the Snickers bar (described by host Jeff Probst as ”delicious”), they gave each contestant a piece so cameras could catch them all salivating over a tiny morsel. (Tammy offered the requisite sound clip, exclaiming in disbelief, ”It’s soooooo good!”) Probst then proceeded to repeat the word ”Snickers” about 18 more times — what, did he need to fulfill some sort of corporate quota? But wait, that’s not all. After Kathy’s scuba outing, she brought BACK the Snickers bar for the whole camp to enjoy, exclaiming along the way, ”Oh my God! I am now going to be eating Snickers bars!” (I wonder how these arrangements work. Do the ”sponsors” pay per mention? Or is it a flat rate for which they hope the contestants will have no qualms becoming walking billboards? Speaking of walking billboards, how much do I get for all the free plugs I just served up?) You know what, though? I’ll go buy their damn candy bars till all my teeth fall out as long as ”Survivor” episodes remain as good as this.

Who do you want to see go next?

Survivor: Marquesas
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