Survivor recap: Blood vs. Water' recap: Repeat Offender
I’ve had a lot of fun at Jeff Probst’s expense over the years. There was that time he wore sunglasses…IN A RAIN STORM! There was the season-long debacle that was his Survivor: Guatemala hat. And anytime he starts talking about Tarzan’s balls, you know he’s gonna get some good-natured ribbing in this here space. However, when Jeff Probst needs to be great, he is pretty damn great. I’ve always said that nobody has a tougher reality hosting job than Probst. There is no teleprompter. No script. He has to react to what is happening on the fly and outside the comfort of a television studio. And he has to immediately pick up on facial expressions and visual clues and play those forward to create more story. Those four Emmy awards he has won are well deserved. And the fact that he was not even nominated the past two years — snubbed for Off Their Rockers host Betty White, who I love, but seriously? — is a joke.
The best I’ve ever seen Probst was during the Survivor: Redemption Island season, when he impressively navigated a minefield of tricky racial discord between Phillip and Steve. He did so openly and respectfully without fanning the flames of racial discourse, as so many other hosts would have done to create more drama. He earned one of his Emmys right then and there. This public takedown of a quitting Colton Cumbie was almost as good.
Because the game has changed so much over the years, Probst has taken some lumps from fans who don’t like the new direction of the show. Look, argue with the man all you want about the merits of a final 3 format (which I have done and will continue to do until the end of time). Fire up the debate if you don’t like the Redemption Island twist (of which I have also been quite public about not being a fan). However, when it comes to casting, Probst is but one vote in a room. I know he did not want Colton back this season, which he confirmed himself last week. But he was overruled — as he was with Johnny Fairplay (who also ended up quitting) for Micronesia, and as he has been for many a bimbo or himbo who is just put on the island there to look good in a bathing suit.
So you can’t blame Probst for Colton coming back. Actually, the fact that Colton was brought back against Probst’s advice led to the delicious bit of theater that just played out before our very eyes. Let’s just throw chronology out the window and skip right to the big moment we’ve all been waiting for: The scene begins at Redemption Island arena after a big kerfuffle between Tyson, Brad, and Marissa. Then, out of nowhere, Colton starts crying.
“What are you crying about?” asks Probst, the disdain already dripping off of his every word.
“I don’t want to be here anymore at all,” sniffles Colton. (That’s okay, Colton. We don’t want you here either.) The contestant — and I use that word loosely — then proceeds to talk about how he doesn’t care about his tribe and just wants to get out. “That may be the best move for me.”
“A very selfish move,” Probst points out. Wow, he’s really not letting him off the hook here. But how far will the host go? The answer: pretty freakin’ far. Try this on for size: “What is it that has happened on your tribe that is forcing you to quit, for what now I can confirm for myself is a second time? The first time you feigned an appendicitis. Turns out you didn’t have it. You want to own that one now?” Wow, Probst just called him out as a two-time quitter. That’s like Purple Kelly…squared!
NEXT: Colton gives his loved one a lap dance
After Colton claims he didn’t know what he had in One World (bacterial infection, maybe?), and then Tina explains that his problem this time is that nobody wanted to play his game, Probst interjects once more. “Is that how it goes, Colton? If things don’t go your way, let’s just stop?” Quick, someone get an extinguisher, because, ladies and gentlemen, Jeff Probst is ON FIRE!!!
And he’s still not done. “I am now convinced that Colton is the guy who never should have gotten up off the couch. We brought a quitter back and we got a quit again.” Of everything Probst says in this entire scene, this is probably the most interesting. To me, this reads like one long mental note to everyone — including himself — involved in casting this show. He is actually taking some of the blame off of Colton, and putting it on themselves for letting him back on the show in the first place (or, second place, as it were). Consider it a case of “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” If someone already quit once, why would you expect them to do any differently the next time around?
Probst’s admonishment causes Colton to go seek solace in the lap of his fiancée, who — shockingly — seems like a totally awesome dude. You almost want to shake Caleb at times and yell, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? RUN! RUN LIKE THE WIND!” But the heart wants what the heart wants, and Probst’s heart right now wants Colton gone. “You can keep your buff,” he informs the now two-time quitter. “I won’t give it the honor of throwing that in the urn. We’ll keep that reserved for people that compete.”
DAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMN! And somewhere, as he watches this all go down on his television set, a single tear rolls down Osten Taylor’s face. (Look it up, kids.)
We needed this. As viewers, we’ve been screaming through our TV screens for two seasons at this guy. Had Probst not given him the business on the way out, it would have been super frustrating. In a sense, Probst became our voice in that moment. He aired our frustrations at someone having two opportunities to play the game we know and love, and then voluntarily throwing them both away when the going got a little tough. I can only imagine the anger of all of you who have applied over and over to be on this show, only to see this guy waste two such chances.
In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that you often see people at their worst when on Survivor. And I’m not talking about the lack of showers and growth of unwanted body hair, although that can certainly be pretty gnarly. I’m talking about the fact that people are cold, wet, hungry, and living with others they might otherwise do their best to avoid. I can’t speak to Colton outside of the game because I have only spoken to him for about 15 minutes in such a setting. So while it may be unfair, we have no option but to judge them on what we see. And what we saw for two seasons from Colton was pretty damn ugly. Oh, and Caleb? One last thing: “RUN! RUN LIKE THE WIND!”
Okay, now let’s get to some other odds and ends from the episode:
• Before we completely move off Colton, has there ever been a Survivor contestant who flossed his teeth more than Mr. Cumbie? Every single shot of him by the shelter featured him sticking something in between his chompers. I mean, I guess I’m impressed with his dedication to personal hygiene, but it does seem a bit over the top.
NEXT: Look who’s crying now!
• Sorry! I lied! One more pretty interesting note related to Colton quitting. Even though the returning players have won every single immunity challenge, right after Colton walked out — due to him quitting and Rupert idiotically taking his wife’s place at Redemption Island — the Galang tribe had only eight players remaining in the game while Tadhana still had all 10. That would only last for a few minutes, but still — weird.
• Vytas’ strategy to vote off Rachel in the hopes that Tyson would take her place at Redemption Island almost worked. Tyson actually told Rachel “It’s up to you” whether he switched. Had she told him to swap, it would have marked the third straight season in which Tyson made a truly awful move in the game. Thankfully, she saved him the ignominy.
• After Tyson decided to stay put, the fireworks began as he decided to pull a Gervase and start talking a little smack. “You guys watch out because if you see me at Redemption Island, none of you have a chance in hell. Mr. Football over there smiling at me like he does. You can be big, but that’s the worst thing in this game.” I have to assume by Mr. Football he meant Brad Culpepper and not an actual walking and talking football that only he could see due to a massive sugar high given off by his sporty new gas station cupcake belt.
Then Brad defended himself. Then Marissa started yelling and firing off a little “F— you, Brad Culpepper.” This caused the irony of all ironies — Gervase imploring verbal restraint. “Hey, hey, yo, yo, Marissa, tone it down. No, no. Tone it down.” (Note: I was going to say something about that being a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but then realized that with Gervase and Marissa both being African-American that it could possibly be mistakenly taken as a racist comment. But now by not putting it in, I’m worried I have overcompensated in the opposite direction of being overly sensitive about a possible misunderstanding that probably never would have happened anyway. DAMMIT! YOU SIMPLY CANNOT WIN WITH THAT IDIOM! Stupid kettle.)
• So after all that tomfoolery, we finally got to the duel (or whatever you call a duel that involves three people — a truel?). I’m not usually a fan of contests that involve stacking blocks on platforms to then knock down dominoes style, but this one ended up being pretty exciting — even though Candice did everything in her power to diffuse any sense of tension by once again dominating (and giving her hubby another clue to the idol). It was the battle for second place between Marissa and Rachel that had everyone — especially Gervase and Tyson — on the edge of their seats. In the end, Marissa won, which is good news for viewers seeing as how she’s more likely to mix it up with former tribemates at Redemption Island arena (which still can’t help but feel funny every time I type it.) However I’ll miss Rachel as well, seeing as how she was part of one of my favorite pre-game interview videos of all time.
• Did Tyson just cry on national television? Is he sad that he cheated on his girlfriend by relentlessly groping Aras last episode, and now she has been kicked out of the game so he feels doubly guilty? What a weird sight. What’s next? Brad being humble?
NEXT: Vytas pulls “one of the biggest unsportsmanlike moves”
• The immunity/reward challenge was a Survivor classic that if memory serves — and trust me, it often does not — was first played in Survivor: Palau. It’s basically sumo wrestling with giant pads. Knock your opponent out of the ring and into the water and you win. Yes, we got to see Brad “bodyslam the f—“ out of “Jarvis”, and yes, all Kat basically had to do was blow on Ciera to send her tumbling off the dock, but the good stuff would be when the loved ones faced off against each other. While it was nifty seeing both the moms (Tina and Laura) besting their daughters (Katie and Ciera), those were both pretty much expected. The main event was Vytas versus Aras. Brother against brother — civil war style, only now instead of the fate of a nation and an entire enslaved populace at stake, they would be playing for pillows and blankies. Or fishing gear. Their choice. So, you know, important stuff.
The clear highlight of the match was when Aras had Vytas down on the ground and allowed him to get up and reset, but instead of moving back to start over, Vytas went straight at his brother in what Probst described as “one of the biggest unsportsmanlike moves.” Also not one of the smartest. Don’t give everyone out there any reason to think they may not be able to trust you. That underhanded sneakiness was a reason right there. Even when you are playing a physical game, you still have to be playing a strategic one that extends outside of that particular contest. In any event, Galang won yet again.
• There was an injury during the match, as Tyson popped his shoulder. This forced Dr. Ramona to wade breast deep into the water to check on him. Ramona is awesome. I actually got a chance to watch her in action when I was out on location for this season and a member of the press group — also a dear friend of mine — had a super scary seizure at a dinner on our first night there. Ramona was on the scene in a matter of minutes, got my friend out of immediate danger, and then carefully monitored her for the days that followed. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Ramona. Which is why I wrote “breast deep” instead of “boob deep.” That’s my way of saying thanks.
• BIG BROTHER CROSSOVER!!!! You caught it, right? Hayden was talking about the dangers of voting out an alliance member just a few days into the game — which we’ll get to in a minute — when he opined that it “could be like opening a Pandora’s Box.” Pandora’s Box!!! Oh, how I love thee! For those who actually have, you know, taste, and don’t watch some of the worst (yet oddly addictive) reality television ever created, Pandora’s Box is a twist from Hayden’s previous show, Big Brother, where a contestant is offered the opportunity to open Pandora’s Box — not knowing whether something good, or bad, or both will result. The biggest shocker of this season’s Big Brother — yes, even more shocking that the racist/sexist/homophobic comments coming out of the house — was that there was no Pandora’s Box this time. But wait! Maybe it came over with former BB winner Hayden to Survivor. Does this mean Mr. PEC-Tacular is about to show up on the Tadhana tribe and start selling photos of him flexing on various plates and mugs? Hell, why not just bring Otev and Baby Zingbot along as well while we’re at it? (You think I’m kidding, but cut to season 36 of Survivor when this actually happens.)
NEXT: John and Candice: Reunited and feels so…bad
• So Brad decided to break up the Sausage Party alliance and vote off John out of fear that Candice would make it back into the game and control John’s vote. Which doesn’t really make much sense as a reason to get rid of your closest ally, but okay. Brad not only killed his alliance over the super-slim chance that Candice will make it back into the game, but he just made HIMSELF a huge target by being so shady and untrustworthy, especially when he said he wanted them to all vote out John while he voted for Ciera so that John would still like him. How sketchy is that?!? Putting this move into football parlance so Brad can truly understand just how bad it was, this whole scheme set off more red flags than an NFL coach’s challenge. But in the end, they did go along with Brad (for now) and voted John Cody off to Redemption Island where he can stare at the stars with his wife and super-awkward third wheel Marissa.
• This once again proves my point last week that John completely bungled his handling of the hidden immunity idol clue. He should have told the entire tribe that he planned to find the clue and then save it to use only to ensure his tribe a numbers advantage in the event of a merge or pre-merge tribe swap. Make them feel it is in their best interest to keep him around since he has a tool to help all of them in the game. But he didn’t. And everyone got suspicious. Also, the only thing worse than telling someone else on your tribe the clue to the hidden immunity idol is telling someone else on your tribe the clue to the hidden immunity idol and then telling them they are not allowed to search for it with you. That’s just being both schizophrenic and sketchy.
So Colton and Rachel are gone and we’ll have a battle of the lovers next week at Redemption Island. But until then, we have plenty of goodies to keep you company. As always, we have an exclusive deleted scene in the video player below as well as a montage of all the newbies talking about what other former Survivor players they’d like to play with, and my pre-game interviews with Colton and Rachel. Plus, if you’re looking for Jeff Probst’s brutally honest take on Colton quitting, check out this week’s Q&A with the host. My exit interviews with Colton and Rachel will be up on the next edition of the InsideTV Podcast, which should be live on Thursday afternoon. (Also make sure to check out last week’s interviews with Rupert and RC — who was forced out of the game just days before filming — if you missed them.) And for more Survivor news and views sent directly to you, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
Now it’s your turn. Were you impressed with the way Probst handled Colton quitting? Sorry to see Rachel go? Surprised Brad turned on an alliance member already? Hit the message boards to let us know and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!