Survivor recap: Cagayan' recap: Too Little, Too Late
The castaways finally decide to make a move against Tony, but it's pointless due to the two immunity idols in his bag of tricks
I’m not sure anything has ever made less sense than this entire episode of Survivor. And make no mistake — I loved every second of it. But it made no sense. None whatsoever. Because let’s look at the major plot point of the episode: Kass, Spencer, and Woo use their reward feast to hatch a new plan to join Tasha in voting for Tony and Trish, in the hopes of forcing Tony to use one of his idols. But here’s the thing: not to go all Meatballs on you, but say it with me — “It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter.” (Incidentally, that is my favorite solitary-line-to-group-chant-moment in film history, alongside a previously passive Astrodome crowd imploring umpires to “Let them play!” in The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training. (William Devane alert!)
It just doesn’t matter, and I’ll tell you why. Tony has two idols and there are only two Tribal Councils left in which he can use them. (All idols must be used by the vote down from five-to-four.) Not only that, but they have known he has had two idols for some time. Remember when Tony pulled out that idol he claimed was fake when Jeremiah got voted out? Well, Jefra Bland told me on Entertainment Weekly Radio last week that Tony later admitted to everyone that it was indeed a real idol (although he did not reveal it was a super idol). Then you will recall that he purchased the advantage at the food auction last week, leading him to another idol which he then proudly displayed to everyone at camp. So they knew he had two idols. It may not necessarily be presented that way on screen, but according to her, he told them and showed them and they all knew.
Two Tribal Councils and two idols until the final four. So why bother flushing the idol? There’s no reason. And yet everyone kept talking about flushing that idol. Even Jeff Probst got into the act at Tribal talking about it was an “obvious” vote to get rid of the idols, and he got prompt agreements from Kass and Woo, BUT WHY?!? THE GUY HAS ALREADY BEEN FAST PASSED TO THE FINAL FOUR! Forget about flushing idols at this juncture. It’s pointless. Now, Spencer said it was a no lose situation because if Tony uses one of his idols — and again, why wouldn’t he if he needs to? — then Trish goes home instead of Tasha. But why the hell would you want that? Tasha could win this game. Trish can’t. Why keep around the person who can possibly beat you over the person who can’t? And before anyone says that the other four still need to flush one of the idols so Tony can’t give it to Trish at the next vote to protect her — why would you want to vote Trish out? Again, that is someone you can beat. Those are the people you want to keep around at this point. So again, why bother? But the point really isn’t that they should not have done this; it’s that they should have done this…about three Tribal Councils ago. Survivor is all about timing, and their timing here was way off.
This drove me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs the entire back half of the episode — although Jeff Probst has a different take on this and I encourage you to read our Q&A to see why. But there was plenty of nonsensical stuff to keep me confused for the front half as well, so let’s get to it from the tippy top. The episode begins with Kass informing us that “I’m pissed off” because Tony flipped on his alliance. (Pot. Kettle. Black.) They go at it and Kass tells Tony he’s being a jerk, which has been a favorite word of mine ever since Ryan Shoulders wrote “Die Jerks” on his Outcast Buff back in Survivor: Pearl Islands.
But this is just the appetizer, as the main course awaits us the next morning as Tony is telling Spencer and Woo by the fire all about life as a New Jersey cop — continuing his long, proud tradition of schizophrenic career talk. He tells everyone he’s a construction worker, then admits he’s a cop, then randomly reverts back to construction worker at Tribal Council, now has settled back on cop. Tony’s nonsensical back and forth at this point has become even odder than a dude in saggy pink undies claiming to be a former federal agent.
NEXT: Spencer longs for immunity from children
In any event, Tony makes an innocuous comment about Kass sleeping in, which the lawyer from hell somehow misconstrues as him calling her a bitch. They then get into a brilliant argument in which Kass repeatedly tells Tony to play his idol while Tony tells Kass she’s going home. It’s basically the adult equivalent of:
“No, YOU suck!”
“I’m rubber. You’re glue. What you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”
And then Tony does the most Tony thing you would ever expect Tony to do: He starts blabbing again. “Write my name down and you’ll go home,” he informs Kass for the 3,784th time. “And you’ll go home, because I got a special idol. That’s why. You guys hear that?” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the guy can simply not help himself. I have never seen a less stealthy player in my entire life. And you would expect someone obsessed with “Spy Shacks” to at least have a vague understanding of the word secrecy. But Tony can’t keep anything a secret, from his real profession (which there was no reason to lie about in the first place) to the fact that anytime he gets an idol he needs to blab to everyone all about it.
Again, yes, it doesn’t matter at this point if he tells everyone he has it because he has two idols and there are only two Tribals left to use them, but then he goes back later and refuses to confirm or deny to Spencer whether he actually has it. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, DUDE!
Okay, let’s all “Come on in, guys!” to the reward challenge and…whoa! What is this? A white shirt for Probst? White or super light blue, I can’t tell. Either way, eschewing the standard dark blues & greens for this new hue? The twists just keep on coming, it seems! In this challenge, two teams of three race to grab sand bags that are then used to throw and destroy the other team’s wall. Once the first wall is destroyed then both teams have to rebuild their own walls and the first one to do so wins. It’s actually super confusing for a pretty simple contest, which producers must have discovered because we hear Probst restate the rules in ADR post-production about five times to help us understand exactly what the hell is going on. Honestly, I just confused myself again explaining the rules so I’m still not even sure I have it right.
Woo, Spencer, and Kass end up on the purple team while the orange team is an attack of the Ts with Tony, Trish, and Tashsa. The purple team manages to knock out all of the orange blocks but there are only two purple blocks left so it is pretty even. In fact, Tasha gives orange a sizable early lead in the rebuilding, but then after blatantly cheating off of the orange stack, Spencer comes storming back and leads his team to a decisive victory.
And what do they win for their efforts? A trip to a local elementary school where they will serve as “Survivor Ambassadors of Good Will” — because who better to be Ambassadors of Good Will then Spencer and Kass, who both look like they are about to break out into an allergic reaction at the mere sight of children. Seriously, can you think of two less cuddly people in the entire world? Spencer even says so himself, referring to the children as “little monsters” and admitting that “I’m not really a kid person, and I will be the first to say that I don’t really even like kids.” Thank you, Ambassador! And then there’s Chaos Kass, who likely told the kids she also brought them lots of chocolate pudding, but then changed her mind and ate it instead just so she could be “Ambassador by Ambush.”
NEXT: Shocker! Someone convinces Woo to vote a certain way
Thankfully, Woo steps up and shows off some of the fanciest tropical basketball moves since the Harlem Globetrotters got stranded on Gilligan’s Island. (Yes, it really happened. And yes they played a basketball game against a team of robots. And yes, for some reason Gilligan and the Skipper joined the team to help defeat the robots. And yes, this may be the weirdest thing to ever air on national television.)
I’m going to now shock a few of you and admit to actually liking these local rewards when they pass out supplies to school kids and the like. Having been to many Survivor filming locations (like this very one in Cagayan), I’ve had a chance to mingle with the locals and I think that any opportunity to give back to that community is an opportunity well taken. And these visits can often have a huge impact beyond what we see on the show. After all, it was a similar reward visit back in season 3 that led Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn to start his charity endeavor Grassroot Soccer to help combat HIV and AIDS in Africa.
While the point of Survivor is to keep the players completely separated from civilization, the effect of that also can make every location feel exactly the same. So it’s nice to get a little taste of the local community from time to time. See! My heart is not completely made of stone, Who knew? I mean, it’s not like I was dabbing my eyes with Puffs tissues or anything, but it was a nice moment.
So after the martial arts demonstration it is time for the three winners to get down to business. “We need to flush the idol,” says Kass (No, you don’t.) Then a plan is hatched for Kass and Tasha to vote for Trish while Woo and Spencer vote for Tony. Woo agrees to this because Woo will agree with whatever the last person that spoke to Woo tells Woo to agree to. Seriously, I am relatively confident I could convince Woo to perform a 12-hour Macarena dance marathon for no other reason than the fact that I just told him to and I’m pretty sure he then would be all like, “Well, okay, bro. I guess I better start dancing then.”
Woo seems like a really cool guy. We all liked Woo at the very start and many people were rooting for him to win, but man, oh man that guy has done absolutely nothing in this game except use his fancy. freaky footwear to win a balance competition. Totally dig the guy. Totally would love to share a beer with him. Totally cannot see him winning this game.
Oh, one other thing about Woo, He is a positively TERRIBLE liar. After he gets back from the reward and Tony asks if there was any strategy talk, Woo responds that Kass and Spencer were saying that they should take out Tasha. Tasha? What?!? Why would Spencer go and voluntarily take out his best ally in the game? (Now, as I mentioned earlier, I actually think Tasha being ousted now could be a positive in terms of Spencer’s chances of winning because it eliminated the only person with a chance of beating him at the end, but would Spencer use Woo as his sounding board for wanting to dump his partner? Never.) Woo’s reticence and uncomfortable reaction to deception is the mark a good guy. And an awful player.
NEXT: The rat to Richard Hatch’s snake gets a shout out
We head to the immunity challenge to see if Tasha can tie Kelly Wigglesworth for the record of four individual immunity wins in a row. Hold on…Kelly Wigglesworth holds the record for most consecutive individual immunity wins? That honestly shocks me. I would have thought someone like Terry Deitz or Tom Westman would hold that record. Maybe my surprise is also because all I remember about Kelly and challenges is the professional river guide who described herself as a “water all-star” getting smoked in a paddling competition by water-phobic Gervase. You know what Kelly’s problem in that challenge was? SHE LET THAT FOOL HER!!!! Don’t let that fool you, Kelly. Just don’t. (Please make sure to watch the entire clip. First of all, so weird without any Probst play-by-play. Secondly, so not weird to see Gervase celebrating like a maniac after his victory. Some things never change.)
It’s a super windy day at this challenge. You can tell by the trees flapping in the breeze. You can also tell by Trish sticking her hands under her armpits as if she’s preparing to set the world record for loudest armpit fart noise. Probst explains the rules and the rules are these: Eveyrone must run out to six different stations, counting how many of each object are at each station. Then they must run back and put all those numbers in on a combination lock. First person with the right combo wins.
The contest turns into an exercise in futility as every player keeps trying different combinations and keeps coming up empty. Finally, after 25 minutes, Tasha, Tony and Kass all race to their boxes and put in their latest guesses. They’re all wrong, leaving Spencer to finally win it. And, as Spencer is wont to do, he goes big on the victory pose, collapsing with his head in his hands in the sand. I love how Spencer talks all mature and intellectual, but then reverts to acting like a little kid when anything awesome or awful happens — alternating between over-the-top celebrations and impetuous temper tantrums. (And Spencer hates kids!)
So the plan is in place to either vote Tony out (impossible) or force him to use one of his idols (meaningless). Tony realizes something is up when Tasha doesn’t even attempt to scramble, but why should he care? Then Tasha becomes yet another person to fall victim to the Survivor scourge that is Russell Hantz, because after she compares Tony to the Texas tornado, a light goes on in Kass’ brain. Why should she allow Tasha — who will easily beat her — to stick around when she can keep the beatable Tony instead? As she says herself, “Nobody ever gives the jerk the money.”
There actually is a medical term for this: Bitter Jury Syndrome…or BJS for short. Symptoms of BJS include bruised egos, lingering obsessions with revenge, and the sudden ability to come up with irrational rationalizations for giving the money to a less deserving player instead. International clinical studies conducted on test subjects in both Panama (test name: All-Stars) and Samoa (test name: umm…Samoa) have proven BJS to be serious condition that can lead to long term delusion if not treated properly. Please see Dr. Ramona immediately if you believe that you too may be suffering from BJS.
NEXT: So long, Tasha!
Speaking of bitter jury members, Jefra does not look happy when we arrive at Tribal Council. Tony repeats his observation that Tasha felt way too safe after not winning immunity — oh, and congrats, Wigglesworth! — and informs Jeff that he has brought his #BagOfTricks with him. Tony also says that the game is all about “loyalty and trust,” which makes me spit Milwaukee’s Best all over my laptop and makes LJ shake his head vigorously in the negative. (BJS alert! Paging Dr. Ramona!)
So after Spencer sets the Survivor record for more comments aired in a season while casting a vote, Probst reads the names and it turns out that Kass and Woo indeed did flip back to Tony and as a result Tasha’s torch is snuffed. (That sounds like some sort of gross double entendre, but it’s not. At least not as far as I know.)
So here we are — only two episodes left! So many questions. Questions like…can Spencer sneak into the finals? If not, can anyone else beat Tony? Where will Survivor: Cagayan rank in the season-by-season rankings (which will be revealed next week)? And will the non-jury members be allowed on the Reunion stage or does J’Tia pulling a Brandon Hantz with the rice mean they will all once again be banished to the audience…or banished from the premises entirely?
We will begin to get some answers next week, but we have plenty of stuff to keep you busy until then. Stuff like our weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst. Stuff like an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below. And stuff like our InsideTV Podcast exit interview with Tasha, which will be up on Thursday afternoon. You know, stuff like that. And for Survivor news and views sent right to you, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
But now it’s your turn. Bummed to see Tasha go? Think Spencer can still make it to the end? Feel that the Globetrotters throwing Gilligan through the hoop violated about 312 basketball rules (not to mention the rules of physics)? Hit the message boards to weigh in and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!