The Brains tribe sinks to a new low, losing to a tribe that was trying to lose to them

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Survivor Recap
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
S28 E3

“I know it sounds stupid getting rid of numbers, but…” —Sarah

NO! You stop right there, woman! There is no but! When it comes to throwing a challenge, the only but in this scenario is your butt which needs to be kicked for even contemplating such a move. Lord knows I have an epic list of things that infuriate me while watching Survivor: There are people who are too chicken to pull rocks after a tie vote, thereby dooming themselves in the game (howdy, Cochran!). There are people who insist on bringing their best buddy on reward with them, leaving the more vulnerable folks back to scheme without and against them. There is the fact that we no longer have a final 2. There are people who go around bragging about their hidden immunity idols. There are women who refuse to wear knee socks. There are episodes when I have no beer in the fridge. Atrocities! The whole lot of them! But throwing a challenge has to be the absolute worst.

No, strike that. Throwing a challenge because you bought into a blatant lie by a guy that just admitted he had been lying to your face for six days — that is the absolute worst. And I liked Sarah sooooo much. She seemed so smart and intuitive back in week one, But I cannot, and I will not, root for anyone that tried to get her tribe to throw a challenge. I don’t know if I will go full-on Shark Tank Mr. Wonderful “You’re dead to me!” mode, but I am super duper disappointed in Sarah right now. And I don’t throw around the term “super duper” lightly. (Mostly because it makes me sound like an idiot.)

But here’s the craziest thing of all: Even though 50% of the competing Brawns tribe (Sarah and Trish) did everything within their power to lose this immunity challenge, they still couldn’t do it. That’s right, a Brawns tribe that was actively attempting to lose still defeated a Brains tribe that was fighting for their collective life. THAT’S HOW AWFUL THIS BRAINS TRIBE IS! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it. I mean, unless the Brains tribe misunderstood the challenge instructions from Jeff Probst and thought they were competing against Ulong and Matsing for the title of Worst Tribe Ever, then this has to go down as one of the lamest performances of all-time. Again, because I believe this bears repeating: THE BRAWN TRIBE WAS TRYING TO LET THEM WIN! AND THEY STILL LOST!!! That’s roughly the equivalent of someone going out of their way to purposely write the most random and rambling Survivor recap possible, only to discover that some loser on EW.com who actually thought he was being relatively concise still clocked in at over 3000 words.… Oh, never mind. Strike this entire intro. Let’s just pretend all of this never happened and recap week number 3 of Survivor: Cagayan from the juicy top — and no, that is not a Morgan reference.

Speaking of Boobs McGee, Morgan is very upset after watching the cutest member of the Beauty tribe (Brice, according to Brice) be tossed aside. But then she goes and actually does something very smart. She calls Jeremiah out in front of the entire tribe, asking him “What changed your mind?” and then lying to Alexis and Jefra by saying Jeremiah was on a mission to get LJ out. Look, I’ve had some fun at Morgan’s expense and maybe I’ve been a bit over the top (heavy)…sorry, couldn’t resist…but let’s face it, I am recapping a show in which producers have looked for every opportunity possible to showcase her humungous bosoms as much as possible. Heck, the only thing missing from last week’s challenge in which the tribe was tossing water right at Morgan’s breasts was a ’70s porn soundtrack. However, I liked the way she covered her tracks while being caught searching for the idol, and I like the way she plants little seeds of distrust here. Will it work? Probably not. But it’s definitely worth a shot. The fact is, Morgan has a little bit of game in her. Maybe not a lot. But a little.

NEXT: Little LJ takes a big beating

Whoa, it’s Tree Mail time already. You know what that means: Get your camera out because we are about to come across an endangered species — an actual reward challenge! Talk about getting back to your roots. What’s next: some awkward Jeff Probst narration and a cheesy trunk of cash at Tribal Council? (Go check your season 1 DVDs, folks.) The Tree Mail lets the tribes know it will be a blindfolded challenge, so naturally it is time for Sergeant Tasha to take over and put her tribe through basic training once again. Because that worked so well last time! (Yes, they won that challenge, but only because of the puzzle after falling waaaaaay behind in the water-tossing portion they practiced back at camp.)

So off to the challenge we go, where one person will call out to a blindfolded pair to collect five items and then hoist them up to the caller before going and getting a flag to hoist up as well, and I don’t know why Survivor keeps making me write the word “hoist,” because the word “hoist” is close to the word “moist,” and the word “moist” freaks me out. And then, in a twist almost as shocking as the Survivor: Race War edition (a.k.a. Cook Islands), Jeff Probst asks the contestants if they’d like to see what they’re playing for? Not know, but see. And what do they see? Chickens! First place gets three hens and a rooster, while second place gets a dozen eggs. Brawn sits Woo and Sarah out, and Beauty sits Morgan.

I’m not sure what the exact name of this challenge is, but I’m pretty sure it’s something along the lines of “LJ Gets Hit In The Nuts.” And really, that’s an understatement because LJ does not just get hit in the nuts once. The dude just repeatedly runs his groin region right into pole corners, to the point where I seriously doubt if he can still have children. This is no accident, as far as I’m concerned. You notice how those poles are all positioned exactly at crotch level? Challenge producer/penile pain enthusiast John Kirhoffer knows exactly what he is doing here.

Unlike J’Tia. Once again, rice’s mortal enemy is blowing it for her team because while Spencer and Kass are bringing back the materials in a timely fashion, J’Tia keeps failing on her end when it is time to hoist — DAMMIT, THAT WORD AGAIN! — them up to Tasha. It is because of her inability to pull a rope and lift objects in the air that the Beauty tribe takes first place. And it is because of J’Tia that the Brawn tribe is able to come all the way back and — with Probst practically frothing at the mouth and yelling “Unbelievable!” — actually steal second place and the dozen eggs that come with it. Just a positively epic collapse by J’Tia. Spencer throws his blindfold down in disgust…which one has to assume is promptly picked up and used by LJ as extra padding for his sore man parts.

The Beauty tribe takes their spoils back to the beach, and finds a clue to the hidden immunity idol sitting right on top. Remember when producers used to actually bother to hide these things deep down in the reward goodies? Now they are so desperate for every clue and every idol to be found they don’t even bother. But there is some confusion regarding their reward. “Does, like, the rooster have to get it on with one of the hens to make eggs?” asks Alexis in the most Beauty tribe moment of the Beauty tribe thus far. “I was wondering that,” responds one of the other women. Chicken biology is then explained to Alexis, but she still doesn’t believe it, stating that the other people who say they know are just faking it when they don’t really know. And now is the point in the recap where I point out that Alexis attends Northwestern University. Good school! I have tons of friends who went there. And I now plan to make fun of each and every one of them. (First up: EW’s own Dan Snierson.)

NEXT: Throwing a challenge — and watching it get thrown right back at you

After LJ uses dinosaurs as proof that the egg came before the chicken (???), Jeremiah twists the rooster’s head off, leading to involuntary chicken spasms before death, and Alexis’ query of “So chickens don’t need a brain to function?” (P.S. Dan Snierson appears to be avoiding my calls at this time.) Meanwhile, Morgan says that Jeremiah is dumb, a liar, and, worst of all, not beautiful — which really has no bearing on anything but seemed worth including just because it is so spectacularly superficial that there is no way it could not be noted. How dare you not be beautiful, Jeremiah?!?

The next few minutes make me so furious that I hesitate to even recount them for fear of breaking my keyboard in disgust (like I’m actually strong enough to break a keyboard — who am I kidding?). It’s basically just lots of shots of Sarah convincing everyone how important it is to throw the challenge because “We cannot risk merging into two tribes and having Cliff here.” First off, this makes absolutely zero sense. Forget for a second that Sarah is operating under completely false information fed to her by Tony. Let’s say that Cliff did want her out first. That doesn’t mean that Cliff would flip from his tribe to get her out. It just means if they had to vote someone out from their tribe pre-merge, it would be her. Again, this 411 is not even accurate, but if it were, it would still not be grounds for willingly giving up numbers. Especially when you are the tribe with the best numbers!

See, I’m getting mad again! I warned you! Anyway, we get to said challenge and Probst doesn’t even bother to welcome people in, which I guess seems a bit on the rude side. But seeing as how they are all dry yet standing on docks, I guess they were boated in and that doesn’t exactly fit the spirit of “Come on in, guys!” so they just skipped the whole intro thing. But good news! We’re getting back in — and under — the water, as each tribe will have to dive down and release five buoys (at various depths) which they then need to throw basketball style into a basket to win. Brawn sits out Tony and Lindsey while Beauty sits out Alexis so she can spend more valuable time contemplating how eggs are made.

We’ve already established how Sarah and Trish try their damndest to lose, refusing to collect any buoys, even at shallow depths. But they have a few problems. Problem #1: Woo is actually trying. Problem #2: Former NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson will be shooting the baskets, And problem #3: The Brains tribe is #%*$@*& terrible. And J’Tia is — shocker! — the worst of the worst. Not only is she incapable of retrieving a buoy submerged only three feet, but she then has to paddle backwards to even get back to her dock. And forget it when she is trying to get the missed balls back to Spencer for shooting. This causes Spencer to engage in a few full-body convulsions of frustration and enables Brawn to come back from a 2-0 deficit to take second place after Beauty. I believe this quote from Sarah pretty accurately sums everything up: “Dude, we tried so hard to blow that challenge. Seriously, brains tribe I tried to help you out, but that team sucked! They deserve to lose after that. That’s all I can say.”

NEXT: The pros and cons of J’Tia and Spencer

All I can say is that the challenges this season have been very, very strong. Even the puzzles have been entertaining, and you know that I tend to suffer from extreme bouts of puzzlephobia. Granted, part of the drama has come from several amazing comebacks, which always pumps up the quality of any competition, but kudos to Kirhoffer and company for giving us some good ones.

So now Tahsa and Kass must decide whether to keep J’Tia or Spencer, discussing the pros and cons of each. Guess what? I actually made my own pros and cons lists and they go a little something like this:

J’Tia Pros

Loyal

Mildly amusing t-shirt

J’Tia Cons

Tossed out rice

Cannot build shelter

Tossed out rice

Cannot swim

Tossed out rice

Cannot do puzzles

Tossed out rice

Cannot pull rope

Tossed out rice

Spencer Pros

Did not toss out rice

Good at puzzles

Did not toss out rice

Good at swimming

Did not toss out rice

Good at walking around blindfolded

Did not toss out rice

NOT J’TIA!!!

Did not toss out rice

Spencer Cons

May not be as loyal

But Tasha and Kass’ lists are the only ones that matter so we head to Tribal Council — which begins in silence with Probst throwing his hands in the air in a what the hell? gesture — to find out what they will do. A few interesting things happen here. First off, J’Tia says that “I usually rise to the top” in high pressure situations,” and I find that extremely hard to believe. Kass then calls J’Tia a hothead while saying “I get her. I was a hothead too,” and I find that even harder to believe. Seriously, the Kass 3000 may just be the least emotional person to ever play this game. I mean, the way science is going these days are we absolutely sure android technology has not been perfected already with test subjects living amongst us? Because I’m telling you, this woman is like Data From Star Trek: The Next Generation, Bishop from Aliens, and Dorian from Almost Human all wrapped into one. “Must protect rice supply. Does not compute. Need more analysis. Does not compute. Current probability of ever winning another challenge: 0.0%. Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not…”

However, lost in all that tomfoolery is something said that actually makes a lot of sense. “Unpredictability is just as dangerous as disloyalty at times,” opines Spencer, and he is absolutely right. In fact, not to nerd out on strategic game theory too much, but predictability is probably the most important aspect when picking alliance partners, and the reason is twofold. For one, you always want to make sure you can count on your alliance partners to do exactly what they say they are going to do. Surprises in Survivor are bad. Predictability minimizes surprises. Remember the way Brandon Hantz kept screwing his alliance over by going his own way and unleashing bizarre revelations at Tribal Council? You don’t want that. Secondly, if your alliance partners are predictable, then it is easier to slit their throats (if necessary) before they slit yours. Wild cards in Survivor are dangerous, and J’Tia has already proven to be the wildest card in the deck.

NEXT: And the loser is…

Which is exactly why Tasha and Kass cut her loose. Would they have made the same decision had they known a tribe mix-up was coming up next (as seen in next week’s preview)? Perhaps not. But you can’t assume that is happening and put all of your (or Alexis’) eggs in that basket. You have to play to win and win now. However, is it just me or did Spencer’s quote after the vote of “I’m going to show you you made the right decision. I’m with you one hundred percent” feel like a bit of ominous foreshadowing? We shall see.

At least my pick to win it all (Spencer) is still alive…barely. I knew I was taking a huge risk picking that dude seeing as he was the low man on the totem pole of such an awful tribe, but maybe he can now act as a swing vote in a newly formed tribe. Or maybe he’ll just be voted off. Either way, we have a whole new game with the switcheroo and the timing seems pretty good for it seeing as how otherwise, the next boots from each tribe were looking a little obvious (Morgan, Cliff, and Spencer).

But enough about next week. We’re not even done with this week. To complete your weekly training, start with the exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below. Once you’re done with that, also make sure to check out my weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst, as well as our exit interview with J’Tia, which will be up Thursday afternoon and is sure to be…interesting. And for non-stop Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

But now it’s your turn: Would you have kept J’Tia or Spencer? Does throwing a challenge make you as insane as it makes me? And where does the Brains tribe rank on the list of worst tribes ever? Hit the message boards to let us know, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Survivor

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst looks at his feet while telling them to "COME ON IN, GUYS!"

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