There’s lots of crying, and drinking, and people worried about what their next move should be

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 27, 2015 at 11:10 PM EST
Greg Gayne/CBS

Survivor

S26 E11
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So…did I miss anything last week while I was out on vacation? No? Nothing big happened on Survivor, right? I assumed not, because it’s not like people were TWEETING, EMAILING, TEXTING, AND CALLING LIKE CRAZY ATTEMPTING TO SPOIL THE EPISODE BEFORE I HAD A CHANCE TO WATCH IT! Nice try, people! I was hanging down at Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg with my homies Peyton Randolph and Thomas Jefferson and the joke is on you because they didn’t have smart phones back in the 18th century so I was in a spoil-free zone. DOUBLE BURN!

But, of course, I knew something dramatic would happen because every single time I miss an episode it ends up being a crazy one. I was on location for Survivor: All-Stars when the Outcasts twist happened in Pearl Islands, was away on vacation when Coach got ousted in Tocantins, was on location for Survivor: Philippines when Colton was medically evacuated on One World, and now this. (And those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.) So as surprising as it was to see three immunities get played, I wasn’t surprised it happened while I was away.

I don’t want to dwell on last week too much and my uncanny knack for avoiding the best episode of the season, but everyone keeps asking about my take on Malcolm’s big move, so here it is in a nutshell: super entertaining, super dramatic, and not very good strategy. Handing an idol over to an ally is a great move if it helps shift the numbers and balance of power in the game (see: Parvati Shallow handing out not one but two idols in Heroes vs. Villains). My take on the situation was that this would not alter the basic dynamics of the game and that unless Malcolm won immunity or found another idol, he had just cheated himself out of three extra days in the game. Unfortunately for him, that turned out to be the case. He said if he wanted to go out, he wanted to go out big, and he certainly did. And as a viewer I love players that make big moves, so I appreciated it. But in terms of whether it was a smart play, my take right after it happened was that it was not. Dramatic, Awesome. Incredible. But probably not wise.

But it wasn’t downright dumb or anything. No, downright dumb was every single player at this week’s Survivor food auction. I swear I have written the paragraphs about to follow five million times before but have to keep rewriting them over and over because PEOPLE DON’T LISTEN! And what I don’t get is that it is so simple. It’s just one rule. And the rule is this: At a Survivor food auction, do not spend a single cent on a single morsel of food until Jeff Probst offers any sort of advantage in the game, and then immediately bid all $500 on it to get said advantage.

That’s not complicated, right? And every season almost every single person screws it up. This season may have been worst of all, because nobody saved their money and then bid all $500 for either the challenge advantage or the hidden immunity idol clue. Instead they spent it on beer and pizza, which I suppose makes sense if you want to Bro Down fraternity-style, but not if you are clearly on the outs of the tribe majority and needing any help to stay in the game.

NEXT: Apparently every Survivor alliance now needs a goofy nickname

So Malcolm boneheadedly spends 20 bucks on beer, and then the rest of the tribe does something even stupider and allows Malcolm to still get the immunity idol clue with $480. Everyone else either had $500 to spend or had already spent some money on food items that did not make the final edit. Either way, not smart. Use your money for what counts.

Then the secret challenge advantage item comes and Reynold, Brenda, and Cochran start bidding in the 300s for it, with it finally going for only $340. $340?!? How does nobody yell out “$500!” the second Probst explains what it is like Sherri and her stupid pizza? Again, the fact they had already spent some of it is no defense, because they should not have spent any of it. Ugh! Do you see how wound up this gets me? I think I need another vacation. (Kidding!) Okay, let’s take this bad boy from the top before I pull a Yosemite Sam and steam starts coming out of my ears.

It’s night 28 after Tribal Council and Malcolm is hoping the ouster of Phillip will lead the rest of that alliance to crumble, and that someone will come over to the “Three Amigos.” I want to say something about this before we move on. Nobody loves The Three Amigos more than me. The Invisible Swordsman is an international treasure, and El Guapo has done more for the word “plethora” then both Merriam and Webster combined. But must every Survivor alliance now have a goofy nickname? What is this, Big Brother? Are we now going to be inundated with Quack Packs and Brigades, and Friendships and Four Horsemen?

Apparently some sort of Freaky Friday type body switching phenomenon occurs overnight because when the contestants wake in the morning, Brenda is sobbing and Dawn is the stable one comforting her. Black is white! Up is down! You must unlearn everything you have learned! “How can we live off of water,” Brenda asks through tears. Well, this tree mail complete with nine envelopes of cash might help.

Okay, I’m going to try to jam through this food auction stuff as quick as possible in the hopes that I will not throw my laptop across the room in a fit of rage as I watch people do really stupid things, but I make no promises. As previously mentioned. Malcolm kicks things off by spending $20 to chug a beer, because getting even more dehydrated is a simply fantastic idea.

Apparently also operating under the premise that saving all of his money is pointless, Reynold pays $180 for…something. He bids for one covered item, but then Freaky Friday continues as Jeff Probst morphs into Monty Hall before our very eyes to play Let’s Make a Deal, offering two other covered items and letting Reynold pick among the three of him. He sticks with the original, which turns out to be a slice of pizza, and learns he gave up the chance at a rotten coconut (Whoo-hoo!) and the entire rest of the pizza (Doh!)

The stupidity virus spreads like wildfire as Sherri and Dawn then spend all of their money on pizza and chicken, and next thing we know Malcolm is buying ‘Information in this game” for $480. That information ends up being a clue to the location of the next hidden immunity idol and why would anyone want to stop him from getting that?

Next, Andrea buys pasta and wine for $280 only to find that it’s the bi-annual Suckers Delight, where she has no choice but to give it all back for rice and beans for the tribe. Then Cochran buys the advantage at the next immunity challenge for $340 because why would Eddie or Reynold possibly want to have THAT in their possession?

NEXT: The producers tell us who wins the immunity challenge before it even begins

The auction wraps up with Brenda buying a pig’s brain for $300, which leads to this semi-brilliant exchange between her and auctioneer Jeff Probst:

BRENDA: “I just remembered that I don’t eat pork.”

PROBST: “You’re eating the brain of a pig.”

BRENDA: “It’s good for you, right?”

PROBST: “I have no idea.”

I love that last answer from Probst. So often he is the man with all the answers so you just kind of expect him to know everything. Instead, “I have no idea.” Rough translation: “You’re on your own, sister.” Well, at least we got through the auction without Dawn bursting into tears, so I suppose you could say…wait a minute. What is that? Uh-oh. Jeff Probst is talking something out. Oh no, they are letters from loved ones back home. CODE RED! WE HAVE A CODE RED! OPERATION WATERWORKS HAS BEEN INITIATED! REPEAT: OPERATION WATERWORKS HAS BEEN INITIATED!

Sure enough, Dawn starts to tear up because she spent all of her money on chicken and can’t fork over the $20 for her letters. Then Sherri follows suit because she spent all of her money on pizza. Why, even Malcolm is feeling down in the dumps, no doubt because there is no more beer on the island. “I’m not crying, but I feel the way they feel right now,” says the barkeep. And then the crying spreads like peanut butter on Andrea Boehlke’s face as the always clinical Cochran starts choking up back at camp, although it is unclear if he is sniffling over his letters or the fact that Sherri is no longer allowing him to lick her fingers.

Meanwhile, Reynold and Malcolm try their best to get Sherri to flip to their side, promising her “worst place, fifth,” which is perhaps the worst sales pitch in Survivor history. I mean, can you think of a less enticing offer that that? Hell, why not promise to lock her in a room with Shamar, Brandon, and Phillip while you’re at it? The Amigos want Cochran out because he’s the most strategic player, which is probably true, but also probably not that high of an achievement. Jason Siska’s “f—ing stick” would probably be the best strategist among this bunch.

Of course, Malcolm still needs to find that idol. Considering he already found two without a clue, that shouldn’t be too difficult. The only difference is that now he has Andrea stuck to him “like a little sister I can’t get rid of.” She wisely camps out at the water well to prevent Malcolm from searching. (Of course, had she just spent her $500 on the clue she wouldn’t have had to bother, but I digress.)

Speaking of things that people should have spent $500 on, it’s time for the immunity challenge. The contest forces the players to hold on to a rope connected to a very heavy log. At five minute intervals they will have to move their hand one notch lower on the rope, making it heavier. Last one to hold on wins. But since Cochran purchased the immunity advantage (FOR A MEASLY $340!), at any point in the contest he can move his hand back up two slots for less weight.

But before things can commence we are treated to this truly unfortunate quote by Eddie: “Cochran is by no means any type of physical threat whatsoever, so I feel very optimistic.” This is unfortunate for two reasons. 1) Having contestants go back in time to do commentary on challenges that have already occurred but acting like it hasn’t happened yet is very Big Brother. And 2) Eddie’s comment is a clear tip-off that Cochran will win or they wouldn’t have bothered to show it. Sometimes producers think they are creating more drama by adding stuff like that in, when, in fact, it does the opposite by clearly tipping their hand.

NEXT: Cochran gets cocky

And wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what happens. Cochran wisely uses his advantage at the first opportunity, thereby maximizing the time of his advantage, and really, after he does that, it’s clear nobody stands a chance of beating him. (Remember: The contestants are not holding the same amount of weight. They are holding weight proportional to their own body weight at the start of the game, so even without the advantage, Cochran is holding less weight than Eddie, Reynold, or Malcolm. Throw in the advantage and it is a large discrepancy.)

While Cochran deserves credit for being the one to purchase the advantage, saying that “I am the greatest challenge competitor in Survivor Caramoan. There is no debate. If you look at the scoreboard, I’m demolishing everybody” might be overstating his case a bit. This is why I’m not a fan of the immunity advantage twist. I don’t want to see how Cochran stacks up with a two-slot advantage. I want to see how he stacks up head to head.

So without an immunity victory or an immunity idol in their possession, Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Little Ned Nederlander must make people think they have an idol so they can scare someone into flipping. They work Sherri and Erik hard, who both appear torn on what to do. Dawn is fearful that The Silent One may turn on them, explaining that “If I didn’t have diarrhea I wouldn’t be so nervous.” Can I pause for the cause and ask a question: What is with Dawn Meehan and diarrhea? The woman can’t shut up about it! I understand that your only two options out on the island are diarrhea or constipation and neither are particularly attractive options, but must we constantly be discussing the consistency of contestants’ B.M.’s? The only thing I’m nervous about is that Dawn Meehan is going to keep talking about diarrhea.

At Tribal Council, Cochran says that Sherri’s peanut butter smothered fingers have nothing on voting out Malcolm, which would be “indescribably delicious.” Indeed, nobody plays an idol and we have a three-way between Reynold, Andrea, and Malcolm, which is to say a three-way tie, not an actual three-way, which would only be available for viewing on Showtime’s Survivor: After Dark. Malcolm is eliminated on the revote, yelling out “I need a drink!” after having his torch snuffed. In the silver lining department, at least this one won’t cost him $20.

Two interesting things before we wrap up. First off, Malcolm says in his parting words that he was so confident that he had Sherri and/or Erik that he would not have even played the idol if he had found it. Malcolm is a great player, but at a few points this season he revealed himself to be too easily bamboozled by people who professed loyalty to him. Second interesting point: Since the merge, only one Fan (Michael) has been voted off, while three Favorites (Corinne, Phillip, Malcolm) have gotten the boot. If I’m Eddie or Reynold at this point, I am looking at the other and saying “What the hell are we still doing here?!?” Unfortunately, Eddie is probably still too busy mulling over the possibility that some hottie back home is going to find out he ate “cow’s d—.”

Speaking of food, make sure to feast on this week’s Q&A with host Jeff Probst. And because we love you, we also have an exclusive deleted scene in the video player below. Also make sure to check back Thursday afternoon for our InsideTV Podcast chat with Malcolm, which is sure to be entertaining. And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Now it’s your turn. Are you sorry to see Malcolm go? Does it shock you that players spend money for food over help in the game? And do you like the challenge advantage twist or would you rather see everyone compete under the same conditions? 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

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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