There seems to be no stopping the bridal shop owner, even as she makes her first big mistake in the game

Credit: CBS
S24 E11

Give her the money. Seriously, just give her the damn money. Put it in a brown paper bag, or stuff it into the belly of that random pig that strolled into camp, or have Penn Jillette call the Blue Man Group and make them deliver it via an inflating balloon that pops dollar bills all over the beach. I don’t care. But you may as well hand the cash over to Kim Spradlin right now. Lord knows she deserves it.

We were aware Kim was the only one on the island with any bona fide strategic skills (although she made her first significant blunder this week), but we also learned at the most recent reward challenge that she also seems to be handily winning the social game as well, being named by her tribemates as the player they would most trust with their lives as well as the person they’d most like to be stranded with on an island (which is exactly what they are currently doing, incidentally).

The fact that Kim is so trusted is what is enabling her to keep women who won’t come within sniffing distance of victory — hi, Kat! — in line. However, will that come back to haunt Kim the same way it haunted Coach last season when he was finally forced to turn on people? It may, but there is no doubt Kim is playing head and shoulders above everyone else out there, much like Boston Rob on Redemption Island. Kim is not only owning the strategic and social elements of the game, but she even ruled the challenges this week as well, winning both reward and immunity.

The problem with Kim’s domination, much like Rob’s, is that it doesn’t make for very exciting television. We want action, activity, shake-ups — not people lining up passively in front of a proverbial guillotine waiting to have their reality TV necks sliced. If you’re like me — and I pray that you are not for so many reasons — you have been ready to strangle some of those women (and Tarzan) who for the past few weeks have seemed perfectly happy to come in fourth through sixth place. Probst has been practically daring them to do something about it. No thanks, is the reply.

So hand Kim the money already. Because while, as viewers, we always want a shake-up due to it being exciting to see someone on top fall, can you really in good conscience root for anyone else at this point? Kat? Alicia? Really? So our choice has basically boiled down to this: Root for an unworthy player to win just so we can be surprised, or root for utter predictability to guarantee that the most deserving player takes home the prize. Tough call, but I think I’ll go with the latter. I just can’t handle the thought of possibly seeing Alicia standing next to an oversized novelty check with six zeros on it. Although considering Sophie Clarke never even got her novelty check, perhaps that is now an impossibility no matter who wins. It is truly a sad day for oversized novelty check fans everywhere.

NEXT: Why does everyone hate Christina?

Okay, let’s take it from the top of the episode. The Tikiano tribe has just returned from voting Leif off at Tribal Council and Troyzan is calling his situation “hopeless.” Hey, why so glum, chum? You can totally still win this game! All you have to do is talk to some of the women and…. Oh, whom am I kidding? It’s totally over for you. Sorry. As for the other remaining male, Tarzan thinks that, “The smartest thing to do is go with what the girls want me to do.” No, the smartest thing to do would have been to not wear saggy undies and a shirt straight off of the Tommy Bahama clearance rack. The second smartest thing would have been to not look like a moron by passionately defending racist-comment spewing Colton at Tribal Council. And the third smartest thing would have been to band together with the fellow men when you still had an idol to play and voted off Kim. Going along with what the girls want you to do is not even remotely close to appearing on a “smartest thing to do” list no matter how many fancy-shmancy words you spew.

The next morning, Tree Mail arrives informing the tribe that their powers of perception will help them get away. Visions of a reward getaway start dancing in Kat’s head and she essentially orders Kim to take her if she wins. The fact they are showing us this scene can mean only one thing: Kim will win and not take Kat. The reward challenge is one we have seen on Survivor many times before. It is shallow. It is callous. It is a blatant attempt to try and needlessly hurt people’s feelings in the hope of injecting some manufactured drama. Which is to say, I freakin’ love it. The challenge — variations of which have also appeared numerous times on the ultra high class Big Brother — is a quiz. First the contestants have to answer questions about each other such as “Who needs a wake-up call in life?” Then they have to guess which person received the most votes.

That’s the first stage of the public flogging. The second is that if you are correct, you get to chop a rope holding a doll of another player. Three chops and that person’s doll dramatically bursts into flames, not unlike the mythological phoenix. So not only are the contestants forced to talk trash about each other, but they must then reveal a social pecking order in terms of who wants to knock out whom. Evil. And brilliant.

So what do we learn from today’s exercise in abject humiliation? We learn that no one thinks Christina deserves to be out there, which is not a shock, but I still can’t put my finger on why Christina is so disliked by her tribemates. True, she’s not playing the game in the least, but she certainly seems nice enough and (according to her tribemates a few minutes later) does more around camp than Sabrina. Am I defending her because she happens to be kinda hot? Perhaps, but this is one of those weird instances where the hate on the island hasn’t really translated to viewers off of it.

NEXT: Kim makes her first big whoopsie!

We also learn that everyone loves Kim, everyone thinks Kat is immature, and no one wants anything to do with Troyzan outside of the game. Of course, no one wants anything to do with him in the game either, as he is predictability ousted first from the challenge. This leads Alicia to mock his “This is my island!” speech and leads Tarzan to talk some gibberish about molecular substrates, which apparently is more important for him to remember than the names of the people he is living with.

So Kim wins and proceeds to make her first big mistake of the game by choosing Alicia and Chelsea to go with her on her helicopter picnic getaway. This does two things. It leaves Kat to stew and Troyzan to get right to work on her and Christina. Big, big mistake. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people screw up the selection on reward getaways. I have written this a million times, but evidently I need to write it one million and one: ALWAYS BRING THE BIGGEST THREAT WITH YOU! Okay, let’s walk this through step by step. You may think the best solution in a reward situation like this is to simply not win the challenge and thereby not risk pissing anyone off when they are not selected. The problem with that, however, is that you then give up all control over which players go where. No, the best plan of action is to make a pact with your core alliance before the competition. Whoever wins takes the big threat on the outs with them and away from the vulnerable people at the bottom that could possibly be swayed into flipping. It’s so simple! Yet nobody ever does it.

And it takes but half a second for Troy to pounce all over it, commenting to Probst after Kim picks Alicia and Chelsea that “I think it’s pretty revealing. It shows exactly where everyone stands. Exactly.” And this is the guy you want to leave back at camp to work on Kat and Christina? First bad move I’ve seen Kim make this entire game. While she and her bosom buddies are off in the helicopter, Toryzan continues to target Kat hard. “Kat, you need to grasp what’s actually going on,” he pleads. “You think you’re in the know and you’re not.” This causes Kat to cry because Troyzan’s a big meanie and “my fear is I don’t want to go down as a weak player.” Oh, Kat, sweetie, that ship has loooooooooong sailed.

Kim finally returns. Kat tells her how “furious” she is and Kim realizes the mistake she’s made, but when it rains it pours. No, seriously, it’s totally pouring outside. Look! See everyone huddled under the shelter to avoid the downpour. But when you are wet, cold, hungry, and tired, your mind can play tricks on you. You can start seeing things. Things like…a pig strolling through your camp.

Now I know what you conspiracy theorists are thinking: The producers totally planted that pig. But one thing I will tell you is that pigs are everywhere on that island. In fact, I came about a quarter of an inch away from ramming right into one when it darted out of a bush and onto the road while I was driving to go watch a challenge during the South Pacific season. So it is completely conceivable that this little piggy legitimately went to market (only the market happened to be the Tikiano camp).

NEXT: Time to bust out the lubricant!

And with the pig comes something else — hillbilly music! The hillbilly soundtrack is meant to convey lighthearted comedic incompetence as the women yell for an axe that we know they will never dare to employ. Sabrina, for example, sits there with a big club that she clearly has no intention of using. Instead, the women all scream incessantly for no apparent reason, as if they are either on a roller coaster or have been subject to a commercial break right smack dab in the middle of Ryan Gosling’s big suck-face-in-the-rain scene from The Notebook. Meanwhile, Troyzan lamely attempts to lasso the beast, but I’m not quite sure for what purpose since Kim admits that she finds the pig too cute to kill anyway.

No matter, for it is time for Kim to kill it in the immunity challenge instead. This is another Survivor oldie-but-goodie as the players are forced to slide down a slip & slide and grab rope rings on the way to throw on hooks. The competition begins with Chelsea rubbing oil all over her breasts…the competition begins with Chelsea rubbing oil all over her breasts…the competition begins with Chelsea rubbing oil all over her breasts… the competition begins with Chelsea rubbing oil all over her breasts…. Sorry about that. Figured I would replay that sentence for every time I replayed that scene on my DVR, and trust me, I showed real restraint with only four viewings. (This scene of Chelsea going from boob job to lube job could also act as the perfect answer for all those people that always ask why they never stage Survivor in cold weather environments.)

A competition like this is sure to give us some wonderful out of context play-by-play gems from Probst, and while I figure that his instruction to the contestants to “get lubed up” will be the champion comment of the day, that remark surprisingly falls by the wayside once the host utters the following: “Kim not messing around, making quick work on her knees.” (His words, not mine!) The competition is a one-on-one battle with each winner advancing. This leads to several awkward celebrations, including one in which Chelsea attempts to use her lubed up melons to chest bump Alicia, who responds by dry humping her opponent instead. Classy broad, that Alicia.

After losing in the first round, Troyzan turns his back on the others — literally —and refuses to watch the rest of the competition. I’m sorry, but that’s just stupid and childish. Play hard, show emotion, but when you lose, don’t be a crybaby about it. Of course, he wouldn’t like what he would have seen, as Kim wins immunity.

We all know Troyzan is going home at this point, but something very odd happens back at camp. Kim says to throw two votes at Christina in case Troy pulls out a hidden immunity idol. Okay, nothing odd there. But then Sabrina goes and tells Christina that two votes are coming her way and not to worry about it. SAY WHAT?!? Why would you tell someone right before a Tribal Council vote that they are definitely without a shadow of a doubt that low on the totem pole? And why would you tell them not to worry about it when if Troyzan pulls out an idol, then she is the one going home? That is the very definition of something to worry about! Maybe the women are just counting on the fact that Christina is too dumb to add 1 + 1. At least that seems to be Alicia’s take: “Christina’s IQ is probably a zero. I don’t know if that even exists. I mean, I’m a special ed teacher, so I handle Christina as one of my students.” (How horrified are you right now if Alicia Rosa is your child’s teacher, by the way?)

NEXT: Kat needs a flashlight

Christina apparently is not as idiotic as Alicia assumes and tries to set a plan in motion with Troy to oust Chelsea, but Troy knows they no longer have the numbers to flip the script so hopes he can get a few more votes on Christina to get her out instead. It’s all kind of fascinating, but we know it won’t change what’s about to go down at Tribal.

“Christina, why are you here?” That’s a pretty point blank question by Probst at T.C., and Christina’s answer of “Because I am one lucky girl,” is probably about as poor a response as one can give. America’s sweetheart Alicia then goes out of her way to point out that everyone said Christina didn’t deserve to be there in the reward challenge, because why not kick someone and throw sand in their face when they’re already down? Eventually, Troyzan tries to sell the ladies some oceanfront property in Kansas, while Kat talks about being heartbroken over not being selected to go eat after the reward challenge. “Am I so far up Chelsea and Kim’s ass I can’t even see if I’m making the right decision for myself?” she asks out loud. Depends. How far up are you? Have you made it to Kim’s hidden immunity idol yet?

So Troyzan predictably gets voted out and then leans into Kat and says, “Do it!” although it is unclear what exactly he wants her to do. Think for herself? Go and fart on someone? Change her name to Katzan? All we know is this: Tarzan is now the last man standing, and how completely frightening is that? I would congratulate him, but he played a I’ll-do-whatever-other-people-tell-me-to-do-so-I-can-last-as-long-as-possible game as opposed to a I’m-playing-to-win game, so no congratulations for you, Tarzan! You pulled a Cochran in my book, sir.

But congrats to you, dear reader, for making it this far through another Survivor recap. But you are far from done. Find out why Jeff Probst used to hate the reward challenge you saw last night in this week’s Q&A, and treat yourself to an exclusive deleted scene in the video player below. For even more Survivor news and views, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. Now it’s your turn. Can anyone stop Kim? Is there anyone else worth rooting for? And do you get all the Christina hate? Hit the message boards to let us know, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy.

Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols


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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