Survivor recap: Taking Out the Trash
Things get messy at Tribal Council as ghetto-trash-talkin' Ben is introduced to a little thing called karma
Before we get started on this week’s episode, a quick note that is a huge bummer but I wanted to address. No doubt, all of you saw the news about the tsunami that ravaged Samoa this week. Hundreds of people have died there (and in American Samoa and other islands like Pago Pago). I was in Samoa in August for the filming of Survivor season 20 and the people I met there were perhaps the nicest and most welcoming I’ve encountered in all my Survivor travels. My heart goes out to all of them in the wake of this tragedy. The islands of Upolu (where both tribes, Tribal Council, and the challenge beaches were all situated) and Savaii (where those amazing blowholes shoot water like geysers into the air) are truly majestic places, and I wish everyone there the best as they recover from the devastating wreckage.
Speaking of wreckage and devastation — awkward transition, anyone? — what the heck is going over at the Foa Foa camp? They can’t win a challenge to save their lives! Not only that, but the infighting reached record levels as we were introduced to our new evil-vanquishing hero: Jaison! I’ll admit it, after the first two episodes I was pretty confident that Jaison was, in fact, a robot. And not a sassy gay robot like C-3P0, either. Just a plain old boring robot. I wanted a bit more emotion. The dude was like freakin’ Spock out there (minus the ears) with his rational, logical approach to everything. What I was hoping to see out of him was a little spark, a little fire, a little James T. Kirk, if you will (minus the inappropriate sexual advances on non-human life forms).
And finally, we saw the man beam-up a heaping helping of outrage. HE’S MAD AS HELL AND HE’S NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!! The focal point of Jaison’s rage in the cage was Ben, who last week repeatedly referred to Yasmin as ”ghetto trash.” Unfortunately, we’ve seen people make lame racist comments on reality television too many times before. Sometimes they get called on it (Braden on this summer’s Big Brother calling Kevin a ”beaner,” even though Kevin wasn’t even Mexican); other times, they don’t (Erika in season 4 of Big Brother calling Jee a ”Korean piece of s—” and a ”fresh off the boat immigrant”). Classy show, that Big Brother. But Jaison took it upon himself to make sure that Ben would be punished for his comments. He drew a line in the sand with his tribe and dared them all to cross it. Even big bad Russell with all his talk of controlling the game dared not step over. Jaison threatened to quit. He promised to make camp life miserable if they kept Ben around. And, most of all, by openly calling Ben out for his treatment of women, he forced his tribemates to take a good long look in the proverbial mirror and determine if they could live with themselves for keeping someone like Ben around over a far less destructive force in the tribe. He also positively OBLITEREATED Russell’s argument about keeping Ben for his strength in the challenges by asking for one single positive thing the guy had done in any challenges. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
NEXT: Jaison humiliates Ben…and we like it
Was there any better moment than when Jaison astutely pointed out at Tribal Council how Ben the bully constantly preyed upon the weak? You know what? There actually was! It was when he started imitating Ben to Jeff Probst: ”Oh my god, I’m an outlaw. I’m a renegade. But they splashed me in the face. I can’t tackle anyone now. I’m sorry. I got splashed.” Move over, Rich Little! Take a seat, Frank Caliendo! Time for a new gig, Darrell Hammond! (No, seriously, it is time for a new gig now that you’re no longer a Saturday Night Live regular. Good luck with that.) Sorry, guys, but we have a new master impersonator in town, and his name is Jaison! He’ll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen! Two drink minimum and please don’t forget to tip your waitress on the way out.
Honestly, Ben’s defense of ”If she’s from the ghetto and she’s trashy, she’s ghetto trash — that’s not racial whatsoever” was downright pathetic. As Jaison so adroitly responded, ”You should have some sensitivity to history.” And Ben’s claim that he only talked trash back to people who talked to trash to him first doesn’t explain his constant references to his tribemates as ”sissies” and ”pansies.” Probst even offered Ben a chance to apologize when it was all over, but the loud and proud southerner refused. Not surprising.
Watching Ben unanimously voted out was exceedingly satisfying. The producers and CBS have been going out of their way to paint Russell as the biggest villain in Survivor history, but Russell is not to be despised because Russell is at least playing the game. Sure, the dumping out of water, and burning of socks, and lying about living through Hurricane Katrina may have been completely unnecessary, but at least it was all done with the goal of advancing him in the game. Ben never seemed to have any strategy or any plan or care about getting further in the game — he just called people names to feel better about himself. The only game he appeared to be playing was one with the cameras, and how much time he could get on them. And you know — you just know — it was KILLING him to see Russell promoted as this season’s big baddie. Hey, look at me! I’m a rebel! I’m an outlaw! I know how to kick people in the shin, for crissakes!
My big question for Ben, and one which I plan to ask him on Survivor Talk, is why exactly he was on the show in the first place? Was it to win? Was it to become famous? Or was it just to talk trash about people for no reason to make himself feel better? Okay, let’s quick hit a few other non-Ben-and-Jaison-related things that went down in episode 3.
* You could chalk Russell’s comment that ”This might be the worst group in history. And I might be the best. I’m gonna have ’em all under control like zombies walking around” as another example of cocky bluster, but you know what? He’s kinda right. No one else does seem to be playing the game. Even Jaison’s big stand was strictly for personal, not strategic, reasons. You might not like Russell’s personality, but you have to respect someone going all out to win this game. I do. Plus, Survivor: Fans Vs. Zombies would be, like, the best season EVER!
NEXT: When did yoga become evil?
* As well as Russell is playing in several areas, the one thing he appears to be bungling is the hidden immunity idol. Great job of finding it with no clues, but why the hell does he keep displaying it to everyone? Dude, this isn’t freakin’ kindergarten show-and-tell! He claims he’s dong it to build trust with his tribemates, but he’s also sending them the following message: If you have any brains whatsoever you will vote against me at the next Tribal Council to either get me out, or, at the very least, make me use the idol. Seriously, I’m practically daring you to do it! Russell is no doubt betting that his tribe, in fact, does not have any brains whatsoever, but I’d definitely keep that thing completely under wraps after seeing what happened to James in China.
* When Monica at Galu was telling us all about the bikinis they got for the challenge, I was busy asking myself, ”Who the hell is Monica?”
* This was our second straight week with only one challenge. Combining the reward and immunity competitions only really works if you have enough big personalities to make things interesting back at the camps. Thankfully, Samoa seems to have that. At least at Foa Foa, it does. We haven’t seen enough of Galu to know one way or the other. (Seriously, who is Monica?)
* I thought the challenge was fine enough, although having two straight contests of people wrestling with each other smacks a bit of gratuitous overkill. (Space those suckers out a bit, boys.) Loved that not only did Laura splash Ashley in the face to get away from her, but that such a move actually worked! (What is this, Marco Polo?) Also enjoyed watching Ben whiff multiple times in the ‘Battle Zone”. Speaking of which, why was Ben the one out there and not Russell? Explain yourselves, Foa Foa!
* While we’re on the subject of challenges, I’m burying a super-secret special nugget for you fans right here: An exclusive look at an upcoming Survivor: Samoa challenge! The challenge is called ”Roll With It” and will appear in the October 22 episode. To get the first ever sneak peak and see Jeff Probst and challenge producer John Kirhoffer conduct a rehearsal of this head-spinning competition, click right here. Watch it and find out which former Survivor favorite has a niece now working for the show testing out challenges!
* What is up with Shambo’s irrational hatred of yoga and 90210? WHAT DID DONNA MARTIN EVER DO TO YOU, WOMAN?!? And I really don’t get the anti-yoga stance. Survivor contestants spend 90 percent of every day doing absolutely nothing. What’s the problem with a little stretching? I suppose it’s all a little too wavy gravy for a lady that named herself after a commie-killing war hero. I still don’t quite know what to make of Shambo. I want to like her more than I think I actually do. I mean, the hair is clearly an A+, and sometimes she comes off as an enthusiastic breath of fresh air. But then she goes and loses part of the fishing equipment (without offering any apology), and now she’s dissing her entire tribe to the enemy for the seemingly trivial crime of being too young and interested in yoga. I also wouldn’t exactly call that the most subtle of searches for the hidden immunity idol. For a second there, I though the tree had swallowed Shambo up, mullet and all. And I’m not sure whether I missed her or not.
NEXT: The other Russell likes pillows
* ”If I make the women happy, we’re gonna be happy.” That was Dreadlocked Russell’s explanation for choosing comfort (towels and pillows) over function (a tarp, pot, and other useful camp items) after winning the challenge. I get the whole ”happy wife, happy life” thing (trust me, I’m so whipped they call me Indiana Jones), but how happy, exactly, do you think those women are going to be once it starts raining, and trust me, it will start raining (it already began to shower a bit at Tribal Council). I’d take a tarp and no pillow over a pillow and no tarp any day. As a leader, the right choice is sometimes the difficult one to make. I understand Russell is probably playing for votes here, but let’s hope it doesn’t end up costing him.
* The only two people that tribe leader Mick is leading are Jack and S—.
* Finally, here’s hoping they do not shake up the tribes. I’d love to see a tribal beat-down much like back in Palau. (Lord knows dysfunctional Foa Foa deserves it.) The fact that we have seen so little of the Galu camp leads me to believe that producers may decide to leave things be and that those people may be around for a while. Obviously they want us to get to know people there before they’re sent home so we actually feel something upon their ouster. The fact that we know next to nothing about any of them at this point tells me that the Galuians are probably in pretty good shape. But what the hell do I know? I’m the clown that picked Betsy to win the whole thing. Betsy!
Okay, your feast of Survivor goodies has only begun! We have an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode just begging to be watched below. And if you were previously unable to tear yourself away from my magnificent prose (insert howls of laughter here) make sure to check out the special sneak peek rehearsal of an upcoming challenge. Our special EW.com blogger Jeff Probst always has some fascinating insight to share, so make sure to peruse his always satisfying weekly blog. And finally, check back later as former Survivor favorite Eiza Orlins (Vanuatu, Micronesia) joins Josh Wolk and me as we grill Ben about his ”ghetto trash” comment and confrontation with Jaison on Survivor Talk. It’s sure to be…uh, lively. In the meantime, would love for you to share some of your thoughts. Comfort or function? Should the producers shake-up the tribes or leave them be? Do we love or loathe Shambo? And finally, just how much are you digging Jaison right about now? Take to the message boards and make your voice heard!
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