My, how times have changed in just seven days. Last week I went on a random rambling tangent about how we, as viewers, have been rewired over the past few seasons to expect lots of idols and advantages, and how even when we complain about there being too many of them, we now have been so conditioned to expect the inherent excitement that goes along with them that we feel nonsensically underwhelmed as a result when they do not come into play.
Well, do not expect that to be a problem moving forward. In a span of just 20 minutes of airtime, three idols and advantages were obtained by players. Think about that: two idols and one advantage in 20 minutes. You all know that normally I would rant for about 3,000 words at minimum about what overkill this was and how luck as well as good hide and seek ability had replaced strategy and skill in this game.
But not now. Because you all also know that I think if you are going to have a season based around idols and advantages of the past, then BRING THEM ON! And that’s exactly what the show did this week with the two most famous props in Survivor history. Getting Ozzy’s “f—ing stick” and Erik’s aborted immunity necklace in the same episode is like celebrating Halloween and Christmas on the same day. (Candy and presents galore!)
And making matters even more awesome was the fact that these epic items were given incredible fake backstories like artifacts straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark that would melt your face off if you happened to be a Nazi who dared to look at them. “But there is a secret nobody knows,” Michael read from the note after finding Ozzy’s stick. “For 10 years this stick has been living on Ghost Island, slowly gaining power. And as of this moment, it has fully matured into a real hidden immunity idol.”
WAIT…WHAT?!?!? The stick has been living on Ghost Island for 10 years? Um…is Ghost Island like the island in Lost and can moved by Benjamin Linus? I ask only because I’m pretty sure that stick has actually been living on executive producer Matt Van Wagenen’s desk in southern California for the past 10 years after he fetched it out of the Micronesia fire that Jeff Probst tossed it into with casual cool.
This concocted phony baloney backstory about how the f—ing stick had been living on Ghost Island for 10 years is simultaneously absurd and not quite absurd enough. I mean, if you’re going to go ahead and come up with some cockamamie tale about a relic that can gain special powers through the passage of time, why not go ALL OUT?! Here’s how my note that came with the stick would have read.
“Lo, many years ago, a weapon was forged deep in the most remote corners of the South Pacific. A weapon of unimaginable power, forged out of the simplest of materials — mere wood. It bore the markings of friend rather than foe — a metaphorical and literal smile. But within lurked danger. Many tried to ascertain its true power. All failed. It was a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a question mark, and whoever dared even touch the object was immediately cursed from beyond the grave. The weapon was ultimately cast into the fire in a ceremonial ritual known to the natives inhabiting the beaches as… Tribal Council.
“Many years passed, with historians and zealots alike assuming the evil dark power had been firmly put to rest after the vessel that contained it had been engulfed in flames. Little did they know that a team of intrepid archeologists/reality show producers had recovered the weapon and, under the cover of darkness, moved it to a secret — and haunted — new location. There, over a period of many years, the relic’s power grew and mutated into something else all together. Not unlike the mythological phoenix, the weapon rose out of the ashes to once again wreak havoc on unsuspecting reality show contestants (who also, in one of history’s great coincidences, just happened to also look really good in a bathing suit). Now, it has returned. Its power morphed and magnified. And, above all else…THIS TIME, IT’S PERSONAL!!!!”
So, that would have been my note. I don’t know, maybe it’s a bit much and reads more like an instruction manual for the Necronomicon, but if you’re going to lay down a bunch of Hong Kong Phooey with this whole “for 10 years this stick has been living on Ghost Island slowly gaining power” business, you may as well just commit fully to the process and pretend Brendan Fraser is about to show up and start battling freakin’ Imhotep.
Lack of theatrics aside, having the f—ing stick (which Michael found on Malolo’s beach), Erik’s immunity necklace (which Wendell uncovered on Yanuya) and Sarah’s steal-a-vote from Game Changers (which Kellyn got at Ghost Island) was a triple threat of nostalgia. Was it too much to have all of these things crammed into 20 minutes of actual airtime instead of spread out over several episodes? Of course! But producers can’t control when those idols are found, so that’s not all on them. And it at least reinforced the brilliance of the Ghost Island concept of giving viewers a big hit (or three) of Survivor nostalgia without having to bring players back too soon.
As someone that has watched Survivor since season 1, episode 1 — and also happens to be a tremendous nerd — I get a huge kick out of seeing these iconic artifacts back in action. Let’s just hope they don’t all end up in action at the same time and someone gets Cirie’d. After all, there are now, by my count, three idols and two advantages out there waiting to be played. That’s a lot. And there could be more coming. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Okay, I am kind of on a semi-vacation this week so am going to do my best to streamline this week’s recap a bit so that my wife does not divorce me, but no promises on either count. But let’s sum up the other big things about this latest episode. (Recap continues on next page)