S37 E12
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December 05, 2018 at 09:00 PM EST

“That is some mom love right there!” —Jeff Probst

Now, see, in normal society that is just a weird thing to say. In many circles, that could get you into quite a bit of trouble. In fact, since I’m doing this on a work computer, just by typing those very words about “mom love” I’m pretty sure alarm bells started going off in the EW Human Resources department and there is a good chance this laptop will be impounded by the end of this recap. Because, once again, someone could get the wrong idea about a guy watching two women embrace and exclaiming “That is some mom love right there!”

They could very well get the wrong idea about several other things as well. “Kara, you look like you’re ready for some love” is the type of statement that would most likely be frowned upon if taken out of context, especially in today’s climate. And “Alright, give some last love, Josh,” could be interpreted in a few different ways, none of which I care to elaborate on at this time.

But here’s the thing: All these statements coming from Jeff Probst were totally normal… in the context of Survivor, of course. That’s because it was time for the Loved Ones visit! Where love is on the line! In the name of love! Because love is a many splendored thing! And all you need is love! Even though love is a battlefield! And… okay, I’ll stop.

I used to make fun of the Loved Ones challenge, and, truth be told, I still kinda do. But I also totally get it now! I used to scoff and — being the emotionless cyborg that I am — wonder why these people were crying like Fishbachs over having not seen their siblings or parents for a month even though they most likely had not seen them for just as long back home in the States. But now, age has made me soft. I put myself in their position, and if my mom or wife or kid ran out there, I’m sure I’d lose it too. I mean, not Gabby levels of losing it or anything. Let’s not get ridiculous. But yeah, I could see myself having to wipe away a stray tear or two. What? It could happen! (Although my wife would probably only visit me as a Loved One after using the opportunity of me going away as an excuse to toss out all of my junk, many items of which — including a Survivor goodie! — can be seen right here.)

Of course, what’s more important than the reunions is sizing up the actual loved ones visiting. Who would take the title of the David vs. Goliath Loved Ones MVP. The most obvious early contender had to be Nick’s dad Jim, who I guarantee you has been called “Big Jim” or “Jimbo” at some point in his life. I also bet he makes a killing as a seasonal Santa. Big Jim just seemed like a stand-up guy with that goofy smile plastered all over his face. And you couldn’t help but appreciate Nick’s story about Jimbo donating blood to buy milk for his kids. (The other option would have been to turn them into vampires and just skip the middleman, but I digress.) “It don’t matter about what you have or what you don’t have. It’s about what you give,” said Jimbo in his NBC Saturday morning One to Grow On moment, and that only made him more endearing.

And then there was Mike’s boyfriend Josh. Josh didn’t say a whole lot. In fact, I don’t remember if he said a single word, but he was a pretty hot dude, which in Survivor always puts you in the running. Kudos to you, Josh! But the true Loved Ones MVP would not be revealed until after the challenge. For when Angelina and Nick won said reward challenge, there was Angelina’s mom Anna pumping her fists and yelling “THAT’S IT!” over and over like a crazy person after her daughter’s victory. And God bless her for it.

If you ever wondered where Angelina got her tenacity, wonder no more! Why was Anna so damn excited? Mom Love! This is exactly what Jeff Probst was talking about! That is some Mom Love right there! For all we know, Anna was so excited she then went over to Jeff Probst and negotiated another bag of rice for the tribe in exchange for her just being awesome. And Jeff said yes! Because you don’t say no to Anna. And you don’t say no to Mom Love. When it takes place on Survivor, that is. Okay, let’s run through the other big points this week.

Short and Sweet
“Previously on Survivor… aw, screw it.”

That was pretty much the “Previously on Survivor…” clip this week. I’ve never seen a “previously on” segment that short. I even timed it. 20 seconds — tops. And keep in mind, they had two episodes to recap from last week! That’s straight up nuts. And perhaps a sign of things to come. First, we saw the opening credits go bye-bye for more episode screen time. Then they start ditching things like the goofy Rites of Passage (where contestants would wax nostalgic about voted-out players they never met or barely liked). Now the “previously on” recap could be on the endangered species list as well. Which is fine by me. If I can remember that time Leif slept in a box in Survivor: One World, I can certainly remember who got voted out last week, thanks.

You Can’t Spell Angelina Without Angel
We’ve been thanking the Survivor gods all season long for Christian, but I feel many viewers have not been fully appreciating the other Survivor savior sent from above that is Angelina. Not unlike Professor Hubicki, Angelina is the gift that keeps on giving. What’s so great about Angelina? Sometimes it is hard to properly define or explain. Let’s take that moment were Angelina told her mom “I got rice for the entire tribe yesterday by not playing immunity because I’m being who I am out here and staying true to myself.”

I can’t put into words why that was so spectacular and put such a smile on my face, but it was and it did. It was just so…Angelina. And by extension, perfect. Was it braggy? Of course! But she was also so genuinely excited to share her success (or alleged success, because I have already outlined the faults in her negotiation) with her mother that it was also oddly endearing. I couldn’t tell if Alison and company were laughing at Angelina for bragging or smiling because they were getting caught up in the Mom Love, but it really doesn’t matter. However you want to look at that moment, it was great. And another example of why Angelina should automatically be brought back for another season.

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