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

The Fearsome Foursome
There is nothing I love more than armchair critiquing reward challenge winners and the decisions they make as to whom they bring with them on said reward. Well, that’s not entirely true. I probably love it more when Probst starts talking about “poles” and “balls” at challenges, but that’s just because I am an idiot with the maturity of a second grader. But we all know I’ve done my fair share of calling people out for ruining their games just to have a few brews or burgers with their island BFF as opposed to making the best strategic play on a reward outing.

However, I have no problem with what Nick and Angelina did here in inviting Davie and Mike to the Loved Ones reward (which was on some floating dock that probably would have had me barfing over the side in no time). The funny thing is that they actually did bring their island BFFs, or at least the people they are closest to still in the game. That’s usually a big no-no. But this game has been so fluid that I thought it made sense to try to forge a final four plan that was most likely to stick. Now, Davie did not seem down with it, because he felt he would be the low person on the totem pole since the other three were all on Jebeni together, but the foursome made strategic sense, so I am not going to endlessly second-guess their decision — which I realize is drastically out of character for me.

Of course, my strategy in Loved Ones reward challenges has always been to avoid winning at all. Because usually if you lose you still have about a 50% chance of going on the reward anyway! Plus, by not winning you have a 100% chance of not pissing anyone off by not selecting them to join you and have more time with their loved one. How many times on this show have we seen a pissed off person who was not picked to go then make it their mission to oust the winner? (The answer: too many times.) I would always avoid winning this challenge just to avoid having to make that decision. That said, it didn’t seem to burn Nick and Angelina here.

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again
As if on cue, this week’s two challenges involved balls and poles. In the immunity contest, everyone had to balance on a narrow perch while holding a pole connected to a bucket of water. If the bucket fell or the player fell, he/she was out. I have both good and bad things to note about this challenge. They say to always deliver bad news first, but I am a natural contrarian so will start with the good.

On its own, this was a cool challenge. I have said before how the importance of an individual endurance competition is being able to track contestants’ progress throughout. That’s why I didn’t like the one where people had to swing the pendulum in a circle until they lost momentum. That one was a dud because there was no way to keep track of who was looking strong and who was starting to struggle. Instead, people were just in until they were out, and therefore it didn’t make for a very compelling viewing experience.

This one, however, was different. You could tell from the very beginning that Kara was locked in. The fun then became seeing if she could stay that way or not. You also could see the points where others began to waver. Watching those first twitches as players begin to struggle is super dramatic. So in that sense, I liked this challenge.

Now, here is my issue. There have been a LOT of just standing at a station and doing something until you can’t do it anymore challenges. How many? Four out of the six individual immunity challenges so far have been ones where people are lined up and holding something for as long as possible. That is way too many. So while I liked this week’s, and last week’s duel between Alec and Christian was epic, we need more variety. Get the contestants moving! Get them in the water, for crying out loud! It just starts to feel way too samey-samey when you have them all lined up and holding stuff.

There, hopefully, I made up for my lack of ranting in the reward decisions making department with my diatribe about the lack of diversity in immunity challenges. But am I alone in this? Hit the message boards to weigh in. Oh, and congrats to Kara, who won.

Power Gab… I Mean, Power Grab
Have you ever had malt liquor? For your sake, I hope not. It’s absolutely disgusting. But for some reason, there was a period in my life where I became mildly obsessed with the stuff. (You can even see a picture of me in a St. Ides malt liquor t-shirt if you want, but you will probably be far too distracted by my dyed-orange hair, which, not unlike malt liquor, I also thought was a good idea at the time.)

Anyway, my malt liquor fascination ended abruptly after trying something called Cool Colt, which was a menthol-flavored malt liquor — the taste of which I have never completely gotten out of my mouth since. But during the malt liquor phase of my life (also known quaintly as “college”) I became similarly obsessed with the advertising jingle for a product called King Cobra. King Cobra was endorsed by former football star Fred “the Hammer” Williamson. The Hammer played before my time, so I just knew him as the dude who would walk up to street signs and magically change them from saying “Same Old Malt Liquor St.” (which, frankly, sounds like a pretty unwieldy address) to the much cooler “King Cobra Boulevard.” His powers also included glancing over to women on pay phones, thereby putting them in some sort of trance that would force them to start breaking into a choreographed dance routine in the middle of the street. So what I’m getting at is that the powers of someone drinking King Cobra appear to be roughly on par with those of Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet.

These ads came on when I was a kid, and all I remember thinking was… Hell if I’m going to live on Same Old Malt Liquor St! I can’t wait to be old enough to drink King Cobra! Suffice it to say, I did not wait until I was old enough to begin consuming King Cobra, but that’s a different story. King Cobra also had a dope-ass jingle that culminated with a sultry woman crooning “Don’t let the smooth taste fool you… KING COBRA!”

I bring this up for two reasons. One: I’m starting to kinda jones for a King Cobra. And two: Don’t let the smooth taste fool you when it comes to Gabby. Yes, Gabby! The same Gabby who — by her own admission — has had to be reassured at almost every corner. The same Gabby who has been portrayed as riding the coattails of Christian all season long. The same Gabby who almost forced the contestants to be evacuated for a second time this season because of camp flooding due to all her excessive crying. That Gabby! No way that Gabby could have the bite to try something like turning on Christian, right? Wrong! Don’t let the smooth taste fool you! (And if that causes images of Gervase yelling “DON’T LET THAT FOOL YOU” after almost drowning in a challenge to start dancing in your head, then all the better.)

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