Survivor 44 recap: Danny goes on the (gas) attack
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Playing Survivor is no joke. Not only are you stuck out in the elements 24 hours a day dealing with extreme weather conditions, but you have to do it with a bunch of jabronis you just met who occasionally drive you cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs. And then there's the havoc that can be wreaked by starving yourself followed by gorging on reward feasts, while also ingesting creepy critters found around the camp area.
Carson found out the hard way that the body can revolt against such activity as he repeatedly crawled over to the bushes to hurl up whatever contents remained in his stomach. But he wasn't the only once experiencing body function issues on episode 8 of Survivor 44.
Look, I don't know how to put this delicately, but I have no doubt there has been an epic amount of gas passing on Survivor over the past 44 seasons — on land, at sea, at Tribal Council… you name it. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a player interrupt an immunity challenge to fart on cue. And not just fart on cue, but to specifically ask for the host's attention so that he could bear witness to an epic one-cheek-squeak.
That's what we were treated to on this week's episode when Danny, in the middle of an epic endurance showdown against Lauren, said "Jeff." To which Probst then answered, "Danny." And then the man who calls himself Danny Bronx channeled his inner nine-year-old and let one rip.
A curious decision. He could have chosen the traditional "silent but violent" method. After all, the only one close enough to him at that point to even notice that he had broken a mighty wind would have been Lauren, and had she spoken up about the infraction, Danny could have simply employed the time-tested "she who smelt it, dealt it" strategy on his competitor. But now, instead of silent but violent, Danny opted for the far more controversial "loud and proud" approach.
My question is: Did he even need to do it? I mean, judging by the carefully plotted out timing, it certainly did not appear to be a case of #SevereGastrointestinatlDistress. Did Danny unleash a tushy-tickler merely as a form of competitive distraction, hoping his thunder from down under would momentarily stun and disorient Lauren, breaking her concentration and causing her to drop from her perch and hand him the immunity necklace?
If you think such a tactic stinks — literally — you're not the only one. Such methods may be common for Danny Bronx while scoping out the best Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue, but they don't play in Fiji, as Lauren retained her composure — surprising herself by actually winning immunity and surviving the gas attack from her former challenge teammate. But instead of cutting the cheese, let's instead cut to the chase and get to the other big moments coming out of episode 8 of Survivor 44.
Kane goes too far
We pretty much knew a Ratu member was doomed from the episode's very first scene when Kane started going on about how they were going to be the first tribe to decimate everyone else and waltz through to the endgame. "If it is not a Ratu member to win this game, we messed up," Kane told us. Well, you done messed up, son.
You can't smite the Survivor gods like that, Kane, no matter how much a producer may egg you on in your confessional interviews. The only mildly surprising thing about Ratu having their proverbial hat handed to them is that it was not Kane struck down by the Survivor gods for having the audacity to voice such supreme confidence.
Twist & shout
The best part of this week's immunity challenge was not the fact that Carolyn could not figure out how to untwist herself from the muddy net and therefore resorted to a random series of yells and screams. That was the second best part. The best part of this week's immunity challenge was the fact that Carolyn did finally manage to get through the twisted muddy net with just enough time to force a nauseous Carson to also have to jump into the mud, but not enough time to give them any prayer of actually winning.
Had Carolyn gotten through it quicker, she would have given her teammate a chance to actually make it through to the next stage. Had she taken longer, they would have lost, but at least her teammate would not have to worry about barfing into a net. But instead, not unlike the infamous Goldilocks, Carolyn got it juuuuuuuuuust right in the timing department — emerging from the net with zero chance of staying alive but with just enough time to force a sickly Carson into the muck for absolutely no reason. Perfection.
Blast from the past
Survivor used to always do challenges once a season that took place in stages, where at each stage one or more players were eliminated. And I always used to rail against them because I thought they often killed the drama and tension at the start of the contest instead of the end. If you had a player that you knew most people wanted out and really needed immunity to stay alive, and then that player went out in the very first stage, that sapped all the excitement from the rest of the competition. You didn't really care who won at that point, only that the person who needed it was already out.
But that was a different era of Survivor. An era in which the game was far less fluid, when alliances didn't turn on each other every 24 hours, before idols and advantages changed the very definition of safety, and before the show started doing lots of line-up-next-to-each-other-and-balance-an-object-for-as-long-as-you-can challenges and the person that needed safety so badly might be first out anyway.
That's a long way of me saying that I don't mind the stages anymore, and there has actually something nice and nostalgic about seeing them again these past few seasons. I definitely appreciate the producers getting the players out and moving again rather than standing still in a line. I mean… it did end with four players standing still in a line. (I probably would have ended it in a puzzle rather than an endurance contest for variety's sake, but that's a minor quibble.)
I have argued for the past few seasons about using some bigger builds for the immunity challenge and that's what they did here. Is it weird that all the players came together three weeks ago and we have yet to see a traditional immunity challenge where everyone performs individually for one immunity necklace with a traditional vote to follow? You betcha!
But let me ask you a question: Would you rather have people all standing there balancing a block on their head, or Carolyn yelling for dear life while caked in mud and twisted up in a net like she was just captured by the freakin' Ewoks on the forest moon of Endor? I rest my case.
I also would like to offer my deepest sympathies to Yam Yam for getting brutally left hanging on a high five by Danny Bronx after the contest. At least Jaime now has some company.
I wrote extensively last week about how Frannie made a strategic blunder in going for the group immunity win and leaving Matt vulnerable to being voted out, but that his eventual ouster was the best thing for her game because it significantly lowered her threat level. Which is further proof that I have no idea what I am talking about. Because here we were LESS THAN 24 HOURS LATER and Frannie was still the big target the Ratatouille fearsome foursome wanted out. Oh well.
There was a lot of back and forth between all three former tribes in terms of who was going to do what, but the two big headlines were as follows. First, the former Tika threesome of Yam Yam, Carson, and Carolyn were in the perfect spot as the swing votes between the other two warring tribe groups. They had the ultimate power — outside on an idol play — to determine who went home. Sometimes coming into a merge down in numbers really can be a blessing in disguise, for when two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can score. That doesn't really mean anything, but it did give me a chance to quote Frankie Goes to Hollywood lyrics, and that was not an opportunity I was going to pass up, so just RELAX. Ohhhhhhh, did you see what I did there? Sadly, those are the only Frankie Goes to Hollywood lyrics I know, so we're going to have to get back to actually talking about Survivor now.
With the Three Stooges holding all that power, Heidi made a blunder in telling Yam Yam and Carson that Danny was planning to play his idol for Frannie. That could have backfired in a major way. If Curly and Moe had brought that info back to Ratu, it could have easily been curtains for Danny. Curtains, I say! And then what? Who would be around to start farting in challenges?
It turns out Curly and Moe did not tell the Ratu folks about Danny's idol, and it was when he played it for Frannie — as promised — that things got interesting. Because as far as we know, Jaime still thinks she is sitting on an idol herself, thanks to the fake that Matthew planted by the water well. Naturally, she would now play hers for Brandon, Kane, or herself, knowing they had put all their votes on Frannie and that one of them was almost definitely going home. But no! She didn't, even having a 33 percent chance of herself being the target. Like I said, interesting.
Also interesting was that Carolyn voted with the Soka folks on Brandon, but Carson and Yam Yam put their votes on Frannie, knowing they would get nullified by the idol. I would assume that was done so they could feign shock at the idol play (check out Yam Yam going for his Academy Award) and still stay in good with the Ratu folks — with Carolyn putting her vote on Brandon as a safety net so the four votes on him would outnumber a potential secret 3-3 split from the other side.
But what happens now? We seem to have three groups of three:
Kane, Lauren, and Jaime
Danny, Frannie, and Heidi
Larry, Curly, and Moe
It's all even Steven. Soka and Ratu were battling it out (with Matt and Brandon as casualties) for tribal dominance, with the Tika threesome as an afterthought. Will the two opposing sides now recognize the third group gaining strength as they continue to dismantle each other? If their continued ignorance results in a Carolyn victory, let's hope not!
Listen, if I could will a Maryanne victory into existence, who's to say I cannot do it again? I mean, other than the space-time continuum and the fact that the season was filmed almost a full year ago. But hey, I have no problem firing up some Huey Lewis and the ol' flux capacitor to make it happen is what I'm saying.
And while I'm sure you would like to time-travel straight into next week, please pause for the cause to check out some of our other Survivor goodies before you go. Goodies like Probst discussing the possibility of individually sequestering jury members. And goodies like an exclusive deleted scene from the episode. And goodies like my exit interview with Brandon and Jeff Probst explaining why he makes Survivor for kids. I may have some other special nuggets for you as well, so follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss and Instagram @thedaltonross for all the latest.
But before I go, a quick note about Keith Nale, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 62. I was lucky enough to be out on location for both of Keith's Survivor seasons. When I first met him in Nicaragua before San Juan del Sur, the guy had no idea what he was doing. Like a good dad, he was there to support his Survivor-crazy son Wes for a Blood vs Water themed season. But he was so damn likable and down to earth, never pretended to know more than he did, and was a veritable quote machine. And this guy who didn't even really understand what game he was playing somehow made it all the way to the final four… and then returned and it made it to the final five. Amazing.
"Survivor ain't fun," Keith once famously opined. Maybe not, but Keith made Survivor fun. And for that, I thank him. Hopefully right now he is on a cruise, or fishing, or playing golf up in Heaven. In short, having fun. To him, go all the scoops of the crispy.
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