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Survivor 38 - Episode 13 - And The Award For Best Use of Reverse Psychology Goes To…

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Well, fellow Survivalists, we have made it to the penultimate episode of the thirty-eighth season of the OGG of reality TV shows. Next week will be the two hour rushed mess and one superfluous hour of Probst showing why he is bad at live TV, plus a lot of complaining on my end that there should have been an extra episode with a one hour finale and two hour reunion. Now let’s get on with the episode.

Previouslies begin the show, so we already know it won’t be as jam-packed as last week’s streamlined edition. Back at camp after that fun tribal where Dadbod Rick basically owned everyone, Gavin confesses he feels guilty for voting out his erstwhile ally, Ron. It seems Gavin has not figured out that Ron would have cut Gavin off in a hot minute if he was no longer useful or felt he could not win against him. Guilt is a useless emotion, Gavin, at least in the game of Survivor. Dadbod Rick, after laughing with the rest of the tribe (sans Julie) that it all worked out even though they weren’t working together, lies to them that the idol was gifted to him from the Jurassic Island bunch. There are varying levels of belief about this particular lie, with Lauren especially skeptical. Aurora, for her part, is still intent on getting Dadbod Rick out of the game, but at least she has her newfound alliance with Freckles, Lauren, and Gavin by her side. I am certain they will march to the end together!

The next morning, the rest of the tribe figures out that Dadbod Rick is out hunting for idols, which is, of course, exactly what he is doing. Lauren catches up with him and they chitchat for a while, her lobbing accusations of him lying about where his idol came from, him deflecting with a combo poker-face/shit-eating-grin expression. Finally she gives up and says the rice is probably ready and Lauren heads back to camp. Dadbod Rick calls out, “Last two Manu standing!” as he continues to investigate every nook and cranny in and around the trees. Finally, the music swells as he looks into a hollow tree trunk and lo! There is a small wrapped package! He grabs it, looks around and sees none of his enemies shadowing him, then quickly opens it to see that it is, in fact, an idol. Yay! He congratulates himself for working harder than anyone else in the game and he is not wrong. That is the advantage of being at the bottom, of having exactly zero options, but still possessing the drive to succeed. If he were in a majority alliance with solid allies, there is no way he would be doing all this hustling, all this hunting, all this effort. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? The top dog, that’s who.

Reward challenge! Probst is wearing a Valspar Paint Moonlit Surf shirt, for those keeping score at home. The challenge involves tossing a ball into an overhead trough, race underneath it without being tripped by the crisscrossed rope obstacle underneath (spoiler: a lot of them fail at this part spectacularly), catch the ball before it drops. This part is not complete until two balls have been collected. The Survivors will then have to tunnel underneath a bar in the sand and race to the finish with both balls. Once at the end, they will have to land both balls on an overhead perch. Want to know what they are playing for? Of course you do. A trip on a helicopter over the Fijian islands and a picnic poolside at a luxury resort with the usual salmonella spread: chicken, pasta, seafood, open bar, and chocolate mousse for dessert.

(Message from Tsylyst: “Is seafood really a treat for them right now?”)

Survivors ready? GO! And we’re off. You know Probst loves this challenge because he gets to yell “BALLS!” over and over again. Aurora, who really is a good physical player, is the first one through the entire challenge up to the end of tossing the balls up on the overhead perch. Gavin takes a couple of ungainly falls on the ropes obstacle, but Julie’s literal trips on the rope portion are brutally awkward. She is out of this challenge early. Surprisingly, Lauren has a lot of trouble getting the balls into the trough, which is funny considering how much taller she seems to be from everyone else. Freckles and Dadbod Rick manage to keep up without embarrassing themselves, but it is between Gavin and Aurora, with the young man just managing to edge her out at the end. Gavin wins reward and his balls. So now of course comes the political choices. Probst tells him to choose one person to go. He reasons that he will choose one person who hasn’t been on a lot of rewards and has been struggling around camp lately. Aurora looks hopeful, but no, the person is Freckles. Perhaps she would not struggle so much if she weren’t wearing a woolen knit cap on a freaking tropical island? Just a suggestion. And now of course, there is a choice for a second person to go on the reward. Gavin knows that the three people not picked will be unhappy, which is why it never pays to win these kinds of rewards. It’s like the loved ones challenge: no matter how much you want to spend time with your loved one, you should never, ever win it. Aurora is slightly crushed and Dadbod Rick turns to her and says, “Wow. That’s pretty clear.” He clarifies to Probst that Aurora has been the longest with a reward. Julie hugs her, but Aurora claims it’s a game and she’s just hungry. She confesses later that she thought she was part of a group but it was just proven to her that she is not, and she is upset about not being picked, once again.

The reward segment, showing the winners flying over the Fijian islands, is just gorgeous, with waters as varied blue as the entire rainbow of paint samples at Lowes. The helicopter buzzes the Survivor camp as Aurora lays out on the beach in the sun, and there is a little bit of guilt among the three. Not a lot, you understand, because they are busy chomping down on a large array of pretty delicious looking food, along with pina coladas and a couple of Gilligan’s Island drinks in coconut shells. I’m very disappointed someone didn’t try talking like the Howells as they held a coconut with a tiny parasol in it. The three of them agree that Dadbod Rick needs to do next, which color me surprised. Their second choice is Julie, which, again, not surprising. However Lauren is not fully onboard with taking Julie out because she has a bond with her and, let’s face it, she could probably win against the older woman. Once they get back to camp, Freckles works on making sure Aurora feels secure in the group by assuring her nothing has changed. Aurora, on the other hand, wants to make sure she knows how Aurora feels about not being chosen. Lady, we ALL know how you feel. You’ve made that clear ad infinitum. I’m weary of your feelings.

Dinosaur Island, Day 32. Why are we bothering with these people still? Eric brings up a large chest from the flagpole and reads the parchment aloud. Turns out the chest contains letters the Survivors wrote to themselves before the game to remind them why they came out to play. Any bets on whether Reem Daly’s talks about showing the world how patience, kind, and tolerant she is? Anyway, instructions say to find a quiet spot to read the letter, so they all split off. Chris finds the best location by wading out to a larger rock in the lagoon. It is far enough away from the beach that the vocal stylings of Reem Daly would be drowned by the surf, and also far enough that she would not bother to wade out there herself to harangue him in person. A perfectly situated spot of solitude. We don’t hear from all of the Dinosaurs. Helloooo Eric tears up a bit at reading his words reminding him of how lucky he is back home. Julia’s letter brings up a lot of her past struggles to rise to where she is and I feel like it is the most we have learned about her since day one. Joe’s letter tells him to be a badass, and yes, he certainly fulfilled that up until the moment he was voted out. Chris on his rock island perch revisits his plan to play a perfect game, and his rueful smile speaks to me somewhat. I think out of everyone here, he has learned what David was talking about, that playing Survivor can change you in profound ways, provided you are open for the lesson. Aubry laughs at her own words, calling herself a weirdo. David reminded himself that he is a forty-four year old child and he should go back to reality and make his relationship with his girlfriend a more permanent one. Well, he said into something bigger, so…polyamory? And we finally hear from Reem Daly, who told herself to be more patient, and be more independent and self-sufficient, but that she can always be better. Then, in her inimitable Reem Daly way, looks and the camera and declares what she wrote, “Weird.” She declares she is finally proud of herself and claims she learned so much, she’s still there and she won’t give up. Oh, Reem Daly. Please do us all a favor and just give up. It’s what the world needs now.

Vata Beach. Day 33. Everyone in camp wakes up slowly, including the bats hanging around in the trees. Rick decides that he is going to mess with everyone today, since he has the idol and knows he is not going home. See, this is the kind of thing that makes me enjoy the stylings of Dadbod Rick. He could have just moped around camp, saved his energy for the upcoming immunity competition, played the woe-is-me game. Instead, he is wandering around the jungle, forcing the rest of the tribe to follow him and make sure he doesn’t find the idol he already has in his pocket. Gavin laments that it’s another day of idol hunting and paranoia. He is not a fan of having to, you know, play the game. As soon as Gavin’s back is turned, Dadbod Rick runs off, giggling. The four alliance members, since Julie is an adult and not bothering with these shenanigans, wander around with their pathetic attempts at searching. Dadbod Rick hides in a grove of bamboo then startled Aurora on purpose by yelling, “Boo!” Freckles in her stupid woolen cap rolls her eyes, though she does smile, at Rick running off. The four of them meet and decide Dadbod Rick has gone crazy and that he has given up looking for idols and that he is out there making a fake idol and that playing Hide and Seek as a child traumatized Lauren, apparently. Unless you fell down a well while playing Hide and Seek and even Lassie gave up looking for you, then you might have a reason to bitch about it. Otherwise, you are veering into Reem Daly levels of annoying me. Honestly, Lauren complains a LOT. She’s hungry, she’s tired, she doesn’t like childhood games. I bet if they played Red Light Green Light, Lauren would have a host of complaints about that, too.

Immunity challenge time! Probst is wearing a Valspar Paint Peaceful Slumber shirt, for those keeping score at home. Survivors are going to race to slide letter tiles down a chute into a bin. Once those tiles are all through the chute, they will then use two handles to transport the tiles through a series of obstacles. The handles are used to hold the tiles together in front of the player, and the obstacles are a balance beam and teeter totter. Once through the obstacles, the letter tiles will be used to solve a six word phrase: “Not Living on the Edge Tonight” which sounds like a Phil Collins-Cher collaboration from the mid-80s. Probst calls out Aurora for her body language during his descriptions and she claims she hates word puzzles. I was fearful this meant she would be winning immunity, but I did not count on the utter uselessness of some of these players. Survivors ready? GO! The first part of sliding the letter tiles through the chute is pretty straightforward as it is basically air hockey without a defender or loud noise of the air blower. Transporting the tiles is a bit trickier. If you can bring a lot in one try, then that means less trips across the beams, but that makes carrying them riskier. Gavin opts for carrying about five or six at a time and even then manages to drop a couple of times. Everyone drops at one point or another, though they do all complete that part of the challenge. Dadbod Rick is the first to have all his letters on the puzzle board and he gets to work immediately after calling himself a “BALLER!” I’m sure Probst’s heart leapt at the mention of the B-word. At one point, Jeff is mentioning everyone except Freckles, who has to call out and remind him that she is still playing. Finally everyone is working on the word puzzle. As often happens during these word puzzles Probst yammers on with his game narration, but the thing is, as long time watchers know, he gives subtle hints about what words might be part of the solution. One word several pick up on is “tonight.” Aurora gets it, Lauren seizes on it, but it is Dadbod Rick who figures out the phrase and completes it first. Aurora is so mad, she slams her tiles down but it doesn’t matter. Rick won, gets his immunity necklace and declares to Probst that he would have been going home that night for certain without it. A lie, to be sure, but one that needed to be told.

Post challenge, the conversations are along the lines of Rick and Julie going off to talk, which gives the four person alliance a chance to solidify that Aurora trusts them and Lauren to approach Freckles about voting out Aurora. Julie is hopeful that the rest of them will see her as a better option for the final three than Aurora. I think Julie is pretty well liked by the jury, but Lauren is not so convinced of that because of Julie’s emotional game play. If Julie were up against a combination of anyone other than Gavin or Dadbod Rick, she has a pretty good chance of garnering some votes. So Lauren brings it up to Gavin, who wants to make sure Freckles is on board. This causes some consternation on the part of Freckles, who realizes that Lauren would rather have Julie around as a sure shot. Rick confesses that he has a few tricks up his sleeve to use at Tribal Council to try and save Julie. We are going in to Tribal Council with Dadbod Rick and Julie voting for Aurora, Aurora voting for Julie, and Gavin, Lauren, and Freckles voting for…?

Tribal Council. Probst is wearing a Valspar Paint Feeling Blue shirt, for those keeping score at home. There are eleven minutes left on the DVR so at this point I assume there will not be any theatrics at Tribal like last week. Some chitchat by Probst, some platitudes from the Survivors, a couple of dad-jokes courtesy of Rick, and Julie off to Dinosaur Island. The jury troops in and I wish we could see more of the reactions. There is a wink from Ron to Dadbod Rick, who grins like an idiot at the jury in general. Probst starts out with Julie, who clearly states the alliance of four vs. the unaligned was made obvious in the last tribal council. Talk veers to how Dadbod Rick played them all with his jungle Hide-and-Seek game, with the jury trying to hide their smiles and laughter behind their hands. Gaven acknowledges his is kind of a fool for being in front of Dadbod Rick and when he turned around, Poof! He was gone. Rick grins and calls himself Keyser Soze, which tickles Probst to no end. Rick goes on to say that when the rest of the tribe wants to find him, they can’t but in the meantime, he can find some interesting things. Aurora just laughs and says she doesn’t listen to ninety percent of the things he says. Good idea, Aurora, especially when he brings up that Aurora is clearly on the bottom of the four person alliance. He segues into saying he is going to help out his friend Julie tonight by….dramatic pause…digging in his bag…using his hidden immunity idol on her so no votes cast for her will count. The jury LOVES it!! Ron pumps his fist. There are varying degrees of belief, with Aurora absolutely convinced that it is a fake idol since it is wrapped in a red cloth like the last one that he used. Hey, maybe there was a sale at Mood for red burlap. The producers need to save money and keep Probst in blue shirts, after all. Though he only needs one pair of cargo pants per season. Gavin suggests that Rick won’t use it because he will need it next week when it will be four against one. Not so fast, my math-challenged friend. Dadbod Rick, quite rightly as it turns out, responds that the chances of someone coming back from Dinosaur Island makes it much more likely to be split three-three. Of course this depends on who is coming back, but it’s also reasonable that the returning player would want the popular Dadbod Rick out of the running for the final three as well. Still, all possibility are open right now. And with that, it’s time to vote.

Probst goes to tally the votes. But first, does anyone want to use a hidden immunity idol? Answer is…hope. Dadbod Rick holds on to his idol, which is the wise thing to do for his own game, of course. Both Lauren and Aurora roll their eyes in annoyance, while Freckles and Gavin just nod their heads. This makes me like them a little bit. Let’s read the votes.






That’s enough. She is voted out. And she grumbles at the tribe, “How do you fall for reverse psychology?” As Probst snuffs her torch, she turns to them and implores them to, “Get him out!” Dadbod Rick laughs, shrugs his arms in the universal gesture of who-me? and says, “Still?”

Down the path and Aurora picks up the torch to head to Charon’s boat and off to her new life as Reem Daly’s vitriol victim.

Next Week: It’s the finale and a Dinosaur returns from the dead. My money is on Joe because…Joe.

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