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MrsGryn

Survivor 39 - Episode 2 - The Island of Babble

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MrsGryn   

Despite some decent casting and one really disagreeable person that made excellent fodder for jabs, last season’s Edge of Extinction twist was pretty terrible overall. I had a LOT of qualms about this whole Island of Idols and the participation of Rob and Sandra, but after tonight’s episode, I’m pretty pleased with the twist.

Post-tribal on Lairo beach. A-a-ron is mighty upset no one told him Ronnie was going home. He claims that he was not that close and would have voted with the majority, but I find that claim dubious at best. Vince, on the other hand, is all butt-hurt that he was the target of the losing side. He demands to know why his name was throw out and dude, just shut up! Overreacting to votes that don’t mean anything is not how you get to the end of the game. Now, Missy, on the other hand, makes the smart play. She pulls Aaron aside to try and talk him back into the fold, smartly acknowledging his own butt-hurtedness (new word!) while trying to make him understand that one vote in which he was not a part of does not mean he is persona non grata on Lairo. Unfortunately, he is too far gone in his pity party to pay attention.

Over on Vokai beach, we find out the crazy person of the season is Noura. First of all, she has crazyeyes while she rants about being the only one who got up while it was raining to try and save the fire. This goes over about as well as you would expect. Molly, the young attorney licensed to practice law in fifty-nine states, smugly explains to Noura that she was sleeping so keeping the fire going is not really her problem. Her entire demeanor is dismissive, while Kellee the Germaphobe sitting next to Molly at least looks slightly uncomfortable with the whole situation. Noura continues her vocal advice to everyone, complaining that they should always be bringing wood back to camp, be working hard and blah blah blah. I’m tired just listening to her after forty-five seconds. She does, however, light onto one thing: Molly has charmed a lot of people on Vokai and creating a circle of admirers. There is a great shot of an ineffectual attempt to open a coconut with a handaxe by Molly that shows she is about as weak as a lamb. Seriously. I think a newborn panda would have had better success.

Crazyeyes Noura is not entirely alone, however. She has Jason, the idiot who searched for an idol within hours of landing on the beach, as a companion. Jason talks her off the ledge with some sense about letting the real personalities come out and trying to lay back and let them fracture among themselves. Jason expresses to us a sense of loyalty to Noura for warning him that the rest of the tribe was gunning for him on Day One, and he certainly comes across as a sensible, grounded fellow. This is very surprising as his profession is listed as “personal injury attorney.”  I expect there are some billboards around his hometown with an 800 number, inviting people who were in a fender bender to give him a call for a free case estimate.

That evening in Lairo, Aaron and Tom are trying to make a fire with the flint they received from being the first losers to go to Tribal Council. The men work and work at it and Chelsea wanders over to see how they are doing and offer some advice. Aaron huffs at her that she should just give it a go then, if she’s so damn smart, and I’m suddenly wondering why Elizabeth isn’t there starting the fire since she got the lesson from Rob and Sandra recently. Anyway, it seems Chelsea would have smoked Boston Rob on that firemaking challenge because she lights that fire in no time flat. IN YO FACE, A-A-RON! Tom makes a joke about his male ego being ruined for the rest of his life and I kind of love him for laughing about it. Chelsea tells us the guys are okay but it is the women of Lairo that are dominating the tribe. This is true of camp life but will it be the same during the immunity challenge? In the meantime, everyone scrambles to collect firewood to keep the flame going and while she is out in the twilight, Chelsea spots a tree with a deep bole and she sees a small wrapped package. A hidden immunity idol! Now, I feel two ways about this. First, glad a woman found it so we don’t have to spend half the season hearing about the differences in numbers of men vs. women finding idols. On the flip side, I had thought the Island of Idols would be the only place where Idols could be obtained, which would have been just fine. In fact, I would have preferred it. Don’t tell the Survivors that there are no idols out there, let them search for them all over by all means, but change up the game this season a little bit. Keeps the future players on their toes and warns everyone that rules can be changed from season to season. Too much self-awareness can ruin the dynamic of the game, and I think the abundance of idols comes dangerously close to that edge.

Vokai beach, Day Five. Wherein there is a hilarious segment of Noura leading most of the tribe in beach yoga. Jason is trying but looks entirely uncomfortable. Janet, aka Tiny Tank, looks on with a neutral expression, though in fairness that seems to be her only expression. Jamal is wearing a shirt and for that I am eternally grateful. I have found I like Jamal seventy-eight percent better when he has a shirt on and I do not have to see his pointy moobs. Lauren, of the long blonde braids, sneezes, half-asses it and finally falls down. In other news, Dan’s boxer-briefs have a rather unfortunate X pattern on them that emphasizes the rolled up sock in his drawers. As beach yoga draws to a close, a motor can be heard in the background and a small skiff pulls up with a silent delivery messenger passing over a rolled up parchment to Dan. It says to gather as a tribe which they do, only to find out that Kellee has been selected to participate in a survey on the Island of the Idols. Please select Yes or No with your only option being Yes. Kellee starts to freak out a bit but Jason talks her down a bit with some sense: stay calm, think outside the box, and assume nothing.

As she lands on the Island of the Idols beach, Kellee’s experience starts out pretty much the same as Elizabeth’s did last week: walk down the beach, be surprised by the giant heads of Parvati-with-a-Perm and Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, then be even more surprised when Sandra and Boston Rob saunter out of the jungle. Kellee was at least thinking ahead and had surmised that Cochran might show up, but after declaring this to Rob, she agrees with him when he says this is “whey bettah.” Rob reviews the Idols Oath, which okay are we going to be subjected to this every week? Then the three of them settle into the cozy camp and the test begins. Oh, not that Kellee knows it is part of the lesson. All she knows is that Rob and Sandra are peppering her with personal questions (went to Harvard, has a boyfriend named Brock, going to Wharton for an MBA) and then babbling about themselves with all kinds of useless information. Rob has four daughters with his wife, Ambah. He went to Boston College and went to a few Harvard parties back in his days of dark hair and a flat belly. Sandra has four dogs, the names of which are Blah, Blah, Blah and Poppa. Her husband is still active duty army, she has two daughters, and so on. It’s the Island of Babble! Kellee’s eyes are glazed over and so when Rob finally gets to the point of revealing that this is all part of the lesson of the Island of Idols, she nearly faints. Her test will be whether she paid attention to what they were telling her, and how important it is to hear what tribe members are saying in order to fully understand and engage with them when you need an alliance or a vote. Nice!

As Kelley carefully considers her options – get four out of five answers right and an idol good for two tribals, or lose her vote for the next tribal council, Rob and Sandra exchange glances. During her hesitation, Rob then offers to sweeten the deal: only three out of five answers need to be correct and the idol will be good for three tribal councils. This is good enough for Kellee and she agrees, then aces the responses to which branch of the military Sandra’s husband serves in, what is the name of ONE of Sandra’s dogs, and how many daughters does Sandra have. Both Idol masters look very pleased that Kellee passed the test and happily give her the idol as Kellee breaks down in tears of relief. They are sweet and sympathetic to her, patting her back and giving her props. She picks the secret name from the Lairo tribe to go to Island of Idols next week. After she gets back to Vokai’s beach, she tells the SAME DAMN LIE that Elizabeth did the week before about smashing urns. What the hell? Are the producers feeding them this lie to keep the Idols a secret? I am not normally a conspiracy theorist but this seems awfully suspicious. And she has created for herself the same trap as Elizabeth: your cover will be blown as soon as someone else gets to the Island. Now, I did like how Kellee threw suspicion off her herself by breaking down in tears and dumping out her bag and starting to strip to prove that she did not have an idol. What did she do with it? Hid the idol in the bun of her hair. LOVE it! Great thinking, Harvard girl!

Immunity challenge time! Probst is wearing a Glidden Paint Forest Black shirt, for those keeping score at home. And seriously…black? Fuck you, Probst. The challenge itself is one of the multi-part types that begin in the water and end on land: tribes with start from a platform, swim to a buoy where they will have to dive to unknot ropes holding a large, heavy ladder down. They will then have to hold up the ladder so one of the players can climb it and untie a bag of balls from a tall pole, then carry the ladder onto land where they will have to use it as a bridge to cross two platforms on the sand. Once across, they will use the three balls in the bag on a modified pinball board to land the balls in three separate spots. Lauren of the blonde braids sits out for Vokai. Survivors ready? GO!

Right away, I was looking to see which swimmer would step up in the ocean swim. Janet and Elizabeth were actually pretty equal, though Elizabeth has to use a face mask and Tiny Tank just muscles through. The problem really occurs when Vokai is raising their ladder so Molly can climb up to get the ball bag, the ocean decides “Not today!” and batters them around a bit. It takes twice as long for them to get their ladder up onto the beach. In fairness, they also don’t have Aaron and Dan and Dean on their tribe, all three of whom are tall, strong fellows. Missy and Elaine team up to toss balls for Lairo with Karishma looking useless, while Jamal’s pointy moobs tosses for Vokai. It comes down to the last ball and Missy nails it for Lairo. They win, in addition to immunity, a cooking kit and tons of spices, including some great looking fresh ginger and lemongrass. Probst has nothing for Vokai. Wah wah, sad trombone.

Going to be an easy vote, right? Crazy Noura or Idol Hunting Jason. At least that is what the power trio on Vokai, Jamal, Molly, and Jack, think. Noura pleads her case to Jack and Jamal, saying she knows they are deciding between them. Jamal wants her to articulate why they should vote out Jason and for her part, Noura refuses to play that game, responding that she would rather leave it in their hands but that she would really like to stay. I am kind of glad to see someone passing on the opportunity to bash their ally to the ruling party. Also, Jamal seems to think that his alliance with Molly and Jack is somehow a secret from the rest of the tribe. Dude. Please. Noura figured it out on Day Two. She has been running around calling them the King, Queen, and Jack of the tribe. And as annoying as Noura is – and she is VERY annoying - this part of her is pretty good at the game. I can easily see why she was cast. Jamal is pleased to see that the tribe is handling this vote so well. They decide to split the vote between Jason and Noura. Jamal is so comfortable in fact, he takes a nap. Meantime, Lauren pulls together Janet and Kellee for a chat. She posits the idea of voting out Molly first and taking control of the game from the Top of the Deck alliance. Love it when players don’t just roll over and do what they are told! Lauren of the blond braids seems like a ditz but this shows some excellent forethought. Kellee just looks sick to her stomach, though that might be the proximity to all the germs a tropical island holds.

Lauren informs Jason of the plan and later when he and Crazy Noura talk, she starts shimmying with joy. He solidifies some love from me when he tells her, “Don’t dance! This is like Footloose. No dancing allowed!” Jason was smart to tamp down her desire to celebrate, because that is just foolishness. Anyone can see you and draw a conclusion that something is up, you dumb crazy woman! Janet talks to Tommy, who thinks it is a little too early to make this move. He feels he has Jamal and Jack in his back pocket (which, no, Molly has them in her back pocket), and he has to decide which lunch table to hang out with at school. Yeah, there is entirely too much of the high school clique talk on this episode. You people are adults for the most part. Get over it already!

Tribal Council! Probst is wearing a Glidden paint Bright Cornflower Blue shirt, for those keeping score at home. Rob and Sandra sneak into their duck blind to enjoy the proceedings, though we do not get much commentary from them this week. Vokai gets their torches and hilariously, Noura’s hair catches on fire briefly. She pats it out quickly. Probst starts with Jason, who explains how he has been on the outs of the tribe since the beginning due to paranoia and that the whole island of the idols season is playing on that paranoia. Rob and Sandra giggle silently in their hideout at the talk of paranoia. Tommy agrees with Probst’s assessment that this is an easy vote, but you gotta feel sympathy for someone on the outs. However, you don’t want it to be you. Kellee talks about Jason not being aware of what the “group culture” was about and just shut up with that woke-ass group-think everybody-in-lockstep nonsense. There is a difference between aberrant behavior and being a freethinker. Jason’s punishment of being made outcast in no way fits the crime of searching for an idol. Jason dumps out all his stuff to prove he does not have an idol. Molly speaks up, lawyer to lawyer, and claims she is offended by his feelings of being in purgatory. She claims none of them feel that way and they all think he is cool. LIES! Noura responds to Probst by saying she sticks out, she knows she sticks out and she is okay with not sticking in. She does make an interesting point that we do not hear very often: her problems that she has in real life are being magnified by being in the game. There is a level of self-awareness with Noura that is refreshing, and if she keeps that up, it will go a long way to mitigate the mania that is sure to manifest in a couple of weeks. Dan, who had his own problems early on, brings up to Jeff that the people playing this game are a level above “who is irritating me today” type of gameplay, though I would suggest that Lairo’s ouster of Ronnie last week denies that statement. Probst turns to Jamal and asks if the pedal is to the metal and Jamal’s laid back response is nope, Survivor is a slooooow burn. Jason points out that Jamal didn’t even bring a bag to Tribal Council, and Rob turns to Sandra with a dramatic “Uh oh” as they both laugh silently at Jamal’s hubris. Jamal, losing some points in my view, condescendingly tells Jason that he doesn’t have to play the same game as Jason does right now, though he will likely have to do it in the future. Jamal is not wrong here, but his delivery leaves a lot to be desired. I’m just glad, however, that he is wearing a shirt. Kellee obliges Probst by saying after tonight’s vote this group is going to be gone forever. And with that, it’s time to vote.

Probst goes to tally the votes.

Jason. Noura. Molly. Jason. Molly. Molly. Molly. Molly. And with that, it’s enough. Molly the Smug Smiling Queen of Vokai is voted out. Sandra whispers in the duck blind what we are all thinking: “Dang, they played her ass.”

Indeed, Sandra. Let's hope there is more of that to come. 

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tlh9   

I *love* your recaps, MrsGryn!!  I look forward to them every week almost as much as the show itself.  When I see they are up, I get myself a snack of some kind, and settle in for some good reading.  

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From MrsGryn's recap:

"Right away, I was looking to see which swimmer would step up in the ocean swim. Janet and Elizabeth were actually pretty equal, though Elizabeth has to use a face mask and Tiny Tank just muscles through."

Are you reading my mind?  If I had written this recap, it would have been identical.. Except not as funny and well written.

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tlh9   

I think it's the rare person who can write as sharp and witty as MrsGryn can.

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