It’s utterly amazing how Survivor can still be so awesome in its 21st season. It all comes down to casting, and this is where Big Brother this past summer could have taken a note or two. What’s making this iteration of the franchise so wonderful is that a) there’s a diversity of personality types, most of whom seem to be totally lack self-awareness, and b) there’s a diversity of ages, which always adds wildcard elements to the proceedings.
On one tribe, we have the old folks, who are mostly kooky, bizarre creatures but not above immature posturing. Take, for example, Jimmy T., the salty fisherman who quietly stews at having to hand the alpha male reins over to NFL coach Jimmy Johnson. It’s sort of hilarious watching Jimmy T. suffer in silence, clearly unable to get over his own ego. After all, wouldn’t you want a proven people manager like Jimmy J. to keep things in order? Jimmy J. is a guy who’s had to oversee a gargantuan staff, deal with insane personalities, and make critical decisions with gargantuan stakes on the line all in a manner of seconds. And yet Jimmy T. the fisherman has a problem with this?
Well, Jimmy T. isn’t the only one nursing a bruised ego. Tech exec Marty is also rather peeved, but he seems to be a much more dangerous, evil person. He’s just waiting on the sidelines for everything to fall apart, at which point he’ll stab everyone in the back and do something awful. That’s why I was dumbfounded when Jill alerted Marty as to the location of the hidden immunity idol. Hopefully she noticed that when Marty found it, the first thing out of his mouth was to announce that HE had discovered it. And soon that changed to “we” as a courtesy. Keep an eye out for that bastard.
Of course, the craziest cat on the elder tribe is Holly the swim coach. First she dumped the tribe’s food supply of snails when she suspected that Jill was conning everyone into thinking they were edible (why Jill didn’t cook or boil the snails is a bit of a mystery). Then, when Holly felt slighted, she went and filled Dan’s shoes with sand and sunk them in the ocean. It was like she was doing Russell sabotage but for no discernible reason. Not too long later, Holly had a crisis of conscience and ‘fessed up to her deeds, pissing off Dan to no end. Turns out those shoes cost him a neat $1,600, but listen, I have no sympathy for him. Anyone who brings swanky clothes on Survivor deserves to have them get ruined by a crazy swim coach with a perm.
Footwear proved to be the source of drama on the younger tribe as well. When firebrand NaOnka suspected that someone had stolen her sock, she went in a rage and slipped on Judd/Fabio’s socks instead. We then cut to Judd standing around, lamenting the disappearance of his spare socks, which was hilarious because a) they were quite obviously on NaOnka, and b) I’d never seen someone so despondent about spare socks.
Anyway, when Judd approached NaOnka about the socks, she practically bit off his head with a variety of stereotypical sassy black woman responses. I mean, we had head swiveling and all. It was great. It was also just the appetizer. The real show happened at the crazy Tribal Council, which saw a show down between misogynistic homophobe Shannon and Brenda. Originally, NaOnka was a target for her outspoken ways (I particularly loved her description of one-legged Kelly B., which was something like “Kelly’s awesome. I hate her. But she’s awesome.”); however, thanks to Shannon’s cocky ways, he soon found himself on the block.
Actually, what happened was that Alina — who I really hate for some reason — approached Shannon with the idea of knocking off Brenda, mostly because she perceived Brenda as a threat, especially thanks to her alliance with Chase. It was a smart strategic move, but perhaps too soon. And additionally, Brenda seems sharp as a tack, and when she found out, she went into high gear against Shannon, who seemed to be leading the tribe.
Suddenly, after the youngsters lost the Immunity/Reward challenge, it became a showdown between Shannon and Brenda (how very meta-90210). At Tribal Council, Shannon went nuts, attacking Brenda (and Chase) right out of the gate so intensely that he pretty much began alienating himself right away.
Soft-spoken Sash was even inspired to speak up and tell him Shannon he was digging his own grave (which is not to be confused with NaOnka’s self-made idiom, “taking a stepping stone to his grave”). Shannon shot back at Sash with a very important question: “Are you gay?” It was so bonkers and actually rude that no one knew what to make of it. Even more surprising was when Sash said NO. Wait, not that it matters or anything, but I just assumed he was the token gay. But no, Sash rather unconvincingly announced that he had soooo many girlfriends in New York City, and soon the interaction became a pissing match over who had shtoomped more hot girls.
Amidst all this, Judd (who is fast becoming my favorite) implored Shannon to shut up, and then one thing led to another, and soon Judd and NaOnka were going back at it. Again, there was more head swiveling, bulging eyes, and some honest-to-God amazing facial expressions, all culminating with Judd pleading to Jeff, “Can we vote?”
This recap doesn’t do it justice. It was through and through amazing.
In the end, Shannon’s big mouth sent him packing. And so ended a thoroughly hilarious and entertaining episode. We got a good season, people. And we’re only two episodes in!
“Shhhhh… shhh…. I’m imagining Jimmy Johnson talking to us in a red sequined dress. Don’t ask. Just let me go with it.”
“Can someone please explain where the hell we are? I thought I was going out to play Bingo, and now I’m on an island with all yous.”
“Hmmmmm… why isn’t she smiling when eating those uncooked snails? Bitch.”
“This will show them! NEVER EAT SNAILS AGAIN!!!”
“Jimmy, you don’t understand. Before we came out here, I forgot to set my DVR for the McLaughlin Group.“
“You wanna hear something cool, NaOnka? I made this shirt from a tablecloth. And then I had sex with a girl. A lot.”
“I don’t know who stole my socks, but let me tell you something: those were 100% Hanes Her Way, mmmkay? And my way is to kick some ass!!!”
“Wait. Why can’t I get my subscription of High Society sent to tree mail?”
“Man, all this thinking — it’s like someone just rolled over my head with one of those cars with the rollers on it.”
“Yeah. But wait, don’t those roll over steam?”
“No. You can’t roll over steam.”
“I think my brain is going to explode.”
Judd: “Hey NaOnka?”
“Watchu lookin’ me for?”
“Can I have my socks back?”
“How about I give you something else? My middle finger.”
“Why are you being so mean?”
“I’ll be as mean as I want!”
“I’m trying to be nice.”
“You saying I’m not nice?”
“Why you saying no to me? Why don’t you ever say yes to me?”
“I just want my socks.”
“Why you think I have your socks?”
“They have my name on them.”
“How you know I don’t have the same name as you?”
“Your name is NaOnka.”
“What? You think you say my name I’m gonna like you now?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“What? You saying I can’t hear you?”
“What if I want to ALWAYS mind? What then? Asshole.”
“Damn, I got Peabo Bryson in my head again.”
“I think I might be kind of awful.”
“Yeah. I’m kind of awful.”
“Where did all the land go? It’s all, like, ocean over here.”
“If y’all need help scrubbing off that pot, I got a Brillo pad under my chin you can use.”
“I FOUND THE IDOL! I HAVE IT! ME ME ME! IT’S MINE!!!! I mean, it’s ours. We found it. I won’t betray you. I swear.”
“This experience has been crazy. I’ve never camped a day in my life. Also, Chase is a liar, Sash is gay, Brenda’s a bitch, and Benry has a dumb name. Did I say too much?”
“You know, Jeff. New York City is full of gays. That’s all there is. If you’re from there, you’re gay. Also, I look like a turtle.”
“WWWOW, Shannon. You are an incredible douche.”
“What? Me gay? I am, like, the biggest bachelor in New York City. And that is confirmed. You could even say I am a confirmed bachelor.”
“I mean, that’s crazy. I’ve had a lot of girlfriends. And we, like, do sex and stuff. Like, all the time. In the straightest way possible. I mean, I’m like the straightest straight in Manhattan. If there were a magazine called Straights, I’d be on the cover. Possibly in underwear. Maybe with other straight guys. Also in their underwear. Just bros. Pssh.”
“I really like your shoes, by the way.”
“Hey, Jeff. Wanna look at each other in a hetero way?”
“Wow. You ever realize that if you spell ‘corn’ backwards it spells ‘nroc?”
“EXCUSE ME, I just want to say that if you were going to have a celebrity cast member, it shouldn’t have been Jimmy Johnson, mmkay? It should have been JackÃ©e.”
“Girl, I can speak for myself.”
“Now who wants me on Survivor! HAAAAY!!”
“Don’t be a woman. Let me stay.”
“Fine. Snuff out my torch. But if you were a real man, you’d let me stay. I guess you just let the women call the shots. And what do they know? Nothing. See you at the finale, which I’ll just assume is in one of the gay cities.”
What did you think about this episode?