Fang tribe finally kicks Kota’s asset

Survivor is never as interesting when one tribe decimates the other as it is when the strength and power moves between them, so last night’s episode of Survivor Gabon kept this season from sinking fast. The fact that the disaster of a tribe known as Fang managed to pull it together enough to win two back-to-back challenges was refreshing, if only because it calmed Jeff Probst down and forced Kota members to do more than sit around their (far better) camp and have (far more intelligent) conversations with each other.

Based upon the editing, I was almost expecting the onion alliance to actually vote off controlling Ace, which would have been shocking but stupid in terms of the strength they need to get to the merge. Instead, they dumped Paloma. Although she was a lot more feisty last night, she wasn’t exactly a central player.

Meanwhile, for an awesome water slide immunity challenge, everyone got their bathing suits in tree mail. Since that was taped months ago, it obviously wasn’t a response to last week’s appearance of Marcus’ “virtually undetectable” genitalia, but at least the editors don’t have to blur out revealing underwear, like Marcus’ bulge, as they did early in this episode.

Speaking of Marcus, he and others–like Randy, Charlie, Michelle, and Gillian–have all been pretty much like they were in person pre-game. But others seem totally different now that the show has started. GC didn’t seem like the type of guy who’d give up in the middle of a challenge, nor argue with his tribemates about eating three meals (!) a day, but that’s what he’s been doing. Matty seems like an entirely different person, and even though Corinne said something about hating many people on her tribe, she’s coming across as smart, calm, and reasonable, and not at all the uber-bitch she portrayed herself to be.

Kelly has been virtually absent (which suggests she might go far, based upon how past seasons have been edited), but last night the Kelly I met was present at Tribal Council. Jeff Probst asked her, “Do you think Ace is an asset to your tribe?” She said, “In some cases, because he’s almost condescending in way.”

Perhaps a moth flew into her eye, preventing her from answering coherently, or maybe she just didn’t hear. But clearly everyone else heard Probst say “assets” (not “ass”), as they started to make bewildered faces. Probst followed up (“How is condescending a good thing?”) and then Kelly cleared everything up: “It’s not a good thing at all sometimes. Say we’re cooking rice or something, he’ll be like, oh, I thought we were going to make water. Like, if somebody wants to make rice, like, let us make rice, we don’t necessarily need water right now.”

But we do, however, need a dictionary and/or a translator right now.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.