Survivor: a little bit bewildering, boring, and bananas

What a weird episode of Survivor Nicaragua. With one rather weak challenge–even one that has three parts and both individual immunity and tribe reward–it was kind of dull, since that challenge was uninspired, especially compared to last week’s masterpiece, and because the strategizing wasn’t really all that intense. But then there was Tribal Council, which was both predictable and crazy.

With individual immunity on the line, old people on each tribe pulled out wins, perhaps because it was a challenge resembling searching in the sand for shiny objects like old people do with their metal detectors and little shovels that leave holes that are the perfect size for a runner’s shoe to fall into and cause him to trip during a beach run. But I digress.

Holly and Jill each won immunity on their tribes, and Jill won the ring toss contest and thus a feast for her tribe to enjoy while watching the other tribe devour one of its own. Individual immunity was good for Jill, who was targeted by Brenda, whose game has suddenly picked up. Brenda and her allies decided to flush out Marty’s hidden immunity idol by voting for him and Jill, which was smart, but after Jill won immunity they changed that to Kelly B., which was dumb.

Brenda’s interview segments kept referring to Kelly B. as a threat because of her artificial leg, a line of argument we heard from NaOnka until crying about the rain shut her up. (The most we got from NaOnka last night was when she said, “I’ll write her name down and I’ll smile in her face. That’s witting.” No, that’s just voting.) But it sounded to me like a lot of Brenda’s quotes were assembled from different interviews; there were awkward breaks and pitch changes, and so she’d say things such as “plus she has a fake leg” and “you can’t afford to have someone like that around,” which together sounded awful but may have been perfectly reasonable sentence fragments when she originally spoke them. So either the editors constructed Brenda’s rationale, or Brenda’s just awful, too.

At Tribal, the non-reward winners, Espada, voted off Yve, which was clear from the start; she was upset, everyone else wasn’t. They targeted her even though Danny basically announced he was ready to quit and is also a far weaker player. (Or maybe just because he’s honest about being arrogant, saying “I do” when Yve said something about not talking endlessly about her Ferraris and three houses.) Yve was voted out because she was playing too hard: harsh, but on some level, a compliment. “I don’t want to take her to the merge,” Benry said, citing the fact that she’s a smart player.

La Flor’s Tribal Council was far more dramatic. First, Brenda’s alliance–read, everyone besides Marty and Jill–split their votes between Marty and Kelly B., and that even included Kelly B., who voted for Marty. Incredibly, he did not play his hidden immunity idol, shrugging instead. Then the tribe voted for Kelly B., which was even more baffling, since Marty is going to be pissed off next week. Perhaps they thought Marty might be able to play his idol again? It was all very bewildering. Kelly B. seemed just as baffled as we were.

What also didn’t make any sense was the discussion, during which Brenda calling Marty out for targeting Jane, which of course was what she and Sash told Marty to do. Marty seemed baffled: “that would be moronic of me” to target Jane, he said, insisting “La Flor made the call” to vote for Jane and he reluctantly went along with it. Why would Brenda start this fight? Perhaps it was somehow to solidify Jane as her ally; in any case, Jane wasn’t happy with Marty’s general attitude, hilariously saying when she cast her vote, “I ain’t no sittin’ duck, honey.”

At the start of the episode, eventual challenge winner Jill said, “I think they are starting to appreciate us.” If anything’s clear, it’s the fallacy of that statement. And that the kids are just as crazy as the adults.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.