Hurricane NaOnka doesn’t make landfall or dissipate, but Survivor is still annoying

Hello, Survivor Nicaragua pre-merge slump. I see you’ve opened the door for the producers to change the tribes next week to try to stop the fogie tribe’s hemorrhaging. How is it possible that the Medallion of Power didn’t hold you back? It’s a medallion of power, after all! Yes, despite the presence of some big-mouthed big personalities, season 21 found its way into a little rut this week, although one that featured lots of annoying talking. With just one challenge (sigh), they have to fill the 44 minutes with something.

Near the end of Tribal Council, the fogie tribe’s chief wannabe chief, Jimmy T., basically surrendered after spending the whole episode insisting that he should be given a chance to lead the fogies to yet another defeat. “I’ll step down,” he said, “and say I’ll just be a worker bee for this tribe, and a good worker bee–and nobody can deny that.” And he buzzed his way off to Ponderosa after a 5-3 vote. Buzz buzz bye bye.

The fogie tribe’s days of defeat end next week, though, as the preview shows the tribes being swapped. All we really see is Jeff Probst telling them to drop their buffs, and while I’d kind of love for a merge this early in the game, you know it’ll be a swap of some kind so the competition can even out. It’s amazing the producers waited until episode five for that, and that they didn’t even have faith in their twist, the Medallion of Power, to save the old people–who got it back since the fetus tribe played it, although they probably didn’t have to.

Then again, maybe nothing will happen next week, because the preview for this week sure as hell lied to us. We were promised “Hurricane NaOnka,” but instead we got a wind gust equivalent to a gnat fart from NaOnka, whose senseless outrage is about as annoying as a gnat. I argued in an msnbc.com essay that this season’s crazy people strike me as very different from the Coachs and Russells, who were frustrating but had a clear strategy from which that emerged. NaOnka embodies that, because she just goes off for no reason and does things that make zero sense. She’s not even making the argument like, “If everyone hates me enough, they’ll take me to the end and I’ll win $100,000.”

But there was thankfully little of her this week, primarily when she asked Brenda to help her decipher the clue she knocked Kelly down for last week, and then claimed the idol for herself despite the fact that she couldn’t figure out even the simplified clue without assistance. “Brenda helped me find it, but ultimate I figured it out,” NaOnka said. More egregiously, she later followed Kelly B. and Alina, who’d set off to find the idol without a clue (smart). But NaOnka had the idol so there was no reason at all to confront them, but she did anyway, and this is why she’s so annoying. She used that as an opportunity to go off on Kelly’s “little performance you put on” and then insisted “I don’t like you.” Yes, NaOnka, we get it, you hate everyone.

Meanwhile, over on the fogie beach, which got covered in shit from a rainstorm, Marty hated on “The Jimmy T Show,” calling Jimmy T. a “delusional” “loudmouth” who “just has to hear his own voice 24/7.” Marty kept using suicide metaphors about Jimmy T, which all seemed like a little too obvious attempt to get screen time for himself. Marty doesn’t realize how much he’s becoming just like Jimmy T., except instead of being desperate and whiny, he’s acting entitled and outraged. Meanwhile, Jimmy T. had no love for Marty, calling him a “preppy little bitch” and saying, “I outta give him a little shake … Maybe once I lose it, that’s the next thing I’ll do.” I have news for you, buddy: You already lost it.

They definitely lost it at the challenge. Although the fogies practiced (smart! and apparently due to actual leader Jill, not that anyone will give her credit–Jeff Probst even went off on her in his EW bullog–get it? “bullshit blog” as one word!–last week), and Tyrone seemed to be giving good direction, his tribe was in disarray. Jimmy T. ignored Tyrone’s calls, although it was chaotic. The editing, too, was chaotic, and not very good because it didn’t focus much on anyone. The fun moments that usually come during the blindfolded challenge were relegated to the background, almost, like when Jud/Fabio slammed into something and fell over.

Back at camp after their loss, Jimmy T. told his tribe, “I think I can contribute. … I think can be a leader,” and “I’m just looking for an opportunity to help this team to win.” Yeah, like that huge opportunity you had to do something in the challenge that you totally just blew?

I will give Jimmy T. some credit for being slightly self-aware. “I’m scared it might be me because I keep opening my mouth,” he said before Tribal. “It’s a tough group of people to get along with–and I’m easy to get along with, I think.” That addendum turned into full-on doubt at Tribal, where he told Probst, “evidently, they don’t see me in the same light I see me.” Evidently.

At least the disaster that is the fogie tribe will end next week, but I just hope that people like Jill and Benry–people I like and who aren’t insane–don’t become collateral damage. And maybe this season will get some life in it that’s not named NaOnka.

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.