Survivor reaches the point where there’s a lot of fondling but not much action

At the end of Survivor One World, when Jeff Probst gave his usual pithy summation of what just happened, he stretched far more than usual, telling the tribe that because “nearly half of you received votes tonight, if there wasn’t a reason to be paranoid before, there is now.”

Nice try, Jeff. The only people who are paranoid are the producers, realizing this season has reached its midsection, because we’re likely in for a few episodes of editing playing more of a role than strategy. The women’s alliance is fully in control, and they will likely pick off Troy, Leif, and Tarzan, perhaps mixing it up once or twice based on immunity or if one of their own starts to grate on them. But we have four episodes until the finale, and I’d be surprised if they are surprising.

When Jay was voted out, he did not, oddly, make the face that seems like he is about to cry because someone took his lunch box and/or is auditioning to be a sad kitten picture. Instead, he tried to give everyone a death stare, which mostly looked like a kitten biting on its lip. He was blindsided, and saying things such as, “I just hope it’s not me” and “I ain’t heard the slightest inclination” (about another plan) earlier in the episode seemed to seal his fate.

Jay got a lot of screen time this week, including a long interview in which he explained Survivor and basic strategy to us, and I’d quote it except listening to it again and again to transcribe it would make me make a crying kitten face.

“The game is afoot,” in case you didn’t know, or hear Tarzan say it at what now seems like every other Tribal Council. But honestly, there was little afootness this week, just a pretty standard vote. There was some mid-episode distraction with Chelsea fretting over their next move, but Sabrina said, “you gotta put on your big girl panties and make a big girl decision,” and Chelsea ultimately did.

However, the editing left me somewhat confused. The votes give us the clearest indication of how the tribe is divided, and based on that, Tarzan is a member of the women’s alliance, even though he’s constantly telling the men that the women are taking over, so I’m not quite sure what’s up there. What is clear, sort of, is that the women do not trust Leif, as he voted for Alicia along with Jay–the decoy plan. And while we were given the impression that Kim had no time at all to reconfigure the plan once she learned Troy was going to play an idol and was gunning for her, there were no votes for her and only two for Troy, which seems like they deliberately flushed out the idol by making Troy think he was going home but always intended to vote for Jay. Phew.

I’m okay with editing obscuring exactly what will happen at Tribal; that’s what makes it fun for us sometimes. But maybe I’m just confused because of the multiple tribe switches.

Challenges this week were, well, odd. I hate to complain about reward challenge, which I’m glad we have again, but dammit these DIY challenges are 1) uninspired, 2) boring, 3) lazy, and 4) boring. Part of the fun of challenges is the spectacle–the builds, the helicopter shots, Probst calling everyone in, Probst being bitchy–and these just kill that. Time to kill the DIY challenges. I’d rather have one big combined reward/immunity challenge than more of these.

The immunity challenge was a colorful illustration of the state of the game, primarily that no one feels threatened. Several people gave up in exchange for food, though Tarzan and Christina hilariously dropped out of the challenge within seconds, unable to hold on until Jeff Probst could bribe them with some calories. Jay told Alicia, “You take that food; I’m gonna vote you out,” and then the idiot dropped out for chicken wings. Perhaps the best part was Alicia making an absurd justification for dropping out and letting Chelsea stick around to make sure Troy and/or Jay didn’t win immunity. Chelsea didn’t take that crap: “you’ll let me, or you just want some damn food?”

Leif was the last to drop for food, and did a dance that was even funnier than this one, as he basically jumped into the air and kicked his feet together repeatedly.

At Tribal Council, there was an extended discussion about what shorts the men were wearing and the bulges they may or may not have. Alicia paid close attention, noticing that Troy “had on swimming trunks” but switched to cargo shorts, which suggested he might have a hidden immunity idol. Although this is fun to joke about, it’s actually pretty smart strategy to read small clues like that.

Troy pulled out his package and presented it to Jeff, of course, giving a speech that seemed like he intended it to be epic (“some of the dumbest moves in Survivor history”; “I’m not going to join that group”), but was just a speech given by Troy. I’m sure we’re in for more of that next week when he convinces himself he’s going to survive for a long time in this game.

Frankie leads Big Brother's parade of delusion

Frankie on Big Brother

Heading into the finale, the delusion continues, with a re-appearance by evicted Frankie.

Related: The unwatchable cast of Fox's Utopia keeps yelling and screaming.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.