Russell Swan’s tribe keeps bleeding from its eyes

Awkward handshakes? Incomprehensibly bad defenses of one’s own behavior? Poor performance in a challenge? Bleeding from the eyes? Yes, there was some great TV last night, but first let’s talk about Survivor.

Watching a tribe be decimated is fun only up to a point, and I think we’ve reached that point on Survivor Philippines. Malcolm at Tribal Council saying through tears that “frustration was day three, day eight it’s heartbreaking”–that’s just sad. Russell Swan’s tribe has just three people left, but I cannot figure out why Russell is one of them and why Angie went home.

Part of this is, I think, defense of Angie: She was belittled as a “little girl” by Russell last night at Tribal Council after being clapped at like a puppy by Probst last week. (Tangent: For all of Probst’s sexism and increasingly overbearing attitude at Tribal Council, he is an exceptional moderator; watching Jim “dead eyes” Lehrer’s pathetic performance last night during the debate made that even more clear.) Angie does not deserve such treatment, and while she doesn’t help her own case sometimes (“cookies”), her age and sex seem to bring on unfortunate responses.

But forget about Angie. How is having Russell an advantage for the tribe? He has muscles, but is he stronger, really? I can forgive his inability to swim deep down: that’s tough, though I think Angie refusing to go makes more sense than lamely trying and turning back. But not being to climb the ladder? And basically being to blame for every challenge loss because of his leadership and/or physical failures? Malcolm knows it, saying “Russell, built like an ox, can’t climb a three-foot ladder out of the ocean,” and acknowledging that tiny Denise is much stronger by comparison, a “Munchkin of muscle.”

I also think Angie is a better ally if the tribes merge or change up: She’d be loyal to Malcolm and Denise in a way that I’m not quite sure Russell would, only because I think Russell is the more intellectual player, and he might see–and take–opportunities to bail on his alliances should things change up. He’s also overbearing and can’t seem to deliver on his intentions. I liked Russell from day one, but I do not think this is his game at all.

Speaking of returnees that need to go home, Michael Skupin is going to have to be medically evacuated again, but this time due to blood loss, because he seems to bleed every time he touches something. This week, he dove into the water (a water challenge! that was challenging! in deep water!) with goggles on–after explicitly instructing others not to, as one of his tribemates pointed out–and cut his face so he appeared to be bleeding from his eyes. What does stigmata mean again?

I’m excited that his tribemates, including Lisa, are working to potentially blindside him, especially now that they have the idol. By the way, I’m loving the drama with Abi-Maria, who is constantly fighting with her ally and friend RC, and I suspect things will really heat up fast when her tribe starts losing.

Lisa, meanwhile, actually gave an incredibly smart, succinct description of how to best play Survivor: “I’m dealt a new hand every day, and every day I have to play the hand that I have.” That’s it; that’s game theory. And that’s a huge step up from isolating yourself to cry about being isolated.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Penner revealed that he had the idol to Jeff Kent, who agreed to work with Penner–but not really because, tee hee, he had his fingeys crossed! I mean, he shook hands with four fingers only! Oooh!

Seriously, what? WHAT.

This is a successful adult playing a game for $1 million and his actual strategy is to use four fingers to shake hands? Why not just lie? Can you imagine the reaction if he ever says to someone, “Well, that agreement wasn’t binding, because I only used four fingers, and also ooh I can see your pee pee. Let’s go have snack before nap.”

But wait! I’ve buried the lead. On Penner’s tribe, not only is that guy not a lesbian, but he can, in fact, speak. Yes, Carter is not mute, though we may have seen some evidence of why the editors are ignoring him: While his tribemates discussed blindsiding Penner, he played with his navel. Sounds kind of like someone’s debate strategy last night.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.