On Survivor, Jeff Probst reveals his new hosting strategy: “Perform for me! Show me blood!”

Wednesday’s episode of Survivor was a mix of frustration and awesomeness. Guess who was the source of the frustration, like gravy dribbling off the mashed potatoes and getting all up in the cranberries? (Yes, Jeff Probst.)

I was convinced for a long time that Ciera’s confession to Tyson was part of her plan with Caleb and Hayden: make Tyson think he’s safe. And I also felt like if anyone was being played, it was going to be Tyson, but I suppose I was a victim of the editing and last week’s preview, which set up that Tyson was in trouble. (So, too, does next week’s preview.)

Up until Tribal, Ciera’s plan seemed to be unraveling, but in fact she remained in a very powerful position the whole time. Even when Hayden and Caleb confronted Tyson, they became the targets by exposing their insecurity. Ciera pointed out that Hayden and Caleb’s desire to flip so fast and so often made them “too sketchy for me to invest in them”; she said, “I don’t want to work with people like that.”

So, she helped vote out Caleb. Considering Caleb’s disappearance from the middle of the season, I thought he’d go far–ditto Hayden–so his exit was somewhat surprising. Obviously, though, Tyson did not feel safe and doesn’t quite trust Ciera, since he played his idol, after first taking a cue from Jeff Probst and making the show all about himself for a few moments of physical comedy.

Earlier, Redemption Island was at once unwatchable and also fascinating. Fascinating because Laura helped Tina win, which makes perfect sense because of course Laura wants the weakest competitor to stick around until the end. It’s now been clearly established that there is no rule about looking at others’ puzzles or offering assistance, either from the sidelines or the playing field, so Laura’s actions were perfectly permissible and not at all cheating, but they were still kind of amazing to watch. Also, what she did clearly huwt Vytas’ wittle feewings.

All of that actual drama was nearly rendered unwatchable because of Probst’s commentary; he was at his absolute worst as a host. I have no patience to transcribe nearly everything he said, but he was repeatedly saying the most obvious things in order to create story.

When Probst said, and I am not making this up, “So Laura, the last vote we showed at Tribal said ‘Mom.’ Ciera voted you out of this game. She voted her mom out,” I yelled at the TV. He said the same thing three times–a thing we all knew from watching last week. How little respect for the audience does he have now?

It got worse and worse through the duel, too, to the point where it’s just so ridiculous and irritating that it’s beyond mocking. Watch the whole challenge and see for yourself.

The immunity challenge was even worse, if that’s possible. First, Monica won immunity for the third time, which isn’t surprising because the challenge was virtually the same challenge as last week, just on land instead of in water, and it obviously plays to her strengths, never mind that it was a repeat of a challenge we saw one year ago.

The twist was that the cast could opt out and eat instead, having their eating augmented by nauseating sound effects added in post production. Seeing Tyson, Gervase, and Ciera all opt out was, of course, obvious foreshadowing of what was to come, and Probst made sure we didn’t miss the moment: “Caleb, not only are they eating, they’re having a good time. They’re laughing,” he said.

Then he switched to a kinda of British accent: “Perform for me! Show me blood! Bring me some more meat!” That would have been funny except it’s kind of what Probst has been doing for the past few seasons, and enough is enough.

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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.