Eat Some Grubs, Swallow Your Pride
What to watch and what to skip as the gross-food challenge returns and the players face TWO tribal councils this week on Survivor.
In recent seasons, Survivor has dealt with the potential boredom of Pagongings (ask your parents) by airing double-elimination episodes, moving things along quicker so that we can get to the part where alliances start to crumble again. The good news is that these double-elimination episodes are pretty packed with action. The bad news is that it's pretty easy to predict that double-elimination episode = no surprises yet.
Post-Tribal Night Vision
In the wake of the big Aras blindside, Vytas, Tina, and Katie are pretty well fucked. Vytas decides to be all bro-magnanimous about it, doling out respect to his conquerors, while Tina makes yet another uncharacteristic game error by giving in to her frustration and lashing out at Monica and Tyson for flipping. She even pulls the old "never gonna vote for y'all at jury" card, which is, as ever, the weakest of sauce. Tyson kind of flips the script on her by saying that her beloved Aras had final-three deals with just about everyone which, true or not, manages to stop her in her tracks. To her credit, she's like, "...Oh, my bad" about it pretty quickly.
The next morning, Tina and Katie assess their grim prospects, and Tina gives her daughter permission to cut Mom loose if that's what she needs to do to stay afloat. That's the nicest and simultaneously most unsettling thing I've ever seen on this show.
It's unseemly how excited I was to see the return of the gross-food-eating challenge, which Jeff explicitly ties to Gervase and his Season 1 performance as a 'fraidy cat who lost to damn Stacey (again, ask your parents). The first round has them eating a shot glass full of forty mealworms, and Tyson, Monica, Vytas, Hayden, Gervase, and Caleb all advance. Round 2 is nasty-looking pig intestine, which separates the men from the boys, or more accurately, separates Monica and Gervase from everybody else, as they advance to the finals. There, they have to choke down two ginormous grubs — Gervase's downfall last time — and you guys? It's the grossest. They're fat and moving and basically burst open with juices when Gervase and Monica bite into them. Gervase puts up a very showy fight, but Monica manages to earn her first-ever individual immunity, even earning an ultra-rare "Culpepper" distinction from Probst. (Honestly, when was the last time Jeff Probst did the last-name thing with a female contestant?)
Scrumming For Votes
So the plan is to split votes between Vytas and Katie, in order to flush out the idol. Of course, there's no need to do that, because Tyson has the idol, but he's not telling anyone else that. It's funny to watch him squirm a bit, fighting his instincts to tell everybody — in part, I think, because he can't stand that everybody's following Laura's split-vote plan and thus deferring to her rather than him. It'll be interesting to see if that arrogance ends up becoming a problem for him.
Vytas, meanwhile, is reduced to begging for clemency from Hayden, of all people. It doesn't look all that promising — or it wouldn't if Monica wasn't busy freaking out about her position in the alliance. While she has immunity around her neck, I might add. She sees what she calls "scrambling" by the other players and interprets this as everybody making new plans because their original plan was to vote her off. She's maybe a little nutty. So Monica's freakout kind of reminds Tyson that he's reaching a point where the women are going to outnumber the men, and he's nervous about a "girls' alliance" taking him out. Maybe it would be worth it to keep Vytas another week and boot Katie.
With his back against the wall, Vytas fairly well barnstorms his way through tribal, throwing Monica under the bus for being a nervous, jumpy player, and directly calling out Tyson and Gervase as the true power center of the current alliance of seven. This is good, especially with Redemption Island still (regrettably) in play. Even if this ploy doesn't work for him this week, he's sowing seeds of dissent that could help him out if and when he does return to the game.
All that good talking was for naught, as Vytas gets voted out.
Post-Tribal Night Vision
So get this: it turns out, Katie WAS supposed to get voted out just then, only Monica flipped her vote at the last second to Vytas, because of how aggressively he went after her at Tribal. She's also verrry proud of the fact that she said "What up, Brad?" when she cast her vote (because she was avenging Brad's ouster at Vytas's hand, get it?). She makes sure evvvvverybody knows about it. Gervase is more worried about this vote-switching thing, and he interviews repeatedly and emphatically that he does not need any wild cards doing their own thing in his alliance.
No competition this week, as they wait for a third bootee to join them, so in the meantime, we're treated to the Bickering Baskauskas Brothers. Vytas is pessimistic! Aras is optimistic! What a crazy pair!
This one's a balancing challenge, akin to something you usually see as the final immunity. They have to balance an ever-growing stack of coins atop a sword-handle. It's tense as hell, but it's easy FF material if you're not particularly invested in whether Katie stays alive in the game. Ultimately, she does, outlasting Tyson and Hayden, and effectively spelling doom for her mother.
Scrumming For Votes
Knowing her goose is quite nearly cooked, Tina does the only thing she can do and begins to scour the island for the hidden immunity idol. Since they still don't know that Tyson has it, Hayden and Caleb (and Tyson, doing his penance) shadow Tina all afternoon, so she doesn't have a second alone. She does manage to give them the slip once or twice, though. Interestingly, Tyson notes that Tina did look in the spot where the idol was buried, so if he hadn't found it first, she'd have been set.
Back at camp, Monica's paranoia actually hits upon something solid: if Tina were to find the idol, thus making her and Katie immune, who would the alliance cannibalize, then? Nobody seems to give her a straight answer about that, and it's kind of a pertinent question, since the mere possibility of Tina having the idol could force them to split votes. So. again, who's seventh? If you ask Gervase, it's obviously Tina. He seems to indicate that he's pushing for Monica's ouster now rather than later.
Meanwhile, Caleb hasn't spoken in three weeks and may well be legally dead.
Another great performance at Tribal from someone with her back against the wall. Tina first intimates that she has the idol, which even she seems to know is a long shot, but in the same breath, she says that Monica is going to be the one going home if the alliance has to start eating their own. It's good to see that Tina still has some game left in her, as she pokes at Monica about whether she feels like she's seventh or not. If nothing else, upsetting the applecart at this stage is just good TV, and a paranoid Monica back at camp could make any number of strategic weirdnesses possible.
Alas, it turns out that nobody really bought that Tina had the idol, and she bears the full brunt of the votes and is sent off to Redemption to battle the brothers, where she will almost certainly lose. Farewell, Tina! I liked you best.
The double elimination keeps things moving at a breakneck pace, and suddenly, give or take a Katie (who can easily sell the "why waste a vote on me?" angle), the alliance is going to have to start eating its own right quick, and that's always a fun time.
What did you think?