Survivor: "High School Friend Contest" (plus bonus Amazing Race notes)
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Survivor: "High School Friend Contest" (plus bonus Amazing Race notes)

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Survivor

"High School Friend Contest" (plus bonus <I>Amazing Race</I> notes)

Season 15, Episode 8


Welcome to The Blog That Lived. As part of the TV Club mid-season reshuffle, I'm dropping two of the three reality shows I formerly covered, which leaves, appropriately enough, Survivor. I'm sticking with Survivor because this season has been unusually strong, and for another reason too. Since there's a lot of overlap between Survivor-watchers and Amazing Race-watchers, I'm going to throw in a few AR stray observations at the end of each week's Survivor entry, and open the comment section for anyone who wants to talk Amazing Race. You'll have to wait four days to chat, but then AR fans are a hearty breed with good memories, right?

But first, let's Survivor it up. Tonight we said goodbye to self-proclaimed "bad boy" poker-player Jean-Robert, who came into the game with the bizarre strategy of "acting" like a lazy jerk, and then winning over his tribemates with the amazing improvement he was planning to show. But the first impression stuck in this case, and JR never really won anyone's heart or mind. He was the only member of his alliance not to know about James' two immunity idols, and despite witnessing Jamie's fake-immunity-idol embarrassment last week, he someone thought he'd found an idol of his own–one that looked just like Jamie's. (Or maybe he was planning to fool his tribemates into thinking he had one. Either way, not the brightest idea in Survivor history.)

Once again this week, the episode's real drama happened after the challenges were complete. The throw-buckets-of-water-into-a-rickety-boat reward challenge was noteworthy mainly for the yellow team's disastrous decision to pick Courtney instead of Denise, using the logic that because Courtney's lighter, she'd be less likely to sink. Instead, the weak-armed New Yorker was a sitting duck in her little rowboat, unable to paddle away from the deluge; and she was useless when she had to play drencher, too

On the other hand, Courtney blew through the immunity challenge, which required her to sit motionless on a barrel. Unless a stiff wind came along, she was never in any danger. (Plus, she's a New Yorker. Surely she's taken a yoga class or two.)

With Courtney officially out of harm's way–she was already safe unofficially–the various alliances were free to scheme and connive. Specifically, Todd floated the idea of "blindsiding" James. And let me tell you folks, that would've suuuucked. There've been few Survivor players as entertaining as James. The shy gravedigger we met back in episode one is long gone, replaced by a pragmatic, super-strong smart-ass who can't believe how idiotic everyone is. ("They're not trying to win a million, they're trying to win a high school friend contest," he sighed this week.) I fear that James will be out of this contest soon, so we'd better savor every snarky comment while we can.

For example, here are three choice ones from tonight, all directed at Jean-Robert, pre-ousting:

On the possibility that there will be won tons at this week's Chinese feast: "This place has been here for a 1000 years, I think they may have made a won ton or two."

On Jean-Robert's brazen behavior after surviving last week's tribal council: "You're really getting some nuts over there, huh?"

On Jean-Robert's attempts to play mind games with him regarding the immunity idols: "C'mon dude, you're Jean-Robert."

Grade: B

Stray observations:

-Another big meal this week! At this point I'm surprised Jeff's not handing out spareribs and fortune cookies at tribal council.

-As much as I like James, he really should've given one of his two idols back to Todd, who told them where the idols were in the first place. If he'd played that part of the game square, he might not be in trouble now.

-The only person not in on the core alliance's voting strategy tonight was Denise. Somehow I doubt she's going to feel too good about being left out of the loop, especially when she's already considering the proposal to switch alliances. If she joins with the Frosti/Erik/Peih-Gee crew, then we've got four-against-four next week. A major screw-up by the usually wily Todd, perhaps.

Bonus Amazing Race observations:

*This won't be a full review every week, just a few notes on standout teams and moments. It's still too early to get much of a read on who's who and what's what, but I can say I didn't shed a tear when the wicked "best friends" got saddled with a stubborn donkey and finished last. The Amazing Race may be a show that rewards guile over good sportsmanship, but episode one is a little too early to be stealing cabs and cackling with glee about it.

*I already hate this season's "blondies," who have nowhere near the resolve or high-spiritedness of the last two seasons' beauty queens. But then I hated the beauty queens the first season they appeared, and didn't start cheering them until they returned for the All-Star round. Maybe these two bimbos–with their shrewd all-flirt-all-the-time strategy–will grow on me too.

*Is it me, or are those "dating Goths" total fakes? (And I don't just mean their names…"Kynt" and "Vyxsin" indeed!) I don't buy that they're dating–they both have kind of a gay gym rat vibe–and I don't buy that they're "Goths." Maybe it's because I don't think anyone has ever self-identified as "Goth" even when "Goth" was trendy, or maybe it's because real "Goths" wouldn't feel the need to say "Goth"-y things every five minutes. I think these two are just friends who found a hook to get them on the show. I'll keep an eye out for more clues next week.

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