Ladies and gentlemen, you can officially shut down reality programming in perpetuity: We may have unearthed the most hateful woman ever to get airtime on national TV. This week the skeletal Courtney–who on the first episode announced that she, "from New York," felt insulted at having to hang out with a bunch of hicks–confessed that halfway through the game, her mind hadn't changed much. Even the people she's supposed to be getting along with, she's barely tolerating. Right before the opening credits, Courtney took advantage of a rare nighttime confessional to look into the camera and say, "I dislike everyone else more than I dislike Todd and Amanda, and I think they mistake that for friendship." Then she flashed an evil smirk.
The damnable thing about all this is that at tribal council later, Jean-Robert displayed a flash of insight about the politics of the game when he said that post-merge–and the tribes did merge this week, by the way–Courtney is in a position of strength, because nobody perceives her as a threat, so no one will be inclined to vote her off. She's weak and unlikable, which makes her a good person to bring along to the final jury phase. No one is ever going to vote for her to win a million dollars.
One of the frustrations of watching Survivor is seeing how some contestants get so caught up in strategizing that they can't see the human cost of their decisions, while others get so caught up in themselves that they can't see this is a game, and that they have to make friends in order to win. (Case in point: Last season, when Dreamz refused to give his immunity idol to Yau-Man despite promising that he would, and thus made sure that not only would he look like an asshole to millions of viewers, but that he wouldn't win the big money either.) Given how annoying Courtney is–and after she broke ranks with her alliance last week, how unreliable–there's no reason why puppetmaster Todd couldn't have decided to redraw the alliance, right after the merge. Or at least threaten to. When Courtney was whining about how she doesn't feel close to anybody, Todd should've said back, "Then give us one reason to keep you in our alliance, when you so obviously can't stand us."
Thank goodness for James, telling it like it is. "That skinny bitch is so flaky," he said after he heard about her alliance-defiance at the last council. James has also had it with Jean-Robert's mouth, which he can tell is costing the card sharp dearly in this game. "You're supposed to win a million," James sighed into the camera, stating an obvious truth that others can't seem to grasp. But he cackled with glee over one development this week: Jamie's mistaken belief that an engraved board laying on the ground at camp might be the immunity idol, when it fact James already has the real idol. He said that if Jamie tried to play the non-idol at tribal, "I would pass out in pure joy." Hold that thought, James.
Challenge-wise, this was a weak week, as the survivors took a short quiz on stuff that happened at their big merge banquet. (And by the way, isn't this the best-fed batch of contestants this show has ever had?) These kind of challenges aren't much fun to watch, because we can't really play along, and the winner seems kind of arbitrary. The real drama started afterward, as the core alliance made the decision to vote Jamie off, despite Jean-Robert advocating loudly–too loudly–for Peih-Gee. As for the remaining Zhan-Hu alliance, they pushed for Jean-Robert, hoping that (1.) Their old mate Frosti would stick with them. (2.) James would switch to their side after having spent a few days at their camp, and (3.) Courtney's hatred of Jean-Robert would cause her to break ranks for the second tribal council in a row.
So there should've been a modicum of uncertainly leading up to tribal, but Jean-Robert defused it some by making the kind of threat I'd like to see more of: He told Todd that he expects to be puppetmastered into the Final 3, and that if he isn't–if Todd screws him over–he'll hold his little Mormon buddy responsible, and lobby hard against him as a juror. It's too bad that Jean-Robert is so hard to get along with, because he's got a hell of a knack for gamesmanship.
Todd apparently took JR seriously and did some politicking behind the scenes, because the only votes the hated poker star got were from the decimated ZH3: Peih-Gee, Jamie, and Erik. (Even Frosti didn't vote for JR.) And when Jamie–who looks a little like Courtney x 2, which still makes her a little undernourished–offered her "immunity idol" to Jeff, he explained that it's a worthless board, tossed it on the fire, and showed her properly proportioned ass the door.
Looks like Erik will remain a virgin for a little longer.
-The merged tribemates got way too excited about new buffs. "They smell so good," one cooed. It's just a freshly laundered bandana, folks. It ain't clean underwear.
-On her way out the door, Jamie complained that James "isn't trustworthy," which is the kind of Survivor rhetoric that always confuses me. At this point in the game, everyone starts making a big deal about "trust," as though when they ask people point-blank if they're going to vote against them, those people are supposed to be honest. As though they'd be honest if they were asked the same question. And wasn't Jamie the one who threw a challenge two episodes ago? "Not as dumb as I look," indeed.
-Not so much an observation but a warning: While Survivor may still be a Top 15 show in the real world, here at The TV Club, it's among our least-read weekly features. When we do a reshuffle in a week or two, this blog might get voted off the island. So let's enjoy our time together while it lasts.