The most amazing thing about this season of Survivor is how whenever a big personality leaves the game, someone else steps up the craziness and immediately fills the void. It’s almost as if they’re biding their time, lying in wait like an understudy dreaming of the day the leading lady gets laryngitis, until there’s enough space in the game for their true crazy colors to finally shine. After Troyzan’s ouster, the game threatened to devolve into boring madness as mastermind Kim picked off targets one-by-one. Kim is still fully in charge, but the bizarre display of immaturity by and subsequent blindside of Kat makes it clear there’s enough wiggle room in the ranks to make Kim’s inevitable march to the end at least an interesting journey.
But seriously: What is wrong with Kat? Is it that she’s 22 and has a hard time seeing beyond her own nose? Is it that she’s just naturally immature and selfish? Is she not that bright? Does being exceptionally close to your cousin warp your personality somehow? Or perhaps all of the above? Throughout the game, Kat has obviously been a well-liked person around camp. She honestly seems like a lot of fun. But somewhere, between the combination of food deprivation, seeing her loved one, and constantly losing to Kim, Kat seems to have lost her mind a little bit.
It started with the obligatory sponsored family visit, Survivor’s semiannual ritual of exploiting player and viewer emotions in order to shill the latest in cell phone technology. For something so grossly transparent, they do manage to wring a little bit of pathos out of Christina’s story about her father and his ailing health and Tarzan’s 30-year love story with wife Terri. The best part about these episodes is never the visits themselves, though, but how they affect the game. Kat’s victory (with cousin/best friend Robbie) is basically the beginning of the end for her, especially when she turns out to be completely oblivious to the feeling among the rest of the tribe that Christina and Tarzan should be gifted with extra time with their loved ones, and chooses buddies Kim and Alicia instead.
On the reward challenge, Kat seems to sew up a final three deal with Kim and Alicia, but the anti-Kat sentiment back at camp bit back. So while the three reward recipients took pictures of themselves with what I am sure is a supremely excellent smartphone camera and planned Sabrina’s demise, the four people back at camp were busy working on an entirely different plan. The interesting part is how, even with the sentiment against Kat growing at camp, things still didn’t seem too against her once she returned. Despite her immaturity, Kat is fun and—most importantly—kind of dim. If faced with a battle of wits between Kat and Sabrina at the end, Kim is going to choose Kat and laugh all the way to a million dollars. That’s why when she returns and Chelsea reveals the camp’s predisposition to get rid of Kat, Kim immediately talks Chelsea down.
What ends up really working against Kat in the end turns out to be not her brains (or lack thereof) but her relative brawn. The immunity challenge—which is a cross between the typical Survivor “stand and hold your body in an uncomfortable manner as long as you can” and The Machine from The Princess Bride, with Probst as a more genial Prince Humperdinck—turns out to be too much to handle for previously on-the-chopping-block Sabrina, while Kat shows significant strength. Not only does Kat show an ability to win challenges, but she displays a competitive attitude most of us left behind in the second grade (basically doing her own version of “NO FAIR, IT’S MY TURN!” to winner Kim), throwing a pity party for one and just generally being kind of terrible. This raises Alicia’s suspicions: Not only is this a player who can win immunity, but she’s someone who desperately wants to win. And someone who desperately wants to win is definitely a threat to Alicia, who in the last few weeks is turning out to be a much savvier player than she appeared to be when she was simply Colton’s sycophant.
Somewhere along the line, Alicia’s concern over Kat takes over Kim’s desire to have a less intelligent person sitting next to her in the final three, and Kat is blindsided out of the game. Before she goes, though, Kat sticks her foot in her mouth at Tribal once again, completely not digesting everyone’s obvious displeasure over her decision to take Kim and Alicia on the reward and gleefully professing her love for what she believes to be Sabrina’s imminent blindside. It’s a classic Survivor moment of karma, and although Kat doesn’t appear to be a bad person in any way, based on this episode, a bit of karma might do her some good. Or, at least, fuel her desire to come back for All-Stars and repeat her mistakes all over again. Until then, young Kat.
- Thanks to Scott for filling in last week and kicking ass as per usual.
- I continue to be impressed with Kim’s game. This week, her flexibility in keeping her tribe happy and voting Kat out instead of her preferred Sabrina showed some serious focus and decision making from her. Even if she doesn’t win, I hope she gets a shot to plead her case to the jury in the final three.
- Those were some very bitter jury faces on the men this week. I have a feeling the jury questioning is going to be extra brutal this season.
- Tarzan, on wife Terri: “We have a quantum entanglement.”
- Kat, pre-snuffing: “So, is this whole Tribal council about me?”
- A teary post-snuffing Kat: “I’m going to beg Jeff to let me play again so I can redeem myself."