I tried forever to come up with a good testy/testes joke to lead off this week's blog, but nothing quite worked. (Closest: "You could wrap each of these Survivor contestants in tiny individual scrota, because they're all a little testy.") Anyway, you get the point. The snappishness of episodes one through three spilled over into outright hostility in episode four, as Courtney wildly overreacted to Jean-Robert's warning that a pot might be hot–"I don't like it when you yell at me," she barked–and Sherea flipped her shit over Dave's constant yapping and micro-management.
Naturally, the reward challenge this episode has the tribemates having to work together, in pairs, to move fireballs with giant chopsticks–one chopstick per person. (Because they're in China, you see.) Most of the contestants figure out pretty quickly how to make this work, by sort of digging up in unison and moving the ball forward a few feet before trying again. Dave, always certain he knows a better way, tries instead to lift and stabilize the fireball before stepping forward, which means he and his partner repeatedly drop the ball with no advancement. So Zhan Hu loses the reward.
Then, for some reason, Fei Long brings Dave over to stay for a day as part of the "kidnapping" part of the reward, and Dave changes from a control freak to a garden-variety freak, hugging everybody at the slightest provocation. (Courtney: "I'm from New York." Dave: "Oh, you make me miss New York soooo muuuuch!" [Hugs Courtney uncomfortably.]) Only James isn't having it. When Dave leans in, James trains his steely gravedigger's gaze on Dave and growls, "I told you about the hugging."
Meanwhile, back at Zhan Hu's camp, they're quickly finding that without Dave around, they have no sense of direction. But not wanting to be beholden to the organizing efforts of a guy they can't abide, they pull themselves together to fetch water and start a fire. All except for Sherea, who can't believe that with the cat away, the mice are still working. Sherea just lays back and watches them, as if daring them to ask her to help. Because she's got her excuse at the ready. (All together class she's "conserving her energy for the challenges" that's right.)
The immunity challenge–a flinging bolos at Ming vases kind of thing–comes and goes without much drama, even though the score is close, everyone gets to wear cool armor, and the producers keep inserting this weird slow-motion bolo effect before a team scores. (It's kind of like when you go in for a dunk on a video basketball game, and the screen switches to a close-up of your guy jamming it home.) Anyway, Fei Long wins again, and though Dave makes a last ditch plea for himself, insisting that he'll change his personality and still help out, his tribemates unanimously send him packing.
But don't get too smug about it, Sherea. You're on the list, baby. You and your dingy brassiere on the list.
-As the obnoxious contestants who've hogged all the screen time start to fall away, I'm getting to those moments that happen every season where somebody I didn't even know was in the game becomes a major player. Eric the musician? Where the hell did he come from?
-I have noticed Denise the lesbian lunchlady in the background before, but it was nice to hear from her this week, running down her own profession. "We take the chicken nuggets out of the freezer and heat 'em up," she chuckles. "That's not good." I knew there was a reason why my kids bring lunchboxes to school.
-Fun contestant fact: Todd the tiny gay Mormon flight attendant started watching Survivor when he was 16 years old!
-As the tribes' clothing dwindles, the nudity-obscuring blurs get more frequent and bizarre. I'm pretty sure we got a blurry oval this week at the waistline of Jean-Robert's pants, either covering up his pubic hair, or perhaps the tip of a remarkably prodigious erection.
-How awesome was the reward challenge, which had Chinese fishermen teaching Fei Long–including a Mandarin-speaking Jean-Robert–how to catch fish with trained birds? It was like something out of a fairy story! If they'd paddled their boat into the sky to harvest sugar from the clouds, I would not have blinked an eye.
-In addition to the slow-motion bolo tosses, we got some nice wildlife inserts this week: Snakes in the grass, praying mantises munching on bugs the producers don't miss a symbolic trick, do they? But where was the shot of the sloth sleeping in the tree to intercut with Sherea?