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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A terribly entertaining Tribal Council performance saves a fairly boring episode of Survivor

Illustration for article titled A terribly entertaining Tribal Council performance saves a fairly boring episode of Survivor

Brawn is a terrible tribe. They’re not fun, they’re not interesting, and they’re not particularly good at anything—most glaringly, they’re not even good at the challenges, which is the one thing they should be good at doing. Luckily for us, their ineptitude extends to strategy and Tribal Council maneuvering, and that ineptitude makes for one hilarious elimination. The Survivor producers didn’t even have to work to make it hilarious, as Brawn took care of that all on their own.

The problem with Brawn being terrible is that we are forced to watch them be terrible throughout the entire episode before getting any sort of satisfaction from their epic implosion at the end. They mostly spend their time loafing around and making fun of Alecia, who is desperately trying to prove her worth to the tribe by attempting to make fire for five hours before finally being successful. What did Scot and Jason do while Alecia did this, you ask? They laid in the shelter and said mean things about her. Alecia might not be a perfect tribemate, but she’s a lot more pleasant than watching those two be so smugly sure about their place in the game and her inevitable elimination if they happen to lose the Immunity Challenge.

They do lose the challenge—not because of Alecia, but because Scot falls behind in hitting the targets at the end—and look to be headed for a predictable Alecia boot; that is, until Jenny starts thinking it might be better to flip the game and get rid of Jason instead. Although Alecia and Cydney seem to be on board, going into Tribal it’s Jenny herself who starts to waiver, leaving a lot of doubt about who will actually get voted out. Instead of it being a fight between Alecia and Jason, however, it ends up being a fight between Jenny and herself, as she proceeds to out her own plan to potentially flip her vote and completely ruin her own game in the process. It’s one of the more terrible moves ever in the history of Tribal Council, and considering how awful Brawn has been throughout it’s pretty funny to watch them completely fall apart at the end and vote out a strong tribemate in Jenny, keeping around the one person they professed to hate the whole time simply because Jenny accidentally made herself a bigger target. (To Scot’s credit, he voted to keep Jenny—it was Jason and Cydney who flipped.) Brawn is still an awful, awful tribe, but at least that Tribal Council was awfully entertaining.

The rest of the episode is a fairly standard Survivor second episode outing, which is always the show still in the mode of setting up the characters and dynamics at each tribe. The biggest surprise of the episode is the unexpected Odd Couple friendship between Tai and Caleb, which is not something I would have predicted considering Caleb’s history on Big Brother. Their cute fascination with each other combined with Tai’s ability to disarm basically anyone (here by almost kissing Caleb right on the mouth) makes for a fun segment, and has the potential to be a fun runner in future episodes if their bond deepens. That is has the uncomfortable result of making me actually like Caleb a little bit (after really, really not liking him on Big Brother), well, I’ll do some soul-searching about that later.

That just leaves the Brains tribe, who seem like the biggest question mark of a tribe at this point. It’s clear that there is a division between the older tribe members like Debbie and Joe and the younger ones, but aside from Peter—who has basically become the tribe narrator—it’s hard to get a sense yet what’s actually going on. The main theme of the tribe appears to be that Debbie is very annoying, but Peter admits that her annoying nature makes her exactly the kind of person you want to keep around as a shield. The one promising thing about the Brains is that they are extremely competent in challenges; in fact, these three tribes feel fairly balanced when it comes the challenges all around.

Given that Brawn has been such a disaster so far a tribal shuffle might be imminent, but considering how not fun they are to watch, it might be very satisfying for them to keep the three tribes and just watch Brawn implode completely. Burn, Brawn, burn!


Stray observations

  • Tai finds an idol clue, which leads him to look to the top of a palm tree and see what he thinks is the idol secured firmly near the top. That is crazy high, and the fact that he rubs most of the skin off his feet trying to get to it makes me think that can’t possibly actually be the idol. Can it? Did the producers want to kill people in the process of idol retrieval?
  • Seriously, Alecia worked to make fire for FIVE HOURS. That demands some sort of respect. Or at least a #nevergiveup hashtag.
  • The Immunity Challenge was a good one, combining a new way to do an obstacle course with the gorgeous and different scenery of starting in what looks like a river and moving to the open water.
  • Seeing the ear bug in the previously segment made me pretty sure there was going to be more ear bug drama this week. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
  • “He tried to kiss me!” “Next time, just ask.” Stop making me like you, Caleb.
  • “If I broke your trust, that’s my bad.” Not great, Jenny.