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Survivor: One World, Episode 5 — Competing With ‘A Bunch of Idiots’

After the sensory treat that was last week’s Survivor: One World, it was no surprise that last night’s episode was sort of a letdown, more like one of those parties where the beer never gets quite cold enough in the fridge for the mountains to turn blue than an all-night extravaganza at Mick Jagger’s mansion. That’s okay; the game doesn’t snake through the flats of suburbia, but rather wanders down the cul-de-sacs and into the canyons of life on an island with people you don’t really like, chasing a million dollars and the chance to appear in all-stars follow-ups.

The women’s tribe is optimistic, having avoided tribal council last week because the men are led by hubris-infected, evil-mannered Colton, but that doesn’t last long: Before beginning the rewards challenge, the tribes are instructed to shed their buffs and grab paint-filled eggs to randomly determine new teams. Salani is now reinvented as a team consisting of Michael, Jay, Troyzan, Kat, Sabrina, Kim, and Chelsea — all of whom are able-bodied jocks — and Manono is left with the dregs: Christina, Alicia, Monica, Tarzan, Colton, Jonas, and Leif. Everybody who drew a red egg visibly wilts, because Tarzan is old and Colton is horrible and Alicia’s breasts are strangled every day by that awful bikini top that will worm its way into getting mentioned every time I am summoned to talk about this show. The reward this week is coffee and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and though I’m curious as to why the producers couldn’t spring for strawberry jam, that’s a pretty exciting reward, because peanut butter : Survivor contestants :: spinach : Popeye. The winners also get to occupy the former One World campsite.

The reward challenge is simple, because these contestants haven’t proven themselves to be too clever in multi-step obstacle courses: gather water in a leaky bucket and carry it to a vessel that, when full, would raise the winning team’s flag. It’s close, but Salani pulls ahead, maybe because Monica falls on her butt a couple of times while scrambling backward with Manono’s bucket. Colton makes some breathy and offensive remarks about how his tribe is a bunch of “peasants” or “village people,” while Salani is comprised of Greek gods. Colton still sucks, by the way, but he tells the camera during his allotted alone time that though he can be evil, he’s really great at manipulating and charming people, as if those were opposing characteristics and not the earmarks of a total sociopath.

After eating their reward sammies, Salani manages to find and kill a chicken (Troyzan catches it and then embarks on an ego-stroking stroll down the hallways of his football memories — I wasn’t really listening, however, because I was busy reading that his claim to fame is “adopting and raising my family of 12 marmoset monkeys”) and spear some hefty crabs. By contrast, the poor little hairy kids at Manono catch a chicken in a trap, chant embarrassingly and prematurely about how they’re going to eat, and then watch it escape into the foliage because their trap was all janky. Sad, sad. Kim also finds immunity at Salani and lets Chelsea in on it. Do you know how she found it? She prayed and spent a long time looking in trees. That’s how you find the idol.

Colton, miserable at being on the unpopular tribe with nominative-aphasic ol’ Tarzan and little person Leif (who already caught hell from ableist Colton last week), traps Alicia in his mind-bending python grip and convinces her to vote off either Christina or Monica. Though at least Jonas and Alicia are more skeptical of Colton’s motives now, he again mysteriously convinces his new tribe to do his bidding, leaving Christina and Monica out of the loop and suggesting to them that they have to cut Tarzan.

The immunity challenge is basketball meets water-wrestling, as the team members struggle for control over a ball to shoot through a hoop, winning the game with three points. Michael, the giant, kills it for Salani despite a good defensive effort from Leif and one point scored by Monica. This challenge was sort of a duh from the get-go, as Michael is around 11 feet tall and swatted away his challengers like no-see-ums. He almost seemed sorry to do it. Maybe I underestimated him.

Manono heads down to tribal council, where equal amounts of time are spent considering Monica’s role as a threat and Tarzan’s inability to remember names (with a cap tipped to his excellent vocabulary, which apparently infects other people with The Dumbs). Monica is ousted with all but two votes, shocked along with Christina that they’d been outwitted — all she wanted was for her husband to come cheer her on at Survivor stadium, she said as the credits rolled, and I did feel a little regret that she’d had to leave. She scored their only point — it doesn’t seem fair! Worst of all, she’d been outwitted by a group of people who consistently show themselves to be the least savvy (with the exception of Colton, but only maybe and only for now) group of players in recent Survivor memory. It wouldn’t feel great to be voted off on an episode entitled “A Bunch of Idiots.” Next week, the medic comes a-calling, which means that you should not eat your spaghetti dinner until after you watch Survivor because it usually means bones poking out of skin, flies hovering over infections, or someone’s eyes rolling back when they’re trying to stand on the head of a pin over the ocean for 16 hours. Consider yourself forewarned.

Also, last week Probst challenged viewers to spot a historic occurrence in this week’s episode. Obviously nothing historic happened, unless it was something of the super-boring Survivor megafan variety, like “a contestant caught a seven-ounce blue crab, breaking the six-point-two-ounce record from Tocanchins.” Jeff corrected his statement late last night, tweeting that this epic event will actually happen next time. I’m curious to see what the guesses are, because what’s often humbling about being a Survivor fan is realizing that there are people who live and die by this social game. I wonder if the historic event is in any way related to the stretcher (which I thought maybe carried unpopular Christina?) that was floated in the teaser? I hope not. It would be much better if somebody found a real, live dinosaur and battled it. That hasn’t happened yet, right? It’s time.