Survivor: One World — ‘It’s Human Nature’ (and the End of the Line for an Old Friend)

Returning to camp after Kat’s elimination with a slightly higher average IQ, the survivors spend the requisite amount of time crowing about her departure, with overtones of regret: Wasn’t it rich when Kat snarked about blindsides, and other assorted night-vision mumbles that probably should have been subtitled? Tarzan, incredulous at the fact that he’s still around despite being (a) a man, and (b) a sort of offensive creature in general, opines to the camera that the women have made an error by keeping him, and now he might be able to slither his way into the final three. Maybe he’s got something there! Maybe he should keep doing grody things like wearing dirty underpants on his head and someone else’s befouled pink tank top and defending that action with some blathering about microbes! Why doesn’t he call someone a bitch for good measure, just to be extra charming and make sure he sails on through to the end? But more on that later.

He takes aside Kim — who is probably one of the best all-around players in Survivor history — and tells her that she’d be wise to take him, Christina, and Alicia to the end with her. She considers this — unpopular Christina, who blabs, and Alicia, whose tortured bikini has been mysteriously replaced by a more conservative top, but whose bottoms necessitate a permanent blur over her exposed hoo-ha — and concludes they probably won’t net too many jury votes. (Plus, argues Tarzan, Alicia likes Kim and would likely go along with this plan.) Tarzan, who stews his poop pants with everybody else’s relatively pristine garments, isn’t too much of a threat, either, even though he might get some votes from the largely male jury. He’s not going to be crowned Mr. Popularity. Nobody with poop pants ever is.

Tarzan goes on to curry favor with Alicia, promising to talk her up to the jury so she might have a shot against Kim. He also tells the camera that he’d just like to make it to the final three, because he really does need new shocks on his Jeep. He’s conquered so many hurdles in this game: reuniting with his wife, becoming gaunt and swimming in skin around his midsection, and being able to stick around long enough to alienate a huge portion of the Survivor viewership by talkin’ crazy for 33 days. Chelsea, on the other hand, senses the game afoot and knows she’s no longer as secure in her alliance with Kim as she once was. She’s threatened by Alicia, and talks to Christina about switching over to the popular blonde side and says she’ll bring her along on the reward if she wins; of course, this doesn’t work, and Christina — in true Christina fashion — goes running her mouth to Alicia, Tarzan, and Kim about their conversation, which of course makes its way back to Chelsea. Kim again realizes that she’s at the point in the game where she’s going to need to do some damage control: She’s playing both sides, and might have to vote against Chelsea to keep herself around.

This reward challenge is the holy grail: the yacht sleepover. Not only does this reward involve a shower, a bed, and food, glorious food, but in keeping with the high school gender politics of this season, it has the allure of being, well, a sleepover during which everybody can gab about who they dislike the most while chasing champagne with beer. The players are to make themselves dizzy spinning three discs off of a pole, then use those discs to create a decoder wheel to reveal numbers that, when entered correctly, will release a flag. It’s anyone’s game for a while: this being a fairly non-physical challenge, it even seems for a moment as though Tarzan’s got a shot, but Chelsea nails it and then is asked to choose two people to join her at the slumber party at sea. Chelsea, citing the fairness with which she’s played the whole game (you know, just to get that on record for the jury), picks reward-and-food-starved Sabrina, and then Kim. Christina doesn’t pitch a fit, but just stares off into the distance sadly, still unenlightened as to why nobody ever invites her to the fun parties. Sometimes I feel as though Christina has been unfairly maligned, but she’s been so noncommittal this entire game, so unwilling to form an alliance with anyone and so eager to gab transparently about everyone else’s plans, that I think Chelsea made a solid decision in bypassing her on this one. Of course, once the yacht has sailed and the losers are back at camp, nobody agrees with me.

Alicia takes over the conversation, drilling the unfairness of Chelsea’s reversal into Tarzan and Christina like a loud, pantsless sledgehammer. Chelsea must go! Kim must be recruited to send her packing! Tarzan speaks to Kim’s alliance with Chelsea and says that he’d like to be in the final three with Alicia and Christina. Of course you would, Tarzan, they’re the only people still around who have uncharmed people throughout this month of sandy gender warfare. On the yacht, needless to say, it’s a grand old time: frosty glasses accented with lime wedges, a celebration of sisterhood, and a mattress. Perhaps it’s this evening of relaxation that sharpens Kim’s already razor-like charisma (mentions of her angelic/heavenly/brain-warping blue eyes this episode: 6,000). Upon her return, she takes a seat on the beach next to Alicia and plants the seed that Tarzan is playing them all. The prospect of being Tarzaned is, obviously, horrible, and the women chortle and smack the sand at just! How! Nuts that guy is! How devious! Can you believe it!

Christina ambles over and becomes infected with Kim’s hypnotic, mind-erasing messages regarding Tarzan’s duplicity, and the three laugh as if they’re all totally on the same page while all of their eyeballs become spinning wheels of swirly designs. Kim is really good at playing Survivor. It absolutely never occurs to Alicia or Christina that they are mere pawns, and you get the sense that, even if they did realize they were being played by Kim, they somehow wouldn’t mind too much. I guess people really do “sometimes underestimate [her] sneakiness.” Next time she tries to sell you a $150,000 Vera Wang creation at her bridal shop, put on your anti-mind-control contacts and go outside for a breather before you hand over your credit card.

The immunity challenge is, again, not the most physically challenging (are these being weighted to give Tarzan a shot? Seriously): With one hand tied behind their backs, the castaways use fishhooks to gather puzzle pieces and then assemble a wooden fish skeleton puzzle. Kim gains an initial lead, as usual, but everyone except Chelsea manages to stay in the game until Alicia and Kim are neck and neck building the fake fish spines. Alicia wins for once, which gets me worrying that Chelsea might get sent packing (and an earlier conversation between Chelsea and Kim has indicated that she’s not going to get the chance to borrow Kim’s idol). It’s either her or Tarzan. Will Tarzan manage to finesse his way out of being the next dude sent packing?

No, because when they return to camp, Tarzan interrupts the friendly idle chatter by joking — in a voice so unlike the one people use when they’re joking that it kind of sounds like a ninth grader’s disembodied angry dad picking up the phone to growl GET OFF THE PHONE AND START STUDYING FOR YOUR MIDTERM, JESSICA — “You bitch. How dare you beat me” to Alicia. Dead silence. The island gods who punished Colton and Kat for their hubris make the birds and other island animals crawl into holes in the sand and a distant volcano erupts and eradicates an entire village. You know what’s dumb? Being the last guy on an island of women and calling one of them a bitch. This makes Kim’s job of convincing everybody that Tarzan should get to packing even easier, while confiding only to Chelsea how she’s manipulating the others to get them to keep Chelsea around. Tarzan also uses this pre-tribal opportunity to don an old pink tank top (with blood stains?) for no good reason, and then to strap Kat’s old, green, forgotten underpants onto his head. Dude, you’re going to have to shell out your own dough for those shocks.

At tribal, the increasingly cranky but magazine-shoot-ready jury appears, and Kat is wearing a flattering asymmetrical bob and the face of a person who really just wants to get back to the mainland mall and forget this entire experience. Jeff asks Tarzan how he’s managed to cling to his spot as long as he has, and Tarzan stupidly/honestly admits that it’s because he’s aided the women in picking off the rest of the men one by one. Good-bye, jury votes for Tarzan. You’d think this guy would be better at outwitting, but he’s just too damn honest and bizarre. In fact, you have to credit him for that. Like Abe Lincoln, he cannot tell a lie. Unlike Abe Lincoln, he should. Sabrina argues that Tarzan might still be able to get more jury votes because he’s a man, but she’s just being generous. I really like her, even though she sucks at challenges. I’m glad she got some yacht time and I’d like to see her magically harness some athletic prowess and end up in the final three (also because her bikinis offend me a lot less than Alicia’s do). Chelsea’s decision to go with friends over strategy for the reward challenge is brought up as being similar to Kat’s fatal error, which inspires Kat to mumble “bitches” (she’s a jury mumbler — I thought this was verboten, but I’ll admit that I can’t wait to see what kind of nutballs ire Kat unleashes upon the final contenders when the jury gets to attack the finalists ruthlessly in the last five minutes of this season). When Tarzan’s panty-hat caper is discussed, Kat dissolves into tears: interesting! It is actually very creepy to think of a plastic surgeon wearing your underwear as a hat, like the final insult in what has proven to be a very insulting game show experience for this young lady.

Not very surprisingly, Tarzan is sent packing, and delivers his exit speech in rhyme, capping the whole thing off with a yell/yodel hat tip to his namesake. Cool beans. Touché. Way more graceful than Kat’s meltdown last week over the end credits, and a semi-redeeming moment for the enigma that is Tarzan.

Next week! Brace yourselves, because next week actually happens this Sunday, on a zillion-hour all-female finale that will force you to decide what’s more important: your mother or television. I think Kim’s only real competition is Chelsea, who’s played a good game and might be able to rewrite her position as sidekick into a sort of quiet storm of a mastermind. That could be interesting — will Chelsea and Kim’s BFFship dissolve if they’re pitted against each other? Think about that while you buy your mom Fifty Shades of Grey (for real, SNL, interesting and disgusting call!) and hand it to her on Sunday morning so she’ll be too busy to notice when you disappear for three hours on Mother’s Day eve to find out. I’m joking. That would be gross. Unless you guys have that kind of relationship. Some people do.

Filed Under: CBS, Jeff Probst, Reality TV, Recaps, Survivor: One World