“Survivor” Recap: Blindsides And Backsides


Survivor did something a little weird this week. It staged an immunity challenge around what amounted to a game of Toss Across. Is this my high school graduation backyard party? Is the grand prize a Hallmark card and a check from my aunt? It didn’t make for riveting competition, but it did reverse one seriously bleak trend in the game. So that’s nice. Like a Hallmark card!

Here are my noteworthiest takes on Wednesday’s warfare.

1. Vytas’ vytal signs are looking goooood


Thank you, Survivor, for livening up a humdrum episode with… an evocative mood sequence featuring Vytas in shirtless yoga stances for what seemed like months. It was like the gay Portland version of Robert De Niro’s long-ass hunting scene from The Deer Hunter. So pastoral and eerie and full of handstands and clenched biceps and half-naked bliss and mood. He even philosophized about Brad Culpepper. “Since we’ve voted out Brad, it’s been so peaceful. It was just a different energy around him,” he said (meaning a sh*tty energy), then continued: “I like hearing the nature. I like enjoying this lagoon. A lot of the noise Brad came with kind of polluted it.” If peace and quiet inspires Vytas to do 10-minute acts of softcore flexing, let’s make sure Brad Culpepper stays on Redemption Island until, say, forever.

2. You’re drunk, Redemption Island. Go home. 


Redemption Island somehow keeps getting worse. It’s a drag. That’s all it is! Godddd. Even when the right competitors are in the octagon, it’s still like watching sad adults spazz through Double Dare physical challenges. You don’t even care who gets slimed because they’re already losers! Slime is who they are. I assume the matchup we got this week was exactly the grudge match that producers wanted, a beleaguered power couple up against the villainous Brad Culpepper. It was still a drag and still a lame comeback derby for two guys who flat-out lost Survivor and don’t really deserve a return. We could be filling this crucial first act with more of Vytas’ bulging trapezius! Or just motherly insights from Tina, who I am in love with. Anything but watching poor Candice get sent home; the girl worked to stay in this game, and she didn’t put her wooden planks in the right picture order, so she apparently deserves to die. Candice, you’ve been a good player and darn photogenic. Bring that facial symmetry to the rest of the world now. Be free.

3. I see you, Caleb. 


Say, did you notice that Caleb, whose wholesomeness keeps revealing nerviness with each passing week, completely kicked ass during the immunity challenge? Well, he did. The challenge was simple: One Galang member and one Tadhana member raced down a big slide, then threw a horseshoe-sized ring onto a coatrack-shaped post. Teams scored a point whenever their designated team member beat a competitor to hooking a ring. Arguably the jankest challenge of all time? Sure. But who from the severely disabled Tadhana tribe hooked two rings? That’d be Caleb, who has surely thrown a few horseshoes down in southern Mississippi a time or two. That’s a man who’s had to entertain himself during barbecues, for sure. Partially because of his contributions, Tadhana won their first immunity challenge of the season, and that was more a relief than a delight. Like, “Oh, something cute finally happened for you on this insane, taxing journey! Good for you!” It’s like watching Jerry O’Connell at the end of Stand By Me find a penny on the sidewalk. Good! Something!

4. I also see you, Hayden. 


I’m raring for Hayden and Caleb to become an all-time power duo. Both are really likable, straightforward players. Hayden may have botched his first attempt at a ring toss triumph, but he came through in a follow-up clutch heat, beating Gervase to the punch and securing the win for Tadhana. Plus, it’s only right that the friendly gay cub team up with the puka-shelled Malibu stud. Where’s their Fox buddy cop series? Or their PBS detective show? I’m not seeing much in the way of kickass planning on Tadhana, and with self-appointed dictator Brad Culpepper out of the way, I’d be satisfied seeing Hayden and Caleb kill it together.

5. Aw. Poor Laura M. Or something.

You knew she was toast. Her little speech before her landslide blindside? “There’s only room for one Laura on this island!” Oh, dear. Indeed. It was actually grimmer when she told Jeff before the vote, “Laura (Boneham) hasn’t felt the sting of you putting her torch out and saying, ’The game is over.’ That’s still stinging in every single one of us. She hasn’t had that.” It was an attempt to organize her comrades into isolating Rupert’s wife, but no dice. She was creamed, and she looked like a petrified skull when realizing it. Now all she has to do is beat John and Brad Culpepper at annoying physical challenges to stay in the game. Should be both boring and depressing! Yeesh.

What’d you think of last night’s survival-ing? Can anything redeem Redemption Island? Maybe more of Aras and Vytas posing on attractive geographic features? Exactly.