Oh, “Survivor.” Here we go again, beginning with the Fans’ Walk of Shame back from Tribal Council. After losing his main squeeze Mary last week, Mikey B the aspiring writer is pissed off. But not because he lost his primary ally! Oh, no! He’s pissed off because Joel decided to target Mary, when everyone knows that at this point in the competition you eliminate the weaker players. I wait for Mikey to explain what the loss of Mary’s cleavage has cost the Favorites team, but he never quite gets around to that.

Meanwhile Joel the firefighter, ever so graceful in victory, talks about how much he’d like to swing a baseball bat into Mikey’s face. Wow, Joel doesn’t even bother with the whole “he seemed like such a nice boy, who would have thought…” routine. Has anyone seen Mikey B. alive since this was filmed? Or is Joel waiting until after the reunion special?

After the whole Jonny Fairplay incident, the Hookup Kids decide to avoid any swing vote drama by courting Cirie immediately. Cirie, in turn, seems in no real hurry to make any sort of decision. I like her laid back approach to this game. It’s like she actually enjoys being on this gorgeous little island at the end of the world.

Bonding_2Hey, and then some tree mail magically happens! Because I am an old-timer, I remember the days when tree mail maybe meant a map to some more rice. Today, the tribes each get a copy of the Land’s End “Survivor” edition catalog, out of which they are to make three choices for reward, as well as some war paint. They have a jolly old time making each other up, while talking about going to war like it’s fun. Sometimes reality TV isn’t quite the escape you want it to be.

That terrifying quote from last week’s preview, about how Joel is going to kill anyone who tries to invade his home? Within the context of the episode it doesn’t get any better, because he prefaces this statement with “logically.” Great. Not only will he murder you, he’ll do it in cold blood.

The tribes meet up for this nice proper reward challenge, which is just tackle football with six balls. This is not quite the Super Bowl, though — mainly because there’s a lot of co-ed half-naked wrestling going on. Football2_2I mean, a LOT. Both tribes seem to consider this quite a fun sexy war. I’ve read about inter-tribal war in the Pacific islands, though, and in real life it’s much less sexy. And there are more machetes.

Through no obvious use of strategy or skill, the Favorites win (probably because Joel didn’t have any machetes), and Kathy gets sent again to Exile Island. Oh, Kathy. Don’t worry. The mean girls in high school didn’t like me, either. Ami from the Favorites also goes to Exile Island, very excited about getting away from all the making out.

Back at camp, Cirie jokes about how she wishes that the two alliances would court her favor a little harder, since she’s the swing vote and thus has the option of playing both sides against each other. Seems like this is the position Jonny Fairplay was in two weeks ago, just before both alliances agreed to shoot him in the head and dump the body in the woods. But Cirie is uninterested in history, no matter how recent, and begins talking to Amanda and Parvati about trust issues within their alliances, clearly fishing to see if any breakups are on the horizon.

WAIT. Is Jonathan wearing a fedora? The answer is yes, he is. He is wearing a battered grey I-am-hiding-my-bald-spot-with-my-fierce-fashion-sense fedora. Wow. That’s either ridiculous or fantastic. It might just be both. He wears this fedora while talking with Eliza about whether or not Cirie is going to turn on them. He stares at Cirie’s girl-bonding moment. I stare at the hat…

Anyway, Cirie, Amanda and Parvati agree to be gal pals all the way to the end, even if Ozzy knocks up Amanda. You think I’m kidding about that last bit, but no, Cirie is specific on that point. She refers to Ozzy and Amanda’s potential spawn as “Ozlets.” Cirie clearly adheres to the medieval belief that a child is the sole genetic product of its father.

It’s nice that Cirie now has some BFFs (is she the Charlotte or the Carrie in this group?), but I worry about her. I don’t want to imply anything about their virtue, but on the first night both Amanda and Parvati immediately put out — I mean, formed alliances. So they seem a little loose. With their alliances, that is.

Night 7: A monsoon comes, and without any shelter supplies the Fans have a rough night. The next morning, they are so cold that the girls are wearing clothes over their bikinis. Actually, they do seem very sad and miserable. Chet the gay guy gives out hugs. Joel goes and sits in the boat. Staring out at the ocean. Perhaps he yearns for home. Or perhaps he yearns for his trophy case of human ears.

The immunity challenge is a game of coconut basketball, at which the women and weaker men actually do a little better, because they almost immediately start throwing underhand. It seems vaguely neck-and-neck, but given how much time we’ve already spent watching the Favorites scheme and fret, it comes as very little surprise when the Fans win it.

Back at the Favorites camp, there’s a whole lot of talking, which boils down to Cirie being worried about Yau-Man finding an immunity idol on Exile Island, because he is apparently smart (he does wear glasses, after all). So she wants to vote him out before that can happen, and because she’s the swing vote for the Hookup Kids, she in theory gets to do whatever she wants. But Ozzie wants to vote out Eliza, because she is apparently bad at challenges (she is a woman, after all — jeez, it only took three weeks for this show to make me a misogynist).

Parvati: “I just don’t think it’s a good thing if we vote for different people. I think we all need to vote for the same person.” Parvati has a real grip on the concept of an alliance here. So does Eliza, when she observes that “they’re not going to go into Tribal Council split. That’s the stupidest thing ever.” But Jonathan, who’s been eavesdropping on all this drama, decides to bank on that stupidity and target his alliance at Parvati.

Tribal Council gets catty when Jonathan calls Cirie out for manipulating both alliances, and Cirie tells him that she doesn’t trust him “as far as I can pick you up and throw you.” You know, squabbling at Tribal Council seems like the most gauche thing ever. It’s like cursing in front of your grandmother. Your sexy, scruffy, khaki-wearing grandmother.

TorchAnyway, turns out Cirie was able to get her ducks in order. Yau-Man is voted out, reducing the Bitter Spinsters to three, and making Cirie Queen of the Hookup Kids. We’ll see how that goes for her down the line, but in the meantime — well-played, Cirie.  Well-played.

Next week on “Survivor”: They promise that Exile Island can’t be missed. I’ll believe that when I see it. So I guess I won’t miss it.  Damn it, “Survivor”!  You win this one.

— Liz Shannon Miller

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