First off, a little leftover Big Brother business. Two days ago, Adam Jasinski, the winner of Big Brother 9, was arrested while in possession of some 2000 Oxycodone pills, with intent to distribute. It seems that Adam invested his $500,000 prize in pharmaceuticals. How enterprising of him.
Adam gave me the cold creeps from day one. While in the Big Brother house, the bug-eyed, charmless creature managed to get himself fired from his job working with autistic children, by calling them "retards" on national TV. Classy. When the other houseguests objected that this was offensive (and to offend Big Brother houseguests, you have to be really revolting!), he gave the defense that, since he worked with them, he was allowed. Turned out he wasn't. And it also turns out he's not allowed to illegally buy and sell Oxycodone either. If he found being locked up in the Big Brother house for three months challenging, wait until he spends 20 years in the Big House. My condolences to his future cellmates, because he is one creepy slab of repulsive flesh. Next to Adam, Richard Hatch is a model citizen. Bye bye, Adam. You'll soon be someone else's "Eve."
Now to business. Why do they call the tropics "Paradise"? As this episode began, the Samoan Survivors were wet and freezing from five consecutive days of torrential rains. Paradise is a warm room, a comfy bed, a bottle of vodka, and a naked Hugh Jackman.
Psycho Russell wants to be someplace miserable, which may explain why he lives in Texas. He wants to be someplace so awful, he wouldn't take his family there. I'm sure his family can find misery at home, when Russell returns. He's missed the fact that anyplace he is will be miserable.
My gorgeous future ex-husband Jaison was frozen and shivering, which means he was hot and cold at the same time. And with their amazing losing streak, Tribe Zsa Zsa is losing members faster than the Republican Party.
Some people get hair plugs transplanted. Rapidly balding, dread-locked Black Russell looks like he's gotten rope transplants. However Black Russell has bigger problems than his hair. Tribe Galu has also been pounded by five days of torrential downpours, and they are all aware that they are soaked through and frozen because of Russell's bone-headed decision to get soft pillows instead of a rainproof canvas tarp. There are now basically seven people vying to be the Galu Fletcher Christian.
Rocket Scientist John on Black Russell's record as Tribe Leader: "One person is elected to make decisions for the group. Sometimes it puts you in a worse position than you would have been if you were making those decisions for yourself." He just described the United States of America from 2001 to 2008. (When Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, he failed to mention that the giant infant would be running America.)
Someone called Brett (Who?) was impressed that Black Russell was out in the rain, keeping the fire going, while we the rest of them huddled under a tree, trying to escape the downpour, yet he also felt this was unnecessary, and "went a bit too far." His logic, if he had any, utterly eluded me. On the other hand, wandering around, working mostly naked is freezing cold rain is not the way to keep one's health up.
At Zsa Zsa, MickMoron is huddled in the hollow of the big tree, listening to the thunder. Apparently, no one ever told him not to hide under a tree in a lightning storm, He said: "I can't wear my clothes because they're all soaking wet." So there is an up side to the storm.
Psycho Russell thinks everyone else is a baby for wanting to stay dry while he wanders about in the storm with the joy in being wet that you see in a three year old playing with a garden hose. "Where are they all from?" he asked, "New York City?" Is this a salsa sauce commercial? Yes, Russell, because New York City is the only place on earth where people have the sense to come in out of the rain, something Russell apparently lacks. Them and their citified sissy ways of trying to avoid getting soaked 24 hours a day. I'm assuming Russell lives in an open field, like a man. Buildings are for wimps.
Said Psycho Russell about showing effort in challenges: "If you don't throw up out there every frikkin' challenge, you didn't do your job, that's how I think of it." I have yet to see Russell throw up in a challenge, much as I'd like to. Heaven knows, he makes me heave. Interesting job description though, "Must throw up. Strong stomachs need not apply."
Finally on the sixth day, the rain stopped, and gorgeous rainbows were seen. Emerging from the hollow tree where he'd been living, Galu's Erik told us: "I was like, okay, I give in. We give in. We understand your greatness. We understand your power. And if you are kind to us, I promise we will speak of your mercy. And less than twelve hours later, I wake up in my hole, and not only is it blue skies, but the most beautiful rainbow you've ever seen. It's almost as if Samoa said, 'That's all I wanted to hear. Just know, I'm the man. You're not. Now that we've got that clear, enjoy yourself for the next twenty-four days'."
Actually, it's almost as though the storm ended from natural atmospheric conditions. Samoa's water torture has caused Erik to lose his mind, and turn into a superstitious primitive. If it had rained for another day, he might have started sacrificing virgins, if they have any. For the record, Erik, you are "the man." Samoa is a chain of islands. It's not sentient. The weather responds to climatological conditions, not to your conversations with yourself. Erik is turning into John Locke on Lost, believing that he's talking to the island, and that it's answering him back. Erik, Locke was insane, and Ben ended up strangling him to death. Where is Ben Linus now that we need him?
Black Russell: "I think going through a storm like this, I think it definitely brings the tribe together, uh, 'cause we weathered it all together." Yes Russ, it has brought the tribe together, united in wanting to be rid of the boob responsible for their all being soaked to the skin for five days. And that would be Mr. "I'll take the soft cushions instead of the rainproof tarp" Russell.
But Fate had his own plans.
Reward Challenge: Oh this was a great challenge, at least on the drawing board. Whomever came up with this one is a serious Sadist. Each team had a huge wooden sphere, inside of which one tribe member would be strapped, and would then have to verbally tell blindfolded tribemates how to roll them through a large maze, to a table maze, where again the ball resident would then talk the still-blind team in guiding a small ball through a tilt-table maze to a hole. The person in the ball would be rolled all over the place. Maybe Psycho Russell was right about throwing up, as this looked like the nausea-inducer of all time. And the reward? Pizza!
But there was more to it than that. There was to be no immunity challenge. Both tribes would go to Tribal Council, and both would lose a member. (With fourteen people still competing, they desperately need some double evictions, or they'll still be in Samoa come Easter.) The winners would get to watch the losers' Tribal Council, learning where the tensions and rivalries of their opponents lurk. And in the final, genius Sadistic flourish, that would be when they get their pizza. So they get to munch their yummy feast in front of the hungry losers, while Jeff pokes the poisons to the surface. Then the losers leave, and the winners have their Council in privacy. This was a lovely, layered ball of noxious meaness.
Since Galu has almost twice as many members as Zsa Zsa, they had to sit four players out. I was hoping Shambles would have been strapped inside the ball. Oh, how I was hoping for that, if only to watch her stupid hair go all over the place. But the ball rider player would have to give cogent, intelligent directions while being rolled about like they were inside a bamboo and wicker gyroscope, and Shambles is a walking disaster even when not disoriented, and probably has little if any experience as a ball rider, so Black Russell was most likely wise to let her sit it out. Damn.
Asian Liz went into Zsa Zsa's ball, and someone called Laura, whom I'd swear was just added to the cast this episode, was strapped into Galu's ball, thus missing the chance to have the two Russells in the balls, having a ball-off. Meanwhile, Dana Andrews was as surprised as I was by Laura' sudden materialization. He'd been investigating her murder. I guess this lets Waldo Lydecker off the hook. (If the last three sentences left you bewildered, you really need to catch up on your classic movie-watching.)
Just to make the challenge into even more awesome viewing, they had a camera inside each ball: a Nausea-Cam. The rolling part involved accidentally ramming these huge balls into blindfolded players, and smashing into trees. Zsa Zsa finished the roll course first.
However, once they reached the tilt-table mazes, Black Russell began to fall apart. He was exhausted and disoriented, and couldn't seem to find his way to the ball or the table maze. Zsa Zsa was doing well at the table maze.
And then, the event they've been ballyhooing all week in the promos happened.
Black Russell passed out, face first onto a corner of their table maze. The other players were blindfolded, so they didn't even know it, and the mystery Laura woman was so busy shouting tilt-the-table orders, she didn't notice either. But Jeff Probst did. Clearly something was seriously wrong with Galu's leader. When Russell fell over, held above the mud only by his sleeve being caught on his table peg, Jeff called the competition to a halt, and called for medical. Russell was in The Twilight Zone.
"It's okay. I'm good," Russell told medical, a second before collapsing into the mud. As Black Russell came back to semi-consciousness, he repeated, "I'm good. Let's go. Let's go." He was lolling in the mud, unaware of even the fact that he was flat-out on the ground, and had been unconscious for a time, and in a thoroughly altered state. Sure I passed out, and can't even stand up, but we've got pizza to win. I don't mean to be too critical of a clearly sick man, but really, he wasn't even in the ball. You'd expect it to be this Laura person who passed out.
Slow to accept his reality (though in fairness, his brain was so oxygen-starved at that moment, he couldn't actually understand what was going on or what his actual state was.), Russell continued insisting, "I'm cool. I mean I was a little winded from pushing the ball, but I'm good." Actually he had, basically, no blood pressure at all. The doctor said his BP was lower than Chef Mike's had been when he was sidelined, and Chef Mike was twenty years older than Russell, and obese, whereas Black Russell was nothing if not muscular and fit. For him to be laid out like that, something was seriously awry. But hey, he's got pizza to win.
Jeff, on his own authority, called off the challenge. No one got pizza. Nice going, Black Russell. Not only did you deprive your tribe of waterproof shelter during a five-day monsoon, but now you've deprived everyone of pizza! I was reminded of the great Cloris Leachman as Nurse Diesel in Mel Brooks's High Anxiety, snarling at Harvey Korman when he was late for dinner, "No fruit cup!" And even she didn't deprive everyone of fruit cup, just Harvey. Jeff, you're so strict.
If I were on Zsa Zsa, I would be particularly pissed, because they were way ahead, and would probably have won the pizza. But then, their lead was likely due to Russell's falling apart. It's not like they ever win anything on their own. I might have made the opposite call, and given everyone pizza, but not Jeff. I bet he ate all that pizza himself.
And just to make everything really peachy, as the tribes got back to their camps, the rain resumed. I guess Samoa felt Erik had gone back on his deal. Or maybe it was just a cold front moving through. Hmmm. Which could it be? Normal, natural weather conditions, or a sentient island pissed off at Erik? I'm stumped.
At least all the drama finally being on Galu allowed me to see why I've never noticed Laura before. Laura and Monica (who?), while not related, are nonetheless identical. They're like Haley Mills in The Parent Trap (all right, like Lindsey Lohan in The Parent Trap remake, for the youngsters reading this, if young people ever actually read anything anymore). They could go home to each other's families, and no one would ever be the wiser. I'm not sure they know who is which, and which is who, or care.
Back at the challenge ground, Russell is a mess. They tried having him sit up. He sat up. That's all, just sat up. He reluctantly admitted to feeling "a little light-headed," and then promptly passed out again, only this time with eyes wide open and staring, but clearly not seeing. It was chilling. He looked dead. Not dead tired. Dead, as in not-alive. They laid him back down, and everyone looked good and scared that they were losing him permanently. Medical made a call that was clearly the right one. They pulled him from the game.
As Jeff told Russell they were pulling him out of Survivor, he whined "Ahhh, come on..." although he was hard to hear through the oxygen mask that was keeping him barely alive. I was starting to be reminded of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (or in Spamalot, for those young folks again, who never watch a film made before 1995), who, when all of his limbs had been hacked off, insisted on continuing to fight. "It's only a scratch."
"What are you going to do? Bleed on me?" (Oh, it's so much easier doing these recaps when I can use 35 year old gags written by the best comedy minds of the century, instead of torturing out my own jokes.)
"My family depends on me to be the strong one," Russell continued arguing, when he could draw in enough air to speak. Russell, your family depends on you to come home alive. "I'm just dehydrated," said the man unable to even sit up without passing out. When it sank in to him that his denial of reality wasn't going to get the show to let him kill himself on TV, he tossed off the oxygen mask, and showed his strength, by blubbering on camera. Sorry about your having to leave, Russ. Your pecs were a weekly visual treat, but butch up, man. You daughter would have a legitimate reason to cry if you killed yourself refusing to accept your human limitations.
In the end, his bone-headed tarp decision was what did him in, but not by inducing his pissed-off fellow tribemates to vote him out, but by leaving him also exposed to the brutal elements, during which, to perhaps make up for the additional misery he'd inflicted on his tribe, he had spent much of the storm out in the rain, shirtless and soaked, tending the fire, until his bull-like body could take it no longer. Amazing how you can become almost terminally dehydrated (literally) while constantly soaking wet.
Back at Zsa Zsa, Liz could read the writing in the sand. Someone was being voted out, and her head was closest to the chopping block, though Natalie knew she might also be in danger, since Psycho Russell, MickMoron, and Jaison were unlikely to vote one of their male trio out. The show had to present some scrambling for votes at Zsa Zsa, but there seemed little suspense or surprise.
Over at Galu, where the decision was slightly more up in the air, and they didn't know if Russell was coming back or not, or if they would still have to vote someone out if he didn't, there was more to observe.
"I have a feeling that [Shambles] is going to be gunning for me," said someone who was either Laura or Monica, unless there's still some other stealth tribe member who looks exactly like the two of them. Given that Shambles has no allies on the team at all, I fail to see why anyone would worry who she was gunning for, unless they suspected she somehow had brought along an actual gun. As an ex-Marine, there's a good chance she's a fair shot.
In any event, since Shambles (1) has no allies on the tribe, (2) broke the snorkel first day, when she went "fishing" without catching any fish, (3) let one of their precious chickens escape through sheer incompetent bungling, and (4) has established friendships with the remains of Zsa Zsa, it would be wise to get rid of her before the merge, which any sort of logic would tell you has to come immediately after the Tribal Council. Zsa Zsa can not function in challenges with only four members. Hell, they couldn't function in challenges when they had ten members. What's the need of debate, guys? Shambles needs to go.
Shambles however, wasn't going out without a fight, or at least an argument. Her argument to the girls who are Laura and/or Monica was that she "made fire" the first eight days. Assuming that's true, this is day 15. What's she been doing for the last week, besides bonding with the other team, breaking snorkels, and losing chickens? "Who kept you warm?" Shambles asked Monica, who well remembered how Shambles, and only Shambles, voted to evict her at their one Tribal Council, while everyone else voted to oust Yasmin back to Planet X. Sure I voted to kick you out, but don't vote to kick me out.
Rocket Scientist John, however, was trying to discredit his rocket scientist credentials, by campaigning to keep Shambles and vote out Monica. John was continuing to think in terms of the separate tribes going on forever, and how Shambles has no power on Galu. John, the merge is coming soon, probably right after Council. That will hand Shambles four allies, and turn her into a power. Get rid of her. It's not rocket science. I mean it would be nice for me. Shambles is a walking punchline, and as long as she's still there, I can continue to make jokes about her. But as long-term Survivor strategy goes, you need to cut her loose before the merge. Well, you know rocket science: for every stupid action, there is an equal and opposite stupid reaction, and John was providing the stupid reaction.
So Shambles shambled up to work on the boys. Erik told us how they weren't going to tell her anything, and then began babbling to her in a ridiculously "sly" (to him) manner.
John (in front of Shambles): "Erik, if you were [Shambles], who would you vote for tonight?"
Erik: "Not me?"
Shambles: "Not you."
Erik (while trying to impale his brain on the machete for no clear reason): "If I were [Shambles], I would probably stay consistent."
Shambles:"Who?" This minuscule conversational gambit had left Shambles baffled. But then, most things do.
Erik (winking): "Consistent. I'd stay consistent."
John (realizing that any form of even slight subtlety was lost on the terminally dense woman): "Meaning who you voted for last time is probably your best bet."
Shambles (more out of it than Black Russell was while he was passed out): "You would stay consistent?"
Erik: "If I were [Shambles.]." (At this point, hollering "Vote for Monica, you stupid cow!" would probably be too subtle for her to grasp.)
Shambles: "What if you were John?" Why stop there, Shambles? What if Erik was Monica? What if Erik was President Obama? What if Erik was a pair of nubile, eighteen-year-old twins with huge boobs, living with Hugh Hefner on another network. What if Erik was a dalek? What if Erik was a rock? Let's examine all the possibilities.
Erik (now digging into his ear with the point of the machete, I guess in hopes of puncturing his eardrum, so he didn't have to listen to the stupid woman's idiot questions any longer.): "I would follow the leader, as in, [Shambles'] the leader."
Shambles (grinning, instantly buying this load of tripe.): "Really?" (Turning to John) "And if you were Erik, who would you vote for?" By this point I was ready to slap all three of them.
John: "I'd vote for Monica." John has realized that one can not be subtle with Shambles. "Who are you voting for, [Shambles]? Do you get what this is about?"
Shambles: "Yes I do." By now, I was looking around for a machete to stab my own ears with, because this was driving me nuts. Just vote for the dimmest bulb, guys: the stupid, chicken-losing, snorkel-ruining moron in front of you, with the ties to the other tribe.
Well one thing is now clear: Galu's winning streak wasn't due to brain power.
Tribal Council: All 13 remaining players were assembled for Tribal Council, as Jeff gave them the medical verdict. Psycho Russell was now the only Russell in the game, and I can drop the "Psycho" from his name.
Several players made little speeches about how much more difficult the game is than it seemed on TV. Danger Dave, the former flight attendant with a degree in opera said: "Easily the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and I've done a couple of hard things." Really? Whose? Or is he referring to sitting through all 20 hours of Der Ring Des Nibelungen, which is no picnic, believe me. I've done it myself, and I had to be strapped down, like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. At hour 12, I had began raving. At hour 14, I began singing in tongues (as was Brunhilde). At hour 17, I had to be heavily medicated. Finally, the medical team pulled me from the opera audience just before the conflagration which climaxes Gotterdammerung. (Why did I do it? I had lost a bet. Damn that Conrad Veidt!)
Erik and Shambles both spoke of praying to get the rain to stop. "And as we sit here, it is starting to pour once again." Jeff added, helpfully pointing out the inefficacy of prayer.
Remaining Russell showed the inefficacy of living in denial, when he said, "I think [Galu] is gonna be shocked in the next couple of challenges, because we can come back, and we can even up them numbers. Then it'd be a different story then." No matter how many times he stuck "then" into the same sentence, it couldn't stop the Galu tribe members from giggling over that one. Even assuming the tribes stay split for a few more challenges, the only way Galu would be shocked would be if Halliburton did the electrical wiring for them, and the only way those numbers would be "evened up" would be if those shocks actually killed a couple of Galu's team members.
And then came Christmas in Samoa. Jeff announced that because, for the first time ever, a challenge was not completed, no one would be voted out. Tribal Council was just a big pow-wow for everyone, with no votes. Hello? We had a chance to eliminate three players in one episode, so that Survivor: Samoa had a chance to be over before mid-2010, and they tossed it away. They had set up that, regardless of who won and who lost the challenge, both teams would send someone home, and now, instead of losing two people as planned, they were just losing Black Russell. I could see letting Galu off the hook, since they had lost a person, but why did Russell's collapse provide Zsa Zsa with an ouster reprieve? This made no sense to me. But it gave Liz a smug look of triumph. She was not going home yet.
Russell lied, as per usual, by saying, "I think it's the best news I heard all day." Oh please. It meant he didn't get to carve another notch on his death list. He went on, "I really believe the tables are about to turn, and I'm a give one hundred ten percent that it does," showing he's still deep in denial, has, at best, peculiar grammar, and has a rather poor grasp of math. Maybe some auditors are needed to glance over his oil company's books. Erik was smirking all though this, looking awfully smug for a man who had earlier made a deal with the island (A deal that the island reneged on, I might add.), while Danger Dave rolled his eyes.
And so, with an order to Galu to choose a new leader when they got back to camp, this pointless Tribal Council came to an end, without even the surprise I had been expecting, an announcement of pizza for everyone. When Jeff Probst says "No fruit cup," he means it. What a let down. They ended on watching Russell being hauled away on a stretcher, looking humiliated to have learned he's just as human as everyone else.
In the previews of next week, we saw the Galu guys making Shambles in essence an honorary guy (I'm not really sure it's actually just honorary. She doesn't have a feminine bone in, or near, her body) to help them combat the menace which is either Monica or Laura, if only they could tell who was whom, but with Danger Dave having doubts, because, as he so accurately put it, "[Shambles] is so dim that she could screw up our plans." Indeed she could, since her idea of how to handle a secret clue is to call everyone over and read the clue aloud. And meanwhile, Russell was "seeding" Monica or Laura. Those two girls really need to wear name tags or have their identities tattooed on their foreheads, because I have no idea which witch is which.
An ad appears on this page most weeks for applicants to be contestants on Survivor. You might want to bear Black Russell's experiences in mind, if you're thinking of applying. It's much more grueling than it appears on TV. And even if you live through it, I'll still be here, waiting to make snarky remarks about you from the comfort of my living room. Plus you could get stuck on an island with someone like Shambles, or someone even worse. Just saying.
Next week's column will not appear on Friday as usual. Halloween is my busy season. So my recap will not appear until Sunday. Until then, cheers darlings. And remember, there's no treat like a trick, so trick on Halloween. I certainly hope to.