Recap: 'Survivor: Cagayan' Premiere - 'Hot Girl With a Grudge'
"Survivor" would be great, were it not for all the surviving. The next morning at Team Brains, Garrett is happy to get rid of David, but he's whining about how he isn't having fun. "It's not like a cool adventure for me," he complains. "I don't want to play 'Survivor' to survive in the wilderness," says a man who has apparently never watched the game he's playing. It turns out that in his poker world, Garrett is regularly served chicken and vegetables. He's weirdly specific about that. Garrett and Spencer are prepared to vote out a girl next time, any girl. Kass feels blindsided, but she also knows that she's the swing vote. Garrett and Spencer offer her Final 3 and they shake on it, which she calls "a stupid handshake."
Batman and Pippen. Is anybody else feeling like it's been too long since we saw Team Beauty? I agree. Instead, we're going fishing with Team Brawn, which Cliff Robinson has been "inching at the bit" to do. Cliff thinks that Woo is going to be his wingman, the Robin to his Batman, the Pippen to his Jordan. They cement their pack by capsizing the boat. Sarah decides that Cliff is likable. Lindsey loves him. Uh-oh. Kiss of death. Tony isn't feeling the same passion for his tall comrade.
Country Folk Alliance. Brice thinks that everybody on Team Beauty is playing dumb. He thinks Alexis is over-relying on being cute, but he can't quite figure out Jefra, who really wants to talk about her bodily functions. Morgan figures she's successfully got Jeremiah in her back pocket, talking about being from the Silicon Valley, which would probably be a euphemism, except that she seems to be all-natural. Brice has decided to play wingman so that Jeremiah can spend time with Morgan. "I feel like we need to be the brains of the operation," Brice tells Morgan and Jeremiah, as they make a Country Folk alliance.
I've gotta admit, "Malnu-Trisha" is mean, but kinda clever. Team Brawn is gathering wood, but Trish doesn't think Lindsey is doing her share of the gathering. Lindsey is not a fan of "Malnu-Trisha," even developing an impressively cruel Trisha impression. "I'm from Boston, Mass. She hasn't met me yet. Because if I really snapped on her, she'd still be crying right now," Trish says of Lindsey. Tony and Trish align. Tony's building a Spy Shack. I don't understand how he thinks this is going to work, but Tony is eying Cliff as the lead lion in the pride and he wants to take him out.
Blood and Brawn. Immunity is back up for grabs. The challenge begins with a swim to an underwater bamboo cage. Each cage hold fish traps, which contain "a very complicated" fish puzzle. They're also playing for Reward. Wanna know what they're playing for? A fishing kit and some spices. The second place team gets some hooks and lures. Cliff and Brice sit out the challenge. Because of J'Tia's weak swimming, Brain Tribe struggles here as well. The fish traps are heavy, but Garrett somehow finds his physicality and becomes dominant, leading Brains to a surprisingly huge lead as they reach the puzzle. Sarah and Tony are bleeding, but Brawn is a reasonably close second, with Beauty struggling. Sarah's impressive at puzzling and Brawn takes control and finishes first! J'Tia is dismal and suddenly LJ moves into second. "Are they still working on them puzzle? I think I'm on the wrong tribe," Sarah tells Jeff, whose contempt for Brains couldn't be more obvious. LJ finishes! Brains is going to Tribal. Wow. Let's just send J'Tia packing, because that was weak-sauce. "I feel like I let my tribe down," J'Tia says.
Call him Sutton Foster, cuz he's a Tony winner! Because it's hard to imagine Brains is going to do much strategizing, we actually return to Brawn. Everybody respects Sarah and Sarah respects that they solved the puzzle through a sea of blood. It's a nice Reward basket that they received, but Tony is sure it has to contain something Immunity-related. And he's right. It's a clue and he's confident he knows where to look. He rushes off and, very swiftly, he has the Idol. "I'm king of the jungle!" he says repeatedly.
Nuclear standoff. There isn't much doubt that J'Tia should be going home next. Garrett suggests openness and honesty and puts Kass on the spot. Showing, again, her honestly, Kass tells J'Tia that it has to be her. They have an actual open forum where the guys and Kass all agree that J'Tia is the target, but Tasha wants no part of this. She wants to scheme and backstab and she doesn't like Garrett telling her she can't scheme. "This is 'Survivor,' you go talk," Tasha tries saying. "I don't want to do that anymore!" Garrett whines. "Then quit!" Tasha instructs him. "If you didn't want to play the game how it should be played, get out of here," Tasha tells us.
Nuclear meltdown. After a commercial, we're EXACTLY where we left off. J'Tia isn't prepared to roll over. "Garrett. You're an idiot. What are you doing? You're a first-class grade-a moron at 'Survivor,'" Spencer sighs to the camera. So Tasha scrambles on her own. "Why can't I be top dog? I can make it happen," Tasha posits. But not flipping can be flopped without Kass. They leave J'Tia alone, which doesn't seem like such a bad idea until J'Tia decides she might as well burn this whole thing to the ground. Semi-literally. Calling herself the mental patient who shouldn't have been left alone, J'Tia dumps all of their rice in the fire. "See what happens when you leave crazy people alone?" she says. Ummm. Well, that was weird. "Who poured rice on the fire," Kass asks, as if there were multiple suspects. This is not what Garrett wanted. People bring him chicken and vegetables. CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES! "How did we come up with the criteria for Brains? I'd like to see that data," Kass cracks. Well. OK. This will not be a suspenseful Tribal Council.
Tribal Council, No.2. The conversation goes very much as you'd expect, with criticisms of both J'Tia, but also the open forum discussion. Because it's what J'Tia does, she candidly confesses the rice-dumping. "Not my best moment. Not at all," J'Tia says. "She's volatile," Tasha says. "There's a reason blindsides work, it's not because they're fun, it's because they're effective," Probst explains. J'Tia feels like Garrett spanked her butt in front of everybody. "Jeff, I feel like my game is being stifled right now," Tasha complains, on the verge of tears. The Garrett/Kass/Spencer alliance is outed by Garrett, who is a really dumb Brains guy. Tasha is pissed off. Spencer is annoyed. Probst is incredulous. "I have no idea what is about to happen. It's been very enlightening and it's been crazy," Probst says.
The Vote, No.2. Spencer and Garrett still vote for J'Tia, who votes for Garrett. Nobody plays an Idol. Probst tallies: J'Tia. Garrett. J'Tia. Garrett. GARRETT!!!! HAHAHAHA. Oh, good times. Spencer is stunned and practically ready to follow Garrett out the door. "This is the oddest tribe I've ever seen," Probst says.
Bottom Line, Part 1. Like Super-Smart Tasha, I'm curious about the criteria used to select the Brains Tribe. That was as silly a bit of mutually assured destruction as you'll ever see on "Survivor." There's no way that if you're David, you select Garrett in that first selection. How can you? You don't know what you're selecting and you have to at least consider the possibility that you want your tribe to win challenges. You need to pick somebody who you can politely justify picking and who doesn't have throbbing neck veins and a glower suggesting he'll get revenge. Immediately. Gender and strength are always the easiest and fastest things to align around in "Survivor" and David put himself in an immediately weak position and paid the price. As you do. And then Garrett turned around and literally couldn't have done more things wrong. Well, that's not true. He could have also cost his team the challenge. J'Tia did that 100 percent on her own, being unable to swim or do puzzles. But the open forum, followed by abandoning J'Tia, followed by outing and alienating his alliance, followed by not whipping out the Idol the second he realized there was even a slight chance that he might be in trouble. I guess Garrett needs his chicken and vegetables to maintain any semblance of intelligence? But he really just never wanted to play "Survivor." He wanted to play... I dunno. Maybe "Big Brother"? Or maybe he just wanted to be on the World Series of Poker. So David and Garrett both did everything wrong and now Team Brains is just about the weakest team you could ever put together. They're one scrawny guy, one seemingly strong woman, one middling woman and one massive liability going back to a camp without rice? That's pretty dire. But if they'd voted out J'Tia, as they really probably had to, they were going to go back to camp with one strong guy who was only going to get deader and deader in the keys as his hunger grew. The Brains Tribe was always going to have zero margin for error, because even if "Survivor" hasn't given an advantage to brute force and athleticism for a long time, you can only take advantage of the puzzle-heavy "Survivor" balance if you succeed at the thing you're supposed to succeed at. I feel a little bad for Spencer, who made a stupid alliance and then couldn't do anything about it, but only a little bad, because Garrett didn't even have to lie about his decision back at the camp and everybody just accepted it. Lame.
Bottom Line, Part II. There's fun stuff happening over at Team Brawn, with the peculiar spyshack, Tony's pointless professional lie, everybody's crush on Cliff Robinson and the possibility that Trish may know some people in Southie capable of having Lindsey whacked. I can root for Cliff. He's a goof. And I like Sarah some, though I'd like her more if she were 100 percent convinced that Tony was lying to her, rather than just thinking things aren't quite right.
Bottom Line, Part III. I give Morgan credit for fast thinking about the Idol clue and being able to lie to her Beauty tribemates, not that she's lying to geniuses. And I give Brice credit for smartly playing wingman and getting himself in solid position. I don't get why Brice is in the Beauty tribe, mind you. And I don't get why Alexis is in the beauty tribe. Neither of them is unattractive at all, but if you're pretending that there's any purpose whatsoever in the three-way tribal division, the people in Beauty need to be capable of moving mountains, or at least convincing people to move mountains for them. Brice could prove very, very successful in this game, but it's going to be by using his brains, not his beauty. Probably swapping Brice and Garrett would have gone a long way towards making some sense of this season. Something probably had to be done about Trish as well. I get that "Survivor" liked the alliteration, but "Brawn" doesn't just mean "strong." It implies muscularity. I know that Pilates makes you crazy strong in certain ways, but even if Trish is "strong" and even if she would say that "physicality" is her greatest attribute, Tony is brawny, Trish is not.
Bottom Line, Part IV. I don't think the season was cast as purely as it would have been if they'd decided the Brains/Brawn/Beauty twist far enough in advance. That, unfortunately, renders the core twist a little bit moot and instead we just have one really pathetic, weak tribe against two tribes that look very close to "Survivor" Business As Usual. But we've also had a couple seasons in a row in which random reshuffling led to tribes of wildly disproportionate strengths. So, no big different. However, there's a great relief to a season without any returning players, where we can watch people do stupid and inexperienced things and not feel like they should know better. Tonight felt much more like "real" "Survivor" than anything we've seen for a long time, even if we might have seen lots of instances of better-played "Survivor." We had two episodes and we got two blindsides, including one blindside of a guy with an Idol. And the other guy with an Idol, Tony, found it the old-fashioned way, with a clue he was smart enough to identify, rather than just going around poking his hand in every tree. So that was a good start to the "Survivor" season, in my book, even if Beauty/Brawn/Brains is a MacGuffin.