It was the worst of times, it was... still the worst of times, just stretched out into an interminably long monologue about hurt feelings and perceived racism, even where none actually existed. It was the episode in which Survivor's editors said, "Hey, we don't have anything to fill the hour with, except this half-baked race-baiting thing, should we run with it? Oh wait... it'll air on Hitler's birthday? Okay then!"
For the record, we love...
1. That Phillip strung together random syllables (much as he forms tribe and contestant names) as part of his Buddhist meditation, which was performed in the traditional style: wearing nothing but pink underwear and a randomly feather-adorned headband.
2. That Phillip conveniently conducted this mediation while seated on a rock that the Survivor helicopter camera crew just happened to be flying past. We're sure the chopper noise contributed to his overall sense of peace and oneness with all of nature's living creatures.
Ah... Tranquility. Solitude. Helicopter blade-spray.
3. That Phillip gleefully stole rice from Zapatera while a camera crew just happened to be filming him, yet while nobody else was in camp. Funny how all these food thefts always just happen to get caught on film.
4. That Phillip can never remember whether his tribe is called Om Mani Padme Hum, Omaha Steaks, Omega-3 fatty acids, or Omarosa, yet he can somehow, in the heat of an argument, nail "Wing Chun kung fu."
Seriously, there needs to be an Emmy category for Best Acting in a Reality-Competition Show.
We never thought we'd see the day when Boston Rob... yes, that guy... could barely utter a peep throughout an entire Survivor episode, AND let someone else bogart all the confessionals. This is Just. Not. Done. Where have gone, Rob Mariano? A nation turns its troll-seeking eyes to you, this week's ICU! winner.
Have you seen this man? (on the left)
Oh sure, it's one thing to keep your head down, and let your second-tier tribemates bicker amongst themselves, taking the target off your own back. That's just basic strategy. But it's quite another to sit idly by, tending the fire, while some older gentleman prances around in fuchsia briefs, with a war feather and a loincloth, ranting about kung fu, and threatening to turn his canteen-machete combo into a machete-launching crossbow, or something.
Time waits for no man, Rob. While you were gallivanting about on the Amazing Race and getting married in primetime, this show was not only adding so many hidden idols that you could wear one on each finger, it was also casting people who willingly act crazy whenever the camera's on them. You know, like the sign-wielding folks from Iowa peering through the windows at all those network morning shows, which they're sure their friends and neighbors are frantically Tivoing and perusing frame-by-frame, hoping to catch a glimpse of their friend/neighbor who's visiting New York for a day or two, who mentioned maybe going to the Empire State building or a Broadway show, but everyone knew that was really code for "I'm going to be front-and-center in that third window from the middle on the Today show for the ENTIRE time they're taping, so you'd better watch, because I'm going to do something really, really, super-amazing, like wave and have a sign that says 'Hi from Davenport,' you know?" Even though their friends and neighbors are actually, you know, working the fields, or reading the newspaper, or doing their fifth shot of the morning, or playing now-slightly-more-illegal online poker. And didn't remember that their friend/neighbor was in New York this week, wasn't that supposed to be next week? And what channel is the Today show, anyway? Does anybody really still watch that? Did they ever? Is there really any meaning in this world, outside the bottom of this 1988 Iowa State Fair souvenir shot glass?
Get with the times, Rob. Maybe you should take up yoga, or something. Your buddy Grant might be able to teach you. No, wait! It's a trap! If you do that, there'll be some Shambo-type person, trailing the cameras around, mocking you for being all 90210! The way to true Trolltopia is fraught with peril, Rob. Better give it some serious thought before you begin. Or at least a headband with some feathers.
No, not a necklace! A headband, dude!
We probably do not need to remind you that Ashley has accomplished a lot in her life, from going to college, to doing things in her few post-college years. Things like being a Pageant Queen (although that was in Maine, Land of 100,000 Moose, and the moose are ineligible, thereby reducing the competition) to being a professional basketball player (in Europe). So obviously, her inability to do much beyond sitting around, sneering at Phillip, and falling down in immunity challenges is all a carefully crafted plan to NOT appear too threatening. Although throwing in a spontaneous "I suck!" does help seal the deal.
Which is exactly the kind of effort the Sitty was designed to recognize. When your only competition for last place is Phillip, you must be doing something right. Right?
Yes, yes, we know. Not only is Jeff Probst not an active player, but someone else has already made the joke that Jeff Probst himself deserves a strategy award this week. But you can't second-guess this call unless you've walked a mile in Jeff Probst's shoes (which are likely to be available for a reasonable starting bid on eBay after the season ends, proceeds go to help the Serpentine Project).
Imagine, if you will, that you're Jeff Probst. You sit down in Tribal Council, fresh from your afternoon massage back at the hotel, and hear not only that the contestants are cranky (always with the whining! Blah blah blah, I'm hungry, blah blah blah, someone stole my shorts, blah blah blah, Phillip used the N-word, and I don't mean "narcissism"), but that it's actually possible someone might vote off your star player, who's currently sitting in front of you, wearing two feathers, pink underwear, and little else. And if he goes, Boston Frigging Rob could be next! That would leave an old guy who may be a corpse, an unintelligible guy (and subtitle writers are beyond CBS's paltry budget, unless you ditch those twice-daily massages), an old, boring woman, and four duller-than-toast people whose names you won't remember 15 minutes into the reunion show. It's panic time! What do you do?
Why, if you're a sneaky Jeff Probst, which you are, you of course get everyone talking. Steve, did you use the N-word? No, not "nurturing," the other one. The one Phillip doesn't like. No, not "nutter-butter." Okay, fine, let's be more direct. Phillip, why don't you talk for about two hours. Oh, right, you're already doing that... sorry, didn't mean to be rude, please continue. Well then, as soon he takes a break, Steve, you talk for five minutes or so. There, everyone calmed down now? Good. Oh yeah, and since she did it in front of the cameras, Julie might as well admit that she took your shorts, Phillip. Okay! I'm glad we had this discussion. (I smell an Emmy!)
This is why Jeff Probst is not just a host, he's also an Executive Producer. When it's crunch time, he can single-handedly save the show. Phillip is safe, somnambulant Julie is almost-gone, and Boston Rob's march to almost-certain victory can only be upset by... someone coming back from Redemption Island. Oh for Matt's sake! Who thought of that?
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