Survivor 32 recaps

Stolen kiss


Survivor rebounded from a forebodingly bleak premiere to an almost seamlessly light and cheery sophomore episode. Well... okay, also bloody, bickery, and teary, and ultimately ending in another seemingly solid player getting knocked out way too early. And yet there was just enough emphasis on the lighter side of camp life that the major conflicts felt sufficiently balanced with feel-good triumphs and humor, such that the overall tone seemed more hopeful. Even Jason's sarcastic response to Jennifer's heartfelt Tribal Council plea for a second chance was pretty funny.


That's not to say we're ostriches, blissfully unaware that the catastrophic storm of medevacs isn't still looming. But for now, even if for just this episode, it was pleasant to remember that in addition to suffering, Survivor can also be about fun.


Idol time: WTF, Probst?

Scrapy scrapy


Prior to Cambodia-Second Chance, Jeff Probst talked about the creative team's logistical difficulties in trying to plan out an "evolution" of hidden idols as the S31-32 seasons aired, despite Kaoh Rong filming first, but airing second. So here you have it: the multi-stage skin-removal system that Tai ran into this episode is the result. We and others have long complained that modern "hidden" idols have been too simple to find - rarely requiring any clues, generally in a fairly obvious, unique place that could be described in a clue, often at eye level. So we applaud production for trying to make idols once again difficult to find. Very difficult.


On the other hand, there's a fine line between "difficult" and "physically impossible." Where by "fine line" we mean "massive gulf." Clearly, the key was in no way retrievable by simply climbing the tree production stuck it on. Not without a super-long ladder, or a crane, or something. Then again, Tai was shown digging up a "tool," allegedly intended to shove the key out of the box from below, which was never used. Furthermore, it appeared that the idol came with a 50-page set of instructions and diagrams, and that Tai, already worried that he'd been away from camp for too long, didn't have time to read the fricking manual. So we're left scratching our heads, almost as much as Tai scraped up his body. What exactly were Probst and crew intending here? Light maiming?


We suspect there's more to come, and that the idol is not actually as difficult to recover as Tai's bloody attempt it seem. After all, the big idol twist this season was supposed to be that two idols can now be combined into a super-idol (a.k.a. Tyler Perry idol, Yul Kwon idol, god-mode idol). That seems a little silly if nobody even has a chance of actually having one.


Until then, here's a short list of what we think the tool might be for:

  • Tie it to some rope/twine, use it as a grappling hook to climb up the tree. Like Batman!
  • Instead of a grappling hook, turn it into a harpoon, stick it into the box, yank the box off the tree, smash it open with a rock.
  • Sharpen it, use it to cut the tree down... voila! One box containing a key! (Where is Andrew Savage when you need him?)
  • Key? Why do you need a key? Just use the tool itself to pry open whatever container is holding the idol (which conveniently wasn't shown).


Post-script: What was wrong with the San Juan del Sur set of clues and digging instructions? Apart from the fact that Keith found a spring-loaded one virtually without a clue.


On the water front

Joe and Debbie


It turns out that both camps within the Brains tribe were probably right about the water. This was the first season shot in a new location. As such, the "well" (which as we understand it is usually a giant plastic container buried in the ground, filled with bottled water, then made to look like a well) water was probably as pristine as could be. So for the first few days, it's essentially water that's been poured from one container into another one. However, as time goes on, it becomes less and less potable. So Joe and Debbie were right... if it was Day 1. (Side note: It wasn't.)


The problem is, the tribes have to get the water from the well to their canteens somehow, and often that's by dipping either a canteen in directly, or taking some kind of scoop that's been sitting around near the well. Both of those methods (especially if the canteens or the contestants' filthy hands touch the well water directly) potentially transfer all kinds of germs directly into the water source, where they'll happily grow and fester in the tropical heat and humidity. People are swimming and aquadumping in the ocean, and all kinds of crap (literally) is getting on their skin, so when Joe snarls "Pathogens, my butt!" on Day 4, or so... yes, there probably are pathogens in there, and Joe's and everyone else's butts are a likely place from whence they came.


So to sum up: yeah, they should probably be boiling their water from that point on. And if they're re-using a well for a second season shot in the same location (such as Cambodia - Second Chance), then by all means yes: boil, boil, boil.


Minor moments

Ep2 Tribal Council


  • To Tang death watch: There's an increasingly good chance the Brawn tribe could be the winner in our sweepstakes to be the first tribe to never have its actual name (as shown on the tribe flags and buffs) uttered on the show. Go! Go! You can do this! We're really pulling for you!


  • Self-fulfilling prophecy department: The only counter-force in Brawn's quest to Never Officially Be To Tang is that the second episode featured a lot of infighting on the Brains tribe (a clue from the editors that they could be headed to Tribal soon?), and then Probst closed out Jennifer's boot with "Tonight's Tribal Council is a dramatic example of how quickly the game can change... which means it can also go from bad to good." They wouldn't be showing that if it didn't happen, right? We know Probst re-films the reading of the votes after the contestants leave. Does he also record a positive and a negative parting speech each time, so that the editors can just insert the most appropriate one in post? We're guessing yes.


  • Tai Trang death watch: First he almost killed himself climbing the tree, then he scraped off half of his skin and was bleeding all over the place, exposing himself to potential infection. And then he tries to kiss Caleb? Stop tempting fate, Tai! Didn't anyone tell you this was the medevac season?


  • Self-perpetuating bromance department: Clearly, Tai has been a non-stop source of perpetually endearing entertainment in the first two episodes. But would he have been so beloved without Beast Mode Cowboy as his foil? As much as we hate to even obliquely endorse more cross-pollination between CBS reality shows (at least those in which TAR or BB alumni end up on Survivor), we think Caleb may at least be partially responsible for Tai's transcendence. Based on the word of BB-watching Survivor fans, we were expecting to loathe that Caleb also comes off looking good from this relationship, but we're increasingly wondering if everyone was just wrong, and Caleb is a perfectly fine Survivor player, just as everyone was wrong about Natalie Anderson.

Kaoh Rong Episode 2 recaps and commentary


Exit interviews: Jennifer Lanzetti

  • Gordon Holmes at (2/25/16): "Jennifer: '(Cydney's Vote) Was a Little Bit of a Sting'"
  • Josh Wigler at (2/25/16): "Jennifer Lanzetti Talks About Her Last Stand"
  • Rob Cesternino at RHAP (2/25/16): "Exit Interview | Latest Player Voted Out - 2/25/16"
  • Andrea Boehlke & Francesca Hogi at PeopleNOW (2/25/16): "Breaking Down the Survivor Bromance and That Crazy Tribal Council!"


Episode 2 Podcasts