LAST EDITED ON 03-15-17 AT 10:30 PM (EST)
Game Changers. Return. Re-use. Recycle. This all-returnee cast features twenty former players who had the opportunity, took the opportunity or blew the opportunity to change the game. CBS -- Crash. Burn. Settle. and I are hoping this won't be Channel Changers for you viewers.
People who pay more attention to this stuff than I do insist that Cirie Fields, Tony Vlachos and Sandra Diaz-Twine might be called game changers while Brad Culpepper, Hali Ford and Troyzan Roberstson might be better described as diaper changers. Whatever the case, remember that Survivor is the only show where you can jump the shark while jumping an actual shark.
Enjoy the double episode while I put my feet up and order another double Mamanuca from the bar. I've had all my shots and I'm going to see how this plays out.
As we open up on the spectacle of Jiffy Probst balancing on the diseased, rusted mast of the S.S. Tetanus, the camera sweeps back to launch the 500th episode of Survivor. Seventeen years, 34 seasons, and if I had put my mind to it I could have done something with my life. But instead, I'm sitting on this printing press, churning out Franklins. (I pour out some glugs of Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold to honor my homies.) Heat up the grill and let's raise the steaks!
After the rusty scupper, we cut to Jiffy on an upgraded ship and he delivers a rousing speech about blame namers, gnome tamers, and even some game changers. I'm not sure, as I had quietly switched to scotchy-scotch. But I do know that some of those "quiet moves" that Jiffy Pop mentioned were damn near inaudible.
Finally the Nanu Nanu blue buffs and Mana Loa Macadamia Nuts orange buffs are distributed in preparation for a Survivor staple; The Bad Verdict (or Lakers victory) Riot and Looting Jamboree. A melee ensues as everyone grabs chickens, bananas, Costco gift cards and other supplies before pushing their raft overboard and jumping in after it. Ozzy immediately dives in for a chance to untie knots and raise a submerged tool kit for his tribe. Everyone else stares at his superhuman lung capacity and quivering gills. "Nah, don't think so" seems to be the universal consensus. Meanwhile Andrea misses the Secret Advantage envelope stuck to the deck. Instead, it's picked up by Sierra who sticks it in the back of her panties. The same panties that have "property of Sierra" lovingly stitched in needle point by a loving mother who was voted out by her own ungrateful rotten daughter. But more angst later.
He's a Mana-ac! Mana-ac! On The Jungle Floor At Mana Loa, during the No Host "I watched your season, really, I did!" Mixer, Tony suddenly starts screaming and runs like a wild boar into the jungle. He's surprised that no one follows him and more surprised that everyone else doesn't delight in his brilliant game play. Or maybe he's heard that we've upgraded the wifi at the Ponderosa this year. The better to binge-watch The Man In The High Castle (that Trump documentary on Amazon).
Part two in the Failed Tactics Seminar includes Tony building a Spy Bunker right next to the watering hole. Actually so close to the watering hole that a Survivor Skeletor could stand on your buried position and crush your ribs. Of course, this plan is discovered within five minutes and the word gets around faster than a sexually transmitted disease at Dancing With The Stars. The best guess here at the Survivor edit bays is that Tony cut some deal with a male sex toy company and he gets a commission on every mention of their new product, the #spybunker.
Live and Let Fester Thanks in large part to Ozzy, the Nuka Lookas have raided the local Piggly Wiggly supermarket and they have so much food that they've been forced to set up a Produce aisle and a Meat department just to keep everything organized. While the construction crew debates the benefits of split- level vs ranch shelter, Ozzy casually mentions that Cirie betrayed him 18 seasons ago on Micronesia and he has more than a Micro woody to vote her out. Cirie has her antenna out and when she asks Tai if he thinks that Ozzy still has any unresolved feelings, the Gentle Gardener's brain can't process the ramifications. He goes into a "lie/don't lie" loop and his CPU goes full-tilt boogie until it locks up completely. It was so real and painful to watch that I'm pretty sure that Tai has absolutely no future in politics.
Race/Paddle/Swim/Solve Competition Immunity Challenge Unless someone calls for the Quit Boat or there's a particularly salacious wardrobe malfunction, most of the Challenges boil down to "Blah blah tribe in the lead as they race/paddle/swim/dig, but it goes neck and neck at the puzzle/ring toss/combination lock" so I'm going to give Challenges a minimalist approach this season.
The big news at this IC is that Jiffy explains a big change in the voting rules this season. Basically there will be no re-votes after ties this season. In the event of a tie, the rest of the folks at TC can vote unanimously for one of the two players. If it's not unanimous then the two tied players are safe and everyone else draws colored rocks. In other words, "vote splitting" is out and idol flushing is what Richard Hatch calls his tax plan.
So, to bottom line the Challenge; Ozzy still swims like a fish. Caleb wasn't medivac'd out and Ciera still sucks at puzzles.
We'll Leave a Lighthouse On For You - Destined for a dance with Jiffy at Tribal Council, the talk begins. "We're voting for Ciera but we'll tell her 'Michaela'". Okay, not words you want to hear, but it's part of the game and we've all been here before, right? Not right for Michaela, who wins the lumberjack "fly off the handle" award for her performance as the scorned victim. Movie of the Week rights to be negotiated separately.
Tribal Council has a decidedly nautical theme, but no one is serving fish n chips. Talk, talk, talk. Jiffy has some deep thoughts about life and we vote for everyone's favorite daughter, Ciera Eastin to hit the bricks.
Tony V and Short Attention Span Theater As we chug into Hour 2 of the Survivor marathon, Tony declares that he's "bored". He forms a "threat alliance" which consists of Aubry, Malcolm, Caleb and Sandra. What Tony doesn't realize is that everyone is still in the "sure, that sounds good" phase and they would sign up for an alliance/Thrash Metal Band called "Axes of Eeeevil".*
All is well until Tony goes off all of his meds (except No-Doze) and finds himself working on his spy bunker once again and gets caught by Troyzan and Sandra. Cue confrontation with Sandra. Then Sandra sets the indoor/outdoor record for forming a new Alliance of 5 and Tony is just a bad boy with a busted bunker in some bad business. Sandra also reminds us of that old saying that we never knew... "You're only the king until the queen arrives." Side note: If you have "queen" in the Survivor drinking game, you are currently well and properly hammered. Probably in the ambulance now-- headed for rehab. Sandra do like that word.
Race/Paddle/Swim/Solve Competition Immunity Challenge 2: Release the Snake! Same rules as before. Minimum play-by-play, except to say that this was a triumph for the Challenge Designers. Untie the 400 pound snake, push it over the top of the cage and get it to shore, onto a balance thingie and then tossing rings to spell out the word Immunity. Malcolm got the Mana tribe back into it and was close to winning it all, but the Nukus claimed victory.
Mana's Boys Back at camp, the King and Queen of the prom, Tony and Sandra try to stir up the troops in their own ways. Queen Sandra (is that Queen Beyonce, Brian May or Elizabeth?) is working on ousting Tony or Aubry. Tony and Caleb are working Michaela to keep the strongest players around.
The TC Lighthouse Beam Swings Around Again Jiffy summarizes. He asks some pointed questions. People dodge and weave. But finally Tony sees his name on the guest register of the Ponderosa -- or does the ex-player warehouse have a nautical theme as well?
But Tony leaves with a parting shot and Sandra replies, "That's what you get for plotting against me. That's what you get and the queen stays queen."
America drinks another shot as our collective eyes roll back in our heads.
* Of course, there's an actual band called Axes of Evil. There would have to be.
Mark "At least the checks clear" Burnett