Hey hey, we’re the monkeys. People say we monkey around. They’ve also started saying that Shirin watches us, which is really creeping us out tbqh.
Heard Mentality: So let’s talk about Nina a little more, because I feel like Nina, as a character, made more sense to me in this episode (apart from that whole thing she did in the previous episode where she completely sandbagged her own chances by tipping off Will that Vince couldn’t be trusted, I don’t think I’ll ever understand what was happening there and to be honest I’m not entirely sure Nina understood what was happening either). Upon returning to camp after Tribal Council, and after a brief discussion about how exactly Vince had ended up going home, the main order of business was for Nina to make it clear that she knew that she was the next one on the chopping block. However, Nina’s way of doing this was to hold court in front of everyone and announce that she’d accept her fate – and here’s the clincher – as long as they didn’t make things too awful for her until then. This is quite useful as a context for last week’s episode, because it suggests that Nina – consciously or otherwise – assumes that she needs to be on the defensive at all times. The rest of the tribe pointed out to her that she’s not necessarily the next one to go, which is semi-horseshit because if Nagarote lost another challenge, it was clearly either Nina or Will going next. But, by the same token, it’s probably only another two episodes at the most until some sort of merge or switch, where Nina would have a chance to meet other people, make new alliances and possibly improve her stake in the game. So while Nina clearly wasn’t far off in her assumption that she’s low on the pecking order at Nagarote (which was borne out by the end of the episode), it shows a degree of short-sightedness and – sadly – a lack of aptitude for the game of Survivor that, rather than considering what she could do to improve her chances of sticking around, Nina chose to make a public show of her own woes. Jenn made a point of telling Nina that she should lighten up and enjoy herself, and while I don’t think Jenn made that statement in the most sensitive way possible, I think there was the kernel of some decent advice in there: stop playing the victim and look for a way that you can make this situation work for you. That’s the game.
Move Over Charles Darwin: Over at Masaya, Shirin was watching howler monkeys have sex. No, seriously. It’s one thing to be out in the jungle minding your own business and to happen upon two animals having a little quiet time (or not-so-quiet time), but Shirin stuck around to watch the whole thing. That, to me, is kind of weird. As is running back to camp to tell everyone what you just saw in excruciating detail. I’m finding it really hard to get a handle on Shirin’s position in that tribe – I think Max is basically in her corner, but I’m not really sure who else is. Tyler and Joaquin seem pretty fed up with her idiosyncrasies already. This seemed also to be the case in a later sequence where Shirin, Max, Tyler and Joaquin were off looking for the idol (which Tyler knows Carolyn has already found) and Shirin wanted them to make a pact to stop looking so she could go back to the beach, and Joaquin made it perfectly clear that he was going to keep looking, and he wasn’t about to alter his plans to suit Shirin, and Shirin just kept needling him in a “not touching! Can’t get mad!” sort of way. I’m just saying that if you wanted to mount an anti-Shirin vote next time Masaya lose, you probably wouldn’t encounter much resistance.
You Betta Work: Over on Escameca we learned some lessons about banter and the dangers thereof, as Dan and Rodney fired seemingly good-natured barbs at each other until Dan made some sort of “your mom” comment that Rodney took great exception to. #LADZ, amirite? The other big story on this tribe for the week was Mike’s continued griping at literally everyone else for not sharing his work ethic, and therefore not being sufficiently Blue Collar-y. Rodney reacted to this by grabbing a bunch of firewood, dumping it on the ground, and flipping the bird at Mike. I never thought Rodney would be the cast member I’d find most identifiable, but that’s totally what I would have done in that scenario too. Troubling, isn’t it? All credit to Lindsey for attempting to reason with him, pointing out all of the work that the rest of the tribe do that goes unrecognised and unappreciated by Mike, who doesn’t actually have the copyright on work-doing around camp. By far the finest part of the episode/season/year/my life however was the point where Mike expressed scepticism that anyone bothered to tend the fire, at which point Lindsey lost her shit, pointed to the burning fire in front of them that reinforced her point rather handily and, with a pointed reference to Mike’s awful, awful “Psalm 121”, asked Mike how exactly it was staying lit: “DID YOUR GOD COME DOWN AND DO IT WITH HIS FUCKING BEARD?!” At that point, Lindsey became my favourite contestant of the season, and I don’t see anyone toppling her unless they do something truly spectacular.
Board, Stupid: Back over on Masaya, beach babes Jenn and Hali decided to take advantage of the awesome waves, maaaaaan, and go surfing using pieces of driftwood that they found. It wasn’t especially effective, but they seemed to enjoy themselves, and thankfully Nina didn’t have a shitfit about not being invited to join them. Instead, she was off somewhere having a heart-to-heart with Joe, who was telling her about being taught sign language by his mother when he was younger. He very gently pushed the idea that Nina should loosen up a little bit and try to accept the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities being presented to her. Then they went back to camp where barbecued lizard was on the menu, and everyone was chowing down. Hali offered some to Nina to ensure that she felt included, and Nina was all “ew, no thanks” and sat perched on the shelter. Again, I’m not saying that the rest of the tribe were blameless when Nina was feeling ostracised last week, but it’s not hard to believe that she did a fair bit of the pulling away all by herself.
There’s A Hole In My Immunity Challenge, Dear Liza, Dear Liza: This week’s task was far more straightforward than we’ve seen in a while: there was no puzzle or explicit test of skill or dexterity, the tribes simply had to use sheer brute force to carry a leaky bucket from one end of the course to the other, fill it with water and do their best to plug all of the holes on the way back, where they’d tip it into a container, and when that container was heavy enough, it’d drop down and raise their tribe flag. (I thank all of the water that poured out everywhere for making Joaquin’s board shorts soaking wet once again and giving us this week’s showcase for Joaquin’s Perky Bottom.) Since Escameca were one member up, they had to sit a member out and Lindsey opted to be on the sidelines for this one, taking full advantage of her new position as my favourite to scream encouragement/abuse throughout the challenge, including a bloodcurdling “NOOOOOOOOO!” when Masaya overtook Escameca by, like, half a millimetre. Lindsey <3. Nagarote's strategy for this task was, each time they were making their way back with the bucket of water, to send Nina racing off ahead to wait for them because…reasons? Meanwhile the other four struggle with a rapidly emptying bucket that does not have enough people to cover the holes. Needless to say, Escameca win (and get blankets and chairs and shit for their trouble), Masaya finish second, and Nagarote are on their way to Tribal Council for a second consecutive week. Oops.
Two To Go: Back at camp, Joe takes responsibility for the “send Nina ahead” strategy, which even he doesn’t seem fully capable of explaining – he does his best to say that Nina was going to help them over the final obstacle but what he ends up saying, indirectly, is that he worried Nina would be a liability and he was keeping her out of the way. Since the Joe/Jenn/Hali alliance is still tight at this point, Nina and Will know that one of the two of them is going home, so their role at this point is essentially limited to running around going “uh, have you thought about voting for the other one?” In light of the general murmurings that Will didn’t do a terribly good job on the challenge again, Nina petitions particularly hard to keep herself around.
Where There’s A Will, There’s…Still A Will: At Tribal Council, Joe owns up once again to his strategic failings in the task, and Probst needles Nina about the subtext of his actions, which Nina is all too aware of. The overall message of the session ends up being about Nina and how well she fits into the tribe, with the biggest lecture coming from Hali, of all people, who politely but firmly tells Nina that they want her to be a part of the experience, but if she can’t bring herself to loosen up and be No Collar-y about things, then it’s never going to work. (I’m impressed the gimmick has lasted three whole episodes. Hali has properly swallowed the Flavor-Aid as far as living and breathing their team concept goes.) Also Jenn echoes this, but in a less genial fashion. While Nina promises to try harder and talks persuasively about how keen she is to be a part of the tribe, it’s all for naught: Nina and Hali vote for Will, while everyone else votes for Nina, and she’s gone. Let’s hope she feels more accepted in Sequesterville than she did in Nagarote. (It would have been interesting to see how this tribal might have played out had Will stuck to the plan last week, and he, Nina and Vince would’ve presumably targeted Joe.)
Next time: a double episode, and another one of those blindfolded challenges that might actually properly wreck somebody this time. Please be anybody but Lindsey, that’s all I ask.