I’ve been saying for weeks now that this is a bit of a dud as a season and several of you have agreed with that in the comments. It would appear we aren’t alone in that assessment. Do you know how you can tell that the producers don’t think it’s a very strong season? It’s easy – this is the last week of the season. Tonight is the penultimate episode and Sunday brings the finale. Meanwhile, there’s been no recap show. Typically about this time we get a recap of what has happened, complete with extra footage we didn’t see before (last season showed a little behind-the-scenes dealing between Coach and Ozzie that we hadn’t been privy to before). This season hasn’t had anything really worth recapping, shy of Colton being sent off for appendicitis. No recap show really confirms for me that it’s been a weaker season.
The episode opens with Tarzan trying to manipulate Kim a little bit, convincing her to drop Chelsea from her alliance and move to the final three with Alicia and Christian (who Kim would undoubtedly win against). Kim doesn’t want to turn on her friend. That’s a good thing for Chelsea, but rotten for Tarzan, since Chelsea can see exactly what is going on. At the same time, Kim reveals that she’s actually been playing two different sides, forging an alliance with different sets of people, hoping they don’t confer and discover her deception. Kim really is a good player, flying under the radar in the early part of the season and taking power in the last few weeks.
Reward Challenge: This week’s challenge involves spinning discs off of bases. The discs get combined to create a giant decoder ring, which must be solved in order to determine the three-number combination to a final lockbox. Solve the puzzle and a flag will be raised. The prize: an overnight stay on a luxury yaht, including the opportunity for a shower, fresh clothes, and a three-course meal. The challenge is, of course, complicated by the fact that spinning the discs gets the players dizzy, which makes running for the next disc a bit difficult. The players seem pretty evenly matched, with not much of a lead between each step. Chelsea is first to the lockbox, but the combination is wrong – or is it? A bit of a twist is revealed: the numbers might be right but the order isn’t guaranteed. This permits everyone else to catch up before the puzzle is finally sovled by… Chelsea.
As with the past few weeks, the reward can be shared with another player. Chelsea says she’s going to pick a little differently after the flack Kat got last week, so she picks Sabrina since she hasn’t been allowed to participate in another reward. Probst lets her pick one more to share with and she picks Kim – so much for going a different route than Kat did. The reward gives the three women a nice opportunity to celebrate, but it also gives Tarzan, Alicia, and Sabrina a chance to confer. Tarzan starts planting the seeds that both Chelsea and Kim need to be taken out, and Alicia starts falling for it. Kim’s would-be allies are already agreed Chelsea should be next to go, but now Alicia is starting to consider keeping Tarzan and getting rid of Kim.
When the girls return from their reward the game starts back up (although if any of them thought the game went on hold while they were on a boat then they were seriously mislead). Alicia and Kim compare notes about Tarzan and discover he’s been playing both of them – although Kim’s confessional reveals that she’s setting Tarzan up to fail specifically to give Alicia someone else to gun for. It definitely works, with the self-proclaimed “Ghetto Puerto Rican” going on a tirade to the camera about how stupid she almost looked by getting “Tarzaned.” Little does she know that she’s actually getting “Kimmed.” She’s so busy proclaiming that she’s the master of the social game that she hasn’t stopped to consider that everyone is manipulating her.
Immunity Challenge: We’ve got another puzzle this week, although the first part of the challenge involves getting the pieces. Players have to use a sequence of fishhooks hooked together to get the puzzle bags – with one hand tied behind their back. As they complete each section of the puzzle, they go back for the next bag of parts. Alicia and Kim are the first to complete the first section, with Kim jumping into the lead by getting her bag open quicker. Chelsea is in the rear, with the editing set up to make it appear she’s the one who needs immunity most of all. Alicia retakes the lead heading into the third section and tension mounts as both players keep dropping pieces. Alicia winds up taking the challenge, but only by seconds. She’s safe tonight, but will tribal council play out the way she’s expecting it to?
The manipulations get thick with Kim trying to save Chelsea by targeting Tarzan. Essentially tonight’s vote is going to go one of two ways – either Chelsea will be going home like originally planned, or Tarzan will be snuffed out. Tarzan isn’t helping matters at all with irrational acts – calling Alicia a bitch after she won immunity and wearing one of the girls’ tank tops (later revealed to be Kat’s) – and has anyone actually forgotten the “poop pants” incident? As we head to tribal council, just which direction the vote will go is up in the air, although one thing is brought back to light: Tarzan helped vote out five guys – and those guys are on the jury. What chance does he actually have to win this game when he turned against his brothers like that?
Tribal Council: That fact about Tarzan – getting rid of the guys – is brought back up at Tribal Council, although Tarzan tries to leverage that into the idea that he should be carried further because he’s unpopular with the jury. The focus stays largely on Tarzan for the duration of Tribal, although what that means is ambiguous at best as they head into the vote. Probst tallies the votes and…
The tribe has spoken.
With that, the last of the men is gone – but you know what? It didn’t matter. Tarzan didn’t have a chance to beat anybody. He was just a tool being kept around until he outlived his usefulness, so his departure was just a matter of time. I can’t remember a next-to-last episode that had so little impact on the game as a whole, although I’m sure there have been some. Frankly, if they want to show us something interesting, they should show us the jury house when Kat gets a hold of Tarzan for wearing her tank top (and panties on his head).
The final episode is Sunday, May 13thup against NBC’s penultimate Celebrity Apprentice. Which of the reality shows will win? And who will win Survivor? Sound off with your guess in the poll below.