Every few seasons or so, Survivor plays a cruel trick. It offers up someone you love to hate (or let’s face it, maybe just hate) so much so that you spend hours imagining their sweet, well-deserved dismissal. You hope it will be something wicked, like a unanimous tribal consensus, perhaps due to an unforgivable meltdown, mismanagement of a hidden idol, or a full-on psychotic break.
But you never — and I mean never — want that person to be sent home due to medical evacuation. Where’s the fun in that? Case in point: the shambolic Shamar. I was counting on rolling my eyes at his ineptitude for several more episodes to come, but no; dude got sent home for getting sand in his eye. I’m sure I’m not alone in imagining secret footage of Shamar scooping big fistfuls of sand right into his retinas, pleading to the camera to be evacuated in any way possible.
Shamar’s exit was not without some hilarity: two shining examples of what I was only just beginning to call the Weekly Shamar Problem. The first was at the end of Wednesday’s Reward Challenge, when it initially looked like Shamar was taking one for the team in a possibly successful strategy. The challenge called for all tribe members to be on or above a platform to win; Shamar curled up into a ball and let the other players climb on top of him. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” he shouted as the challenge ended. The only problem? The Favorites actually won the challenge, not the Fans. So his victory cry was followed by “I didn’t win? … Damn!”
Incidentally, as someone who also watches The Amazing Race and lives in 2013, can I ask that we please retire the expression “That’s what I’m talkin’ about” already? I’d even settle for greater use of “Yeah, baby.”
Exhausted from all the losing, Shamar settled down for another 19-hour nap, much to the concern of his tribe who worried he was planning on quitting again. But no! Here’s the word from our man himself: “I ain’t leaving, but y’all gotta bring me rice once a day.” A sure-fire way to win over your hardworking tribe members if I ever saw one.
A good player would see an opportunity in Shamar, like Sherri, the Sandra Bullock clone, bringing him rice even though she would never wait on someone in real life. Because Shamar is exactly the kind of person you would want to bring as far as possible. Who would vote for him to win a million dollars? Then there’s a player like Reynold, whose dislike of Shamar doesn’t seem motivated by simple strategy. If there’s a bright side to Shamar’s leaving early, it’s that we won’t have to hear Reynold ranting about him any longer.
It was a much better week for the Favorites tribe, with Phil the Specialist now bestowing nicknames to players who aren’t even part of the StealthRUs alliance. Brandon is now The Conqueror, Erik is the Silent One, and Brenda, hilariously, is Serenity.
As winners of the Reward Challenge, the Favorites took advantage of visiting bushman Tata to feast, improve their shelter, and learn how to properly cook rice with bamboo. Tata was nicknamed both the Filipino Jesus and the Filipino Gollum during his brief stay; I wonder what nickname The Specialist might have given him? My money’s on Bodacious.
Another problem with Shamar going home early this week is the wind it took out of Tribal Council’s sails. Since Shamar was already gone, I wasn’t as invested as I would have been during the vote had he stayed in the game. On the other hand, we’re lucky we got a Tribal Council at all — often when a player is evacuated early, Survivor producers choose to skip the vote and keep the numbers for another week. Does the fact that a vote happened even with Shamar gone mean a mix-up in tribal lines to come, maybe earlier than expected?
Matt changed things up with his alliance by putting Laura forward as the person to vote out; this bothered Michael and Sherri, but not enough to keep Laura safe. Laura and Reynold summed it up: the vote this time around was about strength versus loyalty. Like it or not, if the Fans are to start winning challenges, they need to vote strategically, which means keeping Reynold and Eddie around a while longer. They did manage to get Reynold to use his idol, at least, meaning he’s got to start watching his back even more.
A few times this season, we’ve been teased by upcoming clips of Brandon Hantz threatening to go ballistic, only to catch the episode a week later and find it was just a bit of momentary drama. Not so this time around: judging from the shot of The Conqueror dumping a load of rice onto the ground, I’d say next week’s episode is the real deal, folks.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global/CBS.
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Jacques Viau’s TV addiction began in the 1970s after he learned to read from repeated viewings of Sesame Street. For TV Guide Canada, he regularly covers competitive reality shows Survivor, The Amazing Race and America’s Next Top Model. His current favourite scripted shows include Nurse Jackie, Less Than Kind, Mad Men, Homeland, Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.
Jacques is a graduate of McGill University’s Cultural Studies program, a Scorpio, and a huge geek. He should probably watch less TV and get out more.