Thursday, February 25, 2016

Survivor Kaoh Rong Episode 2: Take One Foot, Insert into Mouth

I guess there was a reason Jennifer Lanzetti was not put on the Brains tribe.  Having formed a solid alliance with Scot Pollard, Kyle Jason and Cydney Gillon and successfully uniting to vote out the personable Darnell Hamilton on Day 3, Jenny had nothing to worry about even if her tribe lost another challenge.  Alecia Holden was firmly at the bottom of the totem pole and would be an easy vote out, guaranteeing Jenny what every Survivor player covets most - three more days.  Instead, the insect that had crawled in her ear had apparently done some damage to her cerebrum and she lost all rational thought.  She managed to talk herself out of her alliance and out of the game in what would otherwise have been a pretty boring, predictable episode.

Coming back from the first tribal council, Alecia was appreciative that her tribe kept her and she promised to step it up.  Now, despite having said in the premiere episode that she "is a mental giant," Alecia seems to be confused about where she stands with the tribe and whether the three votes against her meant anything.  But, God love her, she takes the setback and the confusion with good cheer.  The next day, as her tribemates lay around, she works that flint over - for hours - trying to make fire for her lazy, ungrateful, non-allies.  What she lacks in smarts, and fire making skills, Alecia more than makes up for with a positive attitude and determination.  Grudgingly, I'm starting to like her. Especially when after her malapropism - calling an ember an embryo - Alecia gives us the quote of the night: "Me and my words."

Over on the Beauty tribe, everyone except for Tai Trang is in the ocean, discovering the oversized clams which in Survivor 31 Kimmi and Monica butted heads over.  Tai finds himself in a bit of a Catch 22 - he went looking for an idol because he worried he was at the bottom of the tribe and his looking for an idol has put him at the bottom of the tribe and so now he has to find the idol while his constant searching is only going to further separate him from his tribe and keep him on the bottom.  Either the rest of his tribe is oblivious or the Survivor producers really wanted him to find the clue, because as he looks around there is a bright neon sign pointing towards a clue jutting about five feet out of a tree with a myna bird on a twig above it chirping, here's the clue, Tai, here's the clue.   But there's a twist.  First he has to dig under the tree to find the box containing the idol and then he is instructed to climb a four hundred foot, smooth sided and well oiled, tree to get the key that unlocks the box that has the hidden immunity idol.  Bonding with the tribe may have been easier.

This looks so much easier on TV
Tai tries to channel his inner Ozzy, but he does not have a muscular, agile 20-something inside him (much to his great sadness) and so he fails in his attempt to fetch the key.  Somehow, with all this going on - and his body being cut up by the effort - his tribe has no idea that Tai found the clue to the idol.  But today ended up Tree 1, Tai  0 and he will have to (1) hope no one looks up and wonders why there's a  box attached to the top of a palm tree and (2) grow wings overnight so he can fly up to grab it if he wants this idol.  Or his team can continue to not lose.  That would work too,

Speaking of non-losing teams, we next go over to the Brains tribe where the gift that is Debbie Warner just keeps on giving.  Every word out of her mouth is pure Coach-ian gold, all full of bravado and a startling lack of self-awareness.  She gets into a dispute with Elisabeth Markham over the wisdom of boiling water before you drink it.   Debbie is, after all, the chemist and if she says the chances of their being any organic chemicals in the water that they need to boil out is "virtually slim to none."  Liz is unconvinced and worried about parasites and pathogens to which Debbie scoffs.  She has the "immune system of a horse" she tells Liz.  Unfortunately, according to, 
"When a horse is stressed, lacking in proper nutrients, or old, he says, the immune system can't function appropriately and pathogens are able to breach the defensive lines."  So if a horse were on Survivor, say around Debbie's age, it would probably want its water boiled as well.

What's interesting in the battle between the two Brains is actually how Thanks, Obama handles the dispute.  Peter Baggenstos knows Debbie is nutty cuckoo crazy in the head out of her mind, he listens to her and gives her positive feedback and does not at all signal that he thinks she's stark raving mad.  Then he turns to us in the confessional and asks the million dollar question - does she have thirty cats at home or forty.  That's how you play Survivor.  You coddle and nurture the crazy lady and stay out of her way, while bonding with your fellow sane tribemates about her litany of accomplishments. 

We go back over to Beauty and someone has replaced Big Brother's bombastic, stalkerish Caleb Reynolds with this sweet, tolerant, cuddly guy who agrees to keep Tai warm at night.  I don't know why being out in the oppressive heat and humidity of Cambodia, sleeping on logs and having virtually nothing to eat or drink has brought out a completely different side of this guy than we saw living in the comfy house built in the parking lot at the CBS studios in Burbank.    Michelle Fitzgerald and Julia Sokolowski each provide small sound bites about the Southern hunter and the San Francisco gardener being an unlikely pair and it's either the start of a beautiful friendship or it may end up putting a large target on both of them.  But right now, it's just fun to watch especially as Tia tries to wrangle a kiss from his fellow Beauty.

While some people are good at either getting along or at least not being a pain in the ass, Joseph Del Campo is showing how not to win friends and influence people.  He is stubborn, bossy, opinionated, and condescending.  He fights with everyone (except his pet, Debbie) about everything and he's right and they're wrong.  He's either never seen Survivor before or he's watched it in reverse.  He manages to bring Liz to tears simply because she wants to do what every Survivor contestant has done since the beginning of time, or at least since 2000 - boil the freaking water.  This shouldn't be a contentious idea.  If the water doesn't need to be boiled then all the charities bringing fresh water into impoverished areas can refocus their efforts.  According to Joe and Debbie all water is good and safe to drink, so guzzle up!

So you hit this do-hickey with this thingamajig?
Over at Brawn tribe it's scrape, scrape, scrape as the tribe tries to get a spark with their flint to get fire so they can boil their water so it's safe to drink.  Too bad they didn't get the memo from Debbie that all they have to do is channel their inner horse and drink all the fresh water they want.  So after the big, brawny guys give up on making fire, Alecia decides she is going to make fire no matter how long it takes her.  And even with her teammates all sleeping, she keeps at it until miraculously she makes fire!  Not only does that get them clean water to drink, but they can now cook one of their chickens and feast.  Her hard work pays off and Jenny can't help but be impressed with Alecia's tenacity.  Unfortunately, this will shortly come back to bite her.

At the immunity challenge it looks like Brawn will prevail this time as they go out to an early lead, but Scot was not up to the slingshot part of the challenge, which is understandable.  The guys is built more like Goliath than David, what experience would he have with a slingshot?  So Brawn is headed to another visit with Jeff Probst at Tribal Council, but Scot is not worried.  He has a solid foursome with Cydney, Jenny, and Kyle.  "I would be shocked if one of us turned."

Prepare to be shocked, Scot.  Kyle tells us, and probably anyone else who will listen, that Alecia is a ditz and a half.  She's dumb.  She's an ostrich.  She's useless.  We get it, Kyle, she's the blonde bimbo on the tribe.  Telling us you think she probably has a good heart doesn't take away from the fact that you are totally disrespecting her.  And it's not just we the viewers who see this, it's your fellow tribemates.  So sweet, goodhearted Jenny hears how Scot talks about Alecia and she's not happy about it.  She's having buyer's remorse with her alliance and the more she hears him put down Alecia, the more she wants to defend the girl.  But what Jenny forgot is there is no heart in Survivor.  You have to play with your head.  And you don't shake things up unless you can close the deal and showing any sympathy towards Alecia and trying to change the vote is very dangerous.

Kyle's lazy, entitled, gross and boorish attitude grates on Jenny, burrowing into her like a small insect in her ear.  And she can't take it any more.  So she goes to Alecia and asks her a question.  What's the best thing you can do in this game?  Alecia did not know there would be a test or she would have studied first.  So she tries her best to answer.  Be honest?  Nope.  Win a challenge?  Nope.  Soon, Alecia wishes it were a multiple choice test rather than a fill in the blank.  So Jenny gives her the answer - get out the strong players while you can.  Alecia loves this idea and Jenny comes up with the idea of a girls' alliance to target one of the boys (Kyle).  They tell Cydney they're idea and from what we saw she did the exact right thing - seem receptive and don't raise any unwanted attention.

The guys see Alecia and Jenny hanging out together and Kyle is a little suspicious but Scot assures him that he is 100% sure the two girls aren't teaming up and he is absolutely positive that their four-person alliance is rock solid.  What Scot doesn't realize is that being almost 7 feet tall means it takes a lot of time for information to float up to him and a lot is lost along the way, such as the fact that  the two women are thick as thieves, whispering together and hanging out much more than they should if one were voting out the other.  After allaying Kyle's fears, Scot goes to his ally Jenny just to confirm that they're good and she says they are but inside she's waffling.  She wants to make this big move and blindside Kyle, but she doesn't want to alienate Scot whom she does like.  What to do?

Jenny decides to second, third and fourth guess herself and flip flop back and forth  over and over again.  Vote out Alecia, vote out Keith, original four person alliance, new all girls alliance, safe easy vote, big move.  She drives herself and Cydney crazy as she can't make up her mind and they head off to tribal not having locked down the decision because deciding on the fly is always the best move.

Accio immunity idol
At tribal, Jeff does his usual.  He gives each contestant a little rope and sees if anyone wants to wrap it around their necks and jump into the abyss.  He asks Alecia a question and she gives a pretty good answer - how she knows she's on the bottom but she's tried to make a contribution to the tribe.  Then he asks Jenny how to approach tonight's vote -- go with the obvious totem pole approach or consider a girls' alliance now that they have the majority of votes.  Jeff is not a federal prosecutor, you're not under oath,  you don't have to give away all your secrets or answer truthfully to his question.  His job is to poke and prod and ask probative questions, yours is not to say something that will blow up your entire game.  But Jenny missed that memo and she answers Jeff truthfully telling him the vote and how to handle it was up in the air to which Kyle, Scot and Cydney each provide very GIF-able reactions.

Jenny tries to back track but the damage is done.  She tries to pin the strategy discussions targeting Kyle on Alecia, but "Blondie" is not dumb enough to take the fall for this.  She pushes everything right back on Jenny's lap.  That was your decision, your idea, your strategy.  I was just minding my own business, trying to remember how to get back to camp, when you came up with this whole idea.  Kyle had his suspicions back in the shelter and now they were confirmed.  Scot had gone to bat for Jenny and now he finds out she really was plotting behind his back.  This is no bueno.  Meanwhile, Cydney sits as quietly as she can hoping no one notices her or asks her any questions.  She lets the guys grill Jenny and lets Jenny and Alecia take turns pointing fingers at one another while trying to stay out of the crossfire.

Jenny, forgetting the first rule of holes, continues to dig deeper and deeper and the more she talks the less her now former allies like of what they're hearing.  She broke their trust and there is no going back.  Could she at that point have tried to rally the girls to go back to her first plan of voting out Kyle?  Perhaps.  But instead she tried to patch things up with the two people who thought they could trust her and just learned they couldn't.  That was her second and final mistake.  No amount of standing on top of the bench and pleading her case was going to save her at that point. She was a dead woman walking.

Wasn't this supposed to be "Blondie?"
So Jenny Lanzetti becomes the second person voted out of Survivor Kaoh Rong, aka Brains, Beauty and Brawn 2.  Pre-game is said of her that "her only problem on the tribe may be that she's not used to fading into the background and not giving her opinion so she has to worry about butting heads.  But if she lives by her "semper Gumby" motto (always flexible!) she might be okay."  Jenny was too flexible, going back and forth between two alliances and failing to commit to just one.  That and her insistence on actually answering one of Jeff's questions honestly rather than strategically were what brought her down and not the creepy crawly that had briefly taken over her life in Episode One.

Want more on Jenny?
CBS The Day After Interview
Exit interview on RHAP
Interview with Josh Wigler/Parade
Interview with CarterMatt
Interview with RealityTVWorld

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