Okay, first off, at the risk of violating the Huffington Post Entertainment Page, All-Polanski/All-the-Time policy in force this week, this column will not be about Roman Polanski. He will not be mentioned after this paragraph. I apologize. I don't mean to be a malcontent, but this will be a Polanski-free column. Don't be afraid. I'm sure there are from seven to twenty Polanski-related pieces still on this page you can read instead.
Secondly: earlier this week a headline ran on this page to the effect that the earthquake and tsunami in Samoa this week in no way damaged or endangered the production of Survivor: Samoa. Indeed it did not, since it was all shot months ago! They've actually shot an entire additional edition of Survivor, to air in the new year, since finishing Samoa. So to the two or three people out there who may have thought this was actually Big Brother: Samoa and done live: get a clue. Talk about a non-headline. Here's an additional flash, the tsunami did not impact the production of Gone With the Wind either.
As we began episode 3, over at Tribe Galu, poor ex-Marine sergeant Shambles is unhappy. "The way that the rest of the tribe does things is way different than the way that I do things." The way that earth people do things is way different from the way Shambles does things.
Meanwhile, over at Tribe Zsa Zsa, Jaison is offended by Hillbilly Ben's freely-expressed racism. Me too. Guess who isn't? Psycho Russell, of course, he of the "Texas Charm."
Psycho Russell: "Nobody here is playing the game." No, Russ, nobody is playing your crazy, evil version of the game. That's like Norman Bates at a motel owner's association meeting, complaining that no one else is murdering their guests. "You let them just pay their bills, check out and leave? Are you sane or something?"
Psycho Russell: "I'm gonna have 'em all under control like zombies, walking around." Psycho Russell, zombies eat brains. You have a brain, in fact, I think it's that Criminal Brain that the hunchback Fritz stole for Henry Frankenstein, so look out!
Hillbilly Ben thinks his tribemates are all "pansies." Can he go three sentences without uttering a bigoted label? (no) And "pansies"? Really? What is this, 1930?
Hillbilly Ben told Liz, "Not to be chauvinistic, not to put you girls down, you won't be able to start the fire with a flint." How is that not chauvinistic? "Me man. Me make fire. You wo-man, you make man dinner. Also make dinner for pansies and sissies." What a tool. Ben, did you ever see the Farrah Fawcett TV movie The Burning Bed? Because you may find out the women can make fire (a couple of them are pretty hot), but only when it's too late.
Hillbilly Ben, the epitome of class, told everyone "I pooped this morning and it was like the biggest poop, I think, of my life." How does Survivor keep losing the Best Reality Show Emmy? How can you say this is not quality television? Coincidentally, Hillbilly Ben is one of the biggest poops I've ever seen in my whole adult life, and I knew Louis B. Mayer.
Then Galu got some screen time, probably by accident. Who are these people again? Brett? Brett who? Monica? I thought she was on Friends. There are people on Galu I've never set eyes on before, and this is the third episode. These people are more obscure than a United States Vice President.
"Laura," who is an "office manager" rather than a great movie with my dear Vinnie Price, was leading some of Galu in yoga. Sadly, they weren't doing it naked, so it wasn't Yoga Bare. (Who is smarter than the average bare.)
Shambles thinks they're nuts, like she's any judge. "I'm not doing the warm and fuzzy; I'm doing the Rambo-Shambo provider role." Like she did last episode, when she told everyone she was going to catch them some fish, then went and had a swim, and came back with no fish and the snorkel ruined? Besides, Rambo wasn't a "provider." He was a killer. Her actual Gulf War is the gulf between her and Reality. "Do we have water? No. Do we have food? No." Do you have fish, Shambles? No. Do you have a usable snorkel? No. At least doing yoga isn't destroying anything they do have.
Psycho Russell told Ben that Ashley, a vacuous blond on Psycho Russell's "Dumb-Ass Girl Alliance," was trying to get rid of him, just to get Ben scheming against her. Then we learned Psycho Russell's theory of "Whorticulture": "You plant that little seed in their head, in their little brain, and then it grows, and it's called a 'Russell Seed.' It takes over their whole mind." I don't want Psycho Russell planting his seed in any part of me. Ew. Mrs. Psycho Russell, how can you stand him, or his "Russell Seed? He is so smugly proud of being a douchebag.
Hillbilly Ben immediately went off to confront Ashley, while Psycho Russell listened with glee.
H. Ben: "I had to find out from somebody else."
Ashley: "Who'd you find out from?"
H. Ben: "It wasn't Russell. That's all I'm saying."
Ben, you idiot, "It wasn't Russell" is the answer to the question "Did Russell tell you?" That's basically announcing it was Russell, not that Ashley is smart enough to figure that out.
So Ashley went off and told Natalie, the other vacuous blond on the Zsa Zsa tribe (If this tribe were really named Zsa Zsa, it would be named in honor of Ashley and Natalie, honorary Gabors), "Ben told me that every single person in the tribe approached him and told him that I was the one that brought up his name yesterday." No he didn't. He told her that Not-Russell told him, which was an obvious lie, and Miss Brainiac took that to mean that everyone except Russell had done it. She is actually stupider than she looks, and I wouldn't have thought that was possible. I mean she can walk upright. Or is that done with skillful editing?
The most maddening thing about Psycho Russell smugly telling us that the people on his tribe are all idiots is that, damn it, he's mostly right.
Ashley: "I've never been so confused in my entire life." Oh I doubt that. Has there ever been a time in her life when she wasn't confused?
Along with tree mail, Survivor sent the tribes brand new skimpy bikinis, as they were seriously concerned that the minuscule rags the girls were wearing were not revealing enough. What I would have appreciated would have been for them to send Psycho Russell an athletic cup.
I do not want to see Shambles in a skimpy bikini. Actually, I don't want to see Shambles at all. Maybe in a Bhurka. "Hey, rock and roll, man," said Shambles, "I got my jogger bra on." What I fear is that it is a bra she made out of an actual jogger she encountered alone in the woods one day. The way Black Russell's eyebrows shot up, I think he recognized Shamble's bra from the side of a milk carton.
Immunity & Reward Challenge: Along with Immunity, the tribes were playing for brightly colored cushions, pillows, mats, towels, and some large candles.
The challenge involved swimming out to retrieve large cubes to then stack in a color puzzle. And there was a war zone in the water, where offensive tackles could try to slow the swimmers down by trying to drown them. Oh boy, wet tackle. That's entertainment. If Galu has any sense, they'll make Shambles one of the offensive tackles. And Ben was born offensive, and he'll die offensive.
Then Black Russell left me once again wondering how he ever got through law school, by having Shambles sit the challenge out, instead of using her as a tackle. He also sat out some guy named Brett, making his first appearance on camera outside of the opening credits. Brett, the guy who - ah - isn't John. (I think.)
The first round consisted of four young women in bikinis wrestling each other in knee-deep water, a straight guy's version of lesbian porn. (Actual lesbian porn, if it existed, which it doesn't, would be the same, only all the women would look like Shambles, and would be wearing flannel shirts and Birkenstocks.) All across America, men were suddenly covering their laps with cushions, books, family pets, anything to conceal their rising attention levels.
Well, I was wrong about Ben being a perfect offensive tackle. John and Dave scooted right around Ben, who never succeeded in laying a finger on either of them. Ben had been calling his tribemates pansies and sissies, but Dave, the unmarried former flight attendant with a degree in "Opera," got right past him effortlessly. Who's a pansy now, Butch Boy?
When Black Russell tackled MickDreamy, and Jaison went splashing back to help him get free, while Ben joined in, tackling Black Russell, the computer keyboard Little Dougie had on his lap to type up my notes as I dictated them suddenly levitated eight inches into the air. For some reason, Dougie felt it necessary to rerun the scrimmage two or three times before he'd let the show move on, not that I minded. And oddly, he seemed to be trying to type with his fingers underneath the keyboard.
In the next round, Monica, whoever the hell she is, escaped from a tackle by Ashley by splashing water in her face. A squirt gun would be a deadly weapon against Ashley.
In round four, Ben once again completely failed to lay a finger on the men he was supposed to be hindering. Maybe if his task had been to hurl offensive epithets to stun his opponents into stopping, Ben would have done better.
What a shock. After an early big lead, helped immeasurably by Zsa Zsa's lame offensive tackles, Galu also finished off their puzzle quickly, and won their third straight challenge. Zsa Zsa, already at seven members to Galu's ten, will now be reduced to six, and won't have any pillows to cushion the blow, nor any candles to spy Psycho Russell, burning their socks in the night. And I think Psycho Russell is delighted to have his tribe lose again. He sat the challenge out, so no one can blame him for the loss, and he gets to pick off another victim. He's in Hog Heaven, although this swine belongs in Pig Purgatory. Will no one rid me of Shambles?
As "Tribe Leader," Black Russell was offered a surprise reward choice. He could keep the cushions, towels, mats, and candles, or trade them for cooking pots, more fishing gear, a tarp, a lantern (vastly more practical than candles), a couple big knives, and what looked like a huge bottle of booze. Hell, with a big enough bottle of booze, a bed of broken glass can be a cushion. Only a moron would choose the luxuries over the practical gear.
Without even a momentary pause, Black Russell made the ridiculously wrong choice. It's now only because Tribe Zsa Zsa is actually named Foa Foa, and it would thus cause unnecessary confusion, that I am not now renaming Galu "Fru-Fru." Asian Liz and Yasmin From Planet X applauded this idiotic mistake. Dave looked like he wanted to kill Russell, and I was worried that Shambles was going to scalp the fool on the spot, and for once I had to agree with her. Black Russell, the worst thing about your stupid decision is, you had me in agreement with that loon Shambles. Did you go to Mortimer Snerd's Law School? George W. Bush made better decisions.
Jeff asked Galu if they had any second thoughts about their leader's stupid decision, and before Dave could say, "Hell yes. What are you thinking, you dip?" Yasmin From Planet X did the thing she's best at, opening her gigantic mouth (I'm not exaggerating. Her mouth is enormous. She's like a black Martha Raye, only not funny.) to prattle on about how comfort was just what they needed. Remember, this was the idiot who was complaining last week about being outdoors when playing Survivor. Like I said, she's from Planet X, where they don't see Survivor.
To us, Black Russell explained his real "reasoning," "If I make the women happy, we're gonna be happy." I see. Typical male. It's all about getting laid. I thought he was "happily" married. But then I remembered; no one is really happily married. That's a myth spread about to lure people into marriage.
And the one woman he had not made happy was Shambles, and she probably knows 17 ways to kill a man, just using the little finger of her left hand. Sleep lightly Russell, you idiot.
Dave, who calls himself "Danger Dave," and who bears a striking resemblance to a taller, thinner, less-creepy Kevin Spacey, was chafing at the choice. Danger Dave? He's a "former flight attendant" with a degree in "Opera." The biggest danger involved in studying opera is falling asleep in the cheap seats, and plummeting off the balcony, or getting eaten by the fat lady while she's waiting to sing.
Again allowed to choose a spy to send to Zsa Zsa, Black Russell chose Shambles, obviously to get rid of her for a day. This was his only wise choice in the whole episode. She probably has some training in espionage, is most unlikely to make Yasmin's ego-driven goof of running her mouth non-stop around the other tribe (she never even speaks to her own tribe), she can't ruin any more of Galu's fishing gear while she's away, and she can't assassinate Black Russell in his sleep until she gets back.
Instantly on arriving at Camp Zsa Zsa, Shambles did what she has not bothered to do at her own camp, bond with the tribe members, something Yasmin From Planet X had avoided while lecturing them on how to play the game. How dysfunctional is Tribe Zsa Zsa? They all loved Shambles at once.
She also told MickDreamy, "You're Mick? We call you MickDreamy." Who is "we," Shambles? You and me? Write your own stuff, and quit lifting mine! I know the series was shot months ago, but Samoa is very near to that Island on Lost, unless it isn't, and Shambles probably turned Ben Linus's donkey wheel, and zapped herself forward in time to last week on the mainland, read my column, lifted my nickname for him, and then time-shifted back to Samoa to co-opt my stuff. It's the only possible explanation for her calling him MickDreamy.
(And am I supposed to believe she's attracted to men? Would a woman attracted to men wear that hideous mullet?)
If only she had time-shifted forward another week, she could have warned the residents of Samoa about the forthcoming earthquake and tsunami. Plagiarism she's up for, but not saving lives. Typical! (If I had a drink for every time someone has stolen a joke of mine before I wrote it, I'd be too drunk to write this column. Oh look; I have and I am.)
More in character, Shambles immediately hit on Liz (Maybe she misheard her name as "Lez"), Ashley, and Natalie. For her, it must have been like buffet night at The Well of Lonliness. Over a shot of her hugging and groping each of Zsa Zsa's young girls in turn, Shambles told us, "One of my main objectives in this game, was to create interpersonal relationships as soon as possible..." Then why hasn't she done so prior to this? So far her main achievement has been to utterly alienate herself from her own tribe. "... So when Russell picked me to go, I was tickled pink [Did she say "tickled pink" or "tickle the pink"?] to head over and check out [Zsa Zsa]." Ah, so that's what she means by "creating interpersonal relationships." She was checking the girls out all right. The men, not so much. Now I see; her lift of my "MickDreamy" was to throw them off their guard. Where is Chris Hanson when we need him?
To Hillbilly Ben, who has by now shown us all what a contemptible human being he is, and whose skinny, bony frame is hardly eye candy either, she said, "What's goin' on, Beefcake?" Beefcake? That walking skeleton? Shambles, you've got more beefcake than that stick insect. "...Those bright eyes smilin' at everybody all the time." You mean those beady eyes, glaring with venom at the "pansies," "sissies," and "ghetto trash" he feels himself surrounded by? Good judge of character, Shambles.
She then promptly began denigrating her own tribe as "90210," referring to them all being younger than her, and not ex-Marines, while Zsa Zsa was closer to her own age. Actually, the only Zsa Zsa at all close to her age is Zsa Zsa Gabor. The one member of this tribe even in her same age-decade was Betsy, voted out last week. Liz, Ashley, and Natalie are all vapid girls two decades her junior. MickDreamy, thinking she'd have to be nuts to be saying what she's saying honestly, assumed she was lying. Psycho Russell also wasn't buying into the Shambles Road Show.
Shambles, knowing her tribe would try to vote her out in the increasingly unlikely event that Zsa Zsa ever wins an immunity challenge, felt that getting two clues to the whereabouts of Zsa Zsa's Hidden Immunity Idol "rocks." Russell, with the idol safely stored in his pants, where no one will look for it, also felt this rocked, for opposite reasons.
Back at Galu, Black Russell needed to do some damage control with the men over his lame-brained decision to choose comfort over the practical reward. "I'm the type of man that believes that you're supposed to take care of your women. All right? I've got a wife and a daughter. They're not here. You guys are. All right? Right now you guys are part of my women; I gotta take care of you. All right?"
Oh there is so much wrong with that speech. Let's go at it systematically. Black Russell:
A) "Your women." "My women." Women are not the possessions of men. They are not "your women." They are, in fact, your opponents in a competition.
B) It is not your job to "take care of" the women. They can take care of themselves.
C.) Women are not "guys." Quit calling them "you guys."
D) The absence of your wife and daughter does not make these women your property.
E) Taking care of your tribe would be better accomplished with the practical devices to help you acquire and prepare food better, and live better. Fru-fru luxuries are not for serious Survivor contestants.
F) It's good you remember you have a wife, since getting party pillows for the girls looks suspiciously like you're trying to get laid, and your wife is probably watching the show.
Meanwhile, Danger Dave thought Black Russell was an idiot, Rocket Scientist John felt it was a bone-head move, and Erik, who is no rocket scientist, made the sensible observation: "I would have sacrificed everything on that comfort item list for the tarp because, maybe it won't rain for 39 days. Maybe I'm wrong. But the day it does rain over here, every single one of those comfort luxury items are going to be soaked, and all of a sudden not so comfortable." There you have it, folks, a bartender who is smarter than a lawyer.
Since Galu, at five minutes, was over its allotted screentime for the week, we scurried back to Zsa Zsa where Jaison was putting it about that, if Hillbilly Ben wasn't voted out that night, he would quit the game. He assured us this was just a ploy (threatening to behave like a baby if you don't get your way is his idea of a good ploy?), but it was a damned stupid ploy, and would position him squarely into Ben's and Psycho Russell's crosshairs, where Ashley was currently residing. Close your exquisitely beautiful mouth, Jaison. I want to still be looking at you next week. And never play the "I'll quit" card. That will get you voted out even by your allies.
Ashley said: "I don't know what to think anymore." Did she ever know what to think, or even how to think, for that matter? Ashley is aware her head is on the block. There seems to be a simple solution to her plight: make sure Hillbilly Ben and Psycho Russell know that Jaison is campaigning to oust Ben.
It turned out to be MickDreamy's loose lips that spilled Jaison's anti-Ben campaign to Psycho Russell. Smooth move, Einstein.
MickDreamy made a deal with Psycho Russell that Ben would go next after Ashley. MickDreamy insisted Russell look him in the eye, swearing to it. Yes, eye contact, an infallible lie detector. MickDreamy, I may have to change your name to MickMoron. At every turn, Psycho Russell's contemptuous evaluations of his tribemates' stupidity is proved correct.
Psycho Russell proved his Satanic brilliance yet again. He showed the Hidden Immunity Idol to MickMoron to demonstrate his trust in him to him. And MickMoron fell for it, hook, line, and idol. What other proofs of honesty would convince MickMoron? Swearing on your mother's grave? Pinky swears?
"This is what God made me for," said Psycho Russell. Russ, even if I believed in God, which I don't (pinky swears don't convince me either, and my mother's grave makes me want to dance, not swear), you were made by God's - ah - competition.
Shambles, sent to Zsa Zsa to ferret out the secrets and weaknesses of the tribe, remained oblivious to the plotting going on around her, and instead busied herself with the pretty young girls. Did she say to Ashley and Natalie, "I'm gonna show you guys, lickety-split," or did she say, "I'm gonna show you guys licking the spilt"? She taught (only) the girls how to make what she called a "poofy torch," like the one she's carrying for them. In the great Chef Mike tradition of substituting rhyme for reason, she told us, "I've been hooking it up and cooking it up at camp today. Taught them a few new tricks that they didn't know." Well she was certainly trying to hook up.
But she was also attending to business, searching for the long-gone Hidden Immunity Idol, which was more than Yasmin From Planet X did.
Watching all the female bonding (After her first meet-and-greet, Shambles was confining her hooking up and cooking up strictly to the "Dumb-Ass Girl Alliance"), Russell became confirmed in his determination to oust Ashley, to prevent too much female bonding from threatening his plots. So, instead of sabotaging Jaison, Psycho Russell tried convincing Jaison to hold off on eliminating Hillbilly Ben. We got this moment of drop-dead good sense:
Psycho Russell: "What if we do a challenge?" What if? Is there some doubt in his mind that there will be more challenges? "Is he a strong player?"
Psycho Russell: "You don't think he's a strong player?"
Jaison: "Name one thing he's done in a challenge?"
Crickets Chirp. Birds tweet. Moss grows on the sides of rocks.
Well honestly, he was a total failure at the most-recent challenge, and he got tossed out of the one before. He may be able to kill and skin small animals, but Jaison is right; he's a total lox at challenges; lots of mouth, no game.
But Russell's and MickMoron's counter-argument, once thy finally came up with one, was "Girl Power." The women would outnumber the men and start voting them out. Except that three women and three men isn't "being outnumbered. "
Jaison was firm however. If they insisted on going for Ashley, he would speak his mind at Tribal Council, and open war would break out in the tribe. This actually gave Psycho Russell pause. His whole strategy is secret back-stabbings. He's afraid of exposure to the light and openness. Remind you of any horned Princes of Hell you may have heard about in Sunday School? Is the puppet master being outfoxed by a man of integrity and righteousness? For the first time, we saw Russell's smug grin fall away. I like Jaison more and more. I'd volunteer to have his baby if it weren't a wee bit late for me to manage. (I've gone well beyond menopause, into menofullstop.)
Tribal Council: This was a great Tribal Council.
First, Jaison openly touted his desire to trade Hillbilly Ben to Galu for Shambles. Hard to say which tribe would be getting the fuzzy end of that lollipop, but I suppose it would be Galu. You may have detected that I am not exactly a Shambles fan, but at least she hasn't been doling out the sort of bigotry that Hillbilly Ben spews, unless of course, you're at the receiving end of one of her "90210" ageist snarks. Maybe if she'd taught Galu how to make Poofy Torches, they'd all have bonded.
"I don't approach people with negativity," said Ben. Well, he doesn't. He calls them pansies and ghetto trash behind their backs, not to their faces. Score one for Ben.
Jaison pointed out how Ben has yelled at the girls, and only the girls. "Amazing how you always try to go to someone you think is weak. That's what bullies do. You yell at every single girl." Jaison is not just gorgeous; he's like some sort of mature, intelligent, stand-up man, with cajones. What the hell is he doing on Survivor?
Hillbilly Ben came up with a sterling defense of his calling Yasmin From Planet X "Ghetto Trash": "Well if she's from the ghetto, and she's trashy, that's ghetto trash... That's not racial whatsoever." Logic worthy of Mr. Spock. Do they have ghettos on Planet X? Ashley was starting to smirk, smelling her salvation in the air.
You would have to be a redneck from Missouri to expect an educated, intelligent black man to accept that "Ghetto Trash" isn't a racist epithet.
Jasion has it all over Hillbilly Ben when it comes to debating. "Let me make another point then, Southern Guy with Southern Ways, do you really think you should talk to a woman that way? You call that a gentleman? Do you speak to a young lady that way?" Hillbilly Ben is a lot of things. Gentleman is not among them.
Ben was ready for that one: "So Yasmin's being a bitch; she's not a lady." Well, Ben is not 100% wrong on that one. Meanwhile, Natalie, seated between Ben and Jaison, was clearly wishing she were somewhere else, like maybe Disney World. (Hmmm. Survivor: Walt Disney World. I'd like to see that. If only it were on Disney-owned ABC instead of CBS.)
Jeff asked Ben if there was anything he'd just said to Jaison he regretted. Ben said, "Not that I can think of." A man who sticks to his ignorant guns. Shambles was all but giggling as she departed, and the voting began.
Bye-bye Ben. Back to Missouri. Meanwhile, I want to marry Jaison.
At the end of each episode they've been having sponsored "Survivor Family Moments," in which the families of the player just ousted appear and make a comment. Brazenly, Hillbilly Ben's relatives did not appear with bags over their heads. (Honestly) His aggressively-cute little niece said, "Hi Uncle Ben. Don't eat too many bugs, 'cause you'll get sick, sick, sick." Way too late, little darling; Uncle Ben (not the converted rice baron) is already sick, sick, sick, and was well before he went to Samoa.
Hillbilly Ben had a terrific last speech for us: "This tribe's a bunch of sissies ..." Well, he didn't want to overuse pansies. "...everybody except Russell..." Ben, Russell voted you out too. Only you voted for Ashley. It was 6 to 1 to oust you. "...I was the hardest working guy in camp..." No he wasn't. That was one of the points that Jaison used to motivate votes against him. "...Everybody knew that. They'll miss me when I'm gone." Cling to that delusion, darling. Meanwhile, if you want a million dollars, Ben, I suggest you shoot some food, and hope from the ground comes a-bubblin' crude.
At the end of the show, Jeff Probst made a pitch to us to help the real survivors of the real Samoan Tsunami by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or going to redcross.org or HELPSAMOA.com, to make a financial gift. Do that, and you will officially be a better person than Hillbilly Ben.
Cheers darlings, and Happy Groucho's Birthday. (Should be a national holiday.)
To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to The Morehead the Merrier.