As episode 8 of Survivior: Zombie Island commenced, it occurred to me that Sarita doesn't seem to fully understand the game of Survivor, or Tic Tac Toe for that matter. She arrived at Zombie Island overflowing with praise for the very people who had just sunk her hopes of winning a million dollars deeper than the dreams of the man who, three months ago, sank his wife's life savings, and all the money he could embezzle, into a video release titled Lindsey Lohan's Cost-Conscious Shopping Tips.
As Viva Zapata returned from Tribal Council, a newly-secure David forgave Mansweater, aka Ralph (pronounced "Rafe," except by Ralph), for voting to eliminate him. This is the first smart thing David has done in about three episodes.
Julie: "We have to win the next two challenges." I guess she didn't see the previews of coming attractions. It's too late to splurge; we've now reached the merge.
Steve: "No one likes a landslide." Well actually, Steve, that depends on whether you're surfing the land, or being slid over. In 1972, Richard Nixon liked his landslide just fine, though the country shortly had second thoughts on the matter.
Sarita on Viva Zapata: "There are lots of amazing people!" Sarita is more easily-amazed than I am.
Sarita was match-making a blind date for Dr. Jesus and Mike, the hot Marine. As long as Dr. Jesus didn't talk, I'd pay a dollar and a quarter to watch that!
So Dr. Jesus is now strongly considering behaving like a True Christian, and betraying those he should forgive, in order to manipulate others into providing him with vengeance. Yup. Sounds Christian to me.
The treemail ordered both entire tribes to attend the Zombie Island Duel to Come Crawling Back Out of Their Grave, and even this bunch could work out that likely meant The Merge. When you're feelin' the urge, go hard for a merge!
Zombie Island Duel to Come Crawling Back Out of Their Grave: And lo, upon the 6th Duel, The Lord didst granteth the Gift of Undeath, and the Zombie didst shambleth forth, but which zombie was-eth it?
Zombies are rotting flesh, so over time, they fall apart. Dr. Jesus has been a Zombie now longer than anyone had reasonably planned for, and his flesh is peeling back off of his dead foot in a large ribbon, exposing the raw, dead meat below. How hobbled is he, and will the challenge involve a lot of sitting?
Dr. Jesus: "God gave me this platform..." No Einstein, it was Palin's Pimp and CBS who gave you this platform. Credit where it's due, not simply where you want to imagine it goes.
Sarita: "I think I'm a worthy opponent." She thinks she, the lamest of the lame challenge players, affectionately known around the locker room as "Dead Weight," is a "worthy opponent" for Dr. Jesus, who has won five one-on-one duels in a row, which is five more than Sarita has won. Unless jogging is a strong component of the challenge, I think Dr. Jesus could beat her even if his foot had been chewed off by a rabid wolverine ten minutes before commencement of the duel. Dr. Jesus is of a similar opinion.
Jeff announced that the winner of this duel was indeed to rise from the dead, and feast on the brains of the living. Rob doesn't really know Sarita, but I'm sure he was rooting for her.
The challenge order is laid out weeks in advance, with no idea who will be participating in them or what their conditions will be when they get there. Therefore, the show has no culpability, and Doc Savior's God must take 100% of the blame for the fact that it seemed as though this challenge was specifically designed to play on the Doc's injury.
The Doc has a deep, nasty, obviously-painful gash on the outside of the sole of his left foot. The challenge is an endurance challenge we've seen before. It involves standing wedged between two vertical boards, with your feet moving down at regular intervals, to increasingly narrower footholds, until it is barely an eighth of an inch, stood on in barefeet! It's a good challenge, and the Doc's injury seems almost chosen exactly for it. We'll have some real Survivor suspense here all right, with an outcome that should play a major factor in the next, and least predictable, swing of the game. If this show starts getting too good, what will I make jokes about?
(Oh wait. Agent Dumb Ass is still on board. Whew!)
Wait! Dr. Jesus got to wear a bandage around his injured foot! No fair! Not only does it reduce his pain, but the bandage itself provides additional purchase and grip which Sarita doesn't have. Either both must have a bandage, or neither!
Jeff was feeling very mischievous. He deliberately and intentionally asked Agent Dumb Ass about the Bushido Code, knowing Dumb Ass would talk for days without further prompting, thus saving Jeff from having to babble himself (Endurance challenges take a long time), while also secure in the knowledge that Big Mouth would not say one single word that was remotely interesting to anyone on earth, thus turning the duel into an endurance challenge for the spectators as well, and upping the degree of difficulty for the two players.
Of course, Dr. Jesus has a lot of experience of going to church, so he is undoubtedly well-practiced at remaining alert while in tremendous physical discomfort, and while listening to a pedantic bore droning on and on about idiocy.
The good part of Big Mouth's dissertation was it exposed Viva Zapata for the first time to what an awe-inspiring bag of wind Dumb Ass is.
Viva Zapata were saying encouraging stuff to Sarita: "You own this." "Good job, girl," and other such pointless phrases that made them feel like they were participating, but what Agent Dumb Ass was shouting to Dr. Jesus was a bit more off: "You're looking great, Matt. Hang in there, you're looking real good." He picks here and now to start flirting with the boy? Is this why all the fuchsia?
How lame is Sarita? She lost a duel that was all but engineered to make Dr Jesus lose.
Welcome to the new Nicaraguan Easter. Dr. Jesus has risen from the dead to walk among Mortal Men once more. This always leads to trouble!
Well, even I can't say Dr. Jesus didn't earn his way back in. Six consecutive wins. Even if Zombie Island becomes a regular part of the show, like Immunity Idols, his record is not likely ever to be bested.
Jeff Announced The Merge. Yawn. Knew it. But then, he did hit us with a surprise I certainly did not see coming: Zombie Island starts up again! The ousted members still return to duel, for the hope of Resurrection, or losing one's way into The Jury. Count no one out yet, except Russell, of course.
The Merge Feast: I bet I know what Boston Rob is thinking: "Where is the immunity idol clue hidden?"
Julie: "My whole body got happy." Is that unusual for you too, dear? I'm lucky to get even 70% of my body happy at any one time these days.
Rob amused himself (and me) by convincing the tribe that "Murlonio" was a Spanish word for "From the Sea United" and getting them to name the tribe that, when it's just an in-joke between his wife and himself, the name of the ringleader of Amber's army of stuffed animals. That's pretty funny. If only it were Samurai for "Fuchsia Panties."
Since it was a new camp, The Murlonions (It means "They Who Worship Merles," any Merle! Merle Oberon. Meryl Streep. Merlin Olson. A fine Merlot.) had to build a new camp shelter, which meant Grant and Mike and Dr. Jesus all had to sweat together, shirtless, all afternoon. Work, work, work. I could watch it all day.
Mike moved right in on Dr. Jesus, sensing in the devout Christer a potential tribal traitor, and trying to focus his desire for Heavenly Vengeance onto Boston Rob. As he began doing so, the editors showed us several shots of spiders spinning webs, for those who like their metaphors visible and obvious. Mile will learn what spiders catch in their webs. Flies.
Mike generously offered to help Dr. Jesus whittle his, Mike's, own allies down as a sign of Good Faith. Actually, that seems like about as clear a sign of Bad Faith as you could come up with. If I slit the throats of everyone who trusts me, will that convince you to trust me?
Mike even offered the Immunity Idol to The Doc "if you need it," despite the fact that it's not his to offer. Mansweater has it, and Mansweater might not want to offer it up as a token on behalf of his ally who just offered to help cut Mansweater's throat to gain The Doc's trust. Mansweater may have other plans for it. Or he may have lost it in his body hair. Last week he tripped and fell over, and a ten-month-old billy goat escaped from a furry fold in his lower back, and scampered off, never to be recaptured.
It turned out to be a miserable, cold, stormy night, and the tarp only got put over the part of the half-built shelter where the former members of Ete Poem slept, all dry and cosy, while the ex-Viva Zapatans shivered in the wind and rain, getting all weakened out before the first individual Immunity Challenge. Who were the primary driving forces in the construction of the shelter? Rob and his slave, Grant. Rob is playing this game at so many levels, as the members of a tribe named for a plush toy belonging to Rob's wife are so not aware.
Dr. Jesus took Andrea-or-Ashley out by moonlight (Very healthy for zombies, who shun the sunlight of the living) to explain his strategy to her. On the one hand, the strategy, which uses three-moves-ahead thinking, involving first voting out Steve, then Agent Dumb Ass, to make it look like all is going according to Rob's plan, and then, the following Council, blindsiding Rob, is a very good plan and well-reasoned, although it's usually a mistake to think you can see three rounds down the path.
On the other hand, he's explaining this to his closest ally, a certifiable moron, who did all but run through camp screaming: "We're gonna Blindside Rob in two weeks! We're gonna to blindside Rob in two weeks! Oh wait. Darn it, pardonna my French. Ah, forget what I just screamed!"
This is the problem with being a Messiah; your followers tend to be the sort of people who follow Messiahs.
Andrea-or-Ashley's voice grates on my ears like the sounds made by a bag of Siamese Cats being slowly flattened by a steam roller, only more ear-splitting. And expecting the blond girl to remember a plan this complex, and to remember it for three rounds, and without telling anyone else about it, is expecting rather a lot of her. I think my cat Clark is rather smart, as cats go, but I do not ask him to explain the subtexts in King Lear. That would be unreasonable of me.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jesus's plan reminds me of a line spoken by my new BFF Martin Landau in Hitchcock's North by Northwest: "It's an old Gestapo trick; shoot one of your own people to show you're not one of them. They've just freshened it up a bit with blank cartridges." I must look up where that is found in The New Testament.
Oops. And Maybe Dr. Jesus has overestimated his hearts-aflutter factor, because Andrea-or-Ashley isn't quite as on board with betraying her comrades as The Saved One is. After all, they didn't vote her out. And she wasn't with that Christian hussy Klumpp! You want to explain what you were doing with that Klumpp whore all night long with no chaperones out on Zombie Island? Which isn't even an island, you liar! What were you two doing all night, huh? Knowing each other Biblically?
We were praying for God to decide which of us would win.
Oh sure! How dumb do you think I am? Don't answer that! 'Praying!' That's rich! Praying the cameras were off is more like it!
I'm going to have to stop eating dinner before Survivor comes on, if we're going to have many more sickening scenes like the one of Mike reading from the Bible to Dr. Jesus and Ashley-or-Andrea, while they found meaningless meaning in their supposed Jesus guy being reported back in The Bronze Age as having fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (I'd like to see Him fast for 40 days but only 37 nights. Let's see You pull that one off, God Jr.!"), and Survivor running for 39 days. (Ah, but only 38 nights!)
I'd liked Mike right up to this stupid moment. Please tell me that it's just Mike using the tools of his quarry to trap him into his strategy, and that Mike is not actually a devotee of that ancient twaddle. I had to love Boston Rob, listening and rolling his eyes at the Sky Pilots and their nonsensical blather.
Dr. Jesus: "This may sound, like, crazy to you-all..." It really didn't matter what he said next; I knew he'd be absolutely accurate that it would sound, like, crazy to me-all. And when he did say it, it not only sounded, like, crazy to me-all, but it was, like, crazy, all-in-all: "After I beat Stephanie [Don't get your hopes up. He just meant defeated her in a duel.] like, it really, kinda like, means God really wanted me to win Redemption Island. I really feel I was put here for a reason, and that reason was, I believe, to honor my god."
Halt the Machinery of the Spheres! Stop the galaxies in their rotations! Let the trillion trillion trillion stars, and their trillion trillion trillion-squared planets pause, for the Creator of All That Is, the Lord of the Cosmos, The Invisible Hand that guides every quark in existence, in a Creation where Randomness is a null concept, that Creator must put aside all else that would claim Her attention, and devote Her Divine Self solely to making sure Dr. Jesus wins Redemption Island! The Grand Canyon is not honor enough. The Milky Way is not honor enough. The human brain is not honor enough. The breadth of the universe is not honor enough. No! Only when a particularly stupid, but highly athletic, med student does well on this particular TV game show, will this First Cause of The Universe finally, at long, long last, be honored enough!
Do you really want someone this stupid as your doctor?
Mike, after reading more tripe from The Pink Bible, said: "It's just such beautiful language, you know?" That beautiful language is called English, Mike, and it's not the language in which that book was written. In fact, you're reading a translation of a translation of a translation, with a lot of archaic, 17th Century, Jacobean, pseudo-poetic, pretentious verbiage slathered over it like icing on a birthday cake.
Mike's Bible reading did accomplish more than just making me ill; it got Rob to draw a bead on him. He wants to eliminate Mike for spouting Bible verse. As decorative as I find Mike, I have to agree with Rob's thinking here.
If reciting the Bible,
Is the past time they've picked,
Then that's the time,
We must evict!
Immunity Challenge: No reward, just Immunity. Good challenge, although having two different endurance challenges in the same show was a goof on someone's part. Endurance challenges are good and needed, but they have little action. If you have one in an episode, then the other challenge needs to involve running around, crashing into stuff, and crawling through mud. Who approved doing it this way? Fire whoever it was.
It was a simple, clear challenge: you stood on a small log while holding a round, rimless tray, with a ball on it. Periodically, more balls are added. Drop a ball and you're eliminated. Finally, a challenge that favors waitresses.
As the challenge began, Jeff called for every one to get comfortable "up on your log." I always try my best to.
Although Agent Dumb Ass was operating at a severe and obvious disadvantage (The challenge required total command of balance, and Agent Dumb Ass is utterly unbalanced), nonetheless, it was Julie who lame-o'ed out first. She's a fireman. I hope she never has to carry me down a ladder, with her butterfingers and wobbly legs.
Ashley-or-Andrea went out next. I suspected her balance was going when I saw her participating in the Bible reading.
David went out after that. Hardly the only attorney with too much on his plate.
Jeff: "This round is over. Everybody grab your balls now." What kind of show is this? Is that Jeff Probst or RuPaul?
Although I would have pegged Andrea-or-Ashley as a born waitress, she messed up and went out next, in the three-balls-or-bust round.
Grant fell next. I would have thought it impossible for him to lose a physical challenge. Poor boy. I'd have gladly helped him keep his balls up, but the rules prevented it.
Boom: Dr. Jesus's God decided whoever could balance balls on a platter better didn't mean squat to Her honor, and his balls finally dropped. Rob went almost instantly later, as though he just wanted to make sure Dr. Jesus didn't get it. Dumb Ass went next. Obviously, If Agent Dumb Ass could do it for so long, winning it would never be enough to honor Dr. Jesus's god.
Mike, Steve, Natalie, and Mansweater were left. Okay, now comes the real question: which of these four's win would most honor the god of Dr. Jesus, that being the only criteria to decide anything that occurs anywhere at all in the whole of Creation?
Mansweater went out next. I thought sure he'd be the winning choice of Doc Savior's god. After all, he's a living refutation of Evolution. Clearly, he hasn't descended from apes, at least, not yet anyway.
Steve went out next. Apparently Dr. Jesus's god doesn't like the Dallas Cowboys. So now it was Natalie vs Mike, and Mike's balls haven't budged from the center of his plate since the challenge began. The man is a rock. If there were more men were like him, I wouldn't have had to marry so many times.
Julie: "There's a fly on Mike's ball." This may be my favorite sentence I've ever heard spoken on television. Burlesque is back!
"There's a fly on Mike's ball!"
"Well keep your voice down, or everyone will want one."
"There's a fly on Mike's ball."
"And look at the balls in Mike's fly!"
"There's a fly on Mike's ball."
"Well, we could only afford one."
"There's a fly on Mike's ball."
"No, if you'll look closer, you'll see those are the fly's balls."
"There's a fly on Mike's ball."
"Actually, I think that's a bee. Hold perfectly still, and I'll swat it with this cricket bat."
"There's a fly on Mike's ball."
"Well of course there is. It's a high fly ball."
I could do this all night.
The fly somehow unbalanced Mike, and he lost to Natalie, who was in no perceptible danger of elimination anyway. What happened? Mike read from the Pink Bible! Dr. Jesus's god, why persecuteth thou Mike?
Wait! A fly was Mike's downfall. Who sends flies? Why, the Lord of the Flies, of course! Satan! I call interference! That fly was sent by Russell, to begin his revenge against Viva Zapata.
Mike felt that his performance at the challenge might make him the vote target. Actually, it was his performance before the challenge, as the Biblethumper, that put him there. He suggested they target Grant. If successful, this would backfire in two ways:
1. I would hate them, and would turn the poison pen currently aimed at Team Jesus on them.
2. Do you see Grant losing Zombie Island duels to anyone? Me neither.
Rob and Dr. Jesus met out in a very scenic location, and Dr. Jesus decided he would honor his god more by not betraying his tribemates, and not flipping. Okay. Well then, where should their axe fall?
Dr. Jesus honored his god by telling Rob everything Mike had told him in confidence. I need a better look at Doc's god's Honor Code. It seems to have some arbitrary turns in it.
Rob of course, repaid Doc Savior's returned loyalty by adding him to his target list. Dr. Jesus is playing Honor Thy God, and Rob is playing Survivor.
Dr. Jesus let Andrea-or-Ashley know that he had changed her strategy for her without consulting her. After all, the man is the head of the woman, and all she learns should come from him. It's in Corinthians or Leviticus, one of those Joy Books.
But Andrea-or-Ashley wasn't overjoyed with having Dr. Jesus blab to Rob that she'd been a part of a secret plot against him for even one day. She's noticed how vengefully he takes notice of such things.
Dr. Jesus suggested to Rob voting out Steve. Rob took that and agreed to it, and ran off to his harem (Rob's Harem includes Agent Dumb Ass and Grant) to order them to vote Dr. Jesus out again. Of course, there's no way that's not funny, but on the other hand, maybe he should consolidate his numbers-lead over Viva Zapata before knocking out one of his own soldiers.
Would Dr. Jesus take it personally, or would he finally get his god's message? "I put you on Zombie Island for a reason, as you kept saying, so why did you leave? Get back there, and stay there until I tell you to leave!"
Dr. Jesus started getting paranoid, and he again began listening to Mike, which only made Rob right. Why not just sit back and let your god decide it, Doc, since She will anyway, according to you? That's the thing with a totally Determinist Universe: there's no point to doing anything, since everything is decided, and your Free Will contributions are no more your choices than anything else is.
Next, Mike and Dr. Jesus were passing notes in class. I hope he's paying more attention in his med classes. Mike offered to take The Doc to the Final Three if he'd vote for Grant tonight.
Okay Doc, how deep do your moral qualms run? And Andrea-or-Ashley, where will you come down?
Tribal Council: When Ete Poem put out that they won the tarp, so they could damn well sleep under it, David told them how his team had thrown that challenge. Agent Dumb Ass launched into one of his from-Mars, moral superiority, ego trips with "That's the distinction between the two tribes..." and David did what I would think any normal, intelligent man would do. He said: "Oh please!" It was on.
Agent Dumb Ass launched into one of his deranged word torrents, that had his own tribe laughing in his face. Meanwhile, most of Viva Zapata were trying to decode Dumb Ass's soliloquy, to see if there was any tiny particle of meaning or sense hidden anywhere in it. (There wasn't.) It was their first exposure to his amazing insanity.
Jeff had promised us a "jaw-dropping" Tribal Council. Well, we were to the vote, and my jaw hadn't dropped, which led me to suspect that the vote was going to swing into somewhere delicious.
Jeff called for the play of Hidden Immunity Idols, and Mansweater stepped forth and played his idol, in his version of a masterstroke, "on Mike." That was nice. I like having the hot men safe. If all the Ete Poem votes are aimed at Mike, this could be a very strong play for Viva Zapata.
Out popped five votes in a row for Grant. Bastards! I know there was collusion, because Mansweater spelled "Grant" correctly, and that sort of wild improbability doesn't just happen by accident! But then a vote for Steve made Mike, Steve, and Mansweater all look like they'd just slipped on spilt soup. Did we use the idol on the wrong player?
And then out came the votes for Dr. Jesus, pop, pop, pop, pop. The Doc began laughing. Anyone who knows the Book of Job, knows of Dr. Jesus's god's love of irony.
Andrea-or-Ashley voted out Dr. Jesus. He was given a taste of life back at Camp, and now he is hilariously banished back to Zombie Island, where he must resume his Herculean labors of vanquishing opponent-after-opponent to try once more to return from the grave.
Mike did not receive even a single vote. Mansweater's brave, bold move totally wasted his idol. Rob's remains known only to Rob. Even David admitted of Rob's move: "Genius is what that was."
For the first time ever, Jeff said: "Matt, once again, the tribe has spoken."
What a delicious, dark, and blackly comic hour this was. Hallelujah! And cheers darlings!
To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to The Morehead, the Merrier, or buy her book, My Lush Life. Also, you can read Little Dougie's contributions to the newly published book Creatures of the Night That We Loved So Well: The TV Horror Hosts of Southern California by James Fetters.