"This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory."
- Hamlet, William Shakespeare.
Ashes. Ashes. All is ashes. In just two consecutive hideous episodes of Survivor Tocantins, all hope has been lost. Evil has triumphed. Imagine if, in The Return of the King, Frodo had been eaten by Shelob, and the Ring returned to Sauron. Imagine Voldemort killing Harry Potter and leveling Hogwarts. This episode of Survivor was like that, only worse. Much, much worse. If you have tears, prepare to shed them.
Survivor was very stingy with studly hunks this season. We really only had two: Joe Adonis and Brendan Hot Pecs. Last week Joe was removed from play when his left leg contracted an alien virus, and began mutating into a great murderous beast with a will of its own, and the driving need to kill humans! I hate when that happens! Now Brendan, who is looking better with every passing day in Brazil: as his formerly soft stomach turns into an abs 8-pack from Heaven, has acquired a huge target on his back. Will the Awesome Foursome come together and save him?
But Ex-Coach the Dragon Slayer has designated Brendan as his dragon, and Sierra Mist For Brains as dragon droppings. I'm not joking. He called her Dragon Poop. His exact, classy words were: "Sierra is the bowel movements that come out of the dragon." So he's saying she's hot sh#%t?
After Joe was evacuated, Ex-Coach wanted to cheer everyone up by bragging, as bragging is the only thing he knows how to do, and his own awesomeness is not simply his default topic, but the only thing he is mentally and physically capable of discussing. He has a rich fantasy life, and he seems really to believe, or at least expects others to believe, the outrageous lies he tells. He has a long streak of Baron Munchhausen to him, if Munchhausen had believed himself to be Rambo. Now at last I understand his hair. Ex-Coach is a man who actually thinks Steven Segal movies are entertaining. Yes, there are a handful of people still loose who believe that.
Ex-Coach tells the tribe, as true, the plot of Rambo's Amazon Adventure: a shaggy-piranha adventure tale of Ex-Coach being captured by Sadistic primitive natives while kayaking on the Amazon through Peru. He is tortured by the natives, which he lovingly describes, reveling in the beatings administered on him by his captors. I suspect that they were his co-travelers or perhaps his family. Anyone forced to spend time with Ex-Coach would want to torture him. Hearing of him being beaten certainly put all of Forza into a good mood.
Even Debbie Bad Nose Job, hardly the sharpest schnoz in the drawer, isn't buying this absolute dragon poop. The realization that Ex-Coach is a liar, and possibly insane, is starting to dawn on the Forza tribemates. Brendan tries cross-examining Ex-Coach, which prompts greater delusions.
Ex-Coach: "National Geographic contacted me, and said, 'We want to come with you.' and I said 'No; the trip's about me'."
Well I believe Ex-Coach said, "The trip's about me." With Ex-Coach everything is about him! But no one, certainly not National Geographic, would want to go anywhere with this egocentric creep. Everything else that came out of his unstoppable mouth was a pure fantasy trip, a trip that is always all about him.
We began with more of Ex-Coach's morning ritual, accurately described by Brendan as his "Warrior Poses." The old Timbirrans have learned to just accept Ex-Coach's endless weirdness, and non-stop attention demands. "He likes to do that in the morning." says Sierra, calling to my mind Bobby Duval stomping through a battle, saying "I love the smell of Ex-Coach's warrior poses in the morning." in Coppola's A Boobyhatch Now.
Ex-Coach, a born fabulist, had barely scratched the surface of his creative flights of bull-Sierra. Asked just what discipline he was practicing as he preened in the water, he said, "It's called Chong Ran, and it's ancient Tibetan. If you do a Google search on it, you won't find it. It's only passed down verbally." I guess Google is not yet wired directly into Ex-Coach's brain, which is the only place his magic joo-joo exists. Sierra, who can barely contain her disbelief, tells Ex-Coach that he looks hilarious. It's a simple statement of undeniable fact. Ex-Coach now levels his secret wrath on her, and informs us of her new status as dragon pooh. We must accept his expert opinion on crap, as he puts out more crap than the whole remainder of the tribe combined.
Erinn, desperate for an ally since the late joe Adonis had been her only friend, makes a play for JT. JT is noticing that everyone from Timbirra hates everyone else from Timbirra, and they're so busy plotting against each other, it doesn't occur to them to press their 6 to 3 advantage over old Jalapeno, and vote them out, leaving three free agents able to decide who goes and who stays. It's a feat of tremendous stupidity and short-sightedness on all of Timbirra's part, and JT, who may sound like a dumb old farmboy, is smart enough to realize what's happening and hop on, making deals with everyone, much as Stephen has pretended to.
Reward Challenge: They play as teams of three. Each team has a row of platforms with ceramic tiles on them. Continuing this season's sub-theme of Death to Ceramics, they take turns smashing other team's tiles. Last team with a tile wins reward.
I've been critical of the many lame challenges this season, which have included two that involved holding onto poles and not moving, and a lot of not-very-visual puzzle-solving. Well tonight's challenges were pretty good. There was skill and excitement involved, even if I didn't give an Ex-Coach Fairy tale who won the reward.
The reward, incidentally, was a white-water raft trip down the boulder-strewn rapids of the nearby Gorge of Certain Death, a local taboo area no one has ever returned from alive! Second place would be a steerage passage on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Is this a reward or a penalty? It's like being trapped in that everyone-dies-in-the-rapids sequence in the 1962 Cinerama film How the West Was Won, only without Debbie Reynolds, which is the one thing in its favor.
When Brendan said "We're throwing underhand, breaking tiles; none of us have ever done this in our lives," Ex-Coach piped in with "I have." Of course he has. If you said, "We're writing the Declaration of Independence from memory backwards on the head of a pin while dancing a tarantella. No one has ever done this before," Ex-Coach would say, "I have. I won an Olympic Gold medal for it, only you can't find it on the Internet or in the Olympic records because it was hushed up to save the world from certain destruction." If you asked, "Does anyone know what lies in the shadow of the statue?" Ex-Coach would say, "I do." Actually, if Ex-Coach was in the shadow of the statue, he'd be what lies there, as he just spouts lies every time he opens his increasingly repulsive mouth.
Tyson tells us of his beginning to suspect that maybe, just maybe, odd as it sounds, that perhaps some of what Ex-Coach says may not be 100% true: "Coach likes to have the attention, all the great stuff he's done. It sounds almost too good to be true." Almost? Well, Tyson is a Mormon, so clearly, he can believe anything.
Despite having the only person in the world with underhanded-tile-breaking experience, Ex-Coach's team still lost. In fact, they were eliminated first. JT, Brendan, and Debbie won. Stephen was sent alone to Exile Dune. Ex-Coach tells Stephen "Be the wizard." Apparently, Ex-Coach now thinks he's J.R.R. Tolkien. He's officially insane.
Everyone in Forza: "None of us are insane."
Ex-Coach: "I am."
Exile Dune: At Exile Dune, Stephen, who has one of the hidden immunity idols, ignores the clue he receives:
"A big wooden head is what you have here.
Look in the gap that you'll find in the rear."
Excuse me? Who wrote this clue? Clay Aikin? Pinocchio? I travel in circles where a glance in the gap that you'll find in the rear is where you're most likely to find a big wooden head. "No surprise here." says Stephen; it's the same advice his weird, never-married Uncle Herschel gave him at his bar mitzvah. At least that time he got a quarter afterwards, along with the warning never to tell anyone, or Herschel would kill his dog.
Stephen tries to make fire. Stephen can't make fire. Stephen has no spark. He is not hot. (He is so not hot!) He says he spent "an hour or two, just smacking my flint, over and over again," and then he stopped doing that and tried making a fire instead. But after a couple days of striking steel to flint, Stephen delivers his fetal fire: "It was like giving birth to my first child." Stephen has given birth to a child? Does he remember the gender-reassignment surgery as well? I had no idea he was a mother, although his willingness to lie to anyone to achieve his goals should have tipped me off. That was my mother to a T.
Brendan fell in love with JT during their white-water slosh down the Gorge of Certain Death, which they somehow narrowly survived. (The title of the show, Survivor, is not supposed to involve actually surviving death.) Brendan decides to help JT win the game instead of himself, following as tortured a bit of logic as ever I've heard: "I know it's crazy, but for me, winning in this game is about getting to an outcome at the end of the game which is going to satisfy me. If he wins it, that's like me winning this game." No, that's like him winning this game. That's like you losing this game. For most players, an outcome at the end of the game that is going to satisfy them is winning a million dollars. For Brendan, it's become about JT winning a million dollars. We'll see how satisfied Brendan is with the outcome of his game.
But Brendan's sudden mancrush on JT is a profound and awesome sight to behold. Sierra agrees that JT is awesome. Brendan then tried to get Taj to help him save JT. Taj loves JT "to death" (Hopefully a metaphor, but I'm far from certain.), but she now feels free to pull out of her alliance, sit back, and watch Timbirra implode, and then pick up the pieces.
What is it about JT? First Stephen, then Sydney, then Taj, then Ex-Coach, then Tyson, then Brendan, and now Sierra, all fell in love with JT. I just don't see it. He's not good looking. He has no pecs whatever, and frankly, he has no charm that I can see or hear. Yet my gardener's son, Eduardo, watched the show with me, and then quit, to go work for JT, for free!
Immunity Challenge: Another cool challenge. Players were tethered to ropes looped through jungle-gym-like mazes, and had to slither through them without tying themselves in knots. You know, I actually got a little tingle of excitement at some points watching this challenge, almost as though I were rooting for one player to win, and fearing another would. It was a bit like watching an M. Knight Shamalamadingdong movie: momentarily exciting, occasionally suspenseful, and with a deeply disappointing ending.
Go Brendan! Lose, Ex-Coach and Tyson!
I'm sorry. What came over me?
Ex-Coach wore his ropes through and escaped from his fantasy tribe of Peruvian natives after being savagely tortured for hours on end (according to him. There were no witnesses nor known survivors), but he tied himself in a knot here, and proved helpless at the challenge. Even Sierra was smoking him at rope-maze slithering. "Nothing prepared him for the rope-a-dope" said Jeff Probst of Ex-Coach. Yes it did, Ex-Coach would have piped in if he hadn't been tangled in a granny knot at the time. You'd think a snake like Ex-Coach would be a champion slitherer, but the snake who slithered to victory was Tyson the Nude Mormon.
Ex-Coach and Tyson, two prime slitherers, must be from Slitherin House at Hogwarts, as Ex-Coach decided that they are now wizards and dragon-slayers, and Brendan is the dragon. Brendan targets Ex-Coach. Both are confident that the Jalapeno newcomers are voting with them: Taj the opportunist, JT the wild card, and Stephen, who has more faces than Dr. Lao. Now it is to be dragon vs dragon-slayer. Good vs Evil. And maybe a Quidditch challenge.
Tyson tells us that part of his strategy after Brendan is gone, is to be really horrible and pointlessly cruel to Sierra for three days and then kick her out. He apparently thinks that being needlessly beastly to Sierra will win the game for him. "It pro'ly won't win me her vote from the jury, but it would pro'ly win me everybody else's vote, so it'll be a win-win for me." While I could ruminate on the glottal laziness that turns probably into pro'ly, I was too taken with his amazingly vile view of humanity. He actually thinks people will admire and reward his being gratuitously mean, and indulging in recreational nastiness. He either thinks all the players are as vile as he is, or he too used to juries full of his fellow Mormons, who delight in strangling the dreams of millions of gay Americans. He should remember the words of Blanche Dubois, a role I played in summer stock opposite Bob Denver as Stanley: "Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate Cruelty is not forgivable."
Brendan decided to activate the Awesome Foursome at last, and enlist JT as well, to rescue the Jedis by voting out Ex-Coach. Can life be restored, or has it lain too long in the grave?
Everyone pledged to vote out Brendan.
Everyone pledged to vote out Ex-Coach. Even Ex-Coach.
JT tells Stephen of Brendan's sudden, deep mancrush on him. Stephen's jealousy leaves him so flustered that he thoughtlessly insults JT to his face.
JT: "[Brendan] says he wants me in the finals."
Stephen: "Why would he want that?"
JT: "He likes me a lot."
Stephen: "But that's crazy."
Stephen, you're right, but still, that's no way to win a man's heart. I love how JT does just accept "he likes me a lot" as a reasonable motivation for Brendan to switch his loyalty from himself to JT. JT understands that everyone loves him. If he'd shared a tent with Jake Gyllenhall up on Brokeback Mountain, there'd have been an Oscar in it for him.
Even JT has noticed that Coach is crazy. What JT finds hard to believe about the Peruvian native torture story is that Ex-Coach never went back "with a .30-.30 Winchester" to massacre the natives that tortured him. He left out the genocidal revenge. Of course, if Ex-Coach had said he'd gone back, the story would then have had Ex-Coach winning a stand-off with 25 square miles of Marabunta through the awesome power of his Magic Eyes alone. Anyway, I now think I know who JT voted for last November. But who will he vote for at Tribal Council? He is now the swing vote, able to vote out either Brendan or Ex-Coach. Which one will he betray? Either way, he'll be awesome.
"I don't like misleading people, but I feel like this is like the one time in life that you are actually allowed to do it, and you oughta get a get-out-of-jail-free pass," says Brendan, who is mostly misleading himself. He agrees with everyone that they're all voting JT out, whom no one intends to vote for. It's like he's saying: Are we all agreed that we're not remotely agreed? Meanwhile Ex-Coach is certain that tonight he will be revealed as "The Chosen One."
Tribal Council: PLEASE VOTE OUT COACH!!!! PLEASE!!!!!
Ex-Coach wasn't just full of himself at Tribal Council, he was overflowing with himself, and vomiting himself all over his tribemates, Jeff Probst, and the home viewers.
Taj recounts to Jeff Probst Ex-Coach's tale of Peruvian adventure. Jeff's eyes bug out. He's obviously seen the movie Ex-Coach is passing off as his life. He's not buying it at all.
Jeff's question, "Coach, this really happened, or this is a movie version of what you want to have happen?" set Ex-Coach off into the far hinterlands of insanity. John Waters would have found it in poor taste.
Ex-Coach: "I tried actually to tone it down [Ex-Coach never toned down anything in his entire life, except his Reality Dial], because if I tell them that, you know, the tribe was, you know, looking at my ass [WHAT?], talking about eating my ass." Ex-Coach is now on Mars. Did this adventure take place in Peru, The Castro, or Cabesa Del Lobo? Did Ex-Coach visit Peru suddenly last summer with Sebastian Venable? My dinner then made an urgent surprise return to the top of my coffee table, and even half-digested, it still looked more appetizing than Ex-Coach's ass. No tribe is that primitive!
But Ex-Coach isn't done, not by a long shot, although some of the tribemates are barely able to keep from braying with laughter in his face. "So actually, you know, when I tell these stories, I usually try to give like the PG-13 version of it."
Jeff: "Coach, does it bother you that some people might question these stories?"
Ex-Coach: "What I've been through in my life, it's been pretty fantastic." What is fantastic is that he expects anyone to actually believe that this woman-hating gasbag of an ex-girl's soccer coach has lived the life of James Bond, Allan Quartermain, Tarzan, Rambo, and Doctor Who combined.
When asked, Ex-Coach gave a litany of life-threatening personal catastrophes he claims to have suffered: "If you'd want me to recount 'em, I will." He rushes right on, before Jeff can say, no, that's all right. We don't need to hear about... "I been through a hurricane, I been attacked by a shark, had a run-in with a crocodile, got captured by the Indian tribe..." He sounds like a pitch-meeting for the fifth Indiana Jones movie.
He adds, "Does it bother me that people want to question that? They can not question my integrity and my honesty." Actually they can question his honesty, as every person there, without exception, now firmly believes that every word out of Ex-Coach's lying mouth is a load of bull.
They all know he's full of crap. Surely they will vote him out tonight. Please vote him out!
Everyone blathers about how JT should go as he's such a threat. No one actually plans to vote for JT. Taj says of JT: "He's fast, he's a loveable person, he's like a triple threat because you just can't find anything wrong with him." Try harder. Start with "no pectoral definition."
Jeff Probst makes the rookie mistake of asking Ex-Coach another simple, innocent question: "Coach, agree with that?"
Ex-Coach went off on a ridiculous, mythological tangent: "The seven layers of Heaven with the Vikings were determined on how they were defeated in battle. I want to surround myself with warriors." Taj smirked so broadly at that load of dragon spoor, I was worried that the ends of her mouth would meet in back, and the top half of her head would just fall off. (Didn't any Vikings ever win battles? What happened to Vikings who died in bed of old age, undefeated ever? Ex-Coach only identifies with losers.) If Ex-Coach wanted to be surrounded by warriors (so there will be lots of fierce people to kill before you can get to him, like human shields?), why did he vote out Jerry, the only genuine warrior in the game? Ex-Coach is offensively full-of-it. "I think that's the honorable way to play this game." says a man who has been lying to people's faces, generally after announcing I will not lie one time. Now let me tell you about the time I got captured by flesh-eating Oompa-Loompas, and was held captive in a cave on the moon. Fortunately I learned shape-shifting from Larry Talbot.
Jeff starts asking people if they have the idol. Most lie and say they don't, but Brendan admits to having it. Oh, he has It all right.
When voting, Ex-Coach whispers to us: "The ancient Samurai used to say" and then talks on in English about being a dragon slayer. First off, anything an "ancient Samurai" ever said was said in Japanese. He can't even vote unpretentiously. In the words of Hurley, he's a douche, dude.
The actual swing vote turned out to be Dr. Stephen Lao's. He said as he casts his vote: "This is my wizard lightning, shooting you back home." Great. Now he thinks he's Saruman, the turncoat wizard who betrayed all of Middle-Earth, only Stephen's treachery will run much worse.
For the slimy, bony little bastard betrayed the Awesome Foursome (really a Treasonous Twosome), pissed on the Exile Alliance, and screwed his spooning buddy in the rear. (He's no spoon! He's a spork. Well fork you, Steve!) The little pissant piece of dragon poop voted for Brendan, as did Brendan's original ally, Taj. JT at least voted for Sierra. JT, if you'd just voted for Ex-Coach, he'd be gone. And JT, whom everyone said they were voting for, got no votes at all.
Of course, Brendan could have saved himself if he'd just played his Immunity Idol, but the idiot didn't!!! So Brendan, was this "an outcome at the end of the game which is going to satisfy" you? JT may well still win, so that's like you can- ah - still win?
Evil has triumphed! Brendan is gone. There is no one left for me to root for; no one left for me to enjoy the sight of. I'm stuck watching the rest of this season and reporting it here, and it's all just ashes now.
Stephen's wizard powers weren't enough to send Brendan all the way home. He's the first member of the jury, and practically everyone there lied to him and betrayed him. Only JT, whom he loves more than Life itself, voted to keep him.
And if it's not bad enough that there are no attractive men left on the show, just freaks like Voldecoach and Tyson the skeletal Mormon, then still much, much worse, Voldecoach the Dragon-Slaying Whizard (So spelt, because I wouldn't whiz on him if he were on fire. Okay, I would whiz on him.) thinks he's in control of the game, and is smug beyond belief.
This season has gone horribly, horribly wrong. Damn you, Stephen & JT. Now I hope everyone loses! I hope the Peruvian natives track Ex-Coach down, and massacre everyone that's left. Brendan, drop by Morehead Heights, my palatial movie star mansion, and I'll "comfort" you, and by comfort, I mean get you drunk and take advantage of you.
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