"There is no grey. It's black or white, period."
- Brandon Hantz, Survivor: South Pacific
Before the episode I had to figure out which beer should accompany it, & I had 2 apt choices.
|For we saw it coming, & it was so.|
The episode opens with Reynold's go-to move: a speech after a Tribal Council. The Fans have just voted out Laura, & he is explaining to his tribe all the ways in which he thinks that was a great decision. Not least of all because it kept him & Eddie around. Who cares if his Idol was flushed out?
|I didn't want that idol anyway. Stupid idol.|
Sherri is having a harder time after losing her goat, Shamar, & then voting out her closest ally, Laura. "They were all going to vote for her no matter what." Reynold is still camp cheerleader, but Matt looks into his wizard's orb, & the palentir shows him that Reynold is full of shit.
Over at The Faves - can we talk about Bikal's sweet fire set-up for a second?
They have a neat little enclosure next to the shelter so they have seating all around...bring out the scotch & cigars, please. This is kick-ass. Brandon is totes bringing the party down as he talks about missing his kids. I get it, I'd miss my kid, too - but it's a month, Brandon. They'll get over it. I recently mentioned to my husband that we would be awesome in The Amazing Race Canada, & maybe we should apply (despite being terrified of anything involving heights, & really not liking traveling by plane or anything to do with water. But I promise we're adorable, & you'd love us). He said he wouldn't be able to leave our son for so long. While my heart swelled, knowing that I have an amazing partner in life, I was all Really? I could. I love my kid a ton, but yeah...I could leave him for a few weeks easy (nobody tell him I said that, kthnx). Brandon, however, has decided that if The Faves go to Tribal, he is volunteering to leave.
"He's a loose cannon...torn between following whatever crazy religious beliefs he has, and...he inherently, in his bloodline, is a devious jerk."
- Sophie Clarke, Survivor: South Pacific
Brandon discloses that he was about to burn down the shelter & piss in the beans & rice, & he apologizes for having those thoughts. Corinne says, "I want him off my camp immediately....clearly he's spinning out of control. It's just a matter of time, & it's a matter of, like, what does that mean for everyone around him?" In the morning, Brandon reverses his decision & is ready to play the game. "You're gonna see the most intense Brandon you've seen thus far."
Off to the Reward Challenge, where 2 members of each tribe will hold ropes attached to enormous nets. Members of the other tribe play coconut basketball, making the nets heavy. The last person still holding on to their net wins reward for their tribe, which is a BBQ feast with all the fixin's.
The Fans decide to put Matt & Michael on net-holding duty. I'm not saying they're not strong, & YES, WE GET IT, REYNOLD CAN THROW THINGS, but I think it's weird that they didn't choose to put Reynold & Eddie on the nets. Eddie's a firefighter, for Probst's sake.
I also commented to my husband that the net people should have wrapped the rope around their hands, but then I was reminded of the recent tug-of-war finger amputations, & thought better of it.
Phillip is the last one still holding on, & again, he wins it for The Favourites. It's pretty heartbreaking to see The Fans react to The Faves celebrating, as they leave with all the food & wine. Back at camp, Sherri is struggling to keep her mouth shut - her tribe kept the muscle & it didn't pay off in the challenge. She is on the hunt for the Hidden Immunity Idol, now back in play. So is everyone else. We see them searching for the Idol from a higher perspective, through branches.
There's only one explanation for this:
|My eternal gratitude to @robstaboobuzzer for this image.|
Everyone's hunting for the idol under the watchful (bug)eyes of the Tarsier cameraman, new to the Survivor crew. Michael just doesn't want Reynold to find it again, because no fair, amiright?
Reynold tells the Tarsier cameraman, "I might as well keep playing them if I can keep finding them!"
|I totes am winning the Idol Hunt part of the game. Bring it, Easter.|
He's not telling anyone he has it this time. Well, there is 1 exception because "Eddie's my boy, to the end." The Alpha Betas have built the bromance Survivor has been waiting for. The Handsome & The Hotness, together as one Superbro.
"This is a constant battle for me, everyday: good/evil, good/evil, good/evil."
- Brandon Hantz, Survivor: South Pacific
Over at The Faves' camp, Brandon is BBQing, but looking very sullen. Andrea notes that he's going through these mood swings while they've been on a winning streak. "I don't even know if, if he won a million dollars, if he would ever get right in his head." I think we can safely say that Brandon's moods are not in response to anything, really - it's not because of crappy weather or feeling defeated like The Fans are - it's more like he's triggered by everything. He is going through something, & it's the reason he was brought back. I can't say anything about this awful situation better than Andy Baker's take on it, so please read his recent post.
From Brandon's perspective, Phillip is claiming that he won the challenge by himself. Brandon is aggravated by this, tries to pick a fight, & Phillip walks away. Malcolm comments, "Phillip didn't do anything out of the ordinary, but he caught Brandon in one of his downward swings." Phillip acts tough to the Tarsier cameraman, & a crab echoes his "Come at me, bro" bravado.
When Brandon & Phillip have another conversation, it's quite calm. Phillip tells Brandon he can trust him, Brandon questions him, but ultimately apologizes. Phillip was just calming him down, though, & declares, "In my book, [Brandon]'s persona non grata."
The Fans are wet & miserable. Michael says, "Camp life at Gota has been a long strand of hell. We're failing on all levels of Survivor." Not all levels.
"I feel like, one guy - a 19 year old high school dropout, who's advertised that he's crazy - gets to dictate to me the direction of my own destiny here?"
- Edna Ma, Survivor: South Pacific
It seems Brandon has been stewing over Phillip all night, & wakes up with a renewed anger. Phillip is considering throwing the challenge - something he'd never considered before. "It is a degree of compassion for him, as well as it is potentially a game-saver for us." Brandon finds out that Phillip may, in fact, want him out despite his earlier assurances, & takes him aside again. Phillip begins his ridiculousness, & Brandon calls him on it. YAY BRANDON. "Can you drop the StealthRUs thing? It's like playing with a child...it's demeaning, man...I'm not The Conqueror, nobody in there is The Exterminator or The Exterior. Like, it's really bullshit." Brandon seems completely in control here, he's listening to Phillip, he's responding calmly, & not getting worked up. In a split second, that changes. Phillip says, Well, if nobody likes me, I guess they'll vote me out instead of you. Brandon says, "Well, let me give you a reason to vote me out."
Brandon marches over to the shelter, & the moment CBS has been hyping has arrived: Brandon dumps the tribe's rice & beans on the ground to the horrified cries of his tribemates. Dawn tells him to breathe, & he paces back & forth. Phillip is long gone down the beach, & Brandon screams (among other things), "I am the author of my fate!" The rest of the tribe tries to save whatever food they can, & discuss their options, of which there are not many.
"If you're with him, you know that he's not gonna turn on you, but you're also afraid that he's gonna spill the apple cart."
- Coach, Survivor: South Pacific
Before the Immunity Challenge, Corrine tells Probst that the tribe wants to forfeit & go to Tribal Council. Brandon gives The Fans some insight into life at Bikal, & Probst eventually calls him over to stand beside him. The next 10 minutes are hard to watch, & hard to recap for that reason. Like many people, I feel badly for Brandon. I don't think this is someone to laugh at & mock. This is someone unstable, & like I said 2 weeks ago, it is uncomfortable to watch.
"I don't think very many people are proud of me"
- Brandon Hantz, Survivor: South Pacific
Brandon speaks of how his first season of Survivor affected him negatively, & how he didn't want to play the same game this time around. An argument escalates between Brandon & Phillip, causing Probst to call Brandon back towards him, & he proceeds to give Brandon the most intense massage ever given to anyone.
Throughout all of this, Andrea is crying, & Dawn is visibly taking deep breaths. Andrea says it's hard for her to watch because she's gotten close to Brandon, & Dawn just straight up wants to be anywhere but in the middle of this mess. Probst says all the right things, showing concern, but there's a twinkle in his eye - Probst's, not Brandon's - that indicates he is absolutely delighted with the drama unfolding in this manner.
He brings up Russell (of course), & Brandon says he has come to the conclusion that speaking his mind is a Hantz thing, & he's proud of that. Now, it's possible that Brandon just wanted to leave, & thought what would make Uncle Russell proud? I think Brandon's a nice guy, struggling to find where he fits in a family that values outrageous behaviour.
Probst confirms with the rest of The Faves that they want to forfeit the challenge, & he instructs Erik to hand the Immunity Idol over to The Fans. Reynold takes the opportunity to crack a joke that is so badly timed it's not even funny - it's just wildly inappropriate. Hey Jeff, can you do that thing where you yell 'The Fans win Immunity!' & we pretend like we actually did something to deserve this, aside from stand by while another human being has a mental health crisis right in front of us? That would be amazeballs, bro.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, there's a possibility that to him & the rest of the Fans, it was just a Hantz wanting attention & acting up. Maybe. Probst goes for added instant-drama by declaring it Tribal Council time right there on the challenge field. Everyone just names who they're voting for, & aside from Brandon's 1 vote for Phillip, everyone confirms that Brandon needs to leave. Dawn can't even say his name without crying & that's enough to set me over the edge. It makes me think of this comic which I've seen circulating recently:
Probst sends Brandon around the back of the structure that was intended to be used in the challenge, & I guess we're lucky Probst didn't parade Brandon around like this:
|Again, thanks to @robstaboobuzzer.|
Now that this has happened, I hope this season can get back to what Survivor does best: outwitting, outplaying & outlasting. And can we PLEASE get Cochran back in his ocean throne?
UPDATE: Max Dawson livestreamed his final class at Northwestern today, which had a visit from Mike Skupin. It's now available to watch on YouTube, & there are a lot of great stories (mostly to do with poop), but also great insight about Brandon & reality TV in general. It's a must-watch.
So, what do you think? Do you feel for Brandon like I do? Do you think he was a victim or just playing the part of Hantz? Let me know your thoughts, below in the comments, on Facebook, or on twitter.