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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: “He Has Demons”

Illustration for article titled iSurvivor/i: “He Has Demons”
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As someone who used to work in reality television and now often writes about it, I’ve been exposed to quite a few questionable reality personalities. I suppose it isn’t surprising—you have to be at least a little bit nuts to want to expose your entire life to cameras 24/7—but it never ceases to amaze me just how left of center some people are willing to be on national television. Still, out of all of the people I’ve seen on reality television over the years, I don’t think any have been as disconcerting and creepy as Brandon Hantz.

Last week, his odd vendetta against Mikayla was off-putting but appeared at least partially created in the editing booth for maximum snark potential. After tonight’s episode, however, last week’s short sequence may have only been a small portion of the enmity Brandon displayed towards her. His entire attitude seems to be “I find this woman extremely attractive, and therefore, she is a harlot who should not be in my presence, lest she force me to do something about her attractiveness.” It’s ragingly sexist and far more scary and aggressive than is comfortable. Brandon is a self-professed man of God, and his attitude towards Mikayla certainly smacks of an Old Testament mentality; Mikayla is tempting him with the apple, and his weakness won’t allow him to refuse.

The crazy thing about the whole situation is this: I’m not sure Mikayla has ever even spoken to Brandon in a one-on-one scenario. We certainly haven’t seen it in the show, and she appears to treat him the same as everyone else. Her demeanor doesn’t seem at all flirty or tempting with anyone in the tribe so far. Also, although Brandon keeps comparing her to Parvati, they seem to have nothing in common. Parvati’s way of connecting was to flirt and scheme; Mikayla prefers to use her athleticism and can-do attitude to bond with others. Brandon can’t see past anything but how she looks in her skivvies, however, and has no problem staring dead-eyed into the camera and spewing his hateful and misogynistic comments for the world to hear.

His obsession was highlighted enough for us to know it would serve a purpose more than making our collective skin crawl, so when Upolu lost the immunity challenge (despite a pretty killer lead given to the men by the women – more on this later) you just knew Brandon was going to do everything in his power to make sure Mikayla’s name was the one Probst called at Tribal. When his “Alliance of Five”—consisting of Coach, Brandon Rick, Sophie, and Albert—think Christine has the idol and decide to flush it out by splitting the votes, Brandon muddies the waters by swooping in and flat-out insisting Mikayla is the one who has to go home. To their credit, the rest of his alliance thinks he is completely insane. They still need strong players for challenges, and Mikayla is their strongest female player, so none of them are really buying what he is selling. Brandon eventually gets desperate and tells Coach that Christine and Stacey told him they’re voting for Mikayla, so they ought to follow along in case their plan is foiled.

Tribal starts with us completely in the dark about how any of the voting is going to go down, due to Brandon’s increasingly desperate last minute pleas to boot the object of his obsession. Coach breaks things down immediately by calling out Christine and Stacey for wanting to boot Mikayla. I’m not quite sure why he does it, considering they are his targets, but it makes for amazing drama nonetheless. Christine and Stacey are rightfully shocked and angry, since they said no such thing. In fact, Brandon was the one who told them his vote. The conversation bounces around within the tribe until Brandon’s Guilty Conscience can take no more, and he admits to the lie. Strangely, no one really gets angry at him, other than Christine and Stacey, and Coach doesn’t seem a bit outraged. Considering Brandon made him look like a fool, and Coach is all about “honor,” you’d think it would bother him more.

Jeff doesn’t really have to do more here than sit back and count his piles of money in his head during this whole sequence, the drama is so good on its own. When he finally reads the votes, Christine is eliminated with four votes, and even Brandon doesn’t end up voting for Mikayla. In fact, most of the four females who participated in the immunity challenge (and kicked ass, mind you) got at least one vote, which is disappointing. I suppose all those strong men who completely botched their portion didn’t feel they were responsible?

All in all, it was a completely bizarre Tribal and a completely disturbing episode, but ultimately a completely satisfying one. And if you’re an attractive female and ever find yourself in the vicinity of Brandon Hantz, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Stray observations:

  • Brandon’s Guilty Conscience made him fess up to Coach about his true lineage as well. We’ll see if that comes back to bite him. One thing is clear: Brandon is no Russell.
  • Over at Savaii, a new “three plus two” alliance was formed. The three are Ozzy, Keith, and Jim, with Elyse and Whitney as, like, their side bitches or something. It was a bit unclear. The plan is for the three guys to go to the end all while exploiting the two women for votes before unceremoniously booting them. Or something. (I might still have my back up a bit from everything that happened over at Upolu.)
  • Ozzy finds the immunity idol with no clues. Either production needs to hide the idols better or they need to do away with them altogether. Do the producers really think this is compelling television? The clues are what make it fun, people! Sigh.
  • Can someone please tell me what that disgusting thing was during one of the “look, here are wild animals!” interstitials? It looked like something that should be involved in Human Centipede 2.
  • “I have my doubts about Mikayla, because I’m faithful to my wife.”
  • “Dawn needs to pick up the pace; this is not a picnic!” Probst, so bitchy.
  • “Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, because Coach at Tribal just lays everything out on the table.”

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