Having spent much of last night listening to Jeff Probst's commentary track on his 2001 directorial debut Finder's Fee–on which he comes off as a genial guy, genuinely thankful for his career to date–it was strange to see him back in his role as Survivor's be-hatted authoritarian, talking about "learning curves" at challenges and dismissing losers with a curt, "I got nothin' for ya." But I sensed some of that Finder's Fee joy when Probst ended the episode promising "one more bit of business," which we evidently won't learn about until two weeks from now, when the next new episode airs. (I shan't be blogging next week's recap show, as I shall most likely by bloated and immobile, sweating giblets and swilling bicarbonate.)
That cliffhanger is part of what made this yet another in a string of good episodes this season–that and the growing sense that it's impossible to predict what these over-thinking yahoos will do from week to week. Characteristically blunt, James apologized to Denise for last week's snafu that left her out of the voting plan, then said that while everything should be fine from here on out, he knows that it's human nature to mess with a good thing. Note the Biblical reference in the episode title, proving James' point. And as if to prove James' point further, the camera cut to Todd, sitting alone and stewing that he was stuck at camp with the B-team while the other cool kids were off enjoying the overnight cruise they won at the reward challenge. At that moment, I almost thought that Todd would forego winning a million dollars just to be sipping mimosas with Amanda, concocting bafflingly complex new strategies.
(Instead, Todd sacrificed potential immunity for a plate of hamburgers and fries the next day. But since he knew he wouldn't be on the chopping block, it wasn't much of a sacrifice.)
Meanwhile, on that cruise, Courtney–who this week introduced a new way of being annoying by speaking in a high-pitched "widdle girl" voice–continued to snuggle up with Frosti, whom she later referred to, dismissively, as "my Survivor boyfriend." (Between Todd being figuratively home alone on a Friday night and Courtney acting all lovey-dovey with a guy she didn't care about that much, I started having major flashbacks to high school. And most of college, for that matter.) True to form, Courtney capitulated to the crowd and only semi-reluctantly cut Frosti loose, after the parkourin' 20-year-old failed to best Peih-Gee in an immunity challenge that was like a cross between Simon and mumblety-peg.
And so, just before the cliffhanger, Frosti moped off the set, feeling betrayed. Ah well. At least he can cling to his memories of Courtney's chilly embrace. Now he knows how it feels to be hugged by a wicker basket.
-Another week, another reward challenge feast. This time it was that traditional Chinese meal of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
-The reward challenges this season seem a lot more team-oriented, perhaps as a way of shaking up the pre-set factions that always emerge by this point in the game. Rather than having one winner take his or her usual set of friends to the reward, the distribution is a little fairer. This was a fun reward challenge too, with the teams bouncing balls on drums and traversing an obstacle course. James' strength was of no use here, but Frosti got to flash a little parkour one last time as he skittered over logs. (Frankly though, given the years I spent walking around my house idly bouncing a Nerf ball, I would've rocked this challenge to its foundations.)
-I hate it when Jeff starts talking about the odds at this point in the game, saying stuff like, "You're guaranteed a one in seven shot of winning a million dollars." If this were a game of chance, that would make sense, but while it's accurate to say that anyone still playing "has a shot," it's not really accurate to give that shot even odds, any more that it's accurate to say that the Miami Dolphins have a "one in two shot" of beating the New England Patriots this season. Games of skill ain't a coin flip. (Math-minded folks, tell me where I'm wrong.)
-Amanda's butt was blurred again. Just what is going on back there?
-Was it intentional that both Survivor and Kid Nation this week ended on cliffhangers? Can we expect the same from Sunday's The Amazing Race?
Bonus Amazing Race observations:
-Since the challenges on this show always have a local theme, how come the Amsterdam portion of this week's race didn't feature some sort of weed-related Road Block? That hippie couple would've blazed.
-Speaking of which, we learned something very important during the knot-tying challenge this week: Hippes apparently can't tie knots.
-Did the old man really need to strip down to that bizarre pair of black underpants in order to traverse a bog? And do the other contestants really need to refer to that team as, "Gramps and the boy?"
-Three things I often wonder about while watching The Amazing Race: Do the camera crews ever slow the teams down? Do the producers hire a local to guard the clue box before the teams arrive? Can you really call a set of direct instructions a "clue?"
-Trying-too-hard Dating Goths exhange of the week:
Kynt: "They keep you in the dark on this show."
Vyxsin: "The dark is where Kynt and I love to dwell."