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Well, that was an episode of Survivor. Not a great one, mind you, but it was an episode that existed and was put on our television screens for entertainment purposes. This was one of those classic “stuck in the middle” episodes, where the outcome was so predictable that the producers had to work overtime to make it even a little bit suspenseful. To their credit—with a big assist from some loopy strategy by Tasha and Kass—it almost works. Almost being the key word.


The basic takeaway from “Our Time To Shine” is that despite their momentary triumph last week, the Brains tribe is an awful, terrible, no good tribe. Despite practicing, they bungle a significant lead in the Reward Challenge, allowing Brawn to edge them out for second place. They take a gift-wrapped opportunity from Brawn, who plans on throwing the challenge, and squander it because people can’t tread water. Once they lose everything, they seriously contemplate voting out their strongest challenge competitor because they almost convince themselves loyalty in the future is better than strength in the present. In short, they are a complete disaster.

At first glance J’Tia is the obvious weak link in the tribe, the one causing them to lose challenges and generally be a complete mess, but by the end of the episode I was convinced there was a much deeper problem than J’Tia’s physical incompetence. From Tasha’s inability to just let the tribe pull the damn flag up at the end, to her insistence that keeping J’Tia might be better strategy in the long run, it seems as if Tasha is just as culpable in many of the tribe’s faults as J’Tia. And Kass just goes along with it, letting Tasha run things even when she obviously thinks what’s happening is insane. This is probably great gameplay in the long run, but the mix of these different personalities has created a tribe that is completely unsustainable, and not all that fun to watch. The only time it got interesting was at Tribal Council when things got meta, with Kass and Spencer talking about what they would think if they were watching their tribe from their couch. They said they would call themselves idiots, which, can’t disagree there.

Other than the disaster that was the Brains, this episode mostly existed to set up dynamics for the future. On the Beauty tribe, Morgan spent her time making sure everyone knew Jeremiah had discussed going with her and Brice and taking out Alexis, making Alexis suspicious of him. Over at Brawn, things got much more dire when Sarah decided now was the time to make her move on Cliff. Cliff, who she’s sure is working with Lindsey to plot against her. Of which she’s only sure because Tony lied to her about it. She’s so sure this is the perfect time to get Cliff out that she forms an alliance with Woo—all but killing my hope for a Cliff and Woo pairing—and gets him to agree to attempt to throw the challenge to go ahead and get Cliff voted out right away. Tony, who just seems giddy to be causing any chaos among the tribe as long as it isn’t focused on him, goes along with it all.


Once they get to the challenge, however, it’s pretty difficult to tell whether or not Brawn really attempted to throw the challenge, so the whole narrative within the episode becomes moot; something to use to catalog alliances and loyalties within the Brawn tribe even though it ultimately didn’t go anywhere. Anyway, it’s pretty tough to throw a challenge when the person you are trying to throw it to get voted out is a professional basketball player and will be shooting baskets into a hoop in order to win the thing. Better luck next time, Sarah.

So yeah, this wasn’t the most exciting or suspenseful episode of Survivor. But if you like watching a bunch of incompetent people play the game fairly poorly, then this was right up there with the all-time greats.

Stray observations:

  • Jeff Probst only shrugged when the Brains showed up at Tribal, but his face said “NEEEEEEEEERDS!”
  • Does Alexis truly not know anything about the reproductive process of a chicken? That was embarrassing for her, for me, and for America.
  • Every time Morgan doesn’t like someone she nastily points out in a confessional that they are not hot enough to be on the Beauty tribe, which is gross.
  • Woo might be aligned against Cliff, but he was very cute when talking about how he can see himself being friends with Cliff and shooting hoops with him and being bummed the game might get in the way of that possibility.
  • J’Tia is the worst at challenges. Any past contestants compare to her level of failure?
  • Spencer promises his loyalty to Tasha and Kass at Tribal Council both before the vote and after, but I don’t believe him for one bit. I think after the merge he’s the first to defect.