I procrastinated (thank you word of the day calendar) writing this blog because nothing really happened in this episode. Survivor New Zealand episodes are like Star Trek movies in that the odd numbered ones aren’t as good. Also, anyone with a life hasn’t seen them. I really question the decisions I’ve made in my life that led me to writing about the New Zealand off shoot of a show that stopped being relevant in 2002. I know last week I said how much I enjoyed the camp life scenes but Kiwis aren’t exactly dynamic characters. The castaways lack of enthusiasm is as infectious as the cut on Lou’s foot. More on that later.
On Redemption Island, Izzy is a bit bum puzzled as to why she ended up there. “I’m always putting my hand up, I’m always in there doing my best, and here I am,” says Izzy. Even after watching last weeks episode a few times I’m still a bit confused as to how Izzy got voted out. I need Jeff Probst drawing on a screenshot to make sense of it.
I had high hopes for Izzy; in the premier she seemed like she would do anything to win when she stole from the other tribe. I love when players bend the rules and exploit every loophole, that’s why my favorite reality TV contestant is God Sangmin (if you haven’t seen The Genius, what are you doing with yourself). I soured on Izzy a bit when she forced her tribe into doing yoga and said she didn’t have alliances only friendships. The second coming of Parvati was actually the second coming of Amanda Kimmel all along. Not disappointing… just sort of satisfactory.
Tony’s anger at being voted out hasn’t yet subsided, and he continues to share his frustration with Shay. It looks like Tony will make sure everyone that comes through Rredemption Island knows what Shay is really like. “She’s the rotten apple in the barrel, she’s gotta go,have” says Tony. In a normal season, Shay would be free to scheme and plot all she wanted without being found out, but Redemption Island highlights who is playing hard and makes it clear who the backstabbers are (something us Kiwis do not tolerate!) Even if Shay makes it all the way to the end, the jury has been poisoned, it will only be a matter of time before it all catches up to Shay.
Over on Hermosa the divide between the generations is growing. It’s so obvious that even Mogoton has noticed. Knowing that they are on the bottom, Nate and Barb have kept to themselves almost waiting for the inevitable. “Feels like they’ve given up a bit but you never know with those guys,” says Mike. The five can easily pick off Nate and Barb and consider throwing a challenge to get rid of them. “It’s an exciting gamble,” says Georgia.
If former Survivor player Eliza Orlins bothered to track down episodes of Survivor New Zealand she would be livid, creating a tweet storm berating the Hermosa tribe for how stupid this prospect was. I’m not in the camp of people that say “YOU SHOULD NEVER THROW A CHALLENGE!!!!” There are certainly times when it can be beneficial to your game. The family visit reward is probably one you shouldn’t try to win because you’re bound to piss someone off and if you know someone’s against you why not throw a challenge and make sure they don’t get the opportunity to take you out.
Most of the five are on board with this plan except Lee who doesn’t quite grasp the strategic element of the game. I thought Mike was a bit of a smarmy p***k from the start but thank god he tries to talk sense into the boy, telling Lee “It’s either getting further in the game or pride.” Nate picks up on the fact that with food running low the alliance of five will probably throw the immunity challenge, so there’s one less mouth to feed. Nate is always aware of what’s going on and what people are thinking. He might not have the numbers at the moment but he knows where everyone stands in the tribe and can easily shift the game by utilizing the Intel he’s gathered later.
We have some more shots of Mike getting lathered up with lotion. I know the U.S. version of Survivor does the same thing offscreen but it sort of ruins the illusion when you see them putting on sunscreen. That’s stuff for the cutting room floor. Isn’t there B-roll of monkeys they can use instead?
The reward challenge is an old favorite of mine, a slingshot challenge where the tribes have to catch balls with a tribal pool skimmer. It’s surprising how many challenges I like this season. Survivor New Zealand is playing the hits from the U.S. version which I don’t have a problem with. I’d rather see old favorites than weird, off-putting ones like the BTK challenge from Millennials vs. Gen-X. The tribes are playing for fishing gear, and you know somewhere Rupert just climaxed.
Nate uses the challenge to gather information and bond with Sala from Mogoton. Once again I love how crafty Nate is, he’s always trying to improve his position which more players should try to do. “I may not make the merge, but if I fail to prepare I’m preparing to fail, ” says Nate. That sounds like a bumper sticker, but I despise the beautiful people so much that I don’t care. Nate is my bae, love you bae, and I’m rooting for him to take out the fivr one by one.
Sala says the first “Kia Kaha” of the season. It’s the New Zealand equivalent of “dig deep,” I don’t know why Matt Chisholm doesn’t yell that out at challenges. He needs some more phrases in the repertoire as he leans on “dig deep” a little too much. It’s like he knows he’s supposed to have commentary on challenges but has very little to offer.
Jak and Lee from Hermosa score points but it’s ultimately dominated by Sala getting 4 out of the 5 points needed to win. On the mat, Sala once again talks about his daughter and how he was playing for her, his family and his new family Mogoton. His speech is so sappy it goes great with my pancakes. I’ll be surprised if Sala doesn’t win the season. His winners edit rivals Boston Rob’s at this point. We haven’t seen much game from Sala but the show wants us to care about him. The general feeling online is that he’s too “old school” to win but people need to remember this is survivor New Zealand. It won’t be won by a devious or cutthroat player.
The challenge win is great for Mogoton. They were in a real slump, and winning has really brought the tribe together. “I think this win was huge you know. We just needed that one win to motivate us and just to show we could do it,” says Avi.
The food situations between the two tribes are vastly different. Mogoton had more food to start with (thanks to Izzy) and had been rationing their supplies whereas Hermosa has been eating too much of what little they have. Georgia rummages for food and brings back a fruit she found growing on cacti. They mix it with sugar and water to form an unappetizing paste and add it to their rice. Jak puts on a brave face but is choking down what he describes as “soggy s**t,” wanting to track down every fruit and destroy them, so he never has to eat it ever again.
Finally time for the Redemption Island duel. Salty Tony gives another speech about how Shay betrayed the alliance and what a schemer she is. Even though Tony has been voted out, he can still influence the game, and he’s doing his best to sink Shay’s chances. Izzy is more hurt than angry about her vote out and doesn’t want to waste energy on negative feelings. Probably the best attitude to have but as a viewing audience, we want huge blow ups, swearing, and flipping of the bird. We’re just too docile a people.
Looking at the challenge you know Tony is screwed. He has no shot whatsoever. Each person is attached to a rope that’s threaded through an obstacle course and they must get to the end untying three nots along the way. Tony does his best throwing his 55-year-old body up and over the obstacles trying to keep up with Izzy. Izzy leads the entire challenge however and Tony is unable to close the gap.
Tony is a good sport wishing everyone luck. He is disappointed his Survivor journey has been cut short, and I’m saddened we don’t get to see him exact his vengeance against Mogoton. His final words are spent slinging more mud at Shay. He says “You need to learn a bit about integrity there Shayna because you don’t have any alright, you think you can slip and slide your way through the entire game, I bet any amount of money it ain’t gonna happen.”
Back on Mogoton, Lou has cut her foot, so the show has to devote time to her. She isn’t doing too well as the cut has become infected. Earlier in the day she wasn’t able to keep food down and now she’s barely able to stand up. “I never knew such a small cut would do so much damage,” says Lou. The audience and castaways could only watch as Lou’s health continued to deteriorate. “I feel awful seeing her like this. I feel awful seeing her suffer,” says Avi.
I don’t know if it was edited differently than a typical U.S. season or if the medical crew were out to lunch, it kinda seemed like medic Robert “Gibbo” Gibson took his time getting to the Mogoton camp. When he arrives he is unsure what’s wrong and suggests they take her out of the game for more tests. They strap her to a stretcher and load her into a 4×4. The truck slowly inching it’s way through the sand trying not to get stuck. My mind wanders to how this would have been handled on the American version. It’s obvious that the New Zealand crew were somewhat ill prepared for a possible medial emergency as their response time was glacial. The Americans would have more showmanship also, there would be a boat speeding to the beach or a helicopter uprooting trees to get Lou to safety (creating a few epic shots).
Lou’s injury is a valuable lesson to potential Survivor players. Something small can become your undoing. Any insignificant moment, slip of the tongue or cut can be the thing to send you home.