The Bizarro World is a fictional planet which is part of the DC Comics universe. It was introduced in the 1960s and is home to “Bizarro” versions of Superman and other DC superheroes and characters. In popular culture, the term “Bizarro World” is often used to describe situations or settings that are strangely inverted or opposite to expectations. For example, in the classic sitcom Seinfeld, in the episode “The Bizarro Jerry”, Elaine makes a new group of friends who are the “Bizarro” versions of the Seinfeld gang – in that they are kind, caring and compassionate.
Why am I talking about Bizarro World? Well, because Episode 4 of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance was full of Bizarro World moments. The entire episode was deliberately set up to make us believe one thing before confounding our expectations, like some shitty M Night Shyamalan movie. You think Angkor is down and out and defeated? Surprise – they win the reward challenge. You think Chaos Kass is back to reek havoc? Surprise – she is adorable. There isn’t a person called Monica on this season? Surprise – there is!
First of all, it is devastating that they voted out Jeff Varner last night. But what made it worse was how the edit tricked us into a false sense of security. Blindsides are commonplace on Survivor, but when the audience is blindsided it stings even more. I wouldn’t say that Varner had a “winner’s edit” per se, but judging by Edgic, it appeared that the former Australian Outback contestant was this season’s “journeyman.”
Cambodia was meant to be the place of re-birth for Jeff Varner. The starting point on his mid-life quest. Fifteen years of hurt was supposed to be washed away by the glories of his second chance. He had it all: the king of the pre-game, the social charm, the passion, the alliances, the balls-to-the-wall gameplay, and the killer confessionals. Maybe he wouldn’t win, but he would prove himself as a brilliant strategist and this time he’d make the jury after getting voted out in an epic blindside due to being too much of a threat.
That is what the show was telling us until it pulled the rug out from under us last night. Enter Bizarro World: where the man that we all thought was set up to be one of the season’s biggest characters was voted out in seventeenth place for one of the most old school reasons in the book – being the weakest on the tribe. What appeared to be a long-term season arc was instead a heart-breaking but overall explosive four episode arc.
Farewell, Jeff Varner.
If there has been one guarantee so far on Survivor: Cambodia, it’s that Abi-Maria will immediately turn on her alliance the following week after siding with them. Things seemed to be running as normal when moments into the episode Abi got into a public spat with Tasha because Tasha dared talk to her sworn enemy Woo. Just another typical episode of The Abi Show, until, wait, what’s this? Abi voted with the same alliance two weeks in a row?!
Despite her insistence on wanting Woo out, Abi eventually sided with Tasha and Savage and joined the majority in voting out Varner. Tasha deserves all the credit in the world for being able to control Abi and keep her on track; something no other castaway so far this season has been able to do. It was an utterly bizarre situation to see Abi make a rational vote at tribal council and not one made on pure emotion and whatever the voices in her head are telling her.
If seeing a (semi) rational Abi wasn’t bizarre enough, then how about a compassionate Kass? In what was the funniest and the best-edited scene of the episode, Kass was seen to be making what looked like a fake idol, only for it to turn out to be a belated birthday present for Kelley Wentworth.
Kass, the woman that flipped people off, argued with Tony, and took joy in crushing the dreams of Spencer, is demonstrating kindness and thoughtfulness? The way the editors played with the audience expectations in this scene was fantastic: from the music to the #ChaosKass hashtag to Wentworth’s confessional questioning Kass’s shadiness. But Kass continues to deliver in the most surprising of ways, by being a functional, social, likable human being. How very odd.
Other Bizarro Moments
The fact that llama speaking Kass and chicken defender Kimmi, two of the most vocal women in Survivor history, couldn’t be heard during the blindfold challenge just added to this episode’s bizarre nature. Keeping with Kimmi for a moment, another scene that could only happen on Bizarro Survivor week, from a Secret Scene, Kimmi chasing a chicken in an attempt to cage it! If 27-year-old Kimmi could see herself now, she’d be wagging her own finger in her face.
Monica speaking for more than 30 seconds and it having some substance was also a shock. Even though her read on Spencer was completely wrong, it was nice to hear what she was thinking strategy wise. Now, if only we could get the same for Ciera, Keith, and Kimmi.
Woo actually being on the right side of the vote and not leaving the tribal council with a confused look on his face? Chalk that one up as one of Woo’s better Survivor days.
Savage talking about his demons from Pearl Islands and expecting us to relate to his struggles of playing college football? Okay, some things never change.
There was some fun editing in this episode, in particular, the scene with Kass, and the unexpected Varner boot. It felt like a much-needed jolt in the arm of the audience, to keep us on our toes and let us know that nobody is safe. The “Hero” challenge worked quite nicely, and I’m sure it will give Probst spank-bank material for a lifetime. However, much like I said last week, there are far too many castaways that we still have yet to hear from in any depth. It’s understandable that Abi would receive the majority of the screen-time, seeing as her tribe continues to go to tribal council and she has played such a pivotal role in each vote, but crafting the entire episode around Abi’s annoyances is becoming draining. The wait continues to see what a tribal council episode would look like without Abi.