Survivor Survival Guide: “That Girl Is Like a Virus”

“There’s nobody out here that’s honorable. There’s nobody out here that’s honorable anymore—except for me. I hate to pontificate on this. Martin Luther King says that the greatest measure of a man is not in the way he handles times of comfort, but in the way he rises to controversy and challenge. There’s always hope; the last thing we have in life and in this game is hope that the impossible will happen, that we dare to dream that Randy’s gonna wake up in this camp tomorrow. So yes, there’s still hope. I still have breath and a brain cell in this brain. I will fight for him.”

—Coach, who then voted Randy out of the tribe

Last week, NPI’s go-to television critic, Alan Sepinwall of the Star-Ledger, wrote about how the way Survivor episodes were edited often revealed a lot of what was going to happen. To wit: Even before the Immunity Challenge in Week 2, there was already discussion in the Heroes’ camp about who should be voted off, and a lot more of the camp dissension centered on Stephenie than on Amanda. Consequently, it wasn’t surprising when the Heroes lost and when Steph was voted off.

When I read that last week, I kind of conceded the point, thinking I too should have seen it all coming (not like it was a huge surprise, but still…). But then I remembered that Survivor is also good at throwing red herrings at you, spending entire episodes focused on the machinations of one character who seems on the verge of being voted out, only to end with the elimination of another, minor character. And that’s what happened last night.

A large majority of “That Girl Is Like a Virus” centered on the Villains’ camp and in particular, Parvati, the “that girl” from the title (the quote is from Jerri). First, Russell was warned about spending too much time with Parvati by Boston Rob and Coach—two of the least qualified individuals to ever warn anyone else about spending too much time with a female. Rob married Amber on All-Stars, and Coach and Jerri are basically the Russell and Parvati of the other side of the shelter. Then there was a string of quotes about how shallow Parvati is (get it?*) and how her coquettishness won’t work this time around. Randy said the game, like life, wasn’t about being “smart, clever, or hardworking” but about having a “pretty smile” and, implicitly, people skills. Coach called her out for being a “loafer,” which he initially described as unfair before modifying it to “unjust.”

*In case you’re that far behind, her last name is Shallow.

This all became important after the Immunity Challenge—one of the most one-sided in Survivor history. Players were matched up one-on-one in a ring encircled by mud, equipped with a heavy bag to try to knock the opponent into the mud. Tom set the tone by beating Russell in the first match, and the Heroes ran the table, complete with James manhandling Randy Tyson-McNeeley style in the clincher (if McNeeley has lasted about 80 seconds less). (Randy seemed to suggest it was unsportsmanlike for James to beat him so easily.)

The debate heading to Tribal Council for the Villains became whether to vote off the weakest male in Randy (I talked earlier about the massive physical advantage the Heroes have on the Villains’ men) or a potential long-term threat in Parvati, who has won the game before and has potential allies in James, Amanda, and Cirie on the Heroes tribe. It was interesting to see how scattered the Villains were in making their decision. There were no discernible alliances, as everyone seemed to talk to everyone else (outside of Randy, who did his usual anti-social wading in the water routine). Even at Tribal Council, the rhetoric stressed Parvati’s status as a threat after a merge; it was mentioned explicitly by Sandra, Jerri, and even Russell. Still, after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Parvati, it was Randy who was sent home unanimously (unless you count his own vote for Boston Rob, which has a miniscule chance of coming into play during a tie).

I feel a little bad for Randy, who was miscast as a Villain. Randy never played a villainous social game; he doesn’t play any social game. He’s just an unhappy guy who doesn’t get along with people and has quit trying. His best chance was to hide under the radar for a while and make it to the merge as he did his first time around. He just had the misfortune of facing James and having his physical weakness emphasized this week. I hope he’s found himself a new canine best friend.

It’s still tough to have a good feel for the organization of the Villains’ tribe, but here’s my stab at their Estates General:

THIRD ESTATE: Jerri is now the tribe’s weakest link, and Coach has already hitched his wagon to her.

SECOND ESTATE: Parvati and Russell may be voted off as threats, while Tyson and Courtney have et to make an impression with anyone else.

FIRST ESTATE: Sandra and Danielle are totally under the radar and seem the most likely to team with Rob.

THE KING: Boston Rob is indispensable in the challenges for the team; his issue will come in making a sustainable alliance before the merge.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Furthermore, the 20th season of Survivor has been one of the most entertaining. It has proven once again that an all-star cast, despite some of its theoretical quandaries, works very well for dramatic purposes, and it has given us, by my count, two pantheon Survivor episodes (“I’m Not a Good Villain” and “The Sinking Ship”). There’s been Sugar going topless to win a challenge, enough time for a Colby-sucks-but-then-he-redeems-himself-but-now-he-sucks-even-more storyline, JT giving an immunity idol to Russell, a catfight–albeit a disappointing one–between Danielle and Amanda officiated by Colby because he was perturbed they were interrupting a showing of Treasure Island in the Robert Louis Stevenson House, Courtney’s snarky comments at Tribal, and finally, what in my mind goes down as the greatest quote in the history of Survivor from Coach, moments before, mind you, he voted for Randy: […]

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