Survivor Survival Guide: Pulling the Trigger

“That’s just obnoxious…. All you need to is give him, Jimmy T., a little rope and he’ll hang himself from the nearest branch.”

“Anyone who calls out Jimmy Johnson and says that Jimmy Johnson might be insecure because of Jimmy T.’s leadership capabilities has got some issues going on.”

“He just doesn’t get this game.”

–Marty on Jimmy T.

“I’m easy to get along with — I think.”

–Jimmy T.

In the wake of Jimmy Johnson’s dismissal last week, Wednesday’s fourth episode of Survivor: Nicaragua, “Pulling the Trigger,” was bound to deal with the aftermath in the older, Espada tribe. More specifically, it was bound to deal with the tension between Marty, the man who largely orchestrated Johnson’s departure, and Jimmy T., the man who thought Johnson was threatened by his leadership skills, even as he (Jimmy T.) was the one who beseeched “Coach” to “put him in” the week before.

Almost all of the episode, in fact, focused on Espada, beginning with Jimmy T.’s statement that Johnson’s leadership was “nothing,” using a litany of juvenile sports analogies in the process.* In the end, he concludes that Johnson just “wasn’t a Jimmy T. fan.”** As if in karmic retribution for voting off the only interesting castaway of the season, Espada was punished overnight by a flood (allegedly stemming from elsewhere in Nicaragua) that wiped out part of their beach and muddied their fishing area. This made an already tenuous food situation worse, or as Jill said, “Food is an issue…. We have no food and no means of getting it.” Meanwhile, Jane, bless her soul,***  misses Johnson, her old fishing pal.

*I half-expected him to start singing John Fogerty’s insufferable “Centerfield” at some point in the episode.

**But you can be! Simply join the Jimmy T. Fan Page on Facebook!

***I feel as if “bless her soul” should follow Jane’s name all the time, regardless of context. I think the best way to describe Jane is as someone who says “bless her soul” and about whom “bless her soul” is said.

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Nevertheless, Espada pushes forward, with Jimmy T. trying to catch some fish with the net. He turns down Marty’s offer to help, saying that regular fishermen can handle the net solo. This, of course, is an interesting thing for Jimmy T. to say, considering that he is a regular fisherman. And he is, from all appearances, terrible with the net. Now, I know, it’s probably unfair to expect a modern-day fisherman to be very efficient with old fishing techniques.* But this is the first episode in which we’ve seen Jimmy T. fish. It strikes me that a professional fisherman — and especially the kind of leader among fishermen that Jimmy T. proclaims himself to be — would be about as ideal a castaway as possible. He would be so ideal that he could immediately take the reins of all fishing responsibility without any kind of dissent. He could, in short, become a leader of the tribe. I guess Jimmy T. just didn’t want those things.

*Also, at the same time, he hasn’t really been espousing much fishing technique or philosophy to anyone who has been actively fishing. If I were in a situation where I was on a team that, say, had to blog by some primitive means — a typewriter and mimeograph seem right for this analogy — I think: A. I would be able to do this; B. If I found it a little difficult, I would at least be lending some expertise, especially if I were of the personality that constantly felt the need to lend expertise on all sorts of things that I was not an expert in.

All this is to say that either there has been some manipulative editing — Jimmy T. has helped with the fishing more than shown, for instance — or Jimmy T. is not a fisherman.

Later, Jimmy T. and Jill resort to catching sea urchins, and Jimmy T. calls Marty out for eating a few without helping collect them. This seemed like the inevitable final straw for Marty, who twice referred to Jimmy T.’s dual sufferings of “paranoia” and “delusions of grandeur.”* Remember, Marty is the same guy who did offer to help earlier with the net. But being that Marty suggested Tyrone be Espada’s leader in the Immunity Challenge, he was also “not a Jimmy T. fan.”**

*It’s really a close race this season between Marty and NaOnka for who enjoys their confessional time more.

**I’m not quoting that as callback. Jimmy T. did use it a second time to describe Marty.

Before we get to the Immunity Challenge, here’s a brief rundown of what happened at La Flor: Brenda and NaOnka found the hidden immunity idol. Na claimed it for herself despite Brenda’s help, and then she later rubbed it in to Alina and Kelly B. without explicitly telling them that she had found it. It was also revealed in the “Previously On…” that Brenda is a former NFL cheerleader (I forget if that was mentioned before) and that she is the leader of La Flor, which I think was an interestingly editorial thing for Probst to say in his narration.

The Immunity Challenge consisted of one “caller” guiding three pairs of blindfolded teammates to collect 10 items, a set of keys, and a chest in a field of mud. La Flor decided to use the Medallion of Power, which gave them a two-item headstart. With Brenda and Tyrone serving as their tribes’ respective callers, La Flor cruised to victory. The challenge also included Reward, with the tribe picking three of the items (provided by Sears, as indicated in numerous close-ups of the Sears logo on the items) to bring back to camp: a tarp, fishing supplies, and cooking supplies.

Once at camp, La Flor celebrated, and one castaway (I don’t know who) said “God bless Sears,” in another prominent instance of Survivor’s increasingly blatant product placement.* Once they put Sears’ bountiful blessings down, Chase found a clue to the hidden immunity idol in the tackle box .** He was able to sneak it into his pocket without anybody noticing, later disclosing it to Brenda. Unlike Alina, Kelly B., Na, and Brenda before him, Chase was able to quickly solve the clue. The only problem, as Brenda later told him, was that Na already had the idol — forcing the three of them into an uneasy alliance held together by Brenda.

*You might remember Outback Steakhouse and Sprint from last season.

**It’s likely coincidental, but if not, kudos to Survivor for putting the clue in the “tackle box” one episode after NaOnka tackled Kelly B. to grab a clue.

Back at Espada, Jimmy T. again said he could have been a bigger contributor, with the caveat that he doesn’t know if he would have necessarily changed anything if he were put in charge of the challenge. “I just want a fair opportunity,” he said about the chance to lead one challenge, while citing his plentiful experience in youth athletic coaching as proof of his leadership.* Tyrone was not amused: “The comments today, I didn’t dig at all.”

*Watching this pitiful display — and that really is the best word to describe Jimmy T. as presented on Survivor, pitiful — I couldn’t help but think back to one of my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live sketches of a 1988 Republican primary debate. Since video is not available on the Internet, I shall liberally quote from the corresponding part:

Moderator: Reverend Robertson, you bristled Monday when Tom Brokaw called you a television evangelist. Why?

Pat Robertson: Well, uh, Pat.. this is a deliberate attempt by the media to belittle me, and I’m just not gonna stand for it! I’ve been so many things besides a religious broadcaster – I’m a businessman, I’m the president of the sixth largest cable TV network in the country, I’ve, uh… I’ve mowed lawns… I’ve been a babysitter… I’ve, uh… watched people’s homes while they’ve been on vacation… I’ve been a caddy, at a country club, one of the largest country clubs in the state of Virginia… and I think that the media, by ignoring these other positions I’ve had, and focusing on twenty-five odd years of my hosting an evangelical show, I think that’s just unfair, and it’s just religious bigotry!

At the same time, Espada had a real issue with Dan, who once again didn’t take part in the challenge, citing his knee’s issues with mud. Problem here is, a lot of challenges will take place in mud, and even those that don’t will likely take place on sand, which I imagine poses the same problems to Dan’s knee. So, he’ll be helpful if and when they hold a challenge on a blacktop installed in the midst of the Nicaraguan rainforest. Jane, bless her soul, said she would vote for Dan for the intriguing reason that “that’s what Coach had put down.” So, one week after she herself helped vote Jimmy Johnson off, Jane, bless her soul, is still taking his advice. Marty, meanwhile, was trying to convince Jill (who put up slightly more resistance this time around before conceding) and Tyrone to vote “the cancer” of Jimmy T. off.

Here’s the interesting thing to me about Marty’s strategy: Marty wants to keep Dan around because he’s important in terms of his “numbers” within Espada. Namely, Dan is a “swing vote” in Marty’s alliance. The thing about this is, it assumes there’s some other alliance that Marty is going up against, and there isn’t. In fact, it appears that Marty, Jill, and Holly are the only people on Espada who have even considered allying with anybody, and Holly has chosen to ally with Jane, bless her soul, which is like allying with nobody. At this stage of the game, it’s not really important to protect swing votes within the tribe; once you get to the merge, whoever’s left from your tribe, regardless of previous alliances, will probably be on your side — unless there’s serious enmity. The less you clarify your own alliance pre-merge, the stronger that alliance can be post-merge.

At Tribal, Marty said aloud what he said to the cameras earlier, calling out Jimmy T. as paranoid and delusional. Holly defended Jimmy T., saying all he wanted was a chance, before JT himself said he could “man up” enough to be a worker bee, even as he started crying while saying this. At this point, Jimmy T.’s emotional investment in being a leader seems to reveal, as Yve posited earlier,* serious personal insecurity. I envision that earlier in Jimmy T.’s life, there was some sort of life-or-death scenario involving tossing sandbags onto barrels or guiding blindfolded individuals in which he cowered from a leadership role, therein costing several lives and explaining the deep-seated shame he feels at being a follower.

*Another bombshell: Yve is a mom! This means she’s something else that starts with “M.”

It was unclear going into the vote whether it would, in fact, be Jimmy T. or Dan; for once, Tribal wasn’t edited to the point where one of the castaways dug their own grave. But after the first three votes went to Dan, the final five all went to Jimmy T., sending him back to fishing (or whatever) in New England.

Is it time to break out the Espada Estates General? I think it is.


SECOND ESTATE: Yve, Tyrone, Holly, Jane (bless her soul)



Marty is definitely running the show, and I wonder how big a role he played in Tyrone’s voting off Jimmy T. against his earlier objections. Jill, meanwhile, is playing a strong game as a coat-tailer. If I had to pick one person from Espada to win this game — and I don’t think anyone from Espada is going to win this game — I would pick Jill.

Of course, all this could be moot because it appears the tribes will be shaken up this week. We’ll see.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on October 11, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    I too was not a Jimmy T fan by the end of this episode. Also, I think an underrated move you mentioned was Marty’s tactical suggestion that Tyrone serve as leader of Espada during challenges. For one, this kept the target off his back and, more obviously, it angered Jimmy T so much that his unwillingness to be a “worker bee” became obvious to most of the rest of the tribe.


  2. Posted by Josh on October 11, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    I haven’t liked Jimmy T since the beginning. The only more consistently annoying contestant is Naonka, IMO.


  3. […] instead. Their position was only strengthened when Na gave Chase the hidden immunity idol—the one he figured out the clue for a day too late at the beginning of the game. Na’s parting advice to the person she decided she trusted the most (and the person every other […]


  4. […] cast. Several of the older players seemed unfamiliar with basics of how the game was played; I’m thinking specifically of Jimmy T. The younger tribe, meanwhile, could rest on its strategic laurels, rarely having to face Tribal […]


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