Yo, yo, yo! Apple Pie in the hizzouse. Why am I qualified to recap this show? Well, I happen to have a specious connection to BOTH two-time winner Sandra and Jenna Lewis from Season 1. I know, I know … if there are two Survivor alumnae you wish you knew, it would be those two.
To be honest, this is Season 34. Every person in America is qualified to recap this show if we’re using the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon rationale. Also, The Walking Dead season is over and I am out of Cadbury Mini-Eggs. So you’re stuck with me.
Previously, on Survivor …
Debbie turned from Perimenopause Witch into Sea Witch. Her “exile island” luxury yacht stay brought her down from the ledge of murderous rage back to simmering anger. She met with surprise visitor Cochran, who was calm, masculine, and, dare I say …. appealing?
His new anxiety meds have turned him into Sexy Tiny Nerd.
Alas, Cochran was only there temporarily to calm Debbie’s nerves and give her a choice of advantage. She chose one extra vote at a future tribal. I wish JC had immediately said, “Wrong choice!” and pushed her off the boat and then returned to the game in her place. At Nuku, Two_Idol_Tai got nervous that he was going to get voted off, but the group went with their original plan and voted off Sandra in a dramatic Tribal that Debbie got to witness before joining the Nuku tribe to replace Sandra.
After the vote, Nuku returns to their beach with a less-insane Debbie, who, with Cochran’s words to calm the eff down still ringing in her ears, smiles and tells cheerful semi-lies like, “Guys, there was not even flint on Exile Island.” Everyone hugs her and doesn’t even shudder afterward, even though it’s dark and she wouldn’t be able to see their revulsion. They laugh about Ozzy’s name coming up since he’s a threat, but everyone knows he won’t get kicked off until they’ve merged and his amazing life/survival/challenge/personality skills will only help him and not their tribe. Varner is mad that his ally Sandra got kicked off and wants to punch every one of those bitches in the “throat bone” (almost a direct quote).
Please, tell us how you really feel.
Also, I was surprised to discover that there is such a thing as a throat bone. It’s the only bone in our bodies not connected to any other bone and it’s the one that allows us to speak words. It’s called the hyoid,
“Hyoid” sounds like the noise you would make when punching someone in the throat bone.
You’re welcome for that Jeopardy! trivia.
Varner works on Zeke first, telling him he would have voted for Sandra and he’s hurt Zeke wouldn’t trust him enough to tell him about the vote. Zeke promises to be honest with him from now on and wants to take him to the end – sincerely.
The next day, Day 17, Mana gets its first look at Nuku without Sandra
and with Debbie
(… crickets …)
I’m sure Debbie’s happy about that reaction. It’s the reward challenge, and this is what they have to do: (try to say this out loud all in one breath) unspool ropes tied around a pole to release a key, build a ladder that they climb and use the key to open a lock to release a bag of balls,
Release A Bag of Balls is the title of Amy Schumer’s next stand-up special
squeeze through a cargo net tunnel, and then shoot the five balls into artfully arranged basketball hoops on a slanted wall from a see-saw catapult. Easy, right? And all for ten pizzas and some soda.
Apparently, it comes with a side of the holy ghost.
Sierra, Hali and Michaela are wearing the ropes for Mana and Ozzy, Sarah and Andrea are tied in for Nuku in the most awkward Maypole dance I’ve seen (and I’ve lived in Germany). They have to unspool the ropes tied around their waists and wound around a central pole from the bottom of the pole up to the top, where the key is. Mana’s team doesn’t work as well together (so much for women supporting each other) and of course, Ozzy’s team wins that portion.
Tai unties (hahahaha) the knots for the ladder rungs for Nuku and then Varner and Zeke put the rungs on the ladder posts in short order. I think the rungs might be a puzzle, too, since Troyzan and Culpepper have trouble putting it together for Mana.
Debbie scampers up the ladder and quickly unlocks the bag of balls from the top cross beam, and everyone on Nuku follows her up and over the ladder. Finally, Troy and Brad get the ladder put together and Cirie moves (relatively) fast up the ladder to unlock the bag of balls while Nuku has already made it through the cargo net tunnel to the catapult/basketball final portion.
Ozzy takes awhile to open the bag of balls, since it’s tied up with a fifty-times-knotted rope, but Mana takes a long time to get through the cargo net tunnel, so he’s already launched two of the five balls into their nets by the time Sierra starts untying Mana’s bag. When Ozzy scores his third ball, Brad decides to take over for Sierra (she may have jumped on the catapult once?). Brad does score on his first jump, but this thing’s a runaway. Ozzy, demi-god that he is, wins it for Nuku. They should start making sacrifices to this dude.
Ozzy is unbelievable. His balance, coordination, swimming and climbing abilities, and his hair are head and shoulders above the other contestants. He does wear these shoes, though,
so he is kind of a loser.
Mana takes the loss relatively hard. Cirie and Sierra talk about how rough this game is after 17 days.
As rough as those eyebrow tattoos? Guuurrrlllll … someone misspent her fifth place Survivor check.
Everyone starts crying, even Brad. Aubrey mentions how this game changes you and you can’t accurately explain that to people back home since they can’t relate. Well, everyone’s crying except Michaela, who’s laying on a pillow and digging in the sand and can’t STAND these weak-ass bitches.
Still hustlin’. Get (clap) that (clap) money (clap).
Brad excuses his crying self to go wash his clothes in the ocean. He interviews that he has a new appreciation for Monica, who made it to Day 39. She’s always been his “strength” and his “comfort” (points to inner forearm tattoos) and now he has even more respect for her. Mmmmmkay.
Audrey wanders over to him and thanks him for “opening up like that”. She interviews about how she has so much respect for him.
I want to bone him, okay?
Cirie comes over to Brad separately and has a positive conversation without all the drooling and one-sided sexual tension. Brad interviews that he already feels tight with Sierra and Troy, and now Aubrey and Cirie are in the fold too. Poor Michaela. She could be so amazing if she wasn’t so young and impatient. I love that chick, but none of the other Survivors do.
Nuku has an inordinate celebration over the “pizza”. I think the frozen California Pizza Kitchen from the grocery store is better than the reward pizza they get, but I’m kind of a pizza connoisseur. When I order out, I only get Pizza Hut. No Papa John’s or (shudder) Dominoes for my fam.
Avoid the Noid!
Guess which kind of mac ‘n cheese we get?
Homemade, suckas! ‘Cause I’m a good mom. Ozzy humbly interviews that “we” dominated that challenge. Dude, we all know YOU dominated the challenge, but thanks for including the others. Varner points out that pizza’s nice, but being at the bottom sucks and he’s got to get to work throwing shade on Ozzy to take the heat off of him.
Good idea to start with the dumb ones.
It’s one thing to have a tramp stamp, Sarah. It’s another to have one of a four-leaf clover. Perhaps she should replace it with a blighted potato or a red-headed cop driving a paddy wagon. Sarah interviews that Varner has a point and that it may be best to get rid of Ozzy pre-merge. Ya think?
Immunity challenge! Tai, Zeke, Sarah and Ozzy are on one raft for Nuku, while the Mana raft has Aubrey, Hali, Brad and Troy. Both sets of four have to pull themselves along a rope on the raft to three buoy stations. At each station, someone has to dive in and retrieve some other bouys with letters on them. At the first station, Brad’s diving for Mana and Demi-God’s diving for Nuku. Guess who gets all of his lettered-buoys first?
At the second station, Brad needs Aubrey to take over the diving, and then he takes back over at the third station, but Ozzy’s been done awhile by the time they get to the third station. Varner, Debbie and Andrea have some extra time to try to unscramble those thirteen lettered buoys into one word. In case you forgot, guys,
I’m really good at puzzles.
Mana finally makes it to the puzzle station and Cirie, Michaela, and Sierra have to unscramble the thirteen letters. It is a pretty hard word, but Hali figures it out before anyone else and Mana gets the win thanks to her quick mind that reaches “Metamorphosis”. Mana tribe members pick Hali up and toss her around in their excitement.
I’m so scared right now, you guys.
Ozzy’s a tad disappointed.
All that hard work for nothing? This must be what single mothers feel like.
Back at Nuku, Varner asks the tribe for one on one time with everyone, since he knows he’s on the chopping block. He says, “You don’t have to lie to me. I don’t have an idol”. Tai furiously chews on some coconut before he outs himself.
Varner volunteers to go get water and Ozzy leaves with him. Debbie starts a convo with the leftovers, asking for a vote. She’s for Varner but Sarah wants to vote off Ozzy. Sarah thinks Varner will stick with Mana on votes after the merge, but Ozzy may not.
Zeke sticks up for Varner (sort of). He really, really likes him as a person but thinks that Ozzy will be more useful to keep, at least for one or two more votes. Andrea’s conflicted. Zeke interviews later than he needs to keep Ozzy around to keep the heat off of him because part of his grand strategy to make it to the end is to keep big threats around as long as possible so he can fly under the radar. Zeke talks to Varner privately and tells him that there’s a 70% chance he’s getting voted off that night.
I guess this means the twine headband isn’t working.
Varner brings up kicking off Ozzy but Zeke ain’t buying. He does warn Varner that the girls are going to make him feel like he’s safe. So Varner runs right to Sarah and says that Zeke must be closer to Ozzy than them because he told Varner that Sarah and Andrea would lie to him to make him feel safe. Sarah’s pissed.
Maybe she should turn that four-leaf clover into the Chinese symbol for “gullible”.
Varner then talks to Andrea, telling her that Zeke’s playing both sides and Zeke’s not being truthful. He tells her there’s something Zeke isn’t telling everyone, and he interviews that there’s something insignificant to this game that no one else knows. Varner says he’ll raise mortal hell (I thought hell was immortal, but whatevs) at tribal and he will not leave this island quietly.
Andrea and Sarah talk about how Zeke threw them under the bus to save face with his friend Varner and that it’s not cool (but it’s not like they’re going to do anything about it now). Well, Sarah is … she’s thinking about voting off Ozzy instead of Varner.
Tribal begins with a whole lot of Varner talk, encouraged by Probst. Varner tells him he’s going home, and that he’s certain of it. His certainty makes Debbie nervous, but so do mirrors, Cosmo quizzes, and attorneys. Varner goes on to tell Probst that he’s tried to manipulate cracks in the alliance, but all he’s figured out is that Ozzy and Zeke have a secret alliance and the other four are on the bottom. He suggests that Sarah, Tai and Debbie vote for Ozzy and he’ll vote with them. He’s convincing.
Varner tells Probst, “There is deception here, Jeff, deception on levels these guys [points at tribe members] don’t even understand. There’s more.” Probst encourages Varner, “Continue”. Varner turns to Zeke and asks, “Why haven’t you told everyone you’re transgender?”
What the fuckity fuck?
Zeke looks like he’s in shock. Varner spits out, “What I’m showing is a deception.”
I’m realizing that even the gay news anchors in NC are assholes to trans people.
The rest of the tribe trips over themselves to put Varner in his place, shouting and crying that this is bullshit, it has nothing to do with the game and he’s the worst person on the planet to out Zeke. Jeff Probst moderates this shit storm like a boss, giving Zeke some time to recover and then respond on his own terms. He’s practically catatonic, but when Varner protests to the other tribe members shouting at him that he didn’t “out” Zeke, Zeke jumps in to say that he’s never told anyone on the show in either season (well, I guess he did tell one person).
The wrong one.
Varner realizes that this has all gone horribly wrong and immediately apologizes to Zeke. He tells the tribe and Probst that he is desperate to stay in the game and he chose the wrong tactic to do so. Zeke thinks the “kicker” is that he cares so much about Varner that he was agonizing over voting him out and even told him that he was going home so he wouldn’t be blindsided at Tribal. Probst then asks Varner what he thinks the reaction in the LGBTQ community will be.
Hopefully, a ratings gold mine!
Varner says everyone who knows him at home will know his true feelings and know he supports LGBTQ community members. He says he thought Zeke was out, loud and proud. Sarah, of all people, asks him then why he used it as an example of how deceptive Zeke could be, if he thought he was out. Varner stumbles over his answer, knowing there is none. Probst pushes the other tribe members, asking Tai and Andrea how they feel now, and they both feel like Zeke was wronged horribly in a way that can’t be undone, but they also recognize that Varner was desperate and is remorseful.
Varner starts really crying at this point, and Probst starts rubbing it in: “Is it sinking in, Varner, that you didn’t just tell six people, you told millions and millions of people?”
Billions of people, if I get my way.
Varner clarifies that he assumed Zeke’s secret was only kept from these six people, and that everyone back home knew.
Probst wants to know if people do know about Zeke, and Zeke explains that sure, some people know, but he stopped telling people during and after his transition because he didn’t want his trans identity to be his primary one, and to color every opinion people had about him. He also got tired of questions. He didn’t tell the Survivor casting team, producers, or players, because he didn’t want to be known as “the trans Survivor player”. Then he goes into some shit about metamorphosis, which Probst just beams about, and says what Varner did is not cool but he’s fine and he’s fine with this knowledge being part of his Survivor experience. Varner says he’s Zeke’s biggest cheerleader, and Zeke tells him he doesn’t need a cheerleader. Burn!
Varner says he now realizes the horrible thing he just did and Sarah rolls her eyes. Of course, Probst wants to know how she feels. She says what Varner did was a malicious attack. She tries to keep talking and Varner keeps interrupting until Jeff shuts him down. Sarah starts crying and talking about how she comes from a conservative, homophobic background.
Tell me more. Make this shit more compelling. Daddy needs a new S-class.
Sarah’s super glad she got to know Zeke as a kick-ass person before she found out he was trans because now that she knows, she realizes that it doesn’t matter to her and that means she has metamorphosized in 18 days, so it’s cool. Zeke’s cool. Varner’s not cool.
Zeke wraps this shit up by saying that if any Survivor fan can take solace in his outing, then it makes this better. Probst doesn’t even make them vote and after visually confirming they all want Varner gone, unceremoniously kicks him to the curb. Have fun in mortal hell, Varner!
I’m surprised Probst didn’t make Varner’s snuff his torch in his own eye. Or just punch him in the throat bone.
If you want to know more, you can read the two pieces from The Hollywood Reporter, in which we find out that Zeke’s milking this shit and Varner got fired from his day job AND the Survivor producers edited out Zeke’s protest that he’s not deceiving anyone just before Varner outed him.
I also watched Zeke on The Talk the next day, where he was happy-go-lucky and said he lightened the mood during that rough tribal by telling everyone after Varner left that his fly had been down the whole time. I thought he was joking, but look:
Next week … merge!