Ahoy, Pool Players! It’s time to stop filling that Easter basket with candy and start filling your eyeholes with Survivor! Previously on Survivor, Debbie went on the Debbie Fan Cruise, with a special guest appearance by a bewildered John Cochran. At Tribal Council, Sandra’s tremendous reign finally came to a halt as she was voted out for the first time ever in her storied Survivor career. Back at the beach, Debbie is thrilled to be “back where [she] belongs” at Nuku. Is there anywhere Debbie doesn’t belong? She’d fit in anywhere from Costco to Katmandu! Debbie wastes no time in lying about Exile, saying there wasn’t even any flint. I mean, I guess that’s not technically a lie, since that boat probably came equipped with a TV showing a digital yule log. Meanwhile, Ozzy and Tai have a conversation about Tai tossing Ozzy’s name out during Tribal Council. Tai admits to being terrible at Tribal. He’s not wrong, but after tonight I can think of at least one person who is worse. Speaking of being terrible, Jeff Varner was deceived by Zeke and now finds himself at the bottom of the tribe without a paddle. Turns out that reading a room might not be one of Jeff’s better skills. Jeff and Zeke agree to continue working together and say they will have no more lies between them. Enough is enough! (Is enough!)
Reward time! In this Reward Challenge the Survivors need to unspool some ropes, get a key, and then jump on a teeter-totter to toss five balls into five targets. The winning tribe will receive not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight, not nine, but TEN WHOLE PIZZAS as a reward. Seriously, folks, ten, count ’em, ten whole pizzas. That’s a lot of pizza, and I say this as someone who can confidently put down a ‘za any time day or night. What are seven people going to do with ten pizzas? Is there going to be some sort of frisbee challenge? Are they going to turn them into five calzones? Is there going to be a pizza bath? In any event this is another pretty close challenge, with surprisingly poor turns from Mana’s Sierra and Brad, who you think would be good at this considering she’s a professional rodeo person (rope) and Brad Culpepper made his living playing with balls (balls). Unfortunately for both of them, Nuku has Ozzy, which pretty much guarantees their victory in the ball-tossing department. Too bad, I was really looking forward to seeing Brad Culpepper eat an entire pizza.
Back at the losing Mana beach, everyone commiserates over losing the pizza together. Sierra has a cry about how hard Survivor is, to which just about everyone else chimes in. Sierra reminds us that Survivor is “100% real” and you can’t beat 100%! Turns out playing Survivor is hard! They all talk about how nobody knows how hard being on the show is until they actually do it, and then they return home changed forever. It’s the same experience I had after watching Twilight in the theater. Even Brad Culpepper opens up about how he never knew how hard it was for his wife, Monica, since he only played twelve days in his previous season and she lasted thirty nine. This is also a good reminder that Monica was the runner-up on Blood versus Water. She was in the finale! Bet you didn’t remember that! Brad leaves to have a cry on the beach, and Aubry congratulates him for opening up. If even a big lug like Brad can weep on screen, then there’s probably hope for, uh, just about anyone else. Aubry tells us that Brad is the most genuine person in the game, and he’s not a half bad decorator, either! Over at Mana it’s time for the inaugural meeting of the ten pizza club. Everyone chows down while Jeff reminds us that he’s still on the bottom. Jeff needs to deflect the vote to someone else, and Ozzy is the next natural target. For someone who has always been talked about as a huge threat in this game, Ozzy sure had made the merge a lot. Jeff wants to get Ozzy out and save himself, and he’ll do anything to get there. Yes, anything. Yes, again, anything. Yes, the worst thing you can think of, that kind of anything. We’ll get there.
Immunity time! In this Immunity Challenge the Survivors need to swim to a raft, untie some lettered buoys and then spell a very long thirteen-letter word in METAMORPHOSIS. Once again Ozzy is strong in the challenge, swimming down and getting his tribe to the letter scramble first. Unfortunately, METAMORPHOSIS is a really long and kind of out-there word, and everyone is stumped when it comes time to arrange the letters. Mana catches up and starts moving their letters around, until Hali has the revelation that it’s got to start with META. Hali gets her tribe on the right track and Mana wins another Immunity victory. Back at camp, nobody on Nuku is too upset over losing, since METAMORPHOSIS is a really long word that you learn in science class like, once, and don’t really need to use in your everyday diction. Jeff knows he’s on the outs, and says he’ll talk to everyone individually, starting with Ozzy. While Jeff and Ozzy go off to get water, everyone else discusses if it makes sense to vote Ozzy out instead. They seem to be pretty split on this, but agree that both need to go. When Varner gets back he talks with Zeke, who says that Varner has a 50/50 chance of surviving the vote. Zeke says that Andrea and Sarah would likely lie to him, and say that he’s safer. Armed with this knowledge, Jeff surmises (incorrectly) that Zeke and Ozzy must have an alliance, and that they’re planning on voting out everyone else. Jeff thinks that this is quality information, and he goes to both Sarah and Andrea. Sarah is particularly thrown off, and is worried that Zeke and Ozzy might be playing her. For a second it looks like Zeke may be in trouble, although it’s unclear how Jeff would secure more votes. Not to be deterred, Jeff tells us that he is, “not going quietly off this island!” Truer words were never spoken.
At Tribal Council… oh, Tribal Council. This one is a doozy. It starts off well enough, with Jeff saying that he’s prepared to go home tonight but also that the rest of the tribe needs to know that Zeke and Ozzy are working together. Jeff says that there is deception here, and that he can prove it because, (are you sitting down), Zeke hid the fact that he was transgendered. All together now, what? It’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever seen on television, and that includes the time Nicole Scherzinger ruined that child’s dreams. It’s a senseless act of violence against another player. Zeke is shocked, Jeff Probst is shocked, but -to their incredible credit- the rest of the tribe is immediately taken aback, calling Jeff Varner out on what is probably the worst thing to ever happen on this show. Jeff Varner tries to back himself up, by connecting this back to the game, but it’s clear that a line has been crossed by a country mile. It’s upsetting! There’s perhaps no precedent for this kind of behavior on the show. I mean, even when someone threatens to pee in the rice there’s at least a little humor in that situation. (Peeing in rice is funny!) The rest of Tribal Council turns into a course correction for Jeff Varner, with everyone berating him for saying such a stupid thing. At first Jeff doesn’t seem to get it, but he does come around, and eventually apologizes to Zeke. Zeke, it must be said, handles this with such an enormous level of grace that I’m surprised he wasn’t canonized on the spot. All goofs aside, it’s a terrible thing that happened, and Jeff Varner was wrong, and it was good of everyone to put him in his place. They also decide on the spot to vote Jeff out, to which he agrees, since there’s no sense in continuing to let someone who did something so wrong keep playing this game. Jeff Varner is gone, having never made the merge in three seasons. This Tribal Council was a certain bummer, (although Jeff Probst confusingly refers to it as ‘beautiful’), but it’s good to see Zeke still in the game surrounded by people who just want to play with him as an equal. I hope he wins the whole gosh-darn thing.
Speaking of winning, make sure to click on over to the Leaderboards to see where you stand. The Pool Princess is practicing her Easter Bunny hop, but she promises to stop hopping around long enough to send out the next bonus chances. Next time on Survivor: how do you follow that? With a merge! Drop your buffs, we’re dipping our toes in the second half! See you next week!