Hey, anyone out there feel like crying? Well, grab a box of Kleenex — two actually, looks like Denise could use one for her excess snot — because it’s time for the loved ones visit! And this time with less Sprint product placement than ever before! That’s right, no video preview messages from the cast to work the contestants into a frenzy of tears. Let’s just bring them out in person, starting with the “best human being” Michael Skupin knows…Michael Skupin! Skupin informs his similarly named son that the gentleman standing there in the Survivor baseball hat and resort casual wardrobe is none other than Jeff Probst — which I am guessing Skupin Jr. already pieced together after the host instructed him to go hug his dad.
Speaking of which, is it just me or did the loved ones appear to be overly aggressive in their pace while running to great the players? A slight jog I can understand, but these cats were trying to make like RG3 in their rush to make it over and hug their relatives as if they were shot out of a freakin’ cannon. My favorite loved one had to be Lisa’s brother, Justice Whelchel — solely for his incredible name. He sounds like the star of either a syndicated daytime courtroom show, or some sort of gritty FX drama about a small town sheriff with a pocketful of moxie: Whelchel…Justice Whelchel. (Of course, I was secretly hoping for Cousin Geri from The Facts of Life as Lisa’s loved one, but she must have already booked a stand-up comedy gig somewhere.) And then there is Malcolm’s “knucklehead” brother Miles, who appears to have arrived straight off the set of Bio-Dome 2: Ultimate Dome-ination.
This week’s reward challenge consists of the players throwing muddy bags to their loved ones, who then need to use them to knock down five targets. The winning relative gets to come back to camp for the night. (I’m not sure if spending a night with Abi-Maria should really be considered a "reward", but there you have it.) Because the challenge does not involve untying ropes after sitting out two-thirds of the entire thing, Abi and her mom have no chance. Otherwise, it’s a close contest between the other teams, with Malcolm and his brother Pauly Shore ultimately winning. Naturally, Malcolm is told he can pick someone else’s loved one to join them, and he chooses Lisa’s brother — Whelchel…Justice Whelchel. “Malcolm, ask him for another,” commands one of the Michael Skupins (buy one, get one free!). He does, and Probst grants the request, leading Malcolm to select the other Michael Skupin to join them back at the beach.
A quick word about Malcolm’s selection of inviting Lisa’s brother and Skupin’s son. I think it was the smart call. It’s always bugged me to no end when someone wins a reward challenge and then brings their BFF along for the ride, leaving the people on the bottom of their alliance to be bitter and consider flipping sides with the enemy. The best bet is to either bring the people in your alliance that you are least close to (to strengthen that bond and make them feel safe) or the person on the complete outside (so you can keep an eye on them and keep them from stirring up any trouble.) I would have made the exact same call Malcolm did. Now does that mean it worked out for him in a positive manner? No, but his logic and strategy was totally sound.
NEXT: Abi takes her sweet time during the immunity challenge