Over on Tandang, everyone is upset about the tribe’s lack of rice — foreshadowing! — and blames Skupin for consuming too much of the uncooked white stuff. Pete even goes so far as to call Skupin “the most useless player that’s ever been returned to Survivor.” (That’s a somewhat dubious proclamation seeing as how Skupin did not quit three days in like Jonny Fairplay on Fans vs. Favorites.)
Well, let’s see how useful he is in the reward challenge. The contest is one we’ve seen before: teams of three try to push a giant sphere through the other tribe’s goal for a point. First tribe to three points wins. The date confusion continues as Probst introduces the reward and says, “After 13 days, you need some food.” (Wait, didn’t we already establish that it is day 15? Did we just go back in time? Dear God, what is happening?!?) The host announces that the winners will be taken to a “dry hut” where they will feast on sandwiches, soup, potato chips, and brownies.
Then, something else curious happens: Probst tells Tandang that they must sit two players out due to their numbers advantage, but instead of sitting out any two they want, he tells them they must sit a man and a woman. Previously, the tribes had not been forced to sit a man, so why now? Is this because the challenge was so physical, or because Tandang already had an extra man from when Malcolm joined them last week? (I asked Probst in this week’s Q&A and you can see his answer there.)
Of course, what producers ultimately want from this challenge is for people to be grabbing, tackling, and body slamming each other within an inch of their lives — and that works out great because that’s exactly what I want as well! And the contestants more than deliver: Pete and Carter take turns with take-downs while Lisa pins Denise. As for Penner, he puts his hands between Skupin’s legs and grabs a giant ball. Hey! That’s what happened! That is a perfectly accurate description! Not only accurate, but, according to Probst, “totally legal.” Skupin then fights back by sitting on Penner’s head, and — one can only assume — passing gas on his fellow returnee’s face. (Again — totally legal!)
Finally, after an hour of no movement, Penner and Skupin began their epic reenactment of the Treaty of Versailles. Other than Artis, who tells the others “You can keep all that mess to yourself,” it is unclear how the players who are actually addressed by their first names feel about the proposed trade of Kalabaw’s rice in exchange for Tandang’s forfeit. For instance, Pete seems to agree to it, but then later gets all pissy back at camp while announcing, “Here’s the rice that you guys wanted to forfeit for. Enjoy.” All I know is, it is something different and unexpected, and when you can get different and unexpected in season 25 of a show, that is most certainly a good thing.
The Kalabaw crew certainly seems happy about their decision when they see the spread of food before them. Perhaps not used to such an overabundance of delicacies, they make the rather curious decision to split one brownie among the five of them rather than each enjoying their own. (Hello! Has anyone ever heard of cooties?) But then they get an extra special treat — letters from loved ones back home. (One has to assume that had Tandang taken the reward that Lisa’s letter would have been from stand-up comedienne extraordinaire Cousin Geri. At least that’s what I’d like to assume, and so I will.) Denise says that the letters alone make the trade worth it because they are giving the tribe a different kind of energy and fuel. I don’t know — unless they plan on eating those letters for sustenance 48 hours from now, I’m not so sure they’re going to do it long term.
NEXT: Here, fishy fishy…