After a few weeks of backstabbing and blindsiding, it was back to business as usual. The Failing Alliance looked to be back on track, despite a few poor attempts the show made to deceive us into thinking someone might frolic over to the other side.
To make up for the relative lack of scheming and drama, the show featured a good dollop of Officially Heartwarming Moments ™. From all the bawling in the previews, most viewers may have deduced that this was the traditional family visit episode, where survivors act as if they haven’t seen their families in ten years.
The first few minutes of the episode did nothing to dispel this as the survivors wandered around looking even glummer than usual. Todd interviewed that he couldn’t possibly describe how miserable he was feeling, but naturally went on to describe it anyway. For once, his mood wasn’t caused by barely disguised loathing for his fellow contestants but by homesickness. Funny, you should mention that, Todd…
With an intro like that, how could the Reward Challenge possibly not be for some family fun-time? Jeff was sneaky about it, telling the contestants they’d have to compete in teams of two, and then revealing they’d be teamed up with a beloved family member.
Cue the tears as sisters, mothers, fathers, and a husband in a pear tree came out to greet the contestants. Except for Denise, there were no significant others. No wonder there’s so much flirting this season – they must’ve all thought they were signing up for The Bachelor: China. And perhaps I am misremembering, but, uh, didn’t PG mention her dad being dead in the first episode? Why was he there? I’m a little scared the newest twist on this show is zombies.
Todd’s sister had some bad news for him as they hugged – his other sister had had a miscarriage. As Todd tearfully walked back to the rest of the tribe, Jeff was all “How about sharing your pain with the rest of the class,” and Todd told them the bad news.
Then it was time for the challenge. Each team member had to find their way blindfolded to the centre of a maze. For some reason, Amanda and her sister communicated by making bird noises at each other. And now we know the reason she’s single. The birdbrains couldn’t prevail over Denise and her husband, who reached the centre first and claimed their reward.
Said reward was a meal aboard a ship, complete with the most fattening-looking chocolate cake in China. Denise picked Todd, Amanda, and their respective sisters to come along. This got PG fuming as she remembered her generosity (well, strategerosty at any rate) in taking Denise along with her to the Shaolin temple.
If it’s on a reality show, why would it be fake?
As the lucky three and their loved ones gorged on chocolate cake, Erik, Courtney, and PG discussed Todd’s bad news and how it was all just a strategy and probably not even real. Oh wow, I bet they felt like assholes when they watched this episode back. Courtney compared it to Jonny Fairplay’s famous dead grandma ploy. Yeah, except Todd’s story came across as completely sincere and Fairplay’s bit basically went like this:
Jonny Fairplay: Dude, how’s my grandma? Dude, she’s ok, right?
Sheepish-looking, shifty-eyed friend: Dude, she died.
Jonny Fairplay: Duuuude! Nana! (*makes horrible attempt to cry*)
When the winner and winner-adjacent types came back from their boat trip, the three miscarriage-deniers got even more annoyed at the sight of their chocolaty hands. Todd and Amanda let them lick off the chocolate. Hmmm, Todd and Amanda have everyone eating out of the palm of their hands…I wonder if that’s symbolic of something?
Denise tracked down PG and tried to explain why she hadn’t chosen her to share the reward with her. She said some nonsense about Amanda being faint at TC or some such excuse that implied Amanda was dying of butt cancer and her final wish was to eat chocolate cake with her sister. Something like that. PG was not amused. She never is.
The last temptation of the lunch-lady
Remember the previews suggesting that Amanda was thinking of turning on her allies? They lied. They always lie. Instead we had PG and Erik once again trying to convince Denise that she was happily being led to a fourth place finish by Todd, Amanda, and Courtney, and that she needed to switch her loyalties if she ever wanted to see third. Amanda appeared to be thinking deeply about this, but considering she hasn’t done jack-squat the other 15,000 times this has been pointed out to her, don’t expect much.
Before anyone knew it, it was time for the Immunity Challenge. As usual, PG interviewed that she absolutely, 100 percent had to win it otherwise she would be going home. Lo and behold, she actually did manage to win it after fellow frontrunners, Amanda and Todd both screwed up questions. PG survives again. She’s got nine lives and then some, that girl.
This did not stop her from continuing their attempts to convince Denise to swing over to their side. Denise contemplated whether she should become a swinger or not, but the show left her decision in the dark until TC. As Denise was voting for a mystery candidate, she admitted that this was probably the worst mistake she could possibly make. Lord, it’s one thing to be ignorant of something stupid you’re doing – it’s another thing entirely when you know you’re walking into a bear trap and keep on going.
To no-one’s surprise whatsoever, Denise’s vote was for Erik, and he finally got to join Jaime in virginal bliss over at Casa Del Jury. Denise looked down as the votes were revealed in order to avoid the daggers PG was shooting her way. But never fear, because according to this week’s preview (and the last three weeks of previews, to be honest), there may be a coup among Failing and Todd may be ousted.
You may think winning Survivor
Is like a piece of cake
But you need to have a plan or two
And not come in half-baked
You need to be able to turn
On anyone and anything
So when the right time comes to pass
Don’t back down, prepare to swing