6:49pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' Features Free-Throw Shooting and a Voting Switch in 'Play or Go Home'
[This article contains spoilers for the Wednesday, March 23 episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong.]
I hope you watched through to the end of Wednesday's Survivor hour, stuck around for the post-eviction interview and presentation of the votes, because in no time at all the episode went from curiously unsatisfying to delivering the closure I craved.
After the votes the previous few episodes, cock-sure ER doc Peter needed to go down in flames. He couldn't just go down casually. After embarrassing tribal council overconfidence that kept proving how little self-awareness he possessed, Peter needed to stare at the camera in horror as the dawning realization of his own ineptitude swept over him. Schadenfreude is a big part of Survivor and Peter had to experience pain, that we might chortle at his demise.
Instead, he just looked perplexed as Jeff Probst tallied the votes, back and forth between votes he may have anticipated for himself and votes that he assumed would carry the day for Julia's elimination. Then a third, inexplicable vote for Peter. And, finally, the kiss of death, the deciding vote with Julia's name written down and then crossed out, replaced with "Pete."
Peter didn't rant, nor did he have that moment of knowledge. I was disappointed. Yes, Peter had to go home, but he had to go home burnt to a crisp. But nothing.
Finally, as the credits rolled, Peter grumbled of Aubry and Joe, "One million dollars is not worth my dignity or my worth."
He concluded, "If this is over stacking boxes then I'll never hear the end of it."
And that was what I needed. Soul-crushing enlightenment might have been nice, but the idea that Peter went home thinking that he was being punished for bad block-stacking strategy in the immunity challenge? Oh, that's just too rich. They could have yelled, "We're voting you out because we don't trust you and you're a snake and you did this to yourself" and Pete would have walking away musing, "Is it because I'm too handsome? Thanks, Obama." If Peter's constructed reality was never going to topple, I'm glad we left on Peter building a new wall of false justification around himself.
Peter was not a good Survivor player.
Of course, all it took to be a good Survivor player this week was basketball skills or height or perhaps just being Scot. Two weeks ago, Scot was the buffoon boasting about his [questionable] NBA title credentials and bullying Alecia out of the game. Last week, he was the smart, friendly giant carrying Tai around like his little carry-on buddy. And this week, the entire game seemed to kneel before Scot Pollard.
There was the picnic reward he won for his tribe through clutch buoy-tossing. It briefly looked like Nick, a former high school point guard, might pull off a Middle Tennessee State-sized upset and outshoot the NBA journeyman, actually coming from behind, but instead Scot played the role of Texas A&M, escaping the upstart underdog at the last second. Up 9-8, Scot contemplated his shot a little too long. "Scot, whatcha doing?" one of this teammates yelled, hoping to add urgency. "Winning," he replied, sinking the 10th and final buoy. Scot then proceeded to use his height to get his tribe as close as possible to winning the immunity challenge, only to lose by seconds, either because of Peter's faulty stacking strategy or something else.
Scot rose. Peter fell.
A few other highlights from Wednesday's episode:
Bottom Line, Part I. That was a strange tribal council, one that stretched longer than your normal fireside segment, as extensive whispering was required to come to the conclusion that people were sticking with the original plan. But was the original plan voting Julia or Peter? Joe had no clue and was never changing his mind anyway, having stubbornly given his word to Peter, even though Peter failed his eagle-eyed lie detector test. Joe's not good at this game either, though I'm glad he didn't suffer damage from the block that nailed him in the head and drew blood. The only person for whom the "original" plan was in doubt was Aubry, who wrote Julia's name and then reconsidered. I can't read Aubry's mind, so I don't know if she went against Peter because of an original plan she felt involved in or because she was sick of Peter at that point. In the last pre-tribal segment, Aubry went from determined to blindside Peter to realizing that the Brains alliance would become targets without him to limbo. So I'm not sure how she would have known what "original" even meant, though she guessed correctly the way Tai and Scot were going.
Bottom Line, Part II. Chan Loh won immunity for the second straight week and we never had to see them worry about voting anybody, so we never had the chance to see which alliances were actually going to stick. Debbie was trying to steer Michele to targeting Jason, but Nick seemed determined to steer Michele to targeting ... somebody else, referring to his Beauty ally as too young to know how to manipulate. But Michele, who went from nowhere to a fan favorite here, insisted, "Actually, I'm a strong, independent woman" and added, in the line of the night, "I don't need to be carried, bro." Good for Michele. But what was the point of the flirtation or whatever between Nick and Debbie? Debbie felt she was steering Nick (and encouraging his modeling career), while the man she dubbed "Adonis" thought he was steering Debbie's ego, but neither was steering either in any direction. Shrug.
Bottom Line, Part III. I'm not sure if he thinks the contestants this season are dumb or boring (or both), but Jeff Probst has been aggressively ghosting tribal council discussion all season. Nothing has been so complex as to require the amount of Probstsplaining he has done every week. This has been a trend for him over several (10 or 15) seasons, but I'm trying to think if he tried to do it less last season with second chancers.
Bottom Line, Part IV. Julia did fairly well for herself in her first real episode of the entire season. After last week's exile, she could have easily been voted out and took a place among the game's all-time forgettable players, but she stood up for herself.
Bottom Line, Part V. Scot Pollard was a solid free-throw shooter during his NBA career. He was a lifetime .710 shooter from the charity stripe, very respectable for a big man. It was interesting that Chan Loh freaked out a bit about going up against an NBA player in a basketball-related task, but we saw no ego from Scot at all.
That's all for this week!