The Funny 115 - The Third One

#70. We Don't Want Your Dumb Idol Clues
Blood vs Water - episodes 2-8

"Welcome to Survivor.  The greatest social experiment of all time."

Chances are, if you have watched an episode of Survivor at some point over the years, you have heard Jeff Probst utter those famous words.  You have probably heard him use the words "Survivor" and "social experiment."  In fact, if you go back and you watch the original season from 2000, you will see that phrase popped up in the marketing materials for early Survivor all the time.  All across the board, from 2000 to whatever year you are reading this, season in and season out, you will consistently find the words "social experiment" or "social politics" used when the producers want to describe what Survivor is.

It's a social experiment.  Where people are ordered to make big moves.

So here you have this amazing televised social experiment, which I'll agree at one time really was the best of its kind.

Only... somewhere along the way... I think the definition of "social experiment" must have changed under us a little.

And so now we go to scenario G, which occurs when four players play idols, and two players play advantages, and at least one loved one agrees to murder a jury member.

Yes, at some point along the way, Survivor went from "a game about social politics, where people try to navigate their standing in a group", and it switched to "a game where we bury advantages in the sand, and your only goal is to collect them."  
And I'm not exactly sure when this change happened.   

The switchover might have happened in Samoa, when the producers started slipping idols to Russell directly under his hat.  Or it might have happened in Cambodia, when Probst actually had to pull out a flowchart to explain to the audience how a particularly ridiculous vote just went down.  Or it might have happened in Game Changers, when Survivor legend Cirie was voted out of the game simply because she didn't have an advantage in her bag, and everyone else did.

So I guess I got outwitted by... nothing?

I don't know exactly when the switchover was.  All I know is that it happened.  Oh, and I DO know that it's especially comical when you see the host of the show still saying stuff like this:

"Survivor is an amazing social experiment!"

When the editors apparently cut off the second part of his sentence, when he said this:

"Except we don't do that anymore, we're more interested in a game where people find magic sticks!"

But rejoice, my friends.  For there remains that one time in modern Survivor.  That one... magical... time.

When nobody wanted an idol.  

And nobody wanted an advantage.

And people weren't interested in the game of "go find a magic piece of wood."



Yes, I can only be talking about one of the greatest storylines in all of modern Survivor.  It was the time the players in Blood vs Water decided they didn't want any dumb idols getting in the way of their social experiment.  So they took the clues that Jeff was handing them, and they burned every single god damn one of them in the fire pit.  And after the fifth time it happened, you could tell that Probst was just PISSED about it.

But... but... Tai wouldn't do that


You people don't even deserve Zeke

So sit back and relax, my friends.  As I tell you the tale.  

Of the time that Survivor still actually was about social politics.

And how much Jeff Probst hated it.

Okay, so we're in Blood vs Water.   We're in episode two.   The players are about to meet up for their first elimination duel.

This one features Rupert against Candice and Marissa

The three players have all been voted out of the game, and they are now in purgatory.  And they are fighting for their lives.

And they're pissed

Right before the duel, this is where Probst offers the three of them a little incentive why they might want to compete extra hard today.  

If you win, you stay alive.  By winning the duel, you still have a chance to get back into this game.

Well that sounds pretty good, right?  You win the duel, and you stay alive.  I mean, in a game where the goal is to last as long as you can, what more could you want?

I sure would like to get back into this game

And then, of course, Jeff has to add the part about there being some magic piece of wood hidden somewhere in the forest which will dominate the game.  Because that's what Survivor has turned into now.  And because of course he does.

Also, there's a magic stick hidden out in the woods.  It's made of fairy glitter.

The winner of this duel gets a clue to the location of the stick, and they can give it to anyone they want

It's an opportunity for a player to gain a little more power

Oh, good.  So we're doing that again.

Remember, Survivor is like the ring toss at the carnival now.  Find four small idols and you can upgrade to a large.


So the duel begins

And speaking of carnival games...

Candice wins

And Rupert goes home.


With the win, Candice now invokes new Survivor rule #46B.  She gets to give a clue to a player who is technically still in the game.

So, Candice, who's it gonna be?

Naturally, she chooses her husband John

Here, John.  Follow this map and get wood.

And with that, the first duel is over.

Idols have been introduced into the game.

Pretty soon at least one player will have an advantage over everyone else.

Survivor is back.

Candice is safe.

Everything is right in the world

And that, of course, is when the wheels start to fall off.

Okay, so we're now in episode number three.  This is the second duel

Tyson's girlfriend Rachel has just been voted off

And Tyson isn't happy about it

Man, isn't Survivor great?  Look at this amazing social experiment.

And now we get the scene that pretty much everyone remembers.

"Brad Culpepper voted me out."

Brad Culpepper, I'm going to kick your antique loving ass

And then, of course, the phrase that every high school kid between 2013-2015 used as their senior quote in their yearbook.

But... why would you be mad at Brad Culpepper?  He doesn't even have an advantage.

So anyway, that's that.   Brad Culpepper gets cursed out.  And Rachel loses the duel.


And just like that, we have a compelling storyline full of drama and anger and social politics and resentment and relationships.  Jeff Probst and the producers have managed to do it.  Just like they raved about so many years ago, Survivor has become a riveting social experiment again.  I mean, Colton even quits because players playing against their loved ones is just way too intense and way too stressful.  And if Colton leaving isn't a sign of a fantastic social experiment, I don't know what is.

Oh... and Candice... about that magical immunity stick...

Oh yeah, and then there's this bullshit.

I'm giving it to John.  Take it and do what you need to do with it.

Thanks, babe

So John gets a clue to the Hidden Arbitrary Piece of Wood That Has a Secret Magic Powers

And this is the last time a player will accept one of Jeff's beloved idol clues for a while.

Okay, episode four.  This is where the magic happens.

Candice's husband John has just been voted out of the game

And just why was John voted out?

Well because he has all those clues to a hidden immunity idol.  And because immunity idols are bullshit.

And guess who gets blamed for this one yet again?

Fuck you Brad Culpepper

Candice is SO mad that Brad voted out her husband that she has a plan for revenge in mind.   If she wins this duel, she is going to take her rage out on Brad Culpepper's sporadically mustachioed face.

Angry Candice.  Ready for blood.

So there is all this human drama being thrown around, and anger, and rage, and...

Remember guys, the winner gets a clue to a magic stick

OH WOULD YOU JUST STOP IT WITH THE MAGIC STICKS ALREADY.  This is shaping up to be a fascinating season.  Don't ruin it.

In any case, John wins the duel

And Candice finishes second

And Marissa is sent packing out of the game.   On account of Brad Culpepper.

Marissa fails to handle her biz

And here comes the first instance of nobody wanting one of Jeff's beloved immunity idols.

So John.  Who gets a clue to the magic stick?

Let's give it to Brad's wife.  Let's see how she likes being a target.

Okay, I'm giving it to Monica


But then... Brad shuts that hidden immunity idol shit down instantly.  Like the star that he is.  

Again, if I ever don't say this enough, thank you Brad Culpepper.

Monica, take it and throw it in the fire

Good idea

So Monica takes the clue.  

She walks down to the fire.

And just like that, Monica Culpepper has rejected one of Jeff's beloved immunity idols.

"We're not really interested in this."


Besides, the color wouldn't have gone with the room

Probst, of course, cannot believe that a player would willingly turn down a chance to have a hidden immunity idol.  Especially because, at this point, he literally doesn't think there is any other point in playing Survivor.  Either you find and hoard a bunch of idols like Tai, or he thinks you're a shitty player.  He cannot believe that Monica would be so bad at his beloved "social experiment" game.

So he reacts.

"That is the first time..."

"...that has EVER happened!"

"Not only does Monica not want it."

"She burns it so that nobody else will have it."

This sort of strategy does not compute with him at all.  I mean, who doesn't want a hidden immunity idol?  In a game that revolves around hidden immunity idols?  He just can't believe it.


And guess what?  That was only the first time.

We're just getting started.

Now it's the fifth episode.  Brad Culpepper has just been voted out.

Naturally, there is a lot of screaming going on between Monica and Candice.  The two of them are having a debate over whether Brad literally eats babies, or if he just murders them by roasting them alive.

Brad is a monster!

You're a monster!  

You're not neat!

You weren't really an All Star!

Naturally, Probst is there to rein in the anger, and to bring it all back to what is truly important.

Guys, remember, the winner of this duel wins a clue to the magic stick

So the duel commences.  Between Brad and the Codys.

And Brad somehow defeats Candice and manages to stay alive.

So Candice is eliminated from the game.

I'm sorry, baby

Congratulations, Monica

And in the middle of all this fascinating human sociopolitical drama, of course there's Jeff Probst to bring us back to why he thinks we are watching this.

That's all well and good, guys, but who gets the magic stick?

Thanks Jeff.

Um, why not?  I'll give it to Monica again.

So here we go.  Act two of trying to give Monica an immunity idol clue.

"Monica, now last time you threw this clue in the fire."

"Gonna keep this one?"

"Or you gonna burn it again?"

Well I guess that answers that question

"I don't want it.  It's no good."

And just like that, Monica has now shit on TWO of Jeff's beloved idol clues.

But, of course, it's not like anyone ELSE would burn a clue if they were presented with one.  Right?  I mean, in Jeff's defense, only Monica Culpepper would have the audacity to burn a clue if one were given to her.  Right?

Episode six.   The next episode.  Laura Morett has just been voted out of the game.

Guys, she pre-emptively voted out her MOM!

Laura manages to win the duel.

And send Brad Culpepper home.

And finally!   We can now get away from all this emotional human interest drama, and we can get back to the magic trinket stuff.

Yay!  Now back to the social experiment!

So Laura, you won the duel.   Who gets the clue to the hidden immunity idol?

"Um, I'll give it to Vytas."

Yay!  Somebody who isn't Monica! Vytas is an amazing player who understands that Survivor is all about the idols now!

Here you go, Vytas.  L'chaim.  To life.

And I love this part.  Vytas doesn't even hesitate.  He just follows right after Jeff as he walks down to the fire.

Jeff, of course, knows immediately what is about to happen.

"Annnnnnd you're following me right down to the fire."


And here comes the angry Tom Cruise grin of death.

"Didn't even THINK about it!"


And with that, that is now three.  THREE idol clues that have been tossed in the fire.

Ah ah ah!

And guess what?   We're not done yet.

Next comes the twist.  Here comes more awesome actual genuine human drama.

Then Kat gets voted out.  Now she gets to enjoy the ambience of Redemption Island.

And now it's episode seven.  Now it's time for the big Kat duel.

Sad to be here, Kat?

*sniff*  *sob*  Yes.

Yeah but what about that big idol clue?

I don't know.  Will it date me?

So Kat squares off against Laura the puzzle queen and a brilliant doctor in a puzzle challenge.

And... uh...


Bye Kat

She even gets some gripping emotional drama with her boyfriend Hayden before she is escorted out of the game.

But do we care about that nonsense?

Of course not!

Okay John, now back to the important stuff.  Do you think that someone wants the idol clue?

Not really but fuck it.  Let's give it to Monica.

Alright Monica.  You get the honor of...

Okay, that's now FOUR of Jeff's beloved idol clues that have been discarded faster than Hayden dumped Kat after the season.  At this point, it is getting embarrassing.  

But, you know, you gotta hand it to Probst.  Even with ALL the odds stacked against him, he still never says die.

Because it's now episode eight.  It's now time for our final duel.

And the winner today not only goes back into the game...

But you can actually keep this clue for yourself

And with that, Probst knows he has finally beaten them.  He has finally steered the game away from that icky relationship stuff between couples, and he has brought it back to more of a social experiment.  And by social experiment, of course I mean it's time for the magical stick collections to take over.

That's right, motherfuckers.  This time you get to keep it.  Try burning that shit.

So we get to our final duel.  

And Laura Morett wins.  Because Laura Morett always wins.

Well, for now anyway

So Laura wins.  She's coming back into the game.

Bye John.

Bye other Laura.

And now we come to the moment of truth.

It looks like Jeff is finally going to give an idol away.

Fifth time's a charm, you know.

Now Laura, we come to the important part.  Before you officially enter the game...

You and everybody else can drop your buff.  Cause you guys are merged.




Such great human emotion!  Such drama!

And then...

The important part.

It's your choice, Laura.  All the glory inherent in the Magic Arbitrary Bullshit Stick of Power can be yours.

What are you gonna do with the clue?

The last several have been tossed right in the fire

But given that we are now merged...

Maybe this has more value

What are you going to do?

And this is why I will always love Laura Morett as a Survivor character.

Cause she doesn't even hesitate

She just races down to take the clue out of his hand

She bounces right past him on the way to the fire

And you can see Probst's face fall when he knows what's about to happen.

Take us home, one of the funniest moments of the season.

"I have a feeling..."

"This is going..."

"To join the others..."

"In the fire."


And here is one of my favorite moments of the season, in all its glory:

And so that's that.  Laura Morett is back in the game.  Five clues to immunity idols have now been burned beyond all recognition.  

Which was probably actually good for Probst in the long run.  I mean, if the players had had access to a bathroom, they probably would have wiped their ass with the clues first before they threw them into the fire.  At least this way, the clues could be dug out of the fire later and recycled and given to players in other seasons who would learn to appreciate them more.

Jeff did give away a couple of idol clues later in Blood vs. Water.  At least for a while, he was able to recapture what he still likes to refer to as "a social experiment."

Must have more idols!  Must have more advantages!

But you know what?  As a TV viewer it was all worth it.

Because in what other season will you see something as Freudian as Jeff holding up an idol clue all erect like this...

And watch as it slowly sags down when he doesn't get his way, like this...

I mean, you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to interpret that one.

** Thanks to Vic Shuttee for the Varner/Zeke/FUBC picture **

<------ #71

Back to The Funny 115 - The Third One

#69 ------>