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“Survivor 46” recap: Medical evacuation upends Tribal Council

“My point on Survivor is not to win a million dollars. I want to win a million hearts. That’s more important to me.” — Bhanu

Okay, I’m going to stop you right there. First off — and maybe this is just me — but I generally don’t like my Survivor contestants to be folks that have no interest in, you know, winning the game. Like, totally fine if you say it’s not about the money, but you need to have an unquenchable thirst for victory. That should be attribute number one for every player that goes through the Survivor casting process.

Also, not to nitpick on Bhanu, because I generally do like the guy, but saying you want to go on Survivor to win a million hearts is a bit odd, no? So you’re saying you only came on the show to be popular? Do we have a future influencer in our midst? I’m not saying you need to show up on Survivor and play that same cliché “I’m not here to make friends” song, but if your chief concern is being loved, then I’m not sure you’re on the right show.

I’m also not sure if you are on the right show if your tribemates are saying things like “He doesn’t have a strategic bone in his sweet little body” and “He has a passion for the game, but he doesn’t understand the game” about you.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

It sounds like I am dissing and dismissing Bhanu, but I have said it before and will say it again: I have been loving what an absolute mess the Yanu tribe has been. Jelinksy, Jess, and Bhanu will go down in reality TV history as the true holy trinity of cocky, kooky, and self-proclaimed wackadoodle. And I can’t help but be entertained by their hijinks. I mean, have we ever seen a tribe so obsessed with Kenny Rogers lyrics? Or one that had an actual mermaid dragon on it, for that matter?

Watching Bhanu on Survivor has been like watching a horror movie in real time. You know that character in the film that inevitably suggests “Hey, we should probably split up” and you’re like “NO! FOOL! YOU WILL GET MURDERED! DO NOT SPLIT UP!”? Watching Bhanu play Survivor is kind of like watching that guy. You don’t want his literal or proverbial torch to get snuffed, but the man just makes it sooooooo easy for it to happen.

Q is right. Bhanu is a massive Survivor fan yet seems to have no clue how to play Survivor. Q essentially told Bhanu that he was his Phillip Sheppard and Bhanu was like, “Cool! Let’s do this!” And I don’t know in what universe it was a good idea for Bhanu to tell Ben and Liz everything happening on his tribe, because if I were Ben and Liz after that epic spillage, would I feel confident trusting Bhanu with anything? No. No, I would not. Bhanu spilled so much he needed the Bounty quicker-picker-upper lady to follow his every footstep of that Journey.

He also straight up collapsed on the sand at that Journey. Again, maybe not the best look. But for those complaining that Bhanu has no right to be on this show and that casting swung and missed on him, I could not disagree more. Because Bhanu has been the perfect chaos agent in the game. Survivor has been infiltrated by an army of masterful players of late who have studied the game and are determined to play (and often overplay) from the moment they step on the beach. But the key to a successful Survivor season is balance, and having folks that are really, really bad at the game can be equally entertaining.

Bhanu is clearly a good dude. I met him out there in Fiji. I liked him. But holy smokes is he overwhelmed. And he would be the first to tell you that. In fact, HE TELLS US THAT EVERY 30 SECONDS ON THE SHOW! But Bhanu offers a different flavor of contestant — the messy delight. Someone that can cause chaos and drive story just through out-of-control emotions, terrible strategy, and lips that simply can’t be zipped. All that said, Q would have been out of his mind to keep Bhanu around over Kenzie because Bhanu is too damn unpredictable. He can’t be kept in check and could inadvertently blow up your game at any minute without even realizing it. Which is what makes him such a delight to watch.

Of course, neither Bhanu nor Kenzie had to go this week due to a medical evacuation on one of the other tribes, so let’s make like Dr. Will (and I don’t mean Kirby) and dispense all the information as we recap episode 3 of Survivor 46.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> The Siga tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

The Siga tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Island time travel

Survivor has gone a bit Tarantino the past few seasons by experimenting with non-linear storytelling and showing things after they happened, but it’s usually pretty soon after the fact. And it is usually as a flashback coming after someone has revealed some news in a confessional interview to show you how something went down. So seeing “Siga Four Days Ago” at the bottom of the screen to lead into our Siga camp footage of the week was still pretty jarring. I mean, not as jarring as Bhanu crumbling to his knees on the Journey in front of two relative strangers, but jarring nonetheless.

What we got this time was the entire Flock of Sigas tribe searching for the hidden Beware Advantage, which Jem found and stuck in her pants. Then it was nighttime — whether four days ago nighttime or current nighttime, I have no idea — and Jem somehow found her way back to the tree, dug up a box, and read the attached note in complete darkness. Thank God for camera lights!

While I was extremely disoriented trying to figure out when exactly in the Survivor space-time continuum this was all taking place and if I had somehow just entered the Jeff Probst multiverse, I also realized something else: Why would they wait four days to show us Jem finding an advantage that was tied to them losing an immunity challenge — especially when they just had a whole two-hour episode with plenty of time to show it then? The answer was obvious: Siga was going to lose this week’s immunity challenge. Why else would they wait and then show it here? Go find a bookie. Put down your life savings on a huge Siga loss. I know they say there are no sure things in the world of high stakes gambling, but this is a sure thing. EASY MONEY, BABY!

Jesus, get it together, Survivor! This was the most obvious of obvious tells. You think you’re so smart with your fancy “editing” and stellar “producing.” Whatever. I can’ t believe how easily you telegraphed the results of the immunity challenge with this segment. Really embarrassing stuff. In fact, I would go so far as to…. Wait…. Hold on…. What’s that you say? Immunity challenge results? Charlie getting hot? Q knocking down one of his own sand bags? Ummm… yeah, let’s just pretend the last paragraph never happened and move on.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Hunter McKnight and Liz Wilcox on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Hunter McKnight and Liz Wilcox on 'Survivor 46'

The Hunter becomes the… Hunter

I ain’t gonna lie or downplay it: Going out on location for Survivor is fun. You get to go up to the Tribal Council voting booth and comically put the name of your biggest enemy (or, you know, your own kids) on a parchment . You get to run a challenge. And, perhaps best of all, you can walk around the Survivor art department, which has all manner of props and challenge pieces just kind of laying around EVERYWHERE. They even have a “challenge graveyard” where they stick large pieces until they can be used again or repurposed into something else. It’s magical and I’ve never seen another place like it. Until I saw Hunter’s room.

In what can only be described as the biggest middle finger to 3-D printers ever, Hunter constructs his own big build challenges in his backyard and then stores all the stuff inside in some sort of Survivor wonderland. Seriously, I felt almost guilty looking at it, as if I had snuck into the back room of Santa’s workshop to see how all the toys are made. Insanely cool. But maybe not to Venus.

I don’t know if Venus is just jealous that Hunter has the fanciest island bed since Thuston Howell III or what. I also assume that the only members of the cast who possibly have any idea who Thuston Howell III is are probably Tevin and Hunter due to their love of old school television. But regardless of all that, it seems Venus felt like Hunter was running the tribe due to all his connections with everyone and therefore she wanted him, not unlike the SS Minnow, completely gone.

Now, one might argue that Venus should instead try to align with Hunter rather than target the most popular person in the tribe, but to her credit, at least she has displayed the self-awareness to understand her place amongst the group, and so it is quite possible Venus realized the former option would be futile. And maybe she just really, really wanted that bed!

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Tiffany Ervin and the Yanu tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Tiffany Ervin and the Yanu tribe on 'Survivor 46'

A barrel of fun

I don’t know if we’ve seen this full exact challenge before, however all the elements (jump in the water, go through obstacles, dig something up, land sand bags on targets) have certainly been there. But let’s be honest: It’s all about the barrel.

Everyone knows the best use of a barrel is when some unlucky sap is forced to wear one — complete with suspenders holding it up — for old-timey comedic effect. Speaking of which, did you know that the origins of the barrel costume date back to England and Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries when drunks were forced to stand in the town square wearing barrels as some warped implementation of public mockery punishment. What a super-weird form of discipline. “You have hereby been convicted of a heinous crime. Now go look hilarious!”

Anyway, that’s the best use of a barrel and I will hear no arguments on the matter. But the second best use of a barrel is making reality TV contestants attempt to hoist themselves over one. The reason why this is such a tremendous fool-proof plan is that no matter what happens, you get pure gold. If the contestant is unable to get themselves up and over the barrel and keeps rolling back, then that is positively sidesplitting. And if they are successful in their attempt, then they roll way too fast and end up crashing into the water in a super-awkward position. It’s a win-win, is what I’m saying.

Speaking of winning, Nami looked like they were finally not going to win something for once as they were in last place for pretty much the entire race. But clearly inspired by the way the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters came back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit to defeat a team of super robots on the celebrated 1981 made-for TV movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island, Nami too came back — all thanks to Hunter, who tore through the challenge the way I used to tear through a Milwaukee’s Best while sitting on my couch watching Survivor: Guatemala.

That means it came down to a Flock of Siga vs. Yanu Plus Bhanu battle. And while Yanu actually landed five sand bags before Siga, they still managed to lose because Q at one point accidentally knocked one bag off. Classic Yanu, am I right?

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Kicking rocks

After the challenge, Ben, Liz, and Bhanu were sent on a Journey, where they had to pull rocks to see who would have an emotional meltdown, and then pull rocks again to see who would spill all their tribe secrets, and then pull rocks again to see who get back on a boat and not have to risk their vote for an advantage. Liz pulled the white rock on the last one, leaving Ben and Bhanu to fail at forming a cube puzzle and losing their next Tribal Council votes.

The show definitely got some drama by throwing these three together with the ramifications of Bhanu’s loose lips — and those ramifications look like they may play out on next week’s episode as well — but the game itself was definitely less intriguing than the skull, torch, vote card thing from the premiere. In that one, folks had to navigate a super tricky situation and balance dueling instincts to figure out the best short-term and long-term paths. In this one, they just pulled rocks and tried to do a puzzle. Totally fine, but not nearly as dynamic as the first one.

<p>cbs</p> Q Burdette on 'Survivor 46'

cbs

Q Burdette on 'Survivor 46'

The coach almost quits on his team

I get that elite athletes want to take the blame when they don’t perform in big spots rather than putting it on someone else. It’s noble and it’s admirable. That said, we were looking at some prime Survivor knuckleheadery here when Q told his allies to vote him out of the game for losing the challenge.

Dude, I get it that you lost your high school football team a big game and then had to see your name in a really unfortunate headline. If it makes you feel at all better, I once did this to Owen Knight with a headline. Personally, I would take fumbling over that any day of the week. Thankfully, Tiff seemed to talk some sense into Q. Q then returned the favor by trying to talk Tiff into voting out her rock solid ally in Kenzie. Like I said earlier, I recognize that “Bhanu has said he just wants to make the jury; Kenzie wants to win.” But seeing as many times as Bhanu has already sabotaged his own game in just a few days, what makes you think he can’t sabotage yours as well?

Can that liability become an asset. We’ll see, because Yanu ended up not having to go to Tribal Council after all because…

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Randen goes limp

Randen Montalvo will go down as the first Survivor player to injure himself out of the game simply by sleeping. It’s an absolutely brutal way to go, made even more brutal by the fact that Randen probably would have been just fine if he had stayed in the game. Of course, there was no way to know that at the time.

The trouble began when Randen woke up after an uncomfortable night sleeping with a prickly feeling on his arm and leg. Eventually, his right hand went limp and he could not grip or feel anything. The second-most-famous Dr. Will in reality TV came out to take a look and thought it might be a pinched nerve and said they would keep an eye on it. PHEW! That was a close call.

But wait a minute: Why would they show that scene if Randen is okay? Players get checked out by medical all the time and it doesn’t make it to TV because the story ultimately does not go anywhere. If they were showing this visit, then it was for a reason. And that reason was revealed later in the episode when Dr. Will returned with the last person you ever want to see at your beach — unless you are a member of Yanu, that is — Probst.

Because Probst is only there if it looks like you are going to be pulled from the game, and that is exactly what happened. It turns out that Dr. Will has colleagues who don’t just work on a remote island chain in Fiji. And one of those neurosurgeon colleagues was worried Randen could possibly be suffering from a bulging disk in his neck that was pressing on the nerve — a far more serious concern. And the only way to determine if that was the case was to give him an MRI, which meant pulling him from the game.

That suuuuuuuuuuuucks. Especially because — as Randen told us during the end credits — his worst fear did not happen and “my hand works now.” So he could have stayed and most likely been just fine. Knowing that would kill me inside. But there really was no option. The doctor and producers absolutely did the right thing in playing it safe and taking the proper precautions to ensure Randen’s long-term health. They really had no choice. It had to be done. But it still sucks.

Not for Yanu! Probst must have been experiencing some serious emotional whiplash going from the despair of Nami to the celebration of Yanu, but hey, that’s nothing a certified guru can’t handle! Speaking of that guru, I connected with the Hostmaster General to get the full behind-the-scenes scoop on Randen’s medical evacuation. I also asked: Could Randen have passed off his advantage to Venus before leaving the beach? Find out what the host has to say about that.

Speaking of nifty bonus content, we also asked the entire Survivor 46 cast what their biggest pet peeves are, and some of them are so oddly specific that you are going to absolutely love it. That is my promise to you. Oh, and did you know a huge storm ripped through camp on night six? I did, because we have an exclusive deleted scene which shows what exactly went down, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well as our exit interview with the med-evaced Randen. That should hold you until next week, when I will have another scoop of the crispy ready and waiting.

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