Warning: This recap for the “My Kisses Are Very Private” episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers contains spoilers.
“Chemistry is, well technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change.” — Walter White, Breaking Bad
I never thought I’d be quoting Heisenberg in a Survivor recap, although the show does attract an inordinate amount of bald-headed badasses, so I’m surprised it hasn’t come up sooner. But the above quote is very apt for an episode that was all about chemistry or the lack thereof. Chemistry was bubbling away on each tribe between various subsets of players, and the way that chemistry grew and developed throughout the episode resulted in significant changes to the game and the dynamics going forward. Whether it was romantic chemistry or tribal camaraderie, the complex emotional and psychological interactions between this group of castaways helped shape events both present and future.
Patrick, the devilish redhead of the Hustlers tribe, bore the brunt of that change. Attending their second tribal council in a row, the frustrated members of the Hustlers tribe made it clear to Jeff Probst that the vote had everything to do with tribe chemistry and very little to do with strength or challenge ability or any excuse they used last week to dump loyal Simone over wild banshee Patrick. With dwindling numbers, the Hustlers turned their focus to the future and the necessity to bond as a unit if they are to stand any chance of breaking into a majority come the merge. Patrick and his combustible energy stood in the way of that, and so the natural solution was to extinguish his flame before the whole tribe caught fire.
The Heroes tribe takes a backseat for the majority of this episode, but the brief check-in provides an insight into the growing relationships and shifting dynamics. At the center of the action are Ben and Chrissy, who last week cemented an alliance following the disintegration of the “core-four.” Chrissy tells Ben they’re in a “prime position” and have their pick of who they want to move forward with between “hothead” Alan and “clueless” JP.
Ben and Chrissy are a partnership of equals. They are the most balanced alliance not only on the Heroes tribe but in the game as a whole. They share attributes that when combined make them even stronger as a pair. Ben with his social charm and ability to step back and look at the bigger picture; Chrissy with her analytical thinking and capacity to store information to help determine the best path forward. The fact that the edit has chosen to spotlight this duo two weeks in a row despite very little of interest going on at the Heroes beach suggests they have longevity in this game.
As for who will be joining them? It’s slim pickings. There is Alan, who after seven days on the island is still struggling to open a coconut. “I played in the NFL and I can’t open a coconut,” he laments, as if there is any correlation whatsoever between the two. If the New England Patriots used coconuts instead of deflated footballs, then perhaps Tom Brady wouldn’t have been suspended. (I did a sports joke. Not only a sports joke but an American sports joke! As a non-sports-watching Brit, I think that deserves some sort of medal or trophy or gold-plated watch or whatever they award championship football teams.)
Then there is JP, who has the personality of dry cement and the strategic ability to match. The best thing going for the firefighter is that he can catch fish and looks “dreamy” while doing it, at least according to Ashley, who is having a hard time resisting her formerly accused power couple partner. Ash is doing her damnedest to avoid temptation after Alan called her out, but JP striding out of the ocean like a ’90s Diet Coke commercial compels her to sing his praises to Ben. She vouches for him and his ability to provide while also pointing out that he’s a puppy dog that could be led. Ben, however, is worried that Ash selling JP so hard means he can’t trust her intentions.
While Ash and JP have been separated like a pair of star-crossed lovers in a romantic novel, on the Healers beach romance is blossoming. The chemistry between Cole and Jessica is evident, and their daily fishing outings have essentially become convenient excuses to flirt and admire each other’s glistening hot-bods under the Fijian sun. Cole has referred to Jess as his “dream girl” on more than one occasion, and Jess hasn’t exactly been shy about her attraction towards the human Action Man, even giving him a peck on the cheek. But for Jess, a kiss on the cheek is akin to second base behind the bleachers. She comes from a superreligious background and confesses to camera that she’s a virgin — therefore she wants to take things slow.
It’s not just the relationship Jess wants to take slow; she is also concerned about moving too fast game-wise. When Cole confides in her about Joe having an idol and potentially using the opportunity to blindside him, she is thrilled that he would share that info with her and sees it as a sign of trust. But when he later blurts out the plan to Desi and Roark around the campfire, Jess can’t believe it. She refers to Cole’s rash decision as “word vomit,” and it’s hard to disagree with her. Revealing a huge plan like that before the immunity challenge has been played is a massive risk and could quickly set off a chain reaction of chaos on a tribe which up until this point has been very laid back and comfortable.
Even though Desi and Roark appear to be on board with the plan, especially following Joe’s rude behavior and complaints about the food, Jess rightly points out the negative side effects. Joe does have the idol, and if he catches wind of a move against him, he could very easily play it and knock her or Cole out of the game. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility given that Joe is already worried about Cole having too much knowledge, and his public relationship with Jess isn’t exactly diminishing his target. “Cole is a lovebird,” Joe says. “That’s a disease. That’s worse than the flu.” If Joe wants to cure that lovebird disease, he has the perfect antidote in sex doctor Mike, and it wouldn’t take much for former enemies to become the best of allies.
The Healers’ plans fall by the wayside once again though as they manage to escape a near-fatal error in the immunity challenge to pull out a win and join the Heroes in safety for the evening. The Hustlers book another trip to tribal council after Patrick refuses to switch-out during the sandbag throwing portion of the challenge, causing his tribe to slip behind.
Naturally, you would think Patrick’s ego-driven mishap in the challenge would put him firmly on the chopping block, but initially, at least, he seems to be sitting pretty. Despite his goofiness and incessant jabbering, he appears to fit into the tribe dynamics better than Lauren, his mortal enemy. At the start of the episode, Patrick and Ryan take great pleasure in modeling the clothes Simone left behind, strutting around camp in her salmon blazer and knee-high boots like a yard sale catwalk. It’s the Survivor equivalent of dancing on somebody’s grave. Ryan finds amusement in Patrick’s behavior, and given that Ryan is in a strong alliance with Devon it gives him a lot of power to decide how things play out.
Lauren, on the other hand, is not the type of person to parade around in someone else’s garments or crack fart jokes or confuse a rock for an octopus (rocktopus?). She’s only 35 years old, but as a single mother on a tribe of early 20-somethings that puts her at a disadvantage. Lauren doesn’t fit into the group dynamic. Patrick takes pleasure in that, unable to hide his grin when she asks him if he’s voting for her tonight. For all his boasts of social skills, Patrick doesn’t realize how rude he comes across. Although Lauren saying she’s never trusted a redhead is also very rude. I’m not sure where that ignorance is coming from; maybe she had a traumatic experience at a Carrot Top show.
The battle lines between Patrick and Lauren are drawn clearly in the sand, and so the decision comes back to that word “chemistry.” It becomes a question of who will be better for tribe cohesion moving forward to a potential swap or merge. Ali, who is very much the nucleus of the group, the one everyone trusts or comes to for advice, does what she can to calm Patrick down. She lets him know how he’s rubbing people the wrong way by continually walking off to look for the idol. But her words of wisdom fall on deaf ears because Patrick feels like she’s trying to neuter his personality. Ali realizes that cutting ties with her Day 1 alliance may be for the greater good. Even Ryan, who is pushing to keep Patrick, is talked around by Devon who explains that Lauren is more steady and trustworthy to take into a merge. For the first time, Devon seems to have a voice in the partnership.
This idea of chemistry and unity is expanded upon at tribal council. Ryan says that the group that returns to camp tonight will have real unity, unlike the other tribes, which haven’t been through what they’ve been through. He says they will have a solid group that will be able to form connections at the merge and that while they may have to mop a few floors before becoming the decision-making CEOs, their solidarity will take them to the top. Patrick still believes he’s part of this unit, not recognizing that things have changed, and he says he’ll be able to make friends easily at the merge. Ali questions how exactly he’s going to make friends with strangers when he can’t even get along with Lauren, whom he’s known for eight days now. Suddenly, it starts to dawn on Patrick that all is not good, and before it can fully sink in his torch is being snuffed. “You guys are awful,” he says as he takes the walk of shame.
In a game all about chemistry, Patrick was unable to form the bonds required for a successful formula. He sprinted through the game like a lunatic high on blue-meth, and his inability to slow down, listen, and take advice made him a combustible element. For a tribe low on numbers needing to stand strong in the face of adversity, it just wasn’t possible to keep him around any longer. In the end, Patrick became a catalyst for change but just not in the way he was hoping.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Ali: I’m continually impressed with Ali and how logically she is able to view the game. Even though she had Patrick’s trust, she realized it wasn’t worth sticking her neck on the line for him in the long run. I think not having that weight dragging her down will give her a greater freedom to play going forward.
Ryan/Devon: I’m putting these two together because they mostly work in tandem. Devon perhaps deserves a little more credit this week for putting forward the argument of why Lauren should stay over Patrick. Regardless, this is a tight alliance that looks set to do more damage throughout this season.
Ben/Chrissy: Similarly, this is another pair hard to separate at the minute. The Heroes haven’t had to return to tribal council so we don’t know exactly how things will shake out, but whatever happens, it seems like Ben and Chrissy are solid and in charge. Obviously, a swap can change all that, but I have faith in these two savvy game players.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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