‘Survivor: Kaoh Rong’ Episode 4 Review: Disaster Takes Hold On ‘Signed, Sealed and Delivered’
Recap and review of Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Episode 4 – Signed, Sealed and Delivered:
This week’s Survivor: Kaoh Rong is a masterpiece of misdirection, although circumstances basically shaped the narrative here rather than the editors. What we got with “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” was one of the most chaotic episodes in the history of the show, with disaster taking hold in one of the most punishing reward challenges the show has ever seen.
You wouldn’t think from looking at the challenge that it’d be that punishing, since it mostly involved digging in the sand for bags of balls, and then rolling those balls into one of six different slots on a bowling lane. But the combination of the perilous heat and the exhausting need to rush made this the first challenge in Survivor history in which Jeff Probst had to call in medical for THREE separate contestants. Coming into tonight’s episode, the preview made it clear that one of the castaways would be medically evacuated, and after the Brains manage to finish first and win the reward, Debbie ends up suffering from heat stroke. As medic attends to her, the Beauty tribe widens their lead, as they sink most of their balls into their respective holes, leaving it all up to Caleb. However, the Brawn tribe is quickly catching up, prompting Caleb to panic and rush, running back and forth to retrieve the lost balls. Caleb is able to finish for his tribe and keep the Brawns out of the winner’s circle, but at the cost of his own health, as he ends up suffering heat stroke as well. To make matters worse, Cydney suddenly finds herself unable to move, and begins to experience a panic attack, which only exacerbates the heat stroke from which she, too, is suffering. It’s pure, unbridled chaos. Yes, Debbie is quick to recover, and Cydney isn’t too far behind, but the business with Caleb is arguably the scariest moment I’ve ever seen on this show, far more terrifying than Russell Swan’s medical evacuation from Survivor: Samoa. He drifts out of consciousness as Probst calls in every able-bodied member of the crew to bring in water and reflectors to help cool Caleb down. Meanwhile, the medics hook up heart-monitoring equipment to Caleb, with the self-professed “Beast Mode Cowboy” looking worse and worse with each passing moment, to the point where he looks like he’s on the verge of convulsions.
This wasn’t as big of an issue in the early seasons of Survivor, because the locations were far more varied than they are now. We had seasons in the Amazon, in Mayan ruins in Guatemala, and even the Australian Outback. Granted, those seasons weren’t as punishing as, say, Survivor: Africa, but past seasons were a bit better about varying their locations: less temperate climates, greater shade, and challeges that weren’t anywhere near as physically grueling. I’ve been saying for years that they should bring back some of the more straightforward challenges of the past, such as trivia challenges, memory games, and even shuffleboard. You didn’t have this sort of thing happen as much in the early seasons, because not every challenge was about completing an obstacle course and then solving a puzzle. This incident is a real indictment of the challenge design, as well as some of the more puzzling choices the producers make: for instance, despite dehydration being a major factor in a game like this, today’s reward was for coffee and spices. Coffee and spices, for crying out loud! I’m actually shocked that something like this hasn’t happened sooner, honestly. So Caleb is evacuated, although we learn in the commercial break that he has completely recovered, and hopes to play again. And I hope he gets that chance, since Caleb really surprised me. I expected someone far more off-putting given the way his Big Brother reputation preceded him. I also think he would have made it quite far in the game, since he not only had an alliance with the girls, he had a side alliance with idol-holder Tai. That’s some serious mobility in the game, even with a tribe shuffle around the corner. Hell, especially with a tribe shuffle around the corner. So it’s a shame for him to be pulled right now, but it was definitely for the best, considering how dire the situation was.
Although the medical issues take up the first half of the episode, it’s mostly business as usual for the second half, as the Brawn tribe loses yet another immunity challenge, and Alecia continues to be ostracized by the other members of the Brawn team. Now, I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest Alecia fan. I think she has made some errors in her gameplay over the course of the season, such as being too aggressively strategic, and even choosing to serve as cheerleader rather than helping to dig in today’s reward challenge. But I don’t think she deserved the contempt thrown her way by Scot and Jason, who struggle to maintain any semblance of civility, and jump at any chance to leap down Alecia’s throat over every little thing she says. When she tells Probst after the immunity challenge that she did her best, and the men take it as an opportunity to rip on her for making everything about her, it suddenly went from the realm of reasonable criticism to pettiness. What the hell was she supposed to say when Probst asks her directly about her efforts? Alecia was in a situation where she just couldn’t win, and it wasn’t even entirely her fault, considering that her tribe continually chose to save her over brawnier options. Yet at no point do they reflect on the choices they made and think, “Well, maybe if we hadn’t chosen to keep her around, we wouldn’t be in this mess.” It’s not as if Alecia played an idol to stick around. They CHOSE not to eliminate her when they had the chance! If Alecia’s self-absorption is obnoxious to them, then their lack of introspection is maddening to me. I found it particularly galling that they wanted to have tribal council right there on the beach after the challenge, since it was essentially taking a close-minded approach to the game. Sure, it would have been an absolutely terrible idea to keep Alecia around for another round, but I think she at least deserved the opportunity to plead her case back at camp. Of course, we never see any arguments she does make, as we flash forward to that evening, and proceed with the most one-sided tribal council in the history of the show. No editing misdirects, no possibility of a surprise second idol, and nothing to suggest that the vote would go any other way than it did. Alecia is voted out, joining Caleb as the fifth person eliminated from this game. Much like Probst, I couldn’t help but root for Alecia. However, the writing was on the wall. While a great player never stops fighting, it’s hard for even the best players to overcome the combination of numbers and preconceptions.
But what did you think of Survivor: Kaoh Rong Episode 4, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Survivor: Kaoh Rong, find out what the editors haven’t been showing you by checking out some of the deleted scenes from last week’s episode!