Erik's 'beautiful prison' stay continues on 'Survivor'

May 9, 2013

Day 35 was Erik Reichenbach's turn for a meltdown on Survivor: Caramoan. At least he doesn't have one every day - my God, Dawn should be dehydrated to the max by now. I can't wait for someone to vote for her in tribal council, and when they do one of those whispered here's-the-reason scenes, it's gonna be "Man, she cried ALL THE TIME. I can't stand it. She has to go."

But I digress. Erik is hungry. Hungry enough to listen to coconuts laughing at him from the top of a very, very tall palm tree. Hungry enough to decide to climb it. "They've been laughing at me since about Day 3," he mused. "I think I can climb it."

Yes, Nice Guy Erik was having a Hard Day. He was unhappy, bored, hungry and felt like he was in prison. A very beautiful prison, but still. As he contemplated climbing for coconuts, he was almost in tears over the fact that self-sabotage had popped into his head. He could climb the tree, fall, break a leg and leave the game - an honorable discharge of sorts. "But I'm almost trying to defeat myself at this point, and that scares the hell out of me," he tearfully explained, before getting a grip and admitting that wasn't the game he wanted to play.

Using universally-recognized proper Palm Tree Scaling Techniques, he climbed the tree under the watchful eyes of the women. No one tried to discourage him beyond a few faint-hearted protests about how tall the tree was; I suspect they were hoping he would find dozens of coconuts (there were, in fact, no coconuts), and, Nice Guy that he is, he would share them. I found myself wondering what the game strategy would be if he fell - would someone try to catch him? Or do you stand back and watch, knowing it will take him out of the game? And if you are Erik, do you consider accidentally dislodging a few coconuts in some strategic manner? Like on Cochran's head?

Yeah, this is the stage of the Survivor game when ethics start getting a little murky. Just you wait.

It was also time for the blatantly emotionally-manipulative episode - the arrival of the Loved Ones. Seriously, that's what they call all the friends and relatives - "The Loved Ones," like it's a funeral, except there was more sobbing on this show than at all the funerals I have ever been to. Erik's brother Richard was Erik's "Loved One" - and THANK YOU REICHENBACH BROTHERS FOR NOT CRYING. Instead, they were totally adorable in using what was clearly a traditional greeting of "Brother!" and showing some good-natured brotherly love (Erik: "You're so much bigger than me!" Richard: "You're so much smaller than me!").

Each contestant partnered with their Loved One for the challenge - unscrewing a rail from a post, building a ladder and flinging a bolo at the ladder rails. First team to wrap three bolos on their rails would win a BBQ. So, I'm thinking - two Reichenbach boys, physical challenge, food reward, they so have this! But, no. I'm not sure what happened - it wasn't shown - but can only speculate that it will be fodder for future brotherly torment for years to come because clearly, someone screwed up.

In a typical Survivor twist, the winner of the challenge was allowed to invite another contestant and their Loved One to the BBQ (which also included a Second Loved One - in Erik's case, little brother Kurt). Winner Brenda invites I'm-A-Tear-Spigot Dawn - and then, Brenda is offered a tricky dilemma: trade it all in and give it to the other contestants and their Loved Ones. Food and a relaxing afternoon with people you haven't seen in over a month - for yourself and one other, or for the majority. Brenda gives it all away - and surely buys her way to a win. Or at least a slot in the final three.

Or did she?

The Survivor world is a cruel one, kids, where one nice turn doesn't necessarily deserve another. Sensing that Brenda could make it all the way, three contestants cast the votes needed to remove her from the game. And our local boy makes it to the final round.