Survivor: Gabon, Week 9: The Game Takes Its Troll

Finally! One of those Survivor episodes you’ll remember beyond this season. A year from now, you’ll still have the conversation:

“Remember the one where Bob gave Randy his fake idol?”
“Aw, yeah — that was classic!”
“It wasn’t really necessary, since Randy was going to be kicked off anyway.”
“True, that. But still — classic!”

With Charlie voted out last week, the power on Nobag (that’s the name of the merged tribe, remember? It cracks me up every time) has shifted to Kenny and Crystal, and Randy and Corinne know their chances are pretty slim.

Bob tells Sugar that he didn’t find the hidden immunity idol while he was on Exile, and Sugar acts surprised. Bob then shows Sugar the fake idol he’s proud of making, and asks her to tell no one about it. Sugar wonders if Bob’s an evil genius by showing it to her. I wonder that, too — perhaps he knows where the power really is.

Corinne and Randy talk, and, in case we didn’t already know, say how they hate everyone on the show. They decide to try to convince Matty that he’s on the outside of his five-person alliance, and that he should flip to their side.

The Survivors attend an auction — each person is given $500, and the ground rules are that they can’t pool money or share food. In a nutshell:

* Kenny wins the right to send someone to Exile and take his money. He picks Bob, figuring that Bob still wants the idol (and is one of the few people who doesn’t know that Sugar already found it).

* Despite having a lot of money, Kenny was strangely willing to let Matty, Corinne and Randy have items that he could have outbid them for.

* Susie wins a hot bath, taken in front of everyone. She keeps it short, as would I under those circumstances.

* Matty, Randy and Sugar get food.

* There’s not a gross-food mystery item, as there has been in past auctions.

* Corinne’s strategy was to only bid on something that would advance her in the game, and she wins a note that will help her in the next immunity challenge.

Last but not least, Sugar messes with Randy. First she bids against him for something she doesn’t really want, just to make him pay more. Then throughout the auction, she points out to others how much money he has left so they can outbid him, and in the end, she pokes the troll some more as he tries to hand out cookies that he’d bought for the tribe — she says she doesn’t want a cookie but she’ll give hers to Matty; Randy doesn’t give her one to give away, since he’s the boss of cookie distribution; and then Sugar accepts Randy’s offer of the last cookie and promptly gives it to Matty.

Randy tells the camera that he left the auction “broke, full, half-drunk and pissed off,” and he vows to “burn this house down in the next day or so.” I always thought that phrase referred to something more destructive, but apparently Randy uses it to mean “Be even more annoying to everyone.” Matty actually manages to convince the other members of his fivesome that Bob should be voted out next, but his work is undone when Randy decides to make everyone miserable. He embarks on “Operation Strong-Arm,” which includes complaining about everything and swearing at Susie to shut up. Randy’s hope is that Bob has found the hidden immunity idol and will let him use it to destroy all the votes that will surely be cast against him.

Meanwhile, on Exile, Bob sees that he’s given the same clues he’d already found, so rather than waste time searching for the idol, he goes for a walk to explore a little. This strikes me as odd — he really doesn’t think Sugar has the idol, yet he uses his time on Exile to wander off and reflect on his life?

The immunity challenge involves a race across a series of balance beams, followed by arranging puzzle blocks to fall like dominoes. Corinne’s note from the auction gives her a pass in the first round, but Kenny wins the challenge.

In a conversation in a field, Sugar and Bob (who wears his blue buff bow tie even when he’s shirtless — like we wouldn’t know it’s Bob unless he was wearing his bow tie) talk about the upcoming vote. For a second, Sugar fools me into thinking she’ll tell Bob she has the real immunity idol — she starts off by saying “I have …” but then finishes with “your best interest in mind.”

Sugar tells Bob she has a plan, and then later, back at camp, Sugar whispers to Bob that Randy would fall for Bob’s fake idol. (Why couldn’t Sugar tell Bob this back when they were talking in the field? Was there more to her plan that we don’t know about, or was it just more dramatic for them to discuss this at camp?) Bob knows he can’t save himself with his fake idol, and if it tickles Sugar to play a joke on Randy, then he may as well go along with it.

Corinne talks to Bob and says, “I assume you found the idol.” He nods. She tells him the plan to give it to Randy, and he agrees. Randy is thrilled that Bob is willing to let him use the idol and says that “Bob has done one of the most selfless acts I’ve ever seen.” Oh … I actually feel a little bad — Randy opens his heart, trusts in Bob’s goodness, and is about to be reminded why he doesn’t like human beings.

Bob definitely scored some points with Sugar, who now thinks he’s awesome. She doesn’t tell the others what the plan is, but she does tell Crystal and Kenny, “Tonight is going to be the funkiest night of your life. Wait for it. Wait for it.” She wears a perma-smirk for the rest of the episode.

During the vote, we see four people look into the camera and address the ones they’re voting for. We hear Corinne whisper to Susie that payback’s a bitch. We hear Sugar whisper to Randy, “You are a disgusting, old, hotheaded, chauvinistic, alcoholic bigot, and you need to grow up before you die alone,” followed by a slight pause and an L-shaped “Loser!” We hear Randy whisper to Susie that his vote is personal, not strategic.

And then we hear Crystal cast her vote against Randy, not using her “inside voice” in the least but rather talking in a volume used over the phone when you’re not getting proper customer service: “You have made my life hell from Day 1. Forget you — go home — goodbye.” Apparently the wrath of Sasquatch cannot be contained to a whisper. Several people hear her, and Sugar starts to shake with silent laughter.

When Jeff Probst asks if anyone wants to play the hidden immunity idol, Randy presents the fake one. Sugar, Crystal, Matty and Kenny crack up, and Corinne winks confidently at Marcus and Charlie in the jury. Probst declares, “This is not a hidden immunity idol,” and it gets tossed into the fire. Randy looks at Bob (who drops his gaze, perhaps feeling a little guilty) and is then voted out.

One question I’m left with: How does Randy know Bob didn’t think his idol was real? Sugar was shaking so hard with repressed laughter that I thought she was going to throw up — could Randy think that Sugar made the fake idol, and that Bob was fooled into thinking it was real? Was that why Bob voted for Susie — so his betrayal wasn’t as obvious to Randy, in case he needs his vote for the million down the road?

Well, maybe Randy’s not thinking about that right now — in his final words, he says, “The hell with these frickin’ people.”