Television

What Reality Does Best: Great Moments In 'Survivor' Comeuppance

[This post contains spoilers for last night's episode of Survivor, as well as for past seasons. Do not assume that means a titular moment did or did not take place last night; I could be either noting such a moment or pining for one and lamenting its absence.]

Some people like byzantine plotting, some people like challenges and some people like watching bartenders eat rice. (There's no accounting for taste.)

For me, the No. 1 reason to watch Survivor is comeuppance for bullies, whether in the form of traditional big bully types or teeny, mean women. If you've ever wondered how people can possibly be devoted to this show, which is now in its 18th season, I'm telling you: This is why.

Nowhere on television have so many utter jerks been vanquished, even as — admittedly — other jerks escape punishment. It is, at its best, a visceral moment of figurative sucker-punching in a way that bothers the bully but does not harm him or her, so you can enjoy it fully without guilt. As a viewer, you don't actually want any harm to come to anyone, but you don't mind seeing good triumph over evil, just for this brief moment.

Let's get to it.

1. Edgardo, Survivor: Fiji

For my money, this is the best bully-punch of all time. The best. Unfortunately, the clip above does not include the moment, captured on film, when Edgardo — who was part of an alliance of morons that actually called itself "The Four Horsemen" because it has "four" and "men" in it, not realizing that this meant they should technically be arguing over who was Pestilence — realized he was going down. His face deflated like a popped balloon and then melted spectacularly in horror.

It only made his exit sweeter that it was preceded by a preposterously convoluted series of movements and counter-movements, roughly comparable to a baseball game in which the third-base coach is also the umpire and is also pitching for the other team while wearing a fake mustache.

More merriment, after the jump...

2. Nate, Survivor: Cook Islands

This is the season that began with the wildly ill-advised "race wars" theme, in which the contestants were divided into a white team, an African-American team, an Asian-American team and a Latino team. (I promise, this really happened and is not a dream I had.)

At one point, the mean people seemed to have the nice people on the ropes, and were about ready to start picking them off, when nice person and eventual winner Yul Kwon — seen in this clip explaining the relationship between mass and surface area and why elephants can't run up trees (really!) — convinced Jonathan Penner, an actor once featured on The Nanny (again, this is all completely true, and only now do I realize how absurd it sounds), to switch over to the nice people's side and throw out the self-satisfied Nate. From there, it was nice people all the way to the finish.

3. Judd, Survivor: Guatemala

Judd was mostly just kind of a lumbering buffoon, but upon his booting from the game, he set a new standard for good sportsmanship by muttering, "I hope you all get eaten by a freakin' crocodile." I do not recommend that he be hired to write political concession speeches, though they might be funny.

4. Ozzy, Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites

Ozzy finished second in his original season before returning as an "All-Star," by which time he had a reputation for being some kind of mystically talented competitor capable of winning several Olympic medals in different events at the same time before climbing a tree to retrieve coconuts for dinner. Unfortunately for Ozzy, he got a little too comfortable, and even though he was in possession of an immunity idol — essentially a get-out-of-elimination-free card that you have to figure out you need to play before you even find out whether anybody voted for you — he didn't play it, and he was booted.

This exit is notable partly for the way that, at about the 1:30 mark in this clip, after his torch is snuffed out (this represents the end of your "life" in the game, because overwrought metaphors are as much a part of Survivor as overgrown beards and overconfident pharmaceutical salespeople), Ozzy attempts a death glare over his shoulder, like, "YOU'LL REGRET THIS." Extra spoiler: Nobody regretted it.

5. Lisi, Survivor: Fiji

Lisi is the one falling on her face about three seconds into that clip. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, which is good, both because nobody should ever get hurt and because that means it's still hilarious to see her go "ka-fwump!" on the ground like that. A chipped tooth or something would have killed the comedy.

The great thing about this particular trip-and-fall is that she's participating in a team challenge here, and she's just heading from her team's starting point out to where her task will be to memorize things. It's essentially a solitaire injury.

Lisi wound up going home after whining for a while that she wanted to go home and then very unsuccessfully trying to take it back at the last minute. No one missed her.

6. Ami, Survivor: Vanuatu

Ami is seen above speechifying to the final two contestants left standing, as all the eliminated players get to do before they vote — she's been out of the game a while here, which is why she's clean and pretty and the people still playing look like they haven't showered in a year and a half.

Ami was, at one point, the apparent frontrunner in her season, until she and her allies forgot how to do elementary math. Three people out of seven is, surprisingly enough, not a majority, as it turns out. Who knew?

7. Tyson, Survivor: Tocantins

And now, we come to last night.

It's difficult to make yourself the most annoying guy in a season that also features a guy named "Coach" who looks like Steven Seagal and talks like Yoda would have if he'd spent most of his life in a basement playing Dungeons & Dragons. (Coach recently claimed that he was once dropped in the jungle from a military plane, at which point he was kidnapped and beaten by diminutive native Brazilians before escaping in a canoe.) (This entire entry is really eye-opening, I should mention, as far as how intensely weird this show can be.)

But somehow, Tyson — seen above, hilariously claiming to have good people skills — managed to be even more irritating, going so far as to repeatedly brag about how much he enjoys making people cry. Of young Sierra, the woman he figured was going home last night, he said, "I'm sure her parents love her. But I can't imagine her boyfriend's very cool."

Farewell, Tyson. And may you go down in history with the great Survivor comeuppances of all time.

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