“Survivor 46” recap: Liz is pissed, and Applebee’s is to blame

Welcome to the biggest explosion of the new era.

Listen, if you thought Liz was pissed off on this week’s episode of Survivor 46, that is nothing compared to what Karishma Patel is going through right about now. Karishma was the undisputed reality TV queen of Applebee’s before Wednesday, May 1 at approximately 8:30pmET. She famously gushed about the casual dining chain in frighteningly glowing terms while proclaiming that “Applebee’s is by far my favorite, like, sit down restaurant.”

It was the greatest reality TV chain restaurant recommendation since Amber on The Bachelor professed her undying devotion to The Olive Garden, and it was also pretty much the lone bright spot of Karishma’s Survivor experience. She was so miserable during her season, with people being openly hostile towards her, that she told me after the game, “It’s a painful thing to admit, but there were the low times where I just felt unlovable and worthless and just, I must be this horrible, horrible person because look at the way everyone’s viewing me and treating me.”

As if that’s not bad enough, the season Karishma was on was Island of the Idols, ranked by yours truly as the worst Survivor season of all-time. Seriously, all this woman got out of the experience was freakin’ Applebee’s, and now here comes Liz Wilcox with her 400 podcasts and 400 million dollars, and 400 billion tears — enough to fill an entire Shark Bowl, it should be noted — trying to swipe Karishma’s hype by latching onto to her favorite restaurant chain and becoming the new reality TV face of Applebee’s, even when so many other suitable casual culinary options were available. (Why you gotta go and dis Bahama Breeze like that, Liz?)

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Liz Wilcox of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Liz Wilcox of 'Survivor 46'

Actually, the real reality TV face of Applebee’s is my main man Chris “Milhouse” Marchand, who apparently has been given permission to moonlight from his day job as a Survivor challenge producer to also serve up Bourbon Street Mushroom Swiss Burgers as an Applebee’s waiter. Every time Applebee’s turns up on this damn show, there is Milhouse rocking their shirt and name tag and pretending like he was shipped in straight from Applebee’s HQ in Glendale, California. WHY IS SURVIVOR NOT PAYING THIS MAN ENOUGH SO THAT HE HAS TO GO BE AN APPLEBEE’S WAITER AT A NON-EXISTENT APPLEBEE’S RESTAURANT IN HIS SPARE TIME TO MAKE ENDS MEET??? JUSTICE FOR MILHOUSE!

Jeez, look at me. I’m yelling like Liz all of a sudden. I must be pretty pissed, too. But how amazing was that blowup?! Like, truly next level. She’s out there yelling at Q for not selecting her to go on the Applebee’s reward in some sort of weird demonic voice, yet also yelling at him for things that had nothing whatsoever to do with Applebee’s. Like, I’m not exactly sure what Q “blowing up her spot” has to do with an Oreo cookie milkshake. And I’m a bit unclear how Liz not knowing “about the damn flip vote last night” is related to Applebee’s Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp.

But none of that matters. All that matters is that Liz channeled that old-school Survivor anger and passion that has been sorely lacking in the kinder, gentler new era of the show. And with apologies to Karishma, I absolutely love her for it. I also love Venus for starting to walk over to console Liz, and then thinking better of it and retreating back half a second later when Liz started exploding again. Watching that business decision by Venus in real-time was somehow almost better than watching the explosion to begin with.

Apparently, Q thought he could get away with not inviting Liz on the food reward to the Survivor Sanctuary, and to that I say… BIG MISTAKE! This season is so messy with so much strife and so many people pissed off for one reason or another, and it is absolutely glorious. What is so fascinating about this group of contestants, however, is how likable they are. Often in older seasons with screaming matches and open hostility (like between Venus and Hunter last week), you had casts filled with people you didn’t really care for, but the Survivor 46 villains are fun and goofy, and the entire vibe of the season is definitely more dysfunctional than mean-spirited.

Dysfunctional and mean-spirited also sounds like a pretty apt description of my Survivor recaps, so with that, let’s get to what else went down on episode 10 of Survivor 46.

<p>CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 46'


The cast of 'Survivor 46'

The main course

You know you’re in for a good episode when one player is describing the rest of the tribe as “ho-bags.” That was Liz, of course, and she was upset that everyone — even Venus! — was in on the Hunter split-vote plan but her. Also notable was Maria’s assertion that “Q is sort of checked out of the game mentally” after Q tried to check out of the game physically. (Hey, at least he’s consistent.) But Maria saw Q as something else — a number. And not one of those numbers on Lost that will drive you to the brink of insanity, but rather a number to vote out someone that has been floating your name, as in Tiffany.

More on that later, obviously, but first we have a reward challenge to get through. The challenge itself was an obstacle course than ended with players needing to land a sand bag on a tall target. It was a fun one, because whenever you force players to struggle under a tight net, that’s guaranteed good times. Q won, ripping through the course with the ferocity of a man being told that Hunter was the challenge beast of the season. (“Debatable.”)

<p>CBS</p> Tiffany Nicole Ervin on 'Survivor 46'


Tiffany Nicole Ervin on 'Survivor 46'

That’s all good and fine, but what is more important is everything that happened before and after the challenge, and I’m not just talking about Liz’s freakout. I’m talking about the fact that Jeff Probst can evidently recite the entire Applebee’s menu from memory. Granted, half their menu items appear to begin with the words “Bourbon Street”, but it’s still impressive. What else to expect from the guy who refuses to wear an IFB so producers can’t try to feed him lines while he’s working. (Also, boneless wings aren’t a thing. They’re chicken tenders. #StopTheMadness.)

After his comp win, Q picked Tiffany, Maria, and Kenzie to go with him, which led to Applebeesgate. And here’s the thing: Q’s move to exclude Liz, who was literally begging right in front of him, may have made him a villain (as Ben said) or ice cold (according to Kenzie), but it also totally makes sense. He was trying to rebuild bonds with his original two allies in the game (Tiff and Kenzie) and get closer with the one person (Maria) that appears open to working with him.

Plus, at this point — when your chances of winning a jury vote seem completely shot — you may as well double down on the heel role so everyone wants to keep you in the game and carry you to the end. And if that seems absolutely ridiculous, consider that on the very next day the person he inspired to yell and scream at a level not even seen during her own divorce proceedings voted for him to stay in the game! Such is the power of Q that he could overcome even the power of Applebee’s. And that power could take him all the way to the final three.

Before we leave this entire incident, can we just pause for the cause to acknowledge the greatest Jeff Probst casting plea ever? Right as the cameras cut to commercial, we get a sheepish looking Jeff standing at the challenge going “Uhhhhhh… look, Survivor’s tough.” That, it is. Brilliant.

<p>CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 46'


The cast of 'Survivor 46'

Shark (bowls) in the water

The juxtaposition between Liz fuming back at camp and the winners scarfing down food and booze at a place where good things happen was more delicious than an Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken entree. Quickly realizing that Liz was getting all the airtime singing the praises of Applebee’s and talking about her standing Wednesday night reservation, Tiffany made sure to let the cameras know that she too went to Applebee’s every week, which begs the question… Why is everybody hating on Red Lobster?

Q didn’t seem particularly upset with how upset Liz was because he is apparently firing people at his real estate job left and right all the time and is used to such blowback. Whether he is firing all these people because they can’t sell houses or are simply too good at hide and seek remains unclear, but it sounds like Q is not winning a million hearts by the office watercooler.

But the piece de resistance was the fact that the one item that Liz really wanted, the one thing that she was salivating over the most, the one thing she wanted to make an emotional connection with her daughter… the winners just left sitting on the table untouched. I also love the way Milhouse presented it as “Here is a burger on the house!”… as if all the other items were not also free and the players were expected to pay for them in Fire Tokens or something.

<p>CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 46'


The cast of 'Survivor 46'

Go long, go strong

I said it last week and will say it again: never underestimate a distance runner’s ability to endure pain in endurance competitions. And this week we had two former cross country runners — who also (along with Liz) happen to share some incredibly disgusting running stories — battling it out for immunity.

The challenge itself was the Gabler Special, in which players have to hold onto a handle connected to a bucket containing 25 percent of their body weight. And once again, the challenge was guest-hosted by Monty Hall. That’s because Jeff Probst was absolutely determined to feed this tribe, whether they like it or not! But the Hostmaster General totally took me for surprise with his offer. I figured Probst would make a better offer for the tribe since they already turned down four out of 10 people sitting out. Plus, you can’t let contestants actually… you know… starve on your television show.

BUT NO! Probst’s offer now was that 50 percent of the players (4 out of 8) had to sit out to get the rice. And again, the tribe declined. The cast of Survivor 46 are certified badasses. I love it so much. And I love that producers did not cave on their offer yet did take pity on poor Liz and gave her the opportunity to individually sit out for a private stash of rice. That’s a common sense compromise to help out a player on the brink while still making her sacrifice a shot at something that could potentially keep her in the game. Definitely not a ho-bag move by the host.

But I can’t really think about any of that right now. Because all I can think about is why Charlie keeps making weird facial expressions and sticking his tongue out at people during immunity endurance challenges. Like, I would get it if it was directed at Ben as some sort of Gene Simmons Kiss homage. That would make sense. But I don’t know what to make of this. Is that supposed to be Charlie intimidating the competition? I have no idea, but he’s dead to me if he stops doing it.

In the end, Charlie beat Tiffany in a showdown thanks to two years of grip-training, and while she did not know it at the time, that loss would prove to be a game-killer.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Tiffany Nicole Ervin on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Tiffany Nicole Ervin on 'Survivor 46'

Tiffany's last stand

I can’t believe I am about to gloss over the fact that a contestant literally almost caught on fire at Tribal Council, but it seems as if that is what I am about to do as I instead transition to talking about actual gameplay. (Who am I anymore? Is this even actually me writing this recap or is it Dalton Ross AI? No, if it was Dalton Ross AI there would be random mentions of Milwaukee’s Best. Sally Schumann, and the Medallion of Power strewn about. AND THERE THEY ARE! RIGHT ON CUE!)

But while Kenzie only got a few strands of burnt hair courtesy of her torch, her game may have been torched in the process. In last week’s episode, she wanted to make the boldest move of the season, blindsiding her number one ally in Tiffany. It was a shocking development and seemingly came out of nowhere. Even on day 18 of this week’s episode she said how she still wanted Tiffany gone regardless of the idol because they had played the exact same game and needed to differentiate, and that voting out your number one is a huge mark on the résumé. Then came day 19.

For some reason after the challenge, Kenzie did an about-face. Maybe the two bonded so much over Shark Bowls she couldn’t bring herself to pull the trigger. Perhaps she felt more comfortable knowing where the idol was rather than who might get a replanted one next. Or she simply could not fathom leaving Q in the game because his quit attempt was “like spitting in the face of everybody who has ever applied, anyone who has ever tried to be out here, in the face of the jury that he just doesn’t care.”

Whatever the reason, Kenzie backed out of the plan she instigated, mistakenly believing others would do the same. Now her biggest ally is out of the game, and Kenzie not only gets no credit for it, but was left completely out of the loop. In fact, you could even say she got burned twice at Tribal Council.

<p>CBS</p> Kenzie Petty on 'Survivor 46'


Kenzie Petty on 'Survivor 46'

As for Tiffany, heading to the jury on a 5-3 vote, let’s give her some flowers. She was a strong game player who understood the pros and cons of idol plays, could recognize big targets that needed to be taken out (Don Maria), and was a tough physical competitor. I’m bummed to see her go. As, I’m sure, are producers, if for no other reason than once again they are not getting any immunity idol plays this season. First, Jem. Then, Hunter. Now, Tiffany. All three heading out of the game with a Beware Advantage  idol in their pocket. Yes, producers love a blindside. But they love a successful immunity idol play even more.

For those lunatics out there who still believe Survivor is rigged, all the immunity idols not being played in the past few seasons is proof that is not the case. Also, give the producers some credit. For all the talk about how Survivor has gotten too idol and twist heavy in recent years, look at the actual evidence. This season has been super light on twists, advantages, and idol plays. Give credit where credit is due: The producers have done exactly what fans have asked for in making the players the centerpiece of this season, and if you ask me, those players are delivering. No, we’re never going to go back to the original Survivor with no idols and advantages. Nor should we. But if you were looking for some balance and for the powers that be to ease up on those bells and whistles, that is exactly what they have done.

And what I have most likely done is overstay my welcome, but let me leave you with this: If you do not click on this link immediately and go watch the entire cast recounting their most embarrassing stories ever, then you are doing it wrong. I promise you it is worth your time, and you will never look at folks like Liz, Charlie, Maria, and Jem the same way ever again. Grab some Jeff Probst popcorn and enjoy.

Also, what if I told you there was more context to Liz not getting selected to go on the food reward? Well, I would be telling you the truth, and you can see that context in an exclusive deleted scene from before the reward challenge. You’ll also want to find out what the Hostmaster General has to say about the incident, and definitely don't want to miss our exit interview with Tiffany.

One final programming note: I will be away next week (not in Fiji, by the way), but EW’s Sydney Bucksbaum will be here to cover all your Survivor needs, so your scoop of the crispy will still be ready and waiting. (Note: Liz can’t have any.)

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