Time for a rant. I do this every season, and I will continue to do it until the castaways act like normal, rational human beings. Late in the season, Survivor airs its inevitable "bring the loved ones to camp" episode. And, always, the castaways turn into blubbering fools. They cry and cry when they see their dearest show up to camp. I don't mean to sound callous, I don't mean to be a reckless cynic, but, this bi-yearly outpouring of emotions has always stuck in my craw. YOU'VE ONLY BEEN GONE THIRTY DAYS. A month away from your family can be tough for mothers, yes, but it's not the end of the world, especially when you absolutely know when you'll be back to see your kids. But, yeah, okay, I can understand a mother's emotions when kept away from her kids, no contact being had in the interim. Everyone else, sorry, you have no excuse for the tears.
But, whatever. I can entertain the possibility that when you're on
Survivor, emotions can get fragile with the lack of food and the
physical toll the game takes on you. Maybe even the hardest man on the
planet would break down after thirty days out in the wild (but I doubt
it). I've traveled extensively, for months on end, went away for
college, watched my siblings go away for college, and I absolutely love
my family. But, I've never broken down like that upon seeing one of
them after being away. The reason (or, one of the reasons) is that a
reunion was never in doubt. I would see them again, and I always knew
that. The same thing goes for the Survivors. Not only do they know
they'll see their loved ones when the game is over, they know that, in
all likelihood, they'll eventually be brought to camp. I'd love to see
a psychiatrist speak about the reunion phenomenon on Survivor. It's
probably more complicated than I can comprehend, involving the inherent
"look-at-me" desire held within most reality TV contestants.
However, that all being said, last night was a little bit atypical,
because everyone's favorite villain, Coach Benjamin Wade, was on hand.
And the reveal of his "loved one" made me laugh out loud. And it made
Coach's loved one is his assistant coach. Perfect. I don't know what
Coach's family situation is, if he has one, if he doesn't talk to them,
if he's be ostracized, whatever. I do know that to have a co-worker be
the closest person in your life is profoundly sad. It just goes to
show that Coach, for all the TV entertainment he provides and for all
of the blustering machismo he likes to throw around, is a confused and
delusional soul. Or, he's the greatest actor of all time and he's
playing a giant prank on the viewing audience. However, no one is that
good of an actor.
Among fans of Survivor, there are countless who have
spewed hatred and vitriol Coach's way. While I can't completely vilify that reaction to Coach, I think it's
probably better just to take pity on the man. No one actually on this
season of Survivor appears to actively hate Coach. In their
post-interviews, Brendan, Sierra and Tyson were kinder to Coach than I
expected, which I think is a good indicator of Coach's relative
harmlessness. Coach is kind of like one of those terrible singers who
audition for American Idol. They're good for a laugh, and we can all
enjoy what they bring to the national television audience, but when you
strip that away and really think about who these people are, what
possesses them to audition, and the disturbing amount of self-delusion
they must have, it's more pathetic and sad than we'd like to admit. So
it goes with Coach.
As for the other castaway's and their loved ones, even if I hate the
fountain of emotions displayed, I found the reunions to be fairly
endearing. Erinn Lobdell has been growing on me as a person for the
last few weeks, and having her father there only increased my opinion
of her. She was genuinely tickled at the thought of making her father
proud. Debbie and Taj had predictable reactions to having their
husbands there, and they all seemed like good people. Stephen's
overly-teary reunion with his brother struck me as a bit much,
something I didn't expect from him, and J.T.'s relationship with his
sister was pretty adorable.
One last note - let's enjoy Coach while he lasts, because barring an immunity win, he's almost certainly gone next episode.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer