TV Article

Walk the Sideline

On ''Survivor,'' Stephenie melts down; Rafe steps up; and Gary is benched

Gary Hogeboom, Survivor: Guatemala | QB OR NOT QB? Gary's attempt to hide his identity didn't help
Image credit: Gary Hogeboom: Monty Brinton/CBS
QB OR NOT QB? Gary's attempt to hide his identity didn't help

''Survivor'': A player gets intercepted

So I went to spend Thanksgiving with the family today. It was nice to see everyone. The people there ranged from age 1 to 90 — a most eclectic mix. Then we sat down for dinner, and I have to say it was positively scrumptious. There was just one problem: There were so many of us that I started to worry we might run out of food. So, just to be on the safe side, I took what could only be described as modest portions. Okay, fine. No big deal. But then I look down at the end of the table, and my brother-in-law Robert is super-sizing everything in sight! Homeboy is busting out mammoth portions of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, you name it! (And don't even get me started on the gravy.) So you know what I did? I got up, marched right over there, picked up a big hammer, and smashed a bowl of rice with his name on it. That'll show him!

Okay, I suppose if I really wanted to pull a Lydia, I would have thrown in a few pancake moves afterward just to rub it in, but it still was a pretty damn good fishmonger impersonation, if I do say so myself. But here's the difference: While in this situation Robert would have been well within his rights to serve me up a knuckle sandwich, why the hell Stephenie got so upset just because Lydia mentioned that she'd happened to eat more food than the others is still beyond me. Who the hell cares? This is the amazing thing about these pecking-order reward challenges. The Survivor crew calls them ''f--- you challenges,'' figuring that they will reveal divisions and alliances within the tribe. You would figure by now that anyone with any brains whatsoever would be hip to that trip and keep that stuff under wraps. But you would be figuring wrong.

In any event, it was a pretty bad day to be a Cowboy (which, in turn, means it's a good day to be Dalton Ross). First, Dallas lost a heartbreaker in overtime, and then the former Cowboy QB himself, Gary Hogeboom, got sacked by his own tribe. Now I've spent the better part of the past few months dissing and dismissing the self-styled Mr. Hawkins, but I had to do it. I'm a Redskins fan. It's just my job. (And yes, I do realize he actually suited up for the Skins at the tail end of his career, but once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy in my book.) But I'm gonna write something somewhat shocking right now, and I want this to stay just between you and me: I actually think he played a pretty good game. He was competitive in challenges, adapted when he was down in numbers after the first tribal shake-up, and bought himself six extra days on Xhakúm by first finding the hidden immunity idol and then letting Jamie prove how annoying he was. And he always fought to the very end — right down to his final tribal council, where he called Judd out for lying about the hidden immunity idol and also mentioned how other contestants were starstruck by Stephenie and acted like they wanted her autograph. Again, all of this is just between you and me, and if you repeat it, I'll call you a big fat liar.

Other than the fiery tribal council, however, it was pretty much a yawner episode. Rafe gave himself big props for being a gay Mormon, and he let us know that he is ''a really touchy person'' as he hugged Cindy in the waterfall. Stephenie spoke for pretty much every single Survivor viewer in wondering out loud how the hell Lydia made it to day 29 of the game, and Jeff Probst was busy babbling some nonsense about Ixchel, Voltan, and a sun god of some sort or another. Oh yeah, and Bobby Jon for some reason started flashing gang signs upon entering tribal council. Not quite as curious as last week's Miami Vice ensemble, but close.

I guess my main problem this season is that there's been no one to root for. I've been pulling for Danni, but I still really have no idea why. But after loving Rafe mockingly for his seeming incompetence, I have to give it up to the gay Mormon. All of a sudden he's winning every immunity in sight, and we've actually seen him talking strategy lately. You know what? I'm gonna do it. I'm going to right here and right now come out of the closet and declare myself a Rafe fan. There! It's done! And so is Gary. Like I said, bad day to be a Cowboy.

What do you think? Did Stephenie overreact to being called an overeater? Is Judd the worst liar of all time? And who the hell is Voltan?

Originally posted Nov 25, 2005