Come back, little bartender!

Tom's got a cute little new friend -- and he's growing. Plus: Lex keeps on tweaking!

Published December 14, 2001 7:44PM (EST)

Lex is on a tear -- he's running around, getting in people's faces, talking nonstop.

Lex is the angular guy with the hair that sticks up. He's got an earring and tattoos all over his body. He's too wound up.

When the going gets rough, Lex gets crazy; being stuck with him in a camp in the African bush is like sitting on a bus next to a guy who's had way way too much coffee, only much worse.

In fact, we suspect that Lex's "Survivor" "personal item" -- the one little souvenir from home each contestant is allowed to bring along -- was a little vial of cocaine.

Or rather, a big vial of cocaine.

He's the total portrait of a cokehead, rushing around talking and practically jumping every time he hears a sound behind him. Last week, in a paranoid frenzy, he orchestrated the expulsion of Kelly, whom he suspected, with zero evidence, of having dinged him in the previous week's tribal council.

Lex's mind is so torn up from paranoia that he couldn't figure out that the real culprit was Teresa, who'd made a bond with Clarence at the immunity challenge.


Still, it's fun to watch. If you look at the group in "Survivor" as sort of an organic entity, that entity is now a small snarling raccoon with its leg caught in a steel trap.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"The biggest issue in the game right now is, is, is trust," says Lex, rapid-fire, at the beginning of the show, "and who do you trust and who do you believe and you know that kind of, the, when you think about it in life it's kind of the foundation you base everything on!"

Heavy! Makes perfect sense.

Two little deer run away and a baboon looks on mournfully.

No, a real baboon. Big Tom hasn't appeared yet.

Ethan's binging on Brandon to Lex: "I don't really trust Brandon. If he's willing to turn like that on his friends, then there's no reason ..."

"That's what they say," Lex interrupts.

The contestant with the bruised trust is actually the younger Kim. Kim's not the sharpest hyena in the pack, and last week, her friend Brandon surprised her mightily and provided the raging Lex with the support he needed to make Kelly walk the plank.

"I trusted Brandon for 24 straight days," Kim agonizes. "I can't understand it!"

Treachery, thy name is bartender!

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Lex is still talking. He's getting a lot of grief for being such a paranoid martinet. "Someone had to act and I acted and I regret it!"

Where is Lex getting his coke in the bush?

The others in Lex's alliance -- Big Tom, the elder Kim and Ethan -- are not happy about the new kid in town, the ugly and malevolent Brandon.

To Lex, however, he's the flavor of the day.

Says Ethan: "Lex is 100 percent confident in Brandon; I'm not and Tom's not convinced he'll be loyal to us till the end."

There follows one of "Survivor's" most priceless scenes. Four of the men -- Frank and Brandon, Lex and Big Tom -- stand outside the encampment ready to make the trek to get water. They're laden down with water buckets and carrying poles propped up on their shoulders.

"It's the same all over; no matter you're in Africa, Virginia or New York, ya still gotta wait on them!" Big Tom says.

"It's a good thing there's not a mirror around," sighs Frank.

The men are bitching about women.

Their consensus is that you can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

"How many we got in there?" Tom asks.

"Three too many," growls Frank.

"Three damn women and you still gotta wait 30 minutes," Tom says. "Here we are in Africa, there ain't a damn thing to do, and we still gotta wait on them!"

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Tom does a little boogie dance next to the watering hole. We wish he wouldn't do that.

Ethan throws a rock at a tree.

Brandon is feeling the pangs of conscience.

Just joking.

"I went against my group and voted Kelly off," he acknowledges. "I wasn't going to align with Frank and that wasn't going to happen and they should have known that.

"I would rather be out of here in three days than have anyone back home say I was aligned with Frank in any way."

Lex hates Frank. "Frank just decided that he's going to be a jerk about this thing," he rages. "And it set the tone for the next few days!"

A monkey scratches its ass.

"At this point now it's his turn to go," he goes on. "He's just a pain in my butt! He's always in a sour mood! It brings tribe morale down and I'm ready to get rid of him!"

Where is he getting the crank?

The miracle of language is that humanity could exist for millions of years and yet humans could continue to develop unique sentences -- indeed, an infinite number of unique sentences.

What Ethan says next, for example, leaving aside its euphonious beauty and searching profundity, has never been said before and most likely will never be said again.

"Tom's got a massive boil and I can't stop looking at the thing!"

There follows an Africa pastoral, as the survivors look at the boil on Tom's neck.

From the size of it, it seems like they need a daisy cutter.

"I've never seen a boil that big!" raves Ethan

"I'm growing a horn!" Tom boasts.

Brandon says, "Two weeks ago he had one under this arm and it hurt bad and he squeezed it and he popped it out. It like filled up a shot glass."

"Women like to squeeze it and cause pain," Tom says.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

For the reward challenge, the group has to break into groups of two. What follows next is evidence either of "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett's being a very lucky man -- or "Survivor's" being blatantly fixed.

The group picks partners randomly for the challenge, and Brandon and Frank wind up together.

Everyone thinks it's hilarious. "Brandon and Frank -- let the games begin!" mocks Tom

"The last person in life I would pick," sniffs Brandon.

Tom's paired with little Kim. "If it's physical we're gonna win, but if it's mental we're screwed!"

The challenge is a series of heats through a sandy obstacle course. Brandon and Frank win!

The prize is an actual movie screening, complete with hot dogs, nachos and snacks.

"My camping trip just went to hell," Frank says grimly.

Back at the camp, the group is merrily talking about the pair with ribald glee.

"They assumed the position well, I thought," says Tom.

"They found their rhythm together," agrees Lex.

"I think it's the beginning of something really big!" the elder Kim says.

"The key was working together closely, hands-on participation," continues Tom.

"You could hear Brandon cracking the whip," says Lex.

"And if you go to the movie tonight you may hear that whip again," cackles Tom.

The movie is "Out of Africa." We thought this was a reward challenge!

It's gonna be a date from hell, for both parties.

And for us.

Afterward, Franks says, "To see 'Out of Africa' in Africa, was unbelievable." We can't gainsay that observation.

Frank couldn't kiss and make up with Brandon: "I still wouldn't go to coffee with him. I'm still old-fashioned and ... " He seems at a loss for words. " ... I wouldn't even go there."

It's a weird thing to say. Frank could say that Brandon is an asshole and that he's morally sickened by being close to him. We'd say that about Brandon. What can't he say it?

Is it 'cause Brandon's gay? Is that what Brandon meant when he said he couldn't have people at home seeing him ally with Frank?

Says Brandon: "He's abrasive and kinda cold and doesn't have the warm side."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Everyone's still plotting. Lex, in some sort of obsessive rut, won't turn his back on Brandon.

Tom and Ethan want to get rid of him. They ask Lex if he would go back on his agreement with him.

"Is your word just your word or is there a different level of words?" Ethan asks, epistemologically.

How did Lex and Brandon get so close? We see a shot of a baboon wandering by with a baby holding on beneath her stomach.

Maybe Brandon is Lex's coke connection. Bartenders are a great source for it.

Or so we've heard.

Frank thinks he might have found a kindred soul in Tom. They certainly see eye to eye on the fairer sex. "We're men of action," Frank explains.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Zebras gambol.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Kim's ragging on Brandon, the loser who betrayed her. "You could have pulled me aside for two seconds. I was your friend!"

"I'm still your friend," Brandon says.

He's making Kim cry.

"You're going to be my friend forever!" he says. It sounds like a threat.

Jeff Probst, King of All the Hyenas, appears to tell the group that the immunity challenge will involve starting a fire. This gets our hopes up, because starting fire has been a perennial Achilles' heel for "Survivor" contestants.

Unfortunately, it turns out they're giving the group magnifying glasses, which takes all the fun out of it.

The challenge is to get your flames high enough to burn through a string and raise a flag.

Kim nearly loses it during the challenge. As she runs back and forth, gathering brush to coax her fire higher, she babbles to herself and seems to be experiencing a breakdown.

Frank bumps his string and is disqualified.

Kim seems to be about to make it but Lex ends up pulling past her and wins immunity.

Lex rampant is a supremely unappetizing sight. "I've been out here for 24, 25 days now! I have a lot invested," he says self-importantly.

He's badgering Tom about Brandon more: "You can't let your personal feelings interfere here! Brandon helped us out once and he may do it again. All bets are off and you're screwed! Frank will vote for you, don't get me wrong, he will vote for you in a heartbeat!"

Lex just won't shut up. He's totally tweaked. "Think about that. Don't take too long! Because if you take too long you're going!"

Big Tom's virtually paralyzed with confusion. He babbles for a while to the camera, winding with an odd bit of Virginia folk wisdom: "If you dance with my lady, then I'll dance with yours."

Hmmm. Does that mean he's gonna fuck Brandon?

We see a shot of a zebra wandering by, his penis dangling.

The elder Kim says she's staying with her original alliance. "It's gotten me this far," she says.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

At the tribal council that night, Kelly comes back, as the first member of the Jury of the Damned. (She and the next six ejectees will vote to award the top $1 million prize to one of the last two finalists.)

Tom's boil is huge! Maybe it should get another vote.

Jeff tries to probe for pressure points, but isn't getting anywhere. Brandon says, "I wouldn't do anything amoral or disgusting or anything like that."

We haven't seen him do anything but amoral and disgusting things. We wonder what his threshold is. Cannibalism? Drinking a Mickey's Big Mouth?

"I came to have a really good time and I have," he says.

Tom babbles some more.

Lex says, "Trust plays a huge part for me; it's my gut, it's how I make decisions in life."

The elder Kim says it's more, "Who am I comfortable with? Who do I respect?"

The younger Kim's been burned and lets us know it: "My biggest weakness is being naive," she says.

Finally, the vote:

Lex, out of control, goes after Frank in the voting booth: "You're nothing but rude, grouchy and a poor sport." His eyes are unnaturally wide and have a weird, unattractive gleam. "You're a real downer and I can't wait to see you gone."

Says little Kim as she names Brandon: "Such a shame it came to this, but bottom line is I don't trust you."

But it turns out that the alliance has shifted and everyone but Lex targets Brandon, who dings Frank on his turn, too.

"See you, sugar bear," Tom says, as Brandon oils out.

Will Lex rebound next week? Or is his remarkable simulation of a coke-fueled domination coming to an end?

(Bill Wyman)

Back to the "Survivor: Africa" home page

By Salon Staff

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