Panama – Exile Island Reunion

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Interrogating Shane's Flapping Shirt

If you will recall, the last thing that happened on our show was that Aras -- the touchy-feely yoga dude committed to the notion that you can use healing touch to make fire -- won the game. He hugged his mom with apparent enthusiasm, despite not being married to her. I don't really get it either. He should have run right out and hugged Terry's wife; at least she knows what it's like to feel close to someone.

In the wake of Aras's victory, the pre-jury survivors come strolling out on to the stage for their last moments of fame before they return to reading obsessively about themselves on the internet and appearing at the opening of supermarkets. Jeff, who can really no longer make fun of contestants with as much vigor now that one of them turned out to be the much younger love of his life, says all the usual things about how we'll learn if Shane is really off his nut, and we'll hear from Cirie, "one of the most popular Survivors ever." So, let me get this straight: this season will come down to the story of a winner, a crazy villain who may or may not be putting on a show, and a lovable underdog who didn't win? Let me get my doctor on the phone to have some surprise-handling pills prescribed, lest my being explode from the shock.

We return to a montage of scenes from the overly competitive love play that took place between Terry and Aras, including head-butting, poor-sporting, and Aras getting shown up in tribal council several dozen times by Jeff Probst, who relished the psychological equivalent of getting up on his tiptoes, peering through the slats into the locker in which Aras was stuffed, and asking, "How's it feel in there?" The montage rather unfairly suggests that Aras's "that rubs me the wrong way" had something to do with something Terry said about competition, when in fact it was related to Terry's lecture about the importance of his family versus the importance of everyone else's. When we return to the reunion, it becomes clear that if wee Jonathan Lipnicki was responsible for introducing "the human head weighs eight pounds" into our common language, Aras should be responsible for introducing "the human head is capable of gaining eight pounds in a few months," because Aras's head has gained at least that much since Panama. I'd suspect him of having cheek, chin, and forehead implants, except that he also would have had to have scalp, ear, neck, eye-socket, and temple implants. He's not even puffy; he's just completely different-looking, like he's a living, breathing, airbrushed version of himself. It's the kind of different-looking that makes people say of women that they've had work done, so either Aras has had work done, or a lot of women who have been suspected of having work done probably haven't. It makes me want to apologize to Joan Rivers. Ha ha! Not really.

The caption reminds us that we're in "New York City," in case we think that the audience has been brought to Panama. All sixteen contestants are here, and Jeff kicks things off by congratulating Aras 2.0 again. Aras 2.0, as it happens, is almost dressed the way I most like men to dress: a white T-shirt with an earth-toned snuggly-looking thing over it, but the snuggly-looking thing is actually a hoodie with a drawstring at the neck, If that were just a sweater, he'd look hot. As it is, I am distracted by wanting to pull the string back and forth in opposite directions while making funny "floop...fleep...floop...fleep" noises. Jeff says that Aras will soon receive a check for a million bucks, and adds that he has "one piece of advice: pay your taxes." Seriously, dude. I'm glad Jeff said that, because how ridiculous is that shit? Court is not tribal council, you dip. You're not going to convince a judge to lessen your sentence by being the one who can make fire, and nobody's going to believe, when you're in the pokey, that you meant for it to turn out that way.

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