Previews leading up this week’s episode of Survivor: Caramoan showed Brandon Hantz yelling, screaming, and tossing out food in a fit of rage. Tonight we saw the full assault, including the forces leading up to it and the aftermath of Hurricane Hantz. My full recap will be up at midnight, [UPDATE: Dalton's recap is now live] but to learn more and/or sound off about what happened, read on. [SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites.]
A few episodes ago, Brandon Hantz promised to pee on the rice and beans and burn the shelter to the ground. He didn’t go quite that far, but he did throw his tribe — and the entire game — into turmoil when he snapped after a disagreement with Phillip Sheppard, who he felt was being condescending and taking too much credit for the tribe’s success. While repeatedly calling Phillip a “bitch”, Brandon poured the tribe’s rice and beans all over the ground.
But that was just Act 1. At the immunity challenge, Favorite Corinne Kaplan announced the tribe’s intent to forfeit so that they could vote Brandon out immediately. This sent Brandon into another tailspin, one that was so clearly reaching dangerous levels that host Jeff Probst wisely asked Brandon to separate himself from the rest of his tribe and come stand by him in a more “neutral spot.” Then the yelling continued as Brandon and Phillip argued some more, especially when Phillip mentioned Hantz’s children. “You bring my kids into this?” yelled Brandon. “I’ll come over there and knock your f—ing head off! Bring my kids into this, bitch!” The only thing that appeared to stop Brandon from heading over fists first was the soothing touch of a Jeff Probst deep tissue massage.
Since the Favorites elected not to compete and the voting result was obvious, Probst had them hold a 10-second impromptu Tribal Council on the spot as they each verbally delivered their votes for Brandon, who then departed while calling Phillip a bitch one final time.
This end result of an emotional meltdown was all too predictable to those who saw Brandon’s personal issues when he appeared on Survivor: South Pacific. His inclusion in the cast for a second time begged the question of whether it was irresponsible to bring back someone on such shaky psychological ground. After my somewhat bizarre pre-game interview with Brandon just days before filming commenced, I asked Jeff Probst if he was stable enough to compete, and Probst indicated that he had indeed been cleared by the show’s psychologist.
However, after watching someone struggle with his inner demons on national television for a second straight time, we are left to wonder if putting him in a situation with other type-A personalities in the worst possible conditions (wet, tired, hungry, and cut off from a support group of friends and family) is really the best course of action. At what point does entertainment become exploitation?