TAG TEAM SURVIVOR
ReVival returns to a colorful, not at all dangerous scene. As PRIME’s squadron of drones takes in the scene, the spectacle of what awaits the individuals about to compete in the latest round of Survivor takes hold.
Stretching before seven individuals – plus one mannequin – is a maze. Painted in all manners of bright colors, the maze is a typical maze. It has an entrance and an exit. At every intersection in the maze is a camera, which will showcase the action and progress of the competitors without interfering with their other senses, as a camera crew or even a drone would.
Anyway, everyone involved is wearing blindfolds, because that’s definitely how you navigate a maze. Blindly.
Nick Stuart: We’re mere moments from the blindfold maze leg of the Survivor competition!
Richard Parker: Who the hell decorated this abomination?
Nick Stuart: I’m getting word that this was decorated by the orphans adopted into the 42-story orphanage recently opened up by GREAT SCOTT.
Richard Parker: Oh, uh… Looks great!
One wonders how or why an orphanage needs 42 stories, but don’t worry about that, let’s get to our competitors.
First, you have the Winds of Change. Once again, Joe Fontaine is dressed like the gaudiest man at a wrestling show, which says a lot about him. It’s a good thing everyone is blindfolded, they might go blind with how much light his suit is reflecting. Sid wears his singlet, as always, but he is also wearing a T-shirt over the top of it that reads “Powerbomb Siddy” over the Vegas skyline.
Next, you have Fighting for Nora. Paxton Ray looks particularly miffed at the prospect of going in blind, clenching his fists like he’s ready to punch everyone around him. Well, he’s clinching one fist. The other one is wrapped in bandages. Don’t get into fist fights with walls, kids. You couldn’t quite see the look on the face of Jonathan Rhine because of his blindfold, but one only needed to see his body language to tell that he’d rather be anywhere except this saccharine maze.
Next, you have the Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova contingent. This seems to be represented by Nova and Future Nova, who stand there with their blindfolds on. Future Nova still looks dazed from getting powerbombed by Sid earlier. Conspicuous by their absence, however, are Garbage Bag Johnny and the Future Garbage Bag Johnny. Well, one of them is dead, and that’s very sad. The narration weeps for Future GBJ. Taken from us too soon. No one else knows he’s dead, though, so that’s definitely a secret between us. Ssh.
And finally, you have the Blue Live Crew. Where the hell do we even start here? Well, let’s start with our good berry boy, King Blueberry. It appears that the moment His Highness learned that there was a maze – a Labyrinth, if you will – he went full Bowie.
For one night only, Jared the Blueberry King is now Jareth the Goblin King. He wears a giant, blonde blowout wing over his blueberry mask. A big, fluffy shirt accompanies a pair of ridiculously tight pants that leaves nothing to the imagination. King Blueberry’s pants are so tight that the man will be singing soprano by the end of this competition, if he doesn’t rip them asunder trying to walk.
Ladies, try not to faint.
As for the King’s tag team partner… well. It’s El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, and he has a blindfold on. Of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? However, his face has a very important feature on it that hadn’t been there earlier in the night.
Richard Parker: Okay, I can accept what Blueberry is wearing with a couple of martinis, but… are those vampire fangs on El Hijo del Super Cool Guy?
Nick Stuart: Yes.
Richard Parker: …K.
The participants blindly gather at the entrance to the maze, and referee Ashley Barlow begins a countdown. Starting in five, four, three, two…
Nick Stuart: And here we go!
Seven very capable adult men and one mannequin charge at the maze.
Joe Fontaine runs directly into the wall and bounces off, landing on his back and rolling backwards from the sheer counter-momentum. The other six – plus a mannequin – are smart enough to not do exactly as Joe did. They blindly feel for the wall, and then progress through the maze in different directions. Sid, Rhine, and the Novas go down the left path, while Paxton, Blueberry, and El Hijo del Super Cool Guy go right. Joe crawls back to his feet, and eventually heads right.
Okay, time to address one of the many elephants in the room. Seriously, it’s an elephant convention. Not sure that the room can handle such a high capacity of elephants, even if that room is a maze designed to contain these elephants.
Well, anyway, let’s ask a question: How are these morons supposed to make it through this maze?
It doesn’t take long before Paxton and Blueberry (and mannequin) find an intersection. There, printed on the walls, is an arrow. Anyone with eyes could tell you that it’s pointing the direction you have to go in order to get out of the maze. But see, nobody in this maze except us have eyes. Well, the eyes are in fixed locations around the maze.
Anyway, the arrows are printed in such a way that they bulge slightly from the wall. If you feel around, you’ll feel an arrow, and it points you in the direction you need to go. It’s also written in braille. Because they’re all fluent in braille now. Especially Jonathan Rhine.
Paxton reaches the wall first, and after feeling around with the hand that isn’t bandaged, he finds the bulge.
Meanwhile, Joe, who’s caught up to the shenanigans, also feels around for the bulge. However, his hand actually finds a far different bulge. That of the Goblin King, King Blueberry.
Richard Parker: I wish viewers knew how much I’m facepalming right now, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Uh, no comment.
Blueberry reacts as though he’s being attacked by a swarm of bees. He jumps back, and throws El Hijo del Super Cool Guy at Joe as though he would be protected by a mannequin.
If you’ve seen any of the previous four rounds of this, you should know exactly what happens next.
Joe doesn’t realize what’s about to happen until he feels El Hijo del Super Cool Guy’s legs around his head. And that’s when he has a dawning, horrible realization.
Joe Fontaine: N-no…
There is a Wilhelm scream.
And then there is silence.
Nick Stuart: A Canadian Destroyer on Joe Fontaine! He’s down already! It’s not even a minute into the contest!
Richard Parker: …The only thing I can’t believe is how often that keeps happening to that dude.
Paxton Ray, who now knows which way to go, stops and looks around, evidently confused on what he just heard. Then he shrugs his shoulders and moves on. King Blueberry pauses to adjust his bulge, then finds the bulge on the wall, and follows Paxton.
He pointedly does not take El Hijo del Super Cool Guy with him, because we’re not sure he even knows where he is after what just happened.
So, let’s check in on Sid, Jon, and the Novas.
The Novas are very in sync, moving in a synchronized way down the halls. Almost as though they’re the same dude, just one is from the future. Sid is far less coordinated, but he is a large and meaty boy. And Rhine… well, Rhine’s moving as though he’s checked out, only half-heartedly moving forward while barely keeping a hand at the wall to make sure he’s going the right way.
They reach the next intersection.
The Novas find the arrow, and move in the correct direction. Sid… does not. He moves in the not-correct direction, which is straight ahead, towards a dead end that’s just out of view of the camera. Rhine ends up following the Novas without even thinking about it. Perhaps he could follow their scent. What do the Novas smell like? Probably cheese and old man farts.
Richard Parker: I think Mr. Powerbomb, Esquire is going in the wrong direction.
Nick Stuart: And with his partner down on the other side of the maze, it’s not looking good for the Winds of Change!
We cut back over to Blueberry and Paxton, who are now the only two making any progress on their side of the maze. Paxton reaches the next intersection first, but that’s when King Blueberry makes the bold play of swinging at him. After all, the man’s pretty certain his tag team partner isn’t made from flesh and blood, so it’s easier for him to attack someone than it would be for Paxton, who might run the risk of attacking his partner.
Blueberry peppers the taller Paxton with rights and lefts, only realizing just as he starts punching that he’s dealing with the much taller Paxton when he aims a punch for Paxton’s face and hits him in the chest instead, expecting a shorter man. Not sure why he thought that when there’s a one out of three chance he was going to pick a fight with a large meaty boy, but Paxton responds by slugging him once.
Don’t worry. The Goblin King of Blueberries isn’t going to die so easily.
He’s just going to drop like a sack of bricks and curl up into a fetal position.
Paxton throws a few more punches at the air, but realizes that he’s hitting nothing and isn’t being hit any more. So he finds the wall and after a few moments, he remembers which way he’s going and continues on. A few moments later, King Blueberry gets up holding his jaw, and manages to follow after him.
Richard Parker: On my shortlist of people to start a fist fight with, Paxton Ray’s name would be in an international zip code, far away from my list.
Nick Stuart: Who is on your list?
Richard Parker: Uh… I might’ve just written the name “Dusk” fourteen times in a row. Well, okay, I started the list with Simon Tillier, and then it kinda got out of hand. Oh, and I put Mr. Darby in there somewhere, too. Probably under the eighth Dusk.
We cut back to Sid Phillips, as he passes by the intersection that he’d originally walked by earlier to go the wrong direction. After a moment, he starts walking the wrong way again, heading back towards the way everyone came from. In other words, he’s heading back towards the entrance.
He’s lost, and he has nothing to powerbomb. Sad.
We cut to another intersection, this time with the Novas and Jonathan Rhine. Future Nova ends up going in the wrong direction, leaving Present Nova and Rhine alone together.
We cut to an empty intersection. We’re not sure why we’re there. The shot lingers for a few moments, before Joe Fontaine appears. He’s crawling on the ground on his hands and knees at one end of the corridor. He doesn’t quite clear the corner before he suddenly stops. Joe gets a terrified look on his face.
Joe Fontaine: No… NO! NOOO!
And then suddenly, he is yanked violently back behind the corner.
There is a scream. To the untrained ear, it sounds like a little girl’s scream. It is not.
Moments later, a figure is thrown from behind that corner. That figure is rigid, and made of plastic and fiberglass. Because it’s a mannequin. You know which one it is. It lies there for a few agonizing moments, a dead silence washing over the scene.
Then the feed goes static for a moment.
When it comes back, El Hijo del Super Cool Guy is standing, as still as a night sky that just got caught jerkin’ it by its disappointed mother sky. A single shoe is behind him, one of the ones that Joe had been wearing, only there’s an unknown red substance pooled underneath it. The body is facing the wall to the left. The head, unerringly, is facing the camera.
Richard Parker: What the…
We cut back to an empty corridor. A dead end. Why do we have a camera there? Don’t ask too many questions. We see one of the Novas walking by on one end of the hallway. The shot lingers there for a moment.
Then a dark figure enters the shot. The distance between the camera and the figure is such that the only thing you can tell for certain is that they’re wearing black. Covered in it. Molded by it. You can’t tell if the figure is male or female. The figure’s movements are labored, stopping and starting its movement at random intervals.
The feed distorts, jumping from various scenes in the maze. Present Nova is still making progress down the maze, with Jonathan Rhine still following him. Sid Phillips is still incredibly lost, and is pacing around as though he doesn’t know what to do with himself over this fact. When we come back to the empty corridor, something covered in black is dragged along the ground around the corner and out of sight. It disappears so fast that no one knows what the hell it was.
Nick Stuart: Uh… sorry, folks, we weren’t expecting these, um… technical difficulties.
Richard Parker: “Technical difficulties!?”
We cut away from that corridor, and return to the corridor where El Hijo del Super Cool Guy was last seen. He is now much closer to the static camera. It’s a distance of only a first down. This time, the body is facing away from the camera, back down the hall. But the head… is still facing the camera.
Then the feed distorts again, and we see another corridor. Paxton Ray and King Blueberry are both headed in the same direction, their hands against the walls as they move forward. They move towards the camera, where the sign indicating where they go next is printed. Behind them, stumbling past the corridor and going in the wrong direction, is Sid Phillips. We’re not sure how he got there. We’re pretty sure he doesn’t, either.
Once Paxton and Blueberry disappear into the camera’s blind spot, the scene cuts away, and we see a hulking figure walking down a corridor, away from the camera. The figure wears a cape of black crow feathers, a hood covering the back of its head, save for two large bull horns coming out of the sides. It drags along what can only be described as a giant axe, only the axe heads are actually two steel chairs tied to the end of a long handle.
The figure stops.
Then it turns to the camera.
The inert face of a bull can be seen peeking over its shoulder. Steam billows out from its nostrils. A single red eye glows. Then a sound like a scream, a moo, and the roar of a freight train at the same time emanates from it, shaking the camera until there’s nothing but static.
Richard Parker: Was that a damn minotaur?
Nick Stuart: Don’t worry about it.
Richard Parker: I AM WORRYING A LOT ABOUT IT.
When the feed starts back up again, we see Present Nova and Jonathan Rhine making more progress through the corridors. Then Nova pauses, which causes Rhine to bump into him.
Nova whirls around with his fist raised, but then he hesitates for a moment. Then he asks him a one word question.
Jonathan Rhine: …Huh?
Nova hauls off and punches Rhine right in the face. Rhine drops to the ground, covering his head, and Nova continues onward.
Nick Stuart: What was that about?
Richard Parker: Haven’t you ever heard of a safe word?
Nick Stuart: Not in that context, no.
We cut to Sid Phillips.
He’s still lost. He hasn’t powerbombed anyone since he entered the maze, and he’s walking around in a dazed stagger, as though not being able to powerbomb anyone or anything in this maze has actually taken away much of his power. The camera cuts to one of the entrances into the maze, where Sid emerges. Upon realizing he’s no longer in the cramped corridors, he raises his arms into the air in triumph. He made it.
That’s when someone informs him that he’s back at the start.
Sid Phillips: FU—
We smash cut to an empty corridor. It’s covered in red stuff, and it’s not the red and yellow paint job. This is more of a crimson color. Standing in the middle of this red stuff is El Hijo del Super Cool Guy. A shimmering green necktie is tied around his head like a bandana. It’s above his blindfold. Also, his body is pointed directly towards the camera, but his head is turned 180 degrees away.
Then slowly, the head turns.
On its own.
Before the mannequin’s head can turn all the way around, there’s static, and then it disappears completely from view. Only the stains of crimson remain.
The feed skips around to various points of the maze. A shot of a long corridor, with two feet barely sticking out from around a corner. One of the feet is missing a shoe. The way the pants shimmer make it unmistakable that this is Joe Fontaine.
Then the feed cuts to a corner, where the dark figure that’d been dragging around an unidentified mass is now no longer dragging an unidentified mass. In fact, this is the first time we’d gotten a good look at him, and… well. He’s familiar.
Richard Parker: Nick, is that Garbage Bag Johnny?
Nick Stuart: Now that you mention it, yeah.
Richard Parker: …When did he get into the maze?
Nick Stuart: There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked here, but that’s certainly one of them.
Richard Parker: So, you don’t know, then.
Nick Stuart: Not a clue.
At some point, Johnny had put on a blindfold, but he’s walking with a strange confidence. As though he just got away with something very ridiculous that he’s not telling anyone about.
We cut away to another intersection, this time a T-junction viewed from above. On one end, Nova walks into view. And then from the opposite end, Future Nova walks up. Both of them bump chests, then take one step back and raise their fists, ready for fisticuffs.
Future Nova: Rutabega?
Future Nova: Hey, man! Dab me up.
The two Novas relax their stances and manage instead to clasp hands, Predator-style. The pair figure out which way to go and leave in the direction that neither of them had come from.
We cut back to a single shot, and OH JESUS GOD.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy’s face is mere inches from the camera. A red substance seems to be leaking out from behind his blindfold, casting what can be seen of his face with tears of blood. His vampire fangs are even more prominent as the light has disappeared behind the mannequin’s head, casting his face in shadow and crimson. His eyes, if he had them and they could even be seen, cast a void on the television screen. This is what the abyss looks like when it gazes back unto you. This is the precipice of insanity. Just a little push, and you go right over.
A droning sound intensifies as El Hijo del Super Cool Guy stares into your soul. The screen shakes, as though vibrating. Is that the camera? Or is that EHDSCG? And is he getting… closer?
The scene is suddenly garbled up. The mannequin is shown to be upside down. Then it appears many yards away, standing over a fallen form. Then you see a hulking figure walk onto the scene, dragging an axe made of steel chairs behind it. It looks down at the fallen form, and then raises its axe high over its head.
Then the camera cuts to static.
Nick Stuart: I… what?
Richard Parker: …I’m… even I’m at a loss…
When we get the camera feed again, we see Sid Phillips still wandering around lost. He rounds a corner, and once again finds himself outside of the maze again! He did it! He made it!
…he makes it back to the entrance, and he is once again informed that he has to go back into the maze and do it right.
Sid Phillips: GOD DAMMIT!
He kicks at the air, and makes a motion like he’s powerbombing the very air itself. When he’s done powerbombing the atmosphere, he turns on his heel and walks right back into the maze again.
We cut to… the exit.
At this point, several of the participants can be seen making their way out. The first to appear is the pair of Paxton Ray and King Blueberry. At this point, Paxton and Blueberry are very aware of each other, and have been brawling off-and-on for a spell. It has not gone well for Jared the Goblin King however. I mean, his wig is misaligned. And that’s terrible.
As they continue fighting, who should walk in but both of the Novas?
Nova and his future self walk along the walls, close to making it to the red line that marked the finish line of the maze. However, they both bump into King Blueberry and Paxton Ray, and who turn and start punching them instead. It turns into a blind melee. Punches are being thrown without regard of where they might land. Future Nova throws a kick that hits nothing but air. Blueberry accidentally headbutts Future Nova while trying to avoid a punch that he didn’t even know was coming. Paxton covers up as Present Nova tries to pummel him.
And then, who should show up but Garbage Bag Johnny?
He emerges down the corridor in a light jog. Who knows how many times he ran into a wall doing this? We can amuse ourselves with that guessing game later. GBJ enters the fray by running into the mass of bodies in front of him. Realizing that there are in fact people in front of him, Johnny takes a few steps back and leaps into everyone, bowling everyone over.
We cut back inside the maze, where Jonathan Rhine is simply sitting there.
Off in the distance just to Rhine’s right, the minotaur stalks past. It is now carrying two things. One is its chair-axe. The other can only be described as a body. It stops as it walks by the corridor, casting a glance at Rhine. It grunts. It considers. And then it continues on its way.
We cut back to the fracas near the exit to the maze. All five men – Nova, Future Nova, Garbage Bag Johnny, Paxton Ray, and King Blueberry – are crawling. Some are crawling in the wrong direction. That’s both of the Novas. Some are having issue crawling because they’d taken a lot of damage. That’s Blueberry and Paxton. And then there’s one who has his blind eyes on the prize.
The most coveted prize of all.
He manages to crawl over the top of Ray and Blueberry. Both men grab his legs, and try to keep him from making it any further. There’s a struggle, as the three representatives of their teams jockey for position near the finish line. It could be any of the three.
Wait, where’s the fourth team?
The camera cuts to Sid Phillips.
He’s standing outside the maze, his hands on his hips, looking up at the ceiling with blindfolded eyes.
He knows he’s made it to the entrance again.
Sid Phillips: HOW DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING!?
We cut back inside the maze.
Joe Fontaine lies on the ground in a fetal position, unmoving but stained in a red substance. Standing over him, motionless and unceasingly gazing down at him with blindfolded eyes, is a mannequin. A droning sound can be heard as the mannequin gives off a menacing aura.
We cut back to the scrum at the exits. Johnny is being pulled back more and more by the unlikely team of Paxton Ray and King Blueberry. Things are looking dire for him.
That’s when Johnny shouts a battle cry, one that catches the attention of both of the Novas.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Rutabega!
The Novas nod. They know.
The Novas: (in unison) Gazebo!
The Novas turn away from whatever direction they had been walking, and rush in the direction of Johnny’s voice. By this point, Blueberry has managed to crawl up further along Johnny’s body, grabbing him in a waistlock. This frees up Johnny’s other leg to try kicking Paxton off. There’s a lot of fumbling arms, as the Novas find Johnny and pull him along…
…past the finish line.
Nick Stuart: The Garbage Bag Johnny and Nova team have crossed the finish line first! They’ve won the contest!
As the Novas pull Johnny across, they also pull King Blueberry past the finish line.
Richard Parker: Oh. Good. King Blueberry made it, too. Joy.
Behind them, Paxton Ray crosses the finish line on his own.
Nick Stuart: And Paxton Ray crossing the finish line means that Fighting for Nora has also advanced! That means that the Winds of Change, unfortunately, have been eliminated from Survivor! We’re down to three teams!
Richard Parker: Uh, I think we need to muster a search party for Jonathan Rhine and Joe Fontaine, though. Probably Sid Phillips, too. Do you think the MGM Grand has an anti-minotaur SWAT team? Just asking for a friend.
The scene cuts away from Johnny and the Novas raising their arms in celebration, shouting something about a Buick.
And, mercifully, ReVival moves along.