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"Survivor: Caramoan" recap: Painful television to watch

It was painful television to watch Wednesday as a reality television star had a mental implosion on "Survivor: Caramoan."

If you, like me, have had experience with a friend or family member who has schizophrenia, then you were familiar with all the hallmarks exhibited by Brandon Hantz, a 21-year-old chemical disposal worker from Katy, Texas.

The paranoia, the ranting, the confused thinking, self-destructive behavior and most of all the unbridled, seething rage. It was all on display Wednesday from Brandon in week five of this 26th edition of "Survivor."

It's been such a painful issue in my family that I barely have the heart to write a cute review about behind-the-scenes antics of the two competing tribes.

The episode started with Brandon berating himself for not being at home with his wife and "precious babies." He tells the tribe to vote him out the next time they go to tribal council. Not that that's been a problem, the favorites tribe keeps winning immunity challenges.

"Clearly he's spinning out of control,'' said Corinne, a clinical consultant from Los Angeles.

Next morning, Brandon has a change of heart and wants to stay. This seems to be a trend this season, with first Shamar, and then Brandon threatening to leave the game relatively early in the competition.

Next, Brandon seemed annoyed that Phillip, the eccentric software exec from California, was able to win the reward challenge for the favorites tribe. He gets into an extended flame war with Phillip, telling him that everyone hates Phillip's penchant for giving his tribe mates spy code names.

"Brandon finally snapped. Phillip didn't do anything out of the ordinary but he caught Brandon in one of his downward swings," said Malcolm.

Phillip, who is a tad deluded himself, then gets high-handed with Brandon about not forgetting that Phillip has promised to take him farther in the game than his previous season.

That approach doesn't play well with Brandon.

I could go on about Brandon's descent from there -- he takes the tribes' rice and beans and dumps them in the sand, for one thing. But the thought of trying to write a blow-by-blow description of a disturbed person's rationale is making me crazy -- and angry.

So let's flash forward to the two tribes set to compete in some typically convoluted immunity challenge. And instead, the favorites tribe tells host Jeff Probst that they're forfeiting the challenge so they can get rid of Brandon.

So we have the spectacle of Probst kneading Brandon's shoulders as he extracts a promise from Brandon not to get physically aggressive with any of the other tribe members amid more threats from Brandon against Phillip.

Probst holds the tribal council vote right there on the playing field, and the favorites members unanimously vote Brandon off their tribe.

Was it good television? Not in my book. The word exploitative comes to mind. I have to confess I didn't see the previous season where Brandon competed, so I don't know how to gauge this level of crazy from his earlier appearance.

"My exit was nice. It was glorious," said Brandon as the credits rolled. "I showed them, hey, this guy is not going to just keel over and die. If I'm going down in a battle, I'm gonna throw rocks. In my army, I'm gonna go out Braveheart-style. I don't regret none of it. Because I proved my point. I was the author of my elimination."

What's your take on the new season? Post your comment below and then check out the coverage at our sister site, where you can get all the inside scoop on the "Survivor" home page. And check out their post-show coverage each week.

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