Survivor Game Changers hype man preview: Tony Vlachos

Admit it, you’ve been waiting for this one. But first, a brief warning: if you haven’t had enough profanity in your diet today, you’re about to get your fill. Because I’m here to preach about Tony Motherfuckin’ Vlachos! GET HYPE, Y’ALL! 

In hip-hop music, a hype man supports the rappers with exclamations and interjections and attempts to increase the audience’s excitement. For Survivor: Game Changers, I’ll once again be serving as hype man for a few select players in order to help get you excited about both the player and the season. And now it is time for us all to rejoin #TeamTV.

Watching Tony’s game in Cagayan was like looking at a Picasso painting for the first time and saying, “Why does her face look all fucking weird like that?” Because it’s a piece of motherfucking art, fool. You weren’t appreciating it because you were looking at it the wrong way. But you get it now, right? If you don’t, then sit the fuck down- it’s time for your art appreciation class.

I mean, I get why you asked the question. Art is fucking weird.

As it was being created, I looked at Tony’s masterpiece the wrong way, too. After the introduction videos and the season premiere, I was thinking, “Look at this clown-ass motherfucker, building crazy spy shacks, lying about being a cop, hashtagging #TeamTV on all his tweets, and saying he’s gonna lie, cheat, and steal. They’ll boot his ass as soon as they can’t put up with him anymore. I’ve seen this story before.” Andy even gave Tony a zero percent chance of winning after the first episode.

Here’s what Tony did over the next few episodes:

  • He lied to Sarah about everything- even shit he didn’t need to- and she eventually ended up on his side.
  • He gave confessionals where he was proclaiming his love for idols and kissing clues.
  • He made Merriam-Webster update the dictionary.

Then, after his tribe won a reward challenge, Tony got to go to the other tribe’s beach to steal some items. Oh, you thought thievery would be enough for Tony? The motherfucker told you he came to lie, cheat, and steal! He was not going to be denied two-thirds of his fun!

After stealing their shit, Tony told the other tribe that he had a clue to the immunity idol and was going to give it to Jeremiah. Except that it was total bullshit. What he actually gave Jeremiah was a clue to the idol hidden at Tony’s camp. Cold.

A week later he’d already forgotten Jeremiah’s name. Ruthless.

There are very few subtle moments with Tony, because the man is about as subtle as a loud fart in a quiet elevator. But watch Tony’s reaction when his side wins the merge vote. While Spencer and Tasha are looking around for answers and trying to piece together what just went wrong, Tony can’t resist imitating them.

But for those of us that write and podcast about Survivor, the real fun began when Tony flipped on his “Top five, baby!” alliance and voted out LJ. All the Survivor podcasts and bloggers were just clowning Tony: “Villain edit!”, “He can’t possibly win now, too over the top negative!”, “This is just Russell Hantz all over again!” The only ones that weren’t hating on him were the ones that pretend to love every Survivor just to land interviews later. (You know the ones.)

Stephen Fishbach was so mortified that Tony had turned on a loyal ally that it started a fantastic Twitter beef where Tony diagnosed Stephen’s problem with analyzing Tony’s game: Fishbach couldn’t see through his shit-covered glasses. But one podcast was smart enough to say, “Hold the fuck up. Tony may be crazy, but he’s not stupid (even though we may have once thought that he was stupid). That LJ move is kinda brilliant in a get-before-you-get-got way.” (Spoiler: It was us.)

Our glasses are 100% feces-free!

That’s when our Twitter DMs lit up. It was Tony, letting us know that we’d nailed his reasoning for the LJ vote. And it’s just walls of text. Textual diarrhea. Tony writes like G.R.R. Martin describes feasts- except that it’s thrilling and amazing and you don’t skip a single word.

Before we get back into Tony’s masterpiece of a game, let’s hit pause on this shit for a second to remember Tony on Twitter (because, for reasons I’ll get into in a bit, you can’t go back and look see what it was like). For a taste of the Tony social media experience, witness Tony’s Fireside Chats, brought to you by Spencer:

Of course, when Tony found out Spencer was sharing his texts on Twitter, Tony decided to lace every future text to Spencer with random profanity. Because there is no game that Tony Vlachos doesn’t win.

But enough with this sideshow shit, let’s get back to (dragon fucker) in-game Tony. From the LJ vote on, he spent the rest of the game flipping back and forth on his alliance. You thought flying under the radar was a good strategy? Tony’s strategy was to wear bright colors and yell “Look out, motherfuckers! INCOMING!” while sprinting straight towards the radar. Tony doesn’t give a fuck about the radar- the man spoke llama to a grown ass woman! (It’s been a clip at the end of our podcast ever since.)

After the season, he gave us an interview. I’ve never talked less on a podcast, and I loved every second of it. He claimed he slept for 2-3 hours a night, which sounded insane. But multiple sources verified this claim, then added that Tony would run off in the middle of the night to talk to his fucking immunity idols. His social game was talking to inanimate objects! He chose to talk to them instead of, say, Morgan- the only inanimate object in Cagayan that actually had a vote at final tribal council.

But since he got his million (I’m sorry, his $500k- fucking New Jersey taxes, amirite?), Tony hasn’t talked much about Survivor– except when he watched Cambodia just so he could taunt Spencer every time the Young Lad fucked up. In fact, in preparation for his season, Tony deleted all of his tweets. Why, you ask? He told Wigler in a preseason interview:

Tony Vlachos (Cagayan): Everybody knows my game. I’m sure when they heard my name in the mix, they went and they researched and listened to my podcasts and know about what I used to do at night while people were sleeping. They’re coming into the game knowing that. And you know what? I did the same thing. I didn’t listen to what they do and I didn’t watch their seasons — I watched mine. I know what they know about me.

And that’s not the only way he prepared for this season. Tony also told Wigler that he ate 200,000 calories to prepare for Survivor. So Tony’s pregame prep was basically throwing on the headphones and listening to himself talk for a few hours while he ate a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. The man is a fucking legend, y’all.

If I were a Survivor producer, I’d ship Tony to Fiji in a giant wooden crate filled with nothing but Red Bull. After 14 cans and 37 straight hours of being awake, Tony would just Hulk-smash his way out of the crate and unleash himself upon pre-game Ponderosa.

It sounds like that’s exactly what happened.

Andrea Boehlke (Redemption Island, Caramoan): Tony is a lunatic. He’s walking around Ponderosa with a big stick and tapping things, and it’s already getting on people’s nerves. It’s thrilling to watch.

Sierra Dawn Thomas (Worlds Apart): Tony scares the crap out of me. First and foremost he’s been scaring me back at Ponderosa, jumping out of the bushes with sticks in the middle of the night. You’ll be walking and he’ll jump out of a bush with a big stick in his hand. One of these times he’s going to get karate chopped.

See, people think Tony is fucking insane- and he is- but he’s insane *with a purpose*. Luckily, I’m the Vlachos whisperer. I’ve cracked the fucking code. You know why he’s tapping on shit with a stick around Ponderosa? So when he does it in the game- because he’s looking for idols- it won’t seem weird and out of place. You know why he’s jumping out of bushes in the middle of the night? To terrify your ass into staying in camp at night while he goes out to look for idols.

Speaking of those idols, Probst says that there might be idols hidden at tribal council this season. Has there ever been a twist more tailor-made for Tony to shine? Someone on his tribe will be yapping away in response to a Probst question and Tony will stand up, start walking around tribal whacking things with his fucking stick he’s been dragging around for days, pretend he’s trying to kill a massive bug with it, and swipe the idol while everyone wonders what the hell is happening. And when it happens I will make sweet love to my TV the way Tony does with his immunity idols, because it will be exactly the sort of greatness I hoped for when Survivor brought Tony back for this season.

“Missed you, boo.”

And we better get greatness. Because if Tony is to be believed, this might be his last shot.

Tony Vlachos (Cagayan): If I lose, I’ll never play again. But if I win! I’ll keep playing until I lose. When I lose, I’m done. Someone outwitted me and outplayed me and I’m not the legend I thought I was, so I’m done. It was a fluke that I won the first time.

Probst and company better start a Kickstarter campaign if this motherfucker doesn’t get that million, because if Survivor is going to go long enough to get us to an all-winners season, that season needs Tony. I don’t give a shit if the man is the first boot in this season; if he is, it’s only because people correctly feared that he would destroy them all. All-winners without Tony is like a Destiny’s Child concert minus Beyoncé. It’s cool that they can sing and all, but I came to see a fucking legend.

Game Changers is giving us a second opportunity to watch one of the kings of Survivor grace our TV screens. And you can gripe and snark about how some of these other clowns aren’t game changers at all- which is true- but don’t let that shit prevent you from appreciating that you’re going to get to enjoy more of the Tony experience. It’s time to hop on the bandwagon again. #TeamTV is back, motherfuckers! We are all witnesses.