Pharoah_kidnation_240Well, as of Wednesday (Oct. 31) night’s episode, we’ve scraped the bottom of the Gold Star barrel on Kid Nation.

[I kid you not… Spoilers coming. Get it? KID? Sigh…]

In previous weeks, we celebrated Sophia’s sardonic leadership, Greg’s bullying labor, Michael’s unifying spirit, Morgan’s matronly understanding, Mallory’s 9th birthday and DK’s uplifting popularity (and threats to go home). Now what? Is it time to salute Jared’s prankster spirit, Alex’s preternatural wisdom or Olive’s remarkable ability to impersonate a 40-something school marm?


Our motley Gold Star candidates:

Pharaoh — Who? Apparently lazy in the early weeks, but now a dedicated worker for the Yellow Team. In fact, he may be the Yellow Team’s hardest worker not named Zach. He was also raised by a economically challenged single mother, which means he needs the Gold Star more than anybody else. We know the latter fact because it comes up two different times in the episode.

Divad — Who? Remember the pre-show controversy about the girl whose face was splattered with hot oil? That was Divad! And it happened this week. At the time, nobody mentioned that the scalding occurred when one of the kids was attempting to cool up food from the town’s communal supply to sell for profit, maybe we would have been a wee bit less sympathetic. Fortunately, she looked mostly unharmed. An entrepreneur, Divad is selling apples on sticks for five cents a pop to save other kids the challenge of opening a can. Her profit? 100 percent. Nice. She insists, though, "I don’t want to be just ‘The Potato Girl.’ I want to be ‘The Kind Potato Girl.’" When it comes time to nominate people for the Gold Star, Divad nominates herself, makes a sign for her cause and walks through the line handing out snacks.

Nathan_kidnation_240Nathan — Who? Pale, nervous-looking a home schooled, Nathan can’t stop working. It’s a compulsion. Even when the other kids are playing, Nathan keeps doing dishes, doing laundry (often late into the night) and washing dishes. He makes everything take extra long, because he’s clearly OCD. At the beginning of the episode, Greg picked on Nathan (as he’s presumably done with all of the Nathans he’s ever met), but by the end of the episode, Greg actually apologized and was the one to nominate him for the Gold Star. Even though the show is titled Kid Nation, several people independently observe that Nathan doesn’t know how to be a kid.

If you’re saying "Who? Who? Who?" that’s what we call horrid editing, when the weekly $20,000 prize comes down to three people we’ve barely glimpsed previously.

The result — There’s a difference between Greg working ridiculously hard and admitting he’s doing it for the Gold Star and Divad going around campaigning relentlessly for the Gold Star and occasionally doing work for the honor. And since when is making snacks for money the kind of labor that gets rewarded with a Gold Star? In that situation, your reward is whatever profit you make, right? In any case, Nathan gets the award. After last week’s tear-filled coronation for DK, it was funny to see how muted tonight’s ceremony was. There were looks of confusion all around.

Congrats to Nathan, who says his mother gives him gold stars (probably of the sticky variety) all the time.

Other thoughts on the episode:

  • Another week with a well-telegraphed Showdown reward. One minute everybody is complaining about the quality of the washing facilities in Bonanza City and the next minute that host guy is offering two reward choices — a new set of washing machines, costing an absurdly disproportionate 20 cents per load, or a sturdier pioneer hand-washing system and one new outfit (jeans, t-shirts and snazzy color-coordinated plaid tops) per kid. It was yet another easy choice — free washing and new clothes rule.
  • No Taylor, no drama. How sad is that? If the little brat doesn’t do her bratty little things, the entire series suffers. This week, beyond one or two little comments (she thought the new duds were "cute"), she disappeared, proving neither industrious nor conspicuously lazy.
  • Jared_kidnation_240_2What a very odd beginning for the episode, with Jared fighting to take down Divad’s shopping monopoly by any means necessary. I thought that this week was going to be all about monopolies and anti-trust legislation, with Jared serving as Bonanza City’s own Curt Flood or else attempting to pass his own Taft-Hartley Act. Instead, he destroyed Divad’s business, apologized and then started a better business — magnifying glass-burnt personalized necklaces. In the process, he bought a pump coat, a pimp hat and a pimp candy stick. Jared’s super. [Side note: Was the girl who told Jared that the government never had any problems with Bill Gates’ business dealings the same girl who said that Zach needed to learn that sometimes you don’t have to be smart to be a leader, just like George W. Bush? If so, she’s got some work to do on current events.]
  • Best moment of the episode by far: Sophia throwing rotting vegetables, oatmeal and beans at the bottom of a deep pot, dropping 50 cents at the bottom, putting the pot in the middle of the road and then starting a mad scuffle over the nasty money. "People never fail to entertain me," Sophia observed. "They do the darnedest things." Why can’t they just give Sophia a second Gold Star?
  • Second best moment of the episode: The town council advocates Communism! After finding 375 nickels in the Bonanza mines, they opt to use the money to buy an assortment of goods for the overall communal use. Their overall theory was that given the money to use for themselves, the kids would waste it on soda and candy. They determined that the government would make better decisions for the greater good. Zach stopped short of quoting Marx, but he said that while democracy was fine, a council of learned citizens would make better decisions. It didn’t work so well when Lisa Simpson, Comic Book Guy, Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner Lindsay Nagel and the rest of Mensa attempted to run Springfield in "They Saved Lisa’s Brain."

    Thoughts on the episode?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg