I’ve been watching Survivor for a long time, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen as much voting as we did last night. Not even Pearl Islands and its Outcast vote-in could touch this episode. In fact, for all you keeping track, the entire second half of the episode took place at Tribal Council. We saw seven (yes, seven) different names pop up on the parchment over the course of FOUR different votes. I mean honestly, this recap could just wind up being a large statistical table of Survivor election results. But what would be the fun in that?We knew something was up when the episode began not with the usual lame attempts by Ulong to buck up, but with night vision shots of Koror. Wow. I didn’t even know things happened at night at Koror. All our night vision is at Ulong: Kim and Jeff kissing, Jeff breaking his ankle, Ashlee sleeping alone, James muttering about seshiality. But lo! Tonight things stirred at Koror. Well, maybe “stirred” is an overstatement. Gregg and Jen have apparently joined the coupling ranks of Kim and Jeff (Keff) and Survivor Vanuatu’s Julie and Jeff Probst (Jelie. Er, maybe the other way around. Jeff. No, that’s no good. Juff? Julf? Jeflie? Yes, Jeflie!). Anyway, Gregg and Jen — heretofore known as Gren or Jegg — quietly fooled around in the corner of the shelter, subtly annoying everyone around them. Coby observed that people have all paired up. We then cut to a shot of Caryn and Janu lying next to each other on the floor. Hold the presses! Caryn and Janu are a couple? That’s a whole lot of lankiness.
After the Gregg and Jen complaining was over, it was time to move on to Willard who was sleeping in the hammock. For some reason, this beckoned the use of the Survivor stupid music (the tom toms, if you will). Apparently the hammock is for idiots. Anyway, as the tribe went beddy bye, they all implored Willard to keep an eye on the fire. Well, it wasn’t so much that they “implored” him as they commanded him. “Watch the fire Willard!” they squawked before retiring for the evening.
Well, if you thought Willard was going to watch that fire, you had another thing coming. You don’t just boss around a card carrying member of the Ed Bradley/Morgan Freeman earring club (Harrison Ford really wants to join, but, well, he’s just too white). Willard simply went to sleep, leaving all fire duties to good ole Tom. Needless to say, the fireman was not happy. Hey, he fights fires. He doesn’t nurture them.
Meanwhile, Ulong, a.k.a. the Washington Generals of Survivor, managed to add further embarrassment to their tribe legacy by getting lost in the jungle during a tropical storm. Their goal was to retreat to the caves and seek shelter from the torrential downpours, but instead of finding sweet relief from their waterlogged beach, the hapless group wandered around in circles for over an hour. It was kind of like Marco Polo, except instead of a pool, it was a jungle. And instead of fun, it was pathetic. Still, Bobby Jon insisted that the caves were nearby. Yes, they were just around the river bend, as Pocahantas might say. Alas, this very Lost-like excursion met with failure, and the team sullenly returned to its leaky shelter, sadly welcoming a potential pneumonia. James meanwhile dismissed Angie for wishing to end the stupid walkabout after half an hour of blind wandering. “She’s one of those folks who says ‘I can’t do this!’” he said. Yes, tenacity just isn’t in her spirit. Like the time she powered the tribe through that balance beam reward challenge. Or that time last week when she won two sumo matches (as opposed to James’ record of zero). Or that challenge when she dunked Gregg in the water about ten times. Yeah, she just quits so easily.
Anyway, the morning eventually came around, and a quick shot of a rainbow led us to believe that all would be well. Instead, the Ulongians woke up cranky, deflated, and depressed. Hey guys. I have an idea. Now that it’s light, why don’t you make a path to the caves. I know it’s a crazy idea, but just trust me. I think it might come in handy for those dark, rainy nights when you’re saying to yourself “I wish we had a path to the caves.”
Over at Koror, the nature shots indicated that bad things might be a-coming. We watched in Mark Burnett-induced awe as a school of fish literally jumped out of the water and birds scattered from the surf. Soon enough, a small shark emerged in the waves and attacked some unseen prey. Sadly, Ian was not present to throw a stick lightly in the shark’s general vicinity.
After this naturegasm, there was more discussion about Willard’s hatred of fire. Maybe he’s Frankenstein’s monster? I think we can all imagine Willard shouting “Fire, bad! Fire, bad! Smooth Jazz, good! So very very good!” Tom bashed Willard a little more and then we were off to our reward challenge. This was a fun one. I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty, but basically, players had to take a pulley-tugged raft out to a buoy and then dive underwater and retrieve sake bottles. First team with six bottles would win. Here’s where it got interesting. The reward was a beef stew meal, but here’s the catch. The winning tribe would eat the meal at Tribal Council. Here’s the next catch. Both tribes would be going to Tribal Council. The winners of this challenge would vote of someone and then move to the jury bench and dine while the next tribe dealt with their Tribal Council (and watched the food hungrily). So sadistic. So wonderful.
The challenge moved along fairly uneventfully at first. There was lots of rope pulling, underwater diving, and Janu looking like an alienish walking stick. I personally enjoyed watching the survivors take their little raft trip out to the buoy. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because secretly I wish I were tugged around on a platform all day too. Anyway, the teams were fairly neck and neck, but then suddenly there was “an incident.” Yes, silent, strong Ibrehem floated out to the buoy and became the latest person to perpetuate reality TV’s love for portraying black men as less than stellar swimmers. Yes, Ibrehem joined the ranks of Osten (Survivor: Pearl Islands), Karamo (RW Philly), Jacquese (RW San Diego) and several others as he attempted three times to retrieve a sake bottle, to no avail. Not wanting to waste any more time, Ibrehem boarded the raft and sailed back to the base, causing a sympathetic Stephenie to balk, “What the hell?” Probst meanwhile simply rolled his eyes and gave his usual “Pussy…” glare. And with that, Ulong fell significantly behind Koror, ultimately losing the challenge.
Later Ian celebrated the victory by announcing that there would be “a party in my mouth,” opening the door for many double entendres and dirty Ian/Tom jokes. Coby, the apparent voice of reason for Koror, then made a friendly plea that the tribe not rub their victory in Ulong’s face. “Can we be nice and not giggle?” he asked. Listen Coby. You’re dealing with reality stars. They’d have an easier time grasping the principles of doctorate level quantum physics before they’d understand the concept of unselfish sportsmanship.
Over at Ulong, the tribe sulked around and sneered at Ibrehem who quietly (as always) wandered off to the beach. The big man did socialize briefly, mumbling that it was his fault that they lost the challenge. Still, he knew that he’d probably have to make his case at Tribal Council; so he shut up, lest he go over his three sentence quota for the episode.
Back at Koror, the lynch was heading towards Willard. Wow, unintended racial implications in saying that. Apologies. Still, with Ibrehem and Willard most likely on the chopping block, I couldn’t help notice that this was not a good day to be a black man on Survivor. Luckily, Willard had an ally in Coby who joined America by saying how much he couldn’t stand Katie. His one goal, he said, was to make it farther than Katie. After all, she doesn’t do anything. I’d beg to differ on that last point though. Katie is very good at crashing into things when swinging on vines. That comic relief alone should count for something.
Then things suddenly got interesting… kind of. Gregg pulled Coby aside and said that Ian and Tom’s relationship was growing too tight. After they picked off Willard and Caryn, Gregg and Jen planned to ally up with Janu and Coby and take out Tom, then Ian (ahem, we’ll see how well this plan works after the merge). So finally, after a few weeks of enjoyable Ulong bleeding, we finally see some scheming at Koror. It wasn’t much, but hey, I appreciated it.
Anyway, Koror finally headed up to Tribal Council, and I couldn’t help noticing that Willard a) did not even try to stay in the game; and b) Burnett didn’t even try to misdirect us. Guess there wasn’t enough time in the episode. Still, could they even attempt to infuse some tension in this installment? We’ve got half an hour left, and it’s plainly obvious that Willard and Ibrehem are going home. Man, this is going to suck.
Or will it?
Probst seemed absolutely delighted to have a new tribe at Council, if only to break in a new set of cheery faces with snotty comments. Questioning Gregg about his relationship with Jen, Jeff asked if people were forming alliances. Gregg pointed out that Tom and Ian were a duo, as were Coby and Janu and Caryn and Willard. As for Katie? She’s “spreading the wealth.” Ah yes. Beautiful euphemism for “No one likes her.” For the record, as long as I’ve been mashing up names like crazy today, I’d like to say that Coby and Janu provide a wealth of great names: Cobu, Jaby, Canu, Joby, Conu, Jany, Jacoby, Cobanu. I could go on and on.
Anyway, it came time to vote. Everyone wrote down Willard, but Katie was the only brat to say “You’re crabby and you’re bitter. Bye.” Wow, how very crabby and bitter of you, Katie. She then grabbed a vine and swung into a wall. As predicted, the old man received the ouster, and oddly enough, Tom wrote down “√Willard”. Ah, a mathematical puzzle. According to my rudimentary arithmetical skills, the square root of Willard is… let’s see… Ed Bradley! How’s about that?
With Willard off to visit the Early Show, Koror shuffled over to the jury section and watched the depleted Ulong tribe settle in at Tribal Council. Before the finger pointing begin though, Probst told Koror that they could dig into their beef stew. Luckily, everyone heeded Coby’s request for politeness. And by “heed”, I mean “blatantly disregarded.” Ian exclaimed “Biscuits!” and began dancing while resident tart Katie cooed, “Oh, it smells so delicious!” I wasn’t even hungry (or at Tribal Council for that matter), and I still hated them.
Anyway, down in the dumps Ulong arrived with their camp in tow, literally. They had packed up all their belongings and brought them to Tribal Council under the mistaken notion that there might be a merge. Very clever, but no. NO MERGE, Probst announced proudly. Angie meanwhile seemed on the verge of a nervous breakdown as she cried in her hands. This victory would have meant more than beef stew, she said. It would have meant a boost for team morale. Hey, you guys won two challenges. Stop complaining. Anyway, Angie went on to whine, “We really needed this.” We then cut to Ibrehem, the implication being “Thanks, IBREHEM!”
In a shaky voice, Ibrehem stated his defense, saying that people are acting like this game is all about getting beef stew. There’s more to Survivor than winning beef stew. Huh? Really? I thought this was the final episode. Thank goodness. It didn’t feel very climactic. Anyway, Ibrehem went on to say that the overall performance should be judged, not just his most recent screw up. Surely James would empathize, after all, just last week he cost Ulong immunity by losing a wrestling match to Coby. Oh wait. I guess that’s an inconvenient fact.
Just when things were looking down for “Eeb”, Probst dropped this bombshell. Koror would be voting on who gets immunity on Ulong. Now that’s a solid twist. “Janu, you’re up first,” said Probst. Janu rose to her feet as we cut to some reaction shots. When we cut back to Janu approaching the parchment, but horror set in as we discovered the Las Vegas showgirl had turned into Coby! My God! Either she’s a shapeshifter or Janu and Coby are THE SAME PERSON! This must be stopped!
Well, actually, it was all just some sloppy editing. Regardless, Koror voted, and then the real fun began. The votes were all over the place. Everyone gets immunity! Well, maybe not. Pretty much everyone from Ulong received a vote or two (except James. No one wants to see that tight underwear around much longer, apparently), but in the end, Ibrehem of all people, won the immunity. Either Koror was won over by his defense, or they’re just a bunch of idiots. He may be quiet and gentle, but Ibrehem is a massive threat. Oh well. Just more fun for Survivor.
With immunity finally settled on, Probst ushered Koror away. Then it was time for our third vote of the night. The surprise immunity truly threw the tribe for a loop as the voting results came out messy and all over the map. Well — as “all over the map” as you can be with only four potential goners. James received one vote (oh Eeb), and the rest were split amongst Bobby Jon and Angie. So yes, there was a tie. You know what that means. Let’s roll up our sleeves and go in for Tribal Council vote #4. Keep in mind that at this point, we’d been sitting through twenty five minutes of voting. Not that I minded, but seriously, this was pretty insane.
Anyway, in the end, Angie got the axe. She tearfully handed over her yellow sheet/halter-tunic to Stephenie who asked “Are you sure?” Yeah, it’s really only a sheet of cloth. I think Angie might just be able to find another one in the real world, that is, if she wants to continue wearing Roman fashions around New Orleans. I was sort of sad to see Angie go. Then again, I would have been sad to see any of Ulong go. I like all these characters. That’s always the mark of a good season.
What did you think about this episode?