Well, we’re in the final stretch of Survivor. The season that started of controversially, turned bland, and then suddenly became totally riveting is about to say farewell. I can’t say that last night’s episode was entirely unpredictable, but in a rare turn of events, I really didn’t care. I’ve grown to love the four protagonists so much that I don’t care how boring they’ve technically made the game with their dominance. Nevertheless, with their numbers down to two, the old members of Raro had to pull out all the stops this episode, but could Parvati and Adam prove they had the scheming skillz to stay in this competition? Well… um… let’s just get to the recap…This week’s show began with a rather weak “Cold Open,” as they say. We found Adam and Parvati enjoying camp life without tribal nuisance Jonathan around, but as fun as it was to not have an old guy with a feathered cap yelling at them all day, the reality dawned on them that they now had to crack the Aitu Four, a task that probably would have been less daunting had they had another number… like Jonathan.
After the opening credits, we jumped right into the reward challenge madness. Some tree mail arrived alluding to a very messy, very muddy event. Immediately, Yul feared the worst: NAKED MUD WRESTLING! Luckily, Yul homoerotic fears were unsubstantiated. The gang showed up at the challenge where they found a giant octagon filled will all sorts of mud. Jeff Probst then honed his inner Xtina and announced, “Time to get dirty!” Within seconds, he became a gay icon.
Anyway, contrary to Yul’s fears, the goal of this challenge was not to strip down and grapple with one another in muddy, orgiastic glee. No, instead everyone had to run into the mud pit, cover their body with as much mud as possible, and then race over to their designated buckets, into which they’d scrape off as much mud as possible (and no, players were not allowed to carry any mud in their hands). The person with the most mud at the end of ten minutes would win reward. And that was it. Another shockingly straightforward challenge, and not only that, it seemed like it had been pulled straight from the playbook of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Nevertheless, the winner would receive a luxury spa reward: massage, pool, laundry, food, etc. etc. Shockingly, there was no vehicular prize. That’s right. Bucking Survivor tradition, we did not have a car giveaway on the penultimate episode. Maybe there’ll be one on Sunday’s finale. We must see if the curse of the car continues!
Just a little more housekeeping: the winner of this challenge would send someone to Exile, and the people with the second and third heaviest buckets would join in the reward. I know you were dying to hear those facets of the competition.
Well, Jeff flapped his arms in that famously Probst way, and within seconds, everyone was in the mud. They were covered from top to bottom and all were using different techniques to fill up their buckets. Yul used his back, Becky used her hair, Parvati used her breasts, and Adam used his legs. But what about Ozzy? Well, he used pretty much everything, and in typical form, he quickly took a major lead in the competition, especially after he balanced a crazy amount of mud on his neck. Nevertheless, we sat through several minutes of watching the castaways scrape and pull mud into a bucket, and on more than one occasion, this scene definitely looked like a giant shit-fest, especially when the cameras zoomed in on the buckets and drops of mud plunked in.
At one point Jeff chimed in and said, “Like watching bad performance art.” Of course, the implication there was that there’s such a thing as good performance art, of which I’m still not convinced. Anyway, the ten minutes finally came to an end, and it was time to weigh the buckets. Jeff chose Ozzy’s first, on account of it being the only bucket completely full of mud. It registered a mighty forty five lbs. on the scale, thus putting Ozzy into first place.
Parvati was next, and she weighed in with a distant twenty four pounds, but for now that was good enough for second place. Adam earned a halthy twenty-two pounds for third place, and Sundra and Becky were nonentities with their twenty-pound hauls. Last was Yul, who by half a pound edged out Adam, earning himself a spot in the top three. This sucked royally for Adam as he then fell victim to the cardinal rule of the jungle: “If Thou Looketh Like Aaron Eckhart, Thou Must Goeth To Exileth Island.” You never heard of that one?
Anyway, after the commercial break, we returned to camp with Sundra and Becky, who decided they’d rather sit around with caked on mud than actually take a dip in the ocean and wash the gunk off. Turns out the reward challenge had brought something to Becky’s attention: Ozzy’s kind of a good competitor. I’d like to now pause and welcome Becky to TWENTY EIGHT DAYS AGO. Yes, the realization had finally dawned on her that maybe they should get rid of Ozzy as soon as they could. She noted that “Ozzy just hates to lose.” You know, except when he threw an entire competition to vote off sad sack Billy. But aside from that, yeah, he hates to lose.
Becky apparently still fears the wrath of The Predator.
Meanwhile, high above the Cook Island, the three winners of the challenge were getting mud all over a lovely private plane. Luckily, there were layers of protective plastic on the seats, thus reducing the amount of Parvati-to-Cushion mud transfers, but I couldn’t imagine the flight crew was terribly happy about their dirty passengers.
The group eventually wound up at Rumours Spa where they enjoyed a luxurious shower (not together) followed by massages. As her stress and aches were rubbed out of her, Parvati marveled that she’d endured thirty-four days of dirtiness, but hey, it was no big deal. She could do five more. Of course, her dubious assumption was that she’d be lasting five more days. Oh Parv Parv and your longevity assumptions!
We then headed over to Exile Island where Adam was lying out on the sand like a beached starfish. Needless to say, his quest to soar like an eagle had taken another regrettable wrong turn. A closer look revealed all sorts of bugs crawling on his foot, which had me wondering if maybe he had simply died. Nope. He was just sleeping. I did have to admit that I felt slightly bad for him. He had seemed like such a whiny asshole all season, but the past episode or two, he’s kind of transformed into just a big ol’ lug of resignation. I still reserve the right to hate on him again, but for now, I have uncharacteristic empathy. Maybe it’s the holiday season.
After watching Adam gorge himself on all sorts of raw delicacies of the deep, we then went back to the spa where Parvati was working her flirtatious charm on Ozzy. It all seemed like misdirection, but then again, Ozzy has always been something of a lone ranger. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he flipped. Of course, having Yul right there severely undermined any good scheming Parvati could muster, and besides, who could think strategy when the spa was so romantic. Yes, that’s right. Because of a random blackout, the spa employees had to light scented candles all throughout the Rumours facility, thus making the evening much more intimate than previously expected.
Later on, after some native dancers had come and gone, the group got drunk and wound up naked in the hot tub, but alas, the scene wasn’t nearly as scandalous as it would seem. I mean, seriously. Is Yul even capable of scandal? “I propose that we come to a mutual understanding whereas I will aspire to rub or caress your bosoms while you provide a specific sensation of arousal in my pelvic region, to the extent that tugging and/or pulling would inspire a great deal of pleasure.”
We then went to commercial and saw that dumb ad for Lincoln featuring a newly skinny Rocco DiSpirito, or as I like to call him, ZACH BRAFF. After the break, we found the castaways returning to camp where Becky and Sundra had finally washed the mud off their bodies. Yul immediately sensed that there was tension in the air, and so he and Becky walked off to discuss what was up. The Beckster informed Yul that she had made a discovery: Ozzy likes to win! She floated the idea of getting rid of him before the Raros, which would be a bold move, but Yul didn’t seem to protest. He revealed that Parvati had been extremely flirty with Ozzy at the reward, which then brought up the question as to whether they should get rid of Parvati before Ozzy. After all, she did seem to be more influential. It would all have to depend on the outcome of the Immunity Challenge, they decided. And speaking of the Immunity Challenge…
The gang all headed out to Jeff who was waiting for them by the beach. Already, we knew this was a challenge Ozzy would win, simply by virtue of mentioning the word, “Beach.” Basically, the way this challenge worked was that each player had four bundles of puzzle pieces. One at a time, they’d have to take each bundle across a balance beam and to a mat (Balance? Yup, another Ozzy advantage). Once all four bundles had been collected, players would then untie them and use the pieces to create a table maze — like the old game Labyrinth (not to be confused with the Jennifer Connelly/David Bowie opus of the same name). The first person to sink two balls in the corner pockets of the maze would win immunity.
Well, just as expected, Ozzy took a quick lead. Part of that was thanks to his revolutionary idea of removing his sneakers before getting onto the extremely narrow beams. Soon, Ozzy had his first bundle over on his mat. By the time Yul and Becky had their first bundles over, Ozzy was already delivering his second. The combination of people falling and delivering bundles continued for several minutes. Ozzy, of course, dominated, while Adam and Sundra weren’t able to get across even once. Becky, meanwhile, took a fall so vicious that it made Sundra’s spill last week look like a minor stumble on a giant mattress.
Eventually, Ozzy managed to get all four of his bundles over, which meant he could start compiling his table maze. Yul soon delivered his four bundles too, but at that point, Ozzy still had an insane lead. As the two men battled to build their puzzles, Adam continued to struggle, yelling at himself, “C’mon!!!” This gave Jeff the perfect opportunity to do some classic needling: “Two days on Exile taking their toll!” C’mon, Adam. Don’t listen to Jeff. Soar! Soar! Soar like the eagle you know you are!!!
Well, Ozzy completed his maze first and began adjusting the slant of the course to guide a ball to the proper hole. Yul, meanwhile, had surprisingly messed up his puzzle, putting him at a severe disadvantage. For a moment, it looked like Yul might stage a comeback, but Ozzy proved too adept at the Labyrinth-ing. He easily won immunity again, thus destroying Becky’s plan to send him home. Imagine that. I guess it’s time to pick between Adam and Poverty. Kind of a snoozefest, but again, like I said before, I love the Aitu Four so much that I’m happy to see them pluck off the Raros.
And by the way, Adam and Parvati have Jonathan and Candice to thank for creating such fierce loyalty amongst Yul, Becky, Sundra, and Ozzy. Had those two not jumped ship, I’m not sure the tribe would have been as strong and cohesive as a unit, and thus impenetrable to scheming.
Well, when the tribe returned to the beach, Adam approached Yul and pretty much asked to be spared. “If you want to stay, you’ll stay,” Yul said casually, as if this was all a matter of who’s bringing quiche to the pot luck dinner. If you want quiche lorraine, then no problem. We’ll have quiche lorraine!
Adam then told us how if he made it into the final five, “my best shot is to win challenges.” Yes, because that strategy has worked so well all season.
Later, Parvati cornered Yul and pled her case for staying. He told her that Adam’s the bigger threat, which was amusing because not long ago, he was saying the same thing about Parv Parv. Oh Yulie. Playing both Raros. So cruel, and yet, you make it seem so friendly.
Meanwhile, Adam and Parvati announced to Ozzy that they’d be voting for Sundra, and when they asked him who he’d be voting for, he said he didn’t really know. Riiight. Adam then pressured him to vote out Sundra too, but sensing that the Raro kids might be up to no good, Yul suddenly crashed the party and amusingly scolded Adam. “I knowo you gotta play the game, but don’t try to get Ozzy to your side,” he said. Amazingly, Adam did a few “Huminah huminahs” — as if he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar (I guess he was afraid the gang might vote him out as a result of this). Either way, it wasn’t really Yul’s place to command Adam to stop scheming, but it was mildly awesome that it worked. Oh YUL! By appealing to his generous side, you’ve inspired a sufficient level of loyalty from Adam, to the extent that it will keep detractors at bay throughout the rest of this social process! See, I can speak like Yul too!
Just before heading up to Tribal Council, Yul pondered the consequences of wearing Jonathan’s hat to tribal council. Personally, I wouldn’t touch that thing, but Yul wanted to bring it with him. He had only one fear: “You think Jeff is going to yell at me?” YES. He’ll yell at anyone for anything, and besides, it’s well documented that Jeff Probst hates straw hats with feathers! You might as well be slaughtering a baby in front of him!
According to Yul, returning the hat to Jonathan was nothing more than fulfilling a favor. In his mind, if he had left something that had strong sentimental value to him at camp and then was voted out, he’d like it if someone brought it back for him. He’s right, and this is why I love Yul — because he’s so kind. That being said, he’s a total kiss up. Which is not unlike me.
Well, at Tribal Council, Yul showed up with Jonathan’s hat after all and quickly placed it on the jury bench before the jury had even come in. It seemed like a rather casual gesture — not ostentatious at all, and especially not as obnoxious as if he had handed it to Jonathan during the actual Tribal Council. However, one shot of Jeff revealed that our prickly host was simmering with anger. Sure enough, when the jury entered, Jeff totally outed Yul, happily revealing that he had been the one to return the hat.
“Quite possibly the boldest move I’ve seen yet from someone trying to win a vote, should they make it to the final Tribal Council,” Jeff lashed out passive aggressively.
Yul defended himself by saying he simply wanted to bring the hat back as requested, but Jeff wasn’t about to take that. “Just want to make sure I have the facts right,” Probst started. And you always know it’s gonna be good when Jeff says he wants to make sure he has all the facts. Nevertheless, he continued, “This is the same guy who was part of your little coalition that you blindsided, and now you bring him the hat back just ’cause it has sentimental value????” I half expected Jeff to pull out a shotgun and fire it in Yul’s face, adding, “That’s what I think about your little hat stunt.”
With Jeff absolutely enraged (at least, in his Probst sort of way), Yul confessed that yes, returning the hat served both the purpose of fulfilling an obligation and appeasing any resentment Jonathan might be feeling. And with that, there really wasn’t anything else to say, and so Hatgate 2006 came to an end. Memo to self: never engage in hat exchanges in front of Jeff Probst.
Probst then asked Parvati if she had bonded with Yul and Ozzy on her spa trip, and she replied suggestively, “I’d say I bonded with the fellas!” She then added, “THEY BOINKED ME IN THE BLACKOUT!”
Okay, she didn’t say that, but she did note, “Me and two guys in a hot tub — the odds were in my favor, I guess.” This caused Ozzy to chuckle with glee as he surely had a flashback to his notorious porno experiences.
Later, Jeff started asking about Ozzy and his performance, causing Yul to acknowledge that the reason why the Aitu Four have been so successful has been because of Ozzy in a large part. We then cut to Candice who rolled her eyes in disgust. WTF? Why you rolling your eyes, biatch? Were you expecting some sort of credit? Be quiet before we send you off to Exile Island again.
Anyway, it was time for the votes, and no real surprise here. Sundra received two votes, and the rest went to Parvati. And with that, the tribe was relieved of its taxing Poverty issues. Now we have a final five going into Sunday’s finale. Who do you think will win it all? What’s your ideal final three? Does Adam have a chance?