I’m a little disappointed with this second week of Survivor: Panama — Exile Island. Don’t get me wrong — I still enjoyed it quite a bit, and this season has started off promisingly. But after Cirie schemed her way out of the corner last week, I was kind of expecting similar antics this time around, but alas, she was surprisingly subdued. Either that or Cirie simply paled next to the over-dramatic ramblings of Shane, who is quickly turning into the most annoying, if not most colorful, outcast of the season. Can’t have a Survivor season without a douchebag, and it looks like Shane is our man.The show began not with the standard imagery of a crab on the beach or a sage monkey in the trees, but instead with a violent tempest wreaking havoc on all our poor survivors. If it wasn’t bad enough that the older men had to sleep on bamboo logs (sort of the antithesis of Sealy Posturepedic), they now had to endure the steady trickle of raindrops falling on their heads. Funny — those “sounds of the rain forest sleep” devices are much more effective when they’re not happening to you.
No one understood this more than Shane, who we soon found complaining to the camera about how awful the night was. “This place breeds bad luck,” he stated. And one quick edit later, we heard a thunder clap and saw what seemed to be a tree slamming down on him. Sadly, Shane survived this Attack of the Horticulture, which meant he could continue to complain and whine throughout the evening. Rather than listen to him though, we thankfully headed over to the younger men’s camp which was essentially experiencing the same waterlogged nightmare as the geezers. Bobby at least tried to make the most of his drippy environs by sticking out his tongue to collect any errant moisture for hydration. And let’s be honest: there’s no better refreshment than sipping rain water that has leaked through your roof.
The next morning, we headed to the older women’s camp, and guess what? They couldn’t start their fire. Specifically, Cirie couldn’t start it. Hey, weren’t they able to start one without problems last week? What gives? Oh that’s right. The one woman who could start a fire they voted off. Bet you miss Tina now, don’t you, ladies? (It should be noted that I don’t expect a response from Ruth Marie, seeing that she’s not prone to saying more than one or two words per episode.)
Over at the younger women’s tribe, the girls were busy knocking a papaya off a tree, and surprisingly, they succeeded. However, Courtney did not launch into a metaphysical commentary about the symbolic nature of papayas, nor did she suggest scattering sand in the southern wind as a sign of thanks to the tribal gods of fruit and birthing. Instead, she and the girls simply chowed down, leading an extremely bitten-up Misty to announce, “It’s almost orgasmically wonderful.” Uh oh. Looks like somebody just had a papayagasm!
Meanwhile, over at the older men’s camp, Shane was in the midst of a complain-gasm as he sniffled that he missed his son and was miserable and was missing his son’s football practice and he didn’t know why he had signed up for this and by the way, he really really really missed his son and blah blah blah SHUT UP! Hey idiot, why go on the show in the first place? Did you not know about the whole “stranded on an island” thing? If you go on a reality show, you forfeit the right to complain about missing your children.
“I don’t know why I did this to myself,” Shane lamented, noting, “This whole scenario is so different than the way I live my life. Like, my life is very busy, and it’s always all the time. It’s like constant like ADD like, you know what I mean, psycho boy.” Translation: daddy needs his cocaine.
Anyway, with the sun back out, the tribes all convened in front of Jeff Probst for a very special treat. He had the men and women step onto disks, and we all know what that means: tribal switcheroo! Sure enough, everyone had to turn their disks over, and the two people with buffs underneath would each start their own team. They would then pick someone of the opposite sex, and then that person would do the same and so on and so forth, playground style, until two tribes were assembled. Danielle and Terry were the two lucky buff-stander-onners, and at Probst’s urgings, the popularity contest began. Personally, I didn’t know why we needed this switcheroo so soon. This was like Palau when after one night of living together, the tribes were allowed to have separate camps. Mark Burnett, if you’re going to do a twist, might as well commit to it.
Nevertheless, Danielle immediately gravitated towards Shane, calling him “the cool guy with the Boston tattoo.” You know that thrilled Shane. Inside his inner-monologue was probably something along the lines of “She called me cool? YES! Sweet, sweet validation. I’ve waited so many years.”
Well, I won’t get into all the nitty gritty of this tribal pick ‘em, but I will say that Courtney picked Aras, which means the two will be joining forces to create one giant vortex of New Age annoyance. Every time they come upon a dead fish, they’ll probably hover their hands over it, trying to collect the energy of its soul, all the while chanting Buddhist prayers and casting rose petals into the ocean.
Anyway, as the group of unpicked people thinned, Melinda wound up the only girl remaining. She had the privilege of joining Courtney and Aras on tribe Casaya, leaving just Bruce and Dan for La Mina’s Ruth Marie to choose. Who would it be: stocky Asian guy or sickly Albino dude? I would have picked Bruce, but that Ruth Marie — she’s a fickle one (either that, or she’s deathly afraid of older Asian men). She picked Dan, which meant Mr. Miyagi was left all by his lonesome. Probst tried to scare him into thinking he’d be going home (kind of like Palau’s Wanda and that other dude with one testicle), but we knew better than that. Obvies he was going to Exile Island (THUNDER CLAP!! DOOOM!!!). But before Bruce could be shipped out for some one-on-one time with himself, Jeff alerted him that he would be safe at Tribal Council. Yes, Bruce would be spending the next three days on Exile Island, and he would return at Tribal Council where he would take the place of whoever was voted out. I likey.
Well, Bruce headed off to his island getaway, leaving the rest of the survivors to compete in this weeks’ reward challenge. The producers set up an elaborate obstacle course (as usual) which called for teams to untie six wooden snakes. First tribe across the finish line with all its snakes would win fishing equipment. Fantastic. Well, Jeff flapped his arms, and the survivors were off. Nothing particularly memorable happened during this challenge, although poor Bobby took a hard hit when Cirie fell on his head, her massive frame surely causing momentary paralysis. Seriously, if she had done that to Dan, his head would have simply popped right off.
Anyway, La Mina eventually won the reward, which sucked for Casaya, but hey, no big deal. It was still early in the game, and the new tribe was happy to simply return to their camp and get to know each other. Like Shawna from Amazon, sourpuss Shane suddenly seem reinvigorated now that some girls were around. He immediately bashed the older guys to his new tribe mates, complaining about how they just wanted to work all the time. Yeah, what’s the deal with that “work ethic” and desire to “build a shelter”? Why can’t they just sit around and talk about how awesome Franz Ferdinand is or how much they listen to Indie 103.1 and KCRW? (Sorry, those are uber-trendy things that Los Angeles hipsters like to babble about.)
Later, Cirie showed off the older women’s shelter to Casaya, bragging, “We have not been wet at all.”
“I’m so impressed. Why?” asked Courtney. Yeah, why was the shelter so damn good? Oh, that’s right. Because TINA built it. I’m sorry. I’m still bitter. Any time such a wonderful mullet is taken from us, I tend to lash out.
Anyway, the Casaya gang soon gathered around to talk about whatever, and Courtney expressed some of that naive early optimism about her tribe, saying, “I like our name. I like our color. I like our people!” Yeah man. If only there were a dead tortoise around to mark the occasion. That would be like so symbolic, man!
Of course, Courtney’s Earth Mother tendencies soon proved to be a predictably thin veil over perhaps her true nature: Hollywood poseur. Within seconds of talking with Shane, her inner-hipster came out as she commenced all sorts of bragging and one-upsmanship. She clucked about being “gangsta Hollywood” and being able to walk to such trendy spots as the Spider Club and Avalon. But perhaps she was most proud of living near the seedy Playboy Liquor (Wilcox and Franklin, for all you stalkers out there), which would have seemed really hardcore, had not a crepe restaurant just opened next door.
We then saw a random shot of Shane waddling away, and was it just me, or did he walk around like either a) he had hemorrhoids, b) he just took it up the ass, or c) both? Nevertheless, Melinda could tell that she and Cirie were screwed. After all, they had no trendy Hollywood stories to tell, and let’s face it, they were the only fat ones. It’s survival of the hottest in reality TV.
Sure enough, an alliance quickly formed on the tribe, and it did not include Melinda and Cirie (or Bobby, for that matter). Shane was the mastermind, and he recruited Courtney, Danielle, and Aras, saying, “Can we not make it dramatic and cheat on each other five people in? Let’s just the four of us go to the four. Done. No more discussion about it.” Okay. We’ll see how long this lasts. Before we could really let the skepticism set in, Shane then went and committed the cardinal Survivor sin: “I swear to you on my son’s life,” he said. Ooooh. Dangerous move. Just ask Vanauatu’s Twila. This was already spelling bad news for Shane, but just in case we weren’t sure just how dumb he was, he then tried some brazen scare tactics, threatening, “Here’s the deal; if any of you screw me, I’ll find you and kill you. I’m serious.” Yup, that’s really gonna win ‘em over.
Why couldn’t Shane have adopted a tamer, Jim Croce type of alliance, like the one that Dan and Terry had started last week? Those two guys, now on La Mina, were so excited about their secret alliance that they immediately spilled the beans to Austin and Nick, inviting them to join along. The younger chaps agreed, which was awesome for Dan who was already brimming with golly-gee excitement. “Terry and I have a fantastic relationship and a strategy that’s going to take us all the way. So, it’s great!” he told us. Simmer down, Space Patrol. This is Survivor, not kickball.
Moments later, Sally approached Austin and suggested that he and Nick create an alliance with her and Misty. “It feels like kind of even because it’s two girls, two guys,” Sally reasoned, as if that really mattered. Austin didn’t commit, but now he and Nick were officially stuck between two alliances, which could wind up burning Dan’s little utopia. Either way, one person no one seemed to care about: Ruth Marie. Smell ya later, Ruthie!
Meanwhile, over on Exile Island, Bruce received a clue about the immunity idol’s whereabouts. Written on a piece of parchment, he first read Misty’s hint (which had the word “why” in quotes every time it appeared. Really should have been single quotes, given that it was already part of a quote, but that’s neither here nor there). As for clue #2, it was much less cryptic than Misty’s. “It is up above the tide line,” the parchment read (plus there was a nifty map showing where on the island it was not located. So basically, the idol is above the ocean and near something that looks like a Y. (And let’s not forget that “Y” on the tree trunk we saw last week. This is more perplexing than Lost!)
Before Bruce’s treasure hunt could begin, he had to take care of the basics, like starting a fire. Easier said than done, especially if you break the flint, which is exactly what Bruce did. Oops. Well, what else to do than practice some martial arts. Bruce then did some karate chops, shouting and bulging his eyes all the way. Kind of made me wonder what it would be like to see him and Jeff Probst reenact the final scene of The Karate Kid. I don’t know who would play who. It almost doesn’t even matter. All I know is that Bruce is awesome.
Elsewhere on the islands, the La Mina kids decided to sail out on the open water and do a little fishing with their new equipment, including a handy dandy spear. Even though Terry was clearly the most adept with the new tools, for some reason, he let Sally and Nick head out together instead. “I just don’t want to lose it. That would be the worst,” Sally said forebodingly. And what did she do? You guessed it. She lost it. Yes, after one failed practice shot, Sally forgot that most important rule of Spear Club: don’t let go of the spear, you IDIOT! Not wanting to make her feel bad, Nick told her it was cool, just an accident — which I suppose it was — but I’m sure he was enraged inside. Kind of like Terry, who could barely hide his disappointment when he found out what had happened. I’d feel badly for him except it was his own damn fault for not doing the fishing himself. Perhaps my favorite reaction, however, came from Misty, who kindly told Sally not to worry — they’d make their own. Yes, sounds easy enough. They’ll just use all those spare elastic bands and metal prongs that grow next to the papaya trees.
Eventually, it was time for the immunity challenge, where Jeff casually asked how the tribes were. Misty said everything was great at La Mina (except for that whole fishing spear snafu). Shane, meanwhile, took Jeff’s perfunctory question as an opportunity to hear himself speak once again, this time complaining, “I’m not going to lie. We are in a dire situation. The whole like ‘Oooh, let’s act like we’re doing all right so the other tribe thinks we’re…’ you know what I mean? Screw that. We’re not in a good way.” Shut up, Shane. He’s the sort of guy you never want to IM because when you write “How are you?” he’ll respond “Not well,” and then you have to sit and listen to his problems when all you wanted to do was exchange a small-talk greeting.
Anyway, for the challenge, teams had to race boats from a pontoon to shore. Five tribe members would bail water from the vessel (there were holes, natch), and two members would swim underwater and try to move a massive anchor. Once on shore, they’d have to clip their boat onto a pole and then place a “zombie head” on top of a big ol’ zombie skeleton to win. Well, the competition began, and within seconds (of TV time, at least), La Mina had created a sizeable lead. But Probst wasn’t about to give them credit for their good work. “La Mina in the lead, but only because Casaya is absolutely inept!” Probst yelled. He just can’t resist kicking ‘em while they’re down. I think Jeff Probst is the only host that actually taunts and shames contestants during competitions.
Well, no surprise here. La Mina easily won, which meant that Casaya would have to face Tribal Council. Facing this hardship, Shane immediately threw in the towel, whining to us, “I want a cigarette. I want a coffee. I want my latest edition of Hipster Monthly.” Okay, he didn’t say that last thing. But I’m sure he was thinking it. Nevertheless, he babbled about his son again and then ultimately approached his tribemates and said, “I want you guys to vote me off.” Well, so much for the final four. Whatever happened to not being dramatic? Courtney was waay bummed that her hipster cohort might be leaving, and Aras, his hair freshly faux-hawked after a dip in the ocean, was also remarkably upset. The two began convincing Shane to stay while the three outsiders, Melinda, Bobby, and Cirie, smiled with glee.
“If somebody wants to quit, let him quit!” Cirie squealed, getting more and more high pitched with every syllable. Unfortunately for her, Aras not only managed to change Shane’s mind, but he then announced that either Melinda or Cirie would be going home. This understandably annoyed almost everyone, including Courtney who felt like her alliance had been outed (not that it mattered. She wasn’t about to flip sides). Anyway, Shane then laid down the law, telling Cirie, “I don’t care which one of you goes… Whoever doesn’t go now, is going next.” Wow. Strong words coming from the man who wanted to quit. Again, Courtney was annoyed: “If this instability keeps going, it’s going to be very hard to know that he’s going to be there for us.” Screw him over then! Do it!
Sadly, this Tribal Council did not shape up to be “Will Courtney jump ship?” Instead, the suspense was “Will it be Melinda or Cirie?” Last week, Cirie managed to turn everyone against Tina, but this week, she hardly did anything to break up the majority alliance. Pretty much all she did was shed some tears to win the sympathy vote, crying that her family would be disappointed if she were voted off. Melinda, meanwhile, tried to save herself by saying, “It bothers me when somebody even remotely had the thought to quit, and you have me here who is trying my best to stay.” Well, maybe you should have tried your best to be younger and prettier! Then you could have been part of the alliance. Maybe you should have done that, MELINDA!
As for Shane, he simply told Jeff that he was suffering without his cigarettes and blah blah blah, we get it. You haven’t had a smoke in like three days. Congratulations. Now shut up. Ultimately, Tribal Council played out with few to no surprises. Shane received two votes (from the older ladies, natch), but in the end, it was Melinda who was sent packing. She headed off, and Bruce took her place, thus making an all-minority minority alliance. And by the way, boo to Bobby for trying to kiss up to Shane’s alliance by voting against Melinda. I absolutely hate when people do that. It never gets anyone anywhere. All the people who followed Rob and Ambah in All Stars learned that the hard way (Big Tom, Jenna, LEX). If you’re an outsider, you’re an outsider.
What did you think about this episode? What do you think about the new teams? Is Shane’s alliance in trouble now that Bruce is back?