Wow, I loved last night’s episode of Survivor. Not only was I duped by the misdirection again (I must be losing my touch), but the challenges were exciting, especially the immunity challenge. Dare I say that was the best immunity challenge in like five seasons? It could have been on Sportscenter. Well, maybe that’s excessive (of course, I think ever reality show competition should be on Sportscenter). Anyway, Mark Burnett served us up a heck of a lot of fun, and when he wasn’t making the survivors hold bags or climb on towers, the castaways were busy making their own drama: spillin’ octopus (natch), invading each other’s turf, and fantasizing about mashed potatoes. Sounds like the perfect way to cap off the week!This week’s show began with a scene that quite honestly, I missed until later when I went back for screencaps. We began at Raro where all the guys stood around, picking their teeth with sticks or fronds or whatever it was. They were mad at the girls for sitting around all day doing nothing, but at the same time, being out numbered five to three meant that they had to become indispensable. The guys then went out in nature and became Manly Men, hunting down all prey, capturing all crabs, and assembling all firewood. Parvati enjoyed this sudden activity and was particularly impressed with Nate’s woodpile. “I’ve never seen a pile of wood bigger than that!” Keep in mind that the pile, while impressive, was only about two or three feet high. Clearly Parvati’s never enjoyed the delights of a bonfire.
After the opening credits, we were then treated to lovely images of the Aitu girls comparing the progress of their armpit hair. Candice, Sundra, and Becky sat by the way, raised their arms in the air, and carefully inspected the growth. Delightful. Not participating in this was Jessica, but I imagine that’s because she already had pre-existing bushels of hair in that region.
Well, while the girls grossed out America, their fellow tribe-mates grew irritated with them, especially Cao Boi. You see, everyone was working except for them, and as we all know, sitting around on Survivor is pretty much akin to chopping someone’s head off in the real world. What Cao Boi and the others failed to realize was that while the girls didn’t appear to be doing anything productive, they were in fact conducting a scientific study about the effects of living in the wild on hair growth and — okay, yeah, they were being slackers.
About two seconds later, we suddenly jumped right into the reward challenge, which came surprisingly early in this episode (as in, the first 90 seconds). As the tribes approached each other, Jeff happily informed Aitu that JP had been voted out at Tribal Council. This caused everyone to recoil in mild shock and joy, you know, because it was a fairly dumb decision by Raro, but hey, it’s all water under the bridge, as they say.
Anyway, for this challenge, each tribe had to select three pairs, and each pair would stand on a platform, with each person using one arm to hold onto a hook. Every two minutes, members of the opposing tribe would load up one of the pairs with five pounds of weight each. The team with the last pair standing would win reward. Wait, that was it? No puzzles or buoys or pontoons? Crazy.
Oh, and as for the reward, it was more fishing supplies, spices, and bottles of wine. This got me very excited because there’s nothing like watching the castaways drunk off two sips. Straw poll: who’s gonna fall off a stump first? My money’s on Cao Boi (assuming that he wins this, which he probably won’t since his team isn’t physically strong).
Well, here were the pairs for each team. On Aitu, Jonathan & Yul, Sundra & Candice, and Ozzy & Jessica. Cao Boi and Becky would serve as weight-putter-onners. For Raro, the pairs were Nate & Adam, Rebecca & Stephannie, and Cristina & Brad, with Parvati and Jenny as the bag ladies. With that established, the pairs all stepped on their platforms, one hand holding a rope, the other wrapped around their partner’s waist. Basically, everyone looked like domestic partners, especially Nate and Adam, who seemed intensely comfortable in their position.
“Your musk is intoxicating.”
Anyway, for the first round, Aitu hung five pounds on Adam and Nate while Raro went after Sundra and Candice. “I hope they just pile up on us because we’re just going to hold it for as long as we possibly can,” Adam said, surely tempting fate with the sort of recklessness that only a young Aaron Eckhart doppleganger could have.
Personally, if it were me, I’d evenly distribute the weight and ebb away at everyone. And I know you were all dying to hear my thoughts on that! Well, for the second round, Raro added weight to Jonathan and Yul while Aitu piled more onto Adamate (Adam + Nate. Get it?). Jeff Probst then tried to add intrigue to the mix by saying, “And we wait a little more…” Amusingly, Jonathan then mocked him, saying, “Weight a little more. It’s like a bad pun, Jeff.” Oh, shit! He was so gonna get reamed at Tribal Council for that! I can just imagine Jeff carping, “Here I am, in the middle of a game for a million dollars, and I’m just trying to FIGURE OUT what’s going on, and you’re barking at me. I don’t need that! None of us need that, but you’re doing it anyway!”
Anyhoo, the weight continued to pile on, again on Adam ‘n’ Nate, and for the first time, on Ozzy and Jessica. You see, Raro was evenly distributing — wearing down everyone’s muscles at once — while Aitu was picking away at the pairs, one at a time. Raro and I were so on the same wavelength. Nate, meanwhile, tried to motivate himself by saying, “Wine tonight!” To which rival Jessica replied, “Whinin’” It wasn’t that spectacular of a put-down, but Jeff Probst acted like he was in the front row of Def Comedy Jam. “OOOH!” he reacted, as all the other castaways piped in with their own versions of “Awww shit!” It’s going down tonight! I tell you, that “whinin’” bit gets people every time.
We then sat through one of those endurance challenge montages — you know, where the camera focuses on the cruel, scalding sun. Afterwards, we learned that Adam and Nate and Jonathan and Yul were each holding up thirty pounds. Brad and Cristina, Candice and Sundra had fifteen pounds, and Ozzy, Jessica, Rebecca, and Stephannie were all rockin’ it with ten pounds each. Now, here’s the where the red flags were going up for me. Raro was clearly spreading the wealth, wearing down everyone all at once. Aitu, however, seemed to have abandoned their plan of destroying Adam and Nate, instead opting to distribute now also. Switching horses midstream? Never a good idea. (By the way, I bet if you were riding a horse and you switched to another while you were in the middle of a stream, it really wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, it’s a stream, not the Mississippi River, for crying out loud).
Anyway, we had our first fatality when Yul, of all people, dropped his bag, startling Jeff in the process. This was kind of shocking because a) Yul is jacked; b) Jonathan lasted longer than him; and c) Jonathan is fat and not jacked. Oh well. Such is the magic of Survivor. You never know what will happen!
For the next round, Raro added weight to Jessica and Ozzy, and you’d think Aitu would return to its strategy of pounding Nate and Adam, but instead, they focused on Rebecca and Stephannie. I guess they were hoping that the thirty pounds would take down the big guys without a problem. Why waste further weight on them? Oh, I know why: because they’re huge and jacked. Speaking of which, I’m sure Raro was missing JP now (and not to be name-droppy or whatever, but I actually met JP yesterday, and to say he’s jacked is an understatement. The dude is ‘uge! And very nice, for all you wondering).
Well, with the thirty pounds testing ever fiber in their beings, Adam and Nate could do nothing but turn to themselves for support. The two entered a strange, homoerotic embrace, causing Cao Boi to taunt, “Handsome, boys. Make quite a pair!” Sounds like they’ve been pulling out each other’s bad wind, if you know what I’m saying…
“I dreamed you would hold me like this forever.”
Anyway, Aitu’s gamble started to pan out as Rebecca and Stephannie dropped their bags. This was good for Aitu because it evened out the playing field, but truthfully, Raro’s strongest team was still going strong, and you don’t want go up against that. Sure enough, Sundra dropped her bags, causing pair-mate Candice to scoff. This meant that Aitu’s hopes and dreams all resided in Jessica and Ozzy, who despite their taunting and armpit hair, did not seem able to beat out Adam and Nate (let alone Brad and Cristina, who were still pokin’ around).
The tribes then applied more weight, and again, Aitu shunned the big guys in favor of Cristina and Brad. You know, you either gang up on someone or you evenly distribute. None of this half-assed strategy. Sure enough, Aitu’s indecisiveness did them in. Jessica and Ozzy let go, causing them to lose the reward. Furthermore, Raro now had the opportunity to send someone to Exile. Who would that be? Why, our old friend Jonathan — he of the puns that rile Jeff so.
Well, we then went to a commercial break, and when we returned, the camera trained in on two empty wine bottles. What the? Did they already drink them? Not fair! We didn’t get to see it! It’s probably one of those secret scenes that you can only watch if you tune into the Early Show or some crap like that.
Anyway, it was morning in Raro, and everyone was doing all the typical morning things — waking up, rubbing their eyes, walking around with an octopus attached to your leg. Wait, what was that? Turns out Adam had encountered a widdle octopwus on his latest fishing adventure, and it had latched itself onto his calf. Some might call this a defense mechanism, but I think it’s clear this octopus had a massive crush on Adam. Who wouldn’t? He’s dreamy! All the octopi want to ask him to the dance (the Under The Sea dance, natch). In fact, I’m pretty sure that when they finally pried the octopus off Adam, its last words were “Never forget me, my true love!”
Well, it looked like the tribe had food for lunch, and coming up with a recipe for how to cook their fresh catch was Cristina. It seemed cool to me, but Jenny was not impressed at all. Turns out she didn’t like Cristina or her motherfuckin’ octopus recipes! Nevertheless, Cristina heaped the chopped octopus into a pot and brought it down to the water to clean it. Right behind her was Jenny, who happened to be cleaning the machetes and whatnot. Unbeknownst to Cristina (or at least, that’s what she said), Jenny finished her washing and returned to the camp, leaving Cristina alone to brave the three-inch waves. Easier said than done. A miniature tsunami suddenly struck (it was all of seven inches high), causing a few pieces of octopus to fall out of the pot. It wasn’t anything too major, but Cristina called out for help before any of it could be swept too far away. Next thing we knew, Brad was muttering, “The octopus spilled all over the place!” Okay, let’s all calm down. It was like two pieces. No need to sound the octopus emergency siren.
Amusingly, when Brad finally showed up to help, Cristina passive-aggressively blamed Jenny for everything, saying she thought she was sitting right there with her. Obviously, if Jenny had been there, the wave would NEVER have struck! Meanwhile, Adam complained to us (I know, it’s a shock) that his hard-earned octopus had been spilled. Sounds like baby wants his octopus. Waah! My octopus spilled! If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.
Well, as Octopus-Gate raged on, people began complaining to us about how bossy Cristina was. This was exemplified by Cristina sitting in the “throne” that JP had previously called his own. Listen, people. Don’t sit in that chair. It’s bad news.
We then saw a major close up on a crab, who probably saw this on TV and hid his face with a pillow, telling his laughing friends, “My skin is so bad. Why did they do that??”
Over at Aitu, Yul expressed plans of catching a chicken (and perhaps chokin’ it too, tee hee) while Jessica and Ozzy revealed that they were going to paddle to another island to explore. Wow, how very Lost! The two recruited Cao Boi for their big adventure, but pretty much no one else wanted to go. They were all planning to wash their hair or clean up their apartments, I guess. Candice said she didn’t want to spend the energy, and Sundra told us she didn’t want to go because she knew they’d probe and prod her for information. “It gets them comfortable, and I’d rather not be in that position,” she said. Yeah, who wants to be in a position where people feel comfortable and you can manipulate them? Feh!
Instead, Sundra opted to stay back, you know, so she could really hone the art of being the elusive tribe member with no friends. The explorers then headed off on their island expedition, and back at camp, Sundra found herself being, you guessed it, poked and prodded for information by the rest of the tribe members. So much for being left alone. Anyway, Yul, Candice and Becky wooed Sundra into their alliance, making her the essential fifth person they needed to have power. Sundra then told us, “I’m very happy that I got over that hurdle of being the outsider.” Yes… um… except you’re the fifth wheel. That’s not necessarily the definition of “In Like Flynn.” It’s like getting on a movie ticket line and saying, “Well, I’m in line. That means there’s a ticket for me! Yay! I’m not an idiot at all! Oh, how I can’t wait to see this latest installment in the Spy Kids franchise!”
Meanwhile, the explorers finally arrived at the other island, and for whatever reason, they didn’t seem to be the confused in the slightest by the presence of footpaths in the jungle. I literally thought they’d encounter Jeff Probst’s sleeping quarters. Sadly, they didn’t find that, but they did come across some Noni plants, which apparently have great healing powers. Ozzy was in fact so excited that he flashed us the finger — almost like his way of saying, “I have noni, and you don’t, fucker!”
Oh wait, turns out he was merely displaying a cut he had on his finger. The group then ambled along the path — still not perplexed at all by its presence — and after staring at Ozzy’s sagging, pubic blur-inducing pants, we finally found out what that path led to: the other tribe. Surprise!
Well, Raro was not very excited about this at all. Not only had the other tribe shown up, but “it’s the three that we can’t stand.” Yeah, that kind of sucked. Amusingly, Raro barely showed any warmth towards their unexpected visitors, and for their part, Aitu waltzed in as if this were some great big event. They didn’t show an ounce of humility, nor did they seem to explain that this was all an accident (at least, as far as we could tell with the editing). Instead, Cao Boi said something about playing around (to which some booby probably muttered, “I’ll show you about playing around, you asshole nest-ruining jerk!”). The threesome then sat down with the other tribe and introduced themselves. Cao Boi struggled with Pavrati’s name, but eventually he got it (it’s simple: poverty!), and then once the pleasantries had been exchanged, a long, awkward silence set in. If I were one of the three, I’d probably be like “Well, it was nice meeting you…” but instead Cao Boi began rambling on about who knows what — zodiac junk and spiritual mumbo jumbo. Everyone looked bored death, and just when it couldn’t get worse for poor Raro, Cao Boi then had the gall to beg for spices and coconuts and whatever. Adam and the others firmly rebuffed him (I guess they learned their lesson from Johnny Fairplay’s tribal visit on Pearl Islands), and finally, this visit from hell concluded.
Meanwhile, on Exile Island, Jonathan read all the clues (in a theatrical, annoying way) and began digging. And digging. And digging some more. He made a gigantic trench, noting it was “like playing in a sandbox. A million dollar sandbox.” Technically, it’s not like the sand was worth a million dollars. It’s more like you were playing in a sandbox, a really big sandbox. Or actually, even better. It’s more like you were playing on a beach. You know, because that’s what you were doing. Consider your affable metaphor DEAD!
We then headed out to the beach for this week’s (awesome) immunity challenge. Before we learned the rules, Jonathan rejoined his tribe. Jeff asked him something about the immunity idol, to which he replied that it wasn’t on the island anymore. Ah, so very ambiguous. Did that mean that he had it? Or that someone else had found it? Obviously, Yul has it, but I’m trying to get into the other players’ minds, people. It’s all part of the fun.
Okay, onto the challenge. I had to admit that I let out a tiny groan at first when I learned teams would have to assemble stepping poles (do any of these challenges go by without some sort of transport made from puzzle pieces?). Anyway, once the poles had been formed, tribes had to use them to transfer two members from one high platform to another. Once that was completed, the entire tribe had to climb up on the second platform, then jump into the water, and swim out to one final, very small tower. The first tribe to get all its members on or above the top deck of the tower would win immunity. Not too bad. Not very convoluted, fairly straightforward — sounded like good times to me.
Well, out of the gate, Raro fell behind as they struggled to assemble their stepping poles. Aitu, on the other hand, was doing great, causing Jeff to compliment them for having a “good system.” That’s like getting a third star for your restaurant in France. Anyway, Aitu had the early lead and trekked into the water with their poles, but Raro wasn’t far behind. The fates changed, however, when Aitu’s hastily assembled poles began to fall apart. So much for that “good system,” JEFF. Over on Raro, Jenny was already on the poles, struggling to keep her balance as she gingerly moved from one to another. Aitu, meanwhile, fixed their pole problems, and soon Jessica was heading across. Unlike Jenny who stayed low and gripped the pole, Jessica took the more daring and scary and exciting approach of standing straight up, arms out. It didn’t seem like a smart move to me, but then again I guess she could counter balance and whatnot. Either way, watching these two women struggling to balance on these tiny poles in the ocean was nothing short of totally exciting. I really thought someone would fall. I also didn’t understand why the girls didn’t just scamper across the poles really quickly, but then I realized that the distance between platforms was way more than just three stepping poles.
You’re gonna fall, YOU IDIOT!
Anyway, Jessica and Jenny continued to struggle their way across towards the platform, and with each step, I found myself clutching my laptop tighter and tighter (especially Jessica who looked like she was going to teeter right off into the ocean at any second). Jenny reached the platform first, which meant that now Poverty could begin her trek too. Jessica, meanwhile, still remained behind, but she did somehow beat the odds and make it across to the platform. This meant it was up to Becky to close the gap for Aitu. Parvati looked like she was going at a steady clip, and while Becky started off slowly, she tempted fate and began taking larger and larger steps. In fact, it looked like Aitu was actually closing the gap significantly. Nevertheless, Poverty reached the second platform, and as the rest of her team climbed up and then dove into the water towards the small tower, it became apparent that Aitu was totally screwed.
It’s gettin’ exciting!
Nevertheless, Becky soon made it across, and in no time, Aitu was climbing up to the platform and then back in the water. It was still very close, but with the music climaxing, it was clear that Raro was going to win this one. They were already all on the tower, climbing to the top. As Aitu then ascended their tower, things started to get really intense — Raro looked like they just had one or two feet that they need to bring up. Making matters worse for Aitu was that Cao Boi then fell off into the water. YOU DOUCHEBAG! GET UP! GET UP!!! Oh, they were so screwed.
But then suddenly… ALL OF RARO FELL IN THE OCEAN!!! WTF??? That’s what I call a choke! Yes, the entire tribe completely fell off the tower. Now Aitu had the lead! But Raro was back on the tower! Soon, both tribes were huddled at the top level, trying to get those last few feet up. I think if I were Adam or Nate, I would have climbed up the tower with one of the girls on my back. Nevertheless, it was a dead heat. Would Raro stave off the competition? Or would Aitu make the most impressive comeback of the season? The result…
AITU WINS!!! Yes, in a stunning turn of events, Aitu pulled off the victory, earning immunity for the second week in a row. Seriously, my heart’s beating just typing about this challenge. It was that good.
Afterwards, a defeated Raro returned to camp, and guess who was public enemy #1? That’s right, Miss Octopus Spiller herself, Cristina. Curse of JP’s Throne continues! Yes, everyone, especially the girls and especially Jenny, wanted Cristina out. So much for all that talk last week of turning the game upside down and voting off the boys. I guess with a five to three majority, the ladies had some wiggle room to get rid of one of their own. Nevertheless, it looked like a done deal. Cristina was going home.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a done deal in Survivor. As Nate and Stephannie fetched water, Steph made a passing comment about wanting mashed potatoes and gravy. Hmmm… She might as well have thrown in the towel there! No one requests food on Survivor! And so began PotatoGate, which was almost as amusing as OctopusGate. Nate, interviewed oddly in the water, explained that the potato comment led him to believe that maybe Stephannie had checked out of the game mentally. Like a little mosquito, Nate then got in everyone’s ears, telling them about the Stephannie’s blasphemous tater comment. Well, one man’s tuber is another man’s downfall. Word traveled all around camp that Stephannie was done and ready to go home. Parvati confronted her about this, but Steph brushed it off, saying she was just making a passing comment about potatoes. Parvati then explained to Adam and Rebecca that all this discussion about pomme de terres was all meaningless gossip. Steph wanted to be there. Ah, but who would go home? I personally felt this was all last minute misdirection. Cristina was clearly going home. I mean, Curse of JP’s Throne!
Well, Tribal Council was rather lackluster. Adam babbled on about the tribe being fine, despite the losses; Brad said he liked everyone in Raro; Steph said that she didn’t have any close-knit buddies but was friendly with everyone. All that usual stuff. Jeff then asked Nate if someone had stepped up to fill JP’s bossy shoes, and unsurprisingly, Nate singled out Cristina. She seemed to take it well (which meant she was brewing with anger inside) as she thanked everyone for telling her and said she’d now revise her behavior. Cristina also managed to passive-aggressively say that she was bossy because she was used to being around a police station. Translation: I’m not used to you pussies.
Anyway, it was soon time to vote. Cristina obviously cast a vote against Stephannie, and vice versa. However, we didn’t see anyone else’s votes, which meant it would most likely be a blow-out. Sure enough, when Probst read the results, the first name to come up was Cristina (or “Kristina,” as Steph spelled it), but the rest were all Steph. By a near unanimous count, Stephannie was voted off the island, free to go home and gorge herself on potatoes and gravy.
What did you think about this episode? Did Raro make the right choice?