Survivor has officially launched into traditional scheming mode. After weeks of increasingly compelling domination by Koror, the two tribes have merged into one, thus ending the sad bloodletting of Ulong. Now the knives have come out, and we’ve suddenly been jarred back to reality – or at least reality television. The happy home that was Koror has now vanished in favor of petty scheming and spiteful backstabbing. And I couldn’t be happier. Alliances, mistrust, and greed is what this game’s all about. The Ulong experiment was fun, but now it’s time to get down to business.Of course, just because a merge was on the horizon didn’t mean that Mark Burnett was going to let Steph off the hook easily. Before she could join her rival team, she first had to endure a lonesome night on the beach with nary a teammate or painted volleyball to keep her company. To highlight her plight, Mark Burnett was sure to kick off the episode with the provocative image of a statuesque crab sitting on the evening beach. Ah yes, the crab intro. Always a favorite of mine. But unlike the usual skittish crustaceans frantically scampering across the midnight sand, this crab had a pensive quality about it which was further underscored as it quietly tiptoed off the screen as if to say “I must go now. Be well, America.”
As the mysterious crab receded into the darkness of Pulau, Steph came stumbling out of the woods looking lost, confused, and still so damn sexy. She immediately tended to her fire and expressed concern over sleeping, lest her flames die out. Why the fretting? Didn’t you JUST beat Bobby Jon in a kindling competition? Nevertheless, Steph did eventually catch some shut-eye, and the next morning she got to work experiencing her own personal Island of the Blue Dolphins. The first order of business: staring at the ocean. The show then cut to some massive waves heading her way. Great. Another tsunami. Actually, it turned out to be just random footage of waves that were probably three inches tall. Steph seemed unconcerned as she turned her attention to a coconut which she inefficiently hacked open with the help of a machete. Hmmm… In some ways this was really cool to watch. And in other ways, it was a little lame. It probably would have been more compelling had Steph devolved into a ravenous beast, or maybe Jody Foster in Nell.
Thankfully, we moved onto Koror which was on the verge of self-destruction. Grim, scary music played as we found our serial winners huddled around the picnic table in the grips of boredom and malaise. Ian donned a bizarre makeshift hat which did the unthinkable: made him look more goofy. I really thought he had already reached the nadir of cartoony awkwardness, but I was wrong. Anyway, the lanky dolphin trainer complained to us in an interview that various people around the camp were starting to annoy him. Would tart Katie be one of them? No. Instead, Ian directed his disapproval towards Janu. “She’s like the dysfunctional aunt who lives in the attic,” he explained. Wait, what? Does Ian keep his aunt in his attic? That hardly seems therapeutic. I don’t want to even know how many severed dolphin heads are in his freezer.
Still, crazy Aunt Millie in the attic be damned; Ian had more axes to grind. “Coby got kind of this attitude about him,” said Ian. “He’s become the pouter of the tribe.” Funny. I was going to say he’d become the Miss Thang of the tribe. I guess they’re not mutually exclusive. Speaking of Coby, he was off in the water giving Caryn an all too sensual head scrubbing with the Pantene Pro-V. The two talked strategy, but I couldn’t help but notice Caryn’s disturbingly erotic reactions to the shampoo in her sensibly short, proto-feminist hair. “Proto-feminist”. I don’t even know what that means. It just sounded right. Anyway, Coby bitched and moaned that he had been doing all the work while the girls had just sat back and acted cute (Jenn), withered away (Janu), or swung vines into walls (Katie). The guys weren’t innocent either. Coby accused them of “pretend fishing”: staring at hooks and fantasizing about fish, but not actually going out and catching anything. It’s funny: I pretend fish all the time. Except instead of hooks, I stare at my wallet, and instead of fish, I fantasize about money.
Meanwhile, over at Ulong – or Stephville featuring Mayor Steph and her sidekick, Sheriff Palm Frond – our solo worker was busy trying to conquer nature, or specifically, a coconut tree. She poked, shook, and even climbed this fruit-bearing plant, but alas, she only managed to wrangle in one more coconut. Luckily for her, a brand new piece of Tree Mail arrived via the Tree Postal Service. Steph weeped tears of joy as she learned it was finally time for her to join the Koror tribe. “It’s a merge! I’m gonna have friends!” she exclaimed. Steph, you’ve been alone for twelve hours. Let’s not be overdramatic. Nevertheless, she gathered her belongings, kicked Sheriff Palm Frond to the side, and headed over to Koror, triumphantly sneering, “See you later, Poo-Long!” Wow, I didn’t know people talked like that outside of 1980s teen comedies.
Koror was immediately energized as Steph docked her outrigger on their shores. I can certainly understand. Prior to Stephenie’s arrival, the afternoon’s main entertainment had come from watching Janu sniff a flower. Anyway, the tribe welcomed its new member with open arms as everyone cooed “Heyyyyy!!!!” Yay! New member! NOW LET’S VOTE HER OFF!
Stephenie got right down to business as she quickly stripped off her nasty Ulong buff and wrapped a shiny, new Koror rag around her boobies. Then it was time to have a heart to heart with the girls, including Jenn who appeared to have just returned from the Palau day spa. The girls quickly filled Steph’s ears with sweet nothings, especially Katie who seemed to sprout an instant she-crush. “Everyone loves you,” she said, adding “Especially ME. You still think I’m the prettiest right? We’ll always be sisters! Sisters ’til the DEATH!! Now let’s ditch blondie and drive to New Mexico!” Katie then pulled out a knife and held it to Jenn’s neck. But then Jenn smiled and the knife evaporated into starlight.
Of course, we weren’t the only ones who noticed Katie’s mild infatuation with Stephenie. Island observer Coby immediately honed in on it, stating that “Katie shot up Steph’s butt!” Insert Ian/Tom joke here.
Just when the gossiping was getting good, some of those pesky Survivor natives paddled in. Coby became immediately incensed as Tom happily greeted the tribesmen (real tribesmen, not James and Bobby Jon) and implemented his phony laugh. I kind of felt like Tom was being sincere, but Coby was clearly on some bitchy rant, and who was I to stop him? This was a reality show, after all. Please, bitch away.
Anyway, the natives said they would teach the clueless Americans how to fish, prompting Tom to reach into his bag of clichés and say “Give a man to fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” He then added, “I say this only because people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Our first petty conflict soon arose as the native dudes offered to teach the guys how to fish. Coby wanted to learn, but only two guys could go. That didn’t stop the über-clique of Tom, Ian, and Gregg from jumping on the outrigger. As a result, Coby became extremely upset (READ: passive aggressive) as he resolved to stay back with the girls and learn how to bait hooks. To add insult to injury, the guys wouldn’t just leave. Tom then stuck around to teach all the women how to bait, causing Coby to nearly lose it. Finally, the hairdresser insisted that he would teach the women and scoffed Tom out to open sea where the only person he could talk down to would be the camera man.
With happy Survivor music playing, the guys learned how to reel in the seafood, and even I was impressed when Tom seemed to catch what appeared to be a giant whale. Good god! That thing is huge! Oh wait. The camera was just really, really zoomed in. Turns out Tom’s fish was but a mere scrap, worthy of Bobby Jon’s talents. Seriously, though. It looked like a goliath!
That evening, the tribe ate its fish feast, and to the delight of everyone, the natives brought along some crazy rum. As usual, Caryn was quite excited (we all remember her laughing fits a few weeks ago the first time she consumed alcohol). The real story here though was Tom who turned out to be an utter lightweight. After two cups of rum, he nearly keeled over and rolled into the surf. Yes, he committed the cardinal sin of Survivor: he got drunkity drunk. First we had the slurry words, then the uneven balance, and finally, the embarrassing stumble and fall. Congrats Tom. You just undid all the machismo you’d so gallantly accumulated this season.
The next morning, Coby continued to harp on Tom’s fake laughs and mannerisms. He finally decided to pull Stephenie away from the pack (or at least Katie) and lay out all the gossip. A man driven to the edge, Coby sadly did this without any finesse, ultimately raising the ire of one Tart-N-Plump Katie, but at that point, he didn’t even care. He just wanted to gossip for the love of god. So what was so pressing that he just HAD to tell Stephenie: Gregg and Jenn have a secret alliance that will betray Tom and Ian, Jenn wants to vote you off because she’s jealous of you, and Katie has back hair. I’m pretty sure he made the last one up. I hope.
In true Survivor fashion, Stephenie immediately reported all this back to the gals who vehemently denied everything. Jenn wrote off Coby’s allegation with a nervous laugh that seemed to say “Just turn around so I can see where to put the knife.” Just to make sure that Steph still felt okay, Tom came over and told her she was safe. You see, without even doing much, she was in a secret alliance with Tom, Ian, and Katie. Ah yes. Beautiful, beautiful scheming. So nice to have it back.
Soon it was time for the immunity challenge, which was an old retread of the ever popular stand-on-a-pole-until-you-die gambit. Settling in for a fun evening of standing absolutely still, Probst reclined happily in a lawn chair and watched his minions suffer on their posts. Ian gave us all the chills as he threatened to go naked for some peanut butter and chocolate – à la Jenna and Heidi on Survivor: Amazon, but we were thankfully spared of this horrific site when the gawky dolphin trainer cracked a goofy grin and kept his clothes securely draped on his skeletal frame.
After some time, Probst eventually threw the first temptation at his pliant castaways: a donut. In one of their stupider strategic moves, Coby and Janu flopped into the water and chased down that donut as if it were the first piece of food they’d had in three years. Minutes later, as he took a wet perch next to Probst, Coby relished his sugary confection, happily gloating in front of his teammates. Katie for one was not happy, and she accused the two of either wanting to go home or thinking they were above going home. Katie, just shut your prissy trap already.
With time still tickin’ and Probst getting tired, the producers decided to up the ante a little bit by offering up some chocolate chip cookies. Suddenly a roar of desperation overtook the Survivors as everyone minus Tom and Steph plunged into the water and raced for those cookie. I don’t blame them. They looked good. I was ready to jump in the water too, except I was, you know, sitting in my living room. Anyway, it was down to Steph and Tom, but no Survivor was a match for the glistening pizza Probst brought out next. Steph quickly caved and gave up immunity for the pizza, leaving Tom the victor once again. That was pretty dumb.
After the challenge, the team headed straight to Tribal Council where Jeff got to probe the contestants some more. He asked Jenn if Koror has gotten competitive now, and she simply smiled and said “We have a little bit of that competitiveness.” She added, “I poop rainbows!”
As for Janu, she full on fessed up to the tribe that she sucked and braced for possible elimination. Well, if there’s anything we know about Survivor, the person who claims he or she is going, most definitely stays. I guess it’s curtains for Steph then. Oh, but wait. She just said that she regrets her pizza decision. She thinks she’ll go. Hmmm… Wait a second. This episode has been all about Coby’s increased friction with the tribe. I guess that means that… yup, Coby was voted out with a near unanimous vote. Truthfully, this wasn’t very much of a surprise. He overplayed his cards this episode, forgetting that no one likes a bitch.
“It was a great compliment,” he said as he left. Huh? Was he being sarcastic? No. He explained in his exit interview that being voted out was a testament to his status as a threat. Yeah, okay, whatever it takes to make you feel better. Truthfully though, I’m sad to see him go. Coby has not only been funny, but he’s been an excellent commentator on tribe life. I guess we’ll just have to listen to Ian’s annoying insights, which I’ll assume don’t include soap, deodorant, or toothpaste.