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Now that all the hubbub over the racial tribe divisions has died down, I have come to a realization – these people are boring. Seriously. Maybe I just remember past seasons too fondly because they’re past, the way we remember our childhoods as happy and sunny even when they weren’t. But I’m pretty damn sure no one this season is running around naked a la Richard Hatch. I don’t see any fun schemers and manipulators like the Robfather. No drunken dancing like Big Tom. No utter assholes like Johnny Fairplay. The biggest fight these people have had is over who works harder, and the only character as such is Cao Boi, and he’s freakin’ annoying. *sigh* I hope someone steps up and acts crazy soon.

If It’s a Pit Hair Competition, Jessica Wins

Anyway, last week we saw the eviction of JP because he was too bossy. That has changed the dynamics in Raro, apparently – the next morning the men are awake and the women are sleeping in. “I’m not a hater, but what they do all day?” Nate asks. Well, according to last week’s episode, they work all day. Nate says the men are outnumbered and will have to watch their backs, but he also thinks he needs to let the women know they do need the men.

So Nate goes and gets firewood, Brad goes fishing, and Adam, I think, fetches some crabs. The women are delighted with this change. “The guys have really stepped it up,” Parvati gloats. “They’re just so much more manly now that the top dog is gone. I love it.”

At Aitu, the women are apparently so bored they’re comparing the growth of their underarm hair. Um, did we need to see this? Do the producers think pit hair compensates for a lack of craziness and cunning among the survivors? Because it does not, Mark Burnett. It really does not.

Cao Boi says the women sit around, and don’t even try to work. He expects they’ll be eliminated soon. I.e., before him, which I personally doubt. Most tribes seem to choose lazy over god-awful-irritating whenever that choice is presented to them.

Taunty Taunters

With only pit-checks going on, we move quickly to this week’s reward competition. Each tribe will pair off, and each pair will be tied to a platform together. Everyone has one arm holding a rope, and the other tribe will attach five-pound sandbags to the other end of that rope until people can’t hold on anymore, and the last tribe with a pair in the game wins. Reward is bottles of wine, spices, and even more fishing gear.

Each tribe has one strong two-man team, and then some weaker ones. This challenge really just involves – from the audience perspective – watching people stand still and strain to hold on to their rope, so there’s not a lot of excitement for me to describe to you. There is some taunting, though. After Cao Boi drops out, he makes fun of Adam and Nate – who are struggling so hard with 30 pounds apiece that they’re basically in a bear hug. “Handsome boys. Make quite a pair,” Cao Boi says.

And then Jessica taunts Cristina, telling her she’s going to drop her weight any minute now, and that it’s mind over matter. Unfortunately for Jessica, taunting must strain her arm muscles, because it’s she, not Cristina, who loses her grip, and the challenge. Raro wins reward, and they choose Jonathan to go back to Exile Island.

”I Dropped the Octopus” Is Not a Sentence I Use Frequently

Now, we rejoin Raro the next day, with two empty wine bottles lying on the beach. What? These people drank wine and nothing interesting happened? See, this just proves my point. Even drunk they must be dull. It almost – almost – makes me miss Judd and his late-night wine-drinking in the outhouse. Apparently all the wine did for Raro was to make them all sleepy, because they comment on how well they slept, and then Adam comes up with an octopus stuck to his ankle. Well, that’s one way to catch breakfast, I guess.

The tribe pries the octopus off Adam and begins to cook it up. Cristina has apparently designated herself the tribe chef, because she starts ordering people to go fetch her salt water and other things to cook with. Jenny does not take kindly to this. “It’s not that hard to throw together a coconut stew,” she says, noting that Cristina is expendable.

Someone cut up the octopus, and Cristina takes it, in the pot, down to the water’s edge to … wash it out, or something, I guess. Jenny is down there, too, washing knives. Then she tells Cristina she’s going back up to camp. Next thing you see, Cristina has somehow let octopus parts escape from her pot, and they’re washing away. Adam comes down to help, and Cristina tells him she thought Jenny was there. She repeats this several times, as if, had Jenny been there, none of this would have happened. I don’t know how Jenny’s absence made Cristina drop the octopus, but whatever.

Jenny tells the others she wouldn’t mind if Cristina were next to go. Adam – who is irked that his hard-won octopus washed away – tells Jenny what Cristina said about thinking Jenny was beside her, and now Jenny’s mad. She says Cristina has become “our new JP. So she better watch herself.” That Jenny’s a bit feisty.

Everyone Hates Drop-Ins

Over at Aitu, the natives are getting restless. Jessica and Ozzy want to go check out another island they can see from their beach; Ozzy says they’re running out of resources on their own island. They invite Candice along, but she refuses; she says she has stuff to do there at camp, but privately she doesn’t want to spend hours with those two while they try to convince her to ally with them. Sundra doesn’t want to go, either. So they take Cao Boi and those three paddle off.

Left at camp, the alliance that includes Yul and Becky has decided they need a fifth, and they approach Sundra. “I think she’s looking for a home,” Yul says. She says ok – they say they don’t trust Ozzy. Sundra tells us she’s glad she’s over being the outsider on the tribe, but realizes the alliance could change.

Meanwhile, the other three are paddling, and paddling, and paddling. Or at least, that’s how editing makes it look. For all we know they could have swum over to the other island. Anyway, they finally land and go exploring. Ozzy finds some sort of fruit he says is good for cuts and scrapes. “Who knows what else we’ll find out here?” he says. Ah, don’t you just love a good foreshadowing? Even if it only foreshadows events by about two seconds. Because what they find is …. *drumroll* …. the Raro tribe.

Yes, they’ve managed to land on Raro’s island, and they stumble out of the bushes into the Raro camp, where all the Raro people are sitting around the fire and look up in shock. And they don’t look happy. And who would, to find Cao Boi tromping into their personal space? “It’s the three we can’t stand,” someone mutters. Cao Boi comes in with loud, over-friendly greetings, and Adam is clearly upset. “This is our turf,” he says (probably privately).

But the marked lack of enthusiasm in the reception does not deter Cao Boi. He sits down and launches into some long-winded story about Asian animal symbology that appears to last for hours and bores everyone to tears. Jenny yawns. “It was a little bit much,” says Stephannie, in an understatement.

Finally the three Aitu people get up to leave, and Cao Boi asks if they can all go together to gather some coconuts. Not on Raro’s island they won’t, says Adam, getting all territorial. Undaunted, Cao Boi asks for some spices. Not surprisingly, they say no. Finally, they leave.

They Should Have Cast Contortionists

Meanwhile, Jonathan has been alone on Exile Island, looking for the hidden immunity idol that Yul found weeks ago. He says it’s stupid of the other tribe to send him if the idol hasn’t already been found, but since he has nothing better to do, he digs practically a trench, and finds nothing. “I have to assume the idol has been found, otherwise I’m a complete moron,” Jonathan says. Um, those two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.

It’s immunity challenge time. Jonathan returns from Exile and, under Jeff’s questioning, says he knows where the idol was, but it’s not there now. Yul looks uncomfortable. Moving on, the challenge is as thus: teams will race to assemble stepping poles, and then use them to transfer two tribe members from one platform in the water to another. Then all the team members will swim out to a tiny platform, and they all have to crowd on top of it to win.

This one takes a while, and mostly involves the tribes’ smaller women perching on top of these poles while the rest of the tribes scramble to put another pole in front of them. The effort to crowd everyone on top of the tiny platforms is pretty amusing – it’s like putting 10 people in a phone booth – but when Raro is almost there, they all fall off, and Aitu wins.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

So Raro will be voting someone off tonight, and at first it’s pretty obvious who – Cristina. She’s irritated everyone, and they’re all ready to give her the boot. But then Nate and Stephannie go for water, and Stephannie notes that it’s either Cristina or her, and makes some joke about how she wouldn’t mind having some mashed potatoes. Adding that to her declaration the previous week that she was the weak link, Nate decides Stephannie’s head clearly isn’t in this game and that she wants to go home.

So he goes and tells Adam and Brad. “She’s already mentally checked out,” Nate says. Brad tells Parvati. Parvati tells Stephannie, who is dumbfounded that Nate would take her comment so seriously. Parvati warns her to watch herself. Stephannie says she needs to just keep her mouth shut, but that if her efforts don’t prove that she wants to be there, she’s not going to beg anyone to keep her. *sigh* Does she get this game at all? You HAVE to beg, that IS how you prove you want to be there. The only moral high road in Survivor is the one leading away from tribal council after your torch is snuffed.

Anyway, Parvati talks to Adam and Rebecca, and tells them Stephannie doesn’t want to leave, and that Parvati is going to vote her conscience.

Surprise! We Hate You.

At tribal council, Jeff notes that this is the tribe’s second eviction and they’re not doing that well. Adam disagrees. “We’ll be a’ight,” he says, in complete defiance of the fact that he is a white boy.

Brad says he himself gets along with everyone, and Stephannie says she hasn’t made any close bonds, but is friendly with everyone.

Then Jeff asks if anyone has stepped up into the bossy void left by JP. Nate is pretty darn quick to say Cristina did – he says she’s dominant and rubs people the wrong way. She is shocked, and says she didn’t realize people viewed her that way and that she’ll work on it. Adam says he thought she knew – he thinks the tribe is pretty honest with each other.

At the least, they seem to vote the way they say they will – Cristina gets just one vote, and Stephannie gets the rest and is eliminated. She wishes them luck as she leaves, and in her parting words later, says the tribe thought she was weak. Jeff sends the rest of them back to camp with the hope that maybe they’ll be pointed in a new direction now.

Next week

Cristina was not only surprised by being told they don’t like her, she seems rather angry about it, and there’s an argument back at camp. Cao Boi rambles about some dream that seems to tell him how to win immunity, and Jeff has a surprising announcement – next week is a double elimination. Both tribes will vote someone out.