Greetings, O, seeker of knowledge. I have prepared my parlor for your arrival. I think you’ll find that your favorite beverage is waiting. I knew you’d be wearing that marvelous outfit, as well. I selected a matching turban, as you can see. Please sit down and link hands with me. We’ll stare into the colorful starbursts deep inside my cracked crystal ball and learn together what will happen in the fifth episode of Survivor:Thailand. Behold! I’m detecting a title! Yes, I see that this week’s episode will be known as:
The Potion Surprise
It’s late evening on Day 12. The Chuay Gahn tribe has returned from Tribal Council and are going about their respective duties. Helen is trying desperately to restore the fire as the rains begin to fall. Jan is whipping together some of her signature Beach Sand Pie for a late dinner while simultaneously trying to darn one of Brian’s socks. And the boys are laying in the cave, preparing for Round 3 of the World Championships of Belching. Ted easily took Round 1 (Loudness) with a perfect rumbler that sounded like the return of Tyrannosaurus Rex and cleared the cave of every bat, monkey, and snake that had been sleeping within. But Brian rallied in Round 2 (Endurance) by reciting The Gettysburg Address in a single epic burp. All involved agreed his effort had the highest degree of difficulty possible and the execution was flawless. He even stuck the landing, powering through “perish from the earth” with a growling intensity that brought tears to the eyes of not just his opponents, but also the cameramen. And so it all comes down to the Lightning round, where each Survivor must belch to exhaustion. Tension is high as the #3 seed, Clay, gulps air in preparation for his attempt.
“Dinner!” Jan cries in a wavering, cracking voice. She is terrified at the outcome of Tribal Council. In fact, she’s physically quivering in fear, causing her wrinkles to ripple in a dizzying television static pattern. Now that Helen has apparently sold her up the river, Jan suddenly feels very alone and vulnerable, like the day she realized she’d been snookered by the traveling Youth Cream salesman. Her new strategy is to make herself absolutely indispensable and maybe even turn on a little of the old charm. As the men emerge from the cave, clapping each other on the back and agreeing to conclude the World Championships the next day while the women gather food, Jan unfastens a button on her shirt and hikes her shorts up another inch or two. She flashes a wobbly smile at Brian, whose elite training kicks in immediately. Instantly, he’s standing next to Jan, one strong hand on her good hip. She suddenly realizes this might be even easier than she thought.
Next morning, over at Sook Jai camp, most of the group is very excited. The shelter is almost done. Last night’s big rainstorm revealed a couple dozen more chinks in the armor, but it’s getting closer. In his folksy Texan voice, Jake explains the situation: “Shitfahr, at air catrwaln ass nite uz like ta kick alla us inna ass! Tell ya wat tho hell ah thank we got dam sita work aheyed but we ell get er lickt for em cows get on home tanie, gotdam!” Translation: “My goodness, that was quite a storm last night. We still have some more work to do on the shelter, but we should be completed before nightfall, thank heavens.”
Out by the fire, Stephanie emerges from her burrow. By spending nearly every day away from her tribemates, she’s learned from her friends, the crabs, how to build giant balls of sand with her feet. She now has a fortress of sandy balls set up around a three-foot hole in the beach. Not only does this haven serve as her bed, but she also plans to spend a good deal of time by herself in the burrow during the day, tidying and remodeling and just generally trying to get further away from the tribemates she dislikes so intensely.
Robb wanders over, yawning and rubbing his face. “Cool cave, Dude,” he says as he peers into the depths of the hole. “I’ll bet you could dig all the way to China if you keep it up!”
Stephanie considers correcting him, but decides there are too many things wrong with his comment to waste the time fixing it. Besides that, her throat is killing her, her energy is waning, and she can’t breathe through her nose anymore. “Listen, Robb,” she croaks. “We need to start working on Erin or Ken. Right now, we’re completely outnumbered, and if we wind up heading to Tribal Council, one of us is going home.”
“How about Jed?” asks Robb. “He seems like a good guy. I think he said he’d be in our alliance.” Stephanie buries her head in her hands.
Back at Chuay Gahn, Helen is scrubbing pots as she walks along the beach, looking for food. She chews reflectively on a juicy piece of wood she found. Jan has not emerged from the cave yet, which is very unusual. Even Ted and Clay are awake. She can see them lounging under a tree, attempting to tap out the James Bond theme on their stomachs with their hands. Something is definitely not right.
Suddenly, a tree glides along the beach like a leafy shark fin. It darts quickly in Helen’s direction, and she recognizes it as the one where Tree-Mail is usually located. The tree stops three feet in front of Helen, whereupon a Red Beret spirals out of the ground beneath the tree, salutes, then leaps straight up into the air and eventually disappears from sight. “Um, looks like we have tree mail,” Helen announces.
Ted and Clay flop around like two scarab beetles flipped onto their backs. Jan and Brian emerge from the cave and somehow manage to blow smoke rings into the air as they languidly saunter over to read the mail. Helen claps her hands over her eyes to prevent them from shooting out of their sockets. Something is definitely not right!
After reading the clue, which advised everyone to bring their individual packs, Chuay Gahn meets up with Jeff and the Sook Jai at a nearby beach. Jeff is sitting on a large treasure chest, and he has a can of beans in his lap. The Survivors sit in the sand at his feet and begin to pant and drool like Pavlov’s Kennel. Jeff grins slyly and holds the can up for everyone to see. “Wanna know what you’re playing for?” he taunts.
Robb jumps up and performs a complex victory dance. “Beans, Dude, beans!”
Jeff’s grin widens to inhuman proportions. “Nope!” he yells as he stands and hurls the can of beans into the ocean. “Today, I have a special offer for each of you. At this point, there are twelve of you left, and let’s face it. The odds of any of you playing the game well enough to win the million dollars are absolutely puny. So I’m willing to offer any and all of you seventy-five dollars to quit the game right now and walk away. No strings attached. The money is yours. Give yourself a second to think about - "
“Dude, I’m in,” interrupts Robb.
“Me, too!” squeaks Jan.
Jake nods his head once. “Hup.”
And so on. Ultimately, all twelve Survivors agree to take the money and leave. Jeff is furious and looks to the heavens, as if seeking guidance. As if on cue, Mark Burnett drops from the sky on a bungee cord and grabs one end of the treasure chest to hold himself in place. He is frothy with rage. “You idiots!” he screams. “You can’t even pay your cable bills for $75!”
“But, Dude, that’s a hefty handful of cheeseburgers,” reasons Robb.
Burnett lets out a yelp of frustration, then turns his blazing eyes on Jeff. “I told you this would happen,” he hisses hatefully. “The offer is retracted. Now they must face The Potion Surprise! Do not fail me again, Probst. I have spoken.” He releases his hold on the treasure chest and disappears into the sky.
An angry Jeff turns to the group and bares his teeth at them. “You heard the man!” he growls. “No money for any of you. Ever! You must now face The Potion Surprise!” He leaps off the treasure chest and opens the creaky lid. Inside are twelve vials and a star-and-moon-covered pointed hat. “As you probably don’t know, the Thai Secret Service is the world’s most elite spy organization. You haven’t heard of them because they’re so elite. Rest assured, however, that the very best spies in the world are part of this organization. Now, each of you must step forward in turn and drink one of the vials,” Jeff begins.
Burnett’s voice suddenly booms from far above. “The hat, Jeff! You must wear the hat!” He punctuates his comments with an evil laugh that makes it clear he could successfully ask Jeff to appear on camera wearing nothing but a baby’s bib and a diving mask if he wanted it that way.
Jeff slowly and distastefully pulls the wizard’s hat from the box and crams it on his head before speaking again. “Here’s how it works. Each vial contains a little treat from the Thai Secret Service, a barely legal dose of the strongest truth serum known to man. Just a sip will force you to answer any question posed to you. An entire vial of the stuff will cause your true self to emerge in a spectacularly powerful way. You will act exactly the way your deepest inner being is thinking, and it will be embarrassing. If anyone refuses to drink their potion, their tribe loses. And if anyone’s behavior becomes so intolerable that the other tribe begs them to give that person the antidote, the conceding tribe loses. Any questions?”
The wide-eyes Survivors stare at Jeff in total silence.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Jeff says, and he smiles like a cat with a bellyful of milk. “Because you were so stupid before, this is now the Immunity Challenge. Losing tribe comes to see me at Tribal Council in two days. Survivors ready? GO!”
All Survivors are mentally steeled for the prospect of the “Gross Food Challenge” so nobody has any trouble at all downing their potion. Then everyone stands around, waiting. Finally, Shii Ann comments, “I don’t feel any different. May I please be blindfolded so I can do a logic puzzle?”
“Wait for it!” Jeff whispers excitedly. His forehead is shiny with sweat, and his breaths are short and shallow. “Three...two...one...NOW!” he cries.
Immediately, chaos descends on Challenge Beach. Helen throws her head back and releases a primal scream before chasing after Jeff, her teeth snapping and gnashing like a cartoon shark out of water. Jeff screeches and scrambles up the nearest tree. Meanwhile, Shii Ann has pulled a vine off a tree and is whipping a cowering, thumb-sucking Clay while screaming, “I am the Queen of the Island! Kneel before me!” Ted is bench-pressing Ken, who is reciting poetry in a soft voice. Robb is on his knees in the sand, feverishly scribbling out third-degree differential equations. Jake has climbed on Erin’s back, digging his heels into her rib cage and shouting, “Geh on deh nao lil missy!” She’s strutting up and down the beach, swaying her hips like a fashion model and staring with smoky eyes at Brian, who appears to have simply fallen asleep. Penny is jumping around and shrieking for no apparent reason. Stephanie is silently glaring at everyone. And Jan has climbed atop a convenient boulder and is belting out show tunes.
Sand and dust flies everywhere for several minutes. The sound is deafening, but ultimately, one piercing, horrible sound penetrates all the others. “The sun will come out tomORrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!” Gradually, the action and noise subsides until everyone is motionless, staring at Jan on the stone. “ToMORrow! ToMORrow! I LOVE ya! ToMORrow! You’re always a DAY. A. WAYYYYY!”
Finally, Robb speaks. “For the love of humanity, would someone please silence that horrible woman? Her cacophonous attempts at singing are damaging my ear drums.”
All heads swing from Nightclub Jan to Scientist Robb. Helen’s jaw goes slack in surprise, releasing her grip on Jeff’s rump in the process and falling to the ground. Jeff seizes the opportunity to leap down and start handing out antidote vials. “Chuay Gahn wins Immunity!” he yells. “Sook Jai, I’ll see you tonight.” Then, grabbing his sore butt with one hand, he half-limps, half-sprints into the jungle.
At Tribal Council, it is obvious that Stephanie and Robb spent exactly zero minutes trying to recruit other members for their doomed alliance. In a predictable 5-2 whitewashing, Stephanie is asked to leave. As she stands to take her torch to Jeff, Robb stands and pulls her into a ferocious bear hug. “Dude, I will so avenge you,” he whispers urgently. “I’m going to bring it home for you and Jed. Farewell, friend!” He holds her out at arm’s length and wipes a tear from his eye.
Stephanie shakes free of his grasp and stalks off in disgust. “So long, Dumbass,” she spits as she slinks into the night.
And now my crystal ball is once again dim. I have lost the signal of the future completely. You will have to return next week for more insight. Maybe then, I’ll know who won Round 3.
(After making my predictions, I went to the CBS web site. Here’s what they had to say. Doubtless, you are once again amazed at my uncanny accuracy.
ON THE NEXT SURVIVOR
The Survivors receive a shocking offer.
One Survivor's singing drives the others crazy.
Two unlikely tribemates forge a tentative alliance, but neither is sure whether the other can be trusted.)