Take notes and use your highlighters, boys and girls, because you never know when there’s going to be a Pop Quiz. This week the question is: “What is the Samoan meaning of FOA?” And the correct answer is: “breaking heads.” If you got it right, give yourself a gold star. If you didn’t, don’t worry: after this episode it’ll be hard to forget. In fact, there are so many cracked heads on the FOA tribe, it’s looks like a convention of Humpty Dumpties.
Now back to the Island. In case we’ve forgotten, Bwana Jeff ominously reminds us of Russell’s shenanigans:
—“The Yellow Tribe’s biggest problem is spelled R-U-S-S-E-L-L.”
—“He constantly lied. . .had secret alliances.”
—“After FOA lost immunity, Russell needed a fall guy. When Marisa became suspicious, he had his ‘sacrificial lamb’.”
—“Unfortunately for Russell, Betsy’s a cop and she didn’t believe a word he said. Marisa was out, leaving Officer Betsy to return to camp to figure out where Russell would strike next.”
Officer Betsy? Now I’m watching closely. Is Bwana Jeff going to pull a “Mr. Rogers”, plop down on the nearest log, pull out his cardigan sweater and Converse sneakers and explain patiently that policewomen are our friends? Not quite, but before the end of the hour I can guarantee you’re going to so sick of hearing about Officer Betsy being a policewoman you’re going to be wishing she’d picked anything else for a career, say maybe spelunker or numismatist.
QUICK. LOOK FAST! GALU GETS ON SCREEN FOR THIRTY SECONDS
As Galu rises, Yasmin has crawled out of the wrong side of the palm frond. Grumpy doesn’t begin to describe her mood: “Oh my god, I don’t even know who invented campin’. Who could love the outdoors when you could be indoors. Look at me, how I have to walk like I have a stick up my butt. Lord have mercy God I didn’t know it was gonna be this hard. Look at that bed. That bed is pitiful. I been told, ‘you could make it in Detroit you could make it anywhere.’ What the? The Hood’s not the Wood.”
End of Galu’s moment in the spotlight.
OVER AT THE TWIST AND SHOUT
The FOA tribesmen are up and stirring. Ever heard of the game “Whack-a-Mole”? Neanderthal Ben is playing the Samoan version, “Whack-a-Lizard.” As in bash-one-over-the-head-with-a-stick. (Poor little Geico Gecko, I heard he had a nervous breakdown over the whole incident. I’m sure he’d appreciate your well-wishes.) Ben’s pretty proud of his hand-eye coordination in being able to actually hit the speedy little critter, “All’s I gotta do is stick him on a stick, roast him up.”
Sticking and roasting graphically depicted on screen, to sound-track accompaniment of Civil-War-era tune “Shenandoah” being played on harmonica. Trust me, it was a moment of heart-breaking pathos. We are now led to believe the entire tribe is sharing the sumptuous repast: Here’s the problem: this wasn’t some Komodo Dragon; it was a puny little tree lizard. We’re supposed to believe there was enough to share? While dining, the breakfast companions engage in a lively discussion of whether the lizard tastes more like chicken or fish. Too bad Jessica Simpson wasn’t present to weigh in with her opinion.
Jaison decides he’d better have a little quality time with Russell. Don’t want to be on his hit list. Russell assures Jaison , “I trust you waaaaay more than Ben.” Like that’s a big compliment. In fact, Russell allows, he trusts Jaison so much he’s going to confide in him. “There’s a immunity idol in our camp; I’m gonna start looking for it.” No sooner said, than done.
The tribe’s sitting around the fire. Within spitting distance of them, waist-deep in a hole beside a hollow tree, is Russell. “Hey, Russell, whatcha doin’?”, they jokingly ask.
“I’m looking for the immunity idol,” he answers truthfully. Russell disappears into the hollow of the tree. No one pays any attention. When he emerges, the Immunity Idol tucked safely into his underpants, he just strolls casually away. I’ve been worried for a while now that Russell’s beer-belly hangs so far out over the top of his drawers that he’s in danger of accidentally puncturing it with one of his knees while walking, but I suppose it served its purpose if it camouflaged the Idol from prying eyes. Russell is justifiably excited about his find, but contemptuous of his fellow-FOAns: “These people are Idiots.” Talking about the idol in the tree trunk, “When I seen it there, I almost passed out, reached up there, put it in my pants, walked off.”
Russell, surprises himself by deciding to prove his trustworthiness by sharing with Jaison that he has the Idol. Jaison is suitably impressed, “At this point I think I can trust Russell.” Russell is last seen digging hidey-hole for his Precious.
Betsy, meanwhile, has decided that Mike, he of the five-hair-goatee (said goatee at present exhibiting symptoms of bed-head), needs a pep talk. She wants him to Believe that he can do this Survivor thingy ‘cause he’s a real he-man. Simultaneously, Liz is telling us that voting off Mick is the smart thing to do because he can’t compete; he’s just a weakling. I know, the irony is just delicious, isn’t it?
The CAMERA lovingly lingers on a close-up shot of another lizard, looking pensive and apprehensive. I swear he must have been a very close relative of the Breakfast Snack; they could almost have passed for twins.
RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
Still at FOA, tree mail has arrived. (GALU receiving similar communiqué assumed, not shown.) The tribesmen are instructed to put on their war paint and prepare for battle. Mick is stoked. “I’m a mean motor-scooter and a bad go-getter. It’s downtown to Chinatown, man, I’m waitin’ for this.” What, you never heard Chuck Norris say that in one of his movies? Anyway, Mick’s ritual preparation for conflict also involves the careful gathering of his five chin-hairs into a Kung-Fu braid. It is said that such appendages carry with them great power. Why else would anyone allow themselves to look so ridiculous?
Bwana Jeff is waiting for the tribes. He demands the return of Scary Immunity Idol from GALU. Mark my words, that thing is alive: it looks nothing like it did last week. This challenge, says Bwana, is such a doozy that it’s going to suffice for both Reward and Immunity Challenge this week. Reward will be a bunch of fishing gear, which could be a very good thing indeed if one happens to share my opinion that lizard tastes nothing like either chicken Or fish. Oh, and there’s a surprise.
Briefly, there’s a sort of Arena, where three tribe members fight over vaguely football-shaped really heavy balls, trying to get them to teammates on a platform who will then attempt to throw them into a sort of basketball goal. First team to get three balls in the net wins. After each goal scored, there’s a trade-out of players in the pit trying to kill each other. Sort of equal-opportunity mayhem. I think the best way to describe it might be to say that the pit part, where players are competing for possession of the balls, is a hybrid of mud wrestling, roller derby, and cage fighting. In other words, it’s more or less an excuse for a free-for-all, no-holds-barred, anything-goes mélee.
The contest begins with the men in the pit. Mick launches his body at Erik, full tilt. Then he does it again. Erik retaliates. Liz scores for FOA. Men and women switch positions. Natalie and Laura are full-out choking each other. Natalie and Liz team up on Shambo. John scores for GALU.
Bwana Jeff, who’s appointed himself a one-man Praetorian guard, decides to intervene before somebody actually gets killed and CBS has to go through all the red tape of getting the body back to the States. “You guys are right on the line of getting ugly. From here on out, any cheap shot I see, you’re out of the challenge.” Play on.
Yasmin takes out Ashley. Dreadlock Russell flips Jaison onto his head. Ben throws Yasmin to the ground. Ben grabs John around the ankles and he topples. Ben sticks out his leg and trips Dreadlock Russell, who pretends to be mortally injured. Bwana Jeff calls FOUL, stops play and kicks Ben out of the challenge. First. Time. Ever. On. Survivor. Wowza. FOA has to play down a man. Erik scores for GALU. Mike is staggering around dazed and confused, in real danger of tripping over his goatee. Laura scores for GALU. GALU wins.
Bwana Jeff wants to know how Ben feels about being the first person ever kicked out of a Survivor challenge. Ben feels fine. He shrugs it off. “Outlaw baby. No use in crying over spilled milk.” I’m thinking the gift bags this season contained nothing but a bunch of trite expressions, to be used whenever the contestant feels it may benefit his game. In any event, I couldn’t see that Ben’s transgression was nearly so bad as some others which didn’t get penalized. I suspect Probst has just had a yen for the last eighteen seasons to scream “You’re outta the challenge!”
The promised surprise is that GALU will send one its members home with FOA as their guest through the next tribal council. As the Maitai, Dreadlock Russell must make the choice. He picks “my home girl, Yasmin”.
GALU heads home with their fishing gear and the Scary Immunity Idol (if I were they, I’d feed that thing some sacrificial grubs or something). Bwana Jeff summons the medical team to examine Mike, who’s looking much the worse for wear. His blood pressure is dangerously low. He tries to stand and nearly falls down.
FOA’s Maitai, Dr. Mick is observing the proceedings. “As a physician myself, out here you’ve gotta consider the worst case scenario, which for him is probably a big heart attack.” All in all, he seems pretty sanguine over the possibility.
Survivor Samoa is now over for Mike, who’s hospital-bound. It’s probably just as well; he needs to get home and resume the Rogaine treatments on his chin. [Note: this self-same Mike Borassi was to compete on Survivor Toncantins, but was dropped from the show just before filming began—for “medical reasons”. Ummm, can you say Casting Catastrophe, boys and girls?] Mike leaves believing himself a proud warrior, “I think I showed I can be tough when I have to be!”
A BRIEF INTERLUDE WITH GALU
A fish with really strange whiskers swims toward the camera. Some might suggest a resemblance to a certain weird goatee. I would do no such thing, of course, but others might. There are fish everywhere. Zillions of them. And Shambo, wearing snorkel gear and wielding a spear. The tribe is really hoping she’s bringing home dinner. Monica: “Shambo insisted that spear fishing is her thing.”
Shambo seems to have left the ocean environs and is floating around in what appears to be green goo. “This is the first bath I’ve had in five days, even if it is a swamp. I didn’t catch any fish, but I tried. I’m gonna float around here for a little while.” May I remind that on Day One, Shambo refused to go swimming with the others because she hates water. Now she’s avoiding fishing, and the others, by hanging out in primeval slime?
Shambo returns to camp empty-handed and announces that the bad news is that she didn’t catch any fish and she lost half the gear, but that the good news is that there are fish in the ocean. Laura declares, “She’s just signed her own death warrant.”
YASMIN MAKES FRIENDS WITH FOA
FOA has returned to camp, weary and broken in body and soul. They just want to curl up and nurse their wounds. Yasmin has other ideas. She’s been sent to this tribe on a Mission. She stands up and demands loudly (in fact everything Yasmin says is at a decibel level which should necessitate the use of ear protectors):
“I’d like you guys to come closer and I’d like to tell you guys who I am and find out a little bit about you. My name is Yasmin and I’m a professional hair stylist. I don’t know how you feelin’ about me, but let’s just say I’m not the enemy. I’m here to help you guys strategize because to me I don’t like a not-fair fight. Why you matched up with people that’s not like the right people ‘cause then it’s like takin’ candy from a baby. Who da hell wants to do dat? Dat don’t boost my self-esteem. You know dat makes me seem like I really did do sumpin that was a cake-walk. But, uh, now don’t get offended by personally off the river I noticed that strategy may be sumpin you guys is lackin’. And him, I don’t know his name [points at Ben] but I’d like to talk to you in private. I know this is not the game people think you can be honest.”
I can’t speak for the FOAns, but if I’m in their shoes I’m thinking a lunatic has been dropped into our midst. One armed with an 1800-watt hair dryer and caustic chemicals, no less. Suffice it to say their reactions to Yasmin’s motivational speech is less than positive. Jaison is furious. What he wants to tell her is “Screw you.” Russell is no less angry: “She’s full of crap. She comes over here to our camp, disrepects us, calls us babies, tells us how if we listen to her. . .She come to the wrong camp, cause she ain’t getting’ nuttin’ but disrepect from us. She’s gonna pay for that statement, I promise you.” I believe him.
Yasmin sashays down the beach for privacy to read the note Bwana Jeff has given her. It tells her that she has a clue to the hidden Immunity Idol and that she can choose whether or not to share that information. The clue reads “Search hard here at FOA. If you don’t find it in a little while you must be barking up the wrong tree.” Well, that’s just too much information for Yasmin: “You know how many trees are out here? Too many.” I guess that means she won’t be looking for the Idol.
It’s understandable, really, Yasmin has more important things to do. Like make another enemy. She pulls Ben aside. “Can we have a conversation?”
Ben: “Sure, what’s up?”
Yasmin: “Let’s talk about cheap shots, I don’t know.”
Ben: “truth about me and cheap shots…”
Yasmin: (interrupting) “Ahkkk ahkk ahkk ahkk” (shakes her finger at him) “cause guess what. You tackled me like a dude, don’t tell me you don’t remember.”
Ben: “Wasn’t anything personal, that’s just the way the game is played you were going after one of my team-mates.
Yasmin: “But Dude, look at the match-up: Do you see women playin’ football with men that play football? They don’t for a reason. What I wanna know is why would a dude as tall as you tackle me.”
Ben: “Cause you were goin’ after my teammate.”
Yasmin: That was very disrespectful. You not showin me no sympathy and you not understandin’ what I’m sayin’. You’re a dude, it doesn’t matter.
Ben: “Okay, grammar school, here’s where it’s goin’. . .”
Yasmin: “Ignorant, since you wanna say grammar school”
Ben: “What’s the definition of ignorant?”
Yasmin: “What’s the definition of grammar school? I’m just tellin’ you how I feel but since I see I ain’t git nowhere wid you I’m just gonna let you know I don’t back down for nobody. You tacklin’ me. You look like a fool. You look like a big jerk goin’ after a girl. Okay, he say like he a big guy goin’ after a girl. You know what? He’s a big Sissy.”
Yasmin stomps away in a snit, hopefully in search of the pages missing from her copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Like all the ones on winning friends and influencing people.
Ben’s pithy opinion of Yasmin’s attempt at rapprochement is clear as he speaks to the camera: “Yasmin is just a piece of work. Jasmin has a big mouth. Jasmin smells bad. She’s got really poor grammar. I think Jasmin is pretty close to being a – Hooker.”
Talking to Russell, he adds, “She’s Ghetto Trash, plain and simple. She needs to go back to eatin’ ketchup sandwiches and drinkin’ Kool-Aid and doin’ whatever else she does and leave us alone.”
Ben’s work for the day is not done. While everyone else is trying to sleep, he’s noisily chopping wood and practicing getting a flame going by striking the machete on the flint. This does not endear him to his tribemates. The next morning, Jaison and Mick chat as they make what appear to be sand castles. Jaison complains about Ben: “He drives me crazy.” Mick (sort-of) defends Ben, “You know how he gets, man, anybody calls him out he just gets exasperated.”
Betsy, meanwhile, is making pitiful attempts to save herself and have Ben voted off at Tribal Council. “Here’s your choice: you can go with a policewoman, a mother, or you can go with the Outlaw.” Perhaps it is Liz who expresses the difference between the two most eloquently, “Betsy is a 47-year-old cop; Ben is a 28-year-old guy.” Russell, though, has an axe to grind. He wants Betsy gone gone gone: “Marisa threatened me, Betsy threatened me, I’m gonna go down the line. They’re goin’ home. I wanna keep Ben, Ben’s gonna stay ‘cause whatever I want, happens.”
NO SINGING KUM BAH YAH AT THIS CAMPFIRE
Bwana Jeff innocently asks about Yasmin’s visit to camp. Liz hems and haws and says well, uh, except for that one little incident with Ben it was pretty smooth. Incident? Incident? Oh, Ben, do tell.
Ben is only too happy to share. After relating much of his and Yasmin’s conversation, he can’t resist another shot: “Her grammar is so poor. It was like talking to an idiot. She’s Ghetto Trash and I have no respect for her. She needs to go back to where she came from.”
Russell jumps in: “When she came to our house, and said it’s like takin’ candy from a baby. When somebody comes to your house and disrepects your family you’re gonna kick ‘em out your house.”
Jaison (Goody Two-Shoes) mouths something about well, the real problem is they all just need to work harder.
Mick is willing to give Ben a bit of support: “That’s just how Bennie rolls; he doesn’t just show teeth; he bites.”
Bwana Jeff wonders aloud if that isn’t probably disruptive to the tribe, all the chomping and so forth. He asks Ben if he regrets getting kicked out of the challenge. Not so much, says Ben, “First of all, you didn’t say we were playing by your sissy rules. I regret I didn’t get to help my teammates, but do I regret trippin’ him? Absolutely not. Everybody else doing all this crazy stuff.”
Jeff: “Accidental trip, or on purpose?”
Ben: “One hundred percent on purpose.”
Jeff wants to know if Ben thinks he’s hurt his chances in the game. Ben says he’s got every bit as good a chance as anybody else, and adds for good measure, “I do not start a fight but if you come at me with a fight, you’re gonna get a fight.”
Betsy begins to whine that with all Ben’s transgressions, she’s the one with the target on her back. She makes a totally pointless analogy about some guy with a speeding ticket trying to blame the other fellow. I told you it was pointless.
Yasmin is now invited to leave and is told she can share as much or as little of what she observed at FOA as she wishes. The voting begins.
Betsy votes for BEN, chanting, “Bad Boy Bad Boy whatcha gonna do? Don’t use my name if you get stopped in New Hampshire.” I hear crime is rampant up there with Officer Betsy away.
Ben votes for Betsy: “I thought you were a good cop, but you’re a bad cop, this one’s for you.” Then he shoots his finger gun at the camera. POW! Now here’s what worries me about Ben and that finger gun of his. What if some native Samoans, who’ve lived in isolation all these years, see Ben using this powerful weapon and decide that he’s some sort of God who must be worshipped? Laugh if you want to, but I’ve seen that newsreel and it doesn’t end well.
Bwana Jeff collects the Vote Pot. The only vote not for Betsy is by Betsy, for Ben. The Tribe has spoken. And how. Jeff dismisses them: “It’s clear from tonight’s vote that this tribe is voting together. The question is are you Working together?”
Tune in next week for more eloquent elocutions, plotting worthy of Guy Fawkes and a possible sighting of the GALU tribe.