Disclaimer: This episode may be soporific. The viewer should not operate machinery or moving vehicles while watching.
Picking up right where we left off last week, GALU returns to camp in the dark after their very first Tribal Council. No one seems to regret the loss of Yasmin; in fact the other girls are sitting around the fire commenting how nice it would be if Shambo were vamoosed as well. Laura: “Shambo has a silliness about her that’s socially awkward.” Shambo is not unaware of the situation, “I’m absolutely disparaged that every single person on our team was in an alignment with the exception of myself.”
The following morning, we find Erik scrubbing his face and head with sand, then jumping into the rough surf to rinse. “If you try to go out there it hits you.” He’s knocked flat on his back by a wave. “This ocean is a real bitch. Never seen an object, animate or inanimate that was as fickle as this ocean.”
Now it has been my experience with oceans that they contain a rather high concentration of salt, and that after bathing, if one does not rinse with fresh water, one turns into a human bagel. And yet, season after season, contestants on Survivor seem to be able to swim in the sea with nary a complaint about being salt-cured like a slab of bacon. How to explain? It’s a mystery.
Jaison approaches the water’s edge, but he’s a scaredy-cat and backs away. There’s a storm a-brewin’, I do believe.
THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFÉ
Tree mail arrives at FOA with another brilliantly lyrical poem written by CBS interns Johann and Helga: “The Ocean’s deep provides many a treat…if you keep it all down inside your tummy, you just may win something yummy.” The news is greeted with varying degrees of trepidation.
Liz wants Russell to be aware that she thinks Ashley could be a disaster at this challenge. “Yeah, well, I’m worried about you, Russell counters.” Liz persists, “Who’s the pickiest eater here? We have people who won’t even eat coconut.” For some reason this pushes Russell’s rage trigger and he goes to find his buddies Jaison and Mick to tattle and rant that Liz wants to put Ashley “on some kind of chopping block.” “As soon as I see somebody playing mind games that means they’re a huge threat. I gotta be the only mind-player here.” I can hardly pay attention to what Russell is saying for staring at the three giant bare circles in the part of Russell’s beard on his right neck. Seriously, they’re about the size of silver dollars, perfectly round, lined up neatly in a row. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that mark before. A movie, perhaps? The Omen? Spawn of Satan?
At the challenge beach, Bwana Jeff, looking chipper in a cabana-boy shirt made from shiny sleazy blue fabric, is waiting for the troops. (So that you don’t accuse me of over-reacting to the Boss’s show wardrobe, let me quote from his own blog today: “The short sleeved shirts are gone after this season. It was an experiment that didn’t work. They made me look ridonkolous.”)
As predicted, the Reward Challenge is a contest to see which tribe can get down and keep down gross food items Probst has thrown into a blender and made into a “smoothie.” I think it’s utterly absurd that in these contests, he always makes the claim that whatever disgusting items are being offered for consumption are highly-sought-after delicacies to the local population. Yeah, I’ll just bet when the sea-slug guts go on sale at the local Safeway, the natives are lined up around the block.
There’s a nice roulette wheel centered by a carved wooden octopus. Each space on the wheel is occupied by the name of a raw sea-food item: octopus, sea urchin, giant clams, sea snails, the aforementioned sea slug guts. Four members from each tribe will go head-to-head having to down smoothies blended from the ingredients indicated by the wheel. The winning tribe gets…Real Food—steaks, sausages, veggies, the works—though who’d be able to eat anything with a stomach full of sea slug guts is a valid question.
Laura, Kelly and John are the lucky three who are designated to “sit out” for GALU. Shambo and Jaison get octopus and sea snail. They manage, though Jaison is seriously gagging. Dreadlock Russell and Evil Russell are matched: they have jellyfish and milk. Brett & Mick are treated to a chunky shake of sea cucumber, giant clams and milk. Monica and Liz pick sea urchin. So far everyone has drunk the concoction. It’s down to Ashley and Dave. They get the sea slug guts with water, the worst item on the menu. Dave drinks it in a gulp; Ashley is having major trouble. GALU starts taunting her: “Looks like she already vomited in the glass and is drinking the vomit.” Ashley gives up and barfs in the bushes.
GALU wins, so Chief Dreadlock Russell has to pick a tribe member to miss out on the feast and go spend time with FOA. Does he choose one of the people who sat out the challenge? Why no. He’s using his chiefy powers to punish Shambo.
Russell: “I’m gonna send my girl Shambo again.”
Shambo (irately): “Excuse me?”
Russell: (lamely) “We need more info babe.”
Shambo (now pouting): “I don’t think that’s very fair since I’ve already been.”
Russell: “Whattya want me..”
Shambo (begging): “Can you spread the love for me?
Russell just shakes his head NO. Looks at his tribemates, says defensively, “Have to pay for that chicken.”
Before we leave the lovely Raw Bar on the Beach, I have a couple of quick observations.
If Jeff Probst sends you a food processor for Christmas, take it directly to the town landfill—do not blend, mix or chop with it. Second, a food challenge with the items all squished together in a drink is just useless. Waay too easy. Make ‘em deal with the looks and the texture of what they’re putting in their mouths. I’m just sayin’. Survivor’s gone totally soft.
SHAMBO PAYS ANOTHER SOCIAL CALL
Shambo finds herself once again with the FOA tribe: “You think you guys are pissed! What about me? [Subtext—has anyone ever been so ill-treated?] But I’m happy to be here, you guys are all sweethearts. It’s all good man, I don’t need a damn steak, I’ll take a group hug.” Group hug provided. Shambo is overwhelmed. She loooves these people. She pulls out the paper with the list of clues to the Hidden Immunity Idol and proceeds to read it slowly and deliberately aloud to the whole tribe.
A couple of nominations to the Idiot’s Hall of Fame here: Russell deprives Shambo of the feast and sends her right back to FOA to further bond. Remember how she ooohed and aaahed about the FOAns after her last visit? Umm Hmm. Then Shambo gives the entire FOA tribe all the clues to the Immunity Idol. What does she think? That if somebody on FOA finds the idol, they’re going to wrap it in tissue paper and hand it over to the Shambo Appreciation Society? Or maybe she just doesn’t want the thing at all—she’s already handed over her first clues to Erik and John at GALU. I’m wondering if that bird’s nest on her head is camouflaging a big empty eggshell.
So, off they go, Shambo and her new compadres, to find that Idol. Oh, there Shambo is again—upside down in the tree! Funny, with such good clues, that they can’t find the idol. Oh, I forgot, there’s no Idol there: Horrible Hagar Russell removed it days ago.
While the others are on the treasure hunt, Natalie (wearing that strange bikini made from stiff pink damask upholstery material) and Ashley are confirming their sisterhood on the beach. Ashley is really concerned about being such a failure at the challenge. No, no Natalie reassures her, “I’m really really really proud of you. You really sucked it up. You’re a Rock Star.” Maybe to the extent rocks are dead-weight.
And then, there’s Russell having another hissy fit. Liz has confronted him about the Immunity Idol, telling him she’s seen him in the very tree where the Idol almost certainly resided. It’s so strange—one would think Russell would laugh it off, reassure Liz that he’s not the one with the idol, make her think perhaps that Ben had it. What he does instead is go totally ballistic. I’m scared he’s about to swallow that toothpick hanging out of the corner of his mouth. (Where did he get a bloody toothpick?) He screams at Liz: “Why you so worried about this? You freakin’ me out now. You throwin’ all kinds of stupid stuff out. You wanna be the one to go next? Girl, you walkin’ on thin ice. Period.” He stomps off. Angry man.
BIG CHIEF MAKE NOISE, NOT FIRE
Getting ready for the big feast, over at GALU, Chief Dreadlock Russell gathers his subjects round. He’s in charge here and everybody better sit up and pay attention: “First order of business. Some people think it really sucked I sent Shambo over to the other tribe, well it really sucked when she screwed up and lost our chicken. She had to suffer some consequences for losing our food source.” After further chest-beating, he attempts to start a fire. It probably would have been about as effective if he’d looked heaven-ward and demanded that the gods send down fire. Dave is sneering at Russell’s incompetence: “Chief starts jumping in and trying to start the fire, making a mess of it.” Russell is about to give up and eat the meat raw. Dave decides to do a little lecturing on his own: “You need three things for fire, you need the spark, you need air, you need fuel.” They start acting like a couple of playground bullies.
Russell is belligerent: “Dave, you do a lot of talkin’, not a lot of action.”
Dave: “ Issat right? I was the one who started fire first.”
Russell: “Well, then c’mon.”
Dave: “No, this is about, no you’ll just keep playin’ with it.”
Russell: “I’m not in the mood for suggestions; I’m in the mood for help.”
Dave: “All you gotta do is ask. All you gotta do is ask.”
Russell (appealing to the others): “He sez no.”
Dave: “Was I asked for help? I gotta hear it from the Chief.”
Russell: “No you don’t. You a grown-ass man.”
Dave worries about seeming arrogant. He decides to apologize to Russell. That works. Russell turns the fire over to Dave, and the flame gets going instantly.
Dave (to camera): I’m trying to downplay my awesomeness, ‘cause actions speak louder than words. You know, hey, if I’m the only guy here that can make fire, makes me pretty valuable.” Dave, sweetie, your awesomeness is too awesome to be controlled. I wouldn't even try.
It’s good that GALU enjoyed such a sumptuous feast, because by the time night falls, the rain is coming down in torrents. They’re soaked to the bone. Kelly observes that perhaps Chief Russell choosing the throw pillows instead of a waterproof tarp might not have been the best decision. Other tribe members shown in state of near-drowning. Others opinion regarding throw pillows versus waterproofing assumed, not shown.
Finally, it’s morning. Dave’s stumbling around a swamp, hair-flying, looking like a drunk Unabomber. He retrieves the tree-mail. More eloquence from the interns: “Not worried about going home tonight? You must be nuts.”
Everyone’s back at Challenge Beach. It’s raining. Really Raining. Every single person is shivering uncontrollably in the chill. Bwana Jeff takes back the Scary Immunity Idol and tells Shambo to move back in with GALU. Erik puts his arm around her shoulder; no one else so much as nods. Jeff makes sure that Shambo is aware of the cold reception she’s getting.
Today’s challenge is one of strength and athletic ability. It’s Coconut Basketball with a twist. As the other tribe members attempt to throw the coconuts into the nets, one woman and one man from each tribe will be holding a rope supporting their particular net. When the weight of the coconuts causes them to lose hold, the net falls and they’re out of the game. Last tribe with a rope-holder standing wins. Dave, Shambo and Brett are benched, but not before Brett has this brilliant observation, “It’s the first Immunity Challenge since we lost the last Immunity Challenge.” As opposed to, say, the Second Immunity Challenge since they lost the Last Immunity Challenge? Or the first Immunity Challenge since they lost the next to the last Immunity Challenge?
Evil but strong Russell and Liz hold the ropes for GALU. Dreadlock Chief Russell and Laura do the same for FOA. GALU gangs up on Evil Russell; he’s the first out. Ashley can’t make a single shot. Liz tries valiantly (Erik admiringly says, “This girl is insane!”) but the weight gets to be too much. GALU wins again and marches off with the Scary Immunity Idol.
THE STRATEGY IS TO BE LESS WET
The FOAns are miserable, huddled under the meager shelter. Nobody’s in the mood to head out for private confabs.
Jaison confides to the camera: “This is absolute misery. Our shelter’s wet; none of us slept last night. Our hands and feet look like crap. There’s nothing I want to do more right now than get out of here.”
Russell asks the group (hopefully): “Does anybody in this group wanta go home?” No volunteers.
Ashley suggests: “I say we all just vote for whoever we think; and everybody pack their bags.”
Natalie has her opinion: “We’re all in the shelter, confined in a little ball. I think it’s gonna be one of us girls, for sure.”
Russell is frustrated: “Bums me out I had to stop my strategy because of the rain.” He’s still ranting about Liz, but admits Liz is stronger than Ashley.
LET’S GO TO TRIBAL; AT LEAST THERE’S FIRE
Bwana Jeff decides to give Jaison an opportunity to share just how tough he is. “Outside Survivor, what’s the toughest thing you’ve ever done?”
As it turns out, Jaison is not the whining complainer we thought. Or so he says: “When I was playin’ on the US National Team [water polo, for those of you who didn’t know], we had this Yugoslavian coach that believed our body needed to be in crisis at all times, so he’d have us just beating up on each other eight, nine hours a day, seven days a week. I came in here thinkin’ this just wasn’t gonna be that big a deal, because I’d done a lot of training, done a lot of things that were hard, but this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Crossing Yugoslavia off list of possible summer vacation destinations.
Jeff wants to know if the rain prevented last-minute strategizing during the afternoon. Heck, yes, says Mick: “The fact that we’re all stuck under this little shelter and it’s pouring rain, I mean it’s pretty tough to scramble. We’re all sitting there watching each other. You can’t exactly be scramblin’. What are you gonna do, pull somebody out in the rain? They’re gonna go ‘hell no, it’s freezing out there.’”
Everybody also rushes in to say how much they trust one another. Ashley, in fact trusts Natalie and Russell the most of all. And Liz is surprised at “how much I trust everyone.” Umm, yeah, and I’ve got this really amazing bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
Jeff queries how this vote could strengthen the tribe. He gets a couple of half-hearted answers. Mick thinks that in the long run they could be more organized; Jaison says that depending on who goes home, they could be stronger in future challenges.
Russell lets Jeff know that despite the rain, there’s no dispute as to who is going home, “With this group we’re just too tight. I don’t think it’s really up in the air.” Ashley has the stricken look of a deer in headlights.
Russell is not wrong. When Bwana Jeff pulls the votes out of the Vote Pot, it’s Ashley who’s getting her torch snuffed, a hot meal and dry sheets). Jeff says, quite unnecessarily: “You’re now down to five members. The question is, can you dig deep enough to do what it takes to turn this game around?”
Tune in next time. Bwana Jeff promises that rather than boring us to death, as they did this week, they’ll be showing us a real, certified, gen-u-ine near-death experience for one of the cast members. I wonder if it would be terribly wrong of me to hope for just a teensy bit of excitement?