I’m disappointed. I tried very hard to get this recap sponsored by the new Spit on the Palm Tree phone as seen on Survivor Samoa, Episode 8, but people were so impressed by their fabulousness that they’ve sold out. Okay, so a good quarter of Thursday’s episode was spent in phone presentation. Still, we should be grateful: it’s nowhere near the product-placement annoyance level of American Idol (6,248 instances last season) or The Biggest Loser (4,636). And no one had to eat any cardboard-tasting diet bars.
PICASSO IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
We start where we left off last week: back at camp after Tribal Council. Shambo’s still stewing that Laura’s the bane of her existence. Russell is his own biggest fan: “My work is done, like a painting, like a Picasso, he’s like a great artist. This is my artwork. It’s gonna be a pretty expensive sale. They’re gonna write me a check for a million dollars.”
Dave, acting like the class nerd trying to get in with the cool kids, trots over to make nice: “You guys tell GALU I said this—Good Move!”
Russell and Shambo cackle like monkeys over their big coup. Shambo is nearly swooning with admiration for the troll: “I gotta find that immunity idol and give it to Russell.” Don’t worry: the only way Shambo will ever find an idol is if it’s wrapped up with tinsel and hung around her neck.
Russell, on the other hand, isn’t letting a moment go to waste. The next morning, while everyone is still asleep, he’s out searching confidently for Idol Number 3: “They’re like magnets to me; I’m just drawn to ‘em.”
Shambo (what else is new?) starts her day with a new rant about her arch-enemy Laura: “Laura’s like the head viper. She is the viper queen of GALU. She is the snake of the tribe. She is the evil demon. She’s a beast. She’s been the first one to go from Day 1. I got four FOA FOA; I got me.” She starts working on John, insisting there’s no “purple” any more and trying to convince him to vote for Laura. He doesn’t commit, and speculates that he’s the only one who knows Shambo is a traitor.
Bwana Jeff is waiting on Challenge Beach for a reward challenge. Wanna know what they’re playing for? A plane trip to the island of Savaii for a once-in-a-lifetime picnic at a waterfall and temporary use of an amazing new-fangled invention, the Sprint Palm-Pre 3 phone. Turns out it does everything except make phone calls.
For once, the challenge isn’t lame. They’ll be divided into two teams of five; one member of each team will lie on a cradle/stretcher suspended by ropes held by the other four. The rope holders will have to maneuver the cradle so that the person aboard can retrieve, in order, 15 numbered flags. They then must maneuver the cradle into position to put each flag into holes carved into a log.
The Purple Team will be Shambo, Jaison, Monica and Mick with John atop the cradle. The Yellow Team is Dave, Brett, Laura and Russell with Natalie on the cradle.
Shambo pretends she’s still a Marine sergeant, yelling out directions. To be accurate it was one phrase “Sit on Your Butts” repeated over and over. John accidentally knocks out the number 9 flag, and replacing it slows down Yellow. Natalie has decided to slide nearly off the end of her cradle, barely hanging on by hooking her legs around the ropes in what looks like a treacherously uncomfortable position. Purple Wins Reward, for which Natalie deserves almost all the credit; she totally sacrificed her body to make it work. Oh, and the pixelators had some work for the first time in many challenges: Nat’s upside-down boobs kept trying to escape. Mick and Jaison are thoroughly disgusted that they have yet to win a reward.
Before sending the winners off on their adventure, Chief Shill Probst wants to make sure once again that they realize what an absolute privilege they are receiving in being able to actually hold the Sprint Palm-Pre in the palms of their grubby little hands, take pictures of themselves, maybe even videos! I know what you’re thinking: when they get to Savaii they’re going to discover videos from their families at home. Sorry, that phone only has local service; it’s been very busy doing Survivory things.
ISLAND OF PERPETUAL PHONE
The winners board the plane. Russell is dee-lighted. He’s pretty sure they’re going to be given a clue to the hidden immunity idol and that he’ll once again be first to find it. Another reason that he thinks this reward is “wunnerful” is “I need to eat bad.” Although the plane flies over beautiful scenery, we’re mainly shown the survivors taking snapshots of one another with the oh-so-fab Sprint Palm-Pre 3. Natalie’s keen eye spots their destination; she thinks it looks just like Gilligan’s Island.
Back at camp, Jaison is trying to talk Monica into being the sixth vote with FOA. Monica’s surprised; she corrects him, saying that the vote is still 5-5. Nope, reveals Jaison, they already have five; she’ll be number 6. To convince her, he says that “she” (thus virtually fingering Shambo) knew in advance what was going to happen at the tribal council, that in fact she was the instigator.
Looking like the Von Trapp family headed over the Alps, the winners are shown hiking up a mountain and sit down for a picnic of hot dogs and pie. They’re obviously ravenous, shoving the food into their mouths. Natalie is relieved, “I was just wastin’ away.” Oh, wait, let’s take some more pictures with the amazing Sprint Palm-Pre 3. Ohh, now let’s look at the pictures we just took with the amazing Spring Palm-Pre 3. I haven’t been that annoyed since the neighbors invited us over for dinner then made us sit through an hour slide show of their trip to Dollywood.
Russell is looking through their pics when he discovers a photo that directs them to “go to your memo board to receive an important clue.” How lucky was that? What if no one had been reviewing the photos? I shudder to think. If I were a suspicious person I might think that was just an excuse to make sure everyone knows the amazing Sprint Palm-Pre 3 has a memo board. Here it is! Another lame clue written by the CBS interns, something to the effect of a rolling stone gathers no moss, but that the unmossed stone is not where they’ll find the clue. For further information, they’re told, go to the Video section of the amazing Sprint Palm-Pre 3. It has Video; Hurrah! We then provided a video showing a moss-covered rectangular stone being lifted from the ground to reveal—drum-roll, please—Immunity Idol No. 3!
Finally, escaped from the phone, the winners return to camp. Russell can barely contain himself. He shares the clue with Jaison, “I even seen a video of a guy pickin’ up the rock.” Somewhere in the bayou a retired seventh grade grammar teacher is putting the finishing touches on her suicide note.
The hunt is on! Russell takes off, his stubby little legs churning like a wringer washer full of mud. Close on his heels are Laura and Dave, determined not to let him get his paws on this latest idol. Their plan seems flawed: what are they planning to do, snatch it out of his hands just as he discovers it? Jaison tags along. This guy has the energy level of a slug after Thanksgiving dinner. He randomly picks up a pebble the size of a ping-pong ball—clearly not large enough to hide an idol—and seems stunned that the only thing under it is dirt.
Dave is hot on Russell’s heels, but somehow Russell manages to shake him from his trail. He doubles back to a wall of moss-covered rocks he’d spotted earlier, pulls one out from the base, and finds fastened to its underside another Immunity Idol. To say he’s pleased would be an understatement. “My butt’s been in a sling, but with the idol I’m okay.” For now, we’re kept in the dark as to whether he keeps this idol secret or shares its existence with his allies.
Lazing around camp, Monica confides that Jaison told her that there were two untrustworthy people at GALU and that she believes it’s Shambo and John. She warns Laura, “We have to be careful.” Laura is aware that she’s in jeopardy and that she needs to win the Immunity Challenge or she’ll be in real danger.
STICKS AND SPEARS
Today’s Immunity Challenge is the kind I despise, where the winner gets his or her immunity more by random chance than anything else. I’m thinking the Challenge Crew is too lazy or uncreative to think of anything other than thrown objects, so they only allow each contestant one shot to even things up for the smaller weaker contestants.
Each person has his own set of three ceramic colored tiles. They’ll get one rock to throw to try to break a tile. For every tile they break, they’ll receive a spear. If their rock breaks someone else’s tile, that person gets that spear. Those who break tiles will get one spear to throw at a target. Closest projectile to the bull’s eye wins immunity.
Jaison and Mick hit one tile, Brett gets two. Monica gets her spear when Dave hits her tile. Laura fails to qualify and Shambo gleefully brays like a donkey. I’m pretty sure she’s the direct descendant of the woman who first inspired the invention of cream rinse; her hair looks like she just stuck her finger in a light socket.
For the second round, the spear launch, Brett hits the target. Jaison, fearful of over-exertion, can’t even reach the target. Monica hits, but is further away than Brett. Mick gets his spear inside Brett’s and Brett’s last attempt can’t better the mark. Mick wins immunity.
Still gloating, Shambo confides to the camera: “I believe it is the destiny of Laura to go home. The goose’s head will be lopped off.” The goose part was a bit hard to hear; she might have said moose.
CAMPAIGN AT CAMP
Russell contently swings in the hammock.
Shambo tells Brett she’s voting for Laura and that hell will freeze over before she changes her mind: “There is no GALU.”
John, Laura and Dave are strategizing for the vote. Laura wants to vote Russell; if he has the idol they’ll flush it out. John, rocket scientist, insists on Natalie, because she’s the least likely to have the idol. He thinks Dave is protesting. No, insists Dave, “I do not care Bro, I’ll burn her.”
John can’t believe his tribe-mates lack of mental acuity, “It’s continually impressive, and bordering on annoying, how pathetic the analytical skills of the GALU tribe are. ‘Let’s telegraph a move to Russell.’ You’re an idiot. ‘Let’s sit back and piss off Shambo.’ You’re an idiot. ‘Let’s sit back and vote Erik off after a thirty-second decision.’ You’re an idiot. It was an Oprah-worthy moment: "You're an idiot; and you're an idiot; and you're an idiot. And you're not getting a car. Or a million dollars."
Monica, Dave and Brett come up with the idea of attempting to convince FOA they’re voting for John. Monica is almost giddy. Dave cautions, “Don’t get too excited; John is flighty.”
Monica wants to protect Laura. She tries to convince Russell they’re voting for John, and they can get Laura off later. Russell’s candid that FOA’s vote is going to Laura and there’ll be a 5-5 tie.
Mick and Jaison would like to believe Monica; Russell on the other hand proposes telling John of the plan and thus getting him to vote with FOA.
John and Brett are talking. Brett tells him that FOA has five votes with Shambo and the plan is to convince FOA to vote for him. Shambo is sure to vote for Laura, so GALU’s five votes for Natalie will prevail. John is horrified: no way does he believe that having four votes cast against him is a good idea.
John, “I’m not putting my life on the line for Laura. She picked a fight with somebody that’s about to knock her out and I’m not gonna step in the way of the punch.”
Russell and John talk in the woods. Russell invokes one of his favorite chestnuts, “I was born at night, but not last night. I believe that we’re tryin’ to be swindled.” He’s certain there will be a tie vote.
John speculates about the consequences of a tiebreaker and having to pick the loser by drawing rocks.
John: “If I switch votes after the tie, I wake up on this beach tomorrow.”
THE TIES THAT BREAK
The tribe files in to Tribal Council. First thing, Bwana Jeff asks Jaison if there’s still pressure on FOA because they’re a minority. Jaison, obviously trying to reassure their possible sixth vote raided from FOA, claims that because they’re a minority, they can be trusted. Mick seconds the motion. Russell, smart enough not to want to telegraph strategy, jumps in, “We still tryin’ to find somebody.”
Jeff, already knowing the answer, inquires of Shambo whether GALU is still solid. No way, she says, “the day they decided to vote Erik off, GALU was broken.”
Aching for a fight, Bwana goads Laura, “You’re still staring at Shambo.”
Laura replies Shambo doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that the GALU she knows is still tight.
Erik is visibly rejoicing from his stool on the jury. He’s using the air for a punching bag.
Jeff wants more: “A group can’t be tight if one of the members isn’t.”
Laura: “I guess it depends on how big a group you’re considering.”
Jeff: “If Shambo’s on the fence your six becomes five; their four becomes five. We’ve got a really interesting night in store. Are you okay that if there’s a tie, and we revote and there’s still a tie, everybody over here will draw rocks and the people who were tied will be safe?”
Laura: “I’m not, I’m absolutely not.”
Jeff: “Dave, Are you okay with this being a tie?”
Dave: “If I need to go to the stones, I’ll go. You gotta be willing to make big moves. There’s nothing bigger than Lady Luck.”
Jeff: “I always look forward to the vote, but tonight I’m especially curious how it’s gonna go.”
And with that, he sends them off, single-file, to vote. As she writes down Laura’s name, Shambo is breathing fire, “Laura, you are a viperous poison; I pray to God you go tonight.” I’m hoping Shambo’s vendetta is pretty low on God’s to-do list.
Bwana inquires as to whether there’s someone who has a spare idol and wants to play it. There isn’t. Mick is bouncing up and down on his stool, whispering to Kellly, “Man this is good [bleep].” Jeff reads the vote, and as expected, there’s a 5-5 tie between Laura and Natalie. He tells them they’ll revote but cannot vote for anyone other than Laura or Natalie; if no one switches sides, everyone except Natalie and Laura will draw rocks to determine who gets snuffed. (If precedent from Survivor Tocantins holds, Mick, holding the immunity necklace, would also be exempt, but that wasn’t discussed.) This tie-breaker device puts enormous pressure on someone to switch their vote or be put in danger himself.
As Jeff retrieves the pot with the second batch of votes, the camera pans from one tribe member to another. Their faces show the tension. Yep. GALU goes down again. John has switched his vote to Laura, and she’s put on the bus to Ponderosa. Laura is not the only one shocked. Dave, who must live in some alternate operatic universe, seems stunned, “Wow.” Russell hides his face to stop himself from laughing out loud.
Erik is delighted, “This is sooo good.”
Shambo is crowing over her victory. That snarling grin in the middle of a face framed by the massive bristles sprouting from her scalp make her look like a werewolf stuck in transition between animal and human. Definitely leaning closer to the wolf side.
Jeff dismisses the remaining tribe-members: “Since the merge there’s been three surprising Tribal Councils. I don’t know if it’s GALU, FOA FOA or AIGA. I’m guessing you guys don’t either.”
Erik says what everyone else is probably thinking, “There goes the lead.”
I’m thinking Russell’s vote should have been tossed out for spelling Laura’s name LUARA. I know, I know, I know—it’s like Final Jeopardy: misspelling doesn’t count. It would have been such fun to see the smirk wiped off Shambo’s face.
Next week: exciting recaps of the season so far, with “all new footage.” Most of it, no doubt, shot on the amazing Sprint Palm-Pre 3 multi-purpose phone.
Note to Sprint: this space available for product placement at bargain rates. Phone me.