Why hello there! Welcome back to Survivor: Vanuatu. If you’re observant—and I know you are—you’ve already noticed that I do not look like your dear, regular recapper, Fluff. You’d be correct. My name is Manny, and I shall be filling in for this, the latest chapter in everyone’s favorite show. Yes, there are the exciting challenges, socio-political intrigue, exotic Oceania locations, and colorful contestants . . . what’s not to love, I ask you. What’s that? Predictability, you say? Shhh! It was supposed to be a rhetorical question.
Nevertheless, let’s get on with it all . . . I wouldn’t want you to miss a moment of this rollicking ride. Will the guys be able to finally pull off their coup this week? Or will that darned “Y” chromosome be their doom? To find out, we head to the Alinta Tribe’s beach, seen in glorious, green night-vision.
Night 24 – Desperate Tribesmen
The Alinta tribe files back into camp after Tribal Council, where Sarge received his honorable discharge. Day is done, gone the sun. The mood is gloomy, Chad and Chris are crestfallen as they consider their chances of survival, and several of the ladies probably put on a “sympathetic” face. Maybe. The tribe is welcomed home by their new pet pig, who only squeals in delight at their plight. Precisely the type of boorish behavior one might expect from a . . . well, pig.
Chris is the first one to speak something of consequence, announcing that this had been the most difficult Tribal Council for him, yet. He continues, explaining that Sarge pulled him aside and asked for his vote, since “everyone else was going to anyway.” Ah, so that’s why Chris voted for Sarge. Huh? Chris later steals away for a confessional and explains that Sarge didn’t really ask for his vote . . . Chris voted for Sarge simply to keep on the good side of the women and, hopefully, extend his time in the game. It’s a desperate measure with not the best chances for success, but I suppose it’s really one of his only options amid this matriarchy. Chris and Chad’s best hope, at this point, is for that creature from “Lost” to attack the camp and that the women will keep them around as a light monster-snack. Eliza certainly wouldn’t make a very filling meal.
Day 25 – How Cold Can it be Near the Equator?
The next morning, the sun rises, much as it has every day. Scout is up early, and she’s a-scheming while the other ladies slumber, bundled up as though it’s Survivor: Antarctica. She has a brilliant plan to keep the guys around and boot Eliza and Ami instead, in that order. Is it just crazy enough to work? I don’t know. The imagery shots of molten lava definitely aren’t apropos of anything.
Scout awakens the guys to inform them of her planned rebellion, and they are, naturally, elated. “Hey, it’s day 25, and we’re still alive!” Chris enthusiastically reminds Chad. What a catchy little slogan! Whoever writes the tree-mail poems could take a few lessons.
Reward Challenge - Vaguely Obscene
Which . . . wouldn’t you know it . . . brings us right to today’s tree-mail! Today’s challenge is for reward, and the lame poem mentions that it will involve their pet pig and assessing his worth. Good thing Twila didn’t have her way and turn Mr. Pig into a platter of bacon, though that might have been deemed valuable with the right seasonings.
Jeff meets the survivors at the challenge grounds and gives Mr. Pig his very own orange Alinta buff. I sense an eBay item in the near future! Jeff then asks if their little porcine pal has a name. As it turns out, he’s had several names, and they finally decided on “Piggy.” How clever.
Jeff rehashes that today’s challenge will involve Piggy in some way. This is actually a complete lie, because the challenge itself has nothing to do with pigs. No. This challenge is a bendy, skin-baring obstacle course extravaganza, which I frankly wonder how they came up with. I guess it’s time to up the ratings some more. The gist: The survivors will be divided into two teams of four, and one member from each team will be the “sacrificial lamb.” Gah! The lambs, whose hands will be tied, will be locked onto a rope that runs the length of the course, and the team must get the lamb through a three-level fence, a series of hitching posts, up and over a wall, under a log, and finally, through a vertical rope maze. The first team to reach their tam-tam wins a night away from the island, where they will stay with a tribal village and partake in a feast and various ceremonies.
At the mention of food, the survivors are rip-roaring to go, and they randomly draw for teams. Following the black rope are Scout, Twila, Leann, and Julie as the lamb. On the orange rope are Ami, Chris, Chad, and Eliza as the lamb. Both of the lambs, with their hands in bondage, are now inexplicably stripped down to as little clothes as possible.
And they’re off! The lambs both toss their bodies over and around the obstacles with seemingly no concern for their personal safety. I don’t know . . . this whole thing is just a strange, strange sight for primetime TV. Chad and Chris carry much of the weight of the challenge for their team—literally picking Eliza up and passing her through ropes and over poles while Ami keeps the slack on the rope. Meanwhile, Julie, lacking such support from Leann, Scout, and Twila, has taken to recklessly throwing herself around like a young, crazy-eyed Eddie Vedder. It’s a tight race, but I’d feel a bit creepy giving you the play-by-play. Finally, Chad lifts Eliza through the rope maze and on to victory, and there is a huge group hug as Jeff proclaims them the winners. Julie looks the most annoyed at Team Black Rope’s loss, not to mention a bit battered and disheveled from being dragged through the ropes and sand.
Chad’s Far-Out Adventure, Man!
Finally, Piggy’s purpose in life is revealed. Team Orange Rope will be taking him as a gift to the elders of the village that they are visiting. As for his worth being assessed? Perhaps if he’s in good condition, they will get a special feast. If he’s in bad condition . . . they will be a special feast. Mwa ha ha! They take a short plane ride to a neighboring island, and Piggy is so excited to ride in the plane that he wets himself. So much for friendly skies and all that. They arrive, and Chris carries the squealing Piggy out, scolding him to “stop being a grouch.”
The four survivors step off the plane and are greeted by a throng of villagers who look excited to welcome their visitors. “It was just like stepping into the middle of a book!” exclaims Ami. Or a National Geographic . . . you know she wanted to say it. Chris presents Piggy to the chief of the tribe, who seems very grateful. So grateful, in fact, that he presents the quartet with a gift of his own . . . another pig. This one is small, furry, and has no name. I shall call him Bob. Chris and the others do a good job of acting appreciative, but they don’t want another pig around and decide to “forget” about Bob.
A bit later, the whole tribe joins together in traditional dancing and singing, and they invite the survivors to join in. Eliza and Ami don grass skirts, and all four jump in, following along with the steps and having a great time. Ami, in particular, seems to enjoy the dancing, and explains the way the villagers sing. “It’s like this: AIE-YIE!” No, Ami. Not quite like that.
After all that fun and excitement, it’s time to wind down with a favorite ceremony . . . Kava. Whoa, cosmic, dude. Kava is a drink of very heavy-duty proportions. Each of the four survivors drink a bowl of the potent brew and we veritably “see” the effect thanks to a woozy setting-sun-spinning-pretty-twinkly-colors segue that Mark Burnett kindly provides us. Chad seems to be the most affected by the Kava, and he must hold onto Chris’ shoulders for dear life as they walk. Finally, when the spun-out teacher can barely stand up, he is led into a hut to snooze away the effects. “Kavaaaaa. . . .” he muses, before collapsing into instant sleep. What would the DARE program at his school think?
Since they’re still alert, Ami, Chris, and Eliza get to partake in the feast, which turns out to be a big pile of . . . meat, laid out on banana leaves. Mmm . . . rubbery! To enhance the ambience, there is a cow’s head sitting next to the meat. The trio nibbles at some of the chewy delicacy, but quickly decide that the food is not the highlight of this experience.
To close out the evening, the village children gather around the trio and serenade them with an adorable little song that they wrote to welcome the survivors. Awwww! We hear Ami and Chris join in the song, and while they may never qualify for American Idol, it’s one of the few truly touching moments we’ve seen all season. *sniff*
Meanwhile . . . *Krakoom!* That’s the sound of thunder. For back at Alinta beach, the rain is pouring down. Everything is soaked, the shelter is drenched, and Scout, Leann, Twila, and Julie are wide awake, probably for fear of drowning if they fall asleep. This season’s catchphrase is “Islands of Fire,” so this is all pretty ironic, if you ask me. The four survivors are failing to see the humor in the situation, and instead huddle around the fire; complaining bitterly to the cameraman about the probability that the other four are comfortable at this moment.
Day 26 – Home Sweet Insouciant Home
Dawn breaks upon the tired camp of Alinta, but the rain has ceased and the appearance of dolphins surely indicates happier things to come. Scout’s leg is really banged up, and she says she had one helluva hard night. She’s slightly thankful for the deluge, however, as it gives her an excuse to mention her brilliant plan to the other ladies at camp. After all, wouldn’t it be handy to keep the guys around to haul firewood, with the fire in such a fragile state? Twila and Julie don’t seem to mind the idea of voting out Eliza, but Leann seems tentative and even upset by the idea. What’s up with that? I bet only Piggy knows for sure, and he’s far gone.
Ami, Chad, Chris, and Eliza return to camp and are greeted with much joy, hugs, and celebration. Yes, I kid. The other four couldn’t possibly look less excited to see the homecoming of their tribesmates. Ami’s attempts to tell the other four about the singing at the village are met with blank stares and barely-stifled yawns. Ah, camaraderie.
Chris, on the other hand, is excited that Scout’s plan could possibly work and credits his and Chad’s opening their hearts for this turn of events. “When you open your heart to a woman,” says Chris, “then the woman will start thinking with her heart.” This, of course, assuming that said woman has a heart.
Immunity Challenge – Treehuggers
Hey hey! It’s another rainy day! A sunglasses-wearing Jeff greets the Alinta tribe and, I think, makes some half-hearted small talk about the weather and such. I don’t know. I doubt Jeff remembers, either. Or cares.
Today’s challenge is a simple one: The survivors must climb a ladder that is leaning against a pole, and then step off the ladder and hang onto the pole for as long as humanly possible. If your feet touch the ground, you’re out. Last person to be hanging onto their pole will win immunity.
With that, everyone climbs up and holds on, and we enter the riveting hang-on-for-as-long-as-you-can challenge! Now I hate to shaft you, dear readers, with such a lack of play-by-play, but surely you can see my dilemma here. They’re holding onto a pole. However, I understand if you feel cheated, and I’ll be happy to reimburse you for this lack of substance. Just contact my representative, Bob the Pig.
It takes only a few minutes in the rain for Julie to lose her grip, and she is the first to slide off. Chris cannot hold on either, and he slips off, followed by Scout and Ami. Eliza tries to fight gravity, but cannot, and she falls a loooooong way down, causing Jeff (and me) to wince. She’s ok, thankfully . . . I guess she’s not as brittle as she looks.
Now we’re down to the final three: Chad, Leann, and Twila. Twila has decided to literally hold on by the skin of her teeth and bite one of the ropes wrapped around the pole. Chad, on the other hand, appears to be kissing the pole. I only report what I see, folks.
Leann falls off next, to continue her theme of being nondescript, and it’s down between Chad and Twila. The lover vs. the biter. I’d throw in a “hanging Chad” joke in there, too, but that’s sooo 2000. Now, Chad is obviously at a bit of a disadvantage in this challenge, and I really would like to see him win it. But he’s starting to get fatigued . . . no! “Go down, Chad, go down!” says Twila. “Shut up, Twila, shut up!” says me. But it’s no good. Chad slips down, and Twila wins immunity. Alas. Oh well . . . I’ll just make fun of her for wearing that ugly immunity necklace. Ha ha!
Day 26, Continued – Welcome to Drama Central
Now it’s time for the pre-Tribal Council scramble. That sounds as though it would make a nice, funkalicious dance, huh? Maybe that’s what dance the tribe in the opening credits of the show is doing. And will the survivors themselves ever have to do that tribal bungee-jump thing?
Ah, but I get ahead of myself. Here’s what’s happening. . . .
Nobody really knows. Scout is still firm in her plan to give Eliza le boot, but Ami, firmly set on eliminating all man-types from this game, doesn’t like the idea. The rest of the women, unsure of what to do, shuffle their feet and mutter unintelligibly. Chris and Chad are just holding onto the glimmer of hope that Scout has afforded them—while they do their work and try to avoid being spanked by Ami. Chad fails in this endeavor.
Twila complains that’s she’s in the middle of it all because Scout wants her to vote one way, and Ami wants her to vote the other. Awww. Say it with me, “Poor Twila.” Such is the danger of being safe from elimination. Twila can’t make up her mind, knowing that she’ll irritate someone no matter what. In one of the most blunt displays of walking away from a conversation, she goes away to ponder her decision, telling Scout she “has to go over there.”
Tribal Council – A Sheep in Any Other Clothing
And here it is . . . the big moment. A clean-shaven and smiling Sarge arrives for his first day of jury duty. The Alinta tribe staggers in, and Jeff starts grilling them with the typical questions, such as asking if Chad and Chris have tried to work their way through the women’s universal alliance. Ami seems aghast when they reply, “yes.” Jeff also, unwittingly, reveals the voting block of the women when he asks if the men have approached them with a new plan—Scout says “yes” and the rest say “no.” Uh oh. Ami later expresses her confidence . . . nay, cockiness about winning the jury’s vote, and Jeff calls her out on it. Is he trying to give the other players an idea, perhaps?
So, what’s it going to be? It’s time to vote. Will Scout’s plan work? Will Eliza be sent home in lieu of a guy? The votes are cast, and it’s between Eliza and Chad. The next resident at Loser Lodge is. . . .
Chad! And with Eliza receiving only two votes and Chad receiving all the others, my hope for a change in game dynamics is snuffed out much like Chad’s torch. Waaaah! Scout’s brilliant plan obviously didn’t work, as she, herself didn’t even vote for Eliza.
I guess we can always hope for next week, when the women’s alliance looks to be further shaken up, Scout’s claws come out, and most importantly, Fluff makes her triumphant return! Will Chris find some magical way to security? Will Ami continue to hypnotize the women? I guess we’ll find out then!
Relax and have a bowl of Kava with me at firstname.lastname@example.org