Yes, of course. There you are, just as I predicted. A few minutes later than you may have expected, but rest assured I knew when you’d arrive. Please come in. Pardon the mess. Due to some recent unpleasantness with certain hotheaded members of my clientele, I’ve been forced to relocate in the past week. Who knew the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Braves, and A’s would all lose in the first round? You’d have to be some sort of psychic to have predicted something like that!
Er, anyway, you’re not here to talk about baseball. You want to know what will happen in the fourth episode of Survivor:Thailand, don’t you? And I see that the glittering images of the future are beginning to take shape in my cracked crystal ball. Let’s look together...
I see the usual procession of relieved Survivors trudging back from Tribal Council. Everyone looks exhausted, with the exception of Robb, who is giggling and trying to give Ken a wedgie. Ken, who looks even more like a ghastly pale, blood-sucking creature of the night when filmed by the Survivors-At-Night-Cam, appears to be moments away from plunging his hand into Robb’s chest and removing his still-beating heart. Fortunately for Mr. Oblivious, Stephanie catches his attention by quickly baring a breast. Instantly, Robb’s tongue squirts out of his mouth and he sprints over to Stephanie, leaving a Robb-shaped vapor trail behind him. “Dude, anything I can help you with?” he pants.
Stephanie’s face is pinched in an expression of bottled rage, which causes her long nose to appear even more pointy than normal. “Don’t you understand what happened tonight?” she croaks. Her voice is hoarse from her lingering illness, and each breath she takes is a painful ragged gasp. She sounds like Darth Vader without his breath mask. “Jed is gone! It’s us against them now. We need to dig in and make our stand right now. This is war!” Robb nods dumbly as his underpowered brain struggles to remember which way the alligator mouth points when you compare 2 and 5. When the tribe finally arrives back at camp, he has arrived at his decision. “Dude, it is awwwwn,” he solemnly murmurs.
Over at Chuay Gahn, everyone is still a bit tense after the Brady Bunch clearing-the-air session the day before. It appears to Ghandia, however, that public sentiment among the tribe is swinging back in Ted’s favor. Time to add some more flair to “the story”. She limbers up with another tirade down by the shore. When Jan and Helen wander over to disarm her before someone loses an eye, Ghandia summons some crocodile tears. “I forgot to mention that he was also spanking me and shouting, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ at the top of his lungs,” she sobs.
Jan and Helen exchange dubious glances. Helen takes another bite out of a particularly juicy rock she found as she ruminates on this new bit of information. Jan sags. All is silent except for the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore, the crunching of the stone in Helen’s mouth, and the creaking, snapping sounds of Jan’s body gradually breaking down. Finally, Helen swallows and speaks, “Well, that’s it then. Ted’s out next.”
Unaware of the ladies’ machinations, Ted and the boys are sprawled on the beach, staring into the sky and chatting about possibilities for new holes on their golf course. “How about a par twenty-five from the waterhole?” Brian muses.
Clay nods pensively, then vetoes the motion. “Might lose our ball in the ocean hazard.”
“Oh, yeah. Right.” Brian has never played golf before and is only gradually learning there are things that can’t just go right in the hole.
The peaceful scene is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a troop of Red Berets, shimmering into existence seemingly from thin air. The lounging Survivors let out manly screams and stumble backwards up the beach, trying to regain their footing while simultaneously rooster-tailing sand into the air. Immediately, the women come running. Helen shrieks out random orders, hoping some of the Red Berets will mistake her for their leader and engage the remainder in hand-to-hand combat The lead Beret raises his hand for silence, then recites the next Reward Challenge poem:
Hungry for your next can of beans?
Well, I think you know what that means.
You’ll need to recall your junior high days
If you hope to be a winner today(s).
Back to the playground sure will be funny.
And, oh, by the way, here’s a big dummy.
As the final word escapes the lead Beret’s mouth, the other Berets produce a giant stuffed dummy and throw it on the beach at the stunned Survivors’ feet. Then each Beret executes a lightning-fast pirouette, and the entire troop disappears in a tornado of beach sand. A trapdoor pops up next to the campfire and Mark Burnett’s head pokes out. “I love those guys!” he roars before pulling his head down and slamming the door shut.
Time for the Reward Challenge. After the two tribes stand on their respective mats, Jeff speaks, “Survivors ready? Wanna know what you’re playing for? GO!”
Robb thunders off into the trees, then returns moments later, looking confused. “Actually, yeah,” he says, “I wanna know what we’re playing for.” Then, because he almost forgot, he adds, “Dude.”
Jeff holds up an ornate wooden box. “Wanna know what’s in the box?” he asks. Two or three of the Survivors seem to be interested so Jeff opens the box, revealing a golden tube. “Wanna know what’s in the tube?” he taunts. A monkey wanders by, which distracts all of the Survivors, but Jeff opens the end of the tube, anyway, and a beautifully wrapped cylinder slides out. “Wanna know what’s wrapped up in all this beautiful Thai paper?” Jeff wonders. Nobody is paying attention anymore. Jake is asleep. Helen is flossing. Robb is trying to catch a fly.
“Fine,” Jeff mutters testily. “It’s a can of beans. Anyway, today’s challenge is the old playground standard, Red Rover. As far back as the mid-1700’s, the Thais have been the world’s most renowned Red Rover players. The World Championships are still hosted in Bangkok on the campus of the fabled Red Rover University, where some of the world’s finest players were educated. Today, you’ll have four rounds. Break through the line, and you get to bring another Survivor from that team back with you. Get caught, and you have to stay. The team with the most Survivors left at the end wins the ornate box which contains the golden tube which encloses the wrapped cylinder, which is actually a can of beans. Oh, and one more thing.” Jeff’s eyes glow with the intensity of a thousand campfires. “The two lines of Survivors will be your new tribes when the game ends. Survivors ready? GO!”
The dazed Survivors line up by tribes and face one another with hands linked. Chuay Gahn goes first and summons Shii Ann to come right over. She foolishly tries to break the link between Brian and Ted and is rejected to the ground as if she’d been kicked by a mule. She joins hands with Jan at the end of the line. Sook Jai asks Chuay Gahn to send Brian right over. He tries to break the link between Penny and Robb, but fails. Humiliated, he realizes that he should have considered exercising his upper body, too, back when his lower body was getting such a good workout.
Chuay Gahn then calls for Stephanie. She charges the link between Jan and Shii Ann and breaks through effortlessly when Jan’s arm snaps like a twig. Instantly, the Survivor doctors are on the scene and heal her completely before the shell-shocked older woman even realizes what’s going on. Stephanie brings big Ted back with her. In the background, Mark Burnett steps out from behind a tree and exchanges high fives with Jeff. Broken limbs are ratings gold.
When the dust settles, only Clay and Jan remain on Chuay Gahn. Jeff begins handing out new buffs while Robb raises the ornate box over his head in celebration. “Wait!” squeals Clay. “This isn’t fair! They’ll annihilate us!” He performs an angry leprechaun dance to express his frustration.
“Sorry!” Jeff says with a grin. “Rules are rules.”
Suddenly, Burnett pole vaults in from the jungle. “Actually, Jeff, he’s right. This isn’t fair. Put everything back the way it was. Let me think about it some more.” A hole opens in the ground, and Burnett leaps in and disappears while Jeff sullenly retrieves the new buffs.
“But, Dude!” whines Robb. “Who gets the bean box?” Jeff snatches the ornate box from him and hurls it angrily into the ocean. A Red Beret surfaces, salutes, then grabs the box and dives out of sight.
Back at Sook Jai camp, the war between Robb and Stephanie’s alliance and the rest of the camp is in full swing. Stephanie has decided to actually sleep in the ocean, with a bamboo tube sticking out of her mouth so she can breathe. She’s also completely abandoned retrieving the water, a powerful move which forces the rest of the group to spend an extra five minutes a day getting it themselves. Robb spends his day glaring at everyone and wishing he could make his arch-nemesis, Shii Ann, disappear forever.
Tree mail arrives announcing the Immunity Challenge. It’s a tape recorder. When the group presses “Play”, they hear Jeff’s voice. “Come and find me,” he says. “First team to arrive intact at my hidden location wins Immunity. Survivors ready? GO!”
The ensuing spectacle defies explanation. Survivors from both tribes swarm the island. They are forced to battle poisonous snakes and other hostile wildlife. They hack through vines and ford waist-high streams. Finally, big Ted finds Jeff curled up at the base of a tree in the middle of the island. Ted winds up and delivers the most forceful yell any human has ever produced. Leaves blast off trees in a 10-foot radius around the beefy computer programmer. The light from the sun is obscured by the hundreds of birds who simultaneously fly into the air at the sound of his voice. And, within minutes, the rest of his tribe has located him, thereby winning Immunity.
The despondent Sook Jai report to Tribal Council that night. Stephanie and Robb are supremely confident. They are protected by their alliance, and it’s a feeling of awesome power for each of them. They proceed to verbally attack every other member of the tribe, mocking and disparaging each one in turn. Stephanie’s comments are accented by periodic bursts of phlegm, which wind up coating many of the other tribe members and especially Jeff. In the end, however, she is the designated victim, evicted by an all-too-obvious 5-2 margin. Robb’s brow furrows deeply as the tribe gathers their torches for the long hike home. He has no idea how this new development affects his alliance, but he’s determined to stick to the game plan and continue to wage war with the other members of his tribe until he’s the last man standing. “Dude,” he chuckles to himself. “They should’ve made an alliance like I did!”
And, suddenly, the crystal ball is blank. I can see no more. And this is a very unfortunate thing, really, because I have no idea what the giant dummy was for.
(After making my predictions, I went to the CBS web site to hear what they were advertising. Here’s what I found. I think you’ll agree I hit pretty close to the mark.
ON THE NEXT SURVIVOR
Lingering tensions and accusations spill over, pitting the men against the women.
One castaway hopes never to see another castaway again...forever.)