Let’s take a quick look at who’s left on the island: we have a shyster, a student shyster, a sawbones, a pill pusher, an oil-trucker baron, a rocket scientist, an Opera expert turned fitness guru, a tee shirt designer and a dishwasher detergent rep. (Monica, Jaison, Mick, Natalie, Russell, John, Dave, Brett and Shambo.) Fine. Restaurant Supplies.
Returning after last week’s tribal council axing Laura, Shambo does her turkey-trot victory dance and mixes a few metaphors, “Medusa has been dethroned. Isn’t that hysterical?” John, who’d turned traitor and gone along with FOA in the revote, explains his reasoning, “I’m not gonna go home because of a ridiculous rock.”
“CURIOSER AND CURIOSER.”
Want to know how to cheer up the starving downtrodden? Throw them envelopes containing five hundred bucks and tell them they can use the money to buy food. Instead of a reward challenge this week there’s to be one of the famous Survivor Auctions. The Aiga tribe files in and everyone takes their seats on the bleachers in an orderly fashion. Bwana Jeff warns them to be alert: the auction can end at any time.
First up is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Natalie jumps at it for two hundred bucks. Jeff throws in a little dig at last season’s dumb-bunny teacher who kept bidding in odd increments by congratulating Natalie on knowing that 200 is a multiple of 20.
The next item is a covered one and Shambo and Dave bid against each other. Shambo is determined and wins it for $240. As she lumbers up to claim her purchase, it’s all Jeff can do to keep from falling down laughing, “Survivor’s version of spaghetti.” Yummmm. “Sea noodles and slug guts. Oh, and have a little Parmesan.” Trying to look as if she intentionally spent her money on intestines, Shambo enthusiastically slurps up the whole bowlful like a ravenous pig at a trough full of slops.
Third is a another covered goody. Daring the bidders, Bwana Jeff asks, “What are the chances we’d put two yucky things up in a row?” Russell isn’t going to be taken—he thinks that’s exactly what they’ve done. Monica and Dave bid spiritedly against one another and Monica wins for $340. Russell guessed wrong: it’s a whole roasted chicken.
Ah, here’s a change-up: Jeff announces that the next item up for bids is not food, but something that will give its purchaser a significant advantage at the next immunity challenge. I expect this crew to be knocking one another off the bench throwing their arms up in the air trying to bid on something that could give them such crucial leverage in the game. Most of them act like they’re in a trance. Only Jaison and John seem interested enough to make an offer. Jaison, demonstrating some of those Stanford smarts, asks Jeff, “We each only have five hundred dollars. What happens if we both bid 500?” First one to make the offer wins it, Jeff replies. Now here’s where you’d think John would be yelling “Five Hundred Five Hundred” as fast as his little bearded jaws would allow. Does he not think he may be in danger after turning on his fellow GALUans last week and voting with FOA? Nope, he just sits there for a while and lets Jaison put in his bid for five hundred. Jaison gets a sealed cylinder and is told not to open it ‘til the next challenge. What is it with these dummies? I think if I’d endured a month of little sleep, less food, torrential rains and deadly dull companions, I’d do anything I could to get me through the next ten days to the million bucks.
Jeff barely gets the cover off a tray containing a cheeseburger, fries and an ice-cold beer before Mick has jumped in with a five hundred dollar bid. Jaison is practically salivating at the sight of the burger and Jeff taunts him, asking if he’s having second thoughts about having spent all his money on the immunity advantage. Next on offer is a “luxury” shower including real shampoo and clean underwear. John bids a hundred and Natalie, obviously lusting at the thought of cleanliness goes to $120. John decides to back off, “No one wants to watch John having a shower.” The shower is artfully constructed to provide gratuitous views of Natalie slipping her unmentionables down her shapely gams as ridiculously suggestive music plays. Note to Mark Burnett: really, hon, 99.99% of the home-made vids on you-tube have less embarrassing sound tracks than Survivor. It’s the audio equivalent of cartoon “thought-balloons” over the contestants’ heads.
Here’s another non-food item up for bids—a clue to the hidden immunity idol back at camp. Everybody looks at Russell to see if he’s going for it, but he just keeps his poker-face inscrutable and doesn’t make a move. Okay, that pretty much gives it away that he has it, right? At least to everyone save John—he spends two hundred bucks on it.
What will prove to be the last available item is a piece of cherry pie. John, evidently valuing dessert more than immunity, buys it. Not so fast, says Bwana Jeff: you can eat this piece of pie or you can take a whole pie but give it to four others. (not having any himself) So what does John do—he takes a survey: “Who would like pie?” Pretty much everyone is thrilled at the prospect. Here’s John’s chance to buy back some of the goodwill he lost at tribal—feed your friends. Evidently the study of rocket science does not include a segment on human nature. After having practically waved pie before the others’ noses so close they could smell it, he opts to keep the one piece for himself and sits down to feed his face. Russell is astounded at John’s selfishness, “That was a turrrible move.” Too right, Russell.
”YOU KNOW, WE COULD MAKE HER REALLY ANGRY. SHALL WE TRY?”
Back at camp, John opens his clue to the hidden immunity idol. The CBS interns have apparently run out of clever rhymes. The clue is so specific to the location of the idol that they might as well have given him a GPS device. He goes to the mossy rock wall, digs out the stone at the base, and discovers there’s nothing there. Hmm, he thinks, wonder if Russell got here first. My first thought is that John was on the reward challenge and got the same clue as Russell, which was pretty darn specific itself; my second is that it was actually pretty shabby for the producers to “sell” a clue to a hidden immunity idol which no longer existed. I’ll confess, when that item came up at the auction, I just assumed they’d added a second idol in addition to the one Russell had.
For those of you who stridently argue that it is impossible that alien life forms may be living here on earth among us, masquerading as human, I offer you the one, the only, the bizarre Shambo! She’s crouched by the chicken’s coop, speaking directly to them in the sincere hushed tones of a grown-up about to give very bad news to small children, “We’re gonna have you for lunch today and I just wanted to let you know. I’ll see you in heaven.” That’s certainly one way to empty the church pews: threaten the right-living with spending eternity with the likes of Shambo.
She turns her gaze directly to the camera and into our living rooms, “The chickens were my single source of happiness in the last twenty-nine days. I’d have conversations with them. I think I brought them as much peace as they brought me and it was a win-win. Then OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!"
And so it was to be: Russell performs the coup de grace with the machête as Jaison stands witness, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
Shambo claims major expertise in the cooking of chickens and demands complete control over the process. She and Dave nearly come to blows as she informs him they’ll be boiling away for two hours. Dave is incensed, “I won those chickens and I think I have a right to have a say-so in how they’re cooked. You boil a chicken two hours, it’s gonna be ruined.” Shambo threatens him with dire consequences if he dares interfere. I’m with Dave on this one—after two hours aboil those fowl will be about as tender as shoe leather. And what’s with leaving the chicken’s feet attached? That does nothing but add grit to the mix.
Shambo is viciously infuriated at Dave’s challenge to her culinary expertise, “He really snapped my head off my body. I went Code Red Emergency Alert. Shannon has lost her mind. I haven’t been so angry in twenty-nine days.” Think fire-breathing dragon angry, folks.
But that’s not all: Shambo believes she’s the Samoan Jeanne d’Arc. God speaks directly to her in dreams. “It’s crazy, God made me really special in my lifetime. I’ve had clairvoyant dreams. I’ve probably had thirty of them in my lifetime. It think it’s God’s intervention at work. I had a dream last night we voted Dave off.”
Naturally, when God has taken the time and trouble to visit one on one’s dreams, the first thing one does afterwards is to relay the pronouncement to one’s trusted adviser and ally, he-who-makes-things-happen, the mighty Russell. Give Russell credit here: most people would have been guffawing at Shambo’s claim. Not Russell; he gravely agrees with her, “That’s a SIGN, Shambo. That’s God talkin’ to you.” As Shambo floats away in euphoria, Russell heads for a chat with his pal Natalie. He shakes his head in consternation, “Shambo’s unstable.”
“BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING THEN GO ON ‘TIL YOU COME TO THE END. THEN STOP.”
We’re about to find out if Jaison’s five hundred bucks was well spent. Today’s immunity challenge will be one of endurance and strength. Each challenger will be supporting a heavy post by holding a knotted rope. Only one hand will be on the rope at a time and after every three minutes they must change hands and move one knot further down on the rope. Jaison’s advantage, which seems to be a considerable one, is that at any point in the challenge, he can opt to move “up” to a position two knots higher, keeping his post at a more acute angle where the force required to keep it in position is less.
It’s obviously hot; everyone is sweating. The sun is harsh in their eyes. Jaison takes his advantage at the fourth knot. The hapless Shambo is the first to fall out. Literally. Splat on her back. Jeff notes that “the log and Shambo take a tumble.” Russell, in a bit of a surprise, is the second out. He blames his failure on a charley-horse cramp in his forearm.
At the last rope position, the only person who still has a knot to grip is Jaison. Monica is the next to go, then John. Wonder if he’s still as enamored of pie? Brett and Mick lose their grip. Only Natalie, Jaison and Dave are left. The rope slips through Natalie’s hand leaving Dave and Jaison for the final battle. In the end, Jaison’s advantage proves too helpful and Dave bites the dust.
Shambo is as cocky as a jaybird, “I am definitely in a position of power with FOA at my disposal. Dave is so gone and he doesn’t even know it.”
“YOU KNOW WE’RE ALL MAD HERE?”
After the challenge, Jaison, Dave and Natalie are gracious, congratulating one another on their efforts. Mick observes that Shambo’s on the warpath against Dave, “Dave made a few comments to Shambo about cooking the chickens. When somebody makes her mad, she wants ‘em off.” And how.
John, doing irreparable damage to the repute of rocket scientists across the universe, expresses his confidence that Russell is going to make good on his promise to vote off a member of FOA at this tribal council. (I’m thinking hell will freeze over before that happens.) He pulls Russell aside to pow-wow, saying that obviously Mick will have to go. Umm, hmm, Russell nods.
And that’s when John makes the mother of all Mistakes. He confronts Russell about having the immunity idol. Russell grins diabolically, “You tell me where the clue said it is, and I’ll tell you if you’re right.” John answers that the clue indicated it was in the mossy rock wall and when he found the space empty he knew Russell had beaten him to it. Russell congratulates John on being so brilliant and confesses that yes indeedy he does have that l’il ole idol.
What John has done, of course, is sign his own “death warrant.” To Russell, it’s the old mafia rule, If I tell ya, I’ll hafta kill ya. He chuckles, “Now I gotta get rid of John. He knows I have the idol. These people better close their ears when I’m talkin’ ‘cause if you know too much—you’re gone.”
It’s time for Russell to get to work. He goes to Dave, tells him he’s in danger and offers to save him. He assures Dave that he (Russell) has all of FOA and Shambo in the vote. He wants Dave to convince Monica as well. Dave is only too happy to help with this project, “I can talk to her.”
His own tribe needs a bit of convincing. Mick jumps at the chance to get rid of John, saying he’s a threat because he’s too strong. As usual, Jaison is wimp-of-the-week, terrified at what Shambo’s reaction may be if they don’t satisfy her thirst for Dave’s blood and “leave her hanging like GALU did.” Mick isn’t worried, he’s confident Russell can square things with her afterwards. If I’m Jaison, I’m a heck of a lot more afraid of Russell than I am of Mullet-Head.
"SENTENCE FIRST, VERDICT AFTERWARDS."
So here we are the campfire for Tribal Council; here’s Bwana Jeff; here’s AIGA, filing in and lighting their torches; here’s the jury, looking none too friendly—Erik, Kelly and Laura. I’m not expecting any verses of Kum-Ba-Yah this evening.
So, Bwana inquires of Jaison, was it worth not getting any food at the auction to have that advantage in the challenge? Heck, yeah, Jaison confirms. But no conversation with Jaison is complete without a whine, “people may say I only won because I had the advantage but I don’t care.” I’m surprised he doesn’t stick out his tongue and waggle his fingers from his ears.
Turning to Shambo, Jeff asks, “After thirty days is it easier or harder to get along with people?” Ahh, she sighs, thinking she’s once again being kowtowed to in one of her personal vendettas, “Today was just peaceful.”
We can almost hear Russell clearing his throat, “I’d say today was strictly strategic.”
Shambo’s shocked and completely befuddled, “WOW.”
Jeff wants to know why she’d be surprised that people are scrambling to stay in the game. The horse-mane on her head bristles with her anger, “I don’t want somebody worthless to get a million dollars.”
Mick tries a little peacemaking, observing that each person has come to Tribal Council with all his possessions, “Look back here (gesturing behind the bench)—it looks like everybody’s planning to get on a plane.”
The whole discussion becomes a game of cat-and-mouse. Dave says “if the vote tonight goes the way I expect it to go, I’ll be shocked.” Sorry, Dave, that’s nonsense. John idiotically opens his mouth and calls Mick and Dave the two most at risk. Bwana Jeff is practically rubbing his hands with glee in anticipation of the vote: “Let’s see if the blindsides continue.”
They do. Shambo and John have been left in the dark. She votes for her newly-minted archenemy Dave; John, bamboozled by Russell, votes for Mick. By the time the fifth vote against him is read, John is reeling from the trauma. Shambo is nearly as surprised and dismayed as he. Dave turns to the side and gives Russell a giant conspiratorial wink.
Over on the jury, Laura is delighted. She whispers to Kelly, “She has no idea what happened.” She’s referring, of course, to She-Who-Talks-to-Chickens-and-Is-Talked-to-by-God, Shambo.
At least Bwana Jeff is having a good time, “Based on how you’ve been playing, I can’t wait to see what’s gonna happen.”
Epilogue: John’s “Family Moment.” I could swear the dog was talking to him.
Tune in next week. Here’s Mick’s description of the status quo, “[GALU’s] playing with Russell is like a kid playing with a snake, thinking it won’t bite them. It’s a snake: it’s gonna bite.”
*With sincere apologies to Lewis Carroll.