In most places in the world, stealing someone’s food gets the thief, at best, jail time; at worst, devastating retribution. On Survivor Nicaragua, the thief gets an apology from her victims.
“I GOTTA BRAND NEW PAIR OF ROLLER SKATES; YOU GOTTA BRAND NEW KEY. I WISH WE COULD GET TOGETHER AND…”
The first order of business this week is to merge the tribes. I’ll bet you’ve been on pins and needles ever since you saw the previews for this episode wondering, “how in the world will it happen?” Host Jeff Probst bragged in his blog this week about the sheer brilliance of the plan: send tree mail to LaFlor with a key and a “map” to Espada, while providing Espada with a locked trunk. Golly, jeepers, how did they ever think of that? Still, with this lot of clueless castaways, there was the possibility they’d never figure out the key would unlock the trunk.
Everyone seems thrilled about the merge. Marty, having given Sash his idol in return for a week’s reprieve from eviction, heaves a sigh of relief, “These guys are wanna be offing one of their own for sure. I’m ecstatic, man, I’m back in the saddle again.”
Before LaFlor arrives, Alina calls a town hall meeting to urge the current Espadians to stick together, “Marty’s gonna be our biggest threat. He has an idol. We need to have a major blindside.” Privately, NaOnka scoffs at the notion, “Alina’s a one-woman army. She can be GI Jane all by herself.”
YUMMY IN HER TUMMY. GOOD LIKE HER BOOTY.
The trunk, unlocked with the magic key, yields a bounty: new red buffs, flour, cooking pan, bowls, deli meat, fruit and chocolate chip cookies. NaOnka revels, “That food was yummy in my tummy. That salami was good. Like my Booty.” She sneaks a handful of nuts and stuffs them into her pink foam-padded under-wire brassiere. Oh, and there is rum, which Fabio decrees ought to be consumed at once.
Marty proclaims that the newly merged tribe should be Libertad. No one seems to have a better idea and the name is adopted.
Brenda exclaims, “Seeing NaOnka again was such a relief.” She reiterates her complete trust in NaOnka. Brenda, methinks, may be delusional. It’s thanks to Brenda, you’ll recall, that NaOnka now has an immunity idol stashed away.
Brenda shares with NaOnka all that transpired at LaFlor, including Sash’s convincing Marty to hand over his immunity idol. NaOnka could not be more pleased, “This is about to get wicked.”
“…A WELL-REGULATED MILITIA”
Day 20 finds Jane and Chase bonding over their shared North Carolina heritage. She confides how hard she trained before coming on the show, “running three miles a day, doing P90X.” They talk about the recent deaths of family members, Chase’s father and Jane’s husband. Jane clearly (in the Southern vernacular) takes a shine to Chase, telling him he can come stay with her anytime, “I’ve got 20 dogs; I’ve got a shotgun and a guinea.” Now that’s what I call a tempting invitation.
Chase reciprocates Jane’s affinity, “Her and I can connect very well.”
NaOnka is making breakfast tortillas. She is less than pleased that she gets the last one and that it’s the smallest. She’s particularly annoyed at Fabio for “taking big-ass bites.” The tribe, she announces, “really made me mad, so I’m gonna make them mad. Don’t play with me in this game; I can play dirty.”
Dirty it is: first NaOnka steals the bag of flour and trots off to bury it. Holly observes the crime, but does nothing to stop her. Not yet satisfied, NaOnka hurries back to take the skillet, cooking oil, and bowl. Finally she helps herself to several of the pieces of fruit.
“HAVE A FRIGGIN’ ORANGE. IT’LL CALM YOUR NERVES.”
Now, NaOnka decides, it’s time to mess with Alina’s mind. Like the serpent coiled around the tree in the Garden of Eden,* she insists that Alina eat of the forbidden fruit, “Here. Have a friggin’ orange. It’ll calm your nerves.” She then bombards poor Alina with the info that everyone, absolutely everyone, is out to get her because “you don’t have an alliance.” She warns Alina that she’d better win immunity or she’ll be in trouble. NaOnka has a purpose, “I wanna keep talkin’ to Alina so I have her vote in the jury.”
Back at camp, the tribe discovers the thefts. Everyone is dismayed, particularly Fabio, “It just doesn’t make any sense.” Alina and Chase join NaOnka and urge her to admit her culpability. Chase seems to think it will be no big deal, so long as she returns the items and admits what she’s done, “You lied in Survivor. So What?” What is it this season, with the whole lawless frontier mentality, I wonder? First Holly drowned Dan’s $1200 reptile shoes; NaOnka is walking around in Fabio’s stolen socks and now she’s purloined the tribe’s food and cooking supplies.
Holly confronts Naonka, asking if she’s “returned” the flour she took. NaOnka stomps off in fury, then returns with a cockamamie story about how she only took the flour to divide it up properly because they were using it up too rapidly. Fabio has a very good question: if she only took the flour to apportion it and planned to return it, why did she also help herself to the frying pan and bowl?
After a spirited discussion in which Alina is maligned for partaking of stolen citrus and her knowledge of NaOnka’s actions, somehow there’s a general consensus that NaOnka has done a very fine thing indeed. Fabio thanks her for her thoughtfulness, (huh? Did I just hear that right?) “That was a very nice thing to do. We’ll try to make it easier next time.”
Sash seems more attuned to what’s going on. In a PI he confides, “NaOnka is definitely not one of the favorite people in camp right now, but she works perfectly in my plan to be in the final three. She’s definitely not gonna get any million dollar votes.” To NaOnka’s face he smiles and says, “You’re my number one girl.”
Jane returns to camp, having caught another fish. She performs her ritual “fish dance.” Fabio is not impressed, “Fish dance, my ass.” Marty’s antipathy to Jane is clear in his snide aside, “My mama told me…that whole North Carolina thing has spread like cancer in the tribe.”
“NO MORE BABY CORTEZ”
That’s Marty, as he has to surrender the tribe immunity idol back to Jeff as the Immunity Challenge begins. Marty probably beat Cortez in chess as a kid (right after he finished wiping the floor with Guillermo Vilas). I hope the humiliation wasn’t the trigger that provoked Cortez to run around the Southern Hemisphere wiping out native peoples by the millions.
The twist for today’s contest is that there will be two individual immunity idols up for grabs––one for a woman and one for a man. The task will be to take two wrought-iron scrolled handles and use them to suspend a rod by keeping pressure applied. If the rod falls, it will break the contestant’s tile and he or she will be out of the challenge. I’m thinking there must have been some great going-out-of-business sale at a ceramic tile factory in Nicaragua last summer: pretty much every challenge involves breaking a few.
Within a couple of seconds of Jeff announcing, “Survivors Ready…” Lazy Dan and Purple Kelly have dropped their bars. Alina soon follows. In pretty quick order, only Holly and Jane are left for the women and Marty, Chase and Fabio for the men. Holly falters and Jeff tells Jane she’s won and may drop her bar. No thanks, she replies, she’ll just hang in and beat all the men as well. She explains her strength, “Picking up ninety-pound dawgs helps.” Marty drops; Chase loses his concentration and his bar, leaving Fabio as the men’s winner. Jane jumps gleefully into his arms, her scrawny legs wrapped around his waist.
She shares with the viewers, “My whole goal today was to beat Marty. I may be little; I may be small. Ain’t no way in hell on an individual challenge you will beat me.”
“THE BOOK OF MORONS”
As is invariably the case on afternoons preceding tribal councils, there’s scheming galore. Jane, Alina and Purple Kelly are plotting to get rid of Marty. They try to recruit NaOnka and Chase. Dan, lying prone and nearly motionless, asks Chase what’s happening. Chase honestly replies, “It’s between Alina and Marty.” Since Dan is Marty’s personal zombie, he is forced to rise and report to Marty what Chase has revealed. Marty is furious, “I’m putting Chase in my Book of Morons. You don’t try to blindside somebody unless you’re sure you’ve got the votes.”
Sash, meanwhile, has his own problems. He hurries to implore Jane, NaOnka, and Brenda to not vote for Marty. This would look very bad, Sash says for his own credibility since he promised Marty that if he were in trouble at the next tribal council he’d give him back the idol Marty had so stupidly handed over. He doesn’t “want to have to break his word this early in the game.” Jane thinks this is ridiculous, “just give me the idol and then you won’t have it to give to him.” Brenda is anxious to play good soldier and do what Sash wants.
These have to be the worst strategic players ever in the game of Survivor. Why would they want to protect Sash’s credibility to guarantee him a vote from a juror? They’re not getting any benefit from keeping Marty, and as Jane astutely points out, Marty could easily go on an “immunity run” and stay for a long time.
SOUTH DAKOTA WORD OF HONOR
Alina tries to lobby Fabio, but he refuses to go along with the plan. Marty’s been nice to him (after all he shared that whole secret chess champion thing with Fabio) and Fabio likes having him around camp to be buddies. Alina, acting hurt, tells Fabio she’d thought they were friends. Fabio complains that she’s dangerous, “Every time somebody talks to you, you have a new strategy.” If he doesn’t vote with the group he knows, “I would piss a lot of people off if I did that.”
Marty is frantic to make sure he’s going to be safe. He harasses Holly until she swears her South Dakota Word of Honor she’s voting for Alina. (I’m hoping that later in the season we may be having a face-off between the South Dakota Word of Honor and the North Carolina Code.)
Marty’s belligerence is beginning to try Sash’s patience, “Marty’s becoming more and more paranoid. He’s actually digging his own grave.”
“THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR BIG MOVES IS SHORT”
The tribe members have barely had time to light their torches and gather round the fire when Marty launches into a diatribe against Jane.
Marty: I just wanna clear the air a little bit for everybody and the whole tribe because there’s been some misconception and the misconception was by Miss Jane that I either didn’t like Miss Jane or that I didn’t bond with her. The fact is that within thirty minutes of the game starting Jane made a series of bad mistakes and bad decisions, namely aligning herself with three of the weakest players that were subsequently eliminated.
Jane jumps in to defend herself: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I approached YOU and y’all fluffed me off.
Marty: Right, cause you don’t make an alliance in 30 minutes. I don’t even know her name.
Jane: How do you know if I’m strong or not?
Marty: So all I’m sayin’ is if you let little old lady from South Carolina that catches the crawfish..mama this and mama that. If you have watched Survivor, if she makes it to the Final 3, this woman will take the million dollars. She has the saddest story here of human tragic loss, of needing the money desperately. You can’t write a better story. And I will go one step further. This will be my last compliment, by the way, that I pay to Miss Jane. If Jane makes it to the Final 3, I will cast my vote for this woman. She will have deserved it and the people who allowed her to get there will have made a strategic mistake.
Jane: It’s a personal vendetta against me.
Marty: It’s not personal.
Yeah, Marty, I’m pretty sure it’s personal. For one thing, Jane is from North Carolina, not South Carolina; for another it’s rude and condescending to call a southern lady “Miss So and So” unless she’s about a hundred years old and a spinster to boot. Oh, and by the way, insulting the people Jane’s made friends with just makes you look like a first class jerk.
There’s a bit of a discussion about NaOnka’s food fiasco and Alina’s part in it. NaOnka claims she was punished. Jeff asks how and she whines that nobody talked to her all afternoon. Then Alina makes a half-hearted argument to save herself by arguing that she’d be a good swing vote, that she’s nothing but a pawn.
The tribe goes to vote. Jane and Alina cast their protest votes for Marty. Benry, voting for Alina, seems to harbor some serious bad feelings about her, “You are a one hundred percent Grade A dirt squirrel and it’s time for you to go home.” He mimics rodent-like gnawing teeth.**
It’s rather anticlimactic when Jeff announces that Alina has been voted out and will be the first member of the jury. Dan is so pleased; he slaps Marty on the back. Well, it is Dan we’re talking about so it was more of a brush than an actual touch. But you could tell he felt victorious.
Jeff warns the tribe: “Tonight’s vote would seem to indicate you’re still making decisions as a group and that kind of thinking can’t work forever.”
Tune in next week when: Sash and Brenda struggle to hold on to power, and “at tribal council NaOnka lets her freak flag fly.” Get your freak flak jacket handy, waywyrd: this may be a dangerous assignment!
*Number of gratuitous camera shots of nasty-looking snakes crawling around shown in this episode: close to a dozen. Pity the poor CBS intern who has to round them up at the end of the day and lock them up for the night.
**Dirt Squirrel: according to the Urban Dictionary, is a slut, slattern or other woman of low sexual morals. Seems a pretty harsh indictment, but Benry is, after all, a former camera-operater for the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, and one might assume he has valid comparisons by which to make his judgment.