Survivor: Fiji
It’s a Turtle?!
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
April 22, 2007

We'll miss his accent.

Previously on Survivor, Jim was hysterical. Also, a whole bunch of stuff happened and we didn't talk about any of it. Sadly, he's off being Super-Dad this weekend, so we will have to update you on an eventful episode of television's longest running reality series (other than CNN).

Overall, this season has been a bust. You know it, I know it, Jim knows it, and while Probst wouldn't say it, even he knows it. The good news is that things have been looking up recently. Impotent loud mouth Rocky was voted off, all the time telling himself that everyone but him was the loser. Yo, Rocky, if that's the case, why did everyone else win more often than you? Suffice it to say that we are thrilled he is no longer flying high now.

But what really floats our boat was the dismissal of Lisi two episodes ago. We haaaaated that bitch. I mean, we hated her the way that country music stations hate the Dixie Chicks. We're not ready to make nice about her behavior. She was a loathsome, dull-witted misanthrope who failed to appreciate how good she had it in an alliance full of stronger players willing to take care of her. Repeated trips to Exile Island drove her over the edge, which is a shorter trip than a walk to the refrigerator. Her ultimate achievement was a tribal council meltdown wherein she couldn't even give an appropriate answer to a binary question. Note for Lisi if you're reading this; binary is a word used in this instance to indicate only two potential answers, presumably yes or no. "I'm trying to be honest", "Let me finish", and "It's not that simple" do not qualify under these guidelines. We would, however, have accepted, "I suck worse than a mime convention' as an answer. Aww, who are we kidding? Lisi's illiterate anyway. We apologize to those of you who are not for going all Lemony Snickets on you for a moment.

We might hate Lisi worse than Lill. We would need to see her in a scout uniform to decide for certain, though.

The main theme thus far has been the alliance Jim cleverly dubbed The Four Horseman. Mookie, Alex, Edgardo and Dreamz have an alliance that has them positioned to make a deep run in the game. An unexpected twist in the game's fundamental play disrupted their plans, however, and the fallout from this should be felt during tonight's episode. The key was that last week saw a merged tribe, but there was still a small group vote due to a unique permutation at the immunity challenge. The new tribe was divided into two sets of contestants with the losers heading straight to Tribal Council. The end result was that no strategic machinations could take place before the vote with Michelle winding up eliminated.

The bigger picture result was that a schism was revealed in the core group. Three of the boys went searching for a hidden immunity idol while Dreamz and Useless (aka Lisi) were asleep. When Edgardo, Alex and Mookie found the treasure, they decided it would be best not to tell Dreamz, their ally, of their good fortune. After all, he can be a bit...chatty. That plan lasted a good 48 hours before Mookie pulled a Lenny and blabbed on and on about the next secret meeting of the Stonecutters...or something like that. For no apparent reason and to the detriment of himself and his allies, Mookie suddenly blurted out to Dreamz that they had the idol. How did that help them in the game? Well, it really, really didn't. Dreamz, who has the emotional control of a five-year-old, promptly got his feelings hurt because he realized that the cool kids didn't like him as much as he thought they did. So, he did what any injured party does. He plotted revenge. His goal was to wait until the moment when his "allies" least expected it then betray them to a degree that would make Benjamin Arnold go "Da-aaaa-aaaa-amn!" The other members of the Four Horseman have no idea that Dreamz has gone loose cannon on them since he voted the way Alex wanted at the last tribal council. So, the Sword of Damocles is hanging over their heads as we head into this week's episode. Finally, the season is showing some promise.

As the losers from the prior immunity challenge return from Tribal Council, Earl, Boo and Edgardo debate who has been eliminated. Soon afterward, the downcast group returns and confirms Michelle has been eliminated by a 3-2 vote. Mookie doesn't even attempt to conceal his contempt for Dreamz's voting decision. We can't say that we disagree. The man just voted off a woman he didn't know instead of a woman he actively dislikes, and alienated his key ally in the game to boot. Let's just say we wouldn't want Dreamz running our political campaign in '08.

"We just screwed ourselves." --Mookie

Mookie's bad night continues. Alex berates him for how protective he has been of the immunity idol they discovered together. Alex believes they should rotate ownership, with one of the four horsemen holding it each day. Mookie, on the other hand, thinks he has the right of "finders keepers" since he touched it first. Their behavior is starting to remind us of the episode where Bart, Millhouse and Martin get the Radioactive Man #1 comic book. Moving down the food chain, Mookie moves from strong player Alex to pass his aggression down to weaker player Dreamz. His venting and strategizing are lost on his partner, who, we kid you not, spends the conversation carefully monitoring the flight of a moth. Dreamz has never met a shiny object he didn't like.

Dreamz attempts to explain the logic behind alienating his ally and jeopardizing his position in the game. Oh, he's got a great reason. Don't think he doesn't. See, in Tribal Council, Michelle said she didn't know Dreamz, because, well, she didn't. Dreamz apparently took this simple statement of fact as a sinister implication of her master plan for his immediate elimination. And we don't just mean from Survivor. He thinks she has satellite lasers pointed at his head as he speaks. Dreamz, the next time you're on a deserted island, don't eat the mushrooms you can't identify.

What have we learned in the first five minutes of the first Survivor: Fiji episode that we've recapped? Stacy is better off than Edgardo, Alex and Mookie for the simple reason that while she may not have any friends on the island, at least she's not in an alliance with Dreamz.

Demonstrating his Survivor prowess, Boo states that a worthy alliance would be Earl, Yau Man, Cassandra, Dreamz and himself. We're pretty sure that at the moment, Mookie would be happy to trade Dreamz for a player named later - as long as that player isn't Dreamz. No takebacks. Earl continues to impress us with his cerebral style of play and intuitive ability to judge the behavior of others. He recognizes Boo as a transparent hanger-on only worried about himself and he knows that Dreamz is as reliable as a coin flip. Earl is one of the better Survivor players in recent memory.

Probst sighting! We've missed you Jeffy! And by the way, nice hat! This challenge is one of our annual favorites - the one that humiliates the despicable and creates artificial tension between allies. A series of questions are asked, and it becomes a popularity - or lack-of-popularity as Stacy will always remember it - contest.

Below is a recap of the questions and the way the tribe voted. See if you can spot any patterns (hint: the group piles on one player like it's a rugby match).

Who would you most trust with your life? - Earl
Who are you least likely to invite to a family dinner? - Boo
Who most has a sense of entitlement? - Alex
Who would you most like to be stranded on an island with? - Yau Man
Who do you not want to see again after the game? - Stacy (everyone guesses this, for what it's worth)
Who smells the worst? - Dreamz
Who mistakenly believes they are in control of this game? - Alex
Who has wasted this great opportunity? - Stacy
Athletically, who has surprised you the most? - Yau Man

When players guess correctly who the tribe voted for, they get to knock out one of three planks symbolizing another Survivor. After the first question and three hits, one player is instantly eliminated. This player is Stacy. After a few more rounds, Alex and Earl are also knocked out. Next, Cassandra boots Mookie and Yau Man from the challenge. Edgardo quickly follows. After getting every single question correct, Cassandra knocks out Dreamz and wins a fancy dinner on a luxury yacht and the chance to send a fellow Survivor to Exile Island.

To keep with the theme of the season, Cassandra retroactively sends Lisi to Exile Island. And the bitch still deserves it. Actually, she gives Mookie the honor, but that's less fun.

The lousy television that is Exile Island includes Mookie making an impotent threat. Cassandra's just made the "worst mistake of her life" according to him. If this is true, we are sad for Cassandra and her dull, dull existence. There is also a sea snake.

Cassandra is allowed to take three people with her on her yacht celebration. Her selections are a bit surprising in that she takes Dreamz, Yau Man and...Boo. Looking at her strategy for a moment, Cassandra has come to realize that Yau Man and Earl want to go to the Final Three with her; however, at that point, it's the two of them versus her. If she can buddy up with either Dreamz or Boo at the final five, she will have a great deal of flexibility. Therefore, taking Earl would have been wasting a spot that is better to used to plant the seeds for later in the game.

Cassandra, Boo and Yau Man spend their time on the yacht trying to determine Dreamz's loyalty and willingness to betray his other allies. Their miscalculation is in assuming that he has any type of strategy. They would have better luck teaching a two-year-old quantum physics. Dreamz will spend the next Tribal Council exactly the same way he spent the last one: trying to determine who the stranger is and exactly what evil plans they may have in place to harm him in some way. Still, the group of three establishes with Dreamz that the plan is to vote Alex out at the next Tribal Council. This might not seem important, but it really, really is.

The evening is not a total loss for Dreamz. There are fireworks at the end of their meal! That means he gets loud noises and shiny things! Much better than moths!

As Earl and Cassandra spend a few minutes trying to appease Dreamz, whose feelings have been hurt again, we realize that for the other players on the island, Dreamz is much like a Tamagotchi. They spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep him happy and content, realizing that the whole exercise will ultimately be fruitless as well as impossible. He's just going to poot on your foot. Still, Earl and Cassandra try to tell him that he really needs to listen to them, because he's constantly trying to talk over them when they're trying to help him. Cowed by Earl's big boy voice, Dreamz lets loose with the information that Mookie has an immunity idol.

Let's flash back to two episodes ago, when the immunity idol was discovered. Edgardo and Alex had one simple request of Mookie. Don't tell Dreamz. They worried about his ability to keep a secret, not to mention his penchant for treachery. And next, let's remember last episode when Mookie told Dreamz, "Hey, guess what we've got! P.S. Don't tell anyone else!" What we see here is the perfect example of Alex and Edgardo seeing a potential pitfall, trying to prevent it, and having it happen anyway. They have just had their hole cards revealed to their opponents by two people they had no choice but to trust - Mookie and Dreamz. Alex and Edgardo did everything right and through no fault of their own, the game has just turned on them.

And it's Probst time again! Today's Immunity Challenge is one of those brutal endurance challenges. This particular one requires the Survivors to balance on tiny footholds and arm holds. If they lose their balance, they're out. The person who stays up the longest takes home immunity and a chance to take some serious control of the game. Early on, Stacy is looking very focused, and Boo is impressive as well in his determination to stay alive. Both of them know that they are potentially at risk at Tribal, and they give it all they've got. In the end, though, it's the poised and serene Yau Man who carries the day. We imagine all of their feet hurt in a big bad way given the way they walk to the sidelines.

And now, Fun With Mookie! Fresh back from Exile Island, he's making enough threats to fill up the entire final season of The Sopranos.

"By Cassandra sending me to Exile Island, she just ruined the game for herself and her alliance. I am gonna take out her whole alliance, one by one...Hopefully, we can take him [Earl] out and take him out with the immunity idol and he won't even use it...When I was on Exile Island, I committed myself to that. I'm like, I will not be faltered out, I will not be wavered by anything. But we're still the Four Horsemen...This is the order we're sending them: Earl, Yau Man, Boo."

We can't imagine that as Mookie watches this in the comfort of his own home that he is bursting with pride regarding his prognostications or the success of his vendetta. Maybe we were too hard on Lisi. Look at what happened to Mookie after just one trip to Exile Island.

Dreamz interrupts Mookie's tirade - because, well, that's what Mookie does - ask Earl if you don't believe us - and questions are crucial. "Are you 100% on Stacy? Is Stacy for us? Are you sure?" (Out of curiosity, what would make you think Stacy is with you? You all threw her under the bus in the reward challenge.) Cut to Stacy basically asking Yau Man who she should vote for in order to secure her position in their alliance. His answer? "Anyone but Earl." As their discussion goes a bit further, he tells her, "Vote for Alex if you're with us. If not, vote for anyone but Earl. That's all I ask."

Now, we cut to Alex and Stacy on the beach. Alex's idea of diplomacy is to remind her that he "saved her on the Michelle vote", so apparently she is his indentured servant for the rest of the contest. He dictates that she must vote for Earl, while pressing for confirmation that she will do so. We don't know much about body language, but we think that when someone looks at you blankly and says, "I'm just hot...I'm really...agitated," that's probably not the best sign ever. In a way, we relish the idea of a Stacy/Boo/Dreamz alliance. Talk about the ultimate in-it-for-yourself crew. Not to mention unpredictable.

Stacy's hedging leads to what is arguably the best sequence of chess moves in the history of the game. After Edgardo and Alex confer about Stacy's behavior, they (correctly) decide they can't count on her. Edgardo informs Dreamz of their new plan. Since Dreamz has told the Four Horsemen that their opponents plan to vote out Alex at Tribal Council, Edgardo's idea is that Mookie will give Alex the immunity idol. With that idol in hand, Alex will be saved from elimination and the person with the second most votes, Earl, will leave in his place.

When Mookie passes the idol to Alex, Dreamz is intently watching. At this point, Dreamz finally picks a side. He rushes off to Boo, Cassandra, Yau Man, Stacy and Earl and tells them that Mookie has given the super secret immunity idol to Alex. The group decides at this point to vote for Mookie instead of Alex. This solution sidesteps the issue of the immunity idol while still eliminating a competitor from the opposing alliance.

Are you still with us? We know it's complicated. There have been entire seasons of Survivor that haven't had this much strategy. And it doesn't stop there. Edgardo flip flops, determining that Cassandra will be the better target at Tribal Council. His logic is that taking out one of the three members of their alliance will cripple Earl and Yau Man - and we agree with this rationale. Earl's trio might be the most cerebral core group of strategists we have ever seen in an alliance. Taking one of them out is an imperative for a group stuck with Mookie and Dreamz.

"This is an all or nothing move, but if it works out, it'll probably be one of the best moves ever." --Edgardo

The Spy vs. Spy games continue. While Dreamz is off working on some firewood, the cool kids who are supposedly his new best friends have another discussion. Stacy, who Dreamz could have eliminated on the previous vote, points out that if their opponents believe the vote will be either Mookie or Alex, the most logical victim is Edgardo. This marks the first useful thing that Stacy has done in the entire season of Survivor: Fiji. Even better, she suggests that they should not tell Dreamz. The difference between this group and the Four Horsemen is that they are wise enough to follow through with this plan.

There is a final conversation between Mookie and Alex that is so deceitful it makes Brutus seem like an okay guy around Julius Caesar. Dreamz all but telegraphs the fact that he's double-dealing, but Alex is so busy fantasizing about the end game, he misses all the warning signs.

The only comment from Tribal Council you really need to hear is Dreamz's. "This vote right here is gonna determine everything. This vote'll separate the snakes and the rats."

Probst's reading of the vote strikes us as manipulated (more than usual). The group led by Alex and Edgardo can barely contain their glee. They are so proud of the machinations they have made that have brought them to this moment. Before the reading of the votes, Alex plays the immunity idol as planned. Then, three votes are read. All are for Cassandra. The camera shows Alex and Mookie sharing a celebratory smile of victory. A vote is read for Mookie, and confusion sets in amongst the now Three Horsemen.

The fifth vote is revealed, and when it says Edgardo's name, their three faces are crestfallen. Doubt sets in immediately. Each man would have bet his life that the fifth vote would have been for either Alex or Mookie. Edgardo's name had never been mentioned. (You know why? Because Dreamz never heard it.) The Three Horsemen simultaneously come to the conclusion that they've been had. The next three votes all display Edgardo's name. At this point, Edgardo looks back at Dreamz as if to say, "You betrayed me. You're betraying me right now." To his surprise, Dreamz appears equally confused. This wasn't the vote he was expecting either. On the other side of the row, Earl cannot contain his glee. He knows he has outflanked the opposition and his victory is about to become final with Probst's announcement of the last vote. By a count of 5-3-1, Edgardo is the latest contestant voted out of Survivor. Probst states that the immunity idol will be re-hidden, further muddying the picture in coming days.

Now we want to tie the entire house of cards back together. Here is how Alex and Edgardo are victims of circumstance. Dreamz had the opportunity to eliminate Stacy in the last vote had he followed through on his word. The idol would have remained a mystery had Mookie not said anything to Dreamz or had Dreamz not sold them out to Team Earl. Their immunity idol was lost because the intel they received from Dreamz was faulty. The enemy gave him just enough information for the Horsemen to draw a false conclusion. And Edgardo was eliminated because he was, paradoxically, the only one who was never in any danger of being eliminated. The odds of the stars aligning in this manner were staggering. With this type of luck, Earl should play the trifecta at Churchill Downs next month.