Survivor Gabon: Earth's Last Eden
Apple in the Garden of Eden
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
November 8, 2008

Idol? I don't need no stinkin' idol!

Hello, good people, and welcome to Episode 8 of Survivor: Gabon.

However, we're sorry to inform you that Survivor Analyst Jim Van Nest is unavailable this evening. What this means for you is that not only are we covering Amazing Race in the short term while Reagen Sulewski is off on something called a honeymoon, you're also stuck with us on Survivor tonight. Tough luck for you!

Previously on Survivor, Sugar screwed Ace - and not in the way he expected. Also, while we're not sure if Jim has made any "Pour Some Sugar on Me"/Archies jokes yet, we guarantee that there will be at least 12 in this column. Sugar.

Probst starts the episode by reminding us that one tribe has beaten the other one in nine out of 11 challenges. In hindsight, they shouldn't have allowed Matt Millen to pick the contestants who would participate on the Fang tribe. Wide receivers do not make good Survivor competitors. (But quarterbacks do! We love you Gary Hogeboom!)

The Kota Tribe returns from a forced Tribal Council to find anti-social Randy being, well, anti-social. Clocktower Randy is annoyed that nobody takes him seriously. Just in case you were wondering, we have not accidentally started recapping My Name Is Earl instead. Though perhaps we should!

What has set Randy off (we think - it's hard to tell with him) is the fact that Susie has laughed at him when he said something that she interpreted as him being funny. This is apparently the worst transgression ever committed in his presence. As he explains to the camera, he voted for Susie, knowing full well that his friend Dan would get the majority of the votes. Clearly, he had hoped that Dan would present the immunity idol and save himself, thereby eliminating Susie in the process. This tells us something about Randy as a player. He's a raving lunatic, but he has a game plan and isn't going to let friendships stand in the way of his earning a million bucks. Still, Susie probably shouldn't laugh in his presence again, just in case he has access to bleach, garbage bags, and a shovel.

Marcus (who?) speaks up to say that he thinks that there's a merge coming. Randy interrupts him almost immediately, probably drawing the same conclusion we do that he's not a contestant, and describes something ominously titled "Operation Clean Sweep". We believe this was an initiative last attempted by Colonel Kurtz. Or maybe this is what happened to Steve Coogan in Tropic Thunder.

But Randy's not the only member of Kota bringing the crazy tonight. The rage virus has also hit Corinne, who is holding a grudge against Susie for the tiniest of reasons. Susie blithely informed Corinne earlier that she planned to vote Corinne off. Surprisingly, that didn't go over well. Corinne is feeling on the inside the way that Randy is acting on the outside. God help Susie if she laughs at something Corinne says.

What really has Corinne irked is the fact that Susie stated at Tribal Council that while she wasn't going to vote against Corinne, she was a much stronger competitor than the younger player. Susie feels her upper body strength gives her an advantage, while Corinne feels that it's impossible that a 40-something year old woman would beat her in anything. We heartily encourage Corinne to challenge Dara Torres to a 50 meter freestyle swim and see what happens.

After the commercial break, the show reveals what happened to the Fang Tribe after Tribal Council. We don't want to say that Ace's dismissal the previous week surprised Matty, but he was so confused by Sugar's treachery that he appeared to briefly wonder if he had written down the wrong name when he voted. You could see the wheels turning in his head. "Ace didn't vote for Ace, and I didn't vote for Ace, and Sugar didn't vote for Ace, so how did he get three votes? I know Crystal voted for him, and Ken voted for him, but who was the third person? Did I accidentally vote for him? Oh, crap! It was Sugar! That means there's three people in an alliance out of the remaining four - and I'm that fourth guy!" What Matty does eventually suss out is that the only thing that can save him now is a merge. While this is technically true, there are six people (or five people plus Susie) in the other side's alliance, meaning they're probably not going to help him either.

Matty is immediately given new hope, though, when Ken reveals that their plan for being outnumbered at the merge is to utilize Sugar's hidden immunity idol during the first vote. The idea is that the vote will be 6-4 against one of the Fang tribe, who will then present the idol and stave off elimination. This would lead one of the Kota members to be executed with four votes. While this strategy is sound in theory, they're still outnumbered 5-4 next week, so they haven't gained anything beyond the next week. Also, unless Kota thinks Sugar is a complete and utter idiot (you know, the type who thinks Africa is a country instead of a continent), they're probably going to suss out that during one of her 73 trips to Exile Island, she eventually solved the clues and found the idol.

Tree mail brings news that seem to indicate a merge is in fact in the offing. Of course, since this is Survivor, nothing is certain until Probst confirms it.

And with that, we cut to both tribes arriving at a bountiful feast. The ten relative strangers take the time out to introduce themselves, hug, exchange pleasantries, and go on about how they're friends and not out to get each other. One of these people will be the next champion of Survivor, and there is a 90% chance we will not be pleased with the result. But hey, 10% odds of Sugar winning is still better than the Tampa Bay Rays making the World Series.

The pleasant but fake conversation is derailed when Ken notices a partially hidden clue sitting under a bowl of food. He tries to play it coy, angling a glance at it and notifying his teammate, Matty. Charlie, sitting directly to Ken's right, notices his casual but longing gaze and brings it to everyone's attention. The clue is for a hidden immunity idol that is somewhere on the island where they are currently dining. While most of the people attempt to act cool, Marcus goes a different direction, daring all of the remaining participants to jointly hunt for the idol and discard it. The tribe with larger numbers deduces that its presence could derail their plans. Randy goes so far as to guarantee he can find the idol in under a minute. He proves himself prescient by finding the idol almost instantly. As he later points out, he had noticed an oddly shaped tree pointing down into the sand upon arriving at the meeting. He didn't even need a clue to know where a hidden idol would be. Whichever person "hid" that idol is having an awkward conversation with their boss right now.

Randy takes this moment to have a glass of wine and declare himself King of Gabon. We can't help but note that he comes across as a James Bond villain at this moment.

The idol gets placed on the table, and Randy says that he doesn't want it, but he does offer it to anyone who is interested. Obviously, this is a trap, and no one is stupid enough to take the bait. King Randy hurls it into the ocean while offering testimony to his own greatness. Marcus joins him in the ceremony. This act of extreme arrogance guarantees that one of these two is going to be headed home much sooner than they expect.

Remember earlier when we said that there is no merger until Probst says it's true? You'll notice that we haven't mentioned his name once since the group all came together, and now they're finding out why. They are instructed to draw stones from a bag, and the type of stone in their hand will determine which new Tribe they are on. Odd numbers are the new Fang, while evens are the new Kota. In a situation like this, where you've recently merged with people with whom you might not have an alliance, it's best to have a security blanket, like, say, I don't Immunity Idol! Poetic justice dictates that Randy or Marcus will be eliminated tonight. Our money says Randy, since we have seen arrogance to this degree since Ami Cusack on Survivor: Vanuatu.

But wait. Marcus decides that he'll make a move to the forefront in the "about to be screwed" department. He says, "I don't need an immunity idol. I have great relationships in this game. And that's honestly what I'm banking on. Because I know that at the end of the day, that no immunity idol gets me to the final." Do you know who is usually shown on camera making comments like this? People who are about to be voted off.

The new tribes are Fang: Charlie, Corinne, Sugar, Matty and Randy and Kota: Marcus, Bob, Susie, Ken and Crystal. This means that three from the old Kota are on each team, so theoretically, they still have a numbers advantage on each side.

Back from the break, what we believe to be a Survivor first occurs, at least on camera. New tribemates Crystal and Marcus discover that Crystal's cousin is Marcus's best friend. To his credit, this personalizes the game for Marcus, where suddenly Crystal is not just a competitor on a game show. She's a relative of someone he cares about. He's now torn about any having any form of treachery toward her. This is actually unique in that if Marcus does screw Crystal over in the game, he has the potential to alienate or lose a friend. He's a completely different guy than the one we just saw.

At this point, Crystal proudly reveals that she'll lie to a person's face to win the game. Her cousin must be so proud.

Over at Kota, Corinne and Charlie are reminded that Matty and Randy had been friends when they were still members of Fang together. They wonder if he might flip on them even as Matty is commenting that Randy is an awesome guy who he doesn't trust a bit. Corinne sees Matty as the natural choice to vote out as he is a threat in challenges. She reserves the right to change her opinion if someone has the audacity to vote for her.

Next, we see Matty dropping a bombshell on Sugar. He reveals that the cute boy she was cuddling with every night (ie Ace) was not in fact using her, and had instead been a loyal friend, at much personal risk. Matty is pissed, though he does admit that Ace's elimination wasn't so bad, especially since he didn't have to break his word to his friend and saw a strong threat voted out. Meanwhile, Sugar feels lousy. She had no idea that Ken had lied to her about Ace's intentions. The one thing Sugar and Matty can agree on is that they have each other's back.

Marcus and Bob discuss the fact that they believe they have the numbers on their tribe, but they also realize that Susie isn't to be trusted. They're apparently drinking the Corinne water, but it's probably true that Susie is a bit of a renegade as far as the alliance of six is concerned. This is especially proven to be true when she notes that she is in a position of power on the new Kota tribe, as she can choose to stick with her current alliance of Marcus or Bob or flip to the other side and vote with Ken and Crystal. Let's be honest, Susie has about as much loyalty to the people writing this column as she does to anyone on the island.

Over at Fang, Randy, Corinne and Charlie discuss throwing the immunity challenge so that they can vote off Matty and ensure that Marcus is safe over on the other side.

Posted without comment: "There is a one in a billion chance that Sugar is like a rocket scientist and she's hiding the idol." --Randy. Okay, one comment. We place the odds slightly higher than that.

Probst alert! Finally, at the 33 minute mark, our good friend Jeff Probst makes an appearance. We think this late arrival might be a record. He should give back half his paycheck this week. Today's challenge is for immunity. Each person will hold two poles in their arms, and balanced on top of those poles is a plank of wood. Each team member must balance the poles and their plank without dropping it. The last person standing will win immunity for their entire tribe.

We don't think they'd let her lie on television, but we are starting to question the validity of Crystal having an Olympic Gold Medal. For the second time in a row, she is instantly eliminated from the challenge. Seriously, she is about as useless as can be except in challenges that require brute strength.

Sugar doesn't last much longer than Crystal, and Susie falls next. Honestly, this challenge is probably not fairly set up for the women, whose hands are likely to be to small to comfortably balance their poles. Randy and Corinne go out at exactly the same time, and Ken follows soon after. Marcus's hands are shaking terribly, and he is disappointed as he drops out. Next, Charlie drops his poles, which leaves it to a fight between Matty for Fang and Bob for Kota.

Our favorite moment of the challenge is when Jeff Probst says to the final two, "Don't listen to anyone, including me." We like the advice so much we have this to say: "Do not read this."

Matty's poles are right on the edge, but Bob is shaking severely. Matty remains loose and confident, and Bob loses his pole as his concentration lapses just a bit. Matty wins immunity for Fang, and Kota is headed to Tribal Council. Susie comments that she wants to send Kenny or Crystal home, but isn't sure she can trust Marcus. Let's find out what she decides.

It's time to play It's Anyone But...Fang, we guess. We're really not sure what's going to happen tonight. Susie is truly the deciding factor here, as she could make a power play and eliminate the biggest threat in Marcus or stick with her group and vote out one of Crystal or Ken. Marcus approaches Crystal to see if he can draw her into an alliance, thereby making Ken the vote. She seems to agree, but has already told us that she's willing to lie to Marcus to get further in the game. He follows up by discussing the vote with Susie, guaranteeing her a spot in the top three.

More scheming takes place as Crystal informs Ken - the only player we're certain she'll be honest with - that he has a target on his back for this Tribal Council. Kenny clearly realizes that Susie is the key to his survival. Therefore, Crystal has a discussion with Susie about voting out Marcus. Even by Survivor standards, this is a remarkable amount of gameplay negotiations being shown. Apparently, the producers don't have any better feel for what's going to happen than we do.

There's not much discussion at Tribal Council. Kenny vents a bit about how much it sucks to be outnumbered by a larger tribe, and Marcus essentially says, "Maybe you shouldn't have lost so much, loser." Marcus has not won Miss Congeniality today. And even worse, he's not going win Survivor, either. Despite the fact that Marcus seemed ultra-confident and Kenny believed he was the one going home, Marcus receives three votes to Kenny's two. Susie is such a wild card that no one sitting there had any idea what she was going to do. If Kenny goes on to win Survivor, she's earned half the check with this one vote. Marcus is the first member of the jury. The Ken/Crystal alliance has proven to be quite formidable over the last two weeks. They've been outnumbered over the last two weeks and managed to find the perfect person to vote and swing the game their way.

The moral of the story? Never throw an immunity idol into the ocean.

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