Survivor: Vanuatu
Burly Girls, Bowheads, Young Studs and the Old Bunch
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 23, 2004

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

When we last left the Survivors, the pretty girls were being slandered by the older women. The workers were plotting against the slackers. And everyone was blown away by the fact that hatemonger Chris survived the first vote. We have much to discuss as episode two begins.

The skies are angry on day four. Smoke billows from one of the active volcanoes...or is that from the plane which just crashed on Lost? Look out for the unseen monster, Survivors! Well, all of you but Chris and Scout anyway.

Day four at Camp Lopevi sees the contestants sinking to a new low. We have seen some pathetic tribes before, but all of them managed to avoid eating bugs until the immunity challenge made the task requisite. I guess the Lopevi Losers want to practice ahead of time since their last challenge went so poorly. Make Chris eat one for every time he fell off the balance beam!

The situation is so dire that even Chris finally appreciates the need for fire. All the men work together to finally spark a small flame. And what happens? Rain comes, undoing all of their efforts! Is it too late to get a refund on that spirit stone of good fortune?

At Yasur, the ladies are working as a team. They are literally standing on each other's shoulders in order to reach the heights of a tree. The intended prize is a branch containing a banana-like object called a plantain. Lisa has grabbed a machete and climbed her friends in order to try to chop it down. Donkey Kong himself would be proud of the effort, but the women who are lower on the pyramid are less enthusiastic. A plaintive request is made to the woman above her. "Please don't drop the machete. Ever." Ratings would go through the roof if she did, though.

The planned buffet of fried plaintain gets closed down by the local health board. The realization is made that their prize is covered in maggots. Twila, perhaps looking to become the Sue of the group, keeps eating despite the presence of these critters. Watch it, Twila. Being the Sue of the group might get you groped by a nekkid Richard Hatch.

Now is the time on Survivor when the contestants complain. As aspiring prima donna Eliza explains, "Being here is like being in prison, because we do not have nearly enough food. And then we have these unripe disgusting plaintains. When you cook them, they taste like burnt mush." Eliza must have been led to believe she had been booked at a luxurious island resort instead of on some sort of game show involving survival. If only the title could have been more definitive, eh, Eliza?

Twila sums it up best. "They are not mature enough. They are not physically strong enough. They just wear me out. They just don't understand the game, I guess. If they want to be pampered, they need to go back to the Holiday Inn." You have got to hand it to Twila. She lined up a hotel chain endorsement deal before she even started the game.

At Camp Penis, John P. And Travis are having an important discussion. Cooter is unusually open with his attractive companion. He frankly states that the man's physical strength makes him a significant threat, requiring the family man to view him as dangerous. Frustrated, John tries to point out that voting off your strongest players has historically proven to be suicide. Travis is not having any of it.

The point clearly driven home by the discussion is that there are eight men in the tribe. The five older ones are already in complete control unless one of the two Johns or Brady can sway someone to their side. Oh God, Creepy Chris has a decent chance of sticking around for a while.

Probst alert!

Today's immunity challenge brings the winner blankets and various other camp comfort items. The men also get a chance to win their flint. The challenge involves a prolonged encounter on a balance beam. You know the rest. The worst part of the loss for the men is that poor Chad, the man with the prosthetic leg, experiences tremendous difficulty in keeping his balance. We appreciate that there cannot be bias shown in his favor on challenges, but this one was just plain cruel to him. Color us unamused.

Back at camp, the men are reduced to bickering about the women's celebration. Rory has apparently never seen an end zone celebration and if he ever does, he won't like it. Danger, Terrell Owens! Danger! Rory's fury is disconcerting to Lea, who feels that losing is losing and how the winner reacts is irrelevant. Since both men are members of the five man majority alliance, a potential rift is newsworthy even if the fight is over something so uselessly silly.

This episode has been rather dull thus far. More importantly, it has been sadly lacking in face time for new BOP icon Dolly the sheep farmer. We breathlessly await her next camera confessional. Would that CBS could have let Dolly bring her sheep with her to the competition.

The women return from their victory to discover more good fortune. A chicken has wandered into the wrong camp. If it had stumbled across a cannibal tribe, it would be fine. In a group of starving survivors, it's machete bait. The good news for the bird is that Twila struggles with her conscience.

When she finally does work up the nerve to try to slaughter it, the chicken manages to makes its escape. Before doing so, it had kindly laid five eggs. The women head straight to the boiling pot. Which tips over. If only they had won the spirit stone, that would not have happened.

At this point, the women's alliances are explored. Unsurprisingly, they split almost directly down the lines of age bracket. The older group is named as Scout, Twila and LeAnn while the younger women are listed as Mia, Julie, Dolly, Eliza and Lisa. The narrator of all this discussion, Ami, lists herself as being in the older group. During these discussions, Twila determines her alliance to be with Ami, Scout, and LeeAnn. She describes potential ally Dolly (the sheep farmer!) as the pivot person. Look out, Twila. Dolly looks way too much like Britney Spears to be trusted. She would dump you for Kevin Federline in the blink of an eye.

Probst returns to announce the immunity challenge. The competition is your run-of-the-mill blind leading the blind event. A captain for each tribe barks out orders to his or her blindfolded teammates. Using these instructions, the contestants retrieve 12 puzzle pieces needed to decipher three puzzles. Military officer Lea is chosen to bark orders to his men while venerable busybody Scout runs the women's unit.

Lea's instructions are quite confusing at first. He constantly shouts out useless comments such as "turn to 9 o'clock" to men who cannot see where noon would be on the dial. Eventually, he susses this out and starts using comments such as left, right, up and down. His boisterous voice keys the men to an early lead, but it's Scout that wins them the competition. She fails to successfully count to 12, causing the women to leave one of their final puzzle piece behind in the water. This gives the men an insurmountable lead and their first win of the season.

We described Scout as the female Chris. So, we find it fitting that she torpedoes the women in the second challenge to the same degree that he did in the first one. They would make quite a Bonny and Clyde but with less competence and more vitriol.

"There is no crying in Survivor." This is the Tom Hanks-esque comment that greets viewers when the show returns from commercials. That signifies the start of the It's Anyone but Scout game. Eliza has been reduced to tears by her tribe's misfortunes. While this tactic might prove effective in a group of men, amongst women it only makes her a bigger target. They smell her fear, and it puts her head on the chopping block.

Multiple parties have determined Dolly is the swing vote, so she gets pressured more than undecided voters in battleground states. As tongues wag, the people mount a different campaign. Since no one can decide what Dolly will do, the easy solution is to assassinate her instead. In the end, by a vote of 5-4, this is exactly what happens as LeAnn survives. Dolly the sheep farmer is gone and with her goes the easiest joke the show has ever given us.