Survivor Guatemala: Recap
Everything Is Personal
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
November 25, 2005

All the Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving this year.

Previously on Survivor, Jamie reached new heights in the Least Popular Contestant Ever contest. His inability to play nicely with others sabotaged his position in the power alliance out of the remaining contestants. Rafe seemed to dislike Jamie so much that he seemed willing to risk his chance to make it to the end in order to not have to speak to the belligerent loudmouth the next day. When you're willing to risk a million bucks in order to get far, far away from someone, you know that person has to be vile. Jamie tried to hide his humiliation by acting excited about his Stonewall Jackson treatment at Tribal Council, but maybe he was just super anticipatory about his chance to hang out at the hotel with new best friend Bobby Jon. It's either that or he's happy to be able to take his meds again. Hell, we're all happy about that one.

How is Judd taking the news that he was the only one who had no clue about the plan to eliminate Jamie? Well, he starts by talking about himself in the third person. Also, he keeps shouting that he's fine. As for Gary Hogeboom, he summarizes his fortune thusly: "There's no doubt that I dodged a bullet tonight. My old ties in Yaxha in the beginning of the game helped me out, but Jamie did me a big favor by driving everybody crazy." The Philadelphia Eagles know just how you feel, buddy. The arbitrator just called and Jamie won't be coming back this year.

Day 28 begins with Judd snoring loudly. They must have been showing him episodes from the beginning of this Survivor season. Once the snoozing is finally done, Judd skips straight to the paranoid, delusional state of the game. This reaction was going to be inevitable after the Tribal Council results. He needs someone to blame for his friend's ouster, so this week it's Judd's turn to hope that the Cowboys never win a Thanksgiving game again. He's at least off to a good start thanks to the heroics of one Ron Dayne.

First item on the itinerary is to eavesdrop on Lydia and Gary Hogeboom. The conversation as the audience sees it is Gary Hogeboom desperately trying to hang on for another three days by trying to decide which way the wind is blowing at the moment. What Judd hears is "Lydia, I am Gary Hogeboom. Do as I command!" Then Rafe and Steph huddle with Judd, allowing the doorman to vent about his changing position in the game. What they say to Judd is "Don't worry about Gary Hogeboom. We're totally in control of the way this game is going." What he hears is "That damned Gary Hogeboom! It's all his fault!" Judd also spends several minutes trying to convince the camera that Gary Hogeboom is in fact a big, fat liar. It's a ludicrous rationalization and indicative of the sort of craziness that begins to set in late in the game.

The reward challenge is one of those that is used to reveal the cracks. People can get revenge on the people who have been rubbing them the wrong way lately. It's a trivia contest where the people who get correct answers get to take a swing at a pot with a fellow contestant's name on it. Each Survivor has only three pots, and is eliminated once they're all smashed. Judd takes an orgiastic pleasure in whacking Gary Hogeboom's pot. Lousy Cowboys. This feud is not the surprising one, though. Lydia makes a beeline for Steph's pot, earning a reply of "How did I know?" from the two-time Survivor. The situation escalates from there with Steph eventually being eliminated. Her final retort, "Jealousy will get you nowhere," is so incendiary that we expect these two ladies to be foxy boxing any day now.

From a gameplay perspective, the most startling revelation involves Cindy and Gary Hogeboom. Cindy immediately targets the former football player, leaving him to decide on his turn whether he should go after the other alpha male, Judd, or get revenge on Cindy. Frankly, we don't see that he could possibly gain anything by going after Cindy, so of course that's exactly what he does. He wins the battle, but she wins the war, eliminating him, then Lydia, then Rafe. Her reward challenge victory allows her to choose someone to accompany her for a fabulous dinner in one of the most scenic places in Guatemala, and the one thing we can be sure of is that it won't be Gary Hogeboom. We fear that Gary Hogeboom, who had been playing cerebrally in recent days, has just made a crucial error in pushing the potential swing vote to the other trio.

Back from the challenge, pseudo celebrity Steph likes to quote Joe Walsh. "Everybody's so different; I haven't changed." She bitches a little bit more about Lydia's "jealousy", belittling Lydia's argument that Steph has had the opportunity to eat after multiple reward challenges, while a couple of people (namely Lydia, Rafe and Cindy) have not. Steph attempts to point out how even it is, and in the process reveals a bit more about her assessment of the current game standing. She says that the food rewards have been divided 3-3-3 among Gary Hogeboom, Judd and herself (plus that one other meal she had – her words, not ours) so therefore, it must be even. After all, almost half the people have had the same amount of food! Steph isn't exactly one to remember the little people in life.

Reward challenge winner Cindy shouts, "Calgon, take me away!" and that's exactly what happens. She and Rafe get some sun and some sand, then follow it up with a relaxing massage. Somehow, we suspect that this is the most a woman has ever touched Rafe. Take that as you want.

We're starting to feel the same way about Stephenie that Brad Pitt felt about Rachel Green in – wait for it – that great Thanksgiving episode of Friends. (Incidentally, CBS, why are you showing a new Survivor episode on Thanksgiving? We hate you so bad!) She lords it over Lydia, who seems to have become the indentured servant to half of the tribe while we weren't looking. Making matters worse, Rafe and Cindy rub in the fact that Lydia is eating some sort of fish corn soup concoction after they just dined on delicious, satisfying kabobs. Then, Judd, Steph, Cindy and Rafe all gather to discuss how annoying Lydia has become and say that they can't believe she's made it this long. Let's be honest. Their behavior is bordering on being racist at the moment. They used their little servant as long as they needed her, but now she's unimportant. The power quartet is considering having her deported. Even Rafe's behavior in this sequence is disappointing.

The Immunity Challenge is a game of Mayan Mythology Jeopardy. The trivia revolves around some goddess slut's affairs. Seriously, Heather Locklear didn't get around this much on Melrose Place. Since it's a puzzle/memory competition, you can immediately write off Judd and Steph. Also, because there's a bit of running/athleticism involved, Lydia is a goner, too. In the end, it comes down to a battle between Gary Hogeboom and Rafe. Neither man misses a single one of the seven questions, but Rafe just barely out-hustles the quarterback to win immunity once again.

"Who would see this little, gay Mormon and think that he was gonna win most of the immunity challenges?" –Rafe

It's time to play It's Anyone But Gary Hogeboom. Nah, there's not even any point. Gary Hogeboom negotiates and scrambles for any piece of juicy gossip he can find to instigate, but it feels like a pointless endeavor. For all the aggression focused upon Lydia, the same issue that has placed her on the Survivor "B" Team is what saves her now. She's just kind of there, while Gary Hogeboom is a serious threat. Also, Judd really hates that guy.

Gary Hogeboom isn't going down without a fight, though. At Tribal Council, Judd isn't content to simply vote off his mortal enemy. He wants to be sure to point out what a cheat and liar his chief competitor is before the elimination. Judd eagerly notes that Gary Hogeboom has lied, but gets in trouble when he tries to describe the "lie". Gary Hogeboom had said before that Lydia and Cindy didn't deserve to make it to the end, but he was still willing to form an alliance with them to further advance himself. In Judd World, this is a lie. Gary Hogeboom takes this opportunity to point out that in Our World, a lie is when someone says that the super duper secret immunity idol is hidden somewhere on the ground, when in fact it is hidden somewhere up high. "All right, I lied about the damned idol. Okay." says Judd. What did he say about Clay Aiken? Oh, he's going to get cards and letters!

Nonetheless, this bombshell draws blood, as Rafe and Cindy's faces indicate that this is news to them. Gary Hogeboom is voted off immediately after; however, the grin on his face indicates that he is pleased to have left one hand grenade behind on his way out the door. Of course, as we are reminded in Gary Hogeboom's final words, he has been lying throughout the game by not telling people that his name is Gary Hogeboom and that he is a former NFL quarterback despite his constant denials of the fact.

The alarming news about Gary Hogeboom's elimination is that we are now a Danni elimination away from having no one left to root for. The final few episodes have the potential to be excrutiating.