Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Recap
Crazy Fights, Snake Dinners
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
February 17, 2006

I'm a beauty queen and an engineer yet I got voted off before Shane. Unbelievable.

Previously on Survivor, four tribes merged into two new groups, Casaya and La Mina. Bruce became the second tenant of Exile Island. New alliances were formed. Most importantly, Shane annoyed millions. First, he whined about his plight in beating nicotine addiction. Then, he complained to Probst about the difficulties contestants of the show face. Finally, he asked to be voted off the show, boosting our hopes for a brief instant only to dash them by later recanting his request. It's like the producers of the program showed him a signed contract wherein he promised to be a useless dick for the entire 39 days, not just the first week. And now we have to miss the Olympics to watch this motard.

Hey Shaaaaaane. Want a cigarette?

The Casaya members return from Tribal Council, flush with the knowledge that Shane still walks among them. In the horror film, he's the guy slowly turning into a zombie that everyone knows they should decapitate with a shotgun but never do. Later on, when he's eating their brains, they will have learned their lesson far too late. People never listen to George Romero.

Our favorite, Bruce, finds himself stuck with this bunch of incompetent miscreants after he returns from three days on sabbatical at the plush Exile Island resort. Isolation is vastly superior to an Evening with Shane, but Bruce is just happy to have survived after inexplicably not being picked during the two tribes merger. The last time this happened on the show, the crazy singing lady got shipped right back off the island before she had even unpacked. If Burnett loves us, he'll figure out a way to similarly humiliate Shane. Sadly, the opposite is more likely to be true, though. Shane is good television, we're told. Bruce is one of two members of his tribe who do not have an alliance with anyone. If Shane stays and Bruce goes, we reserve the right to end this column right then and there. Don't think we're bluffing, either.

Sensing our displeasure, the producers unleash the Bruce Experience on us. He takes control from the instant he arrives at camp. His first comment in establishing dominance is a thing of beauty. "I taught backpacking for over 30 years – wilderness survival. You just got the most important person of everybody." Sure, it's a bit boisterous, but it gets the message across and it rubs Shane the wrong way. In a monologue, the moronic chain smoker has the audacity to say, "Bruce is incredibly neurotic." This is akin to former Enron execs questioning the business practices of Google.

Uh-oh...boring episode alert. We get three minutes of fishing footage. That's never a good sign. Even worse, all they can catch is a tiny fish Austin describes as "Nemo-sized". Any victory boosts morale at this point, though, so the group celebrates getting two nibbles a piece. What they are really celebrating is the fact that Shane isn't on their tribe.

Probst sighting! We toss aside the unpleasantness of the fishing segment with a fun reward challenge. Survivors utilize a slingshot device to propel a projectile toward Survivors standing out on a beam in the water. The object is for a receiver to catch the ball using any avenue available to them. A leap into the water to make a reception is even encouraged. It's like a receiver drill in the ocean. We wish next week's NFL Combine would add this.

La Mina gets all the breaks. First, Casaya screws up by bragging about how much Bruce's return has boosted team morale. This proves costly in the end, but not before the challenge has played out. Terry catches the first one and then when he bungles the second one, it deflects straight to Nick. Terry also catches the third one, but Shane makes a surprisingly clutch pair of catches to draw his team even, then take a 4-3 lead. At this point, Terry makes a spectacular splashing catch while Aras bungles his opportunity. With the score tied 4-4 and both teams effectively at sudden death, Terry makes his fourth catch while an errant throw prevents Casaya from scoring. La Mina wins the reward, comfort items such as pillows and blankets, but they also earn the right to determine which member of the opposition will be sent to Exile Island. Recognizing Bruce's value to the opposition, they select him to become the first repeat customer of Exile Hotel. Casaya has to win sometime, right? Right?

Sidenote: we like that Shane has a tattoo that says "Boston". We don't know if it is talking about the city or the rock band, but we like that it was the most original word he could think to put on his pecs.

Post-commercial segment: La Mina has a tarp. La Mina spreads it out. End of story.

Seriously, we're missing curling for this. Pick up the pace, Burnett.

Hey, whaddya know? He cuts to Bruce again. Smart. Very smart. Bruce isn't having any fun, though. It seems that the producers miscalculated when formulating the rules for Exile Island. They forgot to prevent contestants from getting stuck there for an immediate return visit. Bruce will effectively spend a week separated from his cohorts on Casaya. It's the reality game show equivalent of getting put in The Box for a week.

Camera whore Shane takes this opportunity to test out his next performance art piece. It's called, "This Is My Seat." The game involves him claiming a tree stump (stone?) as his seat. When people question about his sitting there, he refers to it lovingly as his "thinking seat". After a suggestion is offered that maybe he's a bit too attached to it, he freaks out and throws a tantrum. Shaaaaaaane. Want a cigarette?

"The problems in our tribe are inherent in the personalities. I'm in an alliance with three nutballs." – Aras

Cirie watches with bemusement and glee as crazy fire dancer Courtney argues with crazier nutball Shane about the prospects of relaxation. The underlying point here is unmistakable. Never form an alliance with people based solely on their appearances. Once you have sworn on a loved one's life that you won't break the deal, they might turn out to be the most miserable son of a bitch you have ever known. Worse, they could turn out to be Shane.

I guess what we're saying here is that we hate Shane.

Next up is a brief segment where we're reminded that hot young hunks Austin and Nick may or may not have an alliance with cute, fun girls Misty and Sally. Seemingly sensing that the boys might be on the fence about their future plans, Misty cleverly offers to give Austin a back massage. Meanwhile, Sally plays "fun friend", aka third wheel. After the fact, convinced that their feminine wiles have guaranteed them a continued long life in the game, the young ladies discuss their eventual plans to assassinate the boys, even though they are admittedly very, very adorable. It is Survivor, after all, and what is the show about if it's not whoring oneself out for attention?

The girls do have a point. As Sally aka Spear Loser discusses in a monologue, Terry is going to have a massive target on his back after the merge. His impressive performance in the challenges has made him the de facto Tom of this group. Tom won Survivor two seasons ago. Everyone will do the math and determine that Terry is the easy choice for early assassination. If the boys have tied their wagons to him, they're in danger of having to maneuver on three wheels. Conversely, if they stay with the girls, there is the indication of future neck massages...and maybe more after everyone has had a shower.

Probst sighting part two! This challenge is...violent. The concept is simple. There is a bag buried in the dirt a few yards away from the contestants. All a team must do is unearth the bag and return it to the finish line. As long as a player is touching the bag and the finish line, they get a point. In execution, it's a main event at Wrestlemania. Note that this is not hyperbole (for once).

The first four contestants are Cirie and Danielle versus Sally and Misty. The highlights of this catfight should be making the rounds for years to come. Highlights include Cirie sitting on Sally, Cirie punching Misty in the mouth (accidentally?) and Cirie elbowing Misty in the jaw. The highlight moment of the encounter is Sally tackling Danielle with what is best described as a belly-to-belly suplex. As all four women engage in a tug of war near the finish line, Cirie cleverly realizes she can tag the line and win the point for her team. The first men's match is less eventful. Nick and Terry prove too fast for Bruce and Bobby. Bruce tries to tackle Terry right at the start, but misses. When Bruce catches up at the bag, his younger opponent Nick neutralizes him with the youthful vigor, size and speed. He runs back to the finish line and scores a point. This is grrrreat television. Seriously, we don't know what's on The Olympics right now, but there is nothing that could beat this for sheer spectacle.

Round three features Austin, Dan and Ruth-Marie opposing Shane, Aras and Courtney. The highlight moment in this one is either Shane trying to break the astronaut's collarbone on a tackle or Austin delivering a textbook DDT on Shane. Have we mentioned this challenge is violent? We're not kidding here. We could easily see someone sustaining an injury that could knock them out of the competition. At the end of round three, Shane and Austin wind up near the finish line with the other four opponents neutralized. Austin is clearly stronger and smarter, and he manages to disable his counterpart long enough to tag the line. La Mina leads two to one. Shaaaane. Want a cigarette? Too bad. Ciggies are for closers.

Round four is when it really gets rough. Six people go out. The combatants are Sally, Misty, and Nick on one team versus Cirie, Aras and Courtney. All of them wind up right around the bag. What follows next is like Woodstock if everyone suddenly turned militant. Nick gets his face mashed into the sand. Misty tackles Aras then kicks him in the head on the way down. Misty then chokes (!) Aras so hard that Probst threatens to disqualify her team for it while Aras himself is emasculated by screaming, "Stop choking me!" Nick kicks someone (Courtney?) so hard that their side is also warned of disqualification. Cirie knocks Misty for a flip (literally) to create space for her teammates. In the end, though, it's brains over brawn. Yoga master Aras massages the leg muscles of Misty, causing her to reflexively lift her leg up off the bag. He breaks away and returns to the package for a point and a 2-2.

The final is Terry and Ruth-Marie opposing Bobby and Danielle. It starts (!) with Ruth-Marie diving to bear hug Danielle. She is rewarded for her aggressiveness by receiving a Power Bomb. While Danielle has her opponent stunned, she proceeds to drag the woman by her neck for several feet, presumably in order to paralyze her for life. Terry helps out his teammate (and eschews the standard gentleman's rule of not committing violent acts against women) by forcing Danielle into a split then tossing her prone body for distance. Bobby uses this opportunity to lift up Terry and throw him aside long enough to free the bag. Terry then counters by dislodging the bag from him and throwing it to Ruth-Marie. She appears to have a strong chance to run to the finish line but at the last moment, Bobby grabs her sports bra (!) from behind. With the finish line in site, Casaya's hopes lie on the bra not tearing away like the shirt does. If it tears, they lose. Since her undergarment is durable material comprised of space-age polymers (thanks astronaut Dan!), it holds. Bobby stops her progress and touches the finish line himself, winning Casaya their first challenge. La Mina will be voting someone off at Tribal Council tonight. And Ruth-Marie is going to need a new shirt.

It's time to play It's Anyone But...hmm, we have no idea. Sally lost the spear. Misty was a black hole of suckitude during the challenge. Ruth-Marie is a woman without a country since she had no prior relationship with any of these people before the two tribe merge. There are a lot of options. Dan mentions the most obvious one first when he says that Ruth-Marie might be the weakest. We question the validity of this statement but since she's the oldest woman there, it probably is trend thinking.

Austin surprises us by mentioning Misty, the same woman who gave him a neck massage earlier. As he (accurately) states, if the group votes based on immunity challenge performance, she gots to go. The fact that Austin throws out the name of a woman whom he may or may not have an alliance with intrigues us. Is he fishing for opinions about her as a potential ally or has he already determined to go with the older men? The honest evaluation is that the younger women would be the smarter play long-term in that he could take out a weak(ish) player in Ruth-Marie while still maintaining options. Later on when immunity challenges are ready to turn into individual ones, he could sell out Terry and Dan for the lovely ladies. Austin would sacrifice little in terms of short term tribe strength while keeping his options open later.

To our surprise, however, the Tribal Council vote shows him making the opposite decision. Misty gets more votes than Ruth-Marie. There is a tense moment when Probst asks Misty if she found the Exile Island immunity idol, but she confesses that she was bluffing earlier (big surprise). Misty overplayed her hand then and she overplayed it with the neck massage. That's why she is third Survivor eliminated from competition. The best part of the final ten minute segment, though, is that Shane is not shown a single time.