Previously on Survivor, someone named Stephannie was voted off of something called Raro. Wait, who is Stephannie? And who spells their name like that? Also, we don't mean to sound like former Vice-Presidential candidate James Stockdale but where are we and what are we even doing here?
Survivor: Cook Islands
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
October 21, 2006
Oh wait, it's all coming back to us. Jim Van Nest, your Survivor author extraordinaire for this season, is being thrown a surprise birthday party tonight by his way-too-pretty-for-him wife. Well, it's a surprise as long as he doesn't read this column. Anyway, the point is that you have gone back to the future and gotten stuck with Kim and David for this one episode of Survivor: The Racist Season or whatever it's technically called. Of course, since Jim is a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan and Game Seven of the National League Championship is tonight, we are somewhat suspicious that he didn't just get a note from his wife asking the teacher to excuse him from this assignment because the dog ate his homework.
While we are at it, we should probably mention that, as some of you long time readers may recall, Kim is also a huge Cardinals fan, meaning her attention is divided tonight. She has a bet going with The Amazing Race scribe Stephanie DeGateo (who spells her name correctly, by the way) about the outcome of tonight's game. DeGateo, whom we love despite the fact that she is New York Mets fan, is banking on living legend Oliver Perez carrying his troops to victory. We won't torment her with the depressing trivia that Perez has the worst earned run average of any post-season starter in major league history. Why kick her further when she's down? She's already a Mets fan, for God's sake.
The main point here is that we will be keeping an eye on the outcome of the baseball game and, if the ghost of Bill Buckner (if he's not dead, he might as well be) arrives, Kim will have to write a short segment at the end proclaiming the greatness of the New York Mets. Odds-makers place the need for this at Mets -124, Cardinals +116 (whatever that means). Under any circumstance, Kim and Stephanie as well as Jim may spend the body of the off-season gleefully taunting David about the fact that the Braves failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the Nixon administration.
Now then, where were we? There was something about Survivor going on. If we recall correctly, it involved some sort of sensitivity training experiment wherein Team Burnett found an ethnically diverse group of people. All of them had one thing in common. They wanted to win a million dollars without having to sleep with Robert Redford. In order to facilitate this transaction, they agreed to get stuck in the middle of nowhere (the Cook Islands doubling as nowhere this season), be split off into ethnically cleansed groups of five and attempt to prove once and for all which nationality/race is the best of them all.
This grand experiment lasted all of two episodes before a forced merger was done, thereby creating the unmistakable impression that the whole thing was just a cheap ratings ploy for a show struggling to maintain its status as the premier reality show on television. Frankly, we were glad we passed, but then Jim had to go and get married to a wonderful woman who wanted to treat him like a prince on his birthday. So, we're stuck here again. Why couldn't Jim have been born on a leap year???
The show does something weird this episode. Rather than show the credits and cut to commercial break, we head straight to camp after the vote. This tribe is called Raro, which we thought was the videogame company that did Donkey Kong Country. This group had some strife during Tribal Council. Someone named Cristina is feuding with someone named Adam. Since we have no opinion on either one, we flip a coin (no, really) and immediately determine that Adam is completely correct on the topic while Cristina is history's greatest monster. The campfire discussion justifies our position as Cristina aka Maleficent aka Cruella De Vil aka Star Jones starts whining about how everyone at camp is rude.
Cristina proclaims that when people ask her to pass items to them, they are unwilling to show basic courtesy. All she wants is a please and a thank you. Adam, who bears a striking resemblance to Sir Lancelot with just a touch of George Washington thrown in, refutes this hypocrite for being the worst offender of exactly such behavior. The Greek Gods of myth don't shine any brighter than Adam does as he forcefully interjects his will into the proceedings. We may have to take a pregnancy test if we directly gaze upon this virile Adonis too long. Whatever his name is. We kind of forgot.
There appear to be other tribe members at this camp as well. We don't have a legend available at the moment, but we think it's Jenny who looks uncomfortable throughout the fight. A fashion director named Brad, whom we are guessing was in the rainbow tribe prior to the merge, comments about how socially awkward the whole affair was. He politically states that Adam's comments were a low blow (how dare you insult our Adam???) while acknowledging that Cristina is the Wicked Witch of the East, due to have a house dropped on her at any moment. Okay, we made that last part up but he doesn't like her much more than we do. Rebecca, a make-up artist, also acts neutral about the situation. We are unconcerned, however. Adam's natural leadership will guide his troops to make the correct vote when the time comes. And after he wins Survivor, we see a Senate seat in his near-future. His innate charisma reminds us of what Elvis must have looked like before he got fat.
Cristina cries and talks to the camera about her pain. Since she lost the coin flip, we feel no sympathy for her plight. In fact, she cannot get voted off of the island fast enough. Seeing her on-screen is like staring straight into the gaping maw of Mount Doom. We are fortunate to keep our sanity intact after such a harrowing experience as a Cristina camera confessional. *shudders*
Cue the world music! Now is the time on Survivor where we show the winning tribe from the latest immunity challenge. This group is called Aitu, and they begin day 15 by enjoying a swim. Some guy with a snorkel is slaughtering innocent fish because they have the audacity to swim in the waters he has inhabited for over two weeks now. This contestant is named Ozzy, and he has claimed the land! You know, the last guy to do that on television or film was Tom Cruise and let's just say that this is not the recent career trajectory Ozzy probably wants to follow...unless he's always dreamed of being lil' Dan Snyder's show pony. And if he has, who are we to judge?
Ozzy confides to the camera that he is Babe Winkelman of his tribe, knowing where all of the good spots are in his attempt to create his own seafood bistro for the denizens of Aitu. His companion, Jonathan, an angry looking man with a genuinely heinous fishin' hat, confirms that when it comes to capturing creatures of the sea, Ozzy is the man. We have no doubt that Adam could wipe the floor with Ozzy, but we will leave Jonathan to his fiction. It's dangerous to upset a writer with that much rage. We speak from experience here. Jonathan goes on to state that Ozzy is a strong physical threat and, in fact, the strongest competitor currently on his tribe. We think Ozzy would be good at eating the heads off of bats and mumbling incoherently about the difficulties of raising a family. That's it.
Aitu is thrilled by the news that a reward challenge is the offing. The rhyming couplet indicates that a feast will be given to the winners, making us wonder whether this bunch appreciates how much fish they've had relative to past contestants. Some tattooed freak with multi-colored Princess Leia hair is much more concerned about the fact that it's not an immunity challenge. A strange man named Cao Boi (pronounced cowboy?) takes this opportunity to prove himself a flake. The nail salon manager states that he likes to take the immunity idol with him everywhere as it makes him feel "more holy". We think this guy is too young to have been at Woodstock, but if the stoned hippy shtick fits...
Probst sighting! Hey Jeff, how ya been, man? We would have missed you if not for the racial profiling nonsense at the start of the season! The apple of Julie Berry's eye (as well as the inspiration for much of her body paint) informs the contestants that the winner will eat well. The loser will not. Both tribes, however, are going to be sending someone home tonight. It's time to thin the herd a little bit, and the producers recognize it.
The challenge for this week is brutal. Violence likes this generally gets an R rating from the MPAA. One contestant from each tribe grabs the base of a pole. Two of their opponents attempt to detach this player from said pole then drag the still-fighting competitor across a finish line. The first tribe to return three members of the opposition wins the feast.
Parvati and Rebecca from Raro are given the task of attempting to move a largely immovable object in Candice. Becky and Jessica must remove Sundra from the pole. Becky shows a lot of fire for a woman her size, while the scary looking Jessica shows a penchant for fighting dirty whenever possible. Meanwhile, Parvati is utterly useless, while Candice might as well be glued to her post. Sundra gets taken all the way to the finish line before Candice is even a third of the way to the line. Even worse, she forms a bunker there, preventing further movement. In the interim, Nate is briefly assaulted by Jonathan and Yul before eventually succumbing to the two men who have him seriously out-weighed. Nate is actually eliminated before Candice, creating an insurmountable lead for Raro. Cristina attempts to hold on when her time comes and does an admirable job, but her position is nearly impossible given that both Ozzy and Sundra must be eliminated before her. In the end, Raro wins.
This doesn't sound exciting, but we assure you that this is a veritable orgy of violence for the viewers of CBS. Highlights include Cristina being threatened for pulling too much hair, Jessica being threatened for choking and getting away with an elbow to the rib cage, Cristina attempting to strip Jessica (mmm, cat fight), Ozzy receiving a full fledged power bomb and – our personal favorite – Rebecca roughly shoving her hand into the area of Candice's womanly treasures. If it happens in the real world, that's sexual assault. On Survivor, it's just another day at the office.
It's time to play North America's favorite game, It's Anyone But...wait a minute, we don't know who any of these people are. Well, we don't like Cristina and that dude Cao Boi strikes us as Arkham Asylum material. So, we'll pick the two of them.
"I've never wrestled a cop before." – Jessica, gloating about her girl-on-girl encounter with Cristina.
After Raro's members boast about their physicality for a bit (you guys know you lost, right?), we return to Aitu where Yul is patiently listening to old man Boi talk about the good ol' days. No, wait, this isn't a flashback sequence. Boi is discussing a dream he had that involved invisibility, rope, and an American Express card. Yul's look during this sequence is priceless. He suddenly understands how Cheech Marin felt during those last days before the break-up with Tommy Chong.
This is a rather boring segment altogether. The main thing that happens is that Cristina suddenly gets a lot friendlier to people now that she has come to realize her tribe will be voting someone off tonight. The only reason we aren't certain she will be eliminated is that Adam is bordering on over-confident with regards to the vote. Of course, there has been a Survivor editing trick lately where they show who will be voted off then muddy the waters a bit by showing a couple of other possible candidates. Then, they circle back to the first suspect just as would be done in a lousy mystery novel.
Hmm, the editing for Aitu follows a similar trajectory. Angry Jonathan lets the camera know that he is ready for Cao Boi to be gone. We don't mean to criticize, but how is this big bowl of Fruit Loops still alive in the contest anyway? Which five people did they have on the show who were worse than him? There must have been a pedophile, a serial killer, an Oakland Raiders fan, a Star Wars geek and Rosie O'Donnell.
Now is the time on Survivor where Kim and David remember why we didn't want to do the recaps this season. Cao Boi tells his comrades that they should be alert for a "white alliance". Classy. Meanwhile, Yul has the real jerk targeted. He recognizes that our instant dislike of Jonathan is well founded. He states that everyone at Aitu is innately aware of the fact that Jonathan has a lot of Richard Hatch in him (not like that, perverts). Jonathan adds to the fun by making this statement: "Tonight, if I get voted off, I will be shocked. I don't believe that's gonna happen. I've got some pretty tight partners. If I'm wrong, then I've been outplayed and the conspiracy is much bigger than I can picture." Gee, Fox Mulder, paranoid much?
Aitu's Tribal Council begins with Cao Boi quibbling with Probst over the presence of the immunity idol. The discomfort of the other members makes it readily apparent that they find him just as creepy as we do. Some discussion occurs about Jonathan possibly having a target on his back due to his being a key decision maker. This is empty talk, however. There is no mistaking the fact that Cao Boi is simply too flighty for his cohorts. Cao Boi votes for Candice while Rollergirl votes for Jonathan. Everyone else votes for the crazy stoner.
As Aitu grabs a bite to eat in the jury section, Cao Boi blames his fall on his inability to relate to "members of the Asian community", proclaiming he trusted them too much. Dude, you're just a freak job. It's not that complicated. While he's whining, Raro enters Tribal Council. The first thing they see is Probst hand out lamb shanks and cider to the opposition. Nate tries to blow off their discomfort in watching the enemy feast. He points out that they dined on octopus; ergo, they are not hurting for meals.
The more noteworthy discussion involves Adam the Great offering praise to Candice. We're told the duo were snuggle buddies early on this season, and it's obvious that he's looking forward to their going off into the bushes together after the merge. He throws her compliments about winning the challenge for her tribe, and she responds with the words "I love you". Candice is apparently a slow learner about the ol' "I love you" compliment. We imagine Billy's heart broke as he watched the replay of this.
The rest of Tribal Council is a re-hash of events from three nights ago. Jenny and Brad agree that Adam's treatment of Cristina was way too harsh. People, this is what happens when Survivors stop being polite and start being real. Unbeknownst to her, Cristina offers the very same "I let my guard down" comment that Cao Boi is simultaneously making in the post-vote confessional. That can't be a good sign. Nor is it a positive that after Jenny and Brad leap to her defense, Adam shows no regret whatsoever, once again verifying he actively dislikes her.
Before the vote begins, Aitu is given the chance to mess up Raro's plans for the vote. They are allowed to "kidnap" one member, bringing them over to have a lamb chop and enjoy the vote from a safe distance. The chosen member of Raro will stay with Aitu that night and participate on their side until the next Reward Challenge. The obvious choice is Cristina as that would create chaos at the vote, but Nate, the most likable contestant on either side, is selected instead. Adam shoots Candice a pained look as the forlorn lovers remain separated for another series of days. Nate enjoys his meal for a moment as the contestants vote, but then his new buddies at Aitu and him are then asked to leave prior to the vote. This creates a bit of drama as the absence of Nate makes the vote closer than expected. In the end, however, Cristina's bristly personality proves too divisive. She is eliminated in a 4-2 vote against Jenny. Serves you right for losing that coin flip, bitch!
Speaking of losing, we'd like to happily proclaim that Mets fans continue to crack us up. You might think that "worst starter in playoff history" Oliver Perez would have been to blame for the Mets heart-wrenching Game 7 loss, but it's just not true. Instead, you can credit both teams for one of the greatest playoff games ever. The Cardinals' Jeff Suppan won the series MVP award for his masterful pitching performances, and Yadier Molina had the clutch home run that ultimately brought about the victory. It's a great day to be a Cardinals fan, and it sucks to be everyone else (except for Tigers fans. But it certainly did suck to be them a couple of years ago.).