Survivor: Cook Islands
By Jim Van Nest
November 13, 2006

He doesn't exactly seem torn up about getting voted off, does he?

Hello, good people, and welcome to another thrilling episode of Survivor: Cook Islands. Previously on Survivor, some people schemed, some worked real hard, some did next to nothing and when all was said and done, the rollergirl was sent home. And honestly, does anyone really care? We knew she couldn't win. So really, what's the point, right? Let's hope this week's show proves a little more unpredictable than the last couple.

We open in Aitu and while Ozzy naps, the remaining five are planning to dump him should they have to vote again. While Jonathan and Yul are preaching about sticking together post merge, Candice seems to have other ideas. In confessional, she tells us she can't wait to get to the merge and join back up with Parvati and Adam. She really doesn't want the six of them to make the merge. And while I've applauded her scrappy and tough side in the challenges, it wasn't until right now that I thought, "Candice has a legitimate shot at winning this thing." She's playing hard and she has a goal in mind. A Vern Schillinger-esque goal, but a goal nonetheless. (If you never saw Oz on HBO, I'll suffice it to say she seems to favor a very pale final four.)

We come back from break while Candice and Jonathan are planning their next move. Jonathan also wants to join up with the other white folks. Candice tells us that she still doesn't really trust Jonathan and that maybe she'd be better off if he were gone.

Our first glimpse of Raro has the tribe discussing a potential merge. It's a pretty harmless conversation. They're talking about how the numbers are even and if they stick together after the merge, they could make a serious run. And in the middle of it, Brad makes a comment about the game becoming every man for himself. Um, just a bit of advice from a guy who's been watching and recapping Survivor for many seasons now: Never interrupt the "we have to stick together" talk with "It's every man for himself." Honestly, we may as well start playing 'It's anyone but Brad' right now. Nate has determined that he's going to play Brad now. He has said or done something against the team one too many times.

Probst sighting. Before we get to the challenge, we're gonna do something a bit different. He's offering up the chance to mutiny against your tribe and join the other tribe. Two things roll through my mind. The first, "Who would do something that stupid? You put yourself as the odd man out on the new tribe, and you will piss of every member of your old tribe." The second, "I bet Ozzy and Brad switch it up, counting on their strength to get them through." As it turns out, I'm wrong. Two people mutiny, but not the two I expected. With three seconds left in the offer, Candice steps forward. At the buzzer, Jonathan joins her. Everyone else is stunned.

Okay, in my former life as a Survivor columnist, I used to have something I called a Writer's Aside, where I would stop the reporting and inject a decent amount of opinion, usually a little mini-rant. Thus far here at BOP, I haven't felt the need for that. Until now. So...

Writer's Aside: Are you frickin kidding me? I mean, for real, how dumb do you have to be to jump ship like that? You've just made yourselves #7 and #8. Low men on the totem pole. Of course, you can always work your way into their good graces. After all, it's not like they were able to watch you stab your other tribe in the back without a second glance. Oh, wait a minute. Also, what kind of crap is this where the producers can just decide to screw over 1/3 of the remaining cast? I mean, Aitu is screwed now. They're down by four players. There's no way this tribe will be able to have the numbers when the tribes merge. Survivor has, in essence, just put the nail in the coffins of Yul, Becky, Ozzy and Sundra. All I can say is that in 13 seasons of watching this show, never have I rooted so hard for a tribe like I'm going to be rooting for Aitu. Because they got screwed. And hardcore.

Jeff asks Aitu about it. Yul is pretty pissed off. Ozzy is not surprised. He basically says that they have no backbone and they'll get what they deserve. Oh hey, guess what? We still have a challenge to get to. Two people will climb inside a big barrel. Two other people....wait a minute. This is another in a long line of obnoxious setups for a challenge, so I'll just sum up. People in a barrel, collect buoys. Swim out to retrieve flags. Hang the flags and chop rope with a hidden axe. First tribe wins a trip to have some coffee and pastries. All while reading the coveted letters from home.

Raro sits out Jonathan, Brad, Rebecca and Parvati. Honestly, after being totally hosed by Candice and Jonathan...what do you think the chances are that Yul and Ozzy lose this challenge? It stays close for a minute, but the dominance of Ozzy and Yul is just too much and Aitu wins easily.

"Mutineers are the first people to die."

Not much of a surprise, Aitu ships Candice off to Exile Island. She sure better hope she made the right choice, because her new tribe has 24 hours to decide to dump her.

We come back from break to watch Aitu celebrate. This is the most united tribe ever now. We see it in professional sports all the time. The "us against the world mentality" is an amazingly strong motivator. Honestly, I'll be surprised if Aitu loses another challenge. Lots of eating and crying ensue. Letters from home and all. Sundra is ready to see her son, but she always taught him that winners never quit.

Candice, meanwhile, is miserable by herself on Exile Island. She was quite surprised to see Jonathan join her in the mutiny. And now, she's on the island while he's bonding with the rest of the new tribe.

Back at Raro, we interrupt the game of "it's anyone but Brad" to begin a new game of "it's anyone but Jonathan." He's doing his best to fit in. Wow does this guy talk a lot. Personally, I'd dump him just to get some peace and quiet. Nate tells us that Brad appears to be safe for at least one vote. "Do you think that we all have your back after we saw you sell out your other tribe? Are you dumb?"

The next morning finds Jonathan working his butt off while everyone else lies around. Jon is trying to secure his alliance with Adam. Jon wants to get the old tribe back together. Adam seems on board for that. He's just happy to have someone want to make that kind of deal with him. And with Candice in his pocket and Parvati on his side, why not make that deal with Jonathan. Sets Adam up to a potential Final Three with the girls.

Probst sighting!! The immunity challenge is really cool. Each tribe will paddle a glass bottom boat out into the water searching for targets. When the crosshairs on the boat match the target underneath, they'll drop a cannonball. If it hits the target, two buoys will be released. Once they have the six buoys, they'll read a clue and the buoys will spell out a secret word. Jonathan, Parvati, Nate and Rebecca will take part for Raro.

Aitu gets off to a fast start, as always. However, they can't seem to connect with a target. It's Raro who strikes first. For that matter, they also strike second. Trailing 4 buoys to none, Aitu can't buy a hit. Finally, they get one, closing the gap to 4-2. Then it happens. My man Yul figures it out. He can get a better view of the target by looking through the cannonball hole, then by using the crosshairs on the boat. With this new knowledge, Aitu quickly scoops up their other four buoys and head for shore to figure out the secret word. Meanwhile, Jonathan has wasted a cannonball, and when Probst points it out, Jonathan mouths off a little bit. "Jonathan getting frustrated by me," is Probst's response. And this is why he's still the cream of the reality show host crop. But, back to Aitu, with the whole "mutiny" theme, it should be no surprise that the secret word is Bounty. And Aitu has a second straight win!

Jonathan is glad to have Candice back, maybe they won't look at him so much now. Parvati and Candice get together and Candice wastes about five seconds before she sells out Jon and how close he got to Yul and everyone else over at Aitu. Adam and Nate talk some strategy. Adam suggests they should still get rid of Brad and keep Jonathan because he's afraid Brad will jump ship when the tribes merge and Jon won't be able to, because Aitu wouldn't take him. They also decide that since Jonathan wants to do all the work to fit in now, they may as well take advantage of that.

Now's the time on Survivor where Candice and Adam make me literally sick to my stomach. Not since the Joe Millionaire *slurp, slurp* segment has a couple been more annoying to me. The only thing that really comes out of this is that she convinces Adam that Jonathan is not his ally and that he should be gone. Adam hooks up with Nate to pass on this new development, but they seem to think that it's too late to switch gears now.

The Tribal conversation centers on the mutiny. "...we'll just pick them off like zits," is how Jenny talks about the newcomers. Several minutes are spent listening to Jonathan kiss more butt. It's like this whole thing is little more than a plea for Jonathan to stay in the tribe. And I thought all the political ads stopped on Tuesday. Last question is for Brad, and he comes up with the dumbest answer since "it's every man for himself." Jeff asks him about trust and Brad honestly says that he doesn't trust his tribe. Dude, just because you feel that way doesn't mean you have to say it. If there was anyone in the Council area wavering on who to vote for, you may as well just write your name down for them. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And, not surprisingly, Brad finally pays the price for his dumbness. And it's unanimous. But we're not done with twists. Jeff drops the bomb that Brad is the first member of the jury. What?? In every other season, there have been seven jurors and two finalists. Now, we're set up for ten jurors and two finalists. And you know they won't want to have a tie, so I don't think the surprises are done.

Next time on Survivor, Candice and Adam might finally bump uglies. And there's a mysterious bottle guaranteed to turn the game on its head. What could be in there? Maybe it's a way to deal with the jury so there won't be a tie. I guess we'll have to wait til next week to find out. Til then, take care!