Episode Ten: Anger, Tears and Chaos
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
April 9, 2004
Chapera day 25 finds a much different cast of characters than the last time we re-capped events. While Reagen was filling in for us, Team Survivor pulled off a five-for-four trade with only Amber being deemed not worthy of inclusion, even as the player to be named later. The tribe formerly known as Mogo Mogo (or Team Loser, as we affectionately referred to them) suddenly found themselves with reservations for an oceanfront room at the island’s four-star hotel. Meanwhile, the tribe who had built the Chapera resort found themselves unexpectedly transferred to the middle of nowhere as a reward for their hard labor. Even Mark Burnett is not above outsourcing.
As for the current Chapera trio, being a remaining member of this tribe of losers is like being the last existing print of Cutthroat Island. We haven’t seen a beating like this since Michael Moore tried to give an Oscar speech.
Tonight’s episode begins with Lex justifying his decision to shiv Jerri, his ally, instead of Amber, a temporary visitor from the competing tribe which has been kicking the ass of Lex’s tribe. He solemnly states that Rob is as good as his word, so Mr. Tattoo is certain he made the right decision. We’re going to remind him of this when he gets voted off in a few weeks. The over/under on when is April 29th. Place your bets.
A quick edit takes us to Rob and the rest of the former Chapera tribe who are now the Mogo Mogo tribe. Also, two of them, Rupert and Jenna, used to be members of the Saboga tribe. You got all of that? As you might expect, Rob is suffering the ill effects of losing his young hottie. A Red Sox fan suffering pangs of loss. Imagine that.
Rob, it could be worse, buddy. You could have been stuck at home in late October impotently watching the Red Sox get eliminated by the Yankees yet again instead of filming the show. Between Aaron Boone, Grady Little and Don Zimmer, it’s probably best you were in the middle of nowhere dying of thirst at the time.
As Jenna Lewis so eloquently summarizes Rob's plight, “Rob’s really sad. That was not only a strong alliance but I mean, they were really dating out here.” How has this woman not been named our nation’s Poet Laureate? If ever there were a girl to give a fake phone number, it’s her. The editor who made Jenna look heroic toward the end of the first season deserves a retroactive Emmy.
Good ol’ boy Tom also offers his take on the proceedings. “I ne’er seen Rob all screwed up like this. It’s like a calf sucking its mommy’s titty. And when you wean that calf, it bawls and it’ll go crazy. It tries to go through bushes and fences and stuff. Rob’s the same way, and it’ll take about three days to get a calf weaned from its mother. A human’s about the same.”
David, a native Tennessean, offers this Redneck-to-English translation: “Based on my experience with human mating rituals, the period of grief mirrors the initial estrangement of a mother cow from its offspring. After a brief 72-hour interval of separation anxiety, the calf is able to survive on its own. My expectation is that my tribe-mate and ally Rob will suffer through a similar period of strife before overcoming the psychological damage stemming from a lost loved one. Also, I have a creepy thing for cows and Rob and Amber’s relationship reminds me of Colby’s sicko attachment to his mother.”
The genius of casting Tom is that he offers the perfect combination of Uncle Jed Clampett and Jethro Bodine. At times, Tom’s pearls of wisdom demonstrate a savvy which belies his true nature, but more often than not, you want to throw the idiot into an empty cement pond. The extended calf metaphor falls into the latter category.
Rob’s recovery period begins with a celebration of his favorite Survivor player, Clay. Apparently, Rob caught the Survivor: Thailand season, and admired the way that the duplicitous Clay somehow managed to make an alliance with every cast member, Probst, and several of the cameramen. The Robfather realizes that he currently has an alliance with Amber (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), Big Tom, Lex (assuming Amber survived the prior night’s Tribal Council) and Rupert (through Big Tom), so he decides to make his move on Alicia. Note for potential Rob daters: If you’re wondering how long he would mourn your death before falling in love again, the answer is 15 hours or so. After that, he moves along to the first hard-bodied lotion fetishist he sees.
The alliance lasts all of 20 seconds of show time before we cut to the reward challenge. At this point, Rob gleefully notices Amber walking onto the beach and promptly has a hard time remembering the name of the other girl who just formed an alliance with him. The romance lives on! The best part about Rob and Amber living out the Blue Lagoon fantasy is that Amber is a much better actress than Brooke Shields.
Probst sighting! The news King Jeff brings is that the two tribes continue to be unmerged, but the reward challenge will be an individual one. The winner is allowed to bring two people so that they might advance their game strategy, but the players are still divided into groups of five for now. The reward offered is a day of spa life. The winner gets a night's stay at a resort, including meals, a massage and a facial. And make-up! It’s a crying shame Rob Cesternino already got voted off.
The first round of the challenge is your garden-variety game of underwater musical chairs. There are seven pots placed below the surface for nine Survivors. The ones who re-surface sans a pot must swim back to land and look pretty while everyone else moves on to round two. The only thing noteworthy here is that while diving, Tom kicks Kathy pretty hard. It has no relevance within the confines of the game, but we don’t like Kathy very much. Shii Ann and Jenna are first ones eliminated, which would be particularly satisfying if the next couple of immunity challenges follow suit. There are a lot of useless people still hanging around this season, aren’t there?
Round two works exactly the same way with Amber and Kathy’s elimination being the end result. In round three, there are only three pots left, each of which earns a spot in the final. Lex and Rupert easily earn pots while Rob fights off a clever attempted pilfering by Big Tom to win the third spot.
The last round is a bit more complicated, as the three remaining alpha males must unearth a submerged crate and carry the heavy trunk to the beach. While Rob has been dominant at all events this season, this is a water race; ergo, the result is obvious. Rupert the pirate carries the day and earns himself and two of his friends the luxury spa treatment. While one of his choices is obviously going to be Jenna, who views Blackbeard as something of an adopted pet, the other one is intriguing. Whether it be strategy or a genuine attempt to make up for her tribulations of the past couple of days, Amber is selected. Nicely done, big guy. As the trio boards the helicopter which will take them to their destination, Rupert utters this swoon-worthy quote: “My baby is going to say, ‘That’s my daddy! And he’s the toughest daddy in the world!’”
When the threesome (not like that, pervs) arrives, they proceed to relish all of the amenities provided by Team Burnett. Our favorite moment is when Amber fulfills her recent vacuum on the oral fixation front by jabbing an electric toothbrush in her mouth for an extended period of time. She has the same look on her face during this sequence that Meg Ryan had during the diner scene of When Harry Met Sally, only we don’t think Amber is faking. The other thing we wryly note is that Survivors always refer to their remaining days of play in the same dialect with which inmates refer to their prison sentences. “I can do 12 more days like it’s nothing!”
From a gameplay perspective, the noteworthy event is that Rupert and Jenna proceed to celebrate their presence in the final five while Ambers shrinks into the woodwork. She doesn’t feel the need to reveal to them that she has already made her own alliance with Kathy and Lex in order to survive the most recent vote. Hmm, maybe Rob is starting to rub off on Amber when it comes to savvy gameplay.
The shocker of the evening involves the tree mail, which indicates another competition fresh on the heels of the last one. Amber, Rupert and Jenna get off the helicopter and are immediately thrust into what is expected to be a challenge at the former Saboga. Not so fast, Survivors. This was yet another psyche out by Burnett, and *now* it’s time to merge. The trick is that rather than choosing one of the two remaining camps as the new residence, the new nine-member tribe is forced to dig for scraps at the former Saboga camp. You might recall this place as the victim of the Noah’s Ark flood. And it’s mid-day as well, so the group only has a few hours before sunset to make some inroads on a shelter. Burnett, you magnificent bastard, you raise cruelty to a level even the Marquis de Sade would appreciate.
All that’s left is a name for the festivities. Since the group can’t come up with anything good, they settle on Chaboga Mogo, a combination of all previous names rammed together. All we have to say about this turn of events is that we’re grateful that the television graphics team at Survivor was kind enough to spell it out. The hapless soul at the close-captioning service was vacillating between Chibomogo and Shabowga.
At this point, a conversation between Lex and Rob is shown. Ostensibly, the meeting occurs so that Lex may receive assurance his recent good deed will not go unrewarded. We can kind of tune it out to wonder something else, though. We never have delved into the history of young Lex, but at some point, you just have to ask: Is he playing Survivor multiple times simply to pay off his credit card debt stemming from treating the local tattoo parlor like his own private Ramada Inn?
The gist of the discussion is Rob saying, “I’ll do what I can” edited against him saying, “Sucker!” to the cameraman. Lex is honest about how angry he’ll be if he is betrayed, which makes us promptly take the under on the aforementioned April 29th bet. Lex is playing the game like nobody else there, but we can’t help but get the feeling the deck is stacked against him to a degree normally reserved for WWE wrestlers about to face HHH (the new McMahon) at the next PPV. Rob’s wife (I think her name is Amber) might not be inheriting the Burnett industry, but the guy seems like a prohibitive favorite nonetheless.
Cut to Rob telling Amber they are going to betray Lex. How devious is this maneuver? Even Amber, who just manipulated one of her closest friends into being voted off at the last Tribal Council, admits discomfort. It’s readily apparent at this moment which of the two just returned from behind enemy lines. For his part, Boston Rob wants to eliminate any potential allies for Tom so that when the ranks thin a bit, Amber and he hold all the power. This is clever strategy, since Lex, Tom and Rupert would be a significant threat on multiple fronts. Stating the obvious, Lex screwed up huuuuuge last week.
Probst Sighting II! The immunity challenge this week is, of course, an individual one. The main twist is that two people rather than the normal one will get to wear the tacky necklaces representing home base in the game of reality show tag. The second twist is that a man and a woman will be chosen, so this one will work like a track meet with a men’s leg and a women’s leg. The first part of the challenge is a simple display of who can hold his/her breath underwater the longest. Alicia’s muscles amount to more dead weight than the trunk from the reward challenge, so she surfaces almost immediately, with Jenna right behind her. Quick question: when is the last time Jenna was competitive during a challenge? Isn’t the answer never? Now replace that name with Shii Ann. Same answer, right? With Neck-Eater’s elimination, Amber and Kathy make the final, as do Lex and Rob.
The final portion is a strange game of buoy displacement. The Survivors must unchain a group of ten submerged buoys, thereby capturing a flag. The women’s leg sees Amber break out to a huge lead only to effectively quit as she runs out of strength. To say that Boston Rob is displeased to see Kathy, a potential voting victim, gain immunity would be a colossal understatement. That makes him all the more determined to prevent Lex from duplicating the feat. Lex gains a 9-7 lead only to see Rob make a miraculous comeback as Lex loses a fight with exhaustion. Rob’s gaining immunity seems like very bad news for the Ink Man.
Robfather’s performance in these challenges is so out-of-nowhere dominant that even Barry Bonds must be thinking the guy is doping. Considering what the steroids do to the male anatomy (“It shrinks?” “Like a frightened turtle.”), we fear that young Amber might be facing some disappointment on their wedding night. What’s that you say? They have? Oh, moving right along then...
Back from the break, Lex and Kathy talk strategy as Lex states what we’re all thinking: “I realize that I made a huuuuuge mistake. I made a potentially game-ending blunder in agreeing to keep Amber and get rid of Jerri. And I think I may be about to pay for it.”
To his credit, Rob does provide Lex the same courtesy Inky recently gave his buddy Ethan. Rob sits down and clearly spells out to Kathy and Lex that Amber, Tom, Alicia, Jenna, the guy whose name he can’t remember (Rupert) and he “have agreed to stay together as a group”. For her part, Kathy sits there and awkwardly watches Lex twist in the wind as the real-life friends argue violently about the situation. Eventually, even she gets into the action, as the news of her imminent elimination reduces Kathy to tears. Anything that gets to the Dragon Lady that much must be emotionally impacting. After Rob leaves, Kathy professes to the camera and to the man himself that she will give her immunity necklace to Lex.
That strategy is quickly dismissed at Tribal Council, as Kathy decides that all the gibberish she just spouted in a tearful camera confessional was nonsense. If Survivor were animated and all the cast were drawn as animals, Kathy would be the slithering cobra always talking with the forked tongue. Shii Ann would be the tiny, clueless little bird who thought the snake was her buddy, and Lex would be the carrion they feed upon. His look of stunned anger is a priceless moment surpassed only by his refusal to look at her when she returns from her vote. The tension of the situation is heightened by freezing conditions and a driving rain with the moment so powerful it feels like Ed Harris queuing the day in The Truman Show. The drama is so compelling that it almost makes us forgiving of a ridiculously dull season up until this moment.
Since it’s clear that Lex is the victim this week, let’s close out with Rob’s comments to him prior to the vote: “I got something I want to say. I know we’re playing a game, but I, like, know emotions are real and feelings are real out here. And regardless of what happens, I just want everybody to know that (editor’s note: Rob looks directly at Lex here) if I’m your friend, I’m your friend. After this is over, if you don’t want to be my friend, then I can’t do anything about that. But friendship is lasting.”
Hey Lex, how is that Colby/Ethan alliance looking to you right about now?