Episode Fourteen: The Instigator
By Reagen Sulewski
May 7, 2004
Welcome to everyone who skipped Survivor to watch the Friends finale! David and Kim are otherwise occupied again, so I'll be covering for them in this, the second to last of the Survivor All-Stars episodes. When last we left this plucky band of pseudo-celebrities, the end game was in full effect and the dominoes were continuing to fall. Shii Ann was unable to run off the four or five straight immunities that would have been necessary for her to stay in the game, hence her exit. That's a pretty remarkable run, really, for a person who seems like one of the least-liked players in the game.
The last time I wrote one of these wrap-ups, the Survivors were complaining about life in the rain forest being a little damp. The more things change... as Rupert opens this episode by kvetching about the weather. Everyone's in cranky spirits at this point as 30 plus days of being in anyone's presence for 24 hours a day can get pretty tiring. Boston Rob is opening plotting the other tribe members' grisly deaths, mumbling something about "no beer and no TV make Homer something something." It's also the time in the show when the Southerners' accents start to deteriorate into random strings of vowels. Though really, Rob, are you one to say anything about people speaking in strong accents?
Mental faculties are low through out the camp as one of the worst strategizing attempts ever occurs. Jenna pulls Rupert aside to insist that they need to beat Rob in the upcoming immunity challenge without bothering to notice that he's standing six feet away. Immediately he starts mumbling something about them really needing to beat Tom, but neglects to wipe the "cat that caught the canary" look off his face first. With just five left, the numbers game makes this outcome unpredictable. If Rob does end up winning immunity, all Jenna has succeeding in doing is painting a big target on herself. For his part, Rob seems astounded that someone would betray another in a game for a million dollar prize, though Amber is a little more sanguine about the whole thing.
Product Placement time! The reward challenge is a combination of four previous challenges, with the prize being a 2004 GM Colorado half-ton pick-up truck, 2.8 4-cylinder standard with 175 horsepower (pretty wimpy if you ask me) and the Safety and Security of OnStar! Check your local GM dealer for pricing and availability.
As Probst seeds doubt in the mind of the competitors by pointing out that whoever wins the truck has never won the million in all seven previous seasons, the remaining five step up to the balance beam, the first event. Rob decides to treat it like a springboard, taking about three steps total in getting across its length. It's safe to say Rupert won't be getting an invite to the Romanian gymnastic tryouts and he is eliminated as the last one across.
The next event is the belly crawl/puzzle combo, which must be incredibly fun with all the rain. Rob is first again to complete this task and while the rest of the crew wonder about the wisdom of giving the most pissed off and paranoid member of the camp an eight-inch Bowie knife, Jenna is eliminated as the last one to complete the puzzle.
The third challenge is the board launch which Jenna so famously botched several eps back, so it's probably just as well she lost in the last one. Amber shows up Rob and Tom by just whipping their ass at an athletic competition, but they'll live. Rob gets the second placement in the last challenge, which by the nature of these two's relationship, just means that whoever loses this one only gets to drive the truck on weekends.
Rob uses that paranoid energy to good use, climbing the rope ladder and scurrying across the rope bridge. He wins handily, leaving everyone who believes in the curse of the truck to breathe a little easier. The second part of the reward is a drive-in movie and as well all know, in every reward challenge like this, you get to pick someone to share it with. To the surprise of seven, Rob picks Amber. There's a few too many "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" looks given to the two of them but Probst is there to play chaperone for them anyway. They drive off in Rob's new Sunburst Orange Crew Cab Colorado, all new for 2004!
The surprise when they reach the drive-in spot; Amber gets a car, too -- a Chevy Malibu Maxx (there's a name that was decided by committee). It's hard to be too annoyed at these two at this point, as they're pretty genuinely enthusiastic about what they won and they do make a cute couple. Their first date ends up being the movie Lord of the Flies, which I think counts as giving Rob too many ideas. If Tom's head ends up on a pike, we all know who to blame.
Amber gets caught in a no-win situation back in camp, as she reveals to the other three that she was given the car. It would no doubt have come back to haunt her if she didn't, but she still can't help but foster a little resentment. The rest of them look to be planning to smother her in the night and steal the keys. To add insult to injury, Rob and Amber split their pilfered candy into five piles after they've spent the last couple of hours stuffing themselves with hotdogs and popcorn. The goodwill I extended them earlier lasted all of about five minutes. It's Rob and Amber's island at the moment and the rest of us are just invited to bask in their glory.
The strategizing begins in earnest the next morning as everyone discovers that three is more than two. While Rupert maneuvers Tom into voting for Rob, Rob himself cleverly smokes out this highly complex plot and twists Tom and Rupert into enemies. Stick to your plans, people. Of course, it helps if you know what that plan is, which Tom appears not to, being confused by Rupert's clever deduction of his previous alliance with Rob. Amazingly, Boston Rob comes off unscathed out of all of this, staring on with barely disguised glee.
The immunity challenge is a word scramble, to find the previous tribe names in a word search. Tom shakes his head in disbelief, as he wasn't told that literacy would be a requirement for the show. There are few things less exciting than watching other people do word puzzles, so I'll switch over to Ross and Rachel for a few minutes and meet you back when they're done. Though Amber finds all 17 names first, Rob gets the secret password first and wins immunity, to the shock and horror of all but Amber.
While the obvious strategy seems to be staring these guys in the face -- VOTE FOR AMBER!! -- they've all become so blinded with hate against Rob that they can't think straight, a variant of the Rob Cesternino strategy. It appears that only Rob and Amber know what's going on at this point. As such, they end up manipulating Tom once again into revealing that he's trying to play both alliances against each other.
Now, note to Amber: while it's one thing to say in private that you can 'smell the money', doing so in front of the jury is probably not the wisest thing to do. Rubbing it in their faces is never going to play well. Lex continues to have the best reaction shots from the jury, looking like he smelled something when Rob talks about people being caught in lies. Tom manages to compare himself simultaneously to Julius Caesar and Jesus when talking about betrayal, so it's good to see he's got everything in perspective. That perspective will come in handy, as he's voted out 4-1. In the end, the remaining players have chosen the devils they know as opposed to the wild card.