Survivor Palau Episode Seven
The Great White Shark Hunter
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 5, 2005
How exciting is this week’s Survivor? We fell asleep in the middle of it. Then it took 72 hours to muster up the energy to write about it.
Day 16 at Ulong begins with the final three members of that tribe – Ibrehem, Stephenie and Bobby Jon – in pretty low spirits. You know how desperate the remaining three kids look at the end of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies? A full two-thirds of their rank is gone – ten if you factor in the crazy singing lady. The Atlanta Hawks think this group is a bunch of losers. Look, we don’t mean to obsess on the fact, but immunity challenges are meant to be coin flips. How in the world do you go 0-6? There’s a less than 2% chance of that happening. We’ll have to watch 40 more seasons of Survivor (God forbid) to see this “feat” duplicated. Have some pride, people!
Hey, Steph, how’s that betrayal of Angie looking right about now? Who do you think would have helped more in that last challenge, her or James?
As if the constant failure were not enough, the close quarters and reduced ranks have the remaining three Ulong competitors anxious for the merge. To their credit, the trio has not turned on each other, but make no mistake about it. They are desperate for new conversations with some different people. This is especially true for Stephenie, as Ibrehem and Bobby Jon’s conversation skills are never going to merit an invitation to the Algonquin Round Table.
A similar malaise has set in over at Koror. Their mood is best described as that of the Chicago Bulls circa the fifth championship season. Sure, it’s nice to win and all, but the thrill is definitely gone. Everything about their attitude says that beating the Ulong tribe is as satisfying as winning a spelling bee against a six-year-old. Or James.
Speaking of James, we generally ignore the press junkets the Survivor contestants do after their eliminations; however, as a movie site, we are amused to hear that James next hopes to conquer Hollywood. It seems that the incompetent Ulong-er (is that redundant?) wanted to make money by coming on Survivor, so his well thought-out strategy was to come on the show and thereby guarantee being terminated by his previous employer, a steel mill. Since he didn’t win, that cash cow doesn’t have any milk in its udders. So, the next best get-rich scheme he could come up with is to become an actor with a $20 million a film paycheck. It’s hard to believe a master strategist like him didn’t do better on Survivor.
Sensing that this episode is looking to be quite dull, the focus becomes the fishing skills of Ian and Tom. To kick things off, Ian shows up with an absolutely massive clam – so large, in fact, that it takes three people (plus Katie pretending to help) to get it open. The result is six or seven pounds of meat. Surely a gourmet meal will really turn the tide in Koror’s favor.
Not to be outdone, Tom goes out and skewers a shark. He doesn’t even need a bigger boat! He chops it with a machete, which results in a huge celebration amongst his tribemates and no small amount of jealousy from son-figure Ian. The event isn’t shown on camera, but judging from the shark’s wound, Tom has taken a single swing and chopped it nearly in half. We’re starting to suspect that Tom was in a wheelchair before suddenly finding new life in his legs on arrival at the island.
Reiterating the point, Koror has eaten both shark and clam today. They’ve eaten better than we have (in case you’re curious, we had Chick-Fil-A). And we only live two blocks from Red Lobster.
Jenn and Gregg head out to get the mail, as do their counterparts at Ulong. The reward challenge is one of those very arbitrary ones that instruct the competing teams to each build an SOS signal. Ulong decide to tear down the old bathroom shelter that James constructed earlier, while Koror can only have three tribe members participate, and their choices are Gregg, Katie and Caryn. It seems like a risky decision considering that Karen and Katie are barely able to say hello without coming to blows, but Caryn’s brains and Katie’s creativity prove to be complementary.
How cerebral is Coby? He finds the fundamental flaw in his team’s strategy without even being anywhere near them. They plan to burn rope to capture the attention of the helicopter, but he wonders if they will get their fire going in time. The longer the competition goes on, the more impressive Coby’s mind gets.
So, what makes it a dull show seem more interesting? Sex! Cut to Gregg and Jenn. This year’s Rob and Amber wannabes are drawing the attention of the other members of their tribe thanks to the fact that they’ve been canoodling for several days now. However, Dr. Phil would point out that there are trouble points in the relationship. She’s a starry-eyed romantic, while he is a calculating strategist who can’t wait to throw her under the bus for the sake of winning. We aren’t exaggerating on the point, either. He makes a big deal about them having the “big talk” regarding the status of their affiliation. He sees them as allies, teammates if you will. And hey, if there’s free sex involved, far be it from him to turn it down! Conversely, Jenn is fantasizing about what their wedding day will be like. Not so fast, Jenn. We don’t see any joint Amazing Race appearances in your future.
Over at Ulong, Bobby Jon has captured another giant clam (what, did the producers plant these things out in the water?) and a disgusting, liver-looking fish that appears to have made its way to their waters from the remains of the Exxon-Valdez spill. Assuming they can get past the oozing crude (just think of it as a condiment!), they are looking to have a big dinner tonight. It’s about the only good thing that has happened to Ulong in approximately 17 days on the island. If CBS were feeling particularly mischievous, they’d show a split screen with Koror eating their clam, shark, and military meals while drinking their celebratory wine, while Ulong struggles through their slimy oil fish. The distinction between the haves and have nots hasn’t been this strong since Marie Antoinette told her subjects to eat cake.
Probst sighting! Offshore gambling establishments would give you roughly 7000-1 odds that Ulong would win this sucker, and they’d bump that up to 9000-1 when it is announced that Bobby Jon will be squaring off against Coby as leaders in the puzzle challenge for their respective teams.
As for the challenge itself, it’s inspired by those puzzles that you can often find at The Cracker Barrel where one piece is missing and you have to slide the pieces around until the design is matched. In this case, one person calls out the places where the puzzle pieces should be placed, while two people swim under water to follow the instructions. As the race to complete the challenge proceeds, Bobby Jon has a great deal of trouble figuring things out. It even gets so bad that Probst berates him at a couple of points. He freezes, and he and Steph switch spots. Although she manages to make some progress, it’s too little, too late, and Ulong finds itself headed to Tribal Council for the seventh consecutive time. They couldn’t have been eliminated more effectively if there had been an outbreak of the plague.
After the losers from Ulong return to camp, they’re shocked at the status quo like a democrat after election night. As Bobby Jon appears to waver in his alliances with both Steph and Ibrehem, Stephenie states, “I should never have got myself in a situation with two guys from Alabama.” You and Reese Witherspoon, honey.
Ooh, a snake metaphor. How original.
When Steph confronts Bobby Jon about who he intends to vote for tonight, he tells her he’s not certain which direction he’s leaning. At this point, she wisely heads off to talk to Ibrehem to try to align him to her side. Neither man really commits, but you have to give her credit for using her noggin. Unfortunately, this is about as exciting as it gets, too. Literally nothing happens during this little segment.
During Tribal Council, there’s discussion about how frequently Ulong loses, which continues Probst’s sadistic streak of kicking them while they’re low. They move on to voting strategies, where each one of the three takes a minute to talk about who is vulnerable (the answer: all of them) and reasons they may choose to vote in various iterations. In the end, Bobby Jon turns out to be the swing vote, and chooses to keep the strongest player with him rather than vote off the threat. Ibrehem is out, though he probably deserved to be eliminated sooner.
If, on the off chance, there is not a merge next week, Ulong faces the indignity of being the first tribe ever wholly exterminated without an immunity challenge victory.
Worst. Tribe. Ever.