Survivor Season One: Pulling Your Own Weight

By Jim Van Nest

July 21, 2005

Three guesses what he's reading: hint - it's not Penthouse Letters.

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Hello, good people, and welcome back to the little experiment in "reality television" known as Survivor. David is taking a little break and I'll be with you to guide you through the next five weeks of CBS's surprise ratings hit.

When last we checked in with our castaways, the Pagong tribe said a sad goodbye to the sickly Ramona. Everyone liked her and was rooting for her, but she was the weak link on the tribe and had to go. Over at Tagi, Rich Hatch had begun creating a three-person alliance with Susan and Kelly with plans to take over the world. Oh yeah, and Greg and Sean split the "First To Go Crazy" award for the "coconut phone" and bowling alley made of sand. Congrats, guys!!

We begin this week's adventure on Day 13 at Pagong. Needless to say, the tribe is feeling a little down after ousting Ramona the night before. The only positive seems to be that they slept in a little. The group is on edge and Captain Obvious, aka Joel, elaborates by telling us that the tribe has gotten smaller. Greg still isn't feeling up to snuff and we're told he has an ear infection. Ouch! Gretchen, on the other hand, feels fine and wants to continue to erase BB from her mind with further camp improvements.

Day 13 at Tagi dawns and the episode title is brought to light with several Tagi members complaining about the lack of work done by Sean and Dirk. It seems these two spend hours every day "fishing" in the 100 degree heat. Everyone knows that's a fool's mission, but these guys seem to think that they're fulfilling their tribal duties with this fruitless endeavor. Trucker Sue tells us that they should be fishing at night (which is very true) and hunting for tapioca during the day. And here we have the makings of the first Survivor drinking game. Every time Sue says tapicoa, take a drink. You'll be drunk by the immunity challenge, guaranteed. Dr. Sean meanwhile tells us how happy he is and that no one's bothering him. It hits me now that Survivor is really no different than an office. The folks who don't do anything never have a problem with those who do. Ever notice how happy that lazy-ass Chuck in accounting is? But I digress. Dirk spends a good portion of his day reading the Bible. I only mention it because it leads to the Rudy Gem of the Week:

"The only reason I'd bring a Bible out here is if...and I'm religious if I needed toilet paper."

Probst sighting! But before I go on....isn't this the same guy that hosted that Rock-N-Roll Jepopardy on VH1? Just checking.

Jeff actually makes special trips to each camp to announce this week's Reward Challenge. It will be a Tagi vs. Pagong weapons challenge for food. The tribes will test their skills with a blow gun, sling shot and spear. The tribes get right to work figuring out who is the best with each of the weapons. Some of the results are surprising, like Sean being an ace with the blow gun; while some are not, such as Sue being able to throw a spear. Expecting Pagong to choose a guy as their spear thrower, Sue is so excited about beating him on national TV, that she goes a full two or three minutes with no mention of tapioca.

When the tribes converge for the actual competition, we learn that Sean and Jenna will be the blow gun reps, Rich and Gretchen will man the sling shot and Sue will get her wish and face off against Joel in the spear toss. For rounds one and two, the participants will be shooting at fruit. Whatever they hit carries over to the next round. We get a barage of camera angles showing darts hitting their targets and sling shots missing theirs, but ultimately, I couldn't tell you who did better at what. All I know is both groups have a basket full of fruit going into the final round. Jeff tells them that this round is winner take all. They get the contents of their basket and a super mystery food source. I can only hope it's a cage of rats.

So Sue and Joel square off and with the foreshadowing of Sue wanting to kick a guy's ass on TV fresh in our mind, it was no surprise that Joel, in fact, kicked hers. Pagong wins a basket of fruit and a box with two egg-laying chickens in it. You can see Gervase dreaming of rat and eggs now, can't you?

In an amazing twist, the Pagong tribe is now showing signs of life. Apparently, having actual food gives you more energy. While Jenna has named the chickens (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner), Gretchen enforces that these chickens have a very short time to start producing some eggs. How's THAT for some pressure?!

Greg , the reluctant leader of Pagong, has a secret. Well, not much of a secret as everyone sees him every night get up and leave the shelter to go sleep in the woods. He says he simply can't sleep with all the other people. Colleen, on the other hand, he has no trouble sleeping with as she joins him in the woods. When asked, Colleen tells us, "When we go off, it's all about the sex." (Somewhere over at Tagi, Dirk feels the sudden urge to pray.) Greg straightens us out by letting us know there is no romance at all, just two people that really get along and have fun hanging out.

Over at Tagi, Sue is finally getting over the fact that she lost to a boy, and one that's not near as manly as she is at that. To soothe her troubled mind, Rich has gone out and caught himself an eel. Someone is actually heard saying they'd rather have the eel than the chickens. Besides, Wigglesworth tells us, it's better to catch your own food than have it handed to you. I hope she takes that mentality back home with her. Me? I'll keep hitting the Piggly Wiggly, mmmkay? Sadly, the eel turns out to be pretty disgusting.

Later in the day, Richard "The Snake Hunter" Hatch is giving us a National Geographic special about a yellow banded snake. He tells us how poisonous it is, and then proceeds to knock it on the ground and taunt it as if the poor reptile were another Tagi member. But none of this is the big news at Tagi. The big news is, Dr. Sean took a shit!!! And there was much rejoicing. Seriously, I know this is supposed to be reality, but I don't give a crap about their crap. Maybe it's the empty bowels, but Sean is now actually trying to do some work around camp. He and the ever-skinny Dirk are on the tapioca hunt (making Sue very proud, I'm sure) but can't seem to find any. After assuring everyone they know what they're looking for, it's becoming increasingly obvious that they don't have the first clue. One word: chucklenuts. Meanwhile, Rich and Sue are having the toughest time deciding whether the next vote will be Sean or Dirk. Right now, they think Sean.

Day 15 brings some Tree Mail. The mail suggests that each tribe will need to select one person to row a boat while the others will swim. The decision is a pretty simple one for both tribes. Gervase can't swim, so he's a easy choice as a rower. Kelly is a white water rafting guide, so she is the natural for Tagi. While Kelly is telling us she'll beat Gervase any day of the week, Greg has taken the chance to break into song. Something's Coming from West Side Story, to be exact.

"Ship Wrecked" is the name of this challenge and it will be for immunity. The chosen rowers will have to row an outrigger canoe out to a buoy in the ocean. When they turn around to come back, they'll have to pick up their five tribemates who will be floating along the way. First tribe back to Jeff wins immunity.

It takes very little time for Gervase to pull away from Kelly. He makes his turn, grabs his people and with very little effort at all, Pagong wins immunity. I have a couple thoughts here. The first is looking at Gervase, what would make you think that he wouldn't be strong? To me, there was no doubt that he would stand a good chance to win this challenge. The second thing is, can we please get some sort of play-by-play on these challenges? You can't tell who's winning, who's lagging behind or what stage of the competition they're at. For crying out loud, why have Pretty Boy Probst if he's not gonna say anything? Oh yeah, and Kelly looks like someone just ran over her dog.

The rest of the show boils down to one thing, Dirk vs Sean. Oddly enough, neither one of them thinks they'll be the target. Sean is targeting Rudy, figuring the tribe will need to be more physical in challenges and Dirk is just trying to stay pure. Hatch, on the other hand continues to move his pawns into place.

The Tribal Council offers very little this time around. The only interesting thing was Probst asking Rich if smaller alliances were starting to form. Like a trained politician, he skirted the question and still found time to talk about how strong the tribal alliance was. When all's said and done, Sean follows through and votes Rudy. Dirk votes for Kelly. Everyone else writes down Dirk's name. And oddly enough, Sean doesn't seem to have any idea that he's on the outside looking in.



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