Survivor: Guatemala Recap
Episode Five: Crocs, Cowboys and City Slickers
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
October 14, 2005
Previously on Survivor, Dallas Cowboys icon Gary Hogeboom was thrown for a loss when he left on a picnic then returned to discover over half his teammates had been traded. He was then sacked by Danni, who pressed the quarterback on the football past he tried to deny. Worst of all, Gary fumbled the words to his denial, acknowledging that he had gone to Central Michigan, the place where he began his football legacy. Poor decision making like this is exactly why Hogeboom never won a playoff game.
The other big news last week involved treacherous Judd. The Nakum doorman was the key decision maker in the elimination vote. He threw his not insignificant weight behind the new cool kids formerly of Yaxha rather than remaining loyal to the original members of Nakum. As we begin this week's episode, Judd is immediately placed on the defensive by Margaret. She refers to him with harsh language punctuated by the word ‘traitor'. Judd does not comport himself well in the heat of the crucible. He claims to not care about his popularity; he indicates it's not personal but rather the nature of the game, then finally rests with the all-time Survivor betrayal classic, "as long as my family loves me, blah blah blah." Whenever a player is reduced to such language, (s)he is all but acknowledging they possess roughly the same popularity as Johnny Fairplay...and nobody wants to be that guy.
Over at Yaxha, a quick shot of the Crocodile That Ate Mayan Civilization (soon to be a Sci-Fi Channel movie!) is followed by a shot of model/real estate broker Blake. This is something of a surprise because now that he has stopped throwing up all the time, Blake has dropped completely beneath radar. In his mind, though, the game is going perfectly and he is already lining up the pieces on the board to see how far he can advance in the game. What's important about this discussion is that Yaxha's situation mirrors the one faced by Nakum at the prior night's Tribal Council. The re-configuring of both tribes has upset the balance. In Blake's case, many of the potential new allies have no idea what a whiny bitch he has been thus far. Oddly, this makes him want to eliminate them even more. To his mind, there is no doubt that Gary, Brian and Amy have "a target on their back if they lose". Note the wording there. Blake has already decided it will be their fault if the team loses. What a teammate.
There is one other element underlining the odd relationships created by Survivor. Brandon the farmer and Bobby Jon the...uh, professional Survivor player do not cater much to city slickers. That there sheriff from Massachusetts, the place where all them Kennedys come from, don't know how to slop the pigs, shuck the corn or plow the back 40. To Brandon, this makes Amy inferior. Sure, she represents the thin blue line keeping anarchy from running amuck in a major metropolitan area but just ‘cause she has to dodge bullets don't change the fact that the girl has probably never even thought about marrying one of her cousins.
The blue state/red state mentality that divided a nation on election night is exemplified by the new version of Yaxha. A Texas football icon from a flyover state has forged an unlikely alliance with a fey Ivy Leaguer and a northeastern law enforcement official. They are opposed by a Kansas beauty queen, a pair of men who would consider ‘white trash' a compliment and a sickly male model. In normal circumstances, these people would form substantially different cliques, but desperation makes fast friends. Whether these shaky alliances hold until the first time Yaxha faces Tribal Council remains to be seen. At first blush, it does not seem likely, though. The question is which member of Yaxha will be the new Judd.
"Just thinking about the one thing I want to treat myself to when I get home is a new pair of cowboy boots. Mine got duct tape on them." – Blake, channeling Hank Hill
Probst sighting! I don't want to say this reward challenge sounds hard, but the challengers snicker nervously as our host goes along. On the plus side, the reward itself is quite nifty. The contestants get chips and dip plus an ample supply of margaritas. If that amount of alcohol doesn't get the players hooking up, I don't know what will. But that's not all! Act now and you will also get a "floating crocodile proof swim cage delivered to your camp complete with decking, lounge chairs and an umbrella". This thing is 83% safe in crocodiles-attacking-humans testing! Even better, the 17% could be Judd!
The challenge takes place in several phases. The first aspect involves the cutting of two ropes using a sharp rock. This might not sound complicated and in fact Brandon has no problem splitting the twine asunder. Jamie the incompetent boob, on the other hand, haplessly flails at the rope indefinitely. This allows Yaxha to get a massive lead heading into their second leg. This portion involves the chopping of wood using a machete. Needless to say, this is right up Bobby Jon's alley. He completes this task at approximately the same moment that Jamie finally cuts his rope. His first rope. By the time Jamie gets done, we might already be up to the next immunity challenge.
As Nakum's weakest link continues to hack on the vine, his opponents take four planks and use them as turnstiles to load a mine cart into position on the track. Then, they chop another rope (hi Jamie!) and take a wild ride on the cart back to the finish line. When they dismount their functional roller coaster (after Bobby Jon inhales copious amounts of the dirt used to stop the cart), the members of the winning Yaxha tribe are treated to the comical sight. Jamie finally finishes cutting his second rope! As he moves along to the second challenge, Steph icily informs him that he can stop because the challenge is finished. Congratulations, Jamie, you have just turned in the worst challenge performance in the show's history. Even Lill would be right to walk up to you and tell you how much you suck.
When the members of Yaxha return to camp, they are pleased to discover the crocodile proof (wink wink, nudge nudge) pool has been installed. And this contraption is pretty damned cool. It's a rectangular swimming pool with an outer skeleton of fenced poles that (ostensibly) prevent amphibious creatures with gigantic teeth from snacking on contestants. The members of Yaxha settle in for an afternoon of fun in the sun topped off by chips, salsa and bountiful amounts of alcohol.
Cut to Nakum. The mood there would not be accurately described as people ready to do a little dance, make a little love and get down tonight. Though if Jamie were to spontaneously combust, that might change. Judd summarizes the mood of the tribe by indicating that his teammate apologized but he knew that nobody genuinely accepted it. This leads to a tense standoff between the bellhop (or whatever the hell he is) and Cindy the zookeeper. As she tries to criticize her teammate for, you know, screwing the entire team through his incompetence, Judd indicates that nothing is stopping any of the women from stepping up. His sexism is so overt that we expect that thousands of miles away, the hairs on the back of Helen Gurley Brown's neck are standing up. We expect a helicopter full of National Organization of Women attorneys to come parachuting down on top of him at any second. At this point, it's time to state the obvious. Judd is a rat bastard.
Now is the time on Survivor when Steph complains about losing. Damn, George Steinbrenner is beginning to seem even-tempered and well-intended by comparison. Of course, she is dead on with her evaluation. "Jamie is a very cocky kind of a guy. And he's like ‘Aww, I can cut rope with a rock. No problem. I can fly right through that.' Then he gets in there and gets his ass beat by a 22-year-old farm boy who basically sawed through the rope in like 30 seconds and got the whole challenge done and fricken Jamie can't even cut the second rope. I was pissed." First, Steph vents. Then, Steph cries. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Judd and Stephenie are not the only annoying contestants this season. Not by a long shot. A clever piece of editing reveals that Blake is the island's answer to Terrell Owens. He loves him some him. Blake is Blake's favorite subject. Blake is Blake's favorite storyteller. Blake is Blake's hero. What we are really saying is that Blake is all sorts of aggravating. We are not the only ones to notice, either. All of his tribemates have grown weary of being regaled with tales of romance, tawdriness and the occasional Double-D breasted girlfriend whose chest is even bigger due to her being on the pill. You can't make this stuff up. Blake is the person at the party who thinks he's the coolest guy there but winds up making everyone else around him want to get sloppy drunk so that they will lose coherence. The Yaxha's tribe big mistake was wasting all their margaritas before Blake started talking.
Over at Nakum, Lydia is mirroring Blake's meltdown. She violates the cardinal rule of Survivor: never sing! Lydia gets her Liza Minelli on in an attempt to boost tribe morale. First, she teaches her tribemates a dance step called "the pancake". Later, a song and dance with a touch of soft shoe is followed by some tap. Then, there is an awkward moment involving Krumping and finally Lydia finishes the routine with a sing-a-long portion. Since no one knows the words, though, it's only her singing. "Elvis might be the king of rock and roll but I'm the queen. WHOO! Shut up." We can't decide if the ‘Whoo!' is better described as Little Richard or Ric Flair-esque, but we do know for sure it's not pretty. For a woman who has nearly been voted off at each Tribal Council, this feels like Survivor Suicide.
Probst sighting redux! This challenge - which we're calling Jamie's Redemption/Elimination depending on its results - is ready to begin. The game today is Fun with Catapults! Already, Jamie's teammates like it. All they have to do is get him listed as ammunition. The concept is a clever one. A member from each tribe is designated as the launcher while the rest of the team is divided into groups of three. The four sets of three players each have a triangle shaped net they use to receive the catapult. In effect, this game is like the home run derby at the All-Star Game. A bunch of kids have gloves and they all chaotically attempt to shag pop flies. Lydia and Brian are chosen as the triggers. Yaxha has a trio of Gary, Bobby Jon and Danni as well as Brandon, Blake and Amy. Nakum has Steph, Judd and Rafe in one group and Jamie, Cindy and Margaret in the other.
Yaxha's Bobby Jon positions his group well in the first round, allowing them to draw first blood in the contest to score five points. From there, though, it's all Nakum. Lydia's krumping must give her power as she proves a marvelously accurate catapult launcher. Her aim carries the team to a dominant 5-2 victory. Jamie gleefully gloats, shouting "Who's smiling now?" over and over again. What a class act. We are also forced to wonder what Steph will do after the immunity challenge since she can't complain about how much she hates to lose.
After a couple of moments of impotent rage directed at Jamie's classless behavior, the members of Yaxha begin to focus on what's important. As Brian summarizes, there are four members of the old Nakum tribe along with three members of the old Yaxha tribe in what is now called Yaxha. A vote cut directly down party lines would see the incumbents overthrown and one of Gary, Brian and Amy cast off. As we learned in the last episode, though, only one voter needs to flip in order to reverse the situation. Brian and Gary huddle to discuss which former member of Nakum seems vulnerable. The obvious answer is egomaniacal Blake. Accentuating this point is a brilliant piece of editing. As people discuss game strategy, Blake is shown talking about a Jet Ski rental transaction that went sour. This reminds us of the Simpsons episode where we go inside Homer's brain and discover that the thought running through his head is "Meow meow meow meow meowmeow meow".
The first target Gary choses to attempt to flip is Bobby Jon, but he informs the former quarterback that he has promised not to vote against Blake. Since word is bond to the Alabaman, the conversation is effectively over right there. He does offer up an interesting tidbit, though. He plans to vote for Brian, meaning that it appears that tonight's decision will come down to the Ivy League student vs. the annoying model/real estate broker.
What follows is a discussion with the receptive Danni. Gary informs her that he has no pure alliance but that he wants the best players to make it to the final four. Danni agrees with this line of thinking, so she goes to Brandon to discuss strategy. At this point, he emphatically tells her he won't vote for Blake. So, we have the predicted mirror image from last week with three members of the original tribe neutralized by three new members with a single new member carrying the swing vote. Danni will determine who goes home tonight. Please let it be Blake. Please let it be Blake. Danni, we promise to root for the Chiefs this weekend if you vote against Blake.
Tribal Council sees Probst cut straight to the chase. He incidentally damns both likely victims as he discusses the prior night's rain storm. Only two members of Yaxha slept through the monsoon and yes, the two were Blake and Brian. The latter man defends himself by pointing out that he eventually woke up and joined the majority. Blake defends his behavior (we think that's what he's trying to do, anyway) by saying that it was like totally wet out and he thought for sure that the other people would be smart enough to come in out of the rain. What a master diplomat. Fortunately, seven votes later, Danni and, surprisingly enough, Bobby Jon assassinate him, making Blake the latest contestant eliminated from competition. Danni, we are putting on our Priest Holmes jerseys right now per our agreement. Go Chiefs!