Survivor Guatemala: Recap
Big Win, Big Decision, Big Mistake?
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
December 9, 2005
If you have missed the last three weeks of Survivor, you lost out on seeing alpha male Jamie eliminated. Then, we saw alpha male Gary Hogeboom voted out. Next, alpha male Judd was blindsided. Now, the biggest alpha male threat remaining on the item is...not so fast, Rafe...Stephenie. Then, the strongest alpha male threat is...not so fast, Rafe...Cindy. The next biggest alpha male threat after that is...not so fast, Rafe...beauty queen Danni. But hey, at least it's a toss-up between you and Lydia from there, and you're an Immunity Challenge God. Let's focus what's important, though. JUDD HAS BEEN ELIMINATED! At least now he can focus on naked Greco-Roman wrestling with...not so fast, Rafe...Jamie. The even better news, of course, is that we are now only two episodes from finishing one of the worst seasons of Survivor ever. The only way it could have been worse was if we were recapping The Amazing Race.
Zookeeper Cindy is singing the post-vote blues. What she has learned at the most recent Tribal Council is that there is a four-person alliance. There are five players remaining, and she is not is not in the aforementioned alliance. The only way she could be less popular was if she were running FEMA. Cindy is politely described as a bundle of nerves, and she sees no hope of surviving the next vote. If she had watched enough professional wrestling, she would know that the proper strategy would have been to somehow confuse people when her twin sister Mindy was visiting so they could trade places. The only question is which one is the evil twin. Sidenote: is her sister also a zookeeper, and if so, can the animals tell which one is which?
"In the hardest Survivor ever, it's the gay guy and four women in the final five." –Rafe.
Wait a second. Rafe is gay?
By Day 34, you know pretty much everything you know about the other players. What's left to do? Make funny faces! Oh, Jim Carrey gonna sue somebody!
Oh, look! It looks like Danni has finally found her keys? Who would have known she left them 3,000 miles away from home? It's always the last place you think to look.
Actually, the keys signify the beginning of a Reward Challenge called Second Chances. As suggested by the title, it's an amalgam of several previous competitions, including balance beam-walking, projectile-throwing and puzzle-solving. The race is divided into heats, with three people making it to the target practice segment. From there, two people compete in the puzzle contest to win the car. In the first heat, Danni is first to finish, with Cindy and Steph coming in behind her. For once, Rafe isn't even a factor in a challenge. The final two going into the puzzle competition are Steph and Cindy, which makes the result a foregone conclusion. You know, Steph, you should really buy a Rubik's Cube at some point. This means that Cindy is the winner of a lovely 2006 Pontiac Torrent – or is she?
Probst takes this opportunity to point out that in the show's ten season history, no one who has won a car has ever won Survivor. We find this a little shaky since Amber got a car and a million bucks, but the myth lives on. At this point, Probst lays out two options for the zookeeper. We'll call Option A The Scrooge. Cindy can screw history and keep the car for herself. Option B is The Benefactor (Hi, Mark Cuban!). In this scenario, she gets to give the other four players Pontiac Torrents of their own; however, she would have to give up her own car. The excitement from the other players makes it clear that they expect her to demonstrate generosity, but she goes into a self-righteous spiel about how she doesn't believe in superstition. "Stuff and nonsense," she says. "And humbug. I'm keeping the car and Bob Cratchett and friends can go home hungry." Unlike Earl Hickey and Carson Daly, Cindy doesn't believe in karma. Here's hoping she gets Scrooged (Hi, Bill Murray!)
As if the new car were not enough, Cindy also gets showered with steak and alcohol. She's allowed to bring along Stephenie, who actually manages to put on a brave face about how happy she is that Cindy has won the car and she hasn't. She's so good, we're pretty sure she's faked it a time or two.
"You're thinking, when in my life will I ever have the capacity to give four people new cars. Like, I don't know anybody who has the ability to do that. Maybe Oprah." –Cindy
Wait, she knows Oprah? Does she know Stedman and Gayle, too?
How far into denial has Cindy gone? She doesn't believe anyone is going to be bitter over the fact that she took the car for herself. Cut to the other camp. You don't see this much second-guessing when a coach doesn't make it on fourth and one. Rafe immediately goes off into a rant (though we're pretty sure he would have made the same decision – regardless of what he says). Meanwhile, a lot of plotting for the next elimination goes on, with the underlying theme being "Cindy has a car and you don't! Cindy has a car and you don't! Neener neener neener!"
When Cindy returns to camp, we're sure there will be no hard feelings. All she has to do is not talk about the car. Obviously, that would create ill will and foster feelings of jealousy. We're certain that Cindy is smart enough to figure this out. So, what are the first words out of her mouth? "It drives so nice. Like, I can't believe that that car handles that way. The suspension and everything is so nice, I mean, you barely even felt the rocks. This is like a freakin' luxury vehicle." We're not certain about the rules in Mayan society, but we think it's probably acceptable for her to be put straight to death right here. She's crossed the line here where it's like C. Montgomery Burns going down to the soup kitchen and bragging about how wonderful his last 14 course meal was.
"They were excited to hear about the car. Everyone seemed to think that choosing the car in the reward for myself was the right thing to do. No one seemed to have any qualms about it at all." –Cindy, who has spent so much time with animals that she has forgotten how to read human body language
Probst sighting! And what's the first thing Jeff asks about? If you go to a Cracker Barrel and ask everyone there to talk about their grandchildren, they won't blather on as long as Cindy did about her feast and her car. This is exactly how cops can get a criminal in a room and get him to confess to everything. She hasn't just been given enough rope to hang herself; she's even figured out a way to give herself last rites and bury herself.
The Immunity Challenge has the contestants wrapped up in knots and locked in shackles. It's a good thing for Cindy that the other people aren't armed at this moment. They have to unlock themselves and somehow escape the ropy mess in which they are trapped. In the end, they have to give themselves enough rope to get to a flag and release it. Stephenie has to make three attempts before she finally reaches the end, but at long last, she emerges, for the first time in her long and storied Survivor career, as the winner of an Immunity Challenge.
It's time to play It's Anyone But Cindy, and they do a damned good job of it. When Rafe suggests to Steph that it would be beneficial to eliminate Cindy, she first attempts to point out that Danni is a bigger threat. This is problematic for Rafe, since he has just promised Danni that he won't vote against her. Steph rightly points out that Cindy is in an alliance with them and that it's logistically shaky to keep voting out members of your own group. Amazingly, the instant Rafe walks away, she proceeds to try to cut a deal against – you guessed it, the other member of her alliance, Rafe. Steph, do you actually understand the definition of alliance?
"If I could get rid of Rafe, I think that would be to my benefit. I think that the girls would have a much better shot at, you know, winning this." –Cindy
If those of you who aren't math majors are trying to calculate the women's "shot" at winning Survivor if Rafe is eliminated, the number you're looking for is 100%.
The discussion at Tribal Council is brief and relatively muted. Probst takes the opportunity to point out to Cindy that she probably would have been better served to give rather than receive. ‘Tis the season, after all. Cindy remains confident that selfishness was the right play. Given the math skills she has previously displayed, we have come to understand how she might not realize that a million dollars could buy many Pontiac Torrents if she so desired. In fact, it wouldn't be a bad play at this moment to say, "Hey, if I win Survivor, I'll buy you a better car than the Torrent!" It might cost CBS the Pontiac sponsorship, but hey, that's not Cindy's problem.
When the ballots come in, the voters are emphatic on the issue of "That Bitch Didn't Give Us A Car". Cindy points out as she exits, that she'll think of her fellow contestants as she looks up at the stars through the sunroof of her car. If there's any poetic justice to be had here, Cindy wrecks that bad boy as she drives home from the airport.