Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Recap
For Cod's Sake
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
March 3, 2006
Previously on Survivor, other contestants thought it was good strategy to give Terry, the strongest player in the early going, an immunity idol to use at his convenience. Well, that probably wasn't "the plan" exactly, but it sure is how things worked out. Terry was punished (?) by the other team in a reward challenge by being sent to Exile Island. While there, he enjoyed a pleasant, sunny day and picked up the immunity idol, which makes him the heavy favorite at this time. We're not particularly impressed by this bunch of strategists. We think Lassie could beat them at a game of checkers.
Day 12 at La Mina starts with, "Morning, guys." It's like an Akiva Goldsman script so far. We break away from the Algonquin Round Table discussion to watch Sally pat herself on the back. She is the last woman remaining in her tribe, and even though that makes her about sixth out of eight, she's ready to put it in Best News Ever territory. Simultaneously, we deduce that she is the dullest, most mundane cast member this year, a feat relatively similar to being Best American Idol.
The man we have determined to be this season's hero (every good story needs a hero) has taken on a home improvement project. He's designing a Zen rock garden, because as he says, "just to kind of bring a kind of Zen beauty to this place, because it lacks it inside the campground, inside some of the people's souls."
Cut to fire-dancer Courtney. Having learned her lesson from the last yoga training session, she is now nurturing their current campfire flame using the one skill we're willing to accept she possesses: blowing. How important is Bruce to this tribe? The following conversation is shown on camera: Aras says, "Bruce, it's dire straits right now with the fire." Bruce's answer is "Go get firewood." Do you think they ask his permission to use the bathroom, too? Or do they need a hall pass? Perhaps we spoke too quickly last week when we mentioned Aras's boy crush on Bruce.
Or perhaps not. Aras instantly regrets yelling at Bruce about his work on the rock garden. A conversation ensues between the two of them wherein they "talk things out". You can see the exact moment when Aras's heart breaks as Bruce tells him that one of his remarks was childish. Aras says that he wants to go to Exile Island, which is basically the equivalent of him taking a little time to pout all by himself.
Probst alert! Today's reward challenge has a member of each team wading out to a boat in the water. During the first two trips, bags containing rice and beans are retrieved. Once the person gets back to shore, they have to toss the item down a line until it gets to the final person. Next up, the "retrievers" have to pick out fish from the boat, and then toss them down the line. Once the fish arrives at the end person, that individual must cut off the head and the tail of the creature. It's like an episode of Iron Chef. Early on, Bruce proves to be a weak link for Casaya, as he has extreme difficulty cutting off his fish's head. Probst even shows considerable concern, telling our favorite Survivor to watch his fingers.
As the race goes on, Cirie proves to be surprisingly strong for Casaya, while dullard Sally, who has obviously grown weak and tired, has trouble catching her fish for several tries. This allows Casaya to break ahead, particularly because Bobby switches spots with Bruce and displays skill with a cleaver previously only displayed by the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. We're not kidding. If you need anything flayed, this is your guy. It's fairly close at the end, but Bobby saves the day for his team, which means that Casaya takes its fourth challenge and a feast of fish, rice and beans. For La Mina, they have to choose whether they want rice or beans, and they choose beans, beans, the magical fruit. La Mina also has to decide which player to send to Exile Island, and "out of respect", they send Terry.
Casaya's victory is a bit short-lived. When they return to camp, they discover that like the fish they were just tossing, they are living under the sea. A rainstorm has flooded their site, leaving them standing at least ankle deep in water. They manage to make the best of things somehow, eating raw fish and drinking liquor. As Aras says, they just have a crazy Casaya way of getting along, and it's true. They really do have nice team chemistry despite the fact that their tribe has members such as Shane, Courtney and Danielle.
Did we say, "beans, beans, the magical fruit?" The good folks at La Mina are now wondering whether beans would have been a better choice over rat poison. Having now filled their bellies with legumes, they're not very happy campers. Nick and Austin find themselves affected most severely, as all they can do is lay in the tent and hope not to throw up. A segment follows in which all of the La Mina tribemates throw up at intervals, at which point we hit the fast forward button.
Remember that nice Casaya chemistry we mentioned earlier? Yeah, that's out the window. Stating that there was no room for them in the shelter, Bobby and Bruce choose to spend the entire night in the outhouse, and in the process drink the group's last bottle of wine. Both men seem to have no love lost for their teammates, with Bobby even stating that he'd turn on them as soon as a merge took place. See? The Zen garden is already paying dividends.
When the other Casayans wake up, they are none too happy. Courtney fell asleep and dreamed. She dreamed she was in a Hollywood movie and that she was the star of that movie. This really blew her mind. But then she woke up the next morning and realized that Bruce and Bobby had spilled that wine. This is a major party foul for her. There are very specific rules in this fire dancer's champagne room, and the biggie is that the customers never drink the last of the alcohol. So, Courtney is to alcohol as Shane is to cigarettes.
But Bobby is ready to Whoop That Trick, Get It! He basically thinks Courtney needs to shut her damn mouth. He feels guilty about drinking the "other people's wine", but if it were just him and Courtney on the island, he'd drink all the wine in the vineyard. Courtney's approval rating is even lower than George Bush's at this point, and she doesn't even know anyone at FEMA.
"Courtney definitely had a right to be upset. I just don't need to hear it. Like, I really don't care what she thinks. She's probably one of the two or three most annoying people probably in the history of the world." With these words, Bobby starts moving into Bruce territory.
We take a brief detour to Terryland, where things are just hunky-dory. He's got no problem surviving on his own on Exile Island, but he is concerned about his fellow teammates. He fears that they are neither eating properly nor hydrating themselves. He's about to find out, because...
It's time for a visit from your friendly neighborhood Probst! The immunity challenge has the tribes rowing boats out in the sea, and then locating coffins that sit at the bottom of the water. Attached to those coffins are skull puzzle pieces that must be unknotted and released. Once all four skull puzzle pieces have been gathered, the teams are to return to shore and assemble the puzzle. La Mina breaks out into a monster lead thanks to the strength of Terry. They have acquired all four puzzle pieces before Casaya can get three. When Sally and Austin have a bit of trouble solving the puzzle, it gets more exciting, but the truth is that Casaya was never really in the race. They'll have to send one of their lunatics away from the asylum.
After the break, the tribe's chaotic nature robs us of the ability to play "It's Anyone But". We've got better odds of winning the next World Series of Poker than figuring out what these freaks are going to do. Our suspicion is that Bruce and Bobby's consumption of the last bottle of alcohol will get one of them in trouble tonight. We hope we're wrong, but the discussions that follow seem to bear out the notion that either Bobby or Bruce will be eliminated.
Watching the debate is like viewing the anti-McLaughlin Hour. First, the majority decides on Bobby. Then, Aras freaks out, remembering that Bruce hurt his feelings and suggests he is the better option. Next, the girls determine that Aras is on a power trip and needs to be put in his place, so they're gonna vote for Bobby again. None of this makes Shane particularly happy, as he was willing to go with Bobby in the first place, but was shouted down. This prompted Shane to make a promise that he would take Bobby to the final six. He even swears on his son's life (which is a pretty important vow for Cigarette Smoking Man). How bad does it get? We find ourselves agreeing with Shane so often that we begin to crave tobacco ourselves. The segment ends the same way it started. We have no damned clue what's going to happen.
Tribal Council proves to be interesting. The conversation naturally turns to the infamous Wine Drinking Incident, which will go down in the Much Ado About Nothing Hall of Fame. It's the most hype wine has gotten since Sideways. Everyone is angry about alcohol they did not get to drink. Other agendas get tossed in as well. Aras is mad at Bruce for hinting he is immature. Courtney is angry with Bobby for pointing out what a monstrous personality she has. Cirie, meanwhile, just sits back and laughs at all the chaos around her. She's employing the exact strategy that won Sondra a million dollars a few seasons ago.
Before the vote rolls around, Bruce mends some fences. He hadn't realized the value placed upon wine and never really meant to hurt anyone's feelings. Bruce promises to atone for his mistakes and apologizes to anyone he might have hurt. The tribe members accept his answers and appear sincere in the process, but we won't know how they really feel until the votes are tallied.
The vote itself exemplifies the chaotic nature of this group. There were two different four-member discussions about how the vote would go. The logical conclusion to be drawn is that they were fairly organized and had a plan. In execution, it works out something like this: Bruce votes for Courtney because he knows her. Shane votes for Aras because he has alliances with pretty much everyone else there now. Courtney votes for Bobby because he drank her wine and proceeded to yell at her about it. Aras votes for Bruce because he drank the wine, yelled at him, and hurt his feelings. Danielle votes for Bobby because God help her, she's stuck with Courtney and she needs to put Aras in his place. The surprise vote is that Bobby, realizing that it could be either him or his drinking buddy, votes for Bruce as an attempt at self-preservation. Cirie stumbles into being the deciding factor, which is appropriate, since she is the only one who seems to vote with anything resembling strategy. The end result is that she becomes the third vote against Bobby, eliminating him from competition. Cirie, you did very well. Everyone else, head to Amazon.com and buy Survivor for Dummies. That was pathetic, people.