Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Recap

By Jim Van Nest

March 10, 2006

What's the over/under on the number of jigsaw puzzles my NASA buddies send me?

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Hello, good people, and welcome back to BOP Salutes Survivor: Exile Island. My name is Jim and I'll be filling in for David and Kim this week. David is a bit under the weather and I'm more than happy to hold down the fort for them. So, let me see, where were we? Oh, yes...Shane has made an alliance on his son with everyone in Panama and Team Dysfunction gave their strongest member the boot last week. The preview hints at a Shane ouster and teases about a Tribal Council like none before. Ooooooh...I can hardly wait.

Okay, who had 30 seconds in the "How long before Shane melts down and does something stupid" pool? You're the winner!!! The evening after Tribal Council finds Shane feeling bad about the turn of events that he helped set in motion. He chews out Danielle and asks her to let him have his son's name back so that he can get out of their alliance. He says he'd rather go into the merge alone than with her and Courtney. Since I'm new to this season, let me say that I wish every season had someone like Shane. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that he's good reality TV. This cat has done and said more stupid things than any other Survivor, yet he's still there and still going strong.


Day 15 dawns with Cirie filling Courtney in on the previous night's conversation. Cirie is loving life right about now as she's watching the "power alliance" implode. I had some harsh things to say about Cirie and the whole scared to touch a leaf thing, but it's becoming more and more clear that she's the only one on the Casaya tribe with an even remote understanding of this game. As Cirie is giving Courtney the lowdown, Danielle enters the picture and the girls decide to switch up the game by dumping Shane at the next vote. It's a good thing Cirie is there to do their thinking for them, because one more vote and the genius twins wouldn't have stood a chance at turning the tide.

Our first visit to La Mina begins with Dan on the beach enjoying the sunrise. It's at this point that I realized that Dan looks like one of the special effects about a third of the way through the "melting Nazis" scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. When the rest of the tribe wakes up, they enjoy a tasty breakfast of beans after which, Terry and Austin go down to the water and enjoy a desert of not so tasty minnows. Somewhere in the middle of the day, Dan decides to let the whole tribe in on his "secret" that he did a little more than just work on the Space Shuttle. He tells them of his three Shuttle missions, his four space walks and two trips to a space station. I'm not exactly sure why this was such a's not like he was a lower tier NFL quarterback or anything. It's during this segment that Austin has the quote of the night. Referring to the skeletal pasty former astronaut, "Dan Fuego is a stud...he's a pimp."

Back over at Camp Chaos, Shane is awake now and ready to rekindle his discussion with Danielle and Courtney. He simply asks them to let him take his son's name back. Danielle is quick to say, "Done," but Courtney just can't leave it at that. She has to let him know how stupid she thinks the idea is and wants to know why he doesn't like her anymore. As this is going on, Aras lets us in on the little secret that he wants the alliance to end as well. He tells Shane this later and goes on to mention that he thinks Shane may have slit his own throat with his method. We leave Casaya with several shots of Shane that make him look so crazy that Matthew from Survivor: Amazon would be freaked out.

It's tree mail time and we join La Mina as Sally reads the clue. It would seem that today's challenge is for reward and immunity. Austin and Terry state the obvious by talking about how important it is for them to win this one and get the tribe counts even again. "It's Game 7," Terry tells us. Technically speaking, it's more like Game 4. They can either even the series at 2 games a piece, or be in an almost insurmountable 3-1 hole when this one's over. But I digress...

Probst sighting. As Casaya enters, La Mina looks shocked that Bobby was voted out at the last Tribal Council. Jeff quickly gets to the explanation of tonight's challenge. It's a strength AND smarts challenge. Three people will run a small course and untie a puzzle piece that's hanging by a rope. There are about three billion knots in each rope to make this portion a little more difficult. Once the tribe has all four puzzle pieces, the remaining two people will put it together. Wanna know what they're playing for? Well, it seems that they're playing for everything necessary for a nice summertime bar-be-que. They'll have this bar-be-que at a local village where they'll also be bringing toys and things to the local children. Oh more thing, while they're enjoying their bar-be-que, the losing tribe will be at Tribal Council voting someone off. Oh yeah...and one more, one more thing, the winning tribe will get to select someone to go to Exile Island. Oh more, one more, one more thing, said person will also be immune from the Tribal Council vote. Did you get all that? Good...let's play.

The challenge starts out as many challenges often have. Terry takes a huge lead over Shane at the very first piece of the puzzle. As the challenge continues, La Mina has all four of their pieces while Shane is just beginning to untie the knots of Casaya's final piece. The challenge ends as many challenges often have - with Casaya putting the puzzle together first despite how far behind they were. It takes until Day 15, but Casaya finally makes a good decision as a tribe. They choose Sally to go to Exile Island. And with the easy vote now immune, things are getting ready to get interesting over at La Mina camp.

We come back from commercial with the obligatory (and incredibly boring) segment on life at Exile Island. This time around, there's a much happier mood as Sally knows she was saved by Casaya. She spends some time looking for the idol that doesn't exist anymore and we move on to footage of starving people eating.

Casaya is met at the water's edge by a couple dozen local children who are just happy as they can be to see them. Obviously they weren't shown any of the dailies. Right off the bat they are led to the feast where they enjoy cheese, wine, beer, chicken and just about everything else you could want at a bar-be-que. But the best part for Shane is that he finds a guy to bum some cigarettes from. Which leads us to a montage of Shane smoking and the reminder that there really isn't a way to suck on a little tube and look sexy. With a fresh shot of nicotine in his brain, Shane apparently starts thinking clearly and quickly apologizes to Danielle for his terrible behavior and he promises her that he won't do it again and that he's with her. Poor Cirie is sitting back and watching what's happening and realizing that while this is one of the coolest rewards ever, it has given the chucklenut brigade a chance to patch things up and possibly preserve their alliance. She admits that she was kinda hoping they'd lose so they could send Shane packing. This segment ends with Shane talking about what a great experience it was and how it will change him forever. Oddly enough, isn't it always the "jerk" of the series that always gets the most out of the "hang with the locals" challenge?

At La Mina it's time to play Should We or Should We Not Force a Tie. This week's contestant is Terry. Armed with the knowledge that Nick and Austin are voting together no matter what, Terry has to decide if his loyalty to Dan is worth the risk of a 2-2 tie at Tribal Council. Austin makes the observation of the day when he mentions that the puzzle was in the hands of a NASA engineer and he wasn't able to solve it. Terry eventually agrees with Austin that voting Dan is the best thing to do for the team. So he makes the Torre-esque managerial decision and then goes off to break the news to his flying buddy. Dan takes the news well but you can tell he's disappointed. The bottom line is they wouldn't be going to Tribal if he'd done his job.

Finally, we get to the Tribal Council like never before. If by "like never before" they meant one of the most boring, uneventful Tribals ever, I'm totally with them. Jeff asks about Sally being gone and the guys admit that she was the one getting the vote if she was still there. As it is, they decided on someone else and they let Jeff know that Dan is the one going home. Dan said it best when he said that three people did their job in the challenge and two people did not. One of those two is immune, so the other is going home. As it stands now, the biggest mystery seems to be who will get the token vote from Dan. Looks like Austin won that derby. And Astronaut Dan is the sixth person voted out of Survivor: Panama - Exile Island.

Well kiddies, thanks for hanging out with me this week. David and Kim will be back in three weeks (when Survivor comes back) to take you the rest of the way. Programming notes: Survivor will be on next Wednesday instead of Thursday to accommodate the NCAA tournament. But, don't worry too much; it's the dreaded recap show. The following week there will be no Survivor at all. So, look for the next all new Survivor to air on Thursday, March 30th. Until next time, take care and God bless.



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