Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Recap

Perilous Scramble

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

April 28, 2006

Would you feel better if I sang for you?

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Previously on Survivor, Bruce got beaten up more than anyone we've seen since Nordberg on Naked Gun. First, Nick – in a covert assassination attempt – stabbed Bruce in the mouth. Later on, someone – we suspect Aras or Terry – poisoned his food. The net result was internal blockage. Bruce was in a tremendous amount of pain, not the least of it stemming from the fact that Courtney serenaded him as he suffered. Our beloved, self-proclaimed Mr. Miyagi wound up joining the short list of Survivors who never received a vote. How is it that Bruce gets tortured multiple times this season, while Shane is able to bum cigarettes off locals and Courtney gets to play with her fire sticks? There's no justice in this world.

We've reached day 28 at the tribe ostensibly called Gitanos. This is more or less polite terminology by now, since this is the Casaya tribe plus Team Terry. Speak of the self-absorbed devil, Terry relays the news that he feels is most pressing. Terry avoided an immunity challenge last week and is that much closer to losing horribly in the final. We suspect Austin watches these episodes and screams "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" Or maybe that's just us.

We're a month into the game, and that means it's time for somebody to have a psychotic break. With this group, there are choices aplenty as to who might go, but the current contestant is Shane. He has discovered a rectangular piece of wood that reminds him of his Blackberry. And so, starts to imaginary text message such people as his partner and his son.

"It's actually helped my day. I'm communicating with people not on this island." – Shane, with a smile so disturbing Charles Manson would take a couple of steps back.

Seriously, if this were a horror movie, we would be opening up Shane's freezer and discovering the butchered torsos right Courtney, perhaps you should take those murder threats a little more seriously. It might be time to bring in the F.B.I. For the love of God, please get Shane a pack of cigarettes.

Unsettled by the manic behavior, the producers quickly cut to a reward challenge. Thank. God. The event requires the contestants to be broken into two teams of three. They are tethered together, at which point they must navigate a variety of hurdles, followed by a watery rope and some large, wooden lily pads. There is a design flaw with this game in that five of the players are lithe, while Cirie (god bless her) possesses a bit more girth. Aras gallantly tries to "help" her by shoving her over a platform, almost breaking her arm in the process. Later on, he and Shane rush her, causing all three of them to get tangled in the rope bridge. It's academic from there, as the graceful Courtney and Danielle join forces with ferocious competitor Terry to stage a blowout.

Probst is so outraged by the turn of events that he accuses the other team of quitting, and tells them to "get their asses out of the water". The decision, then, is who gets sent to Exile Island. For some reason, Danielle and Courtney show no guile, as Terry again seeks to banish his strongest competitor, Aras. The women should recognize that he does this solely to maximize his advantage in the later immunity challenge, yet the weak-willed Courtney and Danielle offer no resistance. It's as if they don't realize that Casaya has Team Terry outnumbered.

There's a surprise second challenge for the winning group of three. It is a slingshot target competition, where the competitors must break three plates. The winner will receive the stylish, yet super spacious GMC Yukon, which will be just fantastic in this time of rapidly rising gas prices. As far as the competition goes, well, it's Terry vs. Danielle and Courtney, so you do the math. Enjoy the new car Team Terry. It's all you're winning in this game.

Let us now enjoy 30 seconds of Exile Island. Nothing happens.

Once Terry has driven Courtney and Danielle to the barbecue area in his Brand! New! Yukon! he actually takes a bit of time to talk strategy. As Danielle kicks a soccer ball, thereby politely avoiding Terry, Courtney blithely agrees with him that their trio would make a fine final immunity challenge group. When the food is read and Danielle can avoid Terry's company no longer, he broaches the plan with her. She grunts in acknowledgement that she has heard him, as her body language clearly states that discovering his head on a pike would be her idea of a happy birthday. Both women are well aware of the fact that he's the one they would want to face in the final two. This is positive news for Courtney since, hey, there's someone she can beat. For Danielle, whose prospects are brighter, she wants nothing more than to be out of his presence.


Cirie and Shane also have a discussion, where much like this week during the NFL draft talk, nothing is as it seems. There does seem to be an alliance between Shane, Cirie and Aras, and they mention voting Danielle out if Terry has the hidden idol. Shane wants to drag Courtney along to the end because he knows he can beat her, but Cirie wants the annoying fire dancer's ass out of there.

All of a sudden, the duo realizes that they have fishing equipment, and Cirie goes out to take a stab. Miracle of miracles, she comes up with a rather large specimen. When she returns to camp, Shane realizes that perhaps he really has gone crazy. It's his birthday, which does make for a kind of sweet moment as she sings to him.

Once everyone is back at camp, the games are afoot – and it's not even the immunity challenge. Danielle has given more consideration to Terry's offer and determined that it might be her best play. The catch is that she knows that unless she wins the immunity challenge, she would not get taken to the final vote. A clever compromise is suggested. The people who finish first and second in that immunity challenge would go to the final vote. Terry, amazed that things are finally going his way after a month of horrific negotiations, is all for this plan. Danielle is also in favor of the idea. Courtney? Yeah, not so much.

Courtney reads the writing on the wall and sees her free ride into the finals going up in flames. She yells at Danielle and runs off. In the process, she alerts Cirie to the fact that there are negotiations taking place that do not involve her. Earning our eternal respect, Cirie says exactly what we have been arguing for the past, I don't know, 12 seasons. At this stage of the game, the most dangerous players are the gimps. Those are the ones that get strung along to the final. There is no bigger threat than Courtney, and her elimination should be a priority. To be fair, the same argument could be made of Cirie, but Cirie at least has an awareness of the situation.

Another immunity challenge, another win for Terry. We'll describe it for posterity's sake since it's quite inventive. The contestants must support a portion of their body weight. To do so, they will kneel on a platform while holding a rope in each hand. They start with 20% of their weight at the other end of the ropes, with more added as time passes. If they lose their grip on both ropes, they'll be dropped into the water. Courtney seems very serene for a long period of time, but in the end, Team Terry is just too much of a juggernaut. He is the only person to wear the individual immunity necklace and is looking more and more likely to make a run at all of them. It's a good thing that the "strategy" of winning every single immunity challenge worked out for him. Well, good for Terry. Bad for us.

It's time to play It's Anyone, someone from Casaya? It's an unprecedented turn of events and should prove to be interesting. Shenanigans are afoot at camp. Terry, again demonstrating complete gullibility, feels that Aras, the biggest threat, is going home. The campfire discussion with several Casaya members would have us believe that Danielle is going home. Cirie has other plans. She succinctly states that Shane and Terry both want to take Courtney to the final two. She states, "That, to me, makes Courtney the most dangerous person out here." Again, she is showing extreme acuity as endgame approaches.

Cirie huddles with Danielle and Aras, and the three of them agree on a course of action. Then the ladies politely dismiss Aras in order to decide who they are really going to vote for. Cirie feels confident that she knows where everyone stands on this vote. Her reconnaissance has her convinced that if their trio votes for Courtney, tribal council will see a 3-2-1 split. The idea would be that Terry and Courtney vote for Aras, the "power player", Shane will vote for Danielle, and they will (hopefully) eliminate Courtney. Danielle is reticent since the slightest miscalculation could lead to her own elimination this evening. However, if the editing has not been misleading, we think Cirie has this down cold.

Six votes later at the Bad Hair Tribal Council, Cirie wins our eternal respect by drilling the vote. Her impressive piece of intel executes her biggest threat, Courtney. If she can get away with this without her allies blaming her, she's in fantastic position from here to the end. Not bad for the leaf-fearing woman we had written off in Week One. She has bigger fish to kill off next week, though.



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