Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Recap

Call the Whambulence!

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

May 12, 2006

We are planning on egging Mark Burnett's house tomorrow morning.

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Previously on Survivor, Cirie swore to Shane that they had an alliance to the end, then repeatedly stabbed him in the back. We don't want to say Shane was caught off guard by his outser, but that "Cirie is my bestest buddy in the world tattoo" might be something he regrets now. And how good at this game is Cirie? Sure, she doesn't like to touch stuff (a family trait, as we learned last week), but when it comes to manipulating others and mapping out the best course of action for herself, she is in Boston Rob territory. In fact, her problem at this point is that despite her physical weakness, she's probably still considered the best player in the game. Well, everyone thinks that except for Team Terry. Shane would have thought he was the best last week, right up until he was voted off. He's not too bummed about it because he can go back to his teacher, mother, secret lover - cigarettes.

Looking ahead to tonight's episode, we have good news for Team Terry. His secret immunity idol guarantees him a spot in the final three, meaning that one of Cirie, Danielle or Aras is going home tonight. We think. Historically, the two-hour finale episode has been comprised of the events occurring at the final four, but today we're getting an extra hour for some reason. Obviously, they're looking to capitalize on May sweeps. Either that, or they want to torture us by forcing us to write an extra 2,000 words. There better be somebody voted off, though. We hate that garbage when The Amazing Race does it. On Survivor, such behavior would be inexcusable. People are to be eliminated each week. That's the whole point of watching. Don't piss us off here, Burnett.

Sidenote: Today's show title is titled "Call the Whambulence!" We imagine that for the first time in 17 years, Andrew Ridgely's phone is ringing.

Night 33 at Gitanos aptly displays the physical and mental exhaustion suffered by the contestants. Terry chastises Cirie for the placement of her torch. He offers every parent's educational nag: "Is this where it goes?" Terry also indicates that Cirie would have slapped her kids had they been so reckless. This is a psychiatric double whammy in that Terry is showing signs of transference and projection. The ‘slapping the kids' deal sounds like the latter to us.

The transference stems from the fact that Terry is mad about something else, and the misplaced torch is the impetus to do a little cathartic yelling. Terry has done the math, and he recognizes that with Shane gone, there is no one left on the island he can beat in a vote. Sure, he probably should have figured this out around the merge, but at least he's catching up now. Since there is nothing Terry can do now and hasn't been since he failed to give Nick the immunity idol way back when, all he has left is the ability to yell at Cirie for kicking his ass so emphatically in the game. Far too proud to acknowledge this, Terry comes up with a phony reason why he is mad at Cirie.

"I don't know where YOU wanted my torch to be." – Cirie, driving home the point that Terry has cracked.

Aras takes the opportunity to chastise Terry for his behavior. He (correctly) points out that the quartet should be celebrating the fact that they have made the final four. Instead, Terry is lashing out over the most ignorant of reasons. Aras even says to Danielle and Cirie what we stated earlier. Terry is mad about Shane's elimination, not the location of some stupid torch. Ironically, while Terry was attacking Cirie's inability to put away her torch as childish, he was reaching new levels of immaturity. The people who have already been eliminated from competition this season have as much of a chance to win this game as Terry does.

"You know what, if nobody talks to me for the next five days, I could give a shit. I'm winning a million dollars and that's all." – Terry, demonstrating that he still does not understand there is not an immunity challenge at the final two.

Probst sighting! With the torch nonsense no longer under discussion, we quickly move along to a reward challenge. This one is intense, to say the least. The contestants must navigate a series of ropes. The key is that they are required to be anchored as they make their way across the course to six different areas. At the end of each area, a grouping (rocks, lizards, etc.) exists, which must be counted. The set of numbers comprises the combination to three different locks. The first Survivor to open all three locks wins immunity and the opportunity to dine on a spectacular yacht.

The key to the conflict involves the fact that the players all have to be tied to the rope. This affords the Casaya members the opportunity to impede Terry's progress. Both women assist Aras as much as possible while slowing down his chief competitor whenever they can. This behavior puts Terry on tilt. During the course of the action, he shoves Aras backwards. He bashes heads with his younger opponent. He accuses the man of cheating. He chastises Probst for not explaining the rules clearly. And when the man loses (yes, Terry finally loses), he makes certain to point out that he was misunderstanding of the rules that made the difference. Aras, the winner, calls him out on this, pointing out that Terry never loses fairly. There always has to be some form of cheating involved. He also offers the quip from the episode's title, "Somebody call the Whambulence!" If this were a wrestling match, Terry would have officially reached the point in his heel turn where he has skipped straight to bashing sick nuns with steel chairs. He's completely lost his composure now that all hope of victory is gone.

Danielle and Cirie are ecstatic about the fact that Terry has been dethroned and will be spending the next three days on Exile Island. This joy lasts all of ten seconds before Probst announces only one person may join Aras on the yacht. The other will join Terry on Exile Island. Cirie's smile vanishes in a nano-second, but it's Danielle who pays the price. Aras stays loyal to his alliance with Cirie, the power player. Poor Danielle goes from three days without Terry to three days with him as her only companion. She's officially in Survivor Hell.

The yacht reward is a big bag of happy for Cirie and Aras. He is thrilled with finally getting over the hump by beating Terry in a head-to-head challenge. She has only seen a yacht in music videos (her words, not ours), and is having the proverbial time of her life during the feast. They are celebrating more than just the reward challenge victory, though. Terry's overall meltdown is a pleasant reinforcement of their knowledge that they have played the game masterfully. All of their machinations have paid dividends, and both Cirie and Aras have a strong chance of winding up as the season's champion.

Danielle's mood is less upbeat. After visions of a feast on a yacht were quickly dashed, she now finds herself stuck on Exile Island again. Her companion this time is much less attractive and exponentially less charming than Austin, though. She is smart enough to overlook her personal distaste for the man and play the game. For Danielle, Aras' decision to take Cirie on the boat trip has put the writing on the wall. In blood. If she does not take action right now, she is a mortal lock to be eliminated tonight. Sure, making a deal with Terry is the proverbial deal with the devil, but at least she could get some big money in the process. And taking Terry to the finals is the current equivalent of taking Scout Troop Lillian a few years ago. He'll be lucky to get two votes. This could be a million dollar play by Danielle if it works out.

"The rivalry with Aras is starting to get uncomfortable. The past couple of days, he's getting really, really emotional, and I don't know if he's cracking or what." – Terry, once again exemplifying the textbook definition of projection.

Oddly, the Exile Island footage is more entertaining than its opposing segment. This is a first for the season. The key is that negotiations are ensuing between Team Terry and Danielle. Meanwhile, Aras and Cirie have little to discuss. They have a tight bond and the game has played out in a best case scenario for them thus far. All that leaves is a few shots of the beauty of the area and a Professor Aras-led geography lesson. Suffice it to say Aras won't be getting his own program on the Travel Channel any time soon. He's no Anthony Bourdain.

Demonstrating that Cirie is always forward thinking, she makes her first attempt at starting fire. Considering that the past two seasons of the show have seen tie votes at Tribal Council determined by a quest for fire. Stephenie famously beat Bobby Jon in this very manner soon after he had taught her the process. While Aras sleeps, Cirie attempts to complete the process and is eventually rewarded with an impressive flame. She has come a long way from the woman who didn't like to touch stuff we met in the season premiere.

Probst sighting! The round of four immunity challenge is aired tonight, a bit of a surprise. Historically, these events have been aired during the first hour of the two hour season finale. This makes us wonder how in the world the show's producers will kill time during the first half of Sunday's episode. But this is our cross to bear as episodic recappers. We will cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, what matters is that our concerns about tonight's episode have been alleviated. If there is an immunity challenge, there will also be a Tribal Council. So, someone should get voted off after all. Thank God.

The challenge involves the deciphering of three puzzles. Contestants must dig out bags of puzzle pieces using various course coordinates. Once they have all of the pieces, they must work to solve the clues, thereby learning the next course coordinates. To our surprise, this complicated series of riddles-within-riddles is not sponsored by The Da Vinci Code in a corporate tie-in. The fit seems like a natural. All they need is a cryptex and the hatred of the Catholic Church.


The genius of the puzzle is that if a player does not decipher the test correctly, they wind up pointlessly digging in the dirt. We will call such a player Cirie. She flails about indefinitely, never uncovering her second bag. To the surprise of no one watching the show the past two months, the race comes down to Aras versus Terry. The shocker is that for the second time tonight, Aras upsets his more accomplished opponent. For the first time since the merger, Terry will not have the immunity challenge idol for protection. He does, however, remain in possession of the hidden immunity idol. This knowledge changes the nature of negotiations in the short term as Terry's decision to keep or pass along his prized possession will go a long way in determining the next elimination.

When the players return from the immunity challenge, Team Terry is focused upon exactly what they should be focused upon right now: how Terry is perceived on television. That's right. With a million dollars on the line, Mr. Meltdown continues to make poor decisions. Rather than focus on the game strategy that will somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Terry chooses this opportunity to take issue with Aras. What has him so enraged? He is upset by an innocuous comment Aras made at the end of the reward challenge about Terry being chauvinistic. He bluntly states that if an apology is not offered, they will have no relationship the final days of the season. Aras apologizes "100%", saying that he had not heard Terry say one bad thing about women during the season. We had no idea Aras is deaf.

While the two men shake hands and come to a mutual understanding about their relationship, Danielle and Cirie play a game of dishonesty. Each denies the fact that they have any idea how the vote will go. Clever editing immediately shows Danielle offering a camera confessional that the vote will be two to two due to her new alliance with Terry. Driving home the point that everyone knows the situation, Aras tutors Cirie in enhancing her fire-making abilities. A quick cut shows Terry doing the same thing with Danielle. After weeks of Aras and Terry feuding, their fates will be decided by their female allies' abilities to start a fire.

Tribal Council reveals the fact that Shane is one of those annoying hipster dudes who inundate the L.A. club scene. He hasn't bothered to button up his shirt and is wearing some ridiculous toboggan hat, which offers the effect of him wearing an enormous black condom on his head. It says a lot about the nature of the council discussion that we spend most of it discussing Shane's apparel as well as Courtney's behavior. The little drama queen is rooting for Cirie and has randomly determined she despises the pretty girl who outlasted her, Danielle. Courtney's behavior includes a roll of the eyes, a sticking out of the tongue and a few glares to make sure everyone knows she isn't happy she got voted off the island. We have seen two-year-olds with more grace, class and maturity than Courtney.

The only real game aspect at play in the final vote is whether Terry gives Danielle his immunity idol. Were Terry to do this, he would be risking it all in order to assure himself a spot in the final. The trick is that he would have no guarantee Danielle would not immediately betray him, thereby assuring his elimination from the game. While we thought (and time has born out the fact that) giving away the immunity idol to Nick would have been a masterstroke, giving it to Danielle tonight would be suicidal. He agrees with the line of thinking, as the vote reveals the expected two to two split. After months of speculation about its impact, the hidden immunity idol is never used in the game. Somewhere off in the distance, Gary Hogeboom shakes his head in disgust.

With Danielle unable to provide said hidden immunity idol, she and Cirie move along to a competition for survival. The first player to produce fire will be rewarded with a spot in the final three alongside Terry and Aras. As the women prepare to do battle, the show flashes the words "To be continued..." We had feared the producers might pull a stunt like this, but we are still pissed. We will not discover the fate of Cirie and Danielle until Sunday evening. And after we do, there will be 50 minutes of needless filler until the final immunity challenge occurs. This is not good, Burnett.



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