Survivor: Cook Islands

Dire Straits and Dead Weight

By Jim Van Nest

September 22, 2006

He wrestles in Mexico under the moniker 'Spanish Fly'. No, really.

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Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Cook Islands. I'm hoping the red mark I left on all of your foreheads last week has cleared up. Also, I understand that Sekou is still trying to start a fire and that he actually got a spark.

We're four days in now; let's check in with all of our tribes and see how they're holding up.

We begin with the Hiki tribe and things are not going so well. Even though they were given a flint at Tribal, they still have not started a fire. They're trying, but can't seem to get the sparks in the right place. Personally, I think they should try to use some actual kindling or something to start the fire with. Seems like they're starting it on the ground. With Nate completely frustrated, Rebecca and Stephanie load the ground with coconut hair and voila, a fire. And there is much rejoicing.

At Aitu, things are WAY better. We join Ozzy and Christina spearing fish. Cecelia grabbing clams. They're catching a ton of food. Christina lets her tribe in on the fact that she's a cop and has been shot in the line of duty. As a rooster crows, we learn that there are wild chickens all over the place. Christina is saying to lay the net on the ground and wait for a chicken to walk on it and then pull it up like a bag. Ozzy doesn't think that's the best way to go. And like a complete chucklenut, he tells her so. Apparently there's a rift growing between Ozzy and Christina. Maybe it's because he's prettier than her. To make matters worse, Ozzy's plan for catching a chicken actually works and we leave Aitu with a fine looking bird roasting over the fire.

At Puka, chicken hunting is on everyone's mind as well. Yul has set up the ole box and stick trap. He's hiding in the weeds with a rope waiting to pull the stick out as soon as a chicken steps under the box. Sounds stupid right? Yeah...well, he nabs two chickens at one time to prove that I don't know what I'm talking about. We get to eavesdrop on a conversation with Yul and Becky (both Korean) forming an alliance. As Jenny told us last week, there can be division within the Asian community, and we might be seeing some of that here. That being said, those chickens sure will taste good.

We join the Raro tribe as Jonathan comes back from Exile Island. Everyone is happy to be reunited. Jonathan admits that he didn't find the hidden idol and tells us that his tribe did absolutely nothing for the two days he was gone. The unlikely duo of Jonathan and Flicka start to work on making a more comfortable floor for their unfinished shelter. Adam thinks they're wasting their time and that raising the floor is a stupid idea. And let's be real...who wouldn't rather sleep on the cold wet ground with every kind of earthbound creature crawling all over you? I mean...why would you want to sleep on a comfy, dry floor raised off the ground so at least some of the creepy crawlies will leave you alone? The biggest problem for Adam is that he tells everyone he thinks it's stupid and in essence puts himself in the "lazy, only thinks of himself" category.

It's Day 5 at Aitu and they're still bringing in fish like they drove to the market. As the majority of the tribe is getting food, Billy is spending his time "conserving energy". "Conserving energy" is really code for "laying around and not doing anything at all useful." Billy's feeling like he doesn't fit in with the tribe. Apparently, metal is his culture, not being Hispanic.

At Puka, Cao Boi is putting a big ole red mark on Jenny's head. But, like Brad before her, her headache is gone. At night, Cao Boi is trying to entertain the troops by telling, wait for it, Asian jokes. Despite the fact that all four of the other tribe members aren't comfortable with it, he goes on with it and tries to tell them all how they should be able to laugh at themselves. Suffice it to say, they simply don't think he's funny.

Back at Aitu, with Billy snoring in the background, JP and Ozzy start talking about throwing a challenge to get rid of Billy. Christina isn't thrilled with the idea and I have to say I agree. Throwing a challenge is never good. EVER! Reducing your numbers, purposely, is one of the stupidest things you can do on Survivor. Sure, he's lazy. Sure, he eats a lot. Sure, he doesn't fit in. But eventually, you might need that extra vote. And it'll be a real shame for you and your tribe when your swing vote is sitting in Loser's Lounge.

Tree mail arrives at Raro, and for the first time I realize that we're almost halfway through the show with no Probst sightings. Raro and Hiki are feeling pretty confident with their teamwork and Nate tells us the obvious...Hiki has to win.

At Aitu, the tribe is reading tree mail sans Billy. JP and Ozzy have made up their minds to throw the challenge. Christina seems to be the lone objector. In what I think is a great move, the challenge is for immunity and reward. If I may go off topic for a moment, I love the fact that we're seeing more camp life because of the combined challenges. They've become so in depth that last season the show was 25 minutes of challenge, ten minutes of Tribal Council/voting and the last eight minutes or so devoted to tribal dynamics and getting to know the players. I already feel like I know this cast better than the last one. So kudos to everyone involved for finally getting it. Anyway, to the challenge...

Probst sighting! Jeff will begin by reading a story about Captain Cook's expeditions into the Pacific. The teams will be tied together. They'll work through an obstacle course collecting seven answer plaques. Once they cross a rope bridge, they'll get to a board with five questions. They'll need to use five of the seven answer plaques. First team to get it right wins immunity and tarps for their camp. Second and third teams win immunity. Last place has a date with Jeff at Tribal Council. Adam and Jenny sit out for their respective tribes and after a bit of an argument, JP declares that he'll be sitting out for Aitu. Both Billy and Christina tried to sit out, but they were overruled.

After Jeff finishes his story, he lines the teams up to start. Each tribe has a book on a table in front of them where they can reread the story, in case they think they missed anything. In case you thought the throwing the challenge talk was just that....well, Aitu is the only tribe to stop and read the story again. Since we know the loser, let's talk about who's winning. Not surprisingly, Puka is out in front, with Raro right behind. Hiki is dragging, but thanks to Aitu's generosity, they should be just fine. The only drama occurs as Puka and Raro get their questions answered at the same time, but neither tribe gets on their mat. When Jeff tells them, they both jump on at what seems like the same time, but he declares Puka the winner. Somewhere down the road, Hiki finishes up and Aitu sets its date for Tribal Council.

Once the challenge is over, Jeff tells us that they reviewed the tape and Puka and Raro tied, so they'll both get tarps. And with that, Aitu gets to send someone to Exile Island. And wisely, they choose Yul. Their reason? He's the strongest member of the strongest team. I love to see people make good choices on this show. Of course, it's right on the heels of a completely stupid choice, so what does it really mean? Now, as Jeff is sending Yul away and we're getting ready to head to commercial, an innocent dialogue takes place. Candice tells Billy she feels really bad for them. He tells her that he's next. To which she says, "We love you." And like a giddy school girl, he tells her he loves her too.

And now it's time to play "It's anyone but Billy." Ozzy and JP are having fun with the idea of losing the challenge. They're excited to get rid of the weak link. What they're doing, especially Ozzy, is pushing Christina away. She doesn't like the way things are going and the way Ozzy is playing the game. Billy knows he's in trouble and it's time for him to try a last ditch effort to save his ass.

Ditditditditditdit...we interrupt Billy's attempt to save himself with the weekly visit to Exile Island. We know it's worse than watching paint dry, but we have a couple minutes of show to kill. For me, it's not a matter of will Yul find the hidden idol, but how long will it take him to do so. In my opinion, he's (by far) the smartest person in the game. He uses the clues and marks a couple places that could possibly be the hiding place. Not surprisingly, in his first hole, lo and behold...we have an immunity idol. I'm thrilled to see an incredibly smart person land the idol. After watching Terry make the whole thing useless last season, it'll be nice to see someone with a clue in charge of the most important piece of the game. Ditditditditditdit...

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. Billy and Christina go off together and Billy plays the one card in his hand. He tells her that he doesn't like how Ozzy's playing and that once he's gone, Christina will be next. He knows they threw the challenge and he's playing on her vulnerability. She says she'll talk to Cecelia and see what happens. For some reason, Christina feels the need to handle the talk with Cecelia in Spanish. Cecelia doesn't seem too ready to budge, but she tells Christina that she is with her. Ozzy knows that Billy is trying to turn the tables on him and as many egomaniacs before him felt, he feels the tribe will be in bad shape if they vote him off. And in one of the rare occasions, I have to agree with him. While Christina doesn't like the way he is or how he handles stuff, the fact of the matter is that he's right. Everything he suggests works and they're eating like kings because of it.


We get to Tribal Council and they do the lighting of the torch thing and the "how've things been going?" small talk. Billy says Ozzy's emerged as the leader. He, of course, denies this, saying that they all work together well. Jeff talks about their poor showing in the challenge. Billy spills that they threw the challenge. When asked, JP owns up to it and says they need to get rid of the guy not pulling his weight. They argue, yadda, yadda, yadda. In one of the true shockers of the show, Billy reveals he's fallen in love. Love at first sight. And it's with Candice from the Raro tribe. Who? Even Probst had to grab his show note cards to figure out who the hell Candice is. It seems that this is all based on the whole "We love you - I love you" thing. (Seemed extraneous at the time, didn't it?) Even better than his saying that is the reaction of the entire tribe. Even Christina and Cecelia bust out laughing in his face. No one else has noticed this inter-tribal love connection. And frankly, I can't wait for Raro to go to Tribal so Jeff can play Chuck Woolery on Candice. As you would expect, Billy takes the long slow walk. What you might not have expected was that it was unanimous, with Christina joining the rest of the tribe.

While I think throwing a challenge is incredibly stupid and will comeback to haunt this tribe, I'm so pleased to see that both tribes, who've had to vote someone off, actually picked the right person for the right reasons. While I'm sure this season will join the rest and stupidity will eventually rule, right now, I couldn't be happier to see people making the right decisions. Until next week, take care.



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