Episode One: They're Back! - Recap Part Two
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
Now that everybody’s off the boat, it’s time to start scheming, backstabbing, lying, and forging dubious alliances. Oh yeah, and obtaining those little things that are integral to surviving, such as water, food, and fire.
The survivors immediately start offering up their initial assessments of the competitors. We start with Rob Cesternino, to whom we will refer to from here on out as “Big Fat Liar.” He says he can’t wait to start wheeling and dealing with people, which we take to be his sad cry for help that he can’t get any other friends to play with him.
Big Tom is up next, and he offers the fascinating bon mots that he “has young’uns the age of some of his competitors.” It’s like being on the island with Oscar Wilde, isn’t it? Masshole Rob skips straight to the finish line by acknowledging that nobody trusts anybody. The only way Survivor could be better is if it were a combined function of the World Poker Tour and the California Bar Association.
Alicia pauses between moments of ‘roid rage long enough to point out that if someone pushes her buttons, she’ll freak out. And here we had her pegged as the shrinking violet. We suspect that if Arnold Schwartzenegger were a female Survivor contestant, he’d look a lot like Alicia.
The contestants quickly find the first and most pressing physical threat Team Burnett has thrown at them. Their sole source of water is located in a well that harbors some sort of foul biological experiment. The only species ruling the well is bacteria. So then, all the Survivors theoretically need to do is clean out the water and everything will be fine. That makes fire the most urgent camp initiative.
As you would expect with a group of six strong-willed egoists, opinions among the members of Chapera tribe are divided in regards to prioritizing tribe need. Imagine, if you will, a Disney shareholders’ meeting with Roy Disney and Michael Eisner fighting over the microphone while Steve Jobs looks on in disgust and you basically get the jist of it. The other underplayed but very real issue here involves the fact that while past Survivor series have had tribes with eight members, this season’s contenders only have six bodies to do the same level of work. Any slacking whatsoever is going to come back tp bite them in the ass quickly.
Boston Rob makes our job a little easier for us by designating the Chaperas “The Buffoon Tribe.” We promise to root for the Red Sox once this year in gratitude. But only when they play the Yankees.
Something else becomes readily apparent, and that’s the fact that Sue has become even less of people person. She alienates the people around her so rapidly that you would swear she is Howard Dean in the middle of a concession(?) speech. (AND MICHIGAN! AND MICHIGAN!!)
Over at Saboga camp, Ethan is pretty pleased with the draw he got on teammates. “We’ve got the mom, the nice guy, the military guy, the hot chick.” Homegirl Tina is already rationalizing about how it doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses, but simply that she chose to play the game again. Sounds like loser talk, Tina.
The show begins in earnest with the first camera aside of Rupert (RUPERT!!!!). Still clearly wincing over his Burton-related undoing last season, the big guy has decided to play the role of the strong, silent type for All-Stars. After having been eliminated for being unanimously considered The Biggest Threat, this move is extremely savvy.
For her part, original Survivor Babe Jenna is also celebrating her fortune and tribe members, but not for exactly the same reasons that Ethan was. Whereas he was seeing a solid group that could function together efficiently as a team, Jenna sees three potential allies and two former winners that they can kill, cook and eat for dinner. We don’t remember Jenna being this obnoxious, but then again, it might have been difficult to stand out when standing next to Sue and Richard. All of this is irrelevant to the main point, though. Jenna has some big-ass ears! We’re talking Dumbo here. She’s wearing a bandana, and all we can think is that the only correct fashion decision would be to cover part of them up under that thing.
We cut to Jerri, who is already riddled with insecurity. It’s clear that the dislike between Jerri and Tina during their season was not simply a matter of clever editing. She is nervous that the mutual grudge they share combined with Tina’s ability to swing group support in her favor will lead to a quick and merciless execution. To combat this problem, Jerri notes that her new strategy will be to “keep her damned mouth shut.” Good luck with that.
Rudy, who seems to be openly pursuing death, commits the ultimate Mexicano no-no by drinking the brain-damaging-bacteria-of-death-infested water. We guess he figures that at 75 years of age, if nothing’s killed him by now, a little water isn’t going to break him up. Color us dubious.
Over at Mogo Mogo camp, people talk. Sorry, it’s hard to be entertaining when a group is organized and seemingly goal-oriented. Even the strategizing is out in the open, and the group agrees among themselves that there will be more than enough time for such nonsense at a later date. Here’s hoping Probst shows up to step on the neck of that soon.
There is one noteworthy exclusion: Richard acts like a little bitch. It’s actually understandable why he would act this way. He realizes he’s probably going to be an early target, so he has to act like it was his decision to alienate his teammates to the point that that they wanted to shiv him. If he does happen to get lucky and go further, he can later claim that it was a master strategy only he understands. Such is the benefit of being an assumed psychotic.
Attention gamblers! For those of you who put action on how long it would take Richard to get naked, the winning answer is 14 minutes.
Back from the first paid advertisement of the new season (mmm, Pringles), Chapera is trying to make a fire. Boston Rob and Big Tom are furiously stoking the flames. Amber’s usefulness is best described as gingerly putting her finger underneath for no apparent reason, while Big Fat Liar Rob just blows. Check the footage if you don’t believe us. The result? No fire.
How does Sue deal with failure? Like Ace from Real World Paris, she just quits. “Doin’ stuff is, like, hard and stuff. I’m just gonna sit here in my bathing suit and disgust an entire nation.” She uses this diversionary tactic to sneak off and drink the evil deathwater. For those of you keeping score at home, the current tally is stupid Survivors from season one, two vs. the rest of the shows’ zero. That sure tells you something about the quality of Richard Hatch’s win, doesn’t it?
Over at Saboga, the same quest for fire unites mankind. Even Rupert is feeling the pinch of dehydration, as the bear-like man sits in the water to try to cool off. Ethan and Rudy are manning the same positions that Boston Rob and Big Tom had, with Big Eared Jenna taking on the role of designated sweathog. We half expect the other members of the tribe to start licking her forehead in order to quench their thirst. Mmm, salty goodness (boy, that Pringles commercial must have really made an impact).
The first truly important game maneuver unexpectedly comes from a deathwater drinker, Rudy. As Rupert pants, the former Navy Seal offers an alliance. It’s all Rupert can do to not jump up and down with glee, as this is the best-case scenario for him. Rudy has already demonstrated that he puts his honor above his life, so he is exactly the type of partner Rupert could have used last season in Burton’s stead. Were they to eventually bring Ethan into the fold, it would be a very strong three-person alliance of trustworthy allies.
Almost simultaneously, Jerri proves why she never got more acting gigs. She deliberately strides by while pretending that she is doing anything but eavesdropping. We’ve seen better acting on The O.C.
Day Two at Chapera finds Boston Rob whining about the sleeping conditions. Toady Amber readily agrees that sleeping on solid wood is something less than satisfactory. The pair wants to make it a priority to render the sleeping arrangements more comfortable, but Alicia (probably correctly) points out that their number one need is fire. An alpha male rumble occurs as Alicia and Rob debate over who is the most miserable and why. All we can think the entire time is, what is up with Alicia’s hat? In the end, the hardbody makes it sound like she’s doing everyone else a favor by getting her way, but again we are distracted as we notice that Sue’s belly button has taken on similar qualities to black holes. We might have seen Jimmy Hoffa in there somewhere.
It’s also obvious that the Robfather and Amber have another reality show in mind – Blind Date. He should have gone with Alicia so we could have done Boy Meets Boy.
Every time we hear Mogo Mogo, we go Iko Iko un-day. The alpha males at this camp, Lex and Colby, are having the same luck the other two tribes did with fire, but their situation is even more obnoxious, as Richard haughtily lords above them. His confident sneer loudly notifies the gentlemen that he could spark a fire with a snap of the fingers. Gee, it’s hard to figure out why an entire nation groaned in disgust when he was announced as the first show’s winner. Richard Nixon was more of a people person.
Tree mail signifies the real start of the competition. That’s right, Alicia is rubbing her stomach with oil. Where does she find this stuff? They didn’t get personal objects this time! Are these bodily fluids? Wait, after what we’ve seen from Jenna today, we don’t want to know the answer to that question.
The comic high point of the show occurs at this moment, as from a distance Sue demands that Boston Rob loudly read the mission description. Rob’s delivery is priceless; he reads out the word “unity,” pregnantly pauses for a moment, and slowly enunciates every syllable a second time.
We immediately cut to the Immunity Challenge, where it is a lot of fun to see the various expressions as the Survivors realize that there are three tribes, but it’s even more entertaining to see the color drain from Colby’s face when he spots Jerri, the chocolate obsessive who once threatened to molest him.
After some gentle discussion poking fun at Sue and Rudy for drinking the water, the challenge is unveiled. Mimicking the first ever immunity challenge on the show, the object is to untie a raft and light some fires. The first two tribes to the end avoid tribal council, though this is an instance where going wouldn’t be so bad. Historically, teams are able to bring their immunity torches back to camp with them at the end, thereby giving them the gift of fire.
The side quest in this endeavor is to avoid seeing Richard Hatch nude. He strips in record time, leaving poor Jenna Morasca sitting behind the ugliest full moon in the world. When he leans to dive in, the look of revulsion on her face surpasses even the one Colby just showed.
Dehydration appears to be the key factor as the Saboga tribe quickly falls behind. The other two tribes blow past them on their way to easy victory. Chapera is the first-place tribe, and Moga Moga takes the second immunity spot. Their reward is a naked Richard Hatch standing upright in victorious celebration, so it’s a pyrrhic victory at best.
The final segment of the premiere involves the usual set of negotiations amongst the losing tribe. There are three obvious duos: Jerri and Jenna, Tina and Ethan and Rudy and Rupert (sitting in a tree…). The Tina and Ethan combination is forged more out of desperation than anything else as it becomes readily apparent that the other members of the tribe view the previous winners as obvious targets, just as we had discussed as a probability in part one of our recap.
When tribal council arrives, the contestants are so desperate for water that two of them actually cup their hands to catch the rain that is falling from the sky in order to drink it. Burnett is a cruel sumbitch. In the end, the Rudy/Rupert faction carries all of the decision-making power as they decide between voting off Tina or Jenna. One is obviously a bit more of a threat than the other, so the choice is pretty clear. Homegirl is heading back to Knoxville. We know that some people have speculated that this strategy was a mistake, but we disagree. Now that the men outnumber the women and the most savvy female player is gone, the aforementioned Rupert/Ethan/Rudy trio would be a majority until the merge that could also go a lot further in the game. Tomorrow, we’ll see how close we are. The random kick in the tribe’s crotch is that they’re not allowed to take their torches with them when they go.