Episode Three: Shark Attack
By David Mumpower
Mogo Mogo is the featured tribe to start the week. The group is currently suffering from an unexpected outbreak of Bubonic Plague, and all the calamine lotion in the world ain’t going to cure these itches. Making matters worse is that when they swim in the nearby river, they receive the proverbial salt (water) in their wounds. It’s karma for being so vapid and annoying all the time. Many of the lesions would make a leper wince but hey, it’s the only way Shii Ann is ever going to get cameras to willingly focus on her. She eats necks, for God’s sake.
Is it wrong to want to play Connect the Dots on Jenna’s back?
I’m not the only one speculating about the various aspects of the Survivor: The Amazon champion. Her tribemates are concerned that the lack of water the first four days has had an adverse effect on the show’s prettiest winner (you know it’s true, Porn Star Brian fans). She is not eating and keeping herself distant from the other contestants. She’s like a female Hatch.
Meanwhile, Camp Loser sees Jenna Lewis actually trying for a change! Rupert is shocked to see that with Rudy gone, the men are actually getting help from the J-Team, Jenna and Jerri Manthey. Colby’s mortal enemy has gone into a strange form of denial about their being 0 and 2 in competition so far. She seems to think that they are “a family who work really well together." I haven’t seen this much denial since I hung out at the same strip club as the St. John’s basketball team.
For his part, Ethan is still shooting Rupert the evil eye over his fishing abilities. The athletic soccer star is unhappy that the fat, furry guy is a much better outdoorsman, and his poker face is sadly lacking on the issue. Ethan doesn’t handle it very well when he’s not the Prom King of the room.
The big guy and the J Team are amused by Ethan’s boyish competitive streak. The instant he realizes Rupert has caught another fish, Ethan dives in the water looking for some surf 'n’ turf to call his very own. As Jerri bluntly puts it, Ethan’s ego needs to catch a fish. Rupert says he doesn’t see it as a competition, but his gleeful cackling gives him away.
The following segment is Richard Hatch’s declarative statement that he is the dumbest Survivor in the history of the show. The naked man proceeds to swim out to sea in order to attempt to out-Rupert our hero. The way he figures he can get the most attention from the editors is to…wait for it…bag a shark. Hatch targets a little one that is trapped under a rock, and he goes for it. At first, he secures the tail before releasing the creature from its hole in order to better grasp it. Gee, what do you think the shark does at this point? If you guessed “Bite the Fat Guy," you get the shiny gold star.
The only way Hatch is fortunate here is that out of all the drooping appendages available to the toothy critter, it chooses to clamp down on an arm. How does Ugly Naked Guy handle this? He bites back. Yes, I’m serious. The childish action is equal parts ridiculous and heroic in its impetuousness. It does, however, allow him to free himself up long enough to bash the expensive seafood against a rock until it finally releases him.
When he returns to the tribe and tells his Hemingway wannabe story, Shii Ann sounds so impressed that we half expect her to try to jump him. I don’t even know which part of this story is the least believable, but I’m willing to write it all off as the product of a feverish imagination. There’s no way that a naked, out of shape gay man would wage a sea battle against a feral sea savage so effectively that a hot babe would want to get her freak on with him, right? Right?
“He bit me. I ate him.” is the early frontrunner for line of the season. Of course, I also get the vibe that if the shark had killed Hatch, they would have just easily slapped him on the grill and served him up for dinner. He probably would have been meatier and more satisfying to boot.
The reward challenge this week features the most natural product placement tie-in the show has had. Home Depot drops off some crates containing building supplies the tribes will use to improve their living conditions. The tribe judged to be the best at home improvement (exactly how would I spell that ape noise Tim Allen used to make?) gets the reward. Heads immediately begin to butt as the strong wills and clashing egos of the various Survivors threaten to overwhelm the competition.
The most humorous face-off involves White Trash Tom and White Trashier Sue. As the two argue on camera, clever editing cuts the shot to Tom. In a private moment, he looks at the camera and says with such earnestness that “Sue is a hag from Hell.” Wait a minute, did we say that Richard was the early frontrunner for line of the season? We stand corrected.
The other inevitable couple this season has a cute moment in the reward challenge sequence. Amber, who has taken to openly stalking Masshole Rob, chooses to sit out in order to watch her man hammer a nail and sweat profusely with his shirt off. Quite symbolically, footage is shown of bikini-clad Amber spreading her legs as Rob hammers a nail in. We assume CBS will later blame this wanton sexuality on a wardrobe malfunction.
Saboga isn’t having much luck because of the infamous too many cooks scenario. Rupert, a professional builder, wants to make a log cabin in case Abe Lincoln is raised from the dead and needs a Caribbean resort home. Jerri Manthey, a professional model/actress/bitch/whatever, seems to have some sort of presumed natural affinity to building houses, so she fancies herself something of an expert. Every hard worker needs a supervisor to take credit for their labor, I guess. In the end, Jerri tries the infamous gambit of a group vote, leading Jenna and Ethan to attempt to camouflage themselves against the trees so that they are seen but not heard. You can always tell a Milford man (apologies to people who don’t watch Arrested Development…and shame on you for not watching it).
For their part, Lex and Colby are having the bestest time building their super duper tree house. The boys excitedly giggle, high five and hit each other in the arm as they talk about all of the cool stuff they are going to put in their He Man Woman Haters clubhouse. It sounds like big fun but you just know Colby’s mom is going to show up and tell Lex he has to go home because it’s dinner time.
The highlight of this segment is when Shii Ann has the audacity to suggest some ways to improve the structure. Their phallocentric conclusion to her suggestions? No girls! Hey Colby, I’ll pretend to be as surprised about this as I am that Richard Hatch blew her off.
When the judging begins, it’s clear that Chapera, once described by its leader as “the Buffoon Tribe," and Mogo Mogo have done a magnificent job of building their forts. The local builder hired to check the structures pounds on the Mogo Mogo foundation for several minutes but is unable to dislodge it. He is then treated to a ride on the swing that Boston Rob and Tom have built at Chapera. When he eventually winds up at Saboga and sees Rupert’s work, he looks ready to throw up in his mouth. As it turns out, Rupert’s decision to sink the structure below the ground is a good one for an urban fortification. For an ocean front one, it is apparently an open invitation to drown to death. Ironically enough, the sassy neophyte Jerri was right and the experienced builder Rupert was way off base. It costs Saboga yet another challenge. Chapera is determined the winner with Mogo Mogo finishing second (and that makes Lex and Colby vewy, vewy sad…I bet those two spent a lot of time with tinker toys and Lincoln logs).
At this point, Survivor takes a dramatic turn. Jenna Morasca announces her decision to quit the game and go home. She discusses her problem: as we knew last season, her mother is stricken with cancer. The new revelation is that her mother is now in a cancer rehab clinic suffering through the final stages of the illness. As Kathy accurately summarizes, “She shouldn’t be here.” The somber nature of the revelation makes the members of Mogo Mogo grow contemplative and more than a bit existential.
An immunity challenge is ostensibly next. When the tribe meets, Jenna makes the tearful announcement that she is removing herself from competition. A discussion ensues amongst the remaining members of the competition about her decision. While Kim, Dan and I are generally (too) quippy about recounting the show, anything I might say about the heartfelt comments that ensue would belittle one of Survivor’s finest moments. I am not inclined to do that. Instead, I will simply offer my condolences to Jenna and her family for their loss as it soon revealed that Jenna’s mother died eight days after her decision to leave. I would also like to add that having been married to an only child, I absolutely believe that a daughter several thousand miles away from her mother would instinctively know that the woman’s situation was degenerating. It’s a terrible situation all around and an unfortunate aspect of what is at the core an insignificant trifle of a game. Hopefully, next week we can return to be all too silly once again. I miss the status quo.