Episode One: Boys vs. Girls
By Dan Krovich
After a long absence, Survivor returns to hopefully improve on what was the most lackluster season yet. Jeff begins with his standard National Geographic description of the setting, which this season is the Amazon. Then it is a matter of breaking the Survivors into two tribes. The boys versus girls plotline has been well publicized, so it's not much of a surprise when the tribes are split along gender lines, though it is amusing to see the Survivors' faces as they realize what is going on. We
immediately go into the (I'm sure not coached at all) guys reaction that there's no way they can lose to girls. It's just like that Brady Bunch episode where Marcia wanted to join the Frontier Scouts. Jeff anoints the tribes with fancy local flavor Survivor names, but who are we kidding? We know we're just going to call them the men's tribe and the women's tribe
anyway, so why bother learning those hard to spell bird and fish names? If we need to use a name, I say we go with the Penis Tribe and the Vagina Tribe.
The women get off to a rocky start as Shawna has difficulty untying the canoe, so she obviously wasn't a Frontier Scout like Marcia was. This gender line twist has apparently thrown a wrench into the strategy of a few people, namely the young, dumb, pretty people who expected to coast along on sex appeal; in particular, Ryan for the guys and Jenna for the girls. The tribes
get a pretty good starter kit, including machetes, kerosene, a flint, and some fishing hooks. At Camp Vagina, Christy informs her tribe that she is deaf. There is some concern that this might create problems because of the communication gap, but I think the more disturbing issue is her slow-motion hairy armpits.
The guys go about finding a good place for a shelter. Butch explicitly points out his reluctance to take any perceived leadership role because that guy always seems to be the first guy voted out. Roger doesn't seem to have concerns about being that guy as he starts barking out orders pretty quickly. The men seem to work pretty well together. Everyone seems to find
their task right away and gets to work. With the kerosene lamps and flint, making a fire is easy, and they concentrate on clearing the area for their shelter, and by nighttime they have a nice fire, a decent start to their shelter, and a relatively comfortable place to sleep. The women have much more difficulty starting the fire and it takes them hours to get it going, though I think it's unfair that they apparently didn't get any kerosene. Then they use that fire to..uh, light the kerosene lamps. They also putter along in the process of trying to make a shelter, but that just seems to involve haphazardly hacking at some trees.
The next day involves with dealing with more camping issues. To reinforce some gender stereotypes, the editors focus on a big scary spider crisis in Camp Vagina. Then they all abandon the deaf girl and go off as a group. The communication issue is already becoming a problem, and the cruel reality of Survivor that the perceived weakest member is in jeopardy from the start, whether it is the old person or in this case the deaf person. (Of course, later in the game being thought of as weak can become an advantage.) Tribe Penis is generally harmonious, though there are the kernels of dissent. Roger's bossiness is an issue and Ryan and Daniel aren't contributing enough for some people's liking. In general, though, they get along and have
managed to construct a very serviceable shelter. The men continue with their spouting about how they have to be doing better than the women, and this really is sounding like that girls can do anything boys can do episode that every television show in the 1970s had. We all know how they always ended. The reality is that the women aren't doing all that well. They are using precious water to wash clothes, and they don't have a shelter as of yet.
We are now about 45 minutes into the episode, and we're still stuck on generic camping stuff. It's day three and Janet is already ready to pack it in. Fishing isn't going well for the women, and the guys are playing with Rob's luxury item, a Magic 8 Ball. Mostly they are concerned whether or not they will hook up with various members of the women's tribe. Jeanne and
Joanna finally do catch a tiny fish (think guppy), which they split among all eight tribe members. I'm beginning to doze off. We need a challenge or something. Jeff Probst, where are you!?
Just in time, it's the first immunity challenge. It's a race where the members of the tribe will be locked together and must navigate several obstacles and solve several puzzles to get keys that will allow them to unlock themselves as they go. The first part of the race is even, but the guys take a major lead when they solve the first puzzle much quicker than the women do. The lead is for naught, though, as the next obstacle is a balance beam. You see there's a reason that the most famous person ever to be on a balance beam, Nadia Comaneci, is a woman. The men have extreme difficulty getting across the beam and resort to a strategy of dragging their balls along the hard wood beam, but even this approach doesn't help Daniel and Ryan as the women zoom into the lead. Daniel does eventually make it across and performs an impressive somersault dismount. It's on to the last puzzle, which for some reason the guys decide to try to complete in two parts instead of working together, and the women are fairly easily victorious. Just like when Marcia completed her Frontier Scout initiation.
Returning to camp, Dave lectures his tribemates about their overly macho attitudes. It's kind of a risky move, but it does wind up earning him more respect instead of turning the tribe against him. So now it's just left to the voting, and the two main candidates are the bossy Roger and the lazy Ryan. Each of them works to establish an alliance that will keep them in
the game, and it tends to break along age lines. Surprisingly, Dave seems to want to follow a strategy that involves integrity and decides to vote his conscience instead of simply joining the most convenient alliance. Rob, on the other hand, pledges his support to both alliances.
The tribal council is perhaps the most jovial ever on Survivor. After they quick dispatch of some general strategy questions, the meeting quickly devolves into a discussion of which chicks in the other tribe are the hottest. The vote comes down to which way Rob goes, and he sides with Roger, so Ryan is the first person to get the boot, and all before he had a chance to use his sexual wiles on any of the women.