Episode Three: Girl Power
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
Since Survivor: Amazon has divided the men and the women and Dan is on vacation, we've decided to do this week's recap a bit differently. David Mumpower will be handling the male perspective for Camp Tambaqui while Kim Hollis discusses the women's point of view at Camp Jaburu.
This week's episode is named Girl Power, so barring any irony in the title, it's going to be a rough week for Camp Penis. The show begins with the cavemen in blue jeans diligently working to improve the conditions of their camp. Rob channels Joanna long enough to quote scripture, and we immediately cut to a resume from the editor for a Michael Bay flick. A day's worth of effort is spliced together in a handful of shots before we get to the meat of the storyline. Roger hates Dan.
The generation gap between the two men is cavernous to begin with and it doesn't help when would-be Five Star General Roger barks at Private First Dumbass Dan to go get some water. As if the confrontational nature of the comment weren't enough, he immediately follows up by pointing out how frail Dan is if he can't do it for himself, then tells the stunned young man exactly what the proper procedure is for shoulder keg mounting (the one aspect of jungle survival we figure Dan probably already knows how to do well). Almost instantly, Roger reconsiders and wanders off to the water hole on his own, all the while fantasizing about a rumble in the jungle.
We cut back to Dan stating the obvious, "He wants to vote for me and I want to vote for him." He also randomly tosses in the fact that Roger smells of "really spoiled vinegar", which immediately makes one wonder if he's been having Soylent Green fantasies about his elderly crank companion. The sequence ends with Roger making a vaguely racist kung-ku chop joke, driving home the fact that these two aren't going to be the show's first love connection. After this, we cut to Matthew speaking Mandarin with Dan about the situation and Roger's anger management issues. Were the two to survive deep into the competition, this would make for a fascinating communicative advantage over the other tribe members since they could speak freely with no fear of the other Survivors listening in on the conversation. Of course, for all of that to happen, Matthew has to round up votes to shiv Roger...
Meanwhile, over at Camp Vagina, things are getting really icky. Apparently, these are the types of girls who only get dressed up for the menfolk, because now that they're exclusively among their own kind, personal hygiene seems to have been tossed right out the window. The site is infested with so many crawly bugs that even Steve Irwin would be creeped out. The cooking pot is full of wasps, which leads one to wonder if the thing has *ever* been washed. Jeanne brings the condition of the cookery to the attention of the tribe and points out that it was probably the reason they were hearing so many bumps in the night. Shawna claims "bee allergy" as the girls bravely trap the insects in the pot. Disappointingly, footage is never shown of the group realizing that they have to open the lid to let the bugs out.
Not to be outdone by its insect cousins, a tarantula is discovered in the food barrel. The ladies can't understand why bugs would be attracted to their food, but then they open the container, which proves to be chock full of moldy goodness. The mold is discarded, and I am grossed out when they keep the remaining food.
So basically, what we know about Team Vagina is that so far they have an almost nonexistent shelter, and they don't clean their utensils, their clothing, or themselves. Cut to a shot of the tribe standing around, trying to suss out what needs to be done. Ever vigilant, Jeanne points out that they need wood and a fire, so a couple of the team members hack away with their machetes while Jenna flosses her teeth with a bit of grass (suddenly, hygiene matters). Whatever their individual motivations, the women spring into action by calling a meeting to get themselves organized. Talk about proactive.
Deena is "initiated" (without spanking ceremony) as sorority president (hey, Jenna's wearing her Zeta Tau Alpha jacket) and delegator for the group. Heidi notes that it's impressive that they've been able to win two out of three challenges despite their general disorder and chaos, though it could be argued that the men are the real winners since they have shelter, are generally unstinky (Roger excepted, of course), and have somehow managed to avoid a mold takeover.
It's time for the reward challenge and all of the guys are thinking the same thing: whoa, breasts! I sure have missed those bad boys. It's an ogle-fest which would make Mardi Gras proud when the lovely ladies walk into view for the first time. Daniel nearly sprains his neck as he attempts to gain a better view of the estrogen-laced splendor. Smiles and nervous giggles abound.
The game is set up in a fashion which would make Chuck Barris proud. It's a variant of Concentration with a healthy mix of The Dating Game thrown in. The players call on a member of the opposite sex to ask if they have a certain prize in their box. Folks, it just doesn't get any more euphemistic than this. Before the game begins, I know that my sex is doomed in the competition, because the basic premise of it is not to hunt but instead to gather. The gender bias is staggering and this whole friggen' season is rigged.
There's no point in describing the play by play since the point of the game is fairly obvious. It's all about getting asked to the homecoming dance. Each and every time a woman picks a man (which they seem to have forgotten the women HAVE to do per the rules of thegame), the guy blushes redder than Ron Howard's lost hair follicles. Ever-so-scary Joanna makes Dimply Dave the first recipient of an instant ego boost while Daniel proves himself to be the single cheesiest would-be player since Leisure Suit Larry. His highlight reel of humilation during the game includes picking Sideshow Bob look-alike Shawna by calling out, "the really cute girl with the curly hair" then throwing himself at Heidi while obtusely asking her for the very item his teammate had just unsuccessfully requested from her. Even Probst looked down on him after that (which is sad on so many levels).
To drive home the inanity, here's the most memorable sequence from the challenge:
Alex flexes his muscles, makes a quizzical face and asks, "Hey Jenna..."
Jenna rolls her shoulders to emphasize her breasts, demurely looks over at her suitor and asks, "How did you know my name?"
Alex forcefully espouses, "Cause I'm really, really smart and I pay attention a lot."
He then smiles all the way back to his eye teeth, which causes her to lean forward seductively. She can't help but be drawn to this tall, dark stranger who knows so much about her but who is a complete mystery to her. Somewhere in the world, an editor for Harlequin Romance begins to furiously take notes of their encounter as the denouement approaches.
Nervously, he presses on with the secret words which he has been dying to blurt out. "Would you happen to have a comb?" His world hangs in the balance while he awaits her answer.
Deciding to no longer toy with his affection, Jenna suddenly lowers her defenses and lets the battering ram of his desire break through her shields. "Yes, I do," she purrs in a husky voice. Words can't accurately describe his enthusiasm at this, the moment of climax, so he simply shouts "Sweet!" as his face demonstrates the muscle contortions which only occur at moments of blissful satisfaction such as the one they have just shared. She licks her lips in satisfaction as he walks by and one may only assume that they later share a cigarette to celebrate the Union of the Combs.
As a man, I'm only interested in the body bliss, so since that's over, all you need to know is that the women theoretically win while the men leave satisfied. As with every other transaction in a relationship, physical and emotional interaction has been bartered for goods and services.
Club hierarchy firmly established, the women make their way to the beach for the Reward Challenge. They arrive fashionably late, and the effect on the guys is noticeable. Surprisingly, it's not the odor but the sex appeal, as the girls gamely toss their hair and put their hands strategically on their hips. When Jeff explains the challenge, the editors cut to a very confused looking Heidi, personifying the dumb blonde stereotype, though she brightens up when she realizes that this week's prize is an assortment of hygiene products, including soap, razors, tweezers, shampoo and conditioner. Fortunately for her, the game is basically Go Fish, but instead of cards, each person has a box with different hygiene products inside. The individual contestants try to match up their items with the junk in the box of an opposing team member. If they win, they take their item and score a point for their team. If they lose, it's on to the next player.
Joanna immediately points to one of the cutest guys from Camp Penis, Dave, who smirks as he tells her he doesn't have a match for her pumice. That's followed with Daniel, who isn't smart enough to ask Joanna for said pumice, but instead goes for the "really cute" Shawna, who smiles delightedly and shifts her body for better view of her cleavage even though she has to give up her soap. It's all they can do to keep from making out right there in the middle of the game when he goes to retrieve his prize, but they somehow are able to keep it to an extended handshake instead. A couple more rounds pass and Joanna inexplicably flirts with Old Stinky Vinegar Man Roger when he arrives to pick up the item he just won from her by holding it above her head so as to better show off her breasts.
Many rounds later, Matthew finally figures out that Joanna has a pumice stone. Everyone applauds in amazement. Momentarily, Alex greets swimsuit model Jenna by name. She beguilingly moves her shoulders to highlight...wait for it...her breasts, and demands to know how Alex knows her name. He claims, "It's because I'm really smart and because I pay attention a lot." In normal situations, a girl would be alarmed at this sort of stalkiness and move to obtain a restraining order as quickly as possible, but they're apparently hard up after seven entire days away from civilization. Instead, Jenna smiles brightly and throatily tells him that she does have a comb to match the one in his box, followed by a subtle licking of her lips. Alex (who really is the cutest boy on the show) giddily says, "Sweet!", though I doubt that's so much because he got a point for his team as it is the fact that he gets to walk over to Jenna and look at her breasts. Jeff Probst jealously asks one more time how Alex knew her name, but it's pretty clear that Jenna has already chosen Bachelor Number Three in this case.
Next, Jenna asks Butch for his soap, but it's fairly anticlimactic until Jeff gets in a parting shot. "Jenna not showing anything," he says, assumedly bitter about the fact that she's actually wearing a shirt to cover her breasts.
"Not today, maybe tomorrow," she replies, giving him the brush off yet again. Alex beams delightedly - "That's *my* girl!" Sorry, Jeff. I guess you're still stuck with Jerri Manthey.
Shawna and Rob exchange pumice stones (no, that's not a euphemism), and Rob hits on, er, asks Heather for her conditioner. She doesn't even give him the benefit of a fake phone number. Two turns later, Daniel asks Heidi if she has conditioner, and Jenna mentions that the girls "talk about Rob at camp" after another couple of rounds, which leads him to say he says he can't wait for the merger. Duh. It's game, set, and match. These men have no chance whatsoever against the mighty wiles of the assorted females, so Survivor does in fact emulate the real world pretty precisely. The girls can thankfully clean up and let's face it, the guys are thrilled (and not only because the women will stop smelling so bad).
We return to camp at night and Rob is still numb to the fact that he just got played. Rather than focusing on the fact that the men just got their asses whipped by the opposing team's feminine wiles, he is still obsessing over the way that women from the other tribe "want to get with" him. As the conversation continues about which ladies most remind them of their recent lack of sexual gratification, I find myself wondering if there will be a cut to the women in the other tribe singing "Tell me more, tell more. Like does he have a car?" Uh huh.
Back at camp, the girls are taking baths in the lake. A couple of them are so dirty that they can't get completely clean. I am repulsed by a very specific shot of Christy's armpit, but you can't help but feel a bit sad for her as she continues to be rejected by the tribe's three Heathers - Jenna, Heidi and Shawna, as she has to bathe with the older members of the tribe rather than people her age. Heidi, in her infinite wisdom, notes, "The cuter girls...kind of went off from the older women because we're younger, we're cuter, we've got better bodies, and for some reason that's like a huge issue with older people."
But what a bath those Heathers have. Angels sing from on high as the girls flip their hair, dab their breasts, wash their hair, and check each other out. I think I might have seen something this gratuitous in a Miller Lite commercial a month or so ago. Bikini tops are removed and the girls splash around in ecstacy before starting to (I figure if commercials and television shows can sell this stuff, so can I). Shawna reflects on the experience, noting that it was like a "soap commercial that went wrong," but also saying that it was the experience of a lifetime and allowed her to be herself for presumably the first time since she and her roommate went experimenting back in college. Heidi looks forward to The Merge for obvious reasons.
We return from the Bath of the Bi-Curious Nymphs to find that the men have suppressed their raging hormones long enough to start talking strategy. It becomes apparent that Alex, the apple of Jenna's eye, is also a master strategist. He finds the other Survivor who clearly has an agenda, Rob, and they begin to plot. It's apparent that these two will eventually butt heads since they appear to be the ones controlling the most votes but for now, they simply feel each other out. Rob is surprised to find that Alex has little problem in selling Daniel out under the right circumstances. Conversely, Rob makes it clear that he is tired of Roger yelling, "get off my lawn, ya lousy kids!" It's clear that if the men lose, one of those two will be eliminated. We cut back to Happy To Be Here Dave, who might be a rocket scientist but he's still sweetly naive. He summarizes the maneuvering of his teammates and his understanding of them nicely by saying, "There's a lot more going on behind the scenes than I'm aware of." Would that he could be a fly on the wall for what's going on down the river at the other tribe and see how true that is.
Shawna, aka Heather #3, isn't playing croquet but instead some bizarre game of hit the giant nut with the machete. (After her "bathing" experience, we'll assume this is symbolic.) She manages to give the appearance of keeping busy while her non-Heather teammates do all the real work. Even so, Shawna responds quite favorably to Deena's delegation, saying, "Sometimes she can come off bossy, but you realize you picked her, and that's the reason you picked her is 'cause you want her to boss you around." It was at this point that Shawna became my upset pick to be the favorite of the guys once the tribes merge.
Deena's organizational and managerial skills do pay off, and the camp is tidied up, shelter is built, and living conditions are at least above deplorable. This renewed confidence pays off in spades, as the women manage to catch some very respectable-sized fish. Joanna sings in praise. Hers must have been a Jesus fish. Unfortunately, her joy is such that she feels compelled to continue her song, caterwauling at the top of her lungs. The remaining team members are jealous of Christy for the first time.
Instructions arrive that the group is to "coordinate as a tribe or face tribal council tonight." The girls are able to deduce that they'll be involved in some sort of puzzle, maze or trap. Before leaving, the Heathers carefully brush their hair and make sure not to be offensively odiferous, while the other tribe members strap on machetes. The cuts are hilarious (and realistic) and the women are all business as they go about their preparations, while the guys stand around asking a Magic 8 Ball what their chances are of scoring. Beavis and Butthead would be proud.
In today's challenge, the teams are trapped in a cage with an escape hatch. To win, each tribe must first untie some knots to loosen a machete, then untie another series of knots to get to the correct rope to chop with that tool. After that, a board is removed, which releases a pole. The pole is used to retrieve three sets of keys, which ultimately unlock the hatch. The first tribe to open the hatch wins.
It becomes quickly apparent that these knots are made for smaller fingers, because the girls are ripping through their knots while the guys fumble as if trying to unhook a bra. Something seems to have gone wrong with the guys' cage, because they have the machete released but can't get the second board released for some reason. I call this reason "Mark Burnett." The challenge is over pretty quickly and the women win in a landslide, proving that Grrrls do indeed Rule.
The immunity challenge is bogus. Completely and totally bogus. As fixed as this thing was, I half-expected Don King to pop up shouting "Only in America!" It involves rope, machetes, and jail breaks. I mean, the only way the men's team could have better odds would be having a Drinking Beer, Grabbing Yourself, and Spitting competition. Right off the bat, I smell a rat.
Sure enough, once the competition starts, the editing makes certain not to show the two cages in the same shot. We cut from one to the other, and it appears both sides are doing okay at first with the men slightly ahead. Then we get to Rocket Scientist Dave. All he has to do is chop a rope using a knife which would be the envy of Crocodile Dundee yet each time they cut back to the menfolk, they're still sawing away desperately. I suspect that the real knife got swapped out at the last second for a plastic one from the Mattel line. It's either that or they used some special synthetic rope which diamond can't cut, because while they're working on a single rope, the women get more keys tossed their way than Tom Jones during a Vegas show. For the fourth time in five encounters, Team Vagina has covered the spread against Team Penis.
The losers spend the day discussing their failings while negotiations continue about which Survivor should be victimized. Roger continues to hint that he wants to beat up Daniel, which leads me to wonder if he realizes World War II has been over for six decades now or that Daniel is Chinese, not Japanese. Dave is still doing his best Keanu Reeves impression. His state of constant confusion makes for a humorous juxtaposition to the predatory instincts of Alex and Rob, the men who would be king.
At tribal council, Rob states the obvious that they're feeling lousy about the constant beatings they're receiving. When asked about being the modern equivalent of Bobby Riggs losing to Billie Jean King, Roger answers that they're doing the best they can do. Does he not realize what loser talk that is? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Talk turns to friendships and rivalries as Daniel talks about what a great guy Matthew is. He then goes on to discuss his feelings of alienation at being Chinese in a tribe comprised of Americans, which makes Rob jump in with a methinks he doth protest too much defense of the tribe position while Roger quietly seethes about that bastard, Admiral Yamamoto. The look on Matthew's face during the comments says it all about Daniel's fate. He's been sold out by both warring factions and therefore makes the perfect compromise candidate to be voted off. He votes for Roger while the rest of the tribe chooses to assassinate him. While I'd like to say the kid is relieved by the result, the truth of it is that he is reduced to tears during his parting comments. Cheer up, Daniel. There are a bunch of oversexed women to keep company in the coming weeks while the season plays out.