Episode Nine: Desperate Measures
By Dan Krovich
Chuay Gahn sits at camp reveling in their new power position while Sook Jai is off at tribal council voting another person off, which would leave Chuay Gahn with a 5-3 advantage. Sook Jai returns despondent, announcing that they have eliminated Erin. We quickly come to the realization that the non-merger fake-out was a great move for one episode, but has been a dud of an arrangement since nothing is happening once again. Last week we learned that Helen talks a lot about recipes, and this week we learn that Jake likes to tell stories about his adventures. There's the one where he killed him a bear when he was only three, then his expeditions with his giant blue ox, and then about the time he tamed a tornado. The goal of his stories to win the Chuay Gahn tribe members over, but they are having the opposite effect.
Then everyone starts talking about how they miss their families and loved ones, so we know this is going to be the message from home episode, and yes, after the commercials Jeff brings out the VCR and videotape. Everyone gets to see a quick greeting from a loved one. That means eight times in a row, "We love you. We miss you. We're proud of you. We're rooting for you. We're thinking of you. We support you. Good luck." Jeff also makes the announcement that the tribes have now merged, and the first individual reward challenge is for the opportunity to see the full video from home. The first part of the challenge is an obstacle course, and Brian and Helen advance to the second part, which is a puzzle, and Brian wins.
Jeff pulls out a tape with simply the name "Brian" written on it. It looks like they just taped over an old tape because it looks like "The Regina Pierce Affair" has been crossed out. The tape is of Brian's wife, and surprise, surprise, it looks like he married one of his costars. The only thing missing is a pole. She also shows everyone their baby grand piano and two new cars in the garage. That revelation perks up a few ears as other contestants realize that he is obviously not the most needy among the bunch.
Now that everyone is one tribe, they name themselves Chuay Jai and make their new flag. Now the big observation is that everyone is doing little things that annoy the others. Great television - a cavalcade of people doing irritating things. Ted gets frustrated and decides he needs some quality "me time," so he goes off by himself in the canoe. I think maybe he 's off searching for something to grind with at night.
Meanwhile everyone is practicing their strategery. This is particularly important for members of the old Sook Jai tribe, who are outnumbered and have to turn one of the Chuay Gahn to their side to have a chance. Ken seems fairly resigned to being the next to go due to a "vote out the threat" approach, but Jake is still working on the Chuay Gahn, who give him some nibbles that they might be willing to vote out the standoffish Ted.
Of course, there isn't a whole lot of sense in getting too set in any plan until after the first individual immunity challenge. Again, it's a two-part contest. The first portion involves learning the Thai symbols for the numbers 1-9. They are not too successful at it as five of the eight go out in the first round and then Ken and Clay wind up as the final two to move onto the second stage of the challenge. This stage involves following coordinate directions to find ten disks in a puzzle grid. Ken fails miserably at this stage, so the lesson learned is if you ever get lost in New York, Ken is not the cop to ask for directions.
Jake moves into desperation mode, hatching a plan to try to convince Clay to turn and vote Brian out. Oddly, there never seems to be any attempt to approach the Chuay Gahn women to get them on his side, so everything depends on Clay. Though there is an attempt to edit in some suspense, there was never really any strong indication that Chuay Gahn would splinter, and they follow through on their plan to vote out the person they think might be the biggest threat in challenges, and Ken is eliminated. (Ted doesn't get scolded for writing down a nickname instead of an actual name.) Old tribal lines still stand, which likely means at least two more extremely dull episodes until we have a chance at anything interesting happening again.