Episode Eight: What the…? (Part Two)
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
There is no messing around this week. We head straight to Tribal Council where, as Probst Blue Ribbon notes, we have a Survivor first: a group that actually wants to be there. We wryly note that Burton winces a bit at this statement. Our host might have forgotten the thrown immunity challenge, but Burton clearly hasn’t.
A brief look at the crew is more than enough to remind us that absence does not always make the heart grow fonder. Nerd Ryan still looks like someone who has to sneak into R-Rated movies, Lillian is still trying to find Troop Beverly Hills, and Nicole is still all dressed up with no underwear to go. For his part, Burton has that predatory look generally reserved for men sneaking off to Happy Hour at the local strip club. The hunted has become the hunter once more as Tribal Council is Raccoon City. The dead walk.
After a couple of moments of gratuitous gloating, each Outcast tribe member is given an opportunity to state his or her case for a return to the game. Reading between the lines, the pleas are best described as follows:
They voted me out first, gosh darnit! Didn’t they notice how pretty I am? I am nowhere near as bitchy as they made me out to be. It’s not my fault that all of them are pricks!
The irony lost upon her is that two of those pricks are sitting right beside her.
I am too tough! I know I cry all the time and whine incessantly, but look at me! I’m tough! I’m a friggin’ Eagle Scout!
If she gets voted back on, we solemnly swear to egg the front entrance of our local scout chapter.
I will win! I am the best Survivor ever! I am a scheming, lying manipulator and I swear to my liege lord Satan that I will use all of these qualities to sweep through the final nine eliminations. And I will cut off Rupert’s beard and feed it back to him in a rice salad for funsies after that.
Ladies and gentleman, we present Survivor Miss Congeniality 2003.
As my role model Malibu Stacy says, “Don’t ask me. I’m just a girl.”
She then mumbles something about kicking asses and ass-kicking, but after about the third stutter, we kind of tuned her out to stare at the wall instead. It makes for better TV.
I own the Survivor home game and I always rule at it! I have the Richard Hatch action figure (clothing accessories sold separately), and I can quote every good Boston Rob line from memory. As long as we don’t have any more of those pesky physical challenges, this bad boy is mine!
Here’s hoping you can get a good price for the Die, Jerks bandana on eBay. Thanks for playing.
I have climbed out of the primordial ooze with one goal in mind. I shall take all those who have wronged me, and I will use them as the main ingredients in my Hannibal Lecter recipe book. Rupert’s skirt-wearing, no-shaving, fishing spear-overreacting flabby ass is mine. And my outfit is still snazzier than yours, Probst.
Anything you say, Mr. Burton, sir. Putting Burton back in the game at this point would be like sticking Ray Lewis in at linebacker at a high school football game. Here comes the pain.
The returning Survivor selection process is straightforward. The Outcasts will vote for two of their fellow rejects, but cannot give themselves a vote. Burton seems like a heavy favorite for one of the choices, as the group is a bunch of ungrateful bastards otherwise. He single-handedly won the immunity challenge for them by dominating the start of the race. Sure enough, he is the first person voted in. It’s the other vote that turns our stomachs as Scout Master Lillian is inexplicably given as many votes as Burton.
As the other losers are shown the door for the last (?) time, a final decision remains. Which tribe does each Outcast join? A random buff pull (dirty!) determines that each member will return to his or her original tribe. Lillian is horrified at the thought of heading back to Morgan. Conversely, Burton smiles a Cheshire grin as his revenge fantasy advances another step. Run, Rupert, run!
Fittingly enough, a rainstorm rages in the background at the Drake camp. As he stands overlooking the encampment, Burton’s behavior begins to eerily resemble Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. The lightning in the distance amplifies the horror film vibe.
As he approaches the sleeping tribe, we half expect a musical accompaniment.
Guess who’s back. Back again. Burton’s back. Tell a friend.
And he just settled all his lawsuits. Fuck you, Rupie.
A comical discussion ensues wherein everyone involved swears that they are deeply sorry for any transgressions they might have committed upon Burton’s person. The mental image you should have right now is of John Cleese hanging out a window as he begs Kevin Kline for forgiveness. As Burton says later, he has no idea about the level of sincerity of these statements because Survivor is at its core a game of deceit. But it’s apparently no longer one of permanent elimination.
At Morgan, Lillian’s return is met with a level of faux sincerity generally reserved for sorority rushes, courtroom appearances, and Hollywood pitch meetings. “Gee, we missed you.” “Oh, I’m so happy to see you.” “It was like losing a family member.” The whole thing makes us want to throw up in our mouths. Folks, she knows you voted for her. Stand up and be adult about it. It’s the “I didn’t inhale” of Survivor speak.
When we return from the commercial break, the clash of the titans is on. No, wait, we spoke too soon. Rupert and Burton have an eye-to-eye conversation about why Rupert voted him off, and it’s not what we had expected at all. It breaks down to the fact that Burton was constantly pointing out that Rupert’s skirt made him look fat, which hurt his feelings. No, really. We haven’t felt this let down by a hero since Michael Jordan put on a baseball jersey. Oddly, this is the perfect approach to take as Burton seems unexpectedly mollified. From there, Burton is informed that it will be Jon voted out at tribal council because he voted for Rupert on day 18. Burton’s reply of “he voted for me on day 12” is inspired. We take that to mean that the peace offering has been accepted. Fortunately, the camera cuts before the make-up make-out session begins.
Over at Morgan, a different tactic is taken. Andrew, who apparently died some time last week judging from his physical condition, plays the guilt card for all it’s worth. He tells Lill how hard they tried to get to 5-5 by the merge, only to have her ruin it by returning as an Outcast. You’ll get more flies with honey, big guy.
Drake tribe has found something Springfield and Shelbyville think is worth fighting for -- a lemon tree. It’s the perfect fruit for them since they have plenty of recent experience in sucking. While Christa, Rupert and Burton are out plotting strategy and gorging upon lemons, Morgan is finishing up its last bowl of rice. That’s right. They are in Donner Party territory, and we’re only halfway through.
The Immunity Challenge meeting instantly begins with Probst attacking the Morgan Tribe’s point of vulnerability. He has members of Drake discuss their seven course meals as cooked by a team of Iron Chefs before asking Morgan how they are doing on food. There for just a minute, you can see the tears welling up in Andrew’s eyes as his mind flashes back to the hometown taste of Chicago-style pizza.
Before the entire Morgan tribe collapses from hunger pangs, unexpected good news arrives. There is in fact a merge at the ten player mark this season. The old buffs are out, and the black one is in. The new immunity idol, fittingly a cutlass, is up for grabs, meaning that three of the players will be invulnerable at Tribal Council: Lillian, Burton and the winner.
The first solo challenge is a combination swimming/underwater breathing competition as the survivors must swim a length of rope without coming up for air then repeat the process. There is a two-heat elimination with the obvious contenders, Cute Ryan, Rupert and Burton, making it to the finals. The surprise fourth entrant is Jon, who swims the race of a man who knows that the immunity idol is his last hope. To up the ante, the final leg of the race requires five laps. That’s way too much physical exertion for the little man to remain competitive, so the race comes down to an alpha male battle. Rupert and Burton have a photo finish with Burton just edging Rupert in the end. Since Burton is already immune, he is given the option of passing the sword on to one of his fellow survivors later on in the day. There is one bit of good news for the former Morgan-ites, though. A buffet awaits them upon their arrival at the new tribe.
And the name of that new tribe is Balboa, indicating that Mark Burnett is a big fan of Rupert’s snake.
After starvation is staved off for a few hours, it’s game on! The four remaining Morgan members immediately regret their refusal to welcome Lill back with open arms. She is courted heavily by the Drake group, thereby insuring Jon’s survival for another three days. That brat is like a cockroach.
Once the Morgan quartet realizes how much time Lill is spending by the barbecue with Burton, Andrew confronts her about what she has planned for Tribal Council. It’s at this moment that the chickens come home to roost for our skeletal shyster. He makes the mistake of asking whether she will let him know what she is planning prior to the vote. The Outcast finally springs the question she has fantasized about since her elimination, “Remember I asked you to let me know before, and you didn’t?” Ouch.
At Tribal Council, little happens with regards to game play discussion, but a nice moment occurs when Burton chooses to give Rupert the scabbard of immunity for the evening. You can tell that this genuinely touches the big guy to the point that we think Burton is safe for a long time as long as he doesn’t get greedy -- or Sandra doesn't get her way again.
The vote is little more than a formality as it’s obvious that revenge is the driving force in Lillian’s life at the moment. There is one particularly satisfying moment when Jon has the smile swiped off of his face. Up 5-1 in the vote, the 98-pound weakling of Balboa puts on the amateur cocky heel face for his WWE audition, only to see the vote get all the way up to 5-4. Before the final vote is revealed, the fingers have come down and the flop sweat has swept over Kid Wuss. We give bonus points to Burnett for this particularly deft touch. In the end, though, it’s obvious that the former Morgan tribe leader is viewed as too big a threat. The sixth vote cordially invites him to leave the premises permanently.