Episode Seven: What the…? (Part One)
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
Look out, Jonny! Daddy’s home!
Jon’s reality television audition for Vince McMahon has taken a precipitous turn. He has gone from imagining himself a cool, heel character and puppet master of the group to the all-too-real danger of provoking Rupert’s rage. Folks, the last thing you want to do when you’re stuck with a pirate is to find yourself on the verge of walking the plank. Jonny Fairplay is dead and Jonny Runaway finds himself hunted by a man who has already exhibited demonstrable skill with a fishing spear. We weren’t kidding last week when we said that this opening segment would be like a scene from Oz.
Rupert’s behavior is so chilling at this moment that even ultra-slacker Shawn rededicates himself to looking busy at all times. Shawn, whose reneging on his one-on-one alliance with Jon has put the little blond boy in physical peril, is appropriately shown on camera fanning the flames.
During his confessional, Jon sounds withdrawn and more than a little bit cowed. After a couple of weeks of seeing Survivor as a theoretical display of wits, reality has just splashed him in the face. He has quickly come to understand that he’s trapped in the middle of nowhere with a foul-tempered behemoth who can snap him like a twig. Even worse, he’s just realized that rather than jump in and save him, the cameraman would likely run backwards 20 steps and use the zoom lens instead of getting in crazy-eyed Rupert’s face.
After Jon is stonewalled in countless attempts at duplicity, he eventually does what all people do when pinned. He turtles into sycophantic behavior and asks for a hug of forgiveness. He is then sent to bed without any supper and loses TV and instant message privileges for a week.
A torrential downpour at Morgan camp has kept the sun from coming out tomorrow despite the winning streak. Andrew is left striking what may only be described as a biblical pose as he leads Tijuana and Ryan across the water in order to begin their next project, which we assume is to round up two of every animal and build a pretty big boat.
Osten, to whom we will refer to only as “Mama’s Boy” for the rest of this column, continues to display the emotional maturity of Eric Cartman. He whines incessantly about how hungry he is while the other members of his tribe noticeably study his form and consider the Donner Party theory. Osten has gradually become all the major characters in The Wizard of Oz – he has yet to display any courage, he appears to be lacking a brain, he has yet to demonstrate heart in any challenge, and frankly, he just needs to go home. If everyone else is lucky, a house will land on him.
Drake interrupts a debate over the reward challenge and potential merge long enough for old married couple Jon and Shawn to bicker more. Jon, who we presume is the bride, thinks that the coconut popcorn should be cooked (there are some words we never thought we’d type), while Shawn is all about eating it raw. There is better team chemistry between Kobe and Shaq.
Probst twist! The rumored shocker of the season is finally thrust upon us, as the victims of the first six tribal councils – Nerd Ryan, Lillian, Michelle, Burton, Trish and Nicole – are reintroduced as a potential third tribe, The Outcasts. Their situation is perhaps best underscored by Nerd Ryan’s bandana, which simply says, “Die, Jerks!” Ladies and gentlemen, we have us a blood feud. Jon, Rupert and Shawn suddenly look like best buddies. Looks like Mark Burnett has been watching a little bit too much Paradise Hotel, where the people who get kicked out are never necessarily off the island for very long. (For the record, we find this twist to be a violation of the general theme of Survivor.)
The challenge is a jailbreak – literally. Each group selects their most physically fit player to chase down a flag, dig his or her way into a cell, free all the tribe mates from prison, and escape to freedom. Probst answers the most obvious question about whether the Outcasts might be more rested and better fed by stating that they have been living in survivalist conditions as well. Of course, two advantages still exist for the newly-created tribe. The first is motivation and the second is element of surprise, as their other ten competitors have been blindsided with the news that the dead walk. Burton uses as inspiration the notion of repaying his Gucci twin Shawn for his betrayal by bolting off to a huge lead in the first leg of the race. For his part, poor Andrew looks like a man in desperate need of a cheeseburger and a milkshake as he lags behind.
This extended race sequence comes down to Drake vs. the Outcasts, with a broken pole determining the outcome. In a result only slightly less shocking than the Marlins winning the World Series, the Outcasts gain their revenge. The fallout is dramatic. Two previously eliminated “survivors” will be voted back into competition, while a member of both Morgan and Drake will replace them on the loser list. If nothing else, Burnett has definitely managed to keep the format from going stale.
At Loser Camp A, aka Morgan, the talk is evenly divided between two hot topics. The first is Andrew’s haughty dismissal of the potential returning “misfit.” He immediately sets plans in place to vote that individual out at the first opportunity, only to be informed that Probst clearly stated that the outcast will have immunity early on for just that reason. Andrew’s ridiculous air of entitlement notwithstanding, we can’t help but sympathize with him over this unexpected hurdle, since no previous survivor has had to worry about the bruised feelings that arise over early eliminations.
The second discussion revolves around who will be voted off at tribal council. To surprise of no one watching the show this year, Osten jumps at the opportunity to be eliminated to the point that you half expect him to wear body paint that says, “Me! Me! Me!” In fact, Osten would have been perfectly cast on “I’m a Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here!” if only he were a celebrity.
The alliance of power at Drake is Christa, Sandra and Rupert. Rather than waste much effort bemoaning the recent events, they decide upon a morale boost. Rupert has Shawn and Jon twist in the wind by having each man publicly decree why he should stay. Shawn points out that he has been the company man when needed, while the completely humbled Jon vaguely mumbles something about working harder. Good times, good times.
As Drake enters tribal council, another surprise is revealed. All of today’s events have occurred within 24 hours of their last trip to tribal council. They’re the all-time losers in this regard since even Morgan didn’t go for a vote on consecutive days. Probst states the obvious: one of Shawn or Jon will be going home. At this moment, we realize that it’s a divorce and he’s making the kids decide which parent they want to live with, Mommy or Daddy. During the voting, Jon is so demoralized that he forgets to throw out a wrestling catch phrase, instead getting bleeped on the “fuck you.” Sour grapes, party of one.
Rupert proves once more that he is the bigger man by ignoring the obvious personal motivations and picking the harder worker. If we’re ever stranded on a desert island, he can lead us any day. Weasel boy survives just a few days longer, while Shawn can always hang his hat on the fact that an alteration of the well-established rules was required for his elimination.
We cut to Morgan, who amazingly hasn’t been to tribal council in ten days. This particular ceremony basically consists of Probst concluding, “Osten, you suck, you lazy quitter.” Morgan’s tribal council winds up being several minutes of stall tactics so that the Outcast’s tribal council can be saved until next week (ripoff!). The Wizard of Probst tells Osten to click his heels three times and go home, and in the most telling sign of how the producers feel about Osten’s “stopping,” for the first time in the history of the show, an ousted contestant is not given parting words in the closing credits. We don’t expect to see Osten on Celebrity Survivor.