Episode Ten: Swimming With Sharks
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
We join Camp Balboa this week to discover that Rupert has gone STARK RAVING MAD. We’re not talking the “Barbra Streisand is a talented singer” sort of mad, we’re talking the full-fledged “Star Wars still holds up today as well as it did in 1977” type of crazy...the “Helen Hunt is a talented actress and deserves more work” style of lunacy...the “OJ Simpson is innocent and that Kato Kaelin sure seems like a decent guy” kind of nuts.
While the editing has shown him to be as naturally acclimated to his surroundings as any player in the history of the game, Rupert's vulnerability in his on-camera rant to Mrs. Rupert demonstrates that no one is ever completely impervious in Survivor surroundings. We feel like giving the big guy a hug, but frankly, those scabies alarm us. Plus, there’s no guarantee at this point that he could distinguish us from the other wildlife he’s been hunting and gathering.
Driving home the point about how close he is to descending completely into madness, Rupert wakes up the next day and wants to be Roy Scheider in Jaws. He heads out fishing and ogles a shark like it’s a stripper and he’s full up with singles. As he wistfully dreams of a shark dinner, we’re reminded of the last Survivor contestant who was a master hunter – Michael, the guy who was way ahead on points until he took a fire nap, which was karma for his previous pig roast. Rupert being eaten alive would probably have gotten the show some of its highest ratings in history. And it’s not like the shark could have eaten him in a single meal, either. There’s an Old Man and the Sea joke here somewhere – Rupert certainly is the manly sort of dude that Hemingway, um, liked.
While Rupert is off playing hunter, a de facto Wusses and Losers coalition is being formed with the primary intent of eliminating our bearded hero. The remaining Morganites (Darrah and Tijuana for those of you who are like us and have forgotten they even exist) align with the Outcasts (yes, we include Jonny Stabyouintheback in this bunch) to prevent the Rupert Three Experience from dominating until the final. Remember a couple of weeks ago when we mentioned that not eliminating Jon would come back to haunt Rupert, Sandra and Christa? Yeah, we hate to say we told you so, but can’t really think of another way to end this sentence.
It’s Probst Time! The reward challenge is basically a team effort at the McDonald’s Playland. Lill is lucky the “three knockdowns” rule isn’t in effect as she pratfalls her way across the obstacle course in a style eerily reminiscent of Chevy Chase’s impersonation of President Gerald Ford. The “Grace and Poise” badge is another one she’ll never be able to earn. If you ever wondered just how physically fit Burton is, the point is proven when he wins his first heat despite being partnered with Clutzo the Clown.
In the second heat, some of Lillian’s Awkward Juice rubs off on Rupert, who stumbles twice. As if that weren’t enough, he’s saddled with the albatross known as Little Jon as his partner. The duo manages to attain a large lead before Jon adds needless suspense to the proceedings by forgetting to ring a bell. Rupert’s look of disgust makes us hope that the ladies forge a miraculous comeback so that we can see Jon ripped from limb to limb, but it doesn’t happen. The final is Rupert and Jon vs. Burton and Lill, with one small modification in the last portion of the race. A skull and crossbones jigsaw puzzle must be assembled at the end. The contest is a dead heat until the last moment, when Rupert and Jon take too long studying the final two puzzle pieces, allowing Burton to “win.” We use quotes here because part of his reward is an open-mouth kiss from Lill. His reaction is priceless as he disgustedly states, “Quit doing that, Lill.” We are right there with him on that, as the footage of Lill coming at Burton with an open mouth grosses us out more than every single Survivor nasty food challenge combined. They should have played horror music and run it in slow motion for full effect.
We are not at all surprised that Burton chooses to have Jon go in his stead on the potentially romantic reward cruise with Lill. "Better you than me" has never been more appropriate. On a side note, who knew that Lillian was a swinger?
After the commercial break, Rupert has emerged from the fog of insanity long enough to realize that Burton’s “generous” gift to Jon might be indicative of an alliance; however, he doesn’t have much time to think about it as he has to console crocodile tear-shedding Lill. In addition to her countless other annoying personality traits, Lill is one of those awful people who you’re invariably stuck talking to at parties. You know the type – she does something incredibly selfish at your expense and then projects her guilt on you so that you wind up consoling her. Burnett, all kidding aside, we know sometimes we say “worst Survivor ever,” but she is seriously the worst, man. We know that Friends is on a competing network at the same time. Don’t force us to do something drastic here. She got eliminated and everyone was happy. Why did you mess with a good thing?
Meanwhile Private Dick Sandra is on the case (incidentally, Private Dick Sandra is a show that we would watch rather than a reality show with Lill as a cast member). She overhears Burton and Jon having a clandestine conversation in the bushes, and the secret is out that these guys aren’t going to be good little lemmings. Rupert remains unconcerned because he has faith that the scoutmaster will repay him for his previous act of generosity.
Some clever editing then shows Lill on the boat completing the ritual sacrifice required to bring her into the Brotherhood of Burton and Jon. In her own way, Lill is much, much more dishonest than Jon. At least he’s open about what a lowdown snake in the grass he is. It’s 8:34. That second episode of Friends is probably just about to start.
Call us suckers, but we can’t turn away. We must watch the show until its bitter end, so we witness a blow-dart challenge where players may target prime competitors in order to prevent them from gaining immunity. We reach a couple of conclusions during this contest: first, Darrah and Tijuana would be disappointing dates; and second, Jon appears to be even less proficient that we had previously suspected. In the end, this immunity challenge winds up the same as the others, with Rupert and Burton dueling. For the second time in two days, Burton demonstrates that while it was Rupert’s show early on in the game, Burton is the master of mano a mano.
As the final segment begins, we’re in full-on panic mode. The not-so-subtle editing intersplices conversations of Jon, Burton and Rupert with what we may only assume is National Geographic footage of a snake eating a lizard three times its size. The footage is inappropriate and more than a little bit nasty, but we’d still rather see that than Lill.
Tribal Council starts the same way they all do, with Jon and Sandra having a slap fight. We wish these two would just get it over with and kiss, as the sexual tension threatens to darken the sun with its untapped potential. Other than that, there is nothing but bad news as Rupert is voted out. We don’t feel like joking about it. One of the finest Survivor players ever is victimized by two dishonest, previously eliminated players. The irony is that Mark Burnett has nobody to blame but himself when the ratings decline precipitously in the coming weeks.
Rupert, we look forward to seeing you again after the Super Bowl.