Episode Thirteen: Mutiny
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
Night 33 at Balboa reveals that the camera man for Survivor doubles as Paris Hilton’s personal videographer. The grainy footage and inaudible soundtrack vaguely reveal something about Christa being blindsided by the vote. Jon, fearful of what Sandra would do to him after the prior near-violent twilight encounter with Rupert, quickly attempts to deflect. He points out what Sandra already knew: Christa had been negotiating to save herself at Sandra’s expense.
Meanwhile, Burton continues to enjoy being on the winning team. We suspect he couldn’t describe a single negotiation that led to Christa’s demise, yet there he is celebrating his majestic conquest. He is like the punter bragging about the rest of the football team’s success. Continuing the football metaphor, we also get the feeling that he is Okalahoma in the ominous remaining hours before the Kansas State game. For that matter, with all of the nonsense of previously eliminated Lill and him still being in the game, it would not surprise us to discover Mark Burnett is the “genius” behind the BCS to boot.
Jon continues his love-in with the camera by stating all of his nefarious plans à la a James Bond villain. As he comments on his strategy to eliminate Darrah first due to her prowess in immunity challenges, we keep waiting for the mention of high tech laser beams, shark tanks and weather machines, but Jon can’t even do that right. He is clearly the Hervé Villechaize/Nick Nack of Bond villains, which we are frightened to realize, makes Burton the Christopher Lee/Francisco Scaramanga. What’s next? Immunity challenge light saber duels with ancient frogs and roof-top magical battles with Magneto?
Before we go further, we want to send out a special note to Sandra’s husband. NEVER CHEAT ON HER!
What unfolds in the next segment is a revenge plot that would make Glenn Close uncomfortable. Sandra, whose Norse mythology idol must be Loki, sets out to undo all of the good she did the first day of the show when she negotiated the locals out of an encampment worth of goods. Now that she feels she has only three days left, she has chosen to take it all back. As she proudly tells the camera, her plan is to hide the two water cans, the unused nets, the pick-axe, the machetes, the fishing spear and all four masks. Sandra is like the anti-Santa. Her vindictive streak makes us long for the days of simple innocence of Lorena Bobbitt.
From there, we realize just how bad a player Lillian is. After performing treacherous acts leading to the elimination of the leaders of both tribes, Scout Master Psycho has now developed a conscience. Apparently, she has realized just how poorly she is going to come across on TV, and wants to do some damage control. While she understands the cleverness of the strategy of eliminating Darrah (or at least she claims she understands), she doesn’t like it. It would be -- horror of horrors -- a breaking of the alliance of four. Lill is having post-Prom Night remorse, and she wants her cherry back. She has again managed to do the impossible, though. We once more have sympathy for Jon. If only he could have gotten along with Sandra, the two of them would have made the best evil duo since Dr. Drakken and Shego (not-so-subliminal message to readers who don’t get this reference: watch Kim Possible).
The best moment in this segment is when Lill has an epiphany. “If they can screw her over, they can screw me over.” Welcome to Survivor, Einstein. Is it too late to vote Nicole back on the show instead of the whiner? At least she looked good in a strapless dress. Wait a minute, do any of you even remember Nicole by now?
It is time to play How Much Will Burton Win By? as the latest reward challenge begins. It is a combination of several prior challenges, one of which is a puzzle. Maybe next time, Lill. In the end, the answer is A Lot. Burton laps the field with a combination of Dennis the Menace-worthy slingshot prowess and Dr. Rubik-esque puzzling solving. For her part, Lill can’t figure out which way is north. The Boy Scouts of America must be beaming with pride. Burton’s prize is an overnight feast in Panama City. He picks Jon, causing the small child to happily jump up in Burton’s strong arms. The moment is eerily reminiscent of Peepers from Saturday Night Live.
As the villainous duo speeds away in their getaway vehicle, Jon and Burton proudly state that they may finally have that romantic vacation the two have long dreamed about. As Burton puts it, they have been picking people they don’t like for the sake of politics up until this point. Now that the group is down to five, they feel confident enough in their alliance with Lill to enjoy a tender moment alone.
Ambassador Probst leads them to another powerful moment of CBS product placement as Burton is handed the keys to the sleek and stylish GMC Envoy (MSRP $29,805 - $36,905). A quick perusal of the GMC Web site reveals that the Envoy has expansive passenger space and plenty of cargo room along with other exceptional amenities. The real selling point here though is the availability of On-Star, so at least Burton will have someone to crank call when he gets back to the U.S.
Note to GMC: we will take the kickback in its usual form…a sack with dollar signs on it.
While we are quick to insult Jon for all of the sleazy things he does that would make strip club denizens uncomfortable, we would be remiss to ignore the fact that he looks genuinely happy for Burton. The bond between these two appears legit rather than staged. As Jon puts it, “Win, lose or draw, you are the only person I like in this game.” Wait, they are playing Win, Lose or Draw? We didn’t even know that show was still on.
The subtle foreshadowing we have come to love from Team Burnett is in full force in the next sequence. As Jon and Burton badmouth all of the women and discuss in no uncertain terms their lack of deservedness for surviving to this point in the game (hey, Burton, weren’t you eliminated a while back?), a vulture is shown with its wings spreading. Remember a few weeks ago when they used the snake footage for the assassination of Rupert? Exactly what reptile is low enough to serve as Jon?
We cut back to camp where the women are discussing alliances. Subtle, no? Sandra proudly lists the number of times Jon has broken an agreement prior to a vote. We love Sandra, but it would be inappropriate for us not to mention the fact that if she had kept her word to Tijuana, the situation would be much different. Rare is the Survivor who makes it this far in the game without breaking at least one covenant.
The rest of the conversation plays right into Sandra’s wheelhouse though as it becomes obvious that Lillian’s renaissance as a Survivor has opened her eyes. Apparently, there has been some sort of game played at the Pearl Islands during her stay. As she states a desire to go further into the game (oh God, no), the wheels are spinning in Sandra’s head. Finally, an opportunity has presented itself that is to her full advantage rather than being one that she has to sell to former alliance member Christa. All along, an alliance of the female players would have made the most sense, but this is the first time where one appears to be a lock to happen. Amusingly, when talk begins of whom to target first, Lillian is quick to throw out the name of Burton. It makes perfect sense when you consider that he is the one person she swore she would never betray. We can set our watch by Lill. For her part, Sandra is in a bit of bind. Since the game has spun in her favor, she is no longer able to Hurricane Sandra the camp. It looks like the fishing spear is safe for now.
Speaking of the fishing spear, we miss Rupert.
A brutal edit occurs at this point as Burton and Jon mock the skills of the women. Right after the audience is made aware of the men’s perilous position (and we don’t mean in the back seat of the spacious and roomy GMC Envoy), the two derisively state that they don’t think the women could ever be able to put together a strategy to beat them. Unbeknownst to them, even the scout master is able to do the math determining that three women is more than two men.
We return from a commercial break only to hear Lillian state, “I don’t know why God is putting me through this.” A billion quips flow through our head at the thought of this but in the end, we decide that we will not take the bait of such low hanging fruit. Instead, we simply offer our sympathy for Darrah and Sandra, who appear likely to be stuck alone with this crying Chatty Cathy for the next four days. And they don’t even have alcohol. We would ask to be voted off the island.
Lillian takes her pants off again, so we fast forward a few minutes. Commercial sponsors, please send the message to CBS. Ugly, naked Survivors lead to fewer people enjoying your expensive advertising campaigns. You have the power, GMC. Fight the good fight.
When the men return from Panama City, a fun little improv skit occurs as the women pretend that Sandra has given up. Darrah and Lill meet the men at the beach, and repeatedly state that Sandra would not talk to them while the men were away. When Burton and Jon approach Sandra, she gives them the cold shoulder to further sell the ploy. To his credit, Burton is not at all fooled by this gambit. He immediately smells a rat (other than the one he just took on the reward challenge), and tries to call Lill’s bluff. She grows defensive, and it seems to work as Burton backs away. Alternately, she could have moved in to open mouth kiss him.
The immunity challenge is rigged to a degree that would make Don King proud. Survivors must liberate keys from cylinders by using water to float them up to a point where the contestant may reach in and grab them. Small people (i.e. everyone but Burton) have a natural advantage here, though Lillian’s fat arms wind up being equally debilitating. In the end, the slimmest challengers, Jon and Darrah, separate themselves from the pack. Eventually, Darrah is able to pull away further, and she goes on to win her third straight immunity challenge. We can’t help but feel like Burton’s large hands have just cost him an appearance in the Final on Sunday.
Since Survivor has to make someone appear to be the victim every week, a target is created in Lillian. We refuse to get our hopes up as Jon matter-of-factly states that her recent run of erratic behavior makes her too shaky to be dependable. A genuinely hilarious moment occurs as Jon approaches Lill to discuss strategy. Demonstrating the textbook Psych 101 definition of projection, the previously eliminated scout master (we like to keep reflecting back on happier times this season) far too quickly states that Burton and Jon need to stop ganging up on her. A stunned Jon can only muster up “I was just asking how you are” before running over to Burton to tell him that he has been sold out. So bad a poker player is Lillian that we feel it would not be an exaggeration to state that if she were dealt a straight flush, any of Burton, Sandra, or Jon could trick her into folding. The fact that she has been able to advance this far understates the central flaw with the show. Year in and year out, terrible players are propped along in order to get a hodge-podge of very beatable people in the final group. Never has the situation been more dramatic than this season.
Tribal Council arrives and somewhere, the ghost of Rupert is giddy with anticipation over the likely fate of his arch foe. Oh wait, he’s right there in the jury! This is going great! Even better, the moment of the oft-rumored Big Lie has finally come. We were led to believe previously that it was Jon lying about the death of his grandmother but no, he can top that. Without even an ounce of irony, Jon is able to say with a straight face that “Lill is the strongest person here.” Jon, you magnificent deceitful bastard, we salute you.
For her part, Lill is asked if she ever expected to make it 36 days. When she answers no, we again hearken back to the fact that SHE DID NOT MAKE IT 36 DAYS. But it’s our problem, and we’ll deal with it.
When the vote arrives, the outcasts are revealed to have turned on each other as expected. More alarming is the moment when Jon misquotes Mick Foley. This is even worse than the Ric Flair thing last week. Some wrestling fan that little twerp is. We can’t decide which one of Jon or Lillian we want voted off first on Sunday. Hold on, we might get our wish a bit early this week. Lill is up to two votes. Has Burton survived another…nope. Three straight votes for Burton means that he has made Survivor history with his second elimination from the show. You’re a double loser, dude! Congratulations! We especially enjoy Rupert aka The People’s Champ’s smile over this turn of events.
As for you, Jonny Fairplay, how are you feeling about that “the women are too stupid to gang up on you” comment now? See you (eliminated) Sunday.