Survivor: Pearl Islands

Episode Two: To Quit or Not to Quit

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

This man has the worst barber on earth.

Episode 2 begins and the losers (aka Team Morgan) are cold. It seems they weren’t bright enough to think to buy blankets during their excursion to the village so when night comes and they’re wearing barely any clothes, the bitter freeze sets in. One would expect the loudest complainer to be Osten since he’s down to his skivvies (and one shoe), but it’s actually Tijuana, who is shown on camera at night stroking her own breasts for warmth. We can’t say for sure how cold it is, though, since bra-less wonder Nicole was voted off last week.

For his part, Osten merely bemoans the fact that he’s not staying at a Holiday Inn. Those Survivor product placements grow more and more insidious every season. Chosen leader Andrew leader fears that the tribe’s lack of sleep might lead to hallucination – a thought that makes Mark Burnett chortle with glee at the prospect of even bigger ratings. Nerd Ryan in particular is singled out as being most directly affected by the elements, indicating who the tribe next plans to throw under the bus. Do they not see the gender-confused woman in the Boy Scout uniform?

Over at Camp Drake, Hagrid…er…Rupert is extremely content. He’s never felt freer, and we don’t mean just because he’s wearing a skirt. He says, “I’m loving life and loving this place and loving the position I’m in…I am in paradise. What more do I want?” His comments are in stark opposition to the experience of the viewer at this point, as he swings from a branch and his skirt flies up. The only saving grace is the fact that he is wearing underwear.

After his Groundskeeper Willie-esque up-skirt shot, Rupert goes out to audition for his own fishing show --our suggested title: Grog Catch Fish! -- and two hours later returns with a bountiful feast fit for Red Lobster (see? More tie-ins!). Even with his victorious haul, someone has touched his spear and it’s given him a case of the crazy eyes. “No touchy!”

Once the tense moment of fishing spear maintenance has passed, the tribe goes back to cooking the catch o’ the day. The local food critics at Club Drake give the meal four stars and seven thumbs up. The manipulative editing underscores how much better acclimated The Drake is to the new surroundings than the currently overmatched opposition. Of course, the tree mail announcement of a reward challenge indicates the possibility that Godhead Burnett might want to tip the scales back in balance.

Probst cut! He welcomes the two tribes. Somewhat symbolically, Drake enters first. But this is Thunderdome, so it’s most important who leaves. (At this point, we would like to thank Rupert for wearing a shirt.)

The reward challenge requires the two tribes to get their Lara Croft on as they must go hunting for five treasures buried underwater (Pandora’s Box not included). The quintuplet of items must be placed in a sunken chest that will ultimately be brought ashore in order to secure victory. The reward at stake is unexpectedly incomplete as the Survivors will win one-third of a map that ostensibly leads to some buried treasure somewhere on each island. Each tribe is given a shovel and a key at the start and told that if they can find where “X” marks the spot on the map, they will receive enough survival gear to last them the body of their stay. The other cool concept here is the ability for the winner to loot the camp of the team that does not win. You have to really hand it to the Survivor crew. This year’s concept has been well-thought out and exceptionally implemented.

Morgan inexplicably starts with Nerd Ryan, the man who they unanimously describe as their weakest link, running the first leg. Drake stacks the deck with one of its Club Armani alpha males, who promptly laps Nerd Ryan as the poor kid can barely swim and has little skill at holding his breath underwater. He is unable to place his item in the chest and is forced to return to shore and have Cute Ryan pick up the slack. Unfortunately, Cute R is no miracle worker and the race becomes a bigger blowout than the National League East. Morgan, a team already struggling for survival, will be forced to give up an item they can hardly afford to lose to a team rolling in riches. We suggest Nerd Ryan’s aqualung.

We celebrate the return from the commercial with Olympic music, as Tribe Pirate Mark Spitz celebrates its second straight victory over Team Someone Call a Lifeguard. The group throws on its bandanas and eye patches to go treasure hunting – or they would if only it was low tide. It’s amazing how many pirate plans get dashed in that way.

From there, Camp Victory begins a debate about what to poach from their vanquished foes. Jonny Fairplay is a hawk who wants to break the will of his opposition, while Rupert Blackbeard shows off his dovelike soft side by saying that there’s really no need to hurt them. Sandra is chosen as the thieving representative, and student Michelle is relieved to be out of the hot seat. We disagree with this assessment, as we believe that developing early relationships with competitors from the other tribe could work in the Latina goddess’s favor.

Tribe Desolation is finding out what it’s like to be a Detroit Tiger. Sandra looks at their squalor and does her best Chandler Bing “My wallet’s too small for my fifties!” impersonation before determining that she’s going to pillage their tarp – which is really the only thing the losers have of any value. She proceeds to tear down their shelter right in front of them…wait a minute…did we say that we thought it was a good idea for her to build relationships? That was all before she turned into the Godzilla Who Stomped Tokyo.

Osten is talking about quitting. Apparently a man can only go without one shoe so long. Tijuana offers him the unspoken promise of future sex, thereby ensuring he will follow her like a little puppy dog looking for a leg to hump. We admire Osten’s game play as we saw last season how well the “I Wanna Quit” strategy worked for Jenna. We only fear that he might have peaked too soon with the gambit.

We return from commercial break to find trouble a’brewing in Team Eden for the very first time. Shawn has accidentally killed Hagar the Horrible’s pet spear, and the hairy one doesn’t take it well at all. We haven’t seen this much passion for an inanimate object since Tom Hanks had to leave Wilson behind.

No, wait! It’s a Christmas miracle! Rupert finds the spear tip and has a scary sort of satisfaction generally reserved for Leatherface at times when he’s wielding his chainsaw. His screams of pleasure even chase away the local wild life. Tribe Morgan can only hope that Drake has used up all of its luck in the spear search.

Immunity challenge time! Do we even need to tell you who wins? The theoretical 50/50 chance Morgan has for victory washes away in a sea of frustration as their early lead in the combination tug-of-war/bondage-swim-to-shore/puzzle-solving competition falls apart. Why, you ask? Because the Boy Scout leader can’t untie knots and open the clue! We’ve seen teams that sucked before, but Morgan is the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked.

Alas, Nerd Ryan, we hardly knew ye!

Back from the commercial break, the Morgan tribe is the most depressed 0-3 squad this side of the San Diego Chargers. Osten shines a beacon of hope on Nerd Ryan’s desperate situation by making a play to get himself voted off. Ryan buys it, hook, line and sinker, but those of us who know the tricks of the Burnett production squad smell a swerve as Troop Master Lillian says that for a man feeling sick and emotionally worn down, Osten looks rather content tossing around the old coconut ball on the beach.

Tribal council arrives and Jeff welcomes back the members of Team Loser. The show host points out the numerous ways that the tribe sucks and questions each individual member about his or her thoughts on the matter. It is at this point that Lillian calls the group “the troop,” inspiring lots of glares. We especially enjoy Andrew’s duplicitous reply when he answers the question of what he considers when voting off a tribe member. “Who’s bringing the tribe down, who’s not willing to lay it all on the line and just go crazy to get it done to further the tribe.” He has just accurately described Osten, but it’s obvious that he is referring to the tribe’s 98-pound weakling.

We cut to the vote. Bye, Nerd Ryan.