Jill has awakened from her long winter of hibernation, left the comfort of her cave and the solace of her television and gone in search of nuts and berries and adventure. And she entrusted this blog to me, me who thinks the best thing that could happen on Survivor (any season, mind you) is that hunger will overcome everyone and in a bout of totally understandable temporary insanity the castaways will unite and eat Jeff Probst (possibly the cameramen could provide them with some fava beans and nice Chianti to add that certain Je-ne-sais-quoi to the event). Not that someone Probst-like isn’t necessary for Survivor, but really, could we get someone just a little less wooden? A little more enthusiastic? Someone who offers pep talks rather than nods of sympathy? The late Steve Irwin would have been ideal, or Snakemaster Austin Stevens or Survivorman Les Stroud, who could take one look at the dirty, sunburned and bug-bitten castaways and say, “You think you have it bad…” then offer tips on how they can make it better. These guys would have given Jonathan some sort of herbal cure for his infected knee, talked Kathleen into a state of Zen-like calm, told Chet … no, wait, nothing would have kept Chet around except maybe a Tempur-Pedic mattress and a foot massage.
Jill made me promise to let everyone know that she is a HUGE Probst fan and that all anti-Probst comments are entirely my own. Well, I’ve raved enough. Here’s the recap of this week’s events, and the detail here indicates that for the first time since Richard Hatch did a challenge in the nude, I did not fast-forward through the feats of strength and inane Probst banter to get to the really good stuff (the back stabbing) as I usually do.
Jason came back to camp thrilled to still be in the game, and happy that he wasn’t the one who had to play the obviously fake immunity idol. He obviously doesn’t share Erik’s slavish adoration of Ozzy, noting, “Ozzy’s not the only godlike competitor in the game. I can fare pretty well as long as I can beat Ozzy.”
For the reward challenge, the tribe breaks into two groups, purple and orange, and they do what Probst calls a “schoolyard pick,” also known as the “please don’t let me be last” pick that every schoolyard nerd has had to endure at some time. Orange team leader Jason chooses (in order) Ozzy (to take advantage of his godlike power), then Erik and Amanda. Purple team leader Natalie chooses James, Parvati and Alexis. Cirie, odd person out in the tribe of nine, was sent to Exile Island.
The game involved swimming through a maze, studying a triangle-shaped picture puzzle, then swimming back, picking up pieces you were sure about and putting them in the right place on the respective team boards. Ozzy and Alexis were the first pair out. Ozzy moved quickly from finished puzzle to the board and put in a lot of pieces. Alexis took her time and really studied the board. The event was accompanied by the usual Probst banter – designed, it seemed, to add drama and rattle the players. The cool orange heads prevailed and off they went for a Micronesian feast on a different island.
“It looked like it had been there for millions of years. I expected some dinosaur to come out from the woods and ‘grrrr,’” Erik said of the village. Shots of the feast required a lot of the infamous CBS blurs, as the women were topless. “That’s the most boobs I’ve ever seen in my life,” Erik said, but then he is only 22 years old.
“Erik has this naive, wide-eyed sense,” Ozzy commented to the camera. Later, Erik revealed a lack of common sense as well when he drank too much local brew and ate too many betel nuts (the addictive and mildly intoxicating palm seeds best known for appearing in a song in the musical South Pacific) and tossed his cookies. Still, he had such a good time, he claimed he would have done it all over again (but then he is 22 years old).
Meanwhile, back at camp it’s raining and everyone is lying down but James who is keeping their fire going and sharpening a knife. Parvati complains that some people are trying to sleep, which does not go well with James, who heads off grumbling about Parvati. (This is likely a hint of the moment in the next episode when Parvati will try to make nice with the gravedigger. Good luck, Parv.) On Exile Island, Cirie is also sitting in the rain, lamenting Ozzy’s superiority and plotting how to get rid of him and his idol, totally forgetting that Jason is the one who did not pick her first.
The winners come home and Ozzy tells everyone what they ate – in great detail; apparently he doesn’t feel he needs more allies. Jason tells the camera he intends to win every immunity challenge, saying, “It’s life or death for me.”
The immunity challenge is a blend of bondage and endurance in which the survivors have their wrists in a strap. They need to hold that arm up in the air or risk dumping a bucket of colored water on top of their heads (which would not be a good thing, like the water dumps on the coaches after a team wins). Just when people start getting sore, Evil Probst comes by with a bowl of candy. Cirie and Erik go for it. “I must go to my happy place,” James says. Probst comes back with something else and Alexis is so excited she spills the water before she can accept it. Natalie and James lose concentration and are out. Ozzy drops out for three chocolate glazed donuts (I’d do the same thing). Amanda says she needs to pee and drops out to run off into the brush (likely the bucket of water on her head made the need even more urgent).
It’s down to Parvati and Jason, and after over 6 hours, Evil Probst is getting nervous and offers a pizza feast to the next person to drop out – one they can share with the others. Immediately, Parvati suggests to Jason that he quit and share the food. He agrees to do so if people will pledge not to vote for him. Most do it with crossed fingers (hungry people can be so infantile). Jason drops out. Parvati wins the award and everyone but her feasts.
“He should have known better,” Ozzy says of Jason. “They’ll frame you,” James tells Jason, later commenting, “Just cuz you’ve gotten on everybody’s nerves, don’t mean a donut’s gonna make you better. So if you tempt somebody with a donut and they say, ‘Oh, yeah, sure!’ they might have just wanted a damn (unbleeped) donut.” Later, he calls Jason “the dumbest survivor ever.”
But nobody, not even James who should really know, tells Ozzy that the tribe is rising up to get rid of him and the idol. “I’m pretty confident in my alliance,” Ozzy tells the camera as a way of explaining why he will probably hold onto the idol. “It’s the reason we’re favorites,” he says, speaking of his godlike experience playing the game.” Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy, You fool! You should have remembered Achilles and James. You should have played the idol.
But he didn’t. And now he is gone. Eliza, first member of the jury, looked dramatically stunned (she’s very good at that). Erik looked so stunned, I’d expect tears to begin falling later – in a manly way, of course. Probst looked almost genuinely sad. Perhaps he had Ozzy in his Survivor pool.
“I’m an idiot,” Ozzy said afterwards. Yeah, you were. But if there was just a seed of doubt about the night’s outcome, I hope you told James where the idol was hidden.