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Survivor: Guatemala - Episode 1 Summary

'Darkly Dreaming DAWs' By Estee
Original Airdate: September 15, 2005

It's that old devil fog again, wafting over the landscape on currents of overly-heated air, concealing details as it moves across them, obscuring to the point where the only thing you're aware of is the fog itself, with no thought to what might lie within it. And like everything else on this series, it's supposed to be symbolic. Not particularly symbolic of anything, mind you. Just sort of symbolic in a vague sort of way that's meant to drive anyone insane if they try looking for too much meaning in it. It could represent the mysteries inherent in this shadowed land.

Maybe it's Mark Burnett's desperate attempts to keep any and all information away from the spoilers. Or it could just mean that, as with every season before this, the producers have absolutely no idea where they're going and are just driving around in desperate, unlifting blindness, hoping not to hit too many things on the way.

Yes, the fog is very symbolic this time of year, and what it mostly symbolizes is a series editor who won't have a job next season. And really, it would be sort of mysterious if we didn't know exactly what was going to happen next. We'll meet a bunch of Desperate Attention-seeking Whores. We'll learn to despise every last one of them, generally within the first five seconds after said meeting. They'll shake one hand and hold a knife behind their back with the other. There will be alliances, shameless manipulation, outright lying, the occasional dead grandmother, and just a little murder in the dark. And in the end, someone will win a million dollars that they do not in any way deserve. Which can actually still be okay once they realize that post-tax, it's closer to $550,000. It's very important, remembering about the taxes. Right, Dicque?

The fog clears just a little, the camera dips down, and 'We are in Putan, in northern Guatemala.' No, we're not. We are on the Eastern Seaboard, and we think it's very funny, how desperate you are to have the audience identify themselves with you -- while at the same time, establishing that you're better than them, an entirely different species if you want to get right down to it, and they can never, ever be you. You will, however, occasionally stop to mating with one of us. What was the saying? 'Two people, thirty-nine seconds, one climax. And it's not going to be yours.' We all know this voice, these shirts taken directly from the Career's End catalog, the hair made of wire and reinforced with the blood of almost two hundred nearly-human sacrifices. We are in front of our television, he is in Guatemala, and this is Jeff Probst, who's really become much happier since he decided to usurp just a little bit of Mark's ringmaster powers. Jeff wants to talk about how you're doing in the challenges. Jeff wants to know where you stand in the tribe. Jeff wants you to vote out the old and unattractive, because as long as he's stuck here, he wants to have a little eye candy too. And Jeff still misses Colby. Oh, yes. He misses Colby very, very much. But we don't talk about Colby, do we? Because we only have an hour with Jeff and if we mention Colby, we'll set off a crying jag that's good for at least eighty minutes, plus thirty to put his artificial skin back into the wrinkles. Water makes it run.

Colby's a movie star now. Jeff's just a little jealous.

Jeff is deep in the jungles of Guatemala, because Mark told him to be there and Jeff is just a little scared of Mark, and Jeff is surrounded by ruins that are thousands of years old. These are ruins from the Maya civilization. The Mayans were very good at astronomy and mathematics and oh yes, human sacrifice. We can't forget the human sacrifice, can we? It's not as if they made a habit of it or anything. More like a culture. They were exactly like us, except that the human sacrifice didn't get any coverage on Entertainment Tonight. And one day, they just went and vanished, because when you have a culture of sacrificing your citizens, you have to be very careful to make sure you have a few left for next time. That's why reality television makes us smarter than the Mayans. We're only getting rid of up to twenty at a time. We could do this forever, or at least until we get bored with Jeff and Mark and sacrifice them too. That's the great thing about America. We'll kill anyone if it'll amuse us for five seconds. And Jeff knows this. That's why he's been getting so many wrinkles lately.

The ruins have been left to the locals, and the locals are just a little defensive. They include giant spiders, poisonous snakes, howler monkeys, jaguars, and that old favorite among predators, Jerri, who lurks in every body of water, just waiting to strike -- wait. That's a crocodile. Our bad. The point is, it's dangerous out there. There are a lot of predators who see nearly-humans as nothing but the next meal, albeit one with a particularly high-pitched scream and far too many preservatives, and they'd be happy to prove their viewpoint on a moment's lack of notice. You can get killed in this jungle, oh so very easily. It might even be from a source other than a fellow nearly-human's hand. You never know. Variety is the spice of what used to be life.

Temperatures in the 120s. Humidity hovering right around the hundredth percentile. The kind of torrential downpours that make your skin into a very wriggly overcoat that you'd slice off if only your fellows weren't trying to beat you to it. And the ruins. But we're not interested in the ruins, now are we? We're interested in the soon-to-be-ruined. Sixteen Americans, who have already been divided into two teams of eight, well before we even got to learn their names. (And we will never, ever be introduced to those people again, because Mark doesn't care about them. He used to show us how they lived before they came into his clutches, and then he realized all we wanted to know was how they would die. Forty-eight seconds of stock still footage, gone forever. And all the more for Jeff.) Sixteen Americans, soon to be become eighteen, who will be stupid and ignorant and egotistical as they enter the land of Deep Denial where they will live forevermore, not recognizing the effects their lives have on those who witness them, not realizing that being witnessed has any effect at all. They are good and pure and true, and nothing they could do inside the game would ever reflect who they were as people, now could it? But then, they're not real people. They're DAWs.

We shoot DAWs, don't we?

Sixteen Americans, even now hiking through the jungle, homing in on the aura of artificial perfection that glints off Jeff's wire. Sixteen Americans, with two more lurking in the wings, waiting to surprise their fellows. Eighteen contestants total, all of whom will lie, cheat, backstab and otherwise demonstrate the best qualities of the nearly-human race in order to be the last one atop the step pyramid, the only one not sacrificed to all the others, the one we get our hands on once they get home.

Eighteen contestants. Thirty-nine days. One exceptionally bloody finale.

Survivor's back. And for five whole seconds, everything is good.

And then they roll the opening credits.

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