Previously on Survivor: Sixteen Americans arrive in Panama again, are divided into tribes according to gender again, are instructed in the new twists to the old game again, start end-game strategies too early again, and predictably lose two contestants who really didn’t have a chance to win this game anyway.
Casaya - Night 6
Tonight’s episode begins with the Casaya tribe returning to camp following a grueling, emotionally draining tribal council where Melinda was voted out amongst declarations of lifelong friendship, group hugs and expressions of regret that one of the family had to go. Well, that’s not exactly true, but then most of this summary will be written about the Survivor I interpret, not the one that was filmed. Call it artistic license.
Bruce, the perennial exile, works hard to convince Casaya that he is “the most important person of everybody”, a veritable Gift from Heaven. And why is Bruce so convinced of his importance? Because he has taught wilderness survival skills for over 30 years, high school for 34 years, karate for 40 years and backpacking for 19 years. That’s 123 years! Dang, Bruce is old! Bruce also prides himself on knowing and dealing with different kinds of profiles of people and states that there are 6 different profiles in Casaya.
Pop Quiz! Match the Casaya member with his/her personality profile.
1. Aras 2. Courtney 3. Bobby 4. Cirie 5. Shane 6. Danielle
A. Freakin’ nutball B. Animal lovin' nutball C. Toothy, vacant-eyed nutball D. Bendy, sidharthic nutball E. Wish-I-was-on-Scrubs nutball F. Bobby - no personality, thus no profile
Bruce proceeds to show Casaya what a gift he is by “filtering” water to “90% purity” through several rank T-shirts for mass consumption. I so do not want to know what types of bacteria are teeming in the remaining 10% of impurity. Almost everybody had something to say about Bruce’s innovative system. Aras said “We all believed it and went for it.” Courtney stated, “Bruce is 123 years old and was raised by wolves in a remote wilderness, so I’m not shocked and awed that he could figure out how to filter loads of bacteria out of swamp water with some unlaundered T-shirts.” And Bobby was convinced to drink when Bruce didn’t drop dead after one sip of the slightly less contaminated water supply.
La Mina - Day 7
You know, there’s nothing I love more about Survivor than watching contestants trying to live off the land. They lose all common sense and try to cook what they find in the least appetizing way possible. Take Ruth Marie and her idiotic cohorts. The big meal of the day is snail and crab leg stew. If Emeril or the Molto Mario guy was on La Mina, you can bet that this would be pretty good. But, they’re not. Ruth Marie is smashing snails with a big rock which is not the best way to remove the critters from their cozy homes, but it is effective. She then tosses the mess, shell and all, into the stewpot with the crab legs, ripped from living crabs no doubt, and the crap water. Ugh. Is it any surprise that everyone hates it?
This scene is then followed with everyone commenting on lack of food. Honestly, Mr. Burnett, why don’t you just save the film and loop old footage of past survivors complaining about this topic? Every cast looks the same, complains about the same things, has the same trees for foreground and background shots. We wouldn’t notice, we really wouldn’t.
Terry finally saves the day from the thus far lackluster fare, by catching a miniscule fish of the non-poisonous, non-puffer variety. All hail the conquering hero! The fish is spitted and cooked so that all can enjoy a whopping tablespoon of protein. Austin goes into paroxysms of joy that leave him speechless, or nearly so, and Sally, social worker extraordinaire, thinks that it would be unbelievable if La Mina could catch a couple more of those fish per day.
Pop Quiz! What would be a truly unbelievable occurrence at La Mina?
1. Sally realizes that catching fish would be easier if they had the spear she lost. 2. Sally determines that she is the least valuable member of the tribe because she lost the spear. 3. Sally spends more time fishing than strategizing to make up for the spear she lost. 4. Sally gives up her portion of fish to demonstrate how truly sorry she is that she lost the spear.
Normal stuff here. Tribes are called to mat, check out new Casaya tribe, how’s everyone feeling, etc. I think I heard someone say “Bruce is god”. I'm betting it was Bruce.
The Reward Challenge is one we’ve seen before. Balls are being launched from the beach and caught by those on a balance beam in the water. The first tribe to catch 5 balls, wins. The winning tribe can send one of the losers to Exile Island and receives tarp, a lantern, fuel, blankets, pillows, carrying cans and a rope. Notice that they don’t get food. I think we can safely assume that Mr. Burnett would like a bikini clad Donner Party incident. It's the only frontier Survivor hasn't explored.
To make a long reward blessedly short, let me sum up: La Mina wins. Yeah, it was pretty much just like that. Terry proves that he’s not trying to hide his strengths, Shane proves that he does everything over the top including catching balls, and the rest of them prove nothing. La Mina then chooses the Exilee, Bruce. This is no surprise. But, Bruce is god, so no worries.
La Mina - Day 7
The remains of the day are spent watching La Mina enjoy their reward booty. The tarp fits neatly over the palatial shelter La Mina already has and is put up just in time for the scheduled late evening thunderstorm. Misty lets us all know that “the rain was torrential. I mean it was coming down hard.” Thank goodness she clarifies her statement. If she hadn’t, all of us would think that torrential means "intermittent light showers".
While La Mina is reveling in the comfort of their shelter, the tribe members decide to have a little service to honor Bruce, who is undoubtedly under some log on Exile Island. Again. Sally leads her tribe in guilt management training, Austin writes a sonnet, Ruth Marie vows to find Bruce an undervalued shelter on a great beach, Dan, Terry and Misty swear that next time they’ll send Bruce to space where the weather is much nicer, and Nick who is into financial sales, promises to make change for Bruce whenever he needs quarters for the Exile Island vending machines.
Cold. Wet. Miserable. Bruce huddles under jacket but doesn’t crawl into abnormally large skull made of firewood. I'm not so sure about Bruce's deification at this point.
Casaya - Day 8
Courtney Fire Dancer. Courtney Work Fire. Courtney Make Soup. Courtney Want Bruce Back. Courtney Think La Mina Evil. Courtney Think La Mina Most Evil People Ever. Courtney Never Heard of Hitler. Courtney Never Studied Stalin. Courtney Not Know Osama Bin Laden. Courtney Dumb.
And then we come to Shane. Does anyone hate Shane more than I do? No, didn’t think so. Shane is a “marketing executive”. Marketing I get (Hey man, do you want to buy a watch?), but executive? What legitimate company would make him an executive? Shane is special and apparently he needs a special seat. No, no, not a Time-out Seat; a Thinking Seat. Yes, we’re all surprised that Shane is under the delusion that he can think. Poor Shane. Shane chooses a stump as his thinking seat and kindly asks his tribe mates to refrain from sitting on his stump. When asked why he needs his own special place in the middle of camp, he has a bit of a breakdown and screams that he just wants something that is his and his alone. I think the exact words are, “It’s mine!”
Pop Quiz! Which of the following best finishes the sentence? Shane would remind me of my 5 year old if my child was a...
A. prodigy, gifted in communication. B. budding politician. C. refined young man prone to acts of great kindness. D. bipolar chain-smoker with a Tommy Lee complex.
But wait! There’s more. Shane and Courtney get into it over a support structure for the cast iron pot. It’s a he said/she said that gets blown way out of proportion. Eh, who cares? The only one who might care is Shane’s son, whose life is in danger (that whole swear on your kid’s life stuff) should Shane decide to break his alliance.
La Mina - Day 8
This whole scene just flat out made me uncomfortable. Misty, in a “brilliant” strategy that has failed miserably for the last 10 seasons of Survivor, decides to solidify her alliance with young studs Nick and Austin and opens her own massage parlor. She works it, she works them, she conspires with Sally to play the delicate females that the men want to keep around. Uh, Misty, this is Survivor, not The Bachelor. This early in the game, you need to kick a little butt to prove that you’re worth keeping past Day 8. She may be a missile engineer, but she’s not that bright.
The tribes rejoin the King of Cosmetic Surgery on the beach for a punishing IC. There is a line of 5 large circles on the beach with a pole at the center of each one. Buried somewhere in each circle is 1 sandbag, likely purchased at IKEA, that the survivors must retrieve. The first contestant who touches their team’s mat back at the starting point while touching any part of the sandbag wins a point for their team. The first team to 3 points will win.
I hated this challenge, but then I’ve never been a fan of Greco Roman wrestling. Throw in a bunch of people for whom I’ve already lost all respect and you’ve got a challenge I fast forwarded through. The scoring broke down like this:
1. Casaya - Cirie scores after sitting on Sally. Poor Sally, poor spear-losing Sally.
2. La Mina - Nick scores free and clear, running to his team’s mat. Run Nick! Run like the wind!
3. La Mina - Austin scores for his team. Dan would have, but he was rushed to the ICU after being body slammed by the nicotine deprived Shane.
4. Casaya - Aras scores free and clear, running to his team’s mat. Run Aras! Run like the wind!
5. Casaya - Bobby scores after grabbing Ruth Marie, who was trying to run like the wind, and dragging her to Casaya’s mat. How hard was that? Bobby is a freaking linebacker and Ruth Marie looks like the Anorexia Rehab Center couldn’t cure her.
So Casaya wins immunity and we’re stuck with Shane and his lousy tattoos for at least one more week. God save us all!
La Mina - Day 8
What do you do when you’ve lost immunity and now must face The Man in the Leather Mask at Tribal Council? You can cry, you can laugh, you can learn to keep a straight face, or you can scheme and plot and turn on your tribe mates.
Yeah, they pick that option too. Basically, three names come up as potential bootees in the various conversations that go on back at camp. All the men get together and discuss Ruth Marie but settle on Misty. Sally, Misty and Nick get together and discuss Dan but settle on Ruth Marie. Nick and Austin get together and discuss Brokeback Mountain. We just can’t stop talking about that movie!
Pop Quiz! About the only revealing thing in this segment is Austin’s statement that he has the makings right now to get all the way to the end because of how he is allied. This reveals that Austin...
A. is carefully playing the game and knows what moves to make and when to make them. B. has studied Survivor and is using that to his advantage. C. realizes that strategy must evolve throughout the course of the game. D. will start using the phrase “swing vote” with alarming frequency.
Ooh, I love artistic license! This is the Tribal Council that wasn’t, but would have been if the survivors weren’t being filmed.
Jeff: Come on in. Grab a torch and light it. Fire means life in this game and when you have no fire, you have no life. So, Terry. We’re eight days out. Compared to your life experience, where does this rank in terms of tough?
Terry: Jeff, I . . . I . . . (breaks down in tears) . . . I have no life experience man! I just made up that Air Force pilot stuff to get girls! I’m really a data input tech! I live out of a cubicle!
Jeff: So, Dan. You hanging in there?
Dan: (stands up and removes his shirt) Jeff, you dolt, look at me! I’m 98 years old! I weigh 113 pounds. I’m white as a ghost and being eaten alive by mosquitoes the size of my fist! (shakes fist for emphasis)
Jeff: So, Sally. How about the first eight days for you?
Sally: I can count to eight! One, two, three, five, no four, five, six, seventy, eight!
Jeff: So, Misty. The guys are in pretty good shape. Is there pressure for the women to keep up?
Misty: (giving Jeff seductive smile) Pressure? Oooh, I like pressure. I like it when pressure presses.
Jeff: So, Terry. How do you vote tonight?
Terry: (still sobbing and unable to answer)
Jeff: So, Ruth Marie. You came to La Mina with no one. Are you feeling isolated?
Ruth Marie: (in an excellent impersonation of a stoned David Bowie circa 1978) I’m lonely. I need Cirie.
Jeff: So, Nick. What are you basing your vote on tonight?
Nick: (stands up and removes his shirt) Jeff, check this out. I can make my pecs dance! Damn, I’m hot! Vote? Oh, I’ll vote for the girl who probably won’t give it up anyway. No one teases Nick! Yeah! (makes rock 'n roll hand gesture)
Jeff: Okay, well it’s time to vote. Austin, you’re up.
And they all take their turns climbing to the paper, marker and jar of death. Misty’s vote and Terry’s votes are revealed. The rest are not, thus leaving all who watch on the edges of their collective seats. Yawn. Jeff brings down the jar to read and finalize the votes.
Jeff: So, I’ll read the votes. Ruth Marie (1 vote Ruth Marie), Misty (1 vote Misty, 1 vote Ruth Marie), Ruth Marie (2 votes Ruth Marie, 1 vote Misty), Misty (2 votes Misty, 2 votes Ruth Marie), Misty (3 votes Misty, 2 votes Ruth Marie), and the 3rd person voted out of Survivor Panama Exile Island not to be confused with Survivor Pearl Islands or Survivor All Star which also took place in Panama on some islands not far from here is . . . (tension builds as we try to figure this brain teaser out) . . . Misty. Misty, since we know that you don’t have the brains to understand the incredibly cryptic clue and find the Immunity Idol on Exile Island, why don’t you grab your torch. The tribe has spoken.
And there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth as Misty crosses into her next life as a guest on The Early Show with Julie, Harry, Rene and Hannah. Misty’s family moment really isn’t worth mentioning and her parting comments basically impart that she is shocked to have been so handily outplayed and out-strategized by a bunch of Neanderthals and a Bowie clone.
Next time on Survivor: La Mina is on the verge of starvation (Excellent!), Danielle and Shane have it out (Even better!), and Emily Hughes will have won the gold medal in women’s figure skating in Torino (It’s destiny, I tell you! Destiny!)