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Survivor: Panama - Episode 14 Summary

'Four, Three, Two, One -- Zeros: A (complete lack of) Adventure In Rough Paraphrase' By Estee
Original Airdate: May 14, 2006

{We are standing in a vast, nearly empty wasteland. There is no water here. No plants. No animals. No life. There is only the voice of our supposed Master Of Ceremonies and acknowledged Master Of Stupidity, drifting across the landscape in a harsh whisper of a booming shout, and if you think that makes no sense, you haven't heard it. The volume is there, but it's clearly been artificially boosted, and the voice which couldn't quite make it on its own is wracked with the dryness of far too much dust. Occasionally, a little bit of discarded film blows across the cracked mud, taken completely out of context and meaning nothing on its own. That's why JEFF is speaking about them. JEFF wants to link the tiny exerts together into something approaching a coherent story. JEFF wants to tell us how we got to this place and why we deserve to be here forever. Jeff thinks he can do all that and make it vaguely interesting.}

{JEFF completely lost his remaining sanity about ten seasons ago, right after that last vote said 'Tina', but no one's ever had the heart to tell him.}

{We stand, and wait, and listen to JEFF. After all, it's only three hours of being stranded in a wasteland with no hope of escape before then. We've done worse. Remember DONALD and the nearly-live audience? No? See how resilient you are? Most people would have turned that trauma into a lifelong excuse for investigating the insides of small mammals, but you just blocked it out. Nice work if you can do it -- and if you can do it, won't you tell me how?}

{Because I'm here, too. Because I have to listen, and transcribe, and try to make some sense of the putrid reeking swamp that JEFF's stories have become, and tell you all about what was said, and what wasn't said, and what should have been. By the time I'm done, you have to know everything that happened and maybe one or two things that didn't. I'm here so you can leave early and forget this ever happened, too.}

{But I have to remember. I have to remember for everyone, or else this might happen again...}

{Listen. Listen long enough, and the random syllables of JEFF's mindless babbling might start to form words...}

Jeff: 'Thirty-six days and thirteen episodes ago, a group of nearly-human Americans set foot onto a small, deserted isle just off the coast of Panama for what we thought would be a bold new social experiment, which began when we split them into two tribes. Unfortunately, the whole 'Beauties vs. Geeks' thing didn't work out, especially after we realized we'd forgotten to bring eight geeks. Damn minimum bikini quota... After that fiasco, we re-split them into four tribes: younger women that I want to sleep with, older women that I've already slept with, older men who probably won't cheat on their wives for me but you never know, and younger men who are just dying to learn the basics at my feet, or somewhere else in front of me. I told the four tribes that the place we had brought them to was Exile Island. We were telling the truth. I told them it was the most interesting, vital place in the game. I lied. Big-time. But in my defense, I had no way of knowing that at the time. You see, hidden on Exile Island, where at least one person would be sent during every episode because quite frankly, we just didn't care whether any of them lived or died any more, was a mini-idol. If you found it using the clever clues I kept giving out -- and 'why' did I keep giving them out? 'Why' did I re-up my contract? 'Why' am I using all these quotes? -- you could use it to save yourself at one tribal council after the votes were read, bouncing the ouster to whoever was in second place on the 'we hate you' count that night. God, we thought that was a great idea. And once you used it, the mini-idol would return to the island for someone else to find. So ExI was a double-edged sword. You could take someone out of the social element of the game, but with the risk that they could put themselves and their allies ahead. It was brilliant! It was sheer genius! It was -- never mind. Never mind what it was, because we all know what happened next, don't we?'

Jeff (takes a deep breath): 'Well. The younger women lost the first reward challenge and sent Misty to ExI, where our rocket scientist immediately went looking for the idol using her best asset: her behind. No, what was behind her. No, I mean she looked behind her and nowhere else -- oh, whatever... The older tribes thrived, the younger tribes started a cult based around dead sea turtle worship. Apparently one of those prayers reached Om by mistake, because the older women lost the first immunity challenge. Cirie decided to save herself from the leaves by giving them a human sacrifice and that meant tossing out the only human we had: Tina left. After that, we decided to merge the four tribes into two -- Casaya and La Mina -- because trying to keep track of four different camera locations was driving everyone nuts. But we really couldn't afford to go nuts at that time, so we channeled it all into Shane, who continued to take on the burden of the production crew's growing insanity as the season progressed. Do you think that was wrong? Do you think we care what you think? We sure didn't care if Shane could think, and he pretty much stopped doing the rational version on Day Four, to the point where he nearly quit. But Aras talked him into staying because a warm body was still good for keeping the shelter heated at night, and we said goodbye to Ice Queen Melinda, which finally got rid of that lingering cold front. At this point, Cirie was doomed. She was really doomed. She was so doomed she made it all the way to the Final Four, which explains why I now have a private shrine in my trailer where I give the bodies of our failed applicants to the almighty leaves.'

Jeff (staggers a little, sucks in oxygen from a nearby mask, drips blood into his hair and, thus refreshed, continues): 'Misty left, but her bug bites will be with us forever. Ruth-Marie left, and everyone else's quota of eyeshadow tripled. Around this time, Terry found the mini-idol, and we started waiting for him to use it. And waited. And waited. And -- well, while we were waiting, Bobby took a million-dollar dump, so Casaya took a 240lb one. After that, our other rocket scientist couldn't figure out how to orient a skull, which sort of made sense because he couldn't figure out how to orient his teeth either, so La Mina put out Dan Fuego, and the smoke could be seen for miles. Now in case you've been keeping count, because I sure haven't, that's six, which leaves -- ten? Is that right? Are you serious? Wow. Who knew? That must have meant it was time for the merge! I was wondering why they all got together on one beach... So Casaya had a six-to-four advantage over La Mina at the time when they became all Gitanos, and I have based my entire career off my ability to say that with a straight face. Plus Terry had the mini-idol. We can't forget that, although it was starting to feel like Terry did, because he started winning Every. (Censored). Individual. Immunity. Challenge. And while that gave him the power to pass his mini-idol off and swing the numbers in his favor, he decided it would make a lot more sense to go around to Casaya people with the tremendous offer of fifth and sixth place in his alliance versus fifth and sixth place in their alliance. This sounded like a world-class proposition to me, but the Casayans lack my genius, so we lost a few more people, all La Minas. I'm told there was someone named Nick who went first after the merge, but I don't remember anyone like that, which makes for the second time... The blank spot in my brain was followed by Austin, who threatened to write a book about it, and Sally, who threatened to someday read one. This left Terry as the last of the Mohicans, and the La Minas, but the 147th of the incredibly egotistical jerks. Who still had an unplayed mini-idol which could have switched up the entire game. We can't forget that, even though Terry did, for council after council after council...'

Jeff (bites the head off a chicken, swallows it whole, then forces himself to go on while licking his lips the whole time): 'Around about now, I decided there just wasn't enough drama and hatred in the camp, which shows you how closely I usually follow this crap, so I did the never-popular 'lie about your true feelings' challenge. This revealed Courtney as the most annoying person in Survivor history, which made her everyone's perfect Final Two companion, even after she told Shane she wanted to be on his backside and she wanted him on hers which, God help me, is a near-exact quote and an image I will never have out of my head for the rest of my life, ever, and when so much else has leaked out, why did that sickening scene have to stick...? Oh, speaking of sticking, you know what Bruce took? A million-dollar lack-of-dump, which meant a medivac directly to the jury section, where he promptly rearranged the seats for maximum chi. And just to remind you of our ongoing theme for the season, Terry won the IC and refused to play the idol in any capacity, and to completely capture what we were going through, read that sentence until you're completely sick of it, then do it some more. After that, Courtney's ideal Final Two companion status translated to exactly what you think it did: the next ouster, because Cirie and Danielle realized anyone could win the million dollars sitting next to her, but their only hope was for Courtney's seat, which really made Shane jealous. A jealous Shane isn't that much fun to have around camp, especially when he's sulking and refusing to download your favorite music to his Blackberry, so Shane got blindsided at the next TC, or would have been blindsided if he'd been able to see any part of reality. We lured him out of the TC area with a chocolate ice cream bar, and that brought us to what production assures me is the Final Four.'

Jeff (considers gnawing off part of his own foot, but settles for a nearby production assistant): 'Normally, we'd start the finale right about now, but no, Mark decided I needed to be punished for starting the season too early, which I don't remember as my decision, but Mark assures me everything is my fault, and I'm really sorry about the global warming thing. Maybe I should cut back on the hair product -- nah... So we had an extra episode, which punished me because it reminded me of the last time we did that, which was Australia, and -- Colby. Colby... Huh? Where was I? Oh, right. Anyway, Aras won Reward because Aras listened to the rules I gave out at the start of the challenge, which was sort of impressive because I've been falling asleep on myself for six seasons. This put Terry and Danielle on ExI, which gave Terry one last chance to use the mini-idol to turn the whole game around. You know what happened next. He didn't use it. He couldn't use it. It couldn't be removed from the place he'd been hiding it the whole time, and it's a wonder he wasn't medivaced before Bruce, because you'd swear that counted for a blockage. But he also didn't win the necklace on the next challenge -- Aras did -- and he didn't see the benefit of giving the mini-idol to Danielle when everyone thought he would have it and wouldn't vote for him anyway. And why? Because the mini-idol just felt so good where it was. So we went to TC, and Cirie and Danielle tied, and why bother with a revote? Let's make fire! Fire is life! Fire is good! Fire is how Mark disposes of incriminating evidence! Fire is my final destiny if I ever open my mouth about all the things I supposedly know and have forced myself to forget! So we sent them to a remote location, also known as 'a little off to the side', where the first one to make a fire high enough to burn through a rope would stay in the game -- oh, God. Richard's fire dance. It's in my head! It's in my head! Stop the episode! Stop it right now! Take me out to a three-day break! We'll pick it up after the rinse cycle finishes with my cerebral cortex! Stall the audience! Do something -- I know! Roll the opening credits! It's only about the fourth time we've played them all season! They'll be stuck searching for non-existent clues for hours! His belly -- it's shaking -- do it now!'

{The opening credits roll across the landscape. Wow. They haven't done that lately. It's a treat, really it is. It's nearly one whole minute where we don't have to listen to JEFF.}

{The air in front of us ripples, and we are looking through a window into the Tribal Council area, which is really looking exceptionally fake this year -- no, wait. Sorry. I had a direct view of JEFF's hair. The TC area doesn't look all that bad for a place that's trying to invoke feelings of a time, place, and situation that never existed. Shrunken heads and piled-up skulls in Panama? Please. But at least they can reuse the set for Survivor: The South Bronx.}

{And there's CIRIE and DANIELLE. They are seated at their stations. They are ready to make fire. They are so ready for this predictable challenge that they spent most of the afternoon practicing for it, although CIRIE was spotting hiding a non-purple rock in a safe place, just in case a switch was needed. And you all wondered what that open-top swimsuit was for. Easy access!}

Jeff Shatner: 'Look -- aroundyou. You will -- see -- a magNESium flint -- plus a KNife -- and coconuthusks and bitsofwood -- and other thINgs you can use to make FIRE! The first one -- to make -- FIRE! -- will win -- ImMuNiTy. On my mark -- you will kiss uptome -- because only I havesex on every show -- and that is why Terrywill lose. And then -- if I donotachieve -- ORgaSM -- you will make FIRE!' (The camera fades out for exactly one second, then comes back in.) 'I am so -- disapPOINted!' (exact quote and pacing) 'WhenIsay -- go... you will -- beGIN. BeGIN.'

{CIRIE and DANIELLE get to work, with SHANE watching with the disturbing rapt fascination he always displays in the presence of open flame. CIRIE actually gets her fire started first, and it starts to flare up towards the rope -- but then goes out. As JEFF points out, it's not just about starting the fire, it's about keeping it going and getting it high enough to reach the hemp. DANIELLE refuses to give up and keeps working on her fire with such devotion that it generates a torso blur, and if we'd had a full-body one for RICHARD eleven seasons back, we could have wrapped this challenge up last week.}

Jeff (exact quote): 'Danielle blowing on it to keep it going!' {And if she'd done that five minutes ago, we wouldn't even be having this challenge.}

{CIRIE continues to get small fires started, some of which are actually in her station, but the distraction caused by putting out AUSTIN still isn't enough to let her sneak out the lighter, and her results continue to go up in smoke. Meanwhile, DANIELLE is taking TERRY's advice from the previous episode, building a pyramid of wood bits around her small fire, giving it partial shielding from any wind and a more substantial fuel than CIRIE's coconut husks to start consuming -- and climbing up. By this point, JEFF isn't just dropping hints, he's performing a full-scale verbal diatribe on getting a fire blazing, using key words like 'build' and 'construct' and 'for the love of God, Cirie, just throw some damn leaves on it!' But it's no good: DANIELLE's fire is too strong, her pyramid is just under the rope, and the rope is ablaze. DANIELLE wins immunity. CIRIE's fire, in a fit of ironic timing, goes out.}

Jeff: 'Damn it! All those seasons since Mad Dog, and I'm denied my chance to bask in the embrace of a non-stick again? You'll never win, Danielle! I swear upon the tracks of my dried Colby-tears, you will never win!'
Danielle: 'Hey! No calling me a stick! I've worked really hard not to be a -- nevermind.'
Cirie (approaching Aras for a hug, exact quote): 'Sorry...'
Aras (hugging Cirie): 'That's okay. As long as I get some of what Jeff will never have.'
Jeff: 'Watch it, Spike Boy. Cirie, get your All-Star Survivor over here so we can send you back to the land where all growing things are made of plastic.'
Cirie: 'I'm going to Danielle's house?'
Danielle: 'Oh, come on!'
Jeff: 'Cirie, the tribe has spoken, which confuses me. I always knew fire was life. I even knew life was fire. But who knew fire was an active player who had a vote? Oh, well... the fire has spoken, and what it said was 'I had a taste of Skupin, and now I'm hungry for more!' Do you think I should be worried about that?'
Cirie: 'Nah. We're good.'

{JEFF snuffs CIRIE's torch. (This is definitely code for something.) CIRIE goes to find out if SHANE left any ice cream for the rest of the class.}

Jeff: 'Over the next three days, we will have two challenges -- that's right, two. Count them. One -- two -- four -- sixty-two -- sixty-four -- eighty -- two Tribal Councils, one person tossed onto the jury like the discarded sack of garbage they are, and two contestants begging the jury for a million pre-tax dollars that they do not in any way deserve. We just lost our last strategist, the only person who would have earned the cash the classic way, and what do we have left? Mr. Outplay, Mr. Outlast, and Miss NoWit. Get out of here. Just go.' (sighs) 'Cirie... Cirie... no, it doesn't have the same ring to it...'

Cirie (final words): 'Blessed be the leaves, and long live I, the high priestess of the icky stuff that lives under them. And now, I shall go back to Jersey and spread the gospel of ickiness. I think I'll start around Exit 13a.'

{The three remaining contestants return to camp, where DANIELLE builds the night fire, because she can, or at least, she can after the editing gets her fifty failed attempts down to one failed and one production crew flare strategically tossed onto the spark. TERRY uses everyone else's temporary blindness to slip off and get in the first confessional-tell of the episode.}

Terry (c-t): 'Danielle and I have a pact. If she wins final immunity, she takes me to the Final Two. If I win, I take her. That gives us a two-thirds chance of being in front of the jury for the million dollars. Nothing can go wrong with that plan. Absolutely nothing. We spit on our hands, we shook our rears, and we did each other's hair on Exile Island. Don't you think my gray streaks look darling in this night vision bluelight? I'm so lucky to have a partner who understands the full twenty-four hours of makeup! Now if I could just get my teeth to glow in the dark the way hers do...'

{The camera moves to show a frog inflating his throat for a few ribbits -- because when you think inflation, you think ego, and when you think ego and inflation together, you think blimps, and -- wait. Which summary am I on? Oh, right. Anyway, you think of TERRY, and he's about to haul a piece of his ego out for public display. Of course, it takes some major effort to remove it first.}

Terry: 'Ow! Ouch! Ooooh... Why did it have to go so deep?'

{That's right: Terry's finally pulled out the mini-idol. Now that it has no value in the game whatsoever (although you could get a quarter in a really accepting pawnshop or about two thousand on eBay from a collector with no taste whatsoever, which means it would be hung up right next to RICHARD's blur), he's going to do the only thing he can still do with it. And no, not 'put it back in'. That's for later, when he's alone. Instead --}

Terry (c-t while walking over to Aras and Danielle): 'Watch this. Aras has never seen it. His jaw is going to drop into the ocean. I know I've shown it to Danielle before, but it's not like she's capable of remembering any details. I will show them the true source of my power. Maybe it's got just enough magic left to make them believe it's still active. Or maybe that's another detail Danielle won't remember. Or we could just throw it into the fire and see how it roasts. Chewy!'

{TERRY displays the mini-idol to ARAS and DANIELLE. The reactions are -- predictable.}

Terry (passing it around): 'It had some jingly stuff on it, but I took it off. It was starting to make me miss my wife.'
Aras: 'Wife. Mother. Whatever.'
Danielle: 'What is this? Does it do something? Can you trade it for food? Did you have it with you last night?'
Terry (exact quote): 'In my shorts.'
Aras: 'Wow. Terry actually had something in his shorts this whole time. I never spotted that.'
Danielle (c-t): 'Terry and Aras are in love with each other. I know it. They know it. They're just denying it to themselves. The only way they can express their deep affection is by trying to kill each other during challenges. Whichever one finally loses in the end will officially be the girl and get to accept the proposal of the other. It's really romantic. You know, I've been spending my spare time planning out their wedding. All I have to do is invite them home, and they can make it legal and everything! Sure, there might be a little problem with the age difference, especially since Terry keeps bringing it up every five minutes, but I'm sure they'll make it work out somehow. By the way, what was that about a wife? Does Terry have another twenty-four year-old at home? Is he cheating on his spouse to flirt with Aras? That's disgusting!'

{The camera shows some TERRY vs. ARAS moments from (presumably) that day in camp. A little doubt is thrown into the timeline because, while the coconuts they're chopping are still in season, the sling spear TERRY is shown fishing with sunk to the depths several episodes ago. Remember SALLY losing the spear? Apparently either MARK thinks we don't, or TERRY used three seconds' worth of his endless testosterone production to single-handedly drink the ocean dry until the spear was revealed, then spit it back out before the shipping lanes fell behind. So TERRY chops all the way through a coconut on one swing. ARAS gets halfway. TERRY spears a few small fish. ARAS uses the hook-and-line to get larger ones. TERRY suspends himself from a tree branch by his genitals and meditates there for half an hour. ARAS -- well, let's not go into details on what ARAS did, but there was a machete involved. This endless copying and one-upping each other leads to the code line of the night, spoken while TERRY is surveying ARAS' latest catch.}

Terry (exact quote): 'Look at the teeth on that parrot fish.'


Danielle (c-t): 'Of course, Aras needs some solitude to work out his true feelings, so when Terry beats him at the next Immunity Challenge, it'll be out of love.'

{Normally, this would be our cue to go out to the IC -- but while the window does open onto a challenge site, we're not looking at an Immunity contest. Jeff did promise us two challenges -- hey, he even counted them! -- and this is the first. You can't have two ICs with three people, so...}

Jeff: 'Reward! Reward! We're playing for Reward! Bet you didn't know that, now did you? After so many seasons, you morons think you've got the jump on me! You think you're going to just saunter in here, all confident and bug-bitten and hideously ugly, and say something like 'Yes, Jeff, we want to know what we're playing for.' Well, you're playing for Reward! Suckers!'
All Survivors, choral response: 'Whatever.'
Jeff: '...whatever?'
Terry: 'Whatever. You had an extra day to fill and you're not going to have the two of them arguing about who goes to Final Two with me for forty-eight hours, so it was obvious this was a reward challenge.'
Aras: 'Totally obvious.'
Danielle: 'What are we doing here?'
Jeff: 'I hate every last one of you.'
All Survivors, choral response: 'Whatever.'
Jeff: *attacks*

{After the production staff finally breaks up the fight, straightens out TERRY's gray streaks, finds ARAS' hair spike lying in the sand eighty feet away from where it started, gets the ram imprint of DANIELLE's torso out of the rear view camera, and sews JEFF's dimples back on, JEFF gets to explain the contest. (It's actually one of his most impressive readings to date, especially given that his voice is shaking with rage the whole time.) This is a multi-station challenge. At Station #1, each Survivor will have to maneuver a short stick through a narrow slot maze, and the code meter just exploded. When they reach the end of the trail, they'll release two climbing pegs stored in a bag, which will have to be freed from JEFF's mandatory rope. This brings them to a rotating open-top wheel that looks like a mutated Trivial Pursuit piece (and it doesn't get much more trivial than this), with eight slots on top holding still more bags, one of which contains two additional climbing pegs. To get to that bag, you read off three questions resting on top of the wheel, and rotate accordingly. These are:}

{1. Translate Casaya's resentment of Terry to a one-ten scale, then rotate that many spaces counter-clockwise.}
{2. How many people have you personally backstabbed? Turn the wheel clockwise for that number of spaces.}
{3. To the nearest fifteen, how many people are you going to personally try and kill on the twentieth anniversary of your jury loss? Go counterclockwise one more time.}

{Once you've got all four pegs, you tackle the climbing wall: three stories high, set at a forty-five degree angle, slick with fresh paint -- but with several holes to place the pegs in. The catch is that you can't leave any behind: you have to reach the top with all four pegs in your hands, because they then have to be slotted into a plank to free a flag, and each peg has a different shape at the end, which means it takes a baby to finish this challenge. Seriously. An infant. Eighteen months old ought to do it. If you mastered your Playskool pegboard, you can win. (For what it's worth, the peg holes on the climbing wall will take any shape, so you're not forced into following a predetermined path up.) Guess how many of our Survivors are now in deep trouble. Just guess.}

Jeff: 'Want to know what you're playing for?'
Terry: 'Wh --'
Jeff: 'Other than a chance at another beating if you leave that sentence finished with a single given word?'
Terry: '-- why, yes, Jeff.'
Jeff: 'Fine. The winner of this surprise Reward challenge wins a power drink, which would normally give us a sponsor to list, but it's been a rough year. You also get chicken. Steamed vegetables. Clean water. Fruit. And a cot, blanket, and pillow for tonight, which you'll enjoy back at camp right up until the moment you find out the fleas have infested this, too. In short, everything you need to give you a major, if itchy, edge at tomorrow's final challenge, which, much to your advanced-ordered shock, will be for immunity. Worth playing for?'
Danielle: 'Sure. There's nothing worth watching on Shane's Blackberry anyway.'
Jeff (takes a very, very slow breath): 'Draw for position before I kill you.'

{The Survivors draw for position. This ends up with ARAS on the green track at the left, TERRY on yellow in the center, and DANIELLE at red towards the right.}

Jeff: 'Survivors ready -- you all blow! Aras having trouble manipulating his short stick into a narrow slot! Terry not doing all that well at steering his stick either! Danielle seems to have the slot mastered, but has absolutely no idea what to do with the stick! Now Danielle has her stick stuck in her slot! Like that's never happened before!'
Danielle (exact quote): 'What the hell?'
Jeff: 'Aras getting better at having his hands on that stick! Terry feeling more familiar with his stick! Both men's hand movements on their sticks are accelerating! Watch the men work their sticks! It's almost as if they feel the slots aren't even necessary!'
Aras and Terry, chorus: 'Shut up, Jeff!'
Jeff (not shutting up. Never, ever shutting up): 'Terry's stick is stuck in his slot! Terry's practice with his wife does him no good! Aras is going deeper into his slot -- deeper -- yes! Aras pulled out in time! Aras releases his first two pegs!' (Aras runs for the second station, untying the bag on the way.) 'Terry moving his stick with a little more rhythm now -- yes! He's at the end, but he pulled out a little bit late! We'll see how he feels about that in about nine months! Danielle still not showing a grasp of basic stick mastery! How she got cast without that vital skill, we'll never know!'
Danielle: 'HEY!'
Jeff: 'Aras at the wheel! Aras trying to do basic math! Here comes Terry, and we know he has no idea how to work the numbers!'
Terry: 'Watermelonrhubarb...'
Jeff: 'Aras has his peg section lined up! Aras undoing knots! Danielle finally yanks her stick all the way to the end with no finesse at all! Danielle is out of the 'replace Julie' running! Terry has his section lined up! Aras going back! Way back! Aras at the wall -- he's outta here! Aras with a four-peg lead on the others, and he's starting up towards the plank!'
Aras: 'And thank you, Howie Rose.'
Jeff: 'Hey! Shut up! That was completely original! Terry freeing his pegs! Danielle can't do math or tell clockwise from counterclockwise, which has got to be the shocker of the year! Danielle, you've got the wrong pegs! The right ones will be color-matched to your track: go back to the starting section, then learn to read! Aras going up the wall! Terry behind him! Terry likes being behind Aras and Aras likes being behind Terry! -- oh, Colby... what?!?'

{At this point, ARAS has about a six-foot lead on TERRY. His strategy is pretty sound: he's placing his pegs so that he can use the higher ones as grips while dangling down and retrieving the lower ones. TERRY is moving with fair speed, but trying to use his feet for extra propulsion is just making him slip: no one can get any purchase on the slick wood, and it's all about the pegs right now. As such, ARAS is widening his lead, which is up to about ten vertical feet as he nears the top -- but ARAS stretches a little too far trying to put in another peg, and trusts his weight to a support that isn't actually in yet. He slips, and starts to cascade down the slope -- until one of his lower pegs saves him. Unfortunately, this wasn't the one-point landing of a crotch-stop that would have made the Greatest Moments DVD immediately and forever, but his untucked T-shirt hooking itself over the peg. ARAS is saved from having to start over -- but he's slipped to TERRY's level, which would ordinarily involve some toxic ego-boosting drugs, and TERRY uses the moment to surge ahead. This lasts about two seconds: ARAS recovers quickly, and his superior reach is an advantage here. Both men are near the top of the wall, practically neck-and-neck, and DANIELLE is still working on figuring out what the letter that kind of looks like an overweight man walking is supposed to represent...}

JEFF: 'Aras near the top! Terry near the top! Aras at the top! Aras trying to figure out how to put the stick in the slot four straight times! Terry right behind him with age, experience, and a wife! Aras fumbling with the sticks! Aras can't line up the slots! Aras not doing his post-show dating life any favors! Terry getting his stick slotted repeatedly with the expertise born of long years of off-base military experience which he doesn't want his wife to know about! Terry gets his sticks slotted first! Terry raises the flag, and that is so code for something! Terry wins Reward and nearly knocks me down the slope during his celebration dance, which had better be a coincidence!'
Terry (to Aras, exact quote): 'You are the ultimate competitor, man! The ultimate!' (Aren't they cute together?)
Aras (exact quote) 'You whupped me.' (Excuse me, you two, but we have to stay on the air...)
Terry (exact quote) 'You bring your A-game every time, man!' (I mean it. Get a room.)
Danielle: 'What's this one that looks like a fishhook?'
Jeff: 'And once again, it's Aras versus Terry, and the winner is Terry. Do you people have any idea how boring you're making this season? Terry, go eat. There's no poison in your meal or anything, not after Bruce got that last dose by accident when it was meant for -- oh, just go eat. Aras, Danielle, neither of you is going to ExI, because the mini-idol is out of play after never having been in play and did I mention how boring you were making this season? Just go back to camp. There's no idol to find, so you can lounge around and pretend you're on an actual good show for a hour. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to check something out.' (heads for the first RC station) 'It can't be that hard to get your stick into a slot...'

(The contestants part paths to the sounds of Jeff doing -- something -- in the background, and we get a very brief shot of Terry enjoying his power meal before the window shows what looks suspiciously like commercials. Since even vast wastelands have to have sponsors, there's nothing to do but wait patiently until the view refocuses on the Gitanos camp, where ARAS is skinning a fish with his bare hands, which are disturbingly covered in blood from the wrists down -- and DANIELLE is working on a piece of coconut with the machete using the very sensible perch of her right leg, because nothing could possibly go wrong if the giant blade slips there, right? ARAS c-ts a bit about how while TERRY may be having the power meal, they're working on their seventh fish of the day, plus if DANIELLE cuts off her leg, they're going to eat that, and everyone knows humans taste like veal, plus that part of DANIELLE (unlike some others) would actually be edible. This is followed by the expected, cliched conversation.}

Aras: 'If we want a million dollars, one of us has to win tomorrow.'
Danielle: 'Yep.'
Aras: 'Winning is important in this game.'
Danielle: 'I guess.'
Aras: 'I just cut the last of the fish skin off with my hair.'
Danielle: 'The scales make it look shiny.'

{A power boat pulls up and does the sort of bootlegger spinout you only see when the pilot wants the passenger off his vessel now. This naturally means it's carrying TERRY, who walks through the water -- and that's through, not on, he's Captain America and that shield doesn't float -- and comes up to the beach, carrying the cot, pillow, and blankets high to keep them dry.}

Aras: 'So let's hear every last sickening detail.'
Terry: 'You're being unfair. It's not as if there was a crapload of food and I ate every last bit of it while you couldn't have any because you're total losers. It was just a sixteen-ounce protein drink. And thirty-two ounces of pure water. Plus some chicken breasts. And multigrain bread. There may have been some steamed vegetables, too. Cauliflower, string beans, carrots -- nothing big. Oh, and there was a banana, and Hayden Christensen fed every bit of it into my waiting mouth with his very own perfect hands, but really, guys, nothing special. You didn't miss a thing.'
Danielle, Aras, and several RTVW denizens: 'Screw you, Terry.'
Terry: 'Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to set up my soft, warm, blanket-and-pillow-featuring cot.'
Aras (c-t): 'I don't know if winning the reward was actually good for Terry. It just makes me hate him more, and that's good for my energy levels. It puts more pressure on him because now he has to win after having a good meal, and really, that sentence makes sense. Somewhere. And who knows? If he gets the runs at just the wrong moment... You see, everybody and their mother expects Captain America to win the last challenge. And that's their mothers. Not my mother. I was barely allowed to hug my mother. I -- I -- I want my mommy... Mommy knows I could win the last challenge... I could win the game... I could get back to her and pay her back for all the milk she's so lovingly let me drink over the years... I'm so thirsty, mommy...'

{Luckily for the contents of our stomachs, this confessional finally ends with a nighttime scene of TERRY settling into his cot and ARAS promising to sleep on it the next night in honor of TERRY. If TERRY's gone, of course. And maybe even if TERRY's there. TERRY notes that ARAS will have to fight DANIELLE for it -- 'it' meaning the cot, just this once -- and goes to bed. The sun then rises on Day 38 and Terry going to get Tree Mail, which isn't even bothering to try for a ruined poem this late in the season.}

Tree Mail: 'Nothing is happening in this episode, and we can't show most of the fight on the edited broadcast. We need filler material, so get your rears -- all three of you -- to Exile Island one last time. You'll find the torches of your backstabbed allies there. Gather them all, working one at a time while mysteriously managing to find them in the exact order of their ouster, strange and powerful are the ways of the editing department. Say a few words if you feel like it, but we'll just edit over them anyway. Then place the torches on the top of Skull Hut, raise the exile's flag, and set the skull on fire. Heh-heh. Fire! Fire!'
Terry (c-t): 'It's funny, but the three of us who are left just happen to be the three people who've spent the most time on Exile Island. Even if it was only spiritual, I guess the place really meant something to the game after all.'
Misty, Bruce, and Austin: 'Not.'

{The remaining contestants begin their tour, roaming the small island (which barely had enough room for the mini-idol, let alone thirteen torches), collecting them from first ouster to the most recent. This gets a little comedic, as they have to carry them all along, and DANIELLE's visibly having trouble managing her load as the virtual corpses continue to pile on. And naturally, there's a few words about each contestant -- where suitable.}


Terry: 'Well, she was the first one voted out...'
Aras: '...and she wasn't on any of our tribes, plus we only saw her in two challenges...'
Danielle: ' -- whatever?'
Tina: 'I would have won Guatemala. What happened to me before that season was a tragedy beyond anyone's control. What happened to me during this season was a travesty. I wish I'd had more time, but at least I got here for my son...'


Danielle: 'She had big blue eyes. Really big. Anime-big. Scary-big.'
Aras: 'Do you remember a single other interesting thing about her?'
Danielle: 'Nope.'
Terry: 'Nope.'
Aras: 'Nope.'
Melinda: 'Nope.'


Terry: 'She changed the whole game. If she'd found the mini-idol before me...'
Aras: 'She might have used it. What a tragedy that would have been.'
Misty: 'The game is behind me now. I've been digging for it and nothing's happening.'


All remaining contestants: *shivers of pure fear*
Ruth-Marie: 'Swallow your soul! Swallow your soul!'


Aras: 'B-Dawg!'
Terry: 'Be the what?'
Danielle: 'It was so great having him around the camp.'
Aras: 'Yeah. No one ever blamed me for a suddenly-appearing odor once.'
Terry: 'Can we not discuss the mystic properties of your holes again?'
Bobby: 'Stupid people. Stupid, stupid people.'
Shii Ann: 'Hey!'


Terry: 'Dan was intelligent. He was a comrade. He was a confidant. He taught us all important things. He understood what a rare honor just getting to be out here is, and he appreciated that honor every day. He truly had the right stuff, and I miss him most of all.'
Danielle: 'And he was white.'
Terry: 'Very white.'
Aras: 'Extremely white.'
Dan: 'Damn white.'


Aras: 'Who's Nick?'
Terry & Danielle: *shrug*
Nick: '...'


Danielle: 'Best heating pad a girl ever had.'
Austin: 'I was proud just to be here. I'm even more proud to have a say in who wins the million dollars. And for full details on my pride, please look me up at Amazon and pre-order my book, Finding God While Losing Seven Digits, coming in --'


Aras: 'She was my substitute mother figure.'
Sally: 'If I'd had to wake to finding Shark Fin Boy trying to suckle one more time...'


Terry: 'I can't say anything disrespectful or even remotely sarcastic about Bruce.'
Danielle: 'Me either. I saved him because he was better than Bobby, and I wanted his wisdom near me for a little while longer. And he was an good artist, too.'
Aras: 'He was a strong warrior, and tougher than all of us put together. I can't say anything bad about him here.'
Summary Writer: 'Me either. What? What are you looking at? We're all allowed to step back once in a while and give the contestants their due. Bruce was the toughest person to ever make this show. Hand the man his five tons of internally-evacuated props and let him go back to his life.'
Bruce: *bows*


Terry: 'Do we have to torture ourselves with this before the final TC?'
Aras & Danielle: *shake their heads*
Terry: 'Moving on...'
Courtney: 'What? Why don't I get a mhpmh msmps mmmmph!'


Aras (exact quote): 'Crazy. Ugly. Beautiful. Insane.'
Danielle: 'And in love with Courtney.'
Terry: 'Serious love.'
Shane: 'Liars! You liars! You lying liars who lie! I'll get you all for this! I'll get you -- oh, look. It's the footage of me and Boston. Oh, Boston... Boston whose name you people swore on and then broke your word! Boston's name must be cleansed! And only blood will wash out the stain of dishonor... Wow! Is that me eating the cheeseburger? Did I really get that much in my mouth at once? I'm amazing, I really am -- nicotine! Nicotine!'


Danielle: 'She saved my rear.'
Aras: 'And then you had a direct hand in dumping hers.'
Danielle: 'So who says I don't know how to play this game?'
Aras & Terry: *exchange glances*
Cirie: 'I used to be afraid of leaves. No more. I used to be afraid of fish. No more. I used to be afraid of the outdoors, taking chances, and being what people weren't expecting me to be. All gone. Now, all I'll ever be afraid of is Mark Burnett.'
Jeff: '...are you people trying to get me mad?'

{And thus, the time filler nears its close, as Danielle places the torches, Terry lights the fire, and everyone steps back to watch Skull Hut burn, because it's sort of traditional and the shipping charge on the auction would just be ridiculous. The three remaining contestants keep watching the fire. They watch it burn. They watch it consume the torches and Skull Hut itself. With mild alarm, they watch it starting to spread to the island itself. And then they look out to the water and see the boat which originally delivered them speeding away. ARAS, DANIELLE, and TERRY take one quick glance at each other, then break for the water, the now-roaring fire chasing them every step of the way. They reach the shoreline just before the flames do and dive into the ocean, swimming faster than they've ever swam before, chasing down the boat -- and actually catching up to it, at least during the few precious seconds before the pilot switches into second gear. All three Survivors are left floundering in the water, wondering what on Earth they're supposed to do next. Eventually, TERRY's keen eyes catch sight of bright colors floating some distance away, which probably represents either a water challenge setup or warning buoys for one of the sixty resorts they've spent time at. Either way, it's got to be better than just waiting to drown -- at least for them -- so they swim out to it. This takes a lot of time and effort, but shallow floats and the men can cling to DANIELLE during their rest periods. Eventually, they reach the splash of hues -- and find JEFF waiting for them.}

Jeff: 'Persistent little buggers, aren't you?'
Terry (panting): 'You -- you tried to kill us...'
Jeff: 'Me? No! That was just Stage One of the final challenge, which I'm moderately displeased to say you all completed with flying colors.' (glances at the smoking remains of Exile Island) 'It's not like we were ever going to get our deposit back anyway. So. On to Stage Two, in which you will fight for the Immunity Necklace, which is back up for grabs one last time and will allow the winner both access to the Final Two and the right to choose who goes with them, and Aras, I really admire the way you can look like you haven't heard those exact words eleven times before this. Want to know what you're playing for?'
Terry: 'Jeff, you just told us what we're playing for.'
Jeff (slightly disgruntled): 'Oh. Right. I did. Want to know what you're playing with?'
All Survivors, choral response: 'Yes, please.'
Jeff (looks slightly suspicious, then): 'Fine. Aras, give me the gaudy.' {ARAS hands over the Immunity Necklace.} 'As you've probably noticed, we're standing on the edge of a floating hollow rectangle. Floating inside the hollow are three sets of four plastic lily pads, which get progressively smaller as you work down the line. You have to climb onto the first one, find a balance point, and stand up.' {DANIELLE starts to look upset, and looks progressively more upset as JEFF continues. Apparently balance isn't her strong point. Which is kind of odd, given that one permanently immobile portion of her anatomy stands no chance of shifting and sending her off. Hasn't she ever heard of the surgical advantage?} 'Once you're standing, if any part of your body other than your feet touch the platform, you're out. You fall into the water and you're out. You annoy me sufficiently and I will find a way to put you out. If you avoid all three for fifteen minutes, you move onto the next platform -- which, as I said, is smaller. You'll have one minute to find another balance point and stand. We repeat this until you reach the fourth platform, and then it's just as far on the clock as you can go. Last one standing gets the necklace and the usual baggage that goes with it, plus that mythical one-in-two chance at a million pre-tax dollars. Worth playing for?'
All Survivors, choral response: 'Jawohl, mein commandant!'
Jeff (looks completely disgruntled, then removes notepad from pocket and starts writing): 'Note for future seasons: surviving not-at-all-a-murder-attempt makes them cocky... Okay, untermensch, onto the first platform.'

{Everyone climbs on: TERRY on the pink left, DANIELLE center black, ARAS purple right. JEFF gets comfortable on the outer edge, near ARAS' position. After a little initial struggling, all the contestants find an initial balance point and stay there. These first pads are fairly large and have some room to move -- you can shift and adjust your feet all you like, you just can't touch the platform with anything else -- but even the largest size of support is dipping dangerously under the contestants' remaining weight. It's clear that the occupied platforms are going to get closer to the water as they get smaller, and the last one may go completely under. DANIELLE is best off with her lesser mass, but even she'll be getting her feet wet at the end -- if they go that far. TERRY has his knees slightly bent and his arms out to the sides. DANIELLE is a bit less crooked, with her hands laced together in front of her. ARAS is almost completely vertical, eyes half-closed, half-meditating.}

Jeff: 'And we're underway. Everyone think they're okay? Everyone thinks they're going to win?'

{All three contestants toss off a thumbs-up, moving from left to right.}

Jeff: 'You don't want to talk. I understand. This challenge takes intense concentration. You don't want anything to take you out of your focus. You certainly don't want me to describe every last detail of what Julie and I did last night in such verbiage that it's almost as if you were there. Because that's really what the cameras I hid around the room were for, and once you see the finished film, you'll understand what a brilliant editor I can personally be. But until then, just to get you warmed up, let me set the mood. After bathing in what remained of Melinda's antifreeze, I put on my best silk boxers and...'

{The camera, which is allowed one moment of mercy per season, invokes it here and cuts away. Time passes, and we return at the ten-minute mark. No one's moved. One person has decided to talk.}

Danielle (near-exact quote): 'We should have brought a drop line. There's huge fish on the bottom here.'
Jeff (near-exact quote): 'You wish you'd brought a drop line?'
Danielle: 'Well, yeah. Look at them all. I can see them fine from my angle. They're gigantic. They're probably tasty. And they're not even puffers.'
Jeff: 'So in the middle of the most important challenge you've ever been in -- you're thinking about food?
Danielle: 'I decided to go for the Stephenie edit at the last minute.'
Jeff: 'No! Don't! Take that back before --!'

{There's a loud splash somewhere off camera. Then there's -- something. It's hard to make out, but it's huge and dark and low in the water and has a gigantic mouth with many, many teeth. All of them operate at top speed for five seconds of pure feeding frenzy as the Survivors scream and JEFF holds onto the edge of the wave-battered platform as if his life depends on it -- and then there's silence.}

Jeff (visibly shaken) 'Well, there were a lot of fish in the water. Thanks a lot, Danielle.'
Danielle: '...sorry?'
Jeff: *sighs* 'Killing you people, that we can get away with, but extincting ten species in under a minute? That's gonna be paperwork...'

{The first fifteen minutes run out, and JEFF tells the contestants to crawl to their next platform. This isn't just because JEFF likes to see people crawl almost as much as he likes to see them tangled in ropes: it's because a direct step onto the shaky pad would put people in the water. Everyone finds their new balance point and stands up, with TERRY and ARAS in the same positions, and DANIELLE now with her arms out for balance. ARAS, who has the greatest mass, has the surface of his pad so close to the water that liquid sluices across it on the slightest shift. TERRY is close to that mark, but DANIELLE is still fairly dry. All that water means ARAS runs into a little trouble at the eight-minute mark, but he regains his balance quickly. The second fifteen minutes expire without further player difficulties.}

Jeff: 'This is where you'll have to do what Julie did last night. But first, crawl to your third platform and find a position. I know all about finding positions. I've found three. Two of them involve ropes. Roooopes...' (drools slightly)

{Everyone makes the transfer and begins the one-minute period for finding a comfortable, workable position. DANIELLE stays kneeling for a few seconds, trying to find a place that's safe to stand up from. ARAS decides he's got one, stands up -- and dumps himself off onto JEFF's side of the rectangle. He's still within his minute, so he's allowed to try again, and does so by stepping directly onto his pad instead of crawling onto it -- with the expected result: ARAS goes into the water. There's still forty-five seconds remaining, though, and ARAS climbs back on to try yet again.}

{Meanwhile, TERRY's gotten onto his pad, but he's not sure if he's got a good place to stand up from, either. It has to be done eventually, though, and there isn't a whole lot of 'eventually' to play with -- so he tries, just as ARAS also goes for a standing position. ARAS makes it. TERRY doesn't and falls into the water. DANIELLE still hasn't stood up. TERRY clutches at his platform, partially overturning it and revealing the pair of JEFF's loaned-out ropes strung underneath it: two support points, no single pivot -- but it's still hard to balance at this stage, and he has only thirty seconds to do so. Up again. On again. Off again. DANIELLE's still in a crouch, but manages to get up at the fifteen-second mark. TERRY dumps himself off at thirteen seconds.}

{JEFF counts it down, voice placid, calm, funereal. With ten seconds left, TERRY belly-flops onto his platform, tries to stand again, find a balance point, any balance point, something he can adjust from once he's up... Three seconds, two, one -- and he's up. With no time left on the clock, he's up.}

Jeff: 'Close one, Terry. What happened there?'
Terry: 'My right foot! It's all cramped in on itself, like it was caving in towards the center, like I can't exert enough pressure to flatten it out no matter what I do! What's happening to me?'
Jeff: 'Let me think. Have you done anything unusual with that foot lately? Stepped on a crab?'
Terry: 'No.'
Jeff: 'Held it in the fire to dry it off?'
Terry: 'Never.'
Jeff: 'Tried to mash the gas on an overpowered car that gets a grand total of two and a half miles to the fill-up?'
Terry: 'Oh, hell.'

{And twelve seconds later, he's down.}

{TERRY teeters, and the idol falls.}

{The music goes deep and dark as TERRY swims to the platform's edge. ARAS doesn't notice: he's too busy being in trouble. His weight now has his feet completely in the water, and DANIELLE's lighter body is still dry. He'll have the ocean to deal with more than she will, his body is already rocking and trying to adjust every few seconds -- but he's actually lucky, because if he somehow gets another fifteen minutes in, there's no fish left to nibble his toes. However, whether ARAS can last another three minutes is starting to become a serious question... until DANIELLE plays her only card.}

Danielle: *significant glance and nod*
Aras: *sudden, curious interest, with a quick, risky glance back*
Danielle: *even more significant glance and extremely intense nodding*
Aras: *jumps off pad towards Jeff's edge, nearly ramming his chin into the inner lining*
Jeff: 'Well, that was unexpected... Danielle wins her first, last, and most important Immunity!'
Terry: 'Oh, crap.'
Danielle: *pats the Immunity necklace after Jeff places it on top of her torso. The consistency is suspiciously familiar*
Jeff: 'Think about who you're taking and then bring your decision to Tribal Council. You have two wrong choices in front of you and you'd better make one fast. See you in a few hours.' (Jeff's cell phone rings. He answers it.) 'Hello? Oh, hi. Sure, you can talk to him. Aras? It's for you.' (Passes over phone.)
Aras (takes phone, then, timidly): 'Hello?'
Ian: 'You idiot!'

{Commercials, and then we're back at Gitanos beach, where DANIELLE is trying to make the decision by not making the decision and having people make the decision for her. As she puts it, 'My brain started thinking right away', and yes, there is a first time for everything. But she has something to think about. Sure, she's got a Final Two pact with TERRY, and in the name of that pact, she might have just lured ARAS to his doom. But on the other hand, she could switch to ARAS, and let TERRY drift off onto the jury where he can only do so much harm.}

Danielle (exact quote): 'I'm not going to take someone because I made a promise to them.' (And thus, the transformation is complete.}

{It's the eternal 'who could I beat?' question, and for DANIELLE, the answer is 'Courtney'. (This also would have been the answer for Jon Dalton. Such a pity...) Unfortunately, that option's closed, so TERRY and ARAS make their best efforts at presenting the case for their respective sides. TERRY gives out his rationale while he and DANIELLE are off getting water.}

Terry: 'We good?'
Danielle: 'What is this 'we' crap, white man?'
Terry: 'Do I look like Dan to you?'
Danielle: 'No. You look like someone who could beat me.'
Terry: 'This is a joke, right? Look, vote off Aras, and most of that jury is Casaya. They hate me. I kept winning Immunity and forcing them to vote off their own. I'm not getting any favors there. See the three La Minas? They hate me too, because I kept winning Immunity and they had to go before me. No votes from them, either. Take me and it's the first-ever 7-0 sweep in your favor. Do you have something against setting records?' (exact quote) '"Hi, guys. I won a bunch of challenges and then was a nail in your side. Can I please have your vote?" Nuh-uh. Not happening.' (Hey! Terry finally realized there's a social component to the game! And it's only Day 38!)
Danielle: 'But they'll think I was disloyal because I took you at all.'
Terry: 'It'll just make things more salt vs. sugar for them. Believe me. Look, if I'd won, I would have told you to prepare your opening remarks by now. I keep my word.'
Danielle: 'But if you'd given me the idol, I'd have more reason to trust you, and then I could have turned the vote 3-1 against you and only had to beat Cirie and Aras instead of you and -- oh, how could this get more complicated?'
Terry: *pained, weary silence*
Danielle: 'My head hurts.'
Terry: 'Muscles always ache when you've never used them before.'
Danielle (exact quote): 'I'm so indecisive as it is because I'm a Gemini...'
Terry: 'It's a little late for pandering to the Spoilers board.'

{TERRY and DANIELLE return to camp, where ARAS has been getting progressively more paranoid over their unheard conversation. He claims it's his first paranoia in the entire game. Yeah. Right. Sure. He's certainly getting the hang of it really fast.}

Aras (c-t): 'Is it me? Is it him? Are they conspiring against me? Is Jeff involved somewhere? Did someone smuggle in directions from outside? Do I need to check Shane's Blackberry? Oh, God -- what's his password? Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah -- no, that was the security code for the thinking rock!'

{TERRY heads off to fish a little with that still-unexplained spear, which gives DANIELLE and ARAS their chance at a conversation.}

Aras: 'If you played me into jumping off that pad, after you made a silent promise to me with significant glances and nodding -- I am going to be so majorly bummed...'
Danielle: 'I don't see why I should keep a promise I made under duress.'
Aras: 'You weren't the one under duress. You were standing. You were stable. I was shifting every two seconds. I was the one under duress.'
Danielle: 'Look, I can only use the word 'duress' because someone else is putting it in my mouth right now. It's way too much to expect me to know what it means, too.'
Aras: 'Fair enough. Then let me put it this way. If you put me on the jury, I'll poison it, and I don't mean the way they got Bruce. You'll lose my vote, and you'll lose Cirie's vote, and you might even lose Shane's vote if I can just rig his coin to come up on the scratched side every flip. That's three against you right there, you know Courtney hates you, and that's all it takes. Terry's a millionaire and Shane has to take an extra day off to drive him to the bank. How's that sitting with you, Dee? How do you feel about keeping your word now, huh?' (smiles brilliant, happy yoga master smile) 'Is all right with your internal universe yet?'
Danielle: 'My head is splitting apart. I'm going to take a walk to the confessional.'
Aras (nods sagely): 'Muscles always ache when you've never used them before.'
Danielle: 'Oh, God.' (flees)
Aras: 'Peace, love, and goodwill!'
Danielle (c-t): 'Aras is all about honesty and integrity. And yet he thinks it's bad that I don't have either of those things. What a hypocrite! I'm going to play the game the way I've played it the whole way: with no visible thought, consideration for my actions, knowledge of what I'm getting myself into, or use of the self-consciousness of a flea. It got me to the final two, didn't it?'

{DANIELLE takes a moment (and a pen and some paper that was probably scavenged from the camera crew on the sly) to write out the potential list of jurors, then stares at it for a while. It's worth noting that she spells two names wrong.}

{Speculation time ends, and the contestants start to pack for Tribal Council. DANIELLE approaches TERRY.}

Danielle: 'I still haven't made up my mind.'
Terry: 'Don't worry about it. I'm just proud that you were able to find it on its first operational day. Look.' (TERRY and DANIELLE move over to where ARAS can hear them.) 'I'll make it simple. You won the final Immunity. The decision is yours. You take Aras, fine. You take me, also fine. I free you from all pacts. I release you from all promises. Whatever you do, you do -- wait. Does the hair on my arms look like it's turning red?'
Aras: 'Yeah. That's weird. Attractive, but weird.'
Terry: 'Am I speaking with a Utah accent?'
Aras: 'I think so. Give me a hug?'
{ARAS and TERRY hug.}
Terry: 'I love the way you give good competition.'
Aras: 'I love the way you dish it out.'
Terry: 'After this is over -- I know this mountain --'
Aras: 'Dude, I am so there.'
Danielle: 'Awww... you two are so adorable together! Group hug!'
Terry: 'Girl hug? Yuck!'
Aras: 'Yeah. Totally red.'

{The window jumps to Tribal Council, and the jury enters the frame. SHANE has decided to put on what can best be described as a hippie power shirt, and no, not BJ & Tyler: classic 60s attire. CIRIE has dressed up in her best 'I will decide your fate like the African princess I truly am' outfit, and has thus accomplished the best post-ouster makeover of the group. (That's my opinion, and Larry's not talking me out of it.) Nearly everyone takes their seats. SHANE, who's been stuck in a rut for a while now, takes his rock. DANIELLE winds up seated between TERRY and ARAS, the tiny slice of meat in a steel sandwich, and don't think that wasn't intentional.}

Jeff: 'So the two big challenge dogs went at each other, and the little yap vermin scooted in underneath and bit off their genitals. Danielle, how does it feel to be wearing that piece of macaroni-glued junk?'
Danielle: 'Very weird. It makes me smell like Terry.' {TERRY grins.} 'My brain feels like it's about to explode. I can't make this decision. I pick Terry, I win. I pick Aras, I win. How do I decide which one's more likely to make me a winner? I already know I can beat both of them. I want to take both of them with me and beat them in a single shot, but it doesn't work that way. I can only beat one. This guaranteed win is driving me nuts!'
Jeff: '...okay, subject change... Terry! Let's talk about your once-winning ways. You won so many Immunities and so many Rewards, yet here you are, with your rear finally on the line at last. What does that tell you about the way you played the game?'
Terry: 'It tells me it's all your fault for not making my mini-idol good through Final Two.'
The jury, choral gasp: 'What?'
Jeff: 'So you're confirming right now, in front of God, Shane, and everybody, that you had the mini-idol pretty much all along.'
Terry: 'Sure. Didn't everyone know that?' {COURTNEY faints from shock.} 'Apparently not... Look, I think it's in Danielle's best interest to take me. Who wouldn't want the 7-0 shutout?'
Jeff: 'Colby. And I hate you for making me have to say it. Aras, what's your position?'
Aras: 'I think it's in our best interests, and I mean Danielle and I, for us to be the Final Two, because I could use the money and she could use still more money. Terry will get a thousand commercial endorsements as an Air Force recruiting poster after this. All I have is my hair gel. I have approached this game out of honesty and love, and out of that very same honesty and love, I've threatened Danielle's very existence. I think she should admire my consistency.'
Jeff: 'I certainly do. But I refuse to buy your hair gel.'
Aras: 'Already have a brand?'
Jeff: 'Already have a blood farm. Danielle, does this decision get more difficult the longer you think about it?'
Danielle: *whirrr. click* 'Math is hard.' (her hands come up to her face, fingers digging in underneath the eyes as if about to scratch off all the skin)
Jeff: 'I think your batteries may need changing. Okay, you all know the drill. Terry and Aras can't vote for Danielle and they cancel each other out. Danielle casts one vote, gets rid of one person, and brings us one step closer to the end of this mess. Danielle, go vote.'

{DANIELLE sits in place, frozen, a thin line of smoke coming out of each ear.}

Jeff: 'Danielle, stop thinking and go vote.'
Danielle (instantly perks up): 'Whee! Vote time! Yay! Does anyone have a butterfly ballot I can misuse?'
Jeff: 'That should not have been that easy...'

{DANIELLE goes over to the voting area, pauses for several seconds, and finally writes down a name before returning to her seat.}

Jeff: 'Tally-ho!'
Danielle: 'Hey!'
Jeff: 'Have someone read you a book, willya? Look. The vote. I will. Now. Read the. Vote. Okay? Reading is a great skill, really it is... So as soon as I read this thing, the person on it will clear their rear out of here. Everyone understand that? Fine. The fourteenth person out and final member of our jury is -- what? Who is this supposed to be? 'Terri'? Who the hell is Terri? Did we get an extra woman in here and no one told me? Is she cute?'
Danielle: 'Well -- he lost. That made him the girl.'
Jeff: 'Oh. Well, Terri, gather your skirt and bounce on up here.'

{TERRI gives ARAS one final hug, then flounces all the way to the torch snuffer.}

Jeff: 'Terri, Babbling Boston Barbie has spoken. It's time for you to go.'
Terri: 'I guess she just wanted to stretch out the voting drama or something.'
Jeff: 'Or something.'
Terry (exact quote): 'Thanks for the journey, guys.' (He gets it. For a moment, you could actually almost think he finally gets it. Almost...) {TERRI departs.}
Jeff: 'I make this speech every year, so this time, I'll just hit the essence of it. The people you've screwed will now have one day to think about how they're going to screw you. Go back to camp and start planning out your verbal rape shield.'

{DANIELLE and ARAS depart. TERRI gets in her final words.}

Terri: 'The million dollars for winning the game doesn't matter any more. What CBS pays for the air rights of my wedding to Aras is going to make Romber sick.'

{Commercials, which include one for Big Brother All Stars, or, as I'm encouraging people to call it, B.B.A.Stards, and it's there just to remind us that by the end of next month, we'll actually have a reason to miss this season -- and then we're back in night vision at the Gitanos camp, with ARAS and DANIELLE returning.}

Aras: 'You know something? I think we were the two youngest people in the game, and here we are at the end.'
Danielle (exact quote): 'Youngest, but smartest.'
Aras (c-t): 'Remember, kids: beauty often fades, but the benefits from associating with stupidity can last a lifetime. I am ecstatic right now. Which feels really weird, because up until now, I've always thought of myself as more of an Akashic -- okay, nobody got that...'
Danielle: 'Do you think the rest of the jury was surprised that I picked Terri?'
Aras: 'I think they expected you to do whatever you thought was best.'
Danielle: 'I hope I get used to this 'thinking' stuff. I'm not sure it's really working out for me.'
Aras (c-t): 'I played with integrity. I played with intensity. I played to have a good time. I got engaged. Not bad for one season. Hey, Rawb! All I need is four votes to beat you! Take that!'
Danielle (c-t): 'I took Aras with me because he's Casaya and he'll split Casaya's jury votes between me and him, as opposed to my getting all of those votes by taking Terri. That's what my brain told me. Or at least that's what I think it told me. It was hard to make out words through all those weird grinding noises. But that's okay, because I can give my brain the day off tomorrow. I'm a salesperson out there in the real world, and you know what I sell with? My gut. Well, maybe in the general vicinity. But do you know what I played with? My gut. I listened to my gut. I followed my gut. I -- hey, I don't know what those new letters where my name should go mean, but I don't think they're supposed to be a right turn, tadpole, and tipped-over cross...'

{Sunrise, and it's finally Day 39, which finds ARAS and DANIELLE on their way to collect one last piece of Tree Mail: a congratulatory note to the Final Two, some assorted fruit, eggs, pancake mix, orange juice, milk, and chilled champagne. (There's also champagne glasses and some utensils -- the pancakes need a spatula, which DANIELLE consumes the batter directly from in the least attractive Survivor shot of all time. Since there's nothing quite like the thought of facing the jury drunk -- as opposed to the nightmare of facing them sober -- our last contestants immediately go for the most obvious target. Hangover, ho!}

Danielle: 'HEY!'

{...I have no idea how she did that.}

{ARAS gets more than a little buzz out of the booze -- it somehow winds up super-spiking his hair -- but there's nothing like a little good alcohol to inspire a really bad idea, so ARAS decides to take DANIELLE for one last walk around the island, bringing the bottle and a couple of glasses with them. It's just a little thing, getting the classic 'we're the Final Two, so let's pretend we appreciate our gameplay site' scene out of the way for the editing team. Basic contestant consideration. And it's well under way, with our happy couple striding out across the rocks of the beach (and no, this doesn't count as cheating on TERRI), when ARAS steps on the wrong rock at the wrong time and falls.}

{But it's not the fall. It's the landing. And what you were holding when you went down...}

{ARAS goes backwards. The bottle falls out of his hand and fails to break, rolling a short distance away. The glass he was carrying goes backwards with him and shatters, a large piece embedding itself in his lower back as he goes down on top of the scattered wreckage. ARAS immediately pushes himself to his feet, lacerating his left palm in the process, and then instinctively pulls the glass out of his back as he staggers away, cutting up his left pinky as he does so. ARAS is hurt. Badly. He seems to have gotten all the glass out, but he's bleeding profusely from hand and back, the fish cleaning has turned into foreshadowing, and infection's always a risk out here... especially after ARAS staggers a little more and goes down face-first in the sand, getting all sorts of dirt and granules in his hand wounds.}

{What's particularly interesting in this scene is DANIELLE's reaction. She does not run for help. She does not immediately try to get ARAS up. The wounds are not washed out in readily-available salt water. She basically stands around with mild disinterest, c-t commenting on how she doesn't like the sight of blood, with no attempts to render first aid, comfort ARAS in any way, or provide anything even remotely resembling assistance. She does stay with him, but where he is, that's where the camera is going to be: where else would she go? So ARAS staggers back to camp, leaving a trail of red in the sand behind him, and DANIELLE follows, looking mostly bored.}

{Once the contestants reach camp, DANIELLE takes care of her first priority by taking time-out for a confessional to talk about how much all the blood is bothering her. In mainstream camera time, she finally pats some of the dirt deeper into ARAS' wounds with a dirty towel right around the time ARAS' hand is starting to go numb -- then calls for the Survivor medics, because those wounds are going to need stitches to seal the infecting agents in. Now there's a risk to this, and it all belongs to ARAS. As it turns out, you can call for a medic at any time for pretty much any injury, and most of the time, you can get treatment on the spot and be returned to the game -- but if the medic decides you're too hurt to continue, you are out, and there's no argument allowed. That's why so many players over the seasons have been so reluctant to yell for help. But given a choice between a medivac and bleeding to death before the jury gets a chance to not only inflict the wounds, but lap up the blood -- well, that's an easy one. Especially for DANIELLE, who's seeing visions of 'win by default' in whatever bits of her brain remain active. In comes SurvivorDoc.}

SurvivorDoc: 'It's not so bad. You need three stitches on your finger, four on the palm, and I think just one will do for the back. We'll give you a little numbing agent before we do the needle, and that'll be it. Just keep the dressings clean and you can stay in the game.'
Aras: 'Don't give me any hard drugs. Don't mess up my thinking. I can deal with the pain if it means I can form complete sentences in front of the jury...'
Danielle (to SurvivorDoc): 'Start with the morphine drip and work your way up from there.'

{SurvivorDoc cleans and stitches the wounds. There doesn't seem to be any glass in them, so ARAS should be fine for TC.}

Danielle (c-t): 'I couldn't watch when they put the needle in his hand. I was having kind of a phobic reaction. That's not for me, the idea of a foreign object being placed in your body -- hey! I meant singular!'
Aras (c-t, exact quote): 'I got my butt kicked by the elements out here. I got my butt kicked by Terry Deitz a lot of the time. I got my butt kicked by my own short-sightedness, falling down on the rocks. Despite the fact that I've been out here thirty-nine days, I feel like my ego has been crushed.' (The line of former Survivors to send out to the rocks starts behind Burton.)

{Commercials, and then we're back with ARAS and DANIELLE in camp, with ARAS ruminating about what the fall has taught him. And then ARAS says one of the most interesting things in series history.}

Aras (exact quote): 'I came in as a buffoon, and I went out as a buffoon, and in between, I did some pretty cool things. That's life. You fall, you get back up, and you try again.' (pauses) 'Sometimes you need to get stitched up before you can try again.'

(DANIELLE manages a tiny laugh of disappointment -- so much for the default win -- but guess who's actually grown and changed from his time out in Panama? ARAS. ARAS has Figured Something Out. That's rare in this game. It's rare on any show. It's rare in life.}

Aras (c-t): 'I don't have to be Superman. I don't even have to be Clark. I sure don't have to be Terri, no matter how much I love her. I just have to go in front of the jury as Aras. Getting hurt like this reminded me that I can be hurt -- and that pain's a transient thing. Ultimately, so is the million. But insight? That's forever.'
Danielle (c-t, near-exact quote): 'I didn't learn a single thing about myself that I didn't already know coming into this game.'
Aras: 'Danielle, come here. One more hug. No matter what happens, I'll never forget being here with you. I'll never forget the moments -- or the people I spent those moments with.'
Danielle: *awkward, 'well, he brought the beer' laugh*

{Any questions?}

{The camp is struck, but not burned. The beach needs cleaning, badly. The litter just screams 'Americans have been here!' In the most telling shot of all, the mini-idol lies in the sand, face half-covered in grains, forever unused, now discarded and forgotten, at least until eBay do it fetch four digits. And we're off, with the window moving over the landscape until we reach, for one last time, Tribal Council.}

{The jury walks in. SHANE is still in his hippie power shirt. TERRI looks much the same, although the plunging neckline is new. And JEFF is -- well -- distressed?}

Jeff: 'Wait a minute! No one, but no one, hurts my contestants but me! Aras, did Danielle do that to you? She's out of here! I'll bring Terri back in for the Final Two, Dan goes to the jury, and we'll see what happens the second time an engaged couple faces off...'
Aras: 'Jeff! It's okay! I slipped on the rocks and broke a glass! It's just a few stitches!'
Jeff (breathing hard): 'A few?'
Aras: 'Okay -- eight.' {SHANE's jaw drops. CIRIE winces hard.} 'But I'm fine. Really.'
Jeff: 'Well -- okay. If you say so.' (closes his eyes for several seconds, takes multiple deep breaths) 'Now back to our regularly scheduled reaming. The jury has had a day to think about how they're going to screw you. I'll give you each a chance to ask them to at least smile while they're doing it. Aras, you go first.'
Aras: 'Okay -- hi, guys! I guess I worked hard, I played hard, I socialized well, and I played the game with honesty and integrity. Remember those words. Honesty and integrity. Oh, and if you feel like giving me a million dollars, that would be nice, too. Thank you.'

{The jury takes this with stone faces. CIRIE and TERRI are exceptionally locked-in. SALLY laughs slightly upon hearing the H&I words.}

Jeff: 'Danielle, you're up. And if anyone starts bleeding, I will blame you.'
Danielle: 'Oh, for -- it's not like he died or anything! And besides, standing around doing nothing was my whole strategy from start to finish! You can't ask me to change it now!'
Jeff: 'Is that your opening statement?'
Danielle: 'Umm... no. Wait. Okay. I came out here as myself, which was as a person who thinks honesty and integrity are really nice, but they're not for me. I knew I'd have to betray someone eventually, and I'm hoping you'll respect both who I betrayed and the timing I used in doing it. You've got a tough decision tonight, and I hope you make the right one. I'm pretty sure that means me. Does anyone else smell burning gears?'

{SHANE wants to be stonefaced, but can barely manage insane bemusement. TERRI and COURTNEY take the words about well-timed betrayals about as well as you'd expect: e.g: incoming!}

Jeff: 'Okay, you know the routine. A jury member can ask a question, or make a statement, or make a really long statement leading up to a question. Since Sue's writing team violated our trust by actually asking to be paid, you people are on your own. I fully expect this to be the most boring jury ever. Please let me down. Sally, you're up first.'
Sally (with her hair in sidetails, wearing the dumbest-looking necklace in the world, and looking like nothing so much as a four year-old who got into her mother's closet): 'Naturally, since you're sitting there instead of me, I hate you. I hate you so much I could just give you cooties. So I'm going to ask you the hardest question I could think of since the day you unfairly used your bullying number advantage to get rid of me.' (deep breath) 'Which of your fellow Casayas contributed most to your success? See! Take that! You can't handle my truth!'
Danielle: 'Um... Cirie? Because I was on Exile Island for -- one-two-three-four-five -- six days of the thirty-nine, and she always told me what had been going on in camp when I got back. Plus she outright saved me at least twice, but I really don't want to go into that right now because I'm in the middle of convincing myself that I did all the work on that.'
Aras: 'As if I'm going to let Danielle steal a vote. Mine's Cirie too, because we were friends, we were strategy partners, we took each other on a reward, and she's just so cute in that dress.'
Sally: 'Meanies!' (sits down)
Jeff: 'Is there anyone else in the world who has to live with the pain of having their expectations fulfilled...? Bruce.'
Bruce (looking better, which is what really counts): 'Wow. I'm alive. I can actually talk to you guys. What a privilege to still be here... You two are samurais, you know that?' (weaves slightly as the drugs continue to do their work) 'What I want to know is, whichever one of you wins the title of Sole Survivor, how are you going to use that fame? What will you do with the -- responsibility? Where did that pink elephant come from?'
Aras: 'I don't think I can inspire anyone else unless I change myself first, so that's my priority when I get back: build a better Aras. But I'm working on it right now, too!'
Danielle: 'This experience I'm having this very minute -- that of forming complete and occasionally complex sentences -- is absolutely enthralling, and I'm sure I'd say that even if I knew what 'enthralling' meant. So I'm going to go into a life of public speaking.' {SHANE's expression transmutes into a mixture of utter disdain and complete disgust. AUSTIN, who works with words more than any of them, just looks vaguely ill.} 'I'm sure I'll be able to retain this experience once I leave the show.'
Jeff: 'I never do this -- I've never done this, and I'll probably never do it again -- but I have to ask a favor. Hey, you out there? Stop imposing your brand of order on this chaos. Withdraw, just for a second. Danielle, answer the question again.'
Danielle: 'Ah cin rilly tawk good to peeple an' make dem feel jus' like me.'
Jeff: 'Okay, that's enough. Come back now.'
Danielle: 'Did that have a point?'
Jeff: 'You have no idea. Bruce, you're done?'
Bruce: *nods and bows, then takes his seat*
Jeff: 'Terri, it's your show.'
Terri (who's really flattered by that high skirt cut along the right leg): 'Danielle, were you actually in this game? Have to deceive someone? I never backstabbed a single person, and I might even say that if I wasn't editing my own memory, too. I just won immunity after immunity and stood ready to never use the mini-idol. If you can do that, you never have to betray a single person. You probably can't win, either, but that's not the topic here. The point is that one day, after your family and friends yell at you enough times, and your brain accidentally sparks back into action for five minutes, and you've learned to read, you're going to look in the record book and your name won't be under the 7-0 victory line. I hope you can live with that.' {DANIELLE looks uncomfortable.} 'So let's get to my specialty. My focus. Me. On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate your performance in the challenges? Because this game is about outplaying and outlasting -- nothing else -- and I need to hear your assessment of those two qualities in yourselves.'
Jeff: 'And outwitting.'
Terri: 'And what now?'
Aras: 'I'd give myself a nine, because I fought hard in every challenge, I always gave my all, and I regret nothing -- except not beating you a few more times, sweetheart.'
Danielle: 'Well -- umm... eight and a half -- maybe nine -- definitely nine if I didn't eat that cheeseburger, but I didn't hear Jeff right and I thought it was a cheeseburger-eating challenge which Shane won anyway... I was a challenge machine, really. So without the cheeseburger, nine and a half, maybe eleven.'
Terri (in raw disbelief): 'Jeff, do you believe this?'
Jeff: 'No, but she does. Austin, you're up.'
Austin: 'So. Well. I've been thinking about this really hard, I've been using my writer's brain to construct a perfect question, and in the end, this is what I got. I want you to tell me one solid, positive move that got you ahead the game, and one dirtier one that you might regret now, but it still helped you a little. And that's why editing is vital to more than just reality television.'
Danielle: 'Good: I saved Bruce. Bad: I helped get rid of Courtney. If I'd found a way to keep myself and her, she'd be my ideal Final Two partner.' {TERRI looks as disgusted as you'd expect.}
Aras: 'Good: I told Melinda she was going home instead of letting the second boot be a surprise to her, so she had time to prepare herself mentally for it. Bad: I helped get rid of Shane and I lied to him in the middle of it about what I was doing. I mean, talk about dumping your ideal Final Two partners...' {SHANE's reaction to this is a strange, desynchronized double-blink that makes it look like his brain is falling asleep in stages.}
Jeff: 'Got it. Austin, sit down. And now, God help us all -- Courtney.'

{COURTNEY, sitting in the back row behind and between BRUCE and SHANE, perks up at the sound of her name, and then uses both men's shoulders as a push-off for a vault out to the speaking area. SHANE is not happy about the contact. COURTNEY does not notice. There are many things COURTNEY is beyond noticing, and one of them is called 'the sun'. She is wearing a ring half the size of her hand, an animal claw necklace, has her naturally-matted hair pulled into a fountain shape, and is dressed to show off aspects of a figure she does not, in fact, have. It is time for COURTNEY to ask her question, make her statement, or possibly both. And, powers help me, I'm going to do the thing I didn't want to do. Brace yourselves.}

Courtney (exact quote): 'I forgot my guns... they've been dropped in the Sea of Forgiveness...' (her hands are momentarily in pistol shapes, then move up to go against her face, deep breath, drop) 'Wow. I came in here wanting to play with integrity, and to be light and love and a shining being -- and wow, did I struggle with that, because you certainly both stabbed me in the back with a knife that was very deep -- it took me about a week to remove it from my back, it was so deep -- especially from Danielle, who -- which -- I had total trust in her, I was never going to vote you out, I don't know who made up that lie -- but I'm holding no chip on my shoulder, because chips on your shoulder of regret and anger --' (deep breath) '-- weigh you down, and I'm a bird, so I've gotta fly. But moreso than anything, I learned a ton about myself, and that points me to my question: for you, through this experience, more than the game and the money and the nuh-la-la-la, what did you really learn about yourself that you're going to take out of here and walk with every single day?'

{Birds fall out of the trees, stunned. CIRIE nearly dies from swallowing an excess of giggles. Six thousand assorted English teachers around the world do die, but no one misses them. SHANE is awarded the Medal Of Freedom for his heroic efforts in not strangling this loony tune in her sleep on Day Four. AUSTIN realizes there's no way he'll ever be able to write that well -- or that badly -- and breaks down weeping. JEFF just looks poleaxed.}

Jeff: 'Umm... oh, God, my brain, my poor, useless brain.... Aras?'
Aras: 'My ego has been crushed. Again.'
Courtney (you tell me): 'And that's good! My ego was smashed into smithereens, and it'll really help your spiritual journey, because you're going to need it out there, and I mean your ego. Which was smashed.'
Danielle: 'Well, I've learned I'm a lot mentally stronger than I thought, which is funny because I've never relied on anything mental before this...'
Courtney: 'And in a sense, that's your great spiritual gift to yourself, in a sense! Because you couldn't rely on Boyfriend or Daddy or anyone but the you, the true inner you that's deep inside, and through that reliance you learned who you are, who you could be if only you learned to trust you. You know?'
Danielle (exact quote): 'Thank you for explaining that to me.'
Courtney: 'Well, that's my gift to you, because my life is to learn -- and what I've learned here is that we're all on a deeper journey, a spiritual journey, and I am the great mother-being that appears to voyagers on that road and tell them the deepest secrets of their hearts before flying back to her roost and tending to her chicks. I love you all. Kisses!' {COURTNEY vaults back over SHANE and BRUCE, using their shoulders a second time, and sits down.}
Jeff (looks at all cast members except Courtney, eyes deep and serious): 'Promise me that if we ever have a second All-Stars and she's selected, you'll kill me before the first day of filming.' {EVERYONE (except COURTNEY) nods.} 'Thank you.'
Courtney: 'Bad karma, Jeff. Bad, bad karma.'
Jeff: 'Cirie. Please be sane.'
Cirie (exact quote): 'Well... kind of hard to follow Courtney...' (paraphrase) 'Look, you all know I'm the biggest fan of the show here, and there's one question I've always gotten a kick out of, because it's fun to watch your faces when you have to answer it. So here it is, coming from me, and this is the coolest moment of my life. Each of you, tell me why I should vote for the other one.'
Danielle: 'Aras is -- a decent person, or at least he gives off the illusion of being one. Either way, you don't see it often.'
Aras: 'My memory from this morning is a little hazy, but I dimly recall Danielle pressing the world's dirtiest towel to me in an attempt to stop the bleeding that was making her sick, kill me with a fast-acting infection, and when that didn't work, she tried to get me drugged into oblivion. You just don't see that kind of gameplay very often, either.'
Jeff: 'As I was saying: All-Stars Two, death wish still stands. And now, it's time for the bell to toll for thee. Shane -- come on down.'

{SHANE comes on down. His hair is flying wildly with each step. The hippie power shirt has not brought him peace, so apparently the only vibrations it picked up from COURTNEY was extra insanity. Here we go...}

Shane: 'Hello, Final Two. Two undeserving jerks with no right to be there. But congratulations on making it here on no skill, no merit, and no brains. Really. That takes some serious scriptwriting.' {ARAS and DANIELLE freeze. So does JEFF.} 'Here's some words I never thought I'd say: Terri was wrong. We've been talking since she came to the jury, and guess what? It wouldn't have been a 7-0 shutout. I only wish I was standing here asking her a complete softball question as a prelude to giving her a million-dollar dowry. Danielle? Let's see -- what did you do around camp -- oh, right. Nothing. You lounged in your bikini and waited for other people to do work. The only time you got motivated was when food was involved. We all saw you going for the Steph edit --'
Aras, Terri, Danielle, and Jeff, chorus: 'NO!'

{A huge shadow flies across the window. When it's gone, half the skulls on the set are missing, and the remaining half sport the multiple tooth marks of a fresh gnawing. Half of COURTNEY's hair is gone, and ARAS' bandages have been sucked dry.}

Shane: '...what just happened?'
Jeff: 'Just don't say the name again and we'll be okay.'
Shane: 'Got it.'
Jeff: 'By the way, you're unusually -- together -- tonight.'
Shane: 'Oh, the crazy? Total act to get me to Final Two. Pity it backfired. Now, where was I? Oh, right. Danielle. Outwit? I knew you for thirty-three days, and here's what I learned: you can't complete a coherent sentence on your own. Really good way to outwit someone. And you contradict yourself every five seconds. What's the saying? 'Either leave 'em laughing -- or leave 'em wondering what the hell you meant'? You did both, at the same time, every time -- and it wasn't intentional. No strategy there -- just an overload of dumb. Look at me. I'm so upset about this, I can't even maintain the illusion of an intact hairline. Aras? We made an agreement on the things that mattered most to each of us: Boston and yoga. That should have have raised my hackles right there, but I trusted you. And then you protected Danielle and ousted me: the perfect Final Two partner after Courtney. You lied to me, you cheated me, you ruined my act -- how am I supposed to vote for you? You're a good kid, you try to do the right thing, but somehow, you decided the right thing was 'Not get tricked into second place by taking Shane'. Look, if good intentions counted, I'd be president of the planet, emperor of the galaxy, and I'd have defeated Lord Helmet by now, because my Schwartz is as big as his. But Danielle? You never lied to me. You don't have the brains to lie, because you can't figure out what the truth is. Aras? You're broke. You're homeless. You freeload off your dad by living in his basement. And you still get more women than I ever did at your age, at least in part because I was stuck with a kid that I love very much and I may or may not have been married, I'm still not saying. So guess what? I can't vote for either of you. I wish I could abstain. I wish Danielle had attacked Aras, and then I could vote for Terri before I personally drove her to the bank, because a promise is a promise and riding in cars with girls? Totally cool. So instead, guess what I'm going to do? It's a really old favorite. Cirie will love this. Pick a number between one and a million.'
Aras: ' call this sane? And I live in the tepee!'
Shane: 'Pick one, yoga boy.'
Aras (disdain): 'Fine. Four.'
Shane: 'And you, woman who doesn't deserve to live in a city named after my son?'
Danielle (anger): 'Ten.'
Shane: 'Have either of you ever read a strategy book? -- oh, right. Sorry, Danielle, I forgot. Well, enough of this. Both of you, have fun in Courtney's brain. Oh, sorry. I meant to say Hell.' (sits down)
Courtney: 'You know you love me.'
Jeff: 'We all know he loves you, but none of us love you enough to let you keep talking. Is that it? That's all seven? So it only felt like it took twenty years off my half-life? Can we make another suicide pact in case any of you return for next season? Any season? How about a commercial break instead?'

{In the window, the commercials come and go, promoting a book about DiMaggio. And then it's time for the closing statements.}

Danielle: 'Um... honesty -- integrity -- they're magic words, I wanted to say them too -- I thought I worked harder as the game went on, maybe Shane didn't see that while he was so busy playing with his Schwartz...' {SHANE shakes his head.} 'I thought outwitting meant aligning with the right people, and I did that... I thought outplaying and outlasting meant being here in this seat, so I think I did all three fairly well... but I'm here and you're not, and I really need a million dollars because there's things going on in my life right now, things I can't tell you about -- okay, it's like this. I've just been kidnapped. Give me a million dollars or you'll never see me again.'

{The lead balloon lands with a thud.}

Danielle: 'Thank you?'
Jeff: 'Aras, thank her.'
Aras: 'Thank you, Danielle.'
Danielle: 'For what?'
Aras: 'You'll figure it out in about five months.'
Jeff: 'As pointless as this now is -- Aras, your closing statement, if you can still be bothered.'
Aras: 'Sure, because I want to say something to Shane. I thought our hugs meant something, brother. You were so lonely without your son, and I was just trying to comfort you... and now you're saying these things? Go to hell, okay? Go directly to hell. Do not pass Go. Do not pick up your son from school, because he doesn't deserve to go with you. You want to make a difference in my life the way I tried to make one in the emotional void of your soul? Give me the money so I can get out of the damn tepee. I have four chances in a million at your vote, and you know what? That's too many. To the rest of you -- I tried to know you all, I came to love most of you, I had a great experience, and you were the best part of it. Thank you. Thank you all. Except Shane. Oh, and if I get a million, everyone else totally rocks.'
Jeff: 'And now back to Bizzaro Survivor. Jury, it's time to vote. Blah blah blah for the winner, blah blah want to see your name, blah blah Courtney please restrict yourself to just the name and nothing else or we'll be here until next season, brak brak brak one million dollars. Start voting.'

{The voting begins. We are shown BRUCE voting for DANIELLE, and while COURTNEY's vote is not shown, her vaulting SHANE a third time -- and his disgust at this -- is. (SHANE tries to dodge her on her way back, but COURTNEY goes out of her way to plant a hand on his shoulder. Such a cute couple!) SALLY puts a smiley at the edge of her unseen vote. TERRI votes for ARAS with the following deathless line:}

Terri (exact quote): 'I'm just so used to writing his name down.'

{Nothing else is shown.}

Jeff: 'I'll go get the votes -- hey, what the hell is that?!?'

{EVERYONE looks where JEFF is pointing. By the time they look back, JEFF is gone -- and so are the votes.}

{And the window moves, and it moves to New York City. We are here in the theater with the hundreds in the audience, it is now, and the Survivors have changed. ARAS has gained weight in his face, and his hair has fallen flat. DANIELLE's nostrils seem to be collapsing in on themselves. SHANE's hair is worse than ever, and he's dressed up like a lifetime Catholic school uniform victim who just got out into the real world and decided to go with the same wardrobe, only adding giant cuffs and going barefoot. CIRIE has lost a little weight. In the most incredible development of all, COURTNEY's hair has separated into discernible strands. And JEFF arrives the way only JEFF can arrive. Loudly. And badly.}

Jeff: 'Ow! Ouch! Oh, God -- no, not the -- OW!' (picks himself up off the ground) 'Whose brilliant idea was it to drop me in through the roof after shooting me out of a cannon across the street while insisting I carry six pizzas all the way through it?' {There's no response.} 'Fine. Have your stinking anchovies. And I'd better get a hell of a tip later. Where's the voting urn? Oh, no -- talk about impact damage -- Terri, stop smirking -- okay, someone just brace their foot on my rear and pull -- there! Okay, let's get this turkey over with.'

{JEFF, wincing all the way, limps up to the stage with the urn clutched under one arm. Honestly, it was that exact shade of brown when we started.}

Jeff: 'Good lord, Danielle, get rid of the puffy pirate shirt. Terri, you've really mastered leg-shaving! Am I charming? Is the audience applauding? Are you all somehow still under the delusion that I'm a fine figure of a man? Good. And you even thought I was joking about 'turkey'. Cute. Really. My fan base keeps sending me garments as gifts, but how many straitjackets can go in a single closet? And they're still laughing as if I was telling a joke. Geez, people...' (opens urn. Stalls first vote just enough to see if it gets a laugh from the collected crazies. It does.) 'First vote: Aras. Second vote -- Danielle.' {This is BRUCE's vote: the handwriting is easy to recognize.} 'Third vote -- also Danielle, and this is clearly Shane's vote...' {It is: he wrote the answer to his challenge question along the top: 499,999.} 'Fourth vote -- Aras.' {SALLY here: there's the smileys.} 'We're tied, 2-2. Normally I'd be recapping the vote count every time, but like I said, I'm sick of you people.' {The audience laughs again. Dumb audience.} 'Fifth vote: Aras.' {Probably COURTNEY: the handwriting is huge and overly extravagant.} 'Sixth vote -- '

{And the theater shakes with screams and applause.}

{ARAS is on his feet in a second, reaches his mother in less than that, is hugging her with the affection postponed from the Reward so many months ago, plus interest, and does it all before JEFF can put down the winning vote, which came from TERRI. (In the end, we will learn that AUSTIN voted for ARAS as well, as did CIRIE: final total, 5-2.) The Survivors applaud, some sincerely, some with an emotion that they believe is faked well enough to use this as their audition tape for The Scorned II. The non-jury contestants start to come out of the wings, and the rafters, and occasionally the floor. ARAS runs back onto the stage, hugs everyone he believes to have voted for him, hugs pretty much everyone because ARAS is all about the hugs, finally targets TERRI, sees her, drops to one knee, reaches into a pocket --}

{-- and the window closes. And we are alone again in a vast, empty wasteland with no life in it.}

{You can leave now if you want to. I recommend it, frankly. Just go outside, or open a book, or turn on a radio, or sit and think quietly for a minute, and you'll have escaped. We don't have to be here. We never did. We're trapped here only as long as we choose to be. Ultimately, most prisons are voluntary.}

{You can go back to your life. You can wait for the next visit to the wasteland if you want, when a fresh crop of self-selected victims will chose to destroy everything they ever could be for our amusement. You may find me here, and perhaps I'll still be capable of reporting back what I've seen. But for now, you can leave. Go. Rest, relax, remember the good things about life, and consider that just perhaps, Danielle not winning was one of them. For my part, I can't leave just yet.}

{I still have a reunion to transcribe.}

{This is my prison. And who knows? It may even be voluntary.}

{Peace, over and out.}

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