Courtney Marit the eleventh castaway to exit 'Survivor: Panama'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/28/2006
After several weeks of predictable "pagonging," the Casaya tribe members that had entered Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island's tribal merge with a dominant 6-4 numerical advantage were finally forced to turn on one of their own in a surprising way, resulting in Courtney Marit, a 31-year-old performance artist from Los Angeles, CA, becoming the eleventh castaway eliminated from the game.
Thursday night's CBS broadcast of Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island's eleventh episode began on Day 28, the day after the Gitanos tribe had learned that since Bruce Kanegai had been medically evacuated from the game, no Tribal Council would be held that evening. While Bruce's unexpected departure had deprived final former La Mina tribe member Terry Dietz of his best potential ally, it also meant that even without extending his Immunity Challenge victory run or using his Exile Island Immunity Idol, Terry had managed to survive another three days.
"Bruce being gone out of this game was a good thing for me because I got to skip a Challenge, and pretty much every Immunity Challenge coming down the road, I've got to take," Terry explained in confessional. Nonetheless, Terry was still also hoping to finally manage to convince some five remaining Casaya members to, now that they had little choice but to turn on themselves anyways, ally with him. "It is really imperative to try to make some allies and hopefully tie up one or two members before the next Immunity Challenge," he explained.
Meanwhile, while Terry was keeping his mind focused on the game, Shane Powers began to exhibit more signs that he was losing his. "Shane found a piece of wood and is actually calling it his Blackberry, and he sits down and he like pretends he's like communicating with other people -- come on, he's nuts," Danielle DiLorenzo lamented. "I'm communicating with people not on this island," a maniacal-looking Shane bragged to the camera after he finished "sending a message."
The next day, the castaways assembled for what turned out to be two Reward Challenge competitions. Featuring a water-based obstacle course, the first challenge divided the castaways into two groups of three and required them to -- as a group -- navigate the length of the course, dive down and retrieve three small sandbags, and navigate back through the course to the starting line. The winning threesome would receive an afternoon barbeque feast and the right to determine which member of the losing team would be sent to Exile Island. As the least athletic remaining castaway, Cirie Fields quickly became a hindrance to her team, and although two strong men (Shane and Aras Baskauskas) formed the balance of her team, the group quickly fell behind, resulting in Terry, Danielle, and Courtney easily winning the competition.
After deciding that Aras would be the losing team member banished to Exile Island, Survivor host Jeff Probst surprised Terry, Danielle, and Courtney with another announcement -- that as the obstacle course competition's winning team, they would compete individually in another challenge that would award a brand new 2007 GMC Yukon to its winner. A simple slingshot competition, the challenge required the three castaways to, one round at a time, fire marbles at three sets of three ceramic tiles. The first person to break all three of their tiles would win the vehicle. After initially falling behind both Terry and Danielle, Courtney rallied to tie Terry with two broken tiles. However in the end, Terry's challenge domination once again came through, winning him the Yukon.
During their barbeque feast, Terry attempted to pitch a Final 3 alliance idea to Danielle and Courtney, with the idea that Cirie (and not physical threats Aras or Shane) would serve as the proposed alliance's fourth member. Courtney seemed to immediately enthusiastically embrace the idea. "It's been in the back of my mind to join up with Terry for like a long time because going against Terry is one pretty good shot of actually winning the million in the Final 2," Courtney later explained to the cameras. "I think that's how people are looking right now, who do you want to be up against in the Final 2?"
But while Courtney jumped at the opportunity to ally herself with Terry, Danielle appeared more non-committal. "Terry brought up the fact that his ideal four would be the three girls and him, and that's just a given, I mean, obviously he wants Aras out for his sake," she later explained during confessional. "I like that idea, but he's going to have to change up his strategy a little bit too. I'm not going to make this so easy for him to win."
Meanwhile, back at Gitanos camp, Shane and Cirie also began discussing alliance strategy. As they talked, Cirie began to suspect that while the pair agreed that Danielle would be the first member of their alliance to go home, Shane had come to the conclusion that rather than Aras or herself, Shane wanted to face off against Courtney in the Final 2 -- a development that made Courtney a threat to Cirie. "If he could take Courtney to the Final 2, he may just win a million dollars... against anyone else, I don't know how good his chances are and I think he knows that," Cirie explained later. "So Courtney to me is more dangerous than having Terry around so I just want to get rid of Courtney as soon as I possibly can and go from there."
Bored after their strategy talk had ended, Cirie decided that for the first time since the competition began, she would try her luck at fishing. After squealing her way through the process of baiting the hook with snail meat, she cast her hook, only to -- in a moment that no doubt left conspiracy buffs wondering if Survivor producer Mark Burnett had an underwater diver secretly hooking a fish to the line -- quickly reel in the biggest fish any of the castaways had caught on the island.
After continuing to squeal as she dragged her still-hooked catch all the way back to camp, Cirie presented the fish to a shocked Shane. "Cirie Fields caught the biggest fish out here... the girl from Jersey," Shane gushed incredulously. "Captain America has been swimming around for three weeks [and caught] nothing, how great is that," he added, taking a shot at Terry. Cirie was so excited to show off her catch that the pair even held off eating it until after Terry, Danielle, and Courtney had returned from their barbeque. "Who'd of thunk Cirie could catch a fish -- that's the joy in waiting for them to see the fish for me," she gushed.
The next morning, Danielle approached Terry and made it clear to him that her biggest concern about his Final 3 alliance offer was that, once they got to the Final 3, he was planning to take Courtney (apparently universally considered everyone's dream Final 2 opponent) to the Final 2, leaving her to finish third. "I'm not OK with that, I'm not gonna settle for third place -- don't take someone because people think she's annoying," Danielle explained to Terry.
Although he privately agreed that Courtney was the Final 2 partner that made the most sense to either himself or Danielle, Terry attempted to alleviate Danielle's concerns by suggesting that they instead agree that whoever finished first and second in the final Immunity Challenge would go to the Final 2. Satisfied that Terry's suggestion represented a fair solution, Danielle informed Courtney of the idea. While she claimed not to "really care either way" about the proposed agreement, Courtney took clear offense to Danielle's comment that the pact would ensure that none of them would get "a free ride." "It was extremely insulting to me when you said you know, 'I don't want to have someone being carried [into the Final 2]' and didn't even see that... [clearly] you're referring to me because I'm the easiest one to beat," Courtney later vented during confessional.
Meanwhile, having overheard the pair's argument and realizing that her own name wasn't being mentioned as one of the Final 3 possibilities, Cirie attempted to convince Danielle that no rather what he was telling her now, there was no way that should he win the final Immunity Challenge, Terry would end passing up the opportunity to have Courtney accompany him to the Final 2.
Instead, Cirie began attempting to convince Danielle that rather than follow through with Terry's plan to vote Aras off at the next Tribal Council session, she and Danielle should find to way to vote off "the person he wants to take second" -- namely Courtney. "He doesn't have to know who we're going to vote [for], he can think we're going to vote [for] Aras... you can't let him dictate what y'all should do," Cirie pleaded to Danielle.
Later on Day 30, the castaways competed in the individual Immunity Challenge, a physical endurance competition that required each of the contestants, kneeling on a plank suspended over water, to use their arms to hold onto two ropes that kept weighted bags from crashing down and dropping them into the water. Each castaway began by having to hold 20% of their own individual body weight, with bags representing another 10% of their weight added to the ropes every fifteen minutes. The winner would be the last castaway to hold onto their weight and not fall into the water.
Unlike some of Survivor: Panama's previous individual Immunity Challenges, none of the five former Casaya members appeared confident enough in their tribal position to quit the challenge. Somewhat surprisingly, Shane was the first castaway eliminated from the competition, succumbing to fatigue after thirteen minutes. Next out were Cirie (18 minutes), Danielle (19 minutes), and Aras (23 minutes) -- leaving only Courtney standing between Terry and his fourth straight individual Immunity Challenge victory. Courtney gave out one minute after the weights were increased to 40% of their body weights, keeping Terry once again still undefeated in the game's individual Immunity Challenge competitions.
Once the castaways returned to camp, Courtney and Cirie agreed that while they would follow through with the plan to target Aras, they were still going instead let Aras and Shane believe that they were going to join with them in targeting Danielle. Meanwhile, finally confident that his alliance with Courtney and Danielle was going to happen, Terry was looking forward to sending Aras home and -- demonstrating how little he thought of supposed fourth alliance member Cirie -- enjoying "a 3-2 advantage."
However unbeknownst to either Terry or Shane, Cirie decided to make a rather gutsy attempt to simultaneously mess up both their plans of taking Courtney to the Final 2 and also improve her own game position. Secretly approaching Aras, she informed him of the plan to vote him off and explained -- without seemingly previously gotten Danielle to firmly agree to her plan -- that if Aras wanted to save himself, he would have to join with her and Danielle in voting for Courtney.
Although Danielle later attempted present it as though she was the swing vote in determining whether Aras or Courtney would be going home, Cirie also realized that since Aras and Shane were already planning to vote for Danielle, Danielle -- barring her own willingness to make a bold move to shake up the game -- would have little choice but to agree to Cirie's plan. If she didn't, Cirie could simply cast her own vote for Danielle and, at minimum, force a 3-3 tie between Danielle and Aras. Cirie's plan also held two other obvious benefits for Danielle -- not only would it eliminate the possibility that Courtney would still be available for use an attractive Final 2 partner, but it would also give Danielle the benefit of (assuming they ever have the chance to vote Terry off) not having to face off against Terry in the game's Final 3 Immunity Challenge.
In the end, Cirie's bet that Danielle's self-preservation instinct would override any thought of somehow attempting to make a bold countermove of her own paid off big, with Courtney being voted out of the game in a non-majority 3-2-1 vote in which Terry, Shane, and Courtney all remained oblivious of Cirie's plan. As the eleventh castaway voted out of the game, Courtney now joins Bruce, Sally Schumann, and Austin Carty as the fourth member of the seven person jury that will decide would Final 2 member wins Survivor: Panama's $1,000,000 grand prize.