'Survivor: Cook Islands' ends racial tribes, votes off Cecilia Mansilla
By Reality TV World staff, 09/29/2006
Done in by a "numbers game" in which all the members of two of the game's formerly racially divided tribes still voted along old tribal lines despite a surprise merge that redistributed the eighteen remaining castaways in two new mixed race tribes, Cecilia Mansilla a 29-year-old technology risk consultant who currently resides in Oakland, CA, was voted off the island in Survivor Cook Islands' third episode.
On Day 7, all four of the game's tribes assembled for what they thought would be a Reward Challenge. However, after traveling to the challenge site, Survivor host Jeff Probst surprised the tribes with an announcement that, similar to the Episode 2 "schoolyard pick'em" that occurred after last season's Survivor: Panama edition began the game with four age and gender divided tribes, it was time for Survivor: Cook Islands' four racially divided tribes to "integrate" into two mixed race tribes.
"Drop your buffs... you have been living together as tribes divided based on ethnicity -- it is now time to integrate," Jeff told the castaways. After randomly selecting two male and two female "captains," the castaways participated in a "schoolyard pick'em" that required each of the four new groups to select one former member of each of the old racially divided tribes. Since there were still ten female castaways in the game, once each of the two women's groups had a member of each ethnicity, the fifth member of their group could be of any ethnicity. Over on the men's side, since Sekou Bunch's Episode 1 booting meant that there was only one male African-American Manihiki tribe member left in the game, the two male groups had to select as racially diverse a group as possible.
After the new Aitutaki and Rarotonga tribes returned to the camps of the formerly all-Hispanic and all-Causacian tribes, both tribes celebrated. "Today is the best day ever, it's like they took us out of the ghetto and took us to Bel Air," Nathan, formerly a member of the African-American Manihiki tribe, gushed during confessional. "We're back to America, we're a melting pot, I love it, everyone is all mixed back together and I just think it's great," Parvati, who had also been a member of the original Rarotonga tribe, noted.
"I'm definitely so happy about the transition in this game, I definitely feel a change of energy here," Jessica, a former Rarotonga member, commented after Cecilia and Ozzy, the two holdovers from the old Aitutaki tribe, gave their new tribemates a very welcoming tour of the camp. Having ended up on the same tribe as Candice, Cecilia also wasted no time asking Candice about Billy's "love at first sight" comments -- a discussion that left Candice embarrassed that Billy had confused what she had clearly intended to only be sympathetic remarks for something more.
But although everyone at Aitutaki was friendly with each other, it didn't take long for alliances to emerge. Realizing that although it had been done through a random process, the new tribal selection process had resulted in a nine person Aitutaki tribe that contained three members of the old Caucasian Rarotonga tribe and three members of the old Asian Puka Puka tribe, Candice, Becky, Jonathan, and Yul wasted no time in forming a tight four person alliance to which Jonathan claimed he could easily add Jessica as a fifth member. "Believe me, I can get her to do whatever we need her to do," Jonathan boasted to Becky.
However much to Jonathan's surprise, Jessica -- who had felt like a bit of an outcast in the old Rarotonga tribe and seemed to form an instant bond with Cao Boi, who had been an outcast in the old Puka Puka tribe -- had begun to feel "better vibrations" from Cecilia and Ozzy (the two members of the original Aitutaki tribe), and Sundra (the only new Aitutaki member that had been part of the old Manihiki tribe.)
"Jonathan wants me to stay in the alliance from our original tribe in which I don't necessarily feel that comfortable because I didn't really feel that comfortable in the tribe to begin with," Jessica explained during a confessional. "I'm just kinda playing my cards like I'm not really thinking about alliances. I'm just here to make friends and see what happens and try to go as long as I can without feeling fake."
Afterward, in a gesture intended to further strengthen his own sub-alliance with Becky, Yul let Becky know that although he'd been thus far keeping it a secret, he'd found the game's hidden Immunity Idol during his recent stay on Exile Island. "This is my gesture that I trust you... if we can somehow turn the game around and put us ahead [or] if you're in a situation where I can save your butt, I mean I'll do it," Yul explained to Becky. "Given our backgrounds and common interest, I felt comfortable disclosing the information to her," Yul later explained in confessional.
On Day 8, the two tribes assembled for the Immunity Challenge. A replay of the memorable "Hot Pursuit" challenge used as Survivor: Palau's third Immunity Challenge, the challenge -- dubbed "Steeple Chase" this season -- was basically an extremely demanding game of tag. After being clipped together to the rest of the members of their respective tribes and given a fifteen pound sandbag to carry, the tribes lined up on opposite sides of an oval course set up in knee-deep water. Once Jeff said "go," the tribes had to try and race around the course and catch the other tribe. Anyone could quit the challenge at any time as long as another tribe member took on the added weight of their sandbag. The first tribe to tackle a member from the other tribe to the ground would win immunity.
Shortly after starting the challenge, Aitutaki decided to have all its women except for Jessica drop out of the challenge and hand their sandbags to the tribe's four men. But despite suddenly being more mobile, Aitutaki didn't appear to immediately attempt to increase their pace and race after Rarotonga, which was still "burdened" with all of its women. Instead, even after Jessica dropped out and Rarotonga's women began to do the same, Aitutaki's men appeared to be think that despite having Cao Boi and Jonathan -- the game's two oldest men -- on their tribe, they could somehow outlast their younger and buffer Rarotonga counterparts. Doomed by their earlier decision, it was just a matter of time before Rarotonga's men closed in and tackled -- despite Yul's best attempts to "fight them off" -- the men of Aitutaki.
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After declaring Rarotonga the challenge's winner, Jeff "revealed" that the tribe had also won the right to send one of Aitutaki's members to Exile Island. Presumably thinking that they were forcing Aitutaki to keep one of their physically weaker members and not realizing that their decision would also jeopardize the dominance of the new alliance that Aitutaki's formerly Rarotonga and Puka Puka members had spent the last two days forming, Rarotonga decided to send Candice to Exile Island.
Once back at camp, Jonathan, Becky, and Yul quickly realized that with Candice no longer attending the night's Tribal Council session, their plan to control the new tribe's vote via a five person majority alliance was trouble. Meanwhile, after approached by Ozzy, Cao Boi quickly suggested that they team with Jessica, Cecilia, and Sundra and vote off Becky, "the weak link."
With Ozzy, Jessica, Cecilia, and Sundra all seeming to quickly agree to Cao Boi's plan, things suddenly didn't look very good for Becky. But once Jessica informed Jonathan that she planned to go along with Cao Boi's suggestion and not risk her own safety to save Becky, who she "didn't have a good vibe about" anyways, everything changed.
Realizing that losing Becky in the tribe's first vote would suddenly leave themselves and Candice on the short side of a 5-3 alliance split, Jonathan and Yul both immediately began attempting to convince Jessica and Cao Boi to join with the rest of their former Rarotonga and Puka Puka tribemates and vote Cecilia -- one of the new Aitutaki tribe's three non-Rarotonga and non-Puka Puka members -- out of the game.
But despite the heavy sales jobs from Jonathan and Yul, Jessica or Cao Boi both didn't immediately embrace the idea of voting off Cecilia. "I'm sorry, we have to let Becky go, in total fairness," Cao Boi told Yul. "She's a weak link... she's a princess out here."
"That's so not the point though... [Becky] is the weaker link... I'm not thinking ahead," Jessica told a clearly frustrated Jonathan. "It's about having trust in the people you have a connection with."
However in the end, after discussing the situation among themselves, Jessica and Cao Boi agreed that although they didn't find him very trustful, Jonathan's point that the upcoming vote was simply a "numbers game" had merit. Both of them decided to vote along old tribal lines, resulting Cecilia being voted out of Survivor: Cook Islands in a 5-3 Tribal Council vote.