'Survivor: Panama' penultimate episode ends in elimination cliffhanger
By Reality TV World staff, 05/12/2006
No one was eliminated from the game in Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island's thirteenth episode, with the show's penultimate episode instead ending with Danielle DiLorenzo and Cirie Fields about to face off in a tiebreaking firestarting challenge in which the loser will be eliminated.
Thursday night's CBS broadcast of Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island's penultimate broadcast began with the Gitanos tribe having returned from the Night 33 Tribal Council session in which the former Casaya tribal members that had voted out Shane Powers, the second consecutive episode in which they'd blindsided one of their one.
Shane's ouster marked the latest strategic setback for Terry Dietz, the competition's sole remaining La Mina member. While Terry's string of five consecutive individual Immunity Challenge victories had managed to keep him in the game, all his efforts to form an alliance with the fragmenting Casaya members had failed. After his previous plan to align with Courtney Marit and Danielle had failed (due to Danielle's betrayal) and resulted in Courtney's ouster, Terry -- believing that Shane, Cirie, and Aras Baskauskas would all be casting their votes for Danielle -- had begun to eye Shane as his new best Final 2 partner.
Once the four remaining castaways returned back to camp, Terry -- still obviously frustrated about Shane's elimination -- took his frustration out on Cirie, who as the first person to return to camp, had placed her torch in a spot that resulted in him tripping over it. Launching into a tirade, Terry compared Cirie's behavior to something his children would do. After listening to the pair argue for a couple of minutes, Aras and Danielle both came to Cirie's defense, criticizing Terry for jumping on Cirie and putting a damper on what should have been a happy occasion -- the fact that the four of them had made it to Survivor: Panama's Final 4.
Adopting a "Terry versus the world," stance, the 46-year-old airline pilot decided to call it a night, leaving the threesome to celebrate their "Final 3 situation." "He's just pissed off because his other option, Shane, is now gone," Cirie remarked after Terry went to bed. "I didn't come here to make friends with 24-year-olds... they haven't made it easy for me, the target's been on my back, I've been the underdog the whole time," Terry vented the next morning. "You know what, if nobody talks to me for the next five days, I could give a damn. I'm winning the million dollars, and that's all."
The next day, the castaways gathered for the Reward Challenge, a mostly mental challenge that required the castaways -- while attached to rope paths by carabineers -- to visit six stations and count the number of items (poles, fish, rocks, etc.) at each station. After visiting each station, each castaway would have to race back to their starting station and find the numbered tile that represented the number of items they'd just counted. After visiting all six stations, the castaways would then have to place the six tiles in an answer grid and use the three two-number combinations it revealed to open three combination locks. If a lock failed to open, the castaway could then revisit the stations and correct their mistakes. The first person to unlock all three of their locks would win reward
Two stations into the competition, the challenge appeared to settle into a three-way race between Aras, Terry, and Cirie. By the final station, the challenge had turned into a two-way race between Aras and Terry. Rather predictably, the carabineers resulted in the castaways getting in each other's way, causing Aras and Terry to engage in some pushing and shoving. However, although Terry beat Aras back from his final station, neither had counted all their stations correctly, turning the challenge back into a four-way race.
After heading back out for his third look while Aras still hadn't returned from his second, Terry told Survivor host Jeff Probst that given how long Aras had been gone, he must be visiting more than one station at a time and therefore -- based on Terry's understanding of what he thought were the challenge's rules -- cheating. Jeff responded by explaining that the "one station at a time" limit only applied to each castaway's initial visit to each station, causing Terry to complain that "you didn't tell us that... it was one look and back to the station" Overhearing the exchange, Aras shouted "Somebody call the whambulence, Terry's crying on the course." "I had to take over your role," Terry fired back.
In the end, Aras second multi-station proved to be the critical difference, allowing him to unlock his final lock and win the challenge while Terry was still returning from revisiting the stations that comprised his second combination lock number. After Aras' win, Terry continued to ask Jeff for clarification about the challenge's rules, causing Aras to accuse him of being a poor loser. As the challenge's winner, Aras got to decide which castaway would get to accompany him on a luxury yacht cruise through the Panama Canal and which two castaways would be banished to Exile Island. Aras decided to have Cirie join him on the overnight Panama Cancel tour, sending Terry and Danielle to Exile Island.
During their cruise, Aras and Cirie laughed about Terry's Reward Challenge complaints, with acknowledging that after having lost every single individual Immunity Challenge to him, it felt good to finally beat Terry at something. "It was huge to beat Terry at the Reward Challenge," he explained to the cameras.
Meanwhile out on Exile Island, Terry and Danielle also discussed the challenge, with Terry defending his attempt to clarify the rules even after the challenge had ended. Afterward, Danielle decided that Aras' decision to take Cirie on his reward trip, coupled with Terry's disclosure that he still possessed the hidden Immunity Island he'd found during his initial stay on Exile Island, meant that unless she won the next Immunity Challenge she'd very likely be the next castaway voted out of the game.
Hoping to increase her chances of surviving the next Tribal Council vote, Danielle -- despite having already previously backed out of one fledging alliance with him -- decided to form a new Final 2 alliance with Terry. "It's the right time to align myself with Terry," she explained in confessional. "It's gotten to the point where it's like, I'm going to try to use him -- I don't care about being his friend, I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win the million dollars."
After returning to their empty Gitanos camp on Day 35, Cirie decided to try and do something she's never done before -- start a fire. Cirie's accomplishment impressed Aras, who noted how far Cirie had come since her Day 1 comments about how she found the campsite's leaves frightening. "Wow, I'm impressed, Cirie made a fire -- that's awesome," he remarked, "Day 1 out here, Cirie would not have known what to do... now she's come full circle."
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Later, the castaways gathered for the Immunity Challenge, with a production boat returning Terry and Danielle from their Exile Island stay. Both mental and physical, the challenge required the castaways to dig up a bag of puzzle pieces and then complete the puzzle and use the "coordinates" it revealed to determine where in the sand their next puzzle bag was buried. Retrieving and completing the second bag of puzzle pieces would reveal the "coordinates" for a third bag of puzzle pieces, with the Immunity Challenge winner being the first castaway to correctly solve all three of their puzzles.
Aras quickly jumped out to an early lead and never really looked back, completing his third puzzle as Terry -- his next closest competitor -- appeared to be only about halfway through his final puzzle. Aras' victory meant that for the first time in the game, someone other than Terry had won one of Survivor: Panama's individual Immunity Challenges, however as Terry had noted after his last Immunity Challenge win, that fact that he still also possessed the hidden Immunity Idol meant that he had already assured himself in the game's Final 3. But Terry's inability to win his sixth consecutive individual Immunity Challenge did still have a significant impact on Terry's plans -- not only would he no longer be able to protect Danielle from elimination by giving her his hidden Immunity Idol, but he and Danielle could also no attempt to vote out Aras, Terry's biggest remaining rival.
After the castaways returned to camp, they quickly realized that assuming the current alliances held, the evening's Tribal Council would result in a 2-2 tie vote between Danielle and Cirie. Convinced that (just as it was in Survivor: Palau) a firestarting challenge would serve as the vote's tiebreaker, Terry and Aras each began giving their allies firestarting tips.
Sure enough, once the evening's Tribal Council session resulted in a 2-2 vote, Jeff revealed that Danielle and Cirie would compete in a firestarting challenge, with the loser becoming the thirteenth castaway voted out of Survivor: Panama. However unfortunately for Survivor viewers, Thursday night's episode ended there, meaning that viewers will have to wait until Sunday night's finale broadcast (or read our State Of The Spoiling finale edition) to discover who will join Shane, Courtney, Bruce Kanegai, Sally Schumann, and Austin Carty as the sixth member of the seven person jury that will decide which Final 2 member wins Survivor: Panama's $1,000,000 grand prize.