Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Survivor: Exile Island - Episode 10

Weclome back to what Jeff Probst himself has dubbed "The Terry versus Casya" show. A reference that Casya may have stayed the most unified post merge tribe in Survivor history.

As usual we join the tribe "Gitanos" the next morning after tribal council. In case we ere new viewers they remind us that is is Terry alone vs. the world. Terry indicated that after tribal council the remaining Casaya tried to act friendly but he would eem to rather enjoy self-pity in solitude. Then again if the conversation is anything like the "Casaya Meeting" that we get to see, perhaps we can see why Terry wants ti disassociate himself. I mean he knows where he stands, he knows there in nothing he can do, so why try to pretend to like Tribe Arrogance.

The Casaya Meeting, like all others is Shane's great move of gathering the Casaya within earshot of the former La Mina and bragging about how they have the game locked, and how they are the best tribe ever. I really do think Shane is overestimating his place in the tribe, I mean the "Lets stick together we have the numbers" is not exactly advanced strategy, and perhaps the other Casaya tribe mates might have liked to come off as not being so cocky and arrogant.

Oh we also get our first clues that Bruce is not feeling good. We learn that he has not had retal relief since before the Panamanian Feast reward that was shown in episode 6, and that the pain is gradually getting unbearable. Remember this, this usually insignificant detail of tribe life will become important soon.

We also learn that the local courier service has just dropped off 6 gigantic wooden crates to the beach. Coffins for the players, perhaps? Each box is clearly labeled with a survivors name. A cover letter explains that the tribe mates are to decorate the doll found in their crate so that it bears their own likeness, and then to bring the doll to the next challenge. Oh and the next challenge will test how well you know the other players. I sense the pecking order challenge coming on. Guya, don't put too much effort into those dolls, ya hear?

So we have Arts and Crafts Day here in Panama as get a montage of each survivor decorating their doll. They then take them to the challenge, and by the challenge preview montage it becomes clear this is the pecking order challenge.

Reward Challenge #9
Reward: A trip offsite - To include helicopter ride, day at a spa including bath, treatment and massage, meals, and an overnight stay. Oh, and the winner gets to send a player to Exile Island.

Challenge: Each survivor is given a questionaire about their fellow tribe mates. The platers scatter off and complete the questionaires privately and do not discuss their answers, the questionaires are handed into Jeff wh0 tabulates them. We then have a "Family Feud" style game show where they players are again asked the same questions, this time they are to answer the way they think the MAJORITY of the players will answer, not how they themselves feel. Jeff feels it necessary to point out these are two different things. To answe the players have a ring of answer cards which they are to reveal when prompted. The answer cards look a lot like tribal council voting slips.

As with most pecking order challenges, getting a question correct awards you the right to 'hit' another player, when a player has been hit three times they are eliminated. Last player in the game wins reward. Specifically in this case, answering a question right allows you to chop a players rope. cutting a rope allows a lit torch to swing over closer to your doll. The first torch lights the second torch, the second hit lights the third torch, the third hit lights the fuse which sets your 'voodoo' doll ablaze. Contrary to the popular tribal council mantra, fire does NOT represent life in this game, in this challenge, once your voodoo doll is ablaze you are out of the game.

The questions are downright nasty and hateful questions. I mean it gets started with "Who does the least around camp?", and goes to stuff like "Who is the most annoying?, "Who just won't shut up?" "Who mistakingly thinks they are running the game?", "Who could not survive on their own?", "Who would you not trust?" etc.

Individual reward challenges are usually a double edged sword as it can be great to win a reward that makes life in the game a bit easier if only temoprarily, or it offers you a guaranteed prixe to take with you after the game ends, they are also political land mines. More often than not Jeff instructs the lucky winner to select other players to share in the reward. Here is where players risk divulging who they are alligned with, or who they favor. When you spend a month solid with strangers 24/7, people get downright petty, and the simple act of choosing someone to go on reward with you is 'playing favorites' at best and "political suicide" at worst. Ir would be far better to lose reward challenges and then hope you are the beneficiary of someone elses decision to share the reward. That way you get all the reward with none of the political baggage.

t should be noted that this is the first individual reward this season, as the other two "individual" reward involved predefined random tribes, which meant no political risk to winning. Well, the pecking order challenge is like replacing the regular land mine, with a Mega land mine, as just playing a pecking reward challenge causes you to reveal your allies or enemies just by virture of playing the challenge. I don't know if this is what the producers intended back when the concept was introduced, but I am sure they realize how people play it, and gleefully employ it for its psychological side effects.

So winning an individual reward challenge could be bad, then they introduced the so-called pecking-order challenge where you can hurt feelings, or cuase political damage just by playing the game, now they have raised the ante by asking hateful and revealing questions designed to probe how the players really think about each other. Recall these used to be played with just general survival trivia questions. Those you could just give the incorrect answer every time, there fore not have to reveal your allies, and not have to make any hard decisions that could come back to bite. I guess on this new format, the best way to play, get it incorrect, and not risk hurting feelings is to answer any negatively loaded question with your own name. Strategy Tip time over, lets see how it plays out.

It should come as no surprise that Terry was quickly eliminated in round 1. Yeah, let;s make sure that La Mina person doesn't stand a chance. And with that they remove the only politically safe choice, now it should get more interesting.

Terry interviews that he knew that his participation in the challenge was a joke, but we was able to gain important knowledge about how the Casaya members really feel about each other. That in itself could be a reward.

We go on and the next one to go was Bruce. Bruce has a reaction like "I Thought So!" He suspected he was low man on his tribe, now he knows for sure.

We continue on, every time someone hits Shane, Shane views it as a personal attack. Shane even goes as far as to try to intimidate people to not hit him. Even better when Shane is eliminated from the challenge he pulls a Verucs Salt and has the biggest, most jevenile temper tantrum. Shane is clearly very upset, and I think the audience wins when that happens. Evil, upset and pyschotic Shane is much more interesting to watch than overconfident arrogant Shane. Shane also acts upset when he was the "Person who thinks they are running the game"

Courtney and Danielle are summarily eliminated but have no big reactions to their fate. Finally we get down to Ciri and Aras. Ciri has two ropes left, Aras, only one. If Ciri answers correctly she wins, regardless of Aras' answer. Jeff asks "Who could not survive on their own?" This question so obviosuly screams Ciri, even Ciri answers Ciri (and is correct), but Aras chooses who might be considered one of the most likely to be able to survie on their own, so obviously throwing the challenge. When he didn't even have to throw it, he could have answered anything, even Ciri, and he would have still lost. Poorly played, thats like Austins confessional "I was playing the weaking role". Lets try for a bit more subtlety in throwing challenges?

Cire is then crowned winner which warms my heart as she did not get to enjoy the previosu two rewards. Cire then gets the first post challenge land mine, and dodges is by sending Terry to Exile Island "I couldn't send a Casya, sorry" Yep Casaya tribe is alive and well despite the fact they were 'merged' into Gitanos. So she dodges the political side by not sending someone on her tribe, but again, since you can't be 100% sure Terry has the idol, even is he claims to, why give Terry another chance? Terry in fact views his Exile as a reward in itself.

Then Ciri is headed fast to the bigger land mine, and there is no dodging this one. Shane makes it clear that "You better take me", but Ciri first chooses Aras (who was an okay choice as Aras is in the supposed core alliance within an alliance), but then she decided to go with who she would rather spend the reward with instead of who was the politically correct person, and chooses Danielle. This causes Shane to go ballistic. I think Shane was thinking, of all the people you chose DANIELLE!!!!. The fact she didn't choose Shane surrpises me as Ciri usually plays a more politically astute game than this. The viewer in me though is thrilled she didn't choose Shane, he doesn't deserve a reward and having him this ticked off is sure to be good for the entertainment value of the rest of the episode. I mean leave Aras behind and take Shane, you need to keep Shane under control, sacrifice Aras for the sake of not revealing your core alliance.

As they said in WarGames :Interesting game, the best move is not to play"

Luckily for the winners they get immediately wisked away in a helicopter and are taken to their off site, and Shane, Courtney and Bruce are told Jeff has nothing to sooth their loss, and are sent back to camp.

We get the happy montage of the winners having a breathtaking helicopter ride, followed by a great meal, followed up by scenes of Shane blowing his stack and having a big old fashhioned temper tantrum, and talking about how this is the end of the CORE alliance, and that those three reward winners beeter start kissing his butt, or they will soon be ejected. But wait it gets better over at Camp Freak Show, as Courtney is taking the reward challenge way to personally and the more she thinks about what they other players said, the worse she feels about herself. Sure she may be over dramatic about it, but I think Courtney at least has a valid reason to be upset, especially after the way she was treated in the premerge Casaya days. But get this Shane has the gall to tell Courtney to simmer down and that she is being a freak. Hello? Pot? Kettle?

We go back to the happy montage of the winners enjoying thier mud massage and generally enjoying life. We quickly go back to Casaya where Bruce is still not feeling well, and is in fact feeling worse. And when you are sick and in pain, I'm sure being trapped on an island with two raving upest people is really gonna make you feel better. Bruce decides he is going to go to the shelter for a little lie down.

Well, Bruce going to the shelter makes me feel better in another sense. I sure hope Terry has the hidden idol with him, or he has moved it since he exposed one hiding place to Bruce. Whenever Terry is out of that tent and someone else is inside the tent, I fear we are going to have a case of Grand Theft Idol. Of couese there may have already been idol theft and the producers are keeping it a secret from us, so that they can really stun us later on, or perhaps Bruce took it out of the game with him, but I don't think a man in pain would have the presense of mind or vindictiveness to do that, particularly after learning his position in the tribe at the reward challnge.

We go back to the spa and check in on the winners enjoying their dinner. Those three seem nice and happy, although something is eating at Cire, she knows she made a bad political decision, and is now reduced to the constant worry about how its going to effect her place in the game.

We fianlly check in with Terry over at Exile Island, we see him read the idol clues, perhaps out of curiosity to see if they put another idol there, or to see how the later clues played out. Overall he is thankful for the time alone. He knows he is on the outside looking in, so this gets him time away to just relax.

Back to night time at Casya - we see Courtney trying to confort Bruce. Like most sick people Bruce is more like "Just go away, I want to be alone", yet Courtney keeps on singing in the shelter. Bruce tries to push through the pain but sometime in the middle of the night he cries "Uncle", the pain is just way too unbearable. It can be inferred from the dialouge that the teams were instructed in a protocol for summoning help in severe emergencies, perhaps as simple as walking up to one of the cameramen and saying "Bruce is keeled over in extreme pain, and wants to be looked at by the medic" Then again if they really are bugged and miked 24/7 perhaps the appropriate personnel are watching/listening and get alerted by observation or by a codephrase or signal the tribe is supposed to give.

Whatever the procuedral practice is, we do in fact see the medical boat arrive. The medics come up, give Bruce a preliminary examination, give him the same oral anesthetic that they gave Mike in S2, and it looks like might have either injected something or took a blood sample. In a big violation of HIPAA we see the medics outside the shelter confiring, and deciding that the risk is too high, Bruce must be evacuated to 'base camp' for furhter medical examination. The site responders initial findings are his appendix. Cursouly enough, just momeents before, my mother, who was watching with me, and has no medical training came up with the same diagnosis. See then see Bruce evacuated by boat to "base camp". Shane, remember his crotch problem from last episode, it seems he is trying to relevie that by sleeping in the nude. Shane asks if he has time to get dressed, but is told no. Shane and Courtney are asked by the medics to help move bruse from the shelter to the boat by stretcher. I guess this is as close as we get to the heartfelt/tear jerking good byes that accompanied Mike's medical removal.

The next day arrives, and we see Shane in a rare nice moment. He comments that he may not have liked Bruce, that Bruce may have been the next to go, but darn it, it just isn't right for someone to have to leave the game on medical grounds like that. I wonder if they substitued a Shane double for that scene, or forced Shane to read off a teleprompter.

Next we see Ciri, Aras and Danielle return from reward. Ciri in partucular is almost scared to return to Shane. They note there is no warm welcome back as usually greets reward winners. They do not yet know Bruce has been evacuated, so they think everybody is genuinely mad at them, which they still might be. Quickly they learn of Bruce's evacuation, and we have some time for tribe life. We see Shane blowup again in Cire's face for her reward challenge decisions, we see Shane threaten the other players lives if they don't sucumb to his will. "When we get back home, I'm going to come to your apartment and KILL YOU" I sure hope the producers don't shake this off as a joke, and at least follow up on it, I mean afterall if Shane is unstable, gets back home, looks Danielle, Aras, or Ciri up, and kills them, the lawyers are going to have a field day with it, and they can replay this epsiode as evidence that CBS was warned there was a threat, and they failed to follow up on it. The segment ends wiht butt kissing and reassuring Shane that nothing has changed. That might have been an easy promise as I am sure the others were sane enough to see that "not chosen for reward <> no longer in Allaince" I also unfortunately see Shane as being the ideal Final Two partner. Everybody on the jury has had just about enough of psychotic Shane, get him in the finals with you, and you might be the first person to win 7-0. In other words, I don't see him going anywhere soon, as strategy shifts from "who is best to allign myself with to make it to the next round" to "who is best to sit next with me in the finals"

Just as we realize its time for Tribal Council and he have not had an immunity challenge yet, we see a boat arrive. The players wonder who is on the boat, is it Bruce being reentered into the game after medical examination, is it Jeff or another game official with a Bruce update, oh darn it, its only Terry. But hey at least Terry is acompanied by Jeff.

Terry and Jeff arrive and Jeff has the group sit down around him as best they can. We see Jeff make the official update. First Jeff wants to fill Terry in on what happened, since Terry was at Exile and apprently doesn't know whats going on. Jeff fills Terry (and for that matter Cire, Aras ad Danielle in) on what happened, then he tells the tribe what happened next. Bruce was taken from base camp to a hospital. It turns out his entire digestive system had basically shut down and was blocked, meaning it was the right call to signal the medical emergency, and it sounds like Bruce made it to the hospital just in time. We do, however learn that Bruce will be ok, but he has been eliminated from the game as a player. Therefore there will be no immunity challenge, and no tribal council (I think this little chat with Jeff is a Tribal Council in the truest sense of the words) Bruce MAY be invited to be on the jury, but that depends on what the medical officials decide. As the episode ends the show does not reveal it Bruce comes back to be on the jury, so that some sense of mystery may be preserved. We also do NOT see any heart tugging moments at the announcement.

Terry may have done the best with the news in that he gets a free ride to the next round, and therefore that is one less immunity challenge he has to win. Better yet, he knew Bruce was on the outside and was likely to go this episode anyway, with the Hidden Idol he is guaranteed to get to watch at least one Casaya member get sacrificed.

The episode ends without Bruce's final words, just a replay of Bruce practicing the martial arts on Exile Island. A nice tribute moment, which also leaves the question open to why Bruce was not able to make final words.

Till next time.


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