Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Friday, April 28, 2006

Survivor: Exile Island - Episode 11

Welcome Back.

This weeks episode should be interesting for two reasons, we find out if Bruce is well enough to sit on the jury, and we get to see Casaya have to canibalize one of their own. Should make for interesting tribe dynamics, switching from a one track mind steam roller to self preservation. I can tell you no one is going to volunteer to be the sacrifice.

We have the previouslies then the credits. We start the fresh content with Terry. Terry is reminding us that it is him vs. Casaya, and he continues to sell that "If I can get a couple people to switch sides" line he has been trying to sell the last four weeks. Oh, and he also relishes getting to see Casaya have to sacrifice one of their own.

In other non news, the tribe is having a food shortage problem. But then we switch to something of mild interest, the tribe is ridiculing Shane. It seems that Shane found a piece of wood that is just about the same size and shape as a Blackberry (communications tool). Shane sits on his "Sitting Rock" and pretends that the piece of wood really is a Blackberry, and he goes on showing it off to us, telling us what it can do, and then he acts like he is sending a text message. Some are quick to say he is going just a little bit nutty here, but I think its more a function of shear bordeom. I mean this is day 28, they have had every conversation numerous times, there is no news to discuss, people are probably getting on each others nerves, so something, anything to kill time is appreciated. That and the cameraman might have encouraged his act. Ah, reminds me of Greg in the original Survivor and the Coconut Phone.

We go from Shane to the reward challenge.

Reward Challenge #10
Prize: A plane ride to a private island where you will enjoy a BBQ feast on the beach, to include steak, soft drinks and chocolate cake.
The Challenge: Its a team challenge, the tribe will split into two three person teams. The teams will negotiate an obstacle course, the hitch is that they are clipped to a rope that runs over, under, around, and through the obstacles in a big twisty mess. The first obstacle is on the beach, then they go into the water and climb up onto a set of floating obstacles, then the thirs set of obstacles are partially underwater. When teams make it to the end of the rope line, they are allowed to unclip from the rope. At that point, one at a time, the team members must cross a lilly pad walk (bridge made up of numerous floating hexagons that are not stable and will start to flip if your balance isn't just right), at the end of the lilly pads is a hexagonal ring, they dive into the ring and retrieve a bag from a treasure chest, then go up and climb onto the hexagonal ring, and return via the lilly pads. Once all three team members have gone and retrieved their bags and are back to the big platform, they are to clip back into the rope line, and traverse the same obstacle course in reverse. First team to get all three players and all three bags back accross the start/finish line win reward, and get to choose who goes to Exile Island.

Hmm, they have performed a lot of these quasi team reward challenges this year. I'm not sure I like the trade off. On one hand the team rewards during individual play force players who are against each other to work together to win the reward, on the other hand there is something sadistically delightful about the individual rewards that end in "Choose somebody to share the reward with you", which has been shown to degenerate into a major intra tibe political minefield.

At least I think next week it will be back to the old ways, since it so happens that 10, 9, 8, 6, and 4 can be evenly divided into teams, where 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 cannot. We learn the tribes are Ciri, Shane and Aras vs. Terry, Courtney and Danielle. So its the Core Casaya alliance vs. the three outsiders. Did Jeff say this was a random draw, or were they allowed to form up like that?

The challenge starts and they are pretty much even through the land obstacles, Shane's team has a minor setback when they have to help Ciri onto the floating platform. That is nothing however to the mess that Aras and Shane get tangled up in which brings their teams progress to a screeching halt. "You just have to follow the rope", simple premise, not so simple in practice. Anyway Terry and team get out to the end of the rope line, Shane and Co are still trying to figure out what went wrong, Terry gets his bag, Shane and Co, still struggling, the other two players get their bags, Shane and Co. still sufferng. Jeff rubbing it in their faces. Shane and Co, finally get loose after Terry and Co. pass them on their return leg. We do see Shane and Co, get to the lilly pads, we see either Aras or Shane do a "No guts, no glory" sprint accross the lilly bads, and maybe get their first bag, but then its all over, as Terry/Courtney/Danielle take reward. I was afraid the bags would contain puzzle pieces or something.

Reward done, Shane's group detaches from the rope and swims in for the post-reward meeting. First order of business is exiling a player. Terry's group deliberates and then selects Aras, as Aras is seen as an immunity threat so they hope the Exile Island challenge will weaken him. I think this is where Terry starts coming back out of the hole, as Courtney and Danielle should have tried to save Shane so that he might be able to oust Terry in the next immunity challenge, that is if they were a united Casaya. I'm not so sure right now.

The second order of business is dismissing Shane and Ciri back to Gitanos beach. Shane, while better behaved than last week, makes one parting remark "Come on Ciri, lets go eat some more beans" I realize Shane has gone 5 episodes without a food reward. I am happy inside. Shane may be obnoxious but he makes for good TV.

After Shane and Ciri are well out of sight, Jeff springs a surprise twist on Terry, Courtney, and Danielle. In addition to the reward they have already won, they also won the right to participate in a secret individual reward challenge. Let's bring it on!

Reward Challenge #11
Prize: 2007 GMC Yukon - Yep, its the car challenge.
"Beware the Curse of the Car!" - In Survivor history, no player that has won the car reward has won the game. Amber did get a car and won the game, but she did not WIN the car, Rob won the car, and chose Amber to go on reward with him, not knowing Amber would also be given a car.

The Challenge: This is a carinval game challenge. Each contestant has to break three ceramic tiles using marbles and a sling shot. According to the rules, a tile is onsidered broken if 2 of its 4 connectors are compromised.

Danielle was never really in this one, IIRC Courtney and Terry were pretty even on, but Terry got the last tile in the nick of time, and thus won the car. Now we know for sure Terry won't win the game becuase of "The Curse of the Car" At least the car did not come with any political decisions strings attached. Jeff ammends the reward:

The three will be taken by airplane to a prvate island where Terry will drive the team to the beach in his new Yukon. They will find all the food and supplies for the BBQ in the back of the Yukon. We see them take off, and yes they do leave in an airplane as opposed to the helicopter they usually use.

We next turn to Aras on Exile Island. Aras states he no longer beleives the Hidden Idol is here, so Exile Island was a big waste of time. Thanks Aras and now we check in on the winners.

The airplane lands, they climb into the car, Terry drives them to the beach. They unload the grill, the steaks get grilled, soft drinks passed out, and the beach picnic is afoot. In terms of game politics, Terry tries to attract the very receptive Courtney and Danielle, who know they are low on the peckig order in Shane's alliance and are willing to listen in. One of them, Danielle astutely says that although she is eager for an alternative to Psycho Shane's Casaya, she doesn't want to set up Terry for an easy win.

We return to Casaya. Shane reassures himself that Ciri is still in the Casaya Core. Ciri tells him she is, then excuses herself to go fishing. Yes, she is still squeamish baiting the hook and all, but whoa she brings in the biggest fish to date for Casaya. Unfortunately she is too squeamish to take it off the hook, so she drags the poor defenseless fish back to camp, and shows it to an amazed Shane. We gather fron Shane's comments that Terry attempted to assume the role of tribe provider but that isn't quite working out.

The boat returned the reward winners to Casaya and Ciri announced there is a big surprise awaiting them on the beach. I would have thought at this point it was another twist to the reward, or Bruce returned or something important to the game. Not so much, the surprise is Ciri can't wait to show off her catch. I am sure that is part "See, I can provide, I'm valuable", part "Can you beleive it, I actually caught a fish".

After the showing off of the catch of the day, the tribe politics go crazy.

Danielle corners Terry and asks him o of those questions with no correct answer "If you win final three, who will you take with you?" IF he says Courtney, he risks loosing Danielle (who stated in no uncertain terms she was not playing for third place), if he says Danille, that might cause friction if Danielle and Courtney compare notes, and that would also blemish his "I have played this game with honor and integrity" badge. He draws from wisdom and proposes that to be fair, the top two in the final immunity challenge go onto the finals. Danielle appears to accept this.

The game has definitely ratcheted up a few notches. It is safe to say that "Casaya" is no more. Now everyone is thinking about the game at a personal level.

Take Danielle - she knew that she was next one to go if she stuck with Psychotic Shane. After all Aras, Shane and Ciri are the core, Terry has the hidden idol, so that leaves Courtney or Danielle, and Shane has already stated he wants Courtney with him. She doesn't want to settle for third, but she knows Terry is the way to go, or can she come up with a new plan?

Terry knows he wants Aras gone as Aras represents the next strongest immunity threat. Shane thinks he is running the show, but as I mentioned above would go for Danielle. Ciri knows that she would finish no higher than third with Shane, but also figured she is fourth at best with Terry, neither option sounds good, but both men want to take Courtney to the finals, so Ciri aims at the common enemy, Courtney. Courtney is so glad to be accepted finally that she will do whatever Terry says, and Aras, well we would assume Aras would do Shane's bidding unless something else came up.

Where was I oh, Danielle leaves Terry and goes to talk with Courtney. Danielle was doing a good job on selling Courtney on the "Best 2 in final immunity challenge advance to finals" idea, but then screws it up by saying that she wants to ensure that you must earn a spot in the finals, you can't get there by riding someones coatails. Courntey takes offense at this, as the insult is plain, Danielle doesn't think Courtney is pulling her weight. Not the smoothest move there Danielle, which leads me to believe that Danielle and Ciri had already concocted Plan C, and Danielle didn't really care what Courteney thought, so decided to lay all the cards on the table.

We next turn to Ciri who explains that Terry wnts Courtney and Shane wants Courtney. I suspect Ciri knows that she probably won't win the final immunity challenge, so she needs to get rid of people that have been declared suitable final two partners. Al the while they let Shane suggest Danielle to vote off, and act like they are going along with it.

The same way Ciri and Danielle are letting Terry and Courtney think they are voting for Aras. Someone is playing the interpersonal relations game to the hilt, and I beleive that someone is Ciri. She may not survive for long outdoors alone, but it is clear she understands interpersonal dynamics, and how to use them.

Well with all the deceptive plans being formulated, it should be interesting to see who gets immunity.

Immunity Challenge #10
Its an endurance/strength competition. In ths one each player is told to walk to the end of a long narrow plank and kneel down. Once they have knelt they will put both arms above their head and grab hold of two ropes. The ropes happen to be connected by means of pulleys to a grappling hook. The grappling hook is being used to hold weights. Last person to not let go of their ropes, thus dropping the weights wins.

This is evil, I mean a kneeling position is not comfortable for any length of time, particularly when there is nothing to lean against or sold to hold onto. Then having your hands above your head raising your cneter of gravity, then having to hold ropes that have resistance and are thus trying to pull away from you. Pure evil. The plank is designed so that if the player drops the weighted hook, it will activate a mechanism that will cause the plank to collapse, unceremoniously dumping the contestant into the drink. How much weight are we talking, I'm glad you asked. The players are weighed before the challenge. They will start with 20% of their body weight, for every 15 minutes they survive, another 10% will be added.

Jeff takes glee in rubbing in the fact that Terry has won all three individual immunities contested to date. They then take their places, the weights are set and the game begins. Points of interest is that one player let go of one rope, thinking that they would be able to rest that hand, then grab back onto the rope, they player did not realize the ropes were setup so that if you let go, that rope raised itself out of the players grasp. Jeff let them try to grab hold for a few moments before clarifying "That ropes not coming back, you now have to support all that weight with one hand" Other points to ponder is that the Casaya Core group were the first out. Aras has the excuse of not getting any rest or food on exile island, but the others just don't seem to want to win immunity. Let someone else do it. At the end it was Danielle, Courtney and Terry. (Big surprise there), the Casays Core roots for the women, not becuase they want them to win, but becuase they want Terry to lose. No such luck, as Terry lasts the longest, at 31 minutes and thus wins the 4th straight individual immunity.

The tribe heads back to camp. I think they might in a perverse way be releived Terry won, becuase that should mean they get to control which Casya leaves. More wheeling and dealig is done. The players seem afraid of what Shane is going to be like after tribal council. I say they could solve that problem by getting rid of Shane right now. I suspect they either don't see this possibility, or they are thinking, who better than a hateful psycho to sit next to in the final two.

Tribal council arrives. Teh jury is introduces, Austin then Sally. There is a dramatic pause, then Bruce walks in to applause and cheers. Jeff makes it clear the ruling is that Bruce is out of the running but will serve on the jury. Jeff probes the tribe hard. He asks Terry about the reward and Terry claims it was like vacation, and that no game playing took place at the reward. Ciri calls him on this one. It should be noted that the fact Terry won the car is not yet mentioned to the other players, at least not shown to us anyway. Jeff aksk the trib epoint blank about Aras, and then points out the pros/cons of keeping Aras, gets some reponses, and this leads to a question about if people are still playing tribal lines or thinking about personal gain. Shane seems geniunely shocked and then worried when payers hint that they may be playing the game at a personal level now. Jeff can't resist a question I'm sure he wanted to ask at last tribal council to Courtney about what she thought of all the hateful questions at the reward challenge. Man Jeff, that is hateful. Courtney tries to brush it off as "Jeff, that was so last episode, get over it"

Jeff askes Terry if he wants to hand over the necklace, Terry does not, Its time to vote, and wow 4 of the 6th votes are shown.

We see Ciri vote for Courtney (no surprise that was her mantra all episode)
We see Shane vote for Danielle (again no surprise)
We see Terry vote for Aras (again no surprise)
We see Courtney for for Aras (no surprise)

The last two votes are not shown, and Jeff goes to tally.

Jeff reads off the Danielle vote. No reaction from crowd.
Jeff reads the Aras votes, No reaction at first one, a bit of concern at the second
Jeff reads the three Courtney votes, after each one, the reaction from Shane gets more and more pronounced, where at the end of the vote Shane is shocked and dumbfounded. Wow, usually the shock and awe looks are from the backstabbed evicted player. If Shane had any notion he was in the driver's seat, that notion has been removed.

They don't even try any hidden idol suspense, and Courtney gets evicted.

Jeff's final comments are something about "There is no doubt after tonights vote that this is now an individual game"

Next week - It seems Terry and Shane get into an argument (no surprise there, Shane is probably in Pyscho mode after tonights tribal council), and it looks like we might have the loved ones challenge next week.

Catch you then


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