Since the centerpiece of this episode was Jeff Probst's tale about a wily Marquesan chief disguising himself in battle, only to let down his hair and reveal his true identity in victory, we'll get the truth-telling out of the way right up front this week. In this episode, we learned:
Unless they're not, of course, and Sean's outbursts were merely acting (which would make him really the Master Thespian, sans the velvet robe).
We open, as is usually the case in these late episodes, with scenes of a camp in chaos. Or at least, as chaotic as five people who spend 95% of their time laying about, groaning softly, can appear. Sure, they can work up a lather half-heartedly plotting (read: whining) about their opponents every so often. But that's only after the producers make their hourly rounds, poking them with sticks to see who's still alive, and who can used as low-cost extras for the morgue scenes on CSI.
It seems Sean and Vee are busy complaining to Kathy about the alliance Paschal and Neleh have. Okay, to be accurate, Vee is sitting there motionless, and Sean is "busy" in the sense that his mouth appears to be moving. Kathy nods and grunts occasionally, and tries to burrow down into her turtleneck, hoping to be mistaken for a rock.
Just when Kathy fears this might never end, Paschal and Neleh appear, and take Kathy aside to inform her how "pukey sick" it makes them to see the alliance Sean and Vee have going. Again Kathy nods, hoping that the motion of her head will provide enough momentum for her body to roll all the way down to the waterfall. Sadly, it does not.
Luckily, the next round of stick-poking is accompanied by tree mail, informing the contestants that to get today's reward, they have to complete five challenges, not just one! On the plus side, it's composed of challenges they've already done, so while the contestants have to do more work, the production assistants got another night off to drink heavily and eat fafaru. Everybody wins! We could go into a lot of details explaining the challenge, but since it's all been done before, we figure we'll take the day off, too.
In short, Sean wins handily, easily finishing the fifth and final stage before anyone else even reaches the third part. Meanwhile, Paschal is stuck way back at the start, apparently testing to see if he knocks his tiki tower onto the ground randomly, maybe he can get the ten pieces in order by chance. As he wins, Sean races around, chasing Jeff Probst, and leaping on him. Suddenly, Probst becomes pukey sickly aware of how poor Patrick felt in the last episode when his mom wrapped her body around him. And as he takes his hair down, we see that Sean is really Kathy. Or, judging from the unending stream of hallelujahs flowing from his tongue, maybe Sean is really Vecepia. As he flops around on the ground, it becomes clear that all things really can come through Christ, including epileptic seizures.
So, after Probst revives him with a little more stick-poking, Sean gets a shiny new Saturn VUE. Or at least the promise of one at some future date, after the show finishes airing. This astounding product placement opportunity, replete with a slo-mo thumbs up from the proud winner, wasn't exactly a secret, since it was announced before the first episode aired. No matter. Sean says that this win goes out to all the inner city kids, although he notes that he'll be damn sure to keep his windows rolled up and doors locked if he ever drives it through their neighborhoods.
"For the last time, no, I'm not payin' you to wash my windows, old man! Step away from the car!"
With that out of the way, everyone returns to their whining about food. Then about each other. Seems Pappy and Neleh are particularly incensed that Sean and Vecepia have an alliance. Never mind that Pappy and Neleh do too, and have voted exactly the same way at every tribal council, whereas Sean and Vee do not have a spoken agreement, and have voted for different people on occasion. In fact, Vee has voted with Pappy and Neleh at every opportunity, while Sean has not. But that's not the point, says Pappy, who, after letting his hair down reveals himself to be the exhumed corpse of George Wallace. "Once those negroes start organizing," he says, "the next thing, they're going to want to vote at tribal council. And we can't have that!" Neleh agrees, "Yeah, that would make me pukey sick."
Vee, perhaps foreseeing that a Sean tirade (coupled with his ill-conceived domination of the reward challenge) will guarantee her a spot in the final four, nobly arranges an air-clearing chat session around the fire. There, the same poorly-worded arguments and accusations of alliances we've seen since the start of the episode come up again, as they will once more at tribal council. With the skill and aplomb of an eighth-grade debating team, we're made painfully aware that nobody will admit to being in an alliance, even though everyone is. We're beginning to think that even CBS's threatened upcoming broadcast of "Ultimate Manilow" may be preferable to more of this.
The next day dawns, and Paschal lets down his hair to reveal his true identity: The Amazing Kreskin, mentalist and seer of the unknown. Sprawled in his well-worn rut at the base of the tree, he beckons Kathy by exerting all his strength to flutter one eyelid. He informs her of the fruits of his psychic vision: "Sean and Vee appear to be playing some game called Survivor. It's just like Gina person told us three weeks ago. They sit around a lot and don't do much. Now, bring me some of the food they brought back yesterday. I'm going to continue resting here." Stunned by this bold proclamation, Kathy races off to fly a kite, in a vain attempt to be struck by lightning, and escape these people. Sadly, she fails.
Instead, the script calls for her to tell Sean that Paschal and Neleh are tremendous adversaries, and should be voted off (revealing herself to be Kathy from Episode 11, who said the same thing to Robert, then did the opposite). Thankfully, before we can see much more of this, we're taken to the immunity challenge, which, when its hair is let down, is revealed to be the same story recall immunity challenge that was used in every season past.
This means Jeff Probst gets more camera time than usual, and that we're treated to shots of the Survivors looking thoughtful. In Pappy's case, that means almost nodding off. The story involves a cunning chief using trickery to defeat and eat a rival chief. In a stroke of sly, subtle editing, these parts are juxtaposed with images of Sean and Paschal sitting next to each other. Clearly, this implies that Pappy intends to shove Sean into the pig trap as soon as they get back to camp, if only he can work up the strength. Eventually, the challenge begins, and plays out largely as it has in seasons past. And as Kathy and Neleh race to the finish, they let down their hair to reveal they are both really Keith Famie (and thereby the co-winners of this year's Stumblef*ck Award. Take a bow, ladies!). Yes, each has dropped one of their precious tikis. Kathy races back and finds hers, making her the winner, then promptly rushes over and gives Sean the kiss of death.
So it's come to this: will Kathy pick the obvious strategy of allying with Sean and Vee, and split up the inseperable Neleh-Paschal "We're not an alliance" Alliance, as she's threatened to do for two weeks in a row? Or will she, as every past contestant has done, despite all of Burnett's wacky swapping and twisting of the tribes, stick with her original tribesmates once again? Oooooh, the tension is thick.
As we're brought to tribal council, "ominous" music plays. Probably because jury member Zoe appears to have shaved off her hair, revealing herself to really be Robert. Who knew? No, more likely, it's to set the tone for more thrill-a-minute arguing about who's in an alliance and who's not. None of which changes anything, and there are few surprises in the voting. At least until, as she casts her ballot, Neleh lets down her hair to reveal she's really... Vecepia! "There's too much drama!"
Yes, it's a stunning, tricky conclusion, as Sean gets snuffed. After a quick stick-poking reveals Sean's carcass is now fair game, rival chief Pappy slavers over the meatiest part, striving to capture his vanquished warrior spirit. And Neleh finally follows through on her threat to get pukey sick. Praise the lord!