This week's Survivor promos touted the previous episode as "the most unpredictable Survivor ever!" That it was, and judging from the poor performance of the spoiler boards this week, people were in the mood for more of the same. What they got instead was standard Survivor stock-and-trade: name-calling, surf, sand, faux tension, alliance talk, and, eventually, the obvious bootee being obfuscated then summarily dispatched. *Yawn*. But at least it's sweeps month, so lots of people saw it, right?
Yep, Zoe, also known as "The Woman Who Wasn't There" and "The Fisherman Who Didn't Catch any Fish," somehow came out of hiding and annoyed enough people to get the boot this week. We didn't hear much from her in the process, but we're pretty sure that's what happened. Yeah, yeah, we know it's "shocking" to just start right out with that, but keep in mind, the commercials for this episode did blare "Zoe's a bitch" right into your living rooms. It's not our fault if you weren't listening. Okay, maybe it partially is, because we told you Pappy was leaving. But that's because we thought Mark "Unpredictable" Burnett was more devious than this. At least, that's what we were led to believe on Eco-Challenge:NZ (next year's edition will be called Five Hours of Mark Burnett Talking About Teamwork). TV wouldn't lie to us, would it? Would it?
Anyway, we open the episode in a celebratory spirit: the five people in charge are lounging around the waterfall, exulting in their offing of evil mastermind John in the previous episode. Okay, well, Sean is exulting, in his high-pitched, high-volume way. Pappy is grimacing at the water's edge, scowling that Sean's gospelesque warbling is starting to sound a little too much like that rock-and-roll stuff he's heard so much about. "That's the Devil's work," he mutters, knowingly. Neleh and Vee wander around, and Kathy tries to cleanse herself of her memories of urine.
After reaching an agreement that Sean not be allowed to sing again until the next episode, the happy Soliantu power brokers stumble back to camp, where they kind-heartedly grind their success into the faces of a dejected-looking Robert and Tammy. Helping the misdirected narration along, Robert reads the line in the script where he tells Tammy that he and she are next. Tammy, feigning bitter resignation, rushes off to repeat this discussion in her confessional, taking several changes of clothing along, in case the lighting's wrong.
Having seen the script herself, Zoe (and we're not engaging in hyperbole here when we state that she may be the least-convincing liar ever to have roamed the face of the Earth) tries to back out of her alliance with Tammy, claiming she really didn't have one in the first place. It was all John's fault, or maybe Bill Clinton's fault. Possibly both. Having now had ten seconds of discussion with Zoe over the last three weeks, Tammy rapidly comes to the irrefutable conclusion that Zoe is a bitch. Then they vote her off. Thanks for reading! See you next week!
Okay, all right.... Yeah, there was more. For one, we think there may have been a rare sighting of a Zoe confessional, which immediately raised the question, "Who is this woman, and is she actually on the show?" After doing a little research at the CBS web site, we've come to the conclusion that she probably was, but it's difficult to prove, especially considering their standards of fact-checking excellence (Johnert?).
So, anyway, rapidly thereafter we're whisked away to the reward challenge, which is secretly an attempt to rile up the ire (in a craven attempt at free advertising, courtesy of the ensuing media circus) of People for the Ethical Treatment of Fruit. That's right, ten minutes or so of the castaways capturing cruelly ensnared coconuts, beating the crap out of them with rocks, then draining their precious fluids. And as scintillating as it may be to watch cylinders being filled with opaque liquids, eventually it has to come to an end, and luckily, Sean and Paschal are there to writhe around on the sand together in ecstasy. Possibly on it, as well, considering the amount of hugging and smooching going on. So Sean and Pappy get to fly off to an exotic Marquesan feast.
As is always the case with these "shocking," unlikely-honeymoon dates (those overfilled, pre-drilled coconuts sitting next to Sean and Pappy's tube barely overcame Pappy's stumbling antics), this is a situation ripe for comedy. And by that, we mean more 40's era racially blaxploitation comedy, in which Sean's eyes almost pop out of his head at the concept of riding a horse, he teaches the Marquesans to act "street," and he converts Pappy to a life of crime. Perhaps in a subtle nod to Emmy voters, Sean suggests that this show may even be better than the revered Gilligan's Island. Not so fast, Sean - Gilligan at least had the good sense not to embarass real Pacific islanders, just white guys in grass skirts. And do you have a coconut phone? We think not.
Soon they bring out the feast itself, a massive pile of slow-cooked pork, and as Sean and Pappy slide the greasy flesh down their throats, they hatch a brilliant plan: They will "secretly" conceal food in their clothing, in full view of the cameras. Since it's unclear who exactly this well-executed sleight of hand is intended to deceive, we suspect they're really just auditioning for future parts on America's Dumbest Criminals. Pappy then chuckles, comparing their bounty to the "crap we've been eating." Watch yo' mouth, Pappy! Kathy worked very hard finding, cleaning, and peeing on that crap!
Eventually, after about twenty minutes of Sean interrupting the Marquesans' traditional festivities with misplaced whoops and shouts, it's time for the good times to end. But not before Sean and Pappy have a good cry. Possibly because they've already puked up most of their dinner. Or, more likely, because the Marquesan women Sean has spent the evening chatting up apparently noticed all the hand-holding he was doing with Pappy, and have left the two lovebirds for some quiet time together. Sean sobs. Pappy concurs with tears of his own. They embrace.
Mark Burnett achieves his lifelong goal of filming an interracial, May-December, homoerotic version of From Here to Eternity. This has Emmy written all over it.
Later, as they arrive back at camp, and distribute their smuggled wares to the non-winning tribesmates, Neleh encourages Pappy to continue his newfound contraband-trafficking career. "Think about it," she says. "The DEA will never suspect an old white judge, even if his pockets are bulging out and he commits the crime in full view of security cameras!" Pappy nods sagely, mentally calculating the size of stash he can score with his Survivor payout. Let this be a lesson to you people thinking of trying out for the show: Once you start playing the game, and breaking your word, it's one short, slippery slope to full-scale larceny. Maybe you should eat a Snickers™ bar or drink some Sierra Mist™ instead. Or (gasp) read a book, or something.
Anyway, the end of the show is drawing near, so it's time to start trying to deceive you on who the bootee is going to be. That means several scenes of Robert's aborted attempt to curry Neleh and Paschal's favor, coupled with subsequent disparaging remarks from Neleh as he pouts around the camp, hacking tree branches menacingly. Meanwhile, Zoe "craftily" (oh, those CBS punsters) fashions some homemade bracelets and necklaces, featuring the pungent exoskeletons of dead sealife, as well as catchy phrases such as "Made by Zoe, who was never allied with John," and "Please be my friend - Zoe." Upon receiving said items, everyone looks at each other quizzically, asking "Who is this Zoe person?"
This brings us to an all-important piece of advice for future contestants: For God's sake, don't waste your valuable time making arts-and-crafts products for people in your tribe, because no good came come of it. Look at poor Lindsey, reduced to a blubbering mass of bruises after throwing together some simple necklaces. And no matter what your intentions, the guys on the tribe are just not going to be all that thrilled by homemade chokers. There, someone had to say it.
But first we need to get through the formality of the immunity challenge that Tammy has to win. Which she does, through her remarkable ability to stand on stilts for more than a second at a time. Shocking! Then it's off to Tribal Council, where we're reminded that it's completely unpredictable, because Robert is asked to give a twenty-minute speech on "Why are they booting you tonight?" Sean gets to cry some more (racking up Surviwhore points), and we are conveniently not shown everyone voting for Zoe. Except for Tammy, who gives a succinct "I'm not really sure who you are, but I'm positive I don't like you." Pappy, perhaps confused by the poorly-designed ballot, casts a vote for ZZ Top. "Rock and Roll has got to go!" he says. "I told you, it's the Devil's music."
Still, vote for Zoe they do, and Zoe, after being MIA for the first five episodes, briefly appears, then gets to go into hiding again on the jury. She leaves, apparently mystified that anyone knew she was there, then slaps her head, suddenly remembering those damn bracelets. "Dammit! I knew I should have put 'WWJD?' on them instead!"