It only took two episodes for the editing of Survivor: The Amazon to come full circle. By which we mean, while the first episode painted the men of Tambaqui as lumbering, muscle-headed idiots, and the plucky women of Jaburu as overmatched underdogs, all it took was a few drops of rain and the passing of an extra couple of days for the female tribe to suddenly be turned into the Camp of the PMS Posse - a tribe with no food, no shelter, no unity, and little hope of continued survival.
Of course, to keep the dramatic pulse from flickering away completely, they'll soon enough be a scrappy team of dirty-uniformed underdogs again, but we shouldn't let that distract us from wallowing in the muddle-headed splendor of it while it lasts, should we?
Of course not. Although before we start, we must take note of the weekly Jeff Probst-overdubbed retelling of the previous week's action. Does he hand-pick the footage that's included in these things? We ask this because, out of three minutes or so of recap, Probst was shown speaking in just about every scene. Maybe we're just getting forgetful, but we watched the first episode, and we really don't recall Probst being the star, unless you count his cameo appearances as the Immunity Idol and as Alex Bell, of course.
"I shall call him... Mini Me!" (The real reason JoAnna wanted it buried).
But anyway, episode two opens with a trip to the decrepit reaches of Camp Jaburu. Two days that have passed since Deena expressed her frustration at the priority for boiling brand-new buffs over shelter-building, but they've put that time to good use, having cut about ten logs, to make a "floor" for their "shelter." As such, their "shelter" seems to be doing a bang-up job of giving the local tarantula population and other ground-dwelling creatures a clean, only partially leaky place to hang out during rainstorms.
As for it's complete lack of a roof, the ladies have a plan: They are seeing if whining about it to the film crew will inspire them to drop their mics and cameras, and build one for them. "It's so haaaaaarrrrrd," the Jaburu women moan. "I mean, first we have to cut logs for the fire, then get water, then boil the water, then boil our underwear in the water. After that, there's just no time to build a shelter!" Strangely, the saplings surrounding the camp seem immune to this persuasive argument, and so far have resisted hacking themselves down and lashing themselves together into the shape of a festive resort umbrella. But we're betting that if Janet, Jenna and their friends keep this up, the trees may rethink their position, if just to get some eternal peace.
Meanwhile, it's fun time over at Tambaqui, where Matthew's World-Famous Manioc Hotcakes are going like, well, hotcakes, despite Dave's exuberant proclamation that they're "average!" Then all seven guys pile into the boat, to practice throwing and retrieving their fishing net. Mercifully, we are spared additional exciting Moby Dick reenactments here, because someone on the tribe is smart enough to notice that the roiling black clouds above them might contain a few drops of rain, and we all know how fish don't like water. The men retreat to their many well-built shelters.
As you might expect, things are moving along swimmingly as the storm hits Jaburu. As in, they are swimming around the camp in raincoats, desperately trying to drape soggy branches above their fire, to keep the cascading sheets of water from extinguishing it. Because if that happened, there'd be nowhere to boil their buffs and underwear.
Eventually the thrill of watching people stand around wearing ponchos and holding palm fronds starts to wear off a bit, and we're taken to the Reward Challenge. It should be a familiar place, since the exact same challenge was aired less than a year ago, during Survivor: Marquesas. And conveniently, since it involves someone yelling at blindfolded people as they retrieve stray puzzle pieces, it comes at a time in the game during which Jaburu has a one-person advantage, allowing them to sit out Christy. How about that for an amazing coincidence!
Instead, the orders are barked for Jaburu by JoAnna. Who, as we'll see later in the show, is well equipped to deliver lengthy monologues full of orders, and generally yell at people. The poor men of Tambaqui, however, make the critical mistake of choosing Butch, the only guy on the team physically distinguishable from anyone else. You'd think, being a former football coach, Butch would have experience directing large numbers of seemingly clonally-derived, musclebound guys around on a field, but unfortunately, these ones aren't wearing numbers on their backs. And one of them appears to be named "Mitch."
And so it goes. The women quickly gather their puzzle pieces, and start assembling them. Despite a huge lead, they're still not done when the guys finally stumble across all of their pieces, but as a second handicap, the men still have Mr. Rocket Scientist and Mr. Computer Guy helping to piece the puzzle together again. Even with the answer key staring right at them, there's no competition. So in short order, Jaburu wins the nasty-smelling jar of fish bait! Whee!
Which they of course put to good use, "immediately" setting to work at catching a fish sometime the next day. Then immediately returning it to its aqueous home again. No, it's not Jenna's hidden PETA leanings coming to the fore again by catching leaves, it's just that Jeanne freaks out when the fish she catches doesn't immediately gut itself, slather its carcass in a tasty beer batter, and throw itself into the deep fryer. But no worries, there will be plenty more opportunities to fish, especially since nobody is bothering to work on the shelter any more. Of course, truth be told, nobody seems to catch fish again, either. But at least they all look fabulous doing whatever it is they're doing to pass the time, which mostly seems to be laying around and arguing.
After this excitement, we're shown our requisite shots of the men's camp, because we have to at least keep the illusion alive that they might theoretically be attending tribal council this week. As with last week, this week's expose involves some of the young guys thinking Roger is a bossy, bigoted old crank. (Yes, we know, it's absolutely shocking that someone as vocal about such views would end up on Survivor. Shocking!). We've seen this before (Frank, Rudy), and it has no bearing on the outcome of the episode, so we'll move along.
Mainly because there are more entertaining diatribes raining down at Jaburu camp. It seems JoAnna's religious sensibilities are deeply offended by the presence of the Immunity Idol in camp. Now, the Bible does explicitly warn against the worship of graven images, but we don't recall seeing any footage of the women praying to the wooden monkey. Regardless, it's okay, JoAnna, it'll be gone from camp in just under 12 hours, and chances are, you won't be seeing it again, except from a distance. But still, JoAnna feels the need to rant about this demon presence as loud and as long as the night is dark. If only she'd brought an ACLU lawyer along as her luxury item.
"Hold still, and my Hand will cure that deafness stuff right up for ya! Then you can listen to me at night, too!"
Lucky Christy, who had previously complained that her deafness robbed her of partaking in the nighttime banter, is spared this display. Until, as Jeanne relays it to her the next morning (conveniently within earshot of JoAnna herself... what a coincidence!), Christy has the natural reaction of people who have not turned Christianity into a cult-like belief system laden with more superstitions than a major league baseball player. Later, as Christy is bonding with Janet (again, right next to JoAnna... what a coincidence!), the topic comes up again. JoAnna is displeased with Christy's interpretation of JoAnna's position as "stupid," and desperately attempts to communicate this using sign language. Unfortunately, the only sign JoAnna seems to know is shoving her open palm within inches of Christy's face. Remarkably, this seems to get the point across anyway.
You'd think that would be enough drama for one day, considering they still have an immunity challenge and tribal council to attend. But wait, there's more. In a transparent attempt to recapture the "magic" of Survivor: The Australian Outback, one of the camera operators places a granola bar in with the women's backpacks (SEG of course denies such allegations). A witchhunt ensues, with Janet being fingered, mainly because she's older than the others, and you know you can't trust old people. Happy crew members fire off emails back to the states, crowing "We've struck gold again!" Or maybe that was after the dailies came in with the Barbie Triplets bathing topless. One or the other, anyway.
The formality of the immunity challenge interrupts the fighting for a few minutes. It's a memorization exercise, and the sight of watching the contestants write down their answers on pads of paper is almost as exciting as you might think. Naturally, since we've been parked in their camp almost exclusively for the entire episode, the women of Jaburu find a way to lose, so we get to go back to camp with them, and watch them fight some more.
Back at camp, the producers point out to Christy that it's obvious Janet is getting booted, but now might be a good time to create a distraction, by pointing out that not a single stick of progress has been made on the shelter in the past three days. "Call them all lazy!" they helpfully suggest. Christy cheerfully accepts the challenge, and for good measure, throws in a tantrum about wanting to fish instead, once her reclining tribemates grudgingly offer to help lash another log onto their sleeping platform.
Things go much the same at tribal council. Christy cries about being excluded; Jenna gets interrogated about being a snooty, cliquey beauty queen. Not much is resolved, and the topic of getting rid of Janet somehow does not get raised. After lengthily "tallying" the votes, Probst reads out the first four: "Janet... 'Jena'... 'Jean'... and 'No Christ for you, 'Krystie'."
At this point, he stops, and glowers at the women. "Okay, I have four different votes here. WTF? Now I realize this is your first tribal council, but have any of you actually watched this show before? Haven't you heard about alliances? Hands up... anyone?" Deena immediately raises her hand, then, looking around and seeing no other takers, quietly slips it back down again.
Probst goes on: "Ah, I was just kidding with ya. All the rest are for Janet, duh. Given your spelling skills, I'll bet the 'Jean' and 'Jena' ones were probably supposed to be for Janet too. Now get out of here, and get back to arguing, will you? Or bathing nude, one of the two." A classy end to a classy show.