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Surviving the Cook Islands, Episode 1: “Karma’s a Bizzle”by David Bloomberg -- 09/15/2006
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After the long summer wait filled by Big Brother and numerous reality talent shows, Survivor is finally back! We’ve already seen that this season is drawing plenty of attention from people who have not seen a single episode of this season and, in some cases, probably have never even seen the show at all! There have been sponsors dropping out and politicians crying out. We even talked to former contestant Daniel Lue to see what he thought.
But, frankly, I don’t care about those issues. I want to see Survivor! So of course we’ve had our usual pre-season articles, like the RNO Roundtable predictions and What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned. So now we’re ready to go. Let’s get to it!
We begin on a ship cutting through the waters of the South Pacific, heading for the Cook Islands. And that ship is bouncing up and down, up and down – I hope they all have lots of Dramamine! Twenty contestants are waiting to be marooned for up to 39 days. The ladder is unrolled and they jump up to start grabbing items on the ship. They have only two minutes to get whatever they can, including a chicken that gets away and flies into the water. Jeff Probst’s first line to a contestant: “You need to catch that chicken! That is food you are going to want.” And so a contestant – Yul, I think – jumps into the water and grabs it.
In addition to the chicken, there are other items to help them, including Hawaiian slings (oooh, Ozzy’s gonna want that), firewood, traps, bananas, and lanterns. Probst tells us the players have been divided “into four very unique tribes.” Indeed, this is not a surprise, since we already knew this, but let’s play along. The tribes are: Asian-American, Caucasian, Latino, and African-American. Each tribe will live on their own island. As he goes on about how it’s more than a test of survival skills but a test of social skills, etc., the various contestants are throwing stuff off the ship and into the water, trying to pile it on their rather flimsy bamboo rafts.
Time is up and Probst orders the remaining contestants off the boat. And then words we’ve been longing to hear: “39 days, 20 people, one Survivor!”
The contestants paddle their four rafts away from the ship as Ozzy, from the Aitu (Latino) tribe tells us his first thought upon seeing that tribes were split along racial lines was that people with the same ethnicity might clash on things. Really? I would think it would be exactly the opposite. Sundra (Hiki, African-American tribe) says she couldn’t care less about the division by race – when it comes to surviving, “it’s a human effort.” Well said!
Yul (Puka, Asian-American tribe) says he was stunned. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity because there are more minorities, but he’s a little worried it might lead to caricatures and stereotypes. Parvati (Raro, Caucasian tribe) asks if breaking people up by race is “kosher.” No, Parvati, because there isn’t a Jewish tribe. (Maybe next season will feature tribes broken up by religion!) But she thinks it’s a cool social experiment.
The Aitu raft rows along as Billy says it’s “ass-backwards.” His parents got on a raft and rowed away from an island so he could have a better life, and here he’s rowing to an island! OK, I like Billy already! When asked, he says his parents are from the Dominican Republic. Billy tells us that the divided tribes should be an advantage for the Hispanics because they all come from Caribbean or South American backgrounds so they’re used to being in a tropical setting.
Cecilia says they have an opportunity to represent their community in a positive way. They need to show that they work hard and play hard, and they’ll go far. Billy takes the lead at camp and talks about how they can make a hut and a toilet. J.P. says Billy is all fired up and he doesn’t want to judge Billy on his (overweight) appearance.
Ozzy, however, says he could tell from watching Billy cut the bamboo (apparently by slamming it against a tree) that he doesn’t really know what he is doing. So he takes over to guide things, but he doesn’t want to appear to be a leader. There’s a smart guy who has obviously seen the show before!
Ozzy also heads into the tree to get fronds and coconuts, and he’s compared to Mogli from The Jungle Book by J.P. Ozzy tells us he thinks they will be able to work as a team and they have the strongest tribe.
Puka is rowing their raft while Cao Boi says he “can’t believe a bunch of Asians who are so little weigh so much.” Ha! But one of the women doesn’t find it funny and insists, “No more Asian jokes.” But Cao Boi doesn’t want to hear it. He tells us he’s not a first generation American, he’s a refugee and a survivor. If he survived the Vietnam war, he can survive this. “Second time being a boat person,” he says as they reach shore.
Cao Boi says the Puka tribe has an advantage because they fly under the radar. “Nobody suspects these little people with slanted eyes” can be strong or maybe even speak English! “People always underestimate the Asian.”
Introductions all around. Jenny says she’s Filipino, Yul is Korean, Becky is Korean, Brad is mixed Filipino/Hawaiian, and Cao Boi is Vietnamese. So really, she continues, they are a mixed group themselves.
Cao boi starts chopping coconuts as he tells the others there was a monk in Vietnam who lived only on coconuts. Brad says to Cao Boi, “I have a feeling you’re going to be telling a lot of stories tonight.” Hey, Brad, you don’t have TV, might as well have Cao Boi.1 2 3 4 Next-->
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