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Survivor: Cook Islands - Is All the Evil Buried on Exile Island?by Ken Kellam III -- 10/09/2006
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So far this season, we’ve seen moments of costly mistakes (Jessica losing the chickens), questionable behavior (Adam whining about the floor), self-admitted stupid strategy (think back to the title of Billy’s RNO interview), and moments of just not getting it (Cao Boi continuing to tell ethnic jokes over the objections of his team mates).
But as noted last week, we have yet to see anything which would prompt a viewer to absolutely despise a player. Several players had opportunities to change that, but declined, for better or worse.
Let’s start with Jonathan and Cao Boi, aka Two Men and a Baby Chick. Maybe it came across to some as melodramatic, but I was actually touched by the way Jonathan held the baby chick in his hand, and got a bit emotional about it. He could’ve been a selfish $*#*$ and said, “Hey, I’m hungry. Too bad chick,” but his humanity took over, and he helped restore the chick to its nest.
I don’t think this was strategy on his part to avoid the wrath of the animal lovers on his tribe. Rather, it appeared as though Jonathan really, truly felt terrible about the chick being knocked from its nest and wanted to rectify the situation. In this instance, I’m glad he didn’t bring some evil to the show at the expense of a helpless creature that had just started life. Oh, how Mark Burnett, and CBS, would’ve heard about it otherwise. Remember all the protests when the Pagongs roasted rats? In any case, anyone who respects nature the way Jonathan apparently did probably will never qualify as a villain.
What about Cao Boi, who went up the tree in search of boobie eggs (that may be the strangest phrase I’ve ever typed), and briefly squared off with the Mama Boobie? He’s already grated on a few nerves since the season began, and could’ve grated on a few more. But he fell far short of being pure evil when tried to fix the mess he’d created, and described his actions to the camera as “stupid.” By the way, I’m not sure who said it, but has there ever been a better double entendre than the phrase, “I wonder what boobies taste like?”
But I digress. Even Cao Boi’s antics during the immunity challenge weren’t evil, although he did remind me of a color guard/drill team with the way he was throwing around the straw. But you have to give credit where credit is due: He got results, and helped save his tribe from a second straight trip to tribal council.
What about the now-departed J.P.? Was he evil, or did he just play poorly? Parvati might have thought he was evil after he kept giving orders, however slyly he went about it. His laziness didn’t help matters, but judging by his Early Show interview, he was awfully surprised at how he came across and how he was portrayed. To his credit, unlike Jerri in the Outback, who claimed she saw it coming, J.P. was candid in stating he had no idea he was on the chopping block. And, as shocked as he was, he could’ve gone on a tirade at Tribal Council after being ousted, but instead, could not have been a better sport, admitting on national television that he was outwitted big-time. Even in his closing comments, he noted that that’s the way the game is played, and seem impressed at the way he was blindsided. Obviously, there was may have been some poor game play from J.P., but no real villainous behavior.
Someone else deserves a few props in regards to J.P.: That would be my colleague Wesley, whose “Who will go” column correctly predicted J.P.’s ouster, spoiler-free. Even though we saw the women’s discontent in the previews, and even though the women outnumbered the men in the tribe, I still didn’t believe they would oust J.P. In fact, that column was on my mind the entire time I watched the episode, as I couldn’t wait to see if Wesley’s prediction came true. Well, I think we’ve all seen why he’s writing that column and I’m not.
What about Ozzy, who had finished losing an ally in Cecelia? Well, he claimed he didn’t feel like playing anymore, but his actions completely contradicted his words, as he had strong performances in both challenges, and as he noted, caught the majority of his tribe’s fish. Obviously he’s following the rule about providing food, and will probably stick around awhile. By the way, notice the sly way CBS showed us Ozzy’s opening comments, and THEN rolled the show’s opening? Is that a first for the show?
What about Adam? Ever since he whined about building a floor, he’s been rather quiet. This week, he was sent to Exile Island, but seemed to take it in stride. It does make me wonder, though: Is there a reason we saw absolutely no footage of him on Exile Island? Was he deemed too boring to show? Did they tell him the immunity idol had already been found? At the very least, it would’ve been interesting to hear his thoughts about being alone. He could’ve at least danced around and made the most of the camera time, a la Janu a couple of seasons back, before Exile Island was done on a regular basis.
As far as the women are concerned, are female viewers starting to see Parvati as a villainess for her shameless flirting? A female friend of mine used to loathe any castaway who attempted to use sexuality to get ahead in the game, preferring instead to see women get ahead by using game-smarts, a la Tina in the Outback. Does it cheapen the way that gender is perceived on the show? If you’re a female viewer I’d be interested in your thoughts on this matter.
Finally, did the disharmony in the Raro tribe manifest itself in the challenges, with the players being completely unable to work together? During the reward challenge, Jeff Probst even noted out loud how they couldn’t seem to agree on how to navigate the ropes, and in the end it cost them.
Well, it seems as though this season has failed to unleash any real villains, and more often than not, everyone seems to want to play nice, at least compared to past seasons. But where is drama without conflict? And could this be any better proof that the series is unscripted? Certainly if the plotlines were thought up by the producers, we’d have stronger opinions on the players, for better or worse. Tune in Thursday to see if that changes.
Ken can be reached with any comments, criticisms, or money orders at YourNextOfKen@aol.com .
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