Surviving the Outback, Episode 8.5: Everything Old Is New Againby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
Host Jeff Probst describes it as a special episode of highlights and never-before-seen footage. Yeah, right. This is just an excuse for CBS to rake in more advertising dollars and to push the final episode deeper into May sweeps.
The episode moves from the plane landing in the Outback on Day 1 all the way to the booting of Alicia last week. I held out some hope that maybe we'd learn something new or different or worthwhile. I probably should have known better.
After the landing and the splitting of the tribes, we are informed that it "didn't take long for certain personalities to clash." For example, Debb and, well, pretty much everybody. Oh, and Jerri and almost everybody. The difference, of course, is that Debb was gone by Day 3 and Jerri is still with us. Ugh. But I digress. The one thing we learn here is that not many of the Ogakor folks slept well on Night 1. Why? Because Colby snores loud enough that Kucha probably heard him. I don't know about you, but I could probably have lived the rest of my life without knowing this, and it wouldn't have affected the way I view Survivor one iota.
On Day 2, we do find out that Mitchell has taken a pretty much immediate dislike to Kel, and is already talking about getting rid of him. But even as he's doing so, he's talking to Kel about what alliances might be forming and the like – although Kel is really participating much in the discussion. He thinks it's better to just listen. Unfortunately, that makes him look rather aloof, which will lead to his downfall.
We also get to revisit the feeble attempts of both tribes at making fire, and Keith's first batch of virtually inedible rice.
On Day 3, we say goodbye to Debb. Hoo-boy, I'm glad we get to relive that moment. I just get all teary-eyed thinking about it.
On Day 4, we see parts of the first reward challenge, when Rodger overcomes both his fear of heights and water and Kucha still loses. But we do find out that Kucha had a cold-water Jacuzzi in some rapids where they hang out together – and Rodger almost hangs out completely when his bathing suit almost takes off on its own.
By looking back at Day 5, we are reminded that Jerri is already making waves with her denigration of Keith's cooking and her baseless accusations about Kel and the alleged beef jerky. We do find out that Kel eventually was told by Keith and Maralyn of how people went through his belongings. Kel says he wishes people would have just accused him to his face, and very logically explains to the two of them why there would be no way he could have smuggled in food. He's right. And it helps not at all when you're facing somebody like Jerri. He is obviously upset at having his integrity questioned. Maralyn comforts him by saying that everybody considers him a very valuable part of the team. Hmmm. I do believe her nose grew as she was speaking.
Day 6 brings the eating contest, where pseudo-vegetarian Kimmi pulls them through (after almost losing it for them) by eating a worm. Kel, that valuable team member, is gone. Tina, who Kel thought would vote with him – not against him – notes that he never tried to fit in. Yeah, I guess he just couldn't get the hang of making false accusations and being witchy.
One ironic note is Jerri singing at the campfire after that Tribal Council. The song is by Fiona Apple, and the lyrics include lines like, "I've been a bad, bad girl" and "when a girl can break a boy just because she can." How appropriate.
Day 7 brings Mike and fishing. Day 8 has Maralyn talking about how secure she is with Tina as her friend. Day 9 brings Tina voting off her good pal, Maralyn. As Probst notes, in Survivor, "Friendships aren't always worth a million dollars." Wow, that was a quick three days.
On to Day 10, where we learn that Mike has been even more bloodthirsty than we ever knew. He dissects the fish and explains what each part is to the camera, and then he describes what he's eaten while sitting around the campfire as Elisabeth and Alicia look at him like he's nuts. We also get to see some more of the history leading to the Jeff/Mike tension, such as when Mike "bumps" Jeff out of the boat so he can go fishing. Of course, both of ‘em are gone now, so it doesn't really matter anymore.
Day 11 is the infamous pig-kill. But the interesting part actually comes from Ogakor, where they decided to play a "game" where each person sits around and says good things about the others. Keith manages to say some things that aren't totally nasty about Jerri, and Jerri does the same in return. She even admits to sometimes being a control freak. No, really? And she apologizes to him and says she really wants to taste his cooking some day. Tina and Keith are impressed by Jerri's sorry. Well, for a few hours, anyway, I guess.
On Day 12, Kucha wins immunity again and Colby switches sides to vote against Mitchell, causing the first-ever tie-breaker in Survivor, where the previous vote cast against Mitchell ends up causing him to lose.
In the following days, Colby and Jerri have a bit of friction, and as they are building their triangular gurney for the reward challenge and Jerri does her usual thing of ordering people around, Colby gets annoyed and walks away. Jerri and Amber discuss it and just cannot figure out why he might be upset. Jeez, these two are clueless. In Kucha, we see a replay of the big Kimmi vs. Alicia fight, finger-wagging and all. And, since Ogakor finally wins an immunity challenge, Kimmi gets the boot.
After losing that challenge, Kucha still thinks they're sitting pretty and can go in ahead. Unfortunately, they hadn't planned on Mike being stupid enough to inhale enough smoke to choke a pig, and passing out in the fire. We get to see his burned hands again, and the tribes are even as they get ready to merge.
The recaps we see as they prepare for the merge don't really add anything to our knowledge of the game or the players (even less so than the material on previous days). Barramundi is formed, Keith wins the first individual immunity challenge due to Tina stepping down, and we have another tie broken by previous votes as Jeff is booted. It would have been really nice to see something here indicating why Kucha chose to target Colby, but no such luck.
This brings us up to last week's episode, in which Elisabeth leads the charge for Kucha to pull some Ogakorans onto their side. Yeah, that works really well. Alicia's gone.
But Probst tries to convince us that maybe things will change as he closes by suggesting that old tribal loyalties are now less important than the new jury. We'll see. But I wouldn't count on it just yet.
So, next week we're back to Thursday and back to a new episode. We'll see if the ex-Ogakor folks continue in their slaughter of ex-Kuchans, or if somebody finally decides that Jerri needs to be tossed. We can hope, anyway.