Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Survivor Ponderosa Videos – Episode 7by William Hammon -- 04/03/2011
Welcome, readers, to the return of the Life at Ponderosa series for Survivor: One World. For those unfamiliar with this little diversion, here’s a quick overview.
Starting a few years ago (I want to say around the time of the Cook Islands season), the producers had the rather brilliant idea (seriously, no sarcasm) to show the audience what happens to the individual members of the jury after they’re voted out of the game. This web-only series was developed to show us all what life is like after “the tribe has spoken.”
Once the jury phase begins, the individual jurors are sequestered together in a resort with the rest of the crew. As the days wind down in the main game, the jurors welcome new members, have new adventures of their own, begin the process of adjusting to real life again, and most importantly, speculate about who deserves to be crowned “Sole Survivor” and be given the million-dollar prize.
For the last two seasons, the series has been delayed by a couple of weeks because of the Extended Failure Island format (we still love you, Cochran). Even though there were several votes post-merge, there were no jurors until players lost their duel (or truel, quattruel, etc.). Now that this element of the game has at least been temporarily retired, we can return to the normal format for the series.
Jonas, Part One
The first step in returning to the normal format is the reinstatement of the traditional opening for the series. We begin at Tribal Council, where host Jeff Probst reveals the vote that seals Jonas’ doom. The vote is announced, Jonas gathers his things, Probst snuffs his torch, and the jury phase officially begins!
As Jonas walks down the dark path away from the Tribal Council set, he tells us that he went out exactly the way he wanted to. He went down with a fight. Echoing the sentiments of millions of fans, he adds that he would have paid money for the opportunity to play this game. The fact that he could have won money is just a bonus.
Per Ponderosa tradition, Jonas’ first stop is to a medical hut to get checked out by the on-set doctors. As is customary, he steps on a scale to learn how much weight he lost in the great outdoors. Jonas is excited to learn that he’s lost about 12 pounds during his time in the game. He feels like he’s in the best shape of his life, and he hopes to maintain the weight loss. If the previous seasons are any indication, as the first juror, he’ll eat so much at Ponderosa over the next few weeks that he’ll actually have a net gain for his troubles.
Jonas gets into the waiting SUV and makes the trek to Ponderosa proper. As there has been in previous seasons, there is food and drink waiting for him in the vehicle. In past seasons, many players have gone immediately for chocolate and/or peanut butter (I blame Heidi and Jenna for this obsession), but for Jonas, all he cares about is eating a simple cheese sandwich and drinking a bottle of clean, cold water.
Upon arrival, Jonas goes to the titular Ponderosa area, which is really just a rather large covered patio. When he enters, there is already a dinner buffet waiting for him (and for the rest of the crew), courtesy of head chef Simon. Simon “makes [Jonas’] year” by offering a dish of miso and fish. Remember that Jonas himself is a sushi chef, so such a dish is right up his alley.
We spend the next few moments watching Jonas have a mild orgasm as he eats his dinner, which consists of fish, miso, rice, chicken, and salad. With each bite he moans with contentment. In between mouthfuls, he sputters out that he’s never enjoyed eating food so much in his entire life.
After the meal, Jonas checks out his home for the next several days. I didn’t notice at first due to the darkness, but this season’s Ponderosa resort is the same location as last season (which sort of makes sense – no point in complicating matters by booking two different resorts when you film your seasons nearly back to back).
This season’s jury, like last season, will live in individual tents situated inside tiny gazebos. Inside are a small bed and a shelving unit, as well as a fan, which is operated via an electrical outlet mounted on the side of the gazebo. That kind of sucks, because it means Jonas has to keep his tent partially open in order to use the fan, which invites bugs to sneak in while he sleeps, completely defeating the purpose of having a tent.
Jonas’ possessions are also waiting for him inside the tent. He scrounges around for a few basic toiletries, including a new toothbrush and paste, as well as his nail grooming kit, as he shows us where he sliced his fingernails with the hunting knife at camp a few days previous. More important than all those items, however, is his floss. He celebrates mildly when he finds it, which even he notes is a bit weird. “I mean, who gets stoked over floss?” Jonas asks the camera.
Announcing that he’s going to take a much needed shower, Jonas grabs a towel and heads for the communal bathroom. Once inside, he looks at himself in a mirror for the first time in nearly three weeks. He’s stunned by his appearance, noting his beard and chest in particular. He describes the experience as being akin to meeting a stranger he’s known his whole life. The clip ends with Jonas telling us that he’s just going to relax, eat whatever he wants, and enjoy everything that Ponderosa has to offer.
Jonas, Part Two
The second clip this week is rather short, and it gives us some humorous insight into Jonas’ cooking background. In his right hand he holds a coconut shell. In his left is a coconut crab.
Jonas describes the coconut crab as the most delicious type of crab he’s ever eaten, and he loved having them at camp during the game. The reason for their great taste is a layer of fat surrounding the meat in the claws, which helps give the crab the strength to break through the coconut shells in which it dwells.
No sooner does Jonas tell us this fact than the crab (which to this moment had been completely motionless) lashes out and grabs the shell with its claw. Jonas drops the crab in shock, thinking like the rest of us that the crab was dead the whole time. It’s really quite funny to see the startled look on his face as he drops the crab.
Jonas picks the crab back up before it can escape, and he takes it inside the kitchen to Chef Simon. There, the two chefs cook the crab in a pan of lemon water and share it. Apparently Simon hadn’t tried the local shellfish until now, and he and Jonas both revel in how surprisingly delicious it is. To demonstrate how strong the crab’s claws were, Jonas has to use a spoon to break them.
Jonas, Part Three
A new day dawns at Ponderosa, which allows me to see the resort in proper light, and I can confirm that it is indeed the same resort used last season. Jonas, donning a cool-looking Hawaiian shirt, starts his day with a breakfast so big it requires two plates and about 30 seconds to list off all the individual foods he’s ingesting. Like I said, the first juror always gains back every pound he lost in the game and then some.
Apparently, Jonas is aware of how much food he’s eaten, laughing that he has to have consumed at least 5,000 calories in the past 12 hours. Since he does want to maintain the physique he acquired in the game, he decides to burn some of it off by swimming in the ocean. I hope he waited a half hour…
After his swim, Jonas heads to the bathroom and takes a small electric trimmer to his facial hair. Little by little he returns to his clean-shaven self. He notes that with the thin-lined beard and mustache he was sporting in the game, he looked like a stereotypical kung-fu assassin from a bad martial arts movie. He doubts that even his wife would have recognized him. I wouldn’t go that far. The facial hair was so thin you really had to look closely to notice it.
The sun sets and it’s time for dinner (there usually isn’t much for the first juror to do by themselves). Seeing the spread before him, Jonas muses that while he was in the game, someone asked him (he doesn’t specify if it was another player or a crew member) what would be the one food he’d choose to eat every day if that was all he was allowed to eat. His answer was fried chicken, so naturally Jonas is over the moon at the huge plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes in front of him. Once again we observe as Jonas slips into euphoria over his meal.
Jonas feels like he’s on vacation now. He’s never had catered meals of any kind before, and now he gets them three times a day. As a chef himself, he has a lot of respect and admiration for Chef Simon, and the two trade laughs while Jonas eats.
After three days of non-stop binging (his words), Jonas is led to Ponderosa’s version of tree mail. This process is normally a lot lazier than in the game. Most times the mailbox isn’t even in a tree (though this time it is), and the notes are never as stylistic as they are in the game. There’s no artwork on the parchment and the note doesn’t rhyme. Instead it’s just a hastily scribbled note in black marker.
The note (which Jonas reads in the style of the departed Bill – darn you, Colton!) tells him that it’s time for one of the traditions of the series. As the first juror, it is Jonas’ duty to raise the Ponderosa flag. The flag is dark orange with a black knot design on the sides. It is also frayed as if it was a pirate flag weathered by too much wind. In the center is what appears to be a tribal mask. Jonas mockingly puts his hand over his heart as he runs it up a palm tree which stands in place of a flag pole.
As he prepares for his first Tribal Council as a juror, Jonas tells us that he’s just going to sit back and be entertained. He’s at Ponderosa living the sweet life while everyone else is still suffering, knowing that for all but one of the remaining players, all their suffering will be for nothing. At this point, he just wants to enjoy the show. As far as a prediction goes, his only hope is that someone other than Tarzan goes next, presumably so that he won’t have to spend the next three days dealing with Tarzan by himself. The segment ends as it does every week with Probst introducing the jury (in this case just Jonas) at the next Tribal Council.
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If Bill Hammon ever gets to Ponderosa, he promises to do everything in his power to keep the weight off. No point in losing all that weight just to put it back on in a week. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/WilliamJHammon. You can also subscribe to his podcast on iTunes or at realityrant.podomatic.com.
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