Survivor Psyche, Episode 4: Called Homeby Melinda Smith and Suzanne Tromblay -- 03/11/2003
"I work and I slave…"
Last week, camp commandant Roger routed the last "slacker" from his Tambaqui fortress, but in this episode, the Jaburu elders' attempt at domestic order ends in a coup reminiscent of the Samburu kids. Is their victim witchy Jeanne, her familiar JoAnna, or maybe delegated-leader Deena? (If you don't know already, check out the episode title for a clue.)
Jeanne and JoAnna are free to focus on the running of the camp, now that Deena has gotten things into proper order, and are convinced that everyone sees their logic. "Everyone should be enthusiastic," Jeanne explains with deadpan conviction. But, just like the Samburu kids from Survivor: Africa, Jenna, Shawna, and Heidi stage a typical teenage revolt by doing a whole lot of nothing. "It's getting to be a total martyr thing and it's driving the tribe up the wall," fumes Shawna. Jeanne and JoAnna have become passive/aggressive alarm clocks by getting up early and making just enough noise doing chores to wake up the sleeping beauties in the shelter. Not that the princesses feel compelled to get up and do their chores. Heidi privately admits, "My philosophy about Jeanne and JoAnna is - you wanna do all this extra work - by all means do it. I am going to sit here and maybe take a nap and I guarantee I'm gonna get ahead of you in the game." This is the same vacuous pseudo-strategy that The Robfather used in Survivor: Marquesas, and we all remember how far it got him. "The bigger women have more fat to live on. They obviously can put out more effort. Then you've got the smaller girls that are the stay-at-home women - O.K.?" Heidi chirps. So while the evil stepsisters loll around camp, the evil stepmothers pitch in. Christy (aka Cinderella) is quietly getting the job done behind the scenes without any self-aggrandizement. The princesses have adopted the GenX attitude of getting by with as little effort as possible. Even though Christy falls into this age range, her circumstances and career choice have led her to be self-reliant, like the older women. And as mothers, Deena, JoAnna, and Jeanne have learned that if you want to get something done, you wake up early and do it yourself. Jeanne and JoAnna would like to adorn their camp with the banner, "Your mother doesn't live here. Clean up your own mess."
JoAnna continues her evangelical ministry to her unenlightened tribemates. As JoAnna harangues the baffled girls with, "Anything worth having and worth workin' hard for you can't just expect to drop in your lap," she gets vacuous stares and polite nods. But, the word of the Lord is never far from JoAnna's lips and when she launches into another sermon, "Beauty is deceitful, and favor is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised," the girls move from passivity to huffiness. A perplexed Heidi is thinking, "She said "Beauty," but she isn't telling me how pretty I am?"
Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful
Before we repeat the incredibly vapid, superficial, and vain remarks that Heidi and Jenna now make, let us remind everyone of just how young these "women," are. Jenna is the youngest at 21, Shawna is 23, and Heidi is the Grande Dame at 24.
Jenna and Heidi's juvenile explanation of Jeanne and JoAnna's disapproval is the age-old lament, "they're just jealous!" Heidi says JoAnna was "trying to pick on the 'cute' girls." Jenna says, "Don't be mad because we have good bodies. It's not our fault - get over it!" Think what you like of JoAnna, but the fact is that she's very attractive and buff, with muscle-definition that a fitness trainer would envy. If you believed everything the cheerleaders were saying, you'd think she was built like Jabba the Hut. In fact, none of the women are at all out-of-shape - they just don't look like a bunch of coat trees with hair. And the cuties aren't done yet. Heidi is still spouting off her fatuous strategy. "What happens when you're cute little girls - it's very easy to be ganged up on. If you have all of the little girls against the 'bigger' girls at least we have three against somebody else." (If Heidi and Jenna were as smart as they claim to be, they would have carbed up before getting into a situation where starvation would be a factor. But that would take away from their cuteness, and if you can't count every bump in your sternum - you're a cow!)
The Facts of Life
Heidi, Jenna, and Shawna decide to recruit the services of a "big" girl for the all-important fourth vote, and approach Deena. Although Deena admits she has nothing in common with them, she readily agrees to ally with the three, because she can "talk and persuade" a younger crowd. Deena has now become Mrs. Garrett the housekeeper to Blair, Cindy, and Nancy.
Matthew the Mortal
Ever since his two best buddies were voted off in rapid succession, Matthew has been working hard to solidify alliances with the other men. He's already the camp cook, and has finally succeeded in catching a bona-fide eating fish - a peacock bass, no less. Dave and Butch refer to Matthew as "Matteo" during their fishing expeditions, where they try out the earthworm bait. In place of the disdainful and aloof demeanor of the first episodes, a new and vulnerable Matthew confides that his efforts have "borne fruit." He gets a big hug and cheer from Principal Butch when he brings the fish into camp.
The challenge is for the players to burn through four ropes and release sections of a banner spelling out their tribal name. At first, the women are two ropes ahead, but the men band together and really start cooking. With a flash of insight, they realize that huddling together, with their arms wrapped around one another, blocks the wind. Their flame surges ever higher until their banner unfurls to its full length. (Once again, the men finish before the women, wink, wink.)
See Shawna collapse in a sodden mass in the shelter. See her alliance mates cluster around in stupefied horror as their dreams of rebellion against the evil stepmothers go up in flames. Housemother Deena uses "logic" to deal with the histrionic girl. "You allowed yourself to get dehydrated," Deena intones slowly, "So if you allow yourself to get re-hydrated …" What a hoot! Any mother of a teenage girl can see what comes next. "My body is sucking energy from my left toe!" Shawna wails. (It's the only part of her body with fat to burn.) "I am just breakin'. (sob) It took everything in my entire brain to not just sit on the sand and take a three-hour break." (Melinda knows from long experience that you just have to wait this kind of thing out. Unfortunately, it'll take more than a box of Kleenex and a sympathetic shoulder to bring Shawna out of her pity party.) Heidi and Jenna are speechless with shock, and Deena wisely holds back the torrent of common sense she wants to unload on Shawna's nappy head.
Shawna is lost in the land of woe and begging to be sent home, as she sings the Tweety song.
"I'm a poor widdle bird in a grungy cage.
But all Deena, Heidi, and Jenna care about is that fourth vote, and pity be damned. So much for a strong sense of sorority. At the first bump in the road, the other cheerleaders confiscate Shawna's pom-poms and exile her to the bench.
It's time to kick back, chill, and enjoy the Coke cans' oh-so-delectable nutrition labels when the men get back to camp. Camp clown Rob is their own person karaoke machine. The troops join in the rendition of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - and any hope of staying in the same key. When they can't remember the words, they break down into manly grunts and warbling, but hey, everyone is having a great time. Everyone that is, except Roger. "Rob really is pathetic. He's 24-year's-old singing karaoke in the basement." Trust Roger to say something pissy and judgmental during the USO tour. You'd think he'd have developed an appreciation for impromptu entertainment during his stint in 'Nam.
Whosoever catcheth the most without losing a digit shall be declared champion. Piranha, that is. Deena and Matthew are the most affected by Probst's speech, and bare their teeth in pained sympathy as he shows off the piranha's lethal fangs. The two tribes settle on different areas of the river with their rods, bait, and boats. Probst fishes for a knee-jerk response from the men, when he casually dangles this bait, "Any chance that Jaburu is outfishing you?" But the men worm their way out of it. "There's always that chance," they chorus. Who says men can't learn? Rocket scientist Dave used the opportunity to propound a scientific theorem. "See Jeff, I think the biggest thing we need to talk about is the dynamic combination of Roger and myself." In plain language, Dave and Roger take turns using the rods and stomping the fish. When the hour is up, the men have indeed caught the most fish and win again.
Even though Shawna sat out the fishing challenge, she collapses in the shelter as soon as they get back. But her legs turn to rubber as soon as she stands up, and it's back to the prone position. While Jeanne is busy comforting Shawna, her alliance members are busy reeling in that shaky fourth vote. In an alleluia moment, Jenna speaks to Christy for the first time this season! The cheerleaders need a favor from the odd-girl and actually call Christy over as she walks by. "How do you feel?" inquires Jenna. Christy gives a "who me?" reaction, but knows exactly what Jenna is talking about. Not for nothing is this girl smart and savvy enough to make her way in the hearing world. Christy questions them astutely about who they're voting for and why. "You're securing your position as well," Heidi urges Christy. To the camera, Christy calls herself a "little free bird." "They want to keep Shawna in the game and take out JoAnna because she gets on everybody's nerves. Shawna really wants to get out - we're making her trapped."
Tribal Council: Ashes to Ashes
When the women are assembled, Probst asks JoAnna what her role is. According to JoAnna, that role is to keep spirituality and emotional stability in her tribe. (JoAnna, you were the self-appointed shepherd of your flock.) JoAnna admits to not being "motherly;" she is the mother of a boy and a tomboy herself. Well, that explains a lot. But the biggest revelation comes from Deena. She bluntly asserts that she knows who's pulling their weight and who's not. Deena sings Christy's praises, for pitching in and not complaining, and diplomatically says that Shawna is not doing so well. Shawna confesses that she "can contribute as much as the other members - just not right now." All Heidi, Deena, and Jenna need is Shawna's flaccid but still warm body to cast a vote, but Shawna doesn't even get that right. Must be the low blood sugar. When the votes are revealed to the camera, it turns out that Shawna voted for Christy! Shawna's alliance members and Christy vote off JoAnna, and Jeanne tears up as her dynastic dreams turn to ash.
Next week: It's round two of Mystery Date, when Dave hooks up with every adolescent boy's idea of a droolsome dream girl - Jenna. Which super-genius part of Wile E. Coyote's brain is he using when he gushes, "This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me!"
Let's look at the players.
Alex:You were low-key but humorous as ever. Last week it was the porn soundtrack, this week it's reading Coke can labels for entertainment.
Butch:You're still flying under the radar. Ever since letting down your team in the Blind Man's Bluff challenge, you've been afraid to rock the boat.
Dave: Teaming up with Roger is working to your advantage so far. If allegiances shift among the younger members, you may have to jettison this alliance, or you may get burned.
Matthew: You're on the right track, forging bonds with the other men. You and Alex show the most potential in your tribe.
Rob: You were genuinely funny in this episode. Even though Roger disapproves of you as court jester, you still amuse the king.
Roger: Still a pain this week. You're like John Wayne toilet paper - rough, tough, and won't take crap off anybody. But you're handy to have around, in a pinch.
Christy: You may just be your tribe's most valuable player this week. Your vote ousted the insufferable JoAnna, and may have helped secure your position in the game.
Deena: You and Christy have kissed and made up. Instead of throwing palm branches at her feet, you're casting laurels. You managed to oust your biggest rival and "persuade" the youngsters to keep Shawna for awhile longer.
Heidi: (Cue sharpening of knives.) Instead of being a master strategist, you're merely the epitome of a dumb blonde. Anna Nicole has more going on upstairs than you, and we don't mean her boob-job either.)
Jeanne: You could have formed a solid alliance with Christy and Deena, but instead saw your plans go up in smoke. Your only ally has crossed to the River Jordan.
Jenna: Despite your sorority shirt, your sense of sisterhood doesn't extend beyond your upturned nose. The deaf girl had no trouble picking up on your desperation.
JoAnna: The Lord has heard your cry in the wilderness and called you home! As the Bible says, "A soft word turneth away wrath," but you wouldn't shut up even at night. This plague on the camp was exorcised - Glory, Glory!
Shawna: You're even weaker mentally than you are physically by casting the sole vote for Christy. May God have mercy and send you forth next week.
Melinda Smith is a technical illustrator and writer with a background in graphic arts. She and her family live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her sister, Suzanne Tromblay, is a licensed social worker with the State of Ohio. Melinda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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