Reality High Test Results, Survivor: The Amazon, Episode 5 – Be-Switched, Bothered, and Bewilderedby Brian James -- 03/18/2003
After my friend Jim's much-needed late night pep talk last week, I threw myself back into my teaching duties with renewed vigor. Not that it made any difference in my students' test scores, mind you. Although, did you notice that Heidi didn't mention how cute she is once this week? I'd like to think I'm somehow responsible for that. Of course, that and $4.78 will get me a mocha frappucino.
Anyway, once more into the abyss...
1. True or False: It's not the wisest idea to declare you're in control of the game.
Deena answered "False." This just always seems like a recipe for disaster for me – almost like tempting fate or something. Among other things, I'm thinking of Silas telling us they could just write him that million dollar check right now – unless they compensated him awfully well for appearing onstage at last year's Oscars, I doubt he'll be seeing that kind of money anytime soon. Sure enough, Deena started the episode telling us that much like Janet Jackson in 1986, she was in control! The alpha female! The top dog! Shortly thereafter, once the tribal switch was made, Deena told us in between mouthfuls of crow that she'd gone from the top to the bottom. You never know what might happen in this game, so it's best never to get ahead of yourself.
(Yeah, I know that past winners Richard and Brian were prone to this kind of self-aggrandizement as well, but there's always the exceptions that prove the rule. Besides, it still made viewers want to throw things at the screen.)
2. You think you overhear another tribe member say something bad about you. What should you do?
Jeanne opted for "C," calling a tribal meeting to tell Deena she'd overheard her saying bad things about her. It went over about as well as you'd expect. Deena denied it and Jeanne wound up looking like a paranoid idiot. Considering she was already most likely next in line to go, she may as well have just painted a big sign saying "VOTE ME OFF!!!" on her back.
If someone does something that really gets to you and you feel like you're going to explode unless you say something, the best thing to do is just discuss it with that person privately as calmly as possible. Furthermore, if you start lashing out and making accusations at people, people will respond with equal hostility. If you approach it along the lines of, "I thought I heard you saying some bad things about me and that hurt me because...", people are more likely to be responsive. I know that's straight out of any number of communication and self-help books, but it really is true. Sure, I'd be miffed too if I thought I overheard someone saying bad things about me, but all Jeanne did was create unnecessary drama and make herself look bad in the process.
While we're on the subject of Jeanne:
3. There may come a time when the youngest members of each tribe are asked to do something. "Youngest" in this context means:
Jeanne chose "B." Nice try.
And so it was that chronological younguns Jenna and Dave found themselves spending the night in a makeshift resort. Much eating and showering and peeping and yakking ensued, culminating in Dave saying watching Jenna shower was the greatest moment of his life. I'm going to choose to believe that was a veiled reference to the line "I will give you my finest hour/The one I spent watching you shower" in Blondie's 1978 classic "Picture This" rather than a sign that Dave really needs to get out of the lab more often. Shut up. The daiquiris are quite refreshing here in my little fantasy world. Of course, I'm jolted back to reality by the realization that neither Dave nor Jenna were even born when Parallel Lines was released. Sigh. I feel so old. I think I'll go listen to some records to cheer myself up. (Everyone eligible to be on American Idol: "What's a 'record'?")
OK, "Gramps" is shutting up now and slowly ambling and shuffling his way back to the topic. About that gabfest:
4. You are selected to be the ambassador for your tribe and have an opportunity to relax and mingle with the other tribe's ambassador. How much information should you share about your tribe?
Jenna opted for "C." If the castaways ever partake in some sort of tribal ritual where they get to select honorary new names for themselves, I think we've found our Babbling Brook. Jenna told Dave all about how Heidi was her strongest alliance partner, Jeanne was next in line to go, and for all we know everyone on Jaburu's allergies, credit histories, and secret tattoo locations, pausing just long enough to breezily note, "I'm telling you all this stuff, but oh well!" Shii Ann from last season looked like the Sphinx by comparison.
Dave, on the other hand, opted for "B," only telling Jenna the most basic information about the Tambaqui men, such as their ages and occupations. Oh – and vital stuff like which members of Jaburu had the most talked-about body parts. In any event, when they were hit with the news that they had to select new tribes the next morning, Dave smirked and said that being that he'd heard so many good things about her, he just had to select Heidi, while Jenna got the biggest "Oh crap" expression on her face and told us perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to have shared so much information with Dave. YA THINK?!
I have to say I think the tribal swap was a good idea and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out postmerge. Of course, it means all that strategy advice I gave to Deena last column is now completely shot to hell, but such is life.
Not everyone was thrilled to hear the news about the switch, however. Besides Deena, we have Rob:
5. How likely is it that other tribe members have your best interests at heart?
Rob answered "A," which is pretty ironic considering we've seen him doing plenty of maneuvering trying to figure out how to use other people to his best advantage. Yet there he was, complaining that "Golden Boy" Dave didn't have his best interests at heart. First of all – well, DUH! It's Survivor, not The Get Along Except For Me – I'm Free To Manipulate Others To My Heart's Content Gang. Secondly, even though I haven't heard anyone actually use the phrase "golden boy" since the days when Jack was constantly sniping about Brad on The Young and the Restless, his choice of words makes it seem like he had some pent-up resentment toward Dave even before the news of the switch, so it'll be interesting to see how that will play out postmerge.
Shawna, on the other hand, was thrilled to see three guys strolling into Jaburu! So thrilled, in fact, that a medical miracle took place!
6. In the course of the game, you find yourself weak, rundown, and utterly depressed. You don't think you can go on. What's the best remedy?
Shawna put a Pretty Pretty Princess sticker next to "C." I must have missed the scene where Eve from Passions solemnly informed Jaburu, "There's nothing more medical science can do for Shawna... only TRUE LOVE can save her now," because that would be the ONLY possible way that Shawna wouldn't come off looking absolutely pathetic. Our Camille of the Capybaras spent days on end lying around complaining and moaning about how weak and miserable she was and she just wanted to go home but she was TRAPPED! Trapped because the other women put a machete to her head every time she tried to tell the producers she was quitting, the fiends! Then some guys come into the camp and HALLELUJAH!!! OH, GLORY!!! She's instantly bubbly and bright and energetic and all better, tee hee!
Oy. Remember last week when I compared the Cute Girls Brigade to the Fashion Club on Daria? I think we've found our Quinn. If I were Deena or Jenna, I would have just wanted to bitchslap her.
Deena, in fact, was understandably less than thrilled to notice Shawna's Lazarus act. On the other hand:
7. One of the people in your alliance has been feeling sick and begging you to be voted off. You refuse, saying he/she needs to stay in the game. After a tribal switch, you notice this person is getting along quite well with the new tribe members. You'd like them to stay with your alliance. Considering that you went against their wishes, how likely is this?
Deena chose "A," telling us that Shawna should stay true to the women's alliance. Not that I'm condoning Shawna's actions, but the same alliance that refused all her requests and didn't vote the way she wanted? What, pray tell, would be her motivation? Honestly, I laughed out loud.
On the other hand, poor Deena. This may be the first time "not deemed 'cute' enough" comes up in David's article series on "Why Contestants Lost."
Shawna seems particularly smitten with Alex, and vice-versa – possibly because, as Alex informed us in a line that could have been straight out of a John Hughes teen movie, "Chicks dig scars." This brings us to our next question:
8. Is it a good idea to date/fall in love with a fellow contestant while still in the game?
Shawna and Alex answered "A." Despite Jerri's best efforts to corral Colby, this hasn't really been too much of an issue on Survivor before, but all you have to do is take one look at Big Brother to know this isn't the wisest move. Both Will and Shannon and Eric and Lisa were looked at as alliance blocs by the rest of the house that needed to be broken up, and Shannon and Eric respectively were voted off in short order. Curiously, in both instances the remaining half of the couples went on to win the entire game, but how sure can you be that you'll be the remaining half? In short, date all you want after the show or after you've been voted off, but while you're still in the game, you see stars in your eyes; other people see a threat.
By the way – Alex? If Shawna starts asking you to carry her backpack to tribal council and do challenges for her? RUN. Run like the wind. And next week, according to the CBS.com previews, it looks like Matthew gets into the act as well and makes his own play for Shawna! Hey, why bother playing the game when you can reenact Pretty in Pink?
Moving right along:
9. Are you obligated to help a tribemate with a disability?
Butch chose "C." Like I've said before, the other castaways are under no obligation to make any concessions to Christy, but still, it was nice to see. And Christy definitely appreciated it, telling the guys she felt much more welcome and a part of things than she ever had at the old Jaburu. Which is part of what made the last question so confusing:
10. After a tribal swap, your tribe is divided equally between original and new members. You and your fellow original tribemates decide to target one of the new members at Tribal Council. You know the following information about them through observation and preswap discussion with a representative of the other tribe. Which person do you target?
The Tambaqui men chose "A." For the life of me, I can't figure out why the answer wouldn't be "C." It makes absolutely no sense.
Dave specifically chose Heidi first because he knew she was Jenna's best friend there and closest ally. He knew Jeanne was not a part of that alliance and was next to go. He saw how Christy kept saying she felt more at home with the Tambaqui men than she ever had with the Jaburu women. So why on earth would he bring Heidi over to his tribe only to keep her around so she could rejoin Jenna after the merge?
"Two good reasons" jokes aside, Jeanne and Christy are both harder workers than Heidi. Heidi seems to be a strong performer in challenges, but Jeanne and Christy don't exactly seem like slouches. Christy's deafness has never proven to be a liability in competitions – the men didn't even know she was deaf until she told them. More importantly, as the outsider of the old Jaburu, Jeanne could have had the makings of a loyal alliance partner who wouldn't jump ship after the merge. Ditto Christy – she voted with the Jaburu alliance, but didn't seem to actually be a part of it – and she seems to like these guys better anyway. Some people have said that Heidi could be more easily manipulated into following the men's agenda, but again, if you can make a solid alliance partner, you don't have to manipulate the willing.
Perhaps some of the fault was a tactical error on Jeanne's part – she was the first one of the three women to insist they needed to stick together, and perhaps the men sensed this. But again, they could have made her an attractive counteroffer – or, if they thought she'd be unwilling to join them then, just made Heidi think they were voting Jeanne off, then turned around and booted Heidi instead. Any way you slice it, I just can't see the logic in keeping someone who's almost guaranteed not to be loyal over two people who could be.
Another key could possibly be Dave's exact words to Heidi: "I picked you because I wanted to carry you through to the merge." Jeanne may be gone, but somehow I'm having a hard time picturing Roger and especially Butch wanting to boot Christy before Heidi.
I kind of felt sorry for Jeanne this week just because of the sheer emotional whiplash she had to go through. First she thinks she's next in line to go on Jaburu. Then the tribes switch and her hopes get raised significantly, only to be dashed again when it turns out she's next to go on the new tribe as well. It's enough to give you a complex!
I'll be back with more entries in the Amazon Follies next week. In the meantime, I have to help a friend of mine break his addiction to buying designer fragrances online. (Don't ask.) Perhaps there's a good twelve-step program. Although if you ask me, what we really need is a good twelve-step program to stamp out stupidity. "We admitted we were idiots..."
Brian James is an actor/writer in New York City. An avid reality show, Passions, retro music, and Internet discussion board junkie, he can be found holding up "Will Snark For Food" signs in subway stations as he continues to search for that elusive "day job." Brian would like to stress that this column is based solely on the "TV characters" he witnesses once a week, not on how contestants behave in real life. Comments and cybertomatoes accepted at email@example.com.
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