Survivor Psyche, Episode 5: I’m Melting… Meltingby Melinda Smith and Suzanne Tromblay -- 03/18/2003
The Alpha and the Omitted
Deena is relishing the feeling of being “alpha female-top dog” of the Jaburu tribe now that the powerful JoAnna has been cast out. But not everyone shares Deena’s bliss. Jeanne’s fury smolders under a none-too-tranquil surface, and Shawna’s fragile spirit struggles to escape its earthly cage. Shawna spends her days imitating a bundle of rags on the shelter floor. No wait – she is a bundle of rags! It’s been so long since Shawna got up to do anything like bathe, that she has dirt ingrained in her hair, clothing, and even the pores of her skin. “The people I set up an alliance with are now trapping me inside the game,” Shawna mumbles to the camera, on a rare occasion where she manages to remain upright for more than 30 seconds. Jeanne makes a hilarious gagging face while Shawna is at her pity party.
Instead of spending her time building relationships with the other women, Jeanne indulges in a fit of “you’ve been mean and you know it!” In a classic female moment, a fuming Jeanne calls another of her “meetings,” to contest a remark she supposedly overheard during the night. Jeanne and Deena face-off, with Jeanne making the first mock-pleasantry, “you said I’m not part of the team.” Deena immediately responds with a magisterial move she learned at the bench, the ominous rigid-arm point. “I was talking to HER,” Deena intones, pointing to Christy. Christy gives Jeanne a friendly wave, enjoying her role of innocent spectator. “It didn’t sound like that,” Jeanne mutters with a tongue she’s bitten almost in two. Jenna then tries to get Jeanne to admit to what’s really bugging her. But Jeanne plays nonchalant and denies the agitation she feels at being alone in the tribe. When Jenna soothes Jeanne’s ego with a tribute to her industriousness, Jeanne tears up. Everyone admits to “personality differences” and “paranoia” in a gush of female feeling. Everyone but Heidi, sitting goggle-eyed, her head swaddled in a bandanna and wearing a pair of dorky eyeglasses. The head cheerleader has morphed into a female Urkel.
Machete, good. Blow to head, bad.
Alex is determinedly hacking away with a machete at a Lantana vine as thick as his sinewy arm. Why, we ask, is he exerting so much effort in chopping at this particular target? Well, because, as any guy will tell you, hacking at trees/plants/ bushes with big, sharp knives is fun! Just give little boys some long sticks, and watch them whack away at your mother’s prize lilac bushes, if you don’t believe me. But I digress. The branch finally gives and recoils, bashing him with brutal force, dangerously close to his dreamy eyes. Alex is quickly surrounded by his Tambaqui tribemates. Roger uses his field medic skills to expertly apply some gauze and a butterfly bandage, while Matthew hovers solicitously nearby with a medicinal can of Coke. Suddenly, in a burst of clarity, Alex discovers the silver lining to this cloud. “Chicks dig scars” he announces cheerfully.
Send your youngest, for wine and laughter. Lucky Dave, at 24, gets to be the Tambaqui emissary. Seeing another youngster get the prize and accolades puts Rob’s beaky nose out of joint. “I was very upset, because I wanted to go for wine and laughter. I was very angry because the golden boy Dave falls face first into good luck,” he whines. (Yeah, Rob, the same kind of “luck” you get from striving all your young life to get to N.A.S.A. Dave’s good fortune isn’t so much luck, as the universe rewarding those who think smart and work hard.)
Jenna, the junior Jaburu is in a panic. “I’m gonna have to do something by myself!” Jeanne snipes, “Don’t assume youngest means age.” But Deena retorts, with a pointed, “What do you think – we age differently, like cheese?” And it’s off into the unknown for Jenna, armed with several over-stuffed plastic bags, a canteen, and enough extra shoes hanging from her neck to outfit all the poor babies Melissa from Joe Millionaire wanted to wash.
Probst greets them with a speech saluting their youth (yadda yadda yadda) and shows off their luxurious accommodations, complete with wine, outdoor shower, robes & slippers, and a “very soft bed.” They throw on the pristine white bathrobes over their grungy bodies (What! No shower first?) We viewers get a good shot of Jenna’s jungle-themed underwear.
Sly Dave is the cat who ate the cream, lounging on the mat while Jenna sings like a canary. “We don’t do a lot of talking and I like tell the girls every day …” It doesn’t take Dave long to crack Jenna’s code: Heidi – strong; Deena – strong; Jeanne – vulnerable; Shawna – dead meat. After Jenna has blabbed all the girly secrets of the Jaburu tribe, Dave throws her a bone by divulging her ranking in the Amazonian version of Are You Hot?. “We talk about your ass!” Dave professes. “Mine!” Jenna titters, fondling her hair coquettishly. After a hard day of Truth or Dare, it’s off to the showers. Being the precise aeronautical engineer that he is, Dave must give a technical description of the shower. “The walls were semi-translucent,” he informs us. “Hey! You’re gonna be able to see my, like, boobs!” Jenna squeals, just in case he’s not looking. “There’s a naked girl in my shower. This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me!” Dave enthuses. (Yeah, and there’s a rocket in your pants, too.)
The two spend the night in blissful slumber on the “big, soft bed,” despite their expressed fears that there would be much snoring, twitching, and passing of gas. They awake refreshed to a sumptuous repast. Does starved and emaciated Jenna load up on the croissants, cheese, or crackers? No, she nibbles on watermelon – a diuretic with laxative side effects. I’m sure it’s still got a higher calorie count than her usual breakfast of an Altoid and a cigarette.
Concierge Jeff appears and asks them how they hit it off. “We told each other everything, we didn’t hold back at all!” Jenna gushes ingenuously. Make that “We” into an “I” and you’d have that about right, you ditz. She doesn’t have a clue as to what is about to happen, but rocket scientist Dave has set her up perfectly. Jenna’s “Oh, shit!” moment comes when Probst dumps the name tiles on the table, like a sinister game of Mah Jong. Of course, Dave’s turn comes first, and he toys with Jenna saying, “I’ve only heard good things about Heidi.” We hear a muffled groan from Jenna who’s holding her head in her hands.
The tribes break down like this:
New World Order
Rob’s nose hasn’t had a chance to settle back into place before golden boy Dave delivers another bruising blow. “I don’t think he has my best interests at heart. … He cares about Butch and about Roger,” Rob huffs to the camera after Dave announces the realignment. Principal Butch needs to have a little talk with Rob about his bad attitude.
The women at the Jaburu camp don’t even have a chance to brace themselves before Jenna delivers her blow: “Three of you are going to Tambaqui – Heidi, Jeanne, and Christy.” Heidi stands there thunderstruck. The remaining men of Tambaqui race around to prepare for the women’s arrival, inspiring Butch to slap his hands across his hair and Roger to don a shirt.
Jeanne is ecstatic at the prospect of joining a new tribe. “I was feeling fine,” she says gleefully. Christy is happy, too, but Deena, well, Deena needs to wear one of those thought balloons from now on that describe exactly what she’s thinking. Instead of being top dog, Deena is now underdog, and must start all over.
Jeanne, Christy, and Heidi get a very warm and gentlemanly welcome from Butch and Roger. As Christy did when the women arrived in the Jaburu camground, she announces her deafness to the men, but with remarkably different reactions. Roger stares awestruck at Christy the whole time while thoughtfully stroking his beard. “I’m surprised at how well she’s doing. I never would have guessed – it’s amazing,” he gushes to the camera. “I’m PSYCHED!” Christy yells in response to her welcome.
Alex, Rob, and Matthew race – and we mean race, over to the girls campsite. “Honey – we’re home!” Alex announces as they burst into camp. As soon as she hears the sound of masculine voices, Shawna experiences an amazing transformation. The Phoenix rises from the bundle of dirty rags formerly known as Shawna to greet the guys with enthusiastic hugs and kisses. “It’s amazing what a little bit of testosterone can do for somebody,” Deena deadpans.
The change of venue hasn’t done anything to change Rob’s weasly attitude. First he was pouting and whining about not being picked for dodge-ball and then switches to juvenile trash-talking. “I’m gonna wait to proposition any of these girls, but should Shawna and Jenna walk around here naked, I promise that I will not cast a vote in their direction until the merger,” he smirks. (You’re on the wrong tribe, buddy. Heidi was the one who threatened to walk around naked when the guys were around. Of course, that was her idea of strategy.)
It’s another round of Are You Hot?, this time with Alex and Rob, and Shawna and Jenna. Alex and Shawna hit it off right away. You’d never believe this bouncy minx was the same person who didn’t have the strength to scratch her grubby little nose an hour earlier. Alex: “Who got the most votes for hottest girl on Jaburu tribe?” Shawna: “Me?” Deena just grins and bears it. “Shawna may not be so interested in the chick thing anymore. Shawna may be in the Alex thing,” she admits. Deena’s expressions are priceless as Alex and Shawna segue into the “where’d you go to school,” bonding ritual.
”I Can See Clearly Now”
Roger and Butch indulge their warm fatherly sides by making sure that Christy and the other two women feel at home. They’ve added extra lights to the campground and make sure that there are plenty of lanterns in the tent so Christy can see everyone’s faces as they speak. She speaks plainly to the men about how much she appreciates their efforts. “I’m really glad I can be in a tribe where this lantern was useful. In the Jaburu tribe it wasn’t even possible.” Christy says she is in a really good position now.
Immunity Challenge: Amazon Word Scramble
Each tribe has to find five Amazon creature words on a big chalkboard. They’re evenly matched, but the new Jaburu tribe finds their words first and race to the river to round up the matching flags and win the challenge.
Back at the Tambaqui campground, Heidi, Jeanne, and Christy can’t decide how to vote, so they do the classic, short stick maneuver. Jeanne is convinced that the three men and three women are in a “tie-off” and the loser’s fate will be decided at Tribal Council. But Dave and the other men opt for the strategic alternative. Dave approaches Heidi, who has yet to unleash her concealed weapons, to ally with them. (Suzanne thinks Heidi now resembles the weasel from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, and has been referring to Heidi as “Ferret Face.” Melinda thinks Heidi looks like an overgrown ostrich chick, with her long scrawny neck, boiled pink complexion, and downy blonde tufts of hairs. Her vacuous buck-toothed expression adds nothing to her self-appointed role as Amazonian Bond Girl.)
Dave, the real 007, has no trouble working his mojo on Heidi. She twitches, she squirms, but she cannot, cannot escape. (You’re smart, I’m blonde – give me a clue!) “If you were in my position, what would you do?” she begs him. Heidi is just a younger version of Jan from Survivor: Thailand.
When the Tambaqui tribe is assembled, Probst gets another heartfelt response from Christy. She says that the men handled her deafness “so much better than the girls did.” Roger’s body language is very clear as he is listening to Christy. He’s turned toward her with a warm and fuzzy expression on his face, stroking his beard all the while. (If you remember from Roger’s biography, he lost a daughter at the age of sixteen, and might very well have paternalistic feelings towards Christy.) Roger looks as though he were going to reach into his wallet and hand Christy a $20 dollar bill, with a pat on her head – “Here you go, kitten.”
As soon as Probst focuses on Heidi, her twitching goes into overdrive. She dithers on about girls against guys and “my head is spinning” to the extent that Christy and Jeanne start giving her alarmed looks. But it’s too late to drag Heidi back into the fold before the votes are cast. Heidi has indeed gone over to the other side – the other women vote for Butch, but brainsucked Heidi casts her vote with the men. She’s still under Dave’s spell when she writes Jeanne’s name, only to give it the manly spelling of “Gene”! And this idiot has a teaching degree! How much you wanna bet she spelled it “Jim-nasium” on her application.
Next week: It’s Girls Gone Wild Week at Tambaqui and Jaburu. Shawna and Christy break out of their old downtrodden rut and revel in some good old-fashioned manly attention.
Let’s look at the players.
Alex: You were fun again this week, even though you almost ended up a Cyclops. You could easily be the Top Dog in your new tribe.
Butch: Saved by the Belle. You could have ended up at Loser Lodge this week if Heidi hadn’t switch-hit.
Dave: You were the master strategist this week. Like Bond playing baccarat at Monte Carlo, you played the game expertly, aligning the major players where you wanted them, and without breaking a sweat. Selecting Roger and Butch for your tribe, you chose experience over youthful exuberance.
Matthew: If you’re smart, you’ll align yourself solidly with Alex and/or Deena. You’re in a better position than Rob and need to push your advantage.
Rob: You’ve gone back this week to being the asinine jerk. You had enough sense to confine your smart-ass comments to the camera, but chances are Matthew and Alex have figured you out. Align yourself with Matthew or Deena if you have any sense.
Roger: Now that you’re not threatened by a bunch of stronger, younger men, you can relax and show your friendly side. Having some women around helps to temper your abrasiveness and brings out the best in you.
Christy: It’s nice to see your tribe make the kind of practical changes necessary for you to shine. You could have a solid connection with Butch and Roger, instead of struggling with a bunch of immature cheerleaders.
Deena: You still have the potential to “persuade and influence” your new tribe. There are enough underdogs to form a new pack.
Heidi: New from Mattel – It’s Pawn Barbie. What happened to the master plan you advertised so blatantly? Your chances of going into the Final Four are as likely as Anna Nicole going to M.I.T. If you only had a brain.
Jeanne: Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Wizard Dave talked Heidi into dropping a house on you. You didn’t want to “lie and cheat” but you weren’t averse to backstabbing Deena and hounding Janet.
Jenna: Despite your youth and indiscreet blatherings, you managed to pick some decent players for your tribe. The cheerleader clique is busted for good. You need to look around and pick some allies based on attributes other than how they look in a bikini. That’s the men’s job, now.
Shawna: Reanimé Girl. Howsoever Alex goes, so goeth you. It’s time to freshen up and use some of those beauty product you girls won.
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 email@example.com.
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