Survivor Psyche, Episode 9: Disbarredby Melinda Smith and Suzanne Tromblay -- 04/14/2003
Chain of Fools
Rob starts off bright and early with Matthew's daily indoctrination. "Every morning I give Matt a debriefing of the wild goose chases I want him to work on for the day. Just to keep his mind busy so he doesn't have any chance to figure out what's going on." Today's delusion involves how the men are gonna vote off the women and Matt must recruit simple-minded Butch as his stooge. This fractured fairy tale is delivered in very hush hush tones to the accompaniment of Peter Gunn type background music. Matt swallows the load whole, nodding wide-eyed at Rob before he scurries off to do his bidding. "Butch is a good guy, yes, master."
Matthew, or should we say Inspector Clouseau, takes his assignment very, very seriously. More seriously even than sharpening his machete or carving up his footwear. The two "scheme" on their daily fishing expedition. "We're gonna be a chain," he tells Butch tersely. "A what?" responds Butch. "Chain. Like a chain link fence." Matthew swells with importance as he explains to the camera his role in the chain of command. "I'm Butch's link to what's happening. I told him I would decide when to speak. I will initiate all communication. I am his lifeline."
Matthew has learned well at the master's knee. Matthew mimics Rob as he indoctrinates Butch. "No one hears about our conversations - they don't exist." "They don't exist…" Butch drones in response. In his only spotlight moment this episode, Principal Butch explains today's fable ala Superintendent Matthew. "You got your big chain, your big four together and you wanna be one of those links," he says fatuously.
Back at the schoolyard, class clown Rob reveals the prank he's pulled on Matthew and Butch. Everyone has a good snicker, calling outsider Matthew "mentally unstable" and saying he's the next to go. "Just so Matthew doesn't feel threatened and need to kill any of us," Jenna says importantly.
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
The mail contains the message, "Smell the Aroma of Victory." Waiting is a batch of blowguns, spears, and bows and arrows. Just your common every day mail delivery… if you're Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Practice goes well for everyone, with the notable exceptions of Rob and gym teacher Heidi. Heidi of the Jungle sends her projectiles soaring into the underbrush. Rob's arrow impales itself at his feet like Brandon's did in Survivor: Africa, without the accompanying hopping and squealing. In a dream come true, Rob instructs Heidi in the art of blowing. "Do I need to like totally put my mouth around it?" Heidi squeaks.
But Matthew, whose skill with the weapons resembles a Samurai with his sword, is the master of the arena. He's such an expert he even scares himself. Matthew proposes to his operator, Rob that he blow the challenge so as not to appear a physical threat. "Matt, I think you're finally startin' to understand this game," Rob nods happily.
As the mail message implies, the reward involves Brazil's most famous export - coffee. A luxurious cabana type coffee bar awaits the victor of this challenge. The players will be whittled down from eight to four, then four to two, and finally one. Contest #1 is blowdarts, and just like in practice, Heidi's drives itself into the ground. Probst slips in a barb at Rob's expense. "Rob, you look like you're gonna be good at this." Samurai Matthew and triathlete Alex both hit the bull's eye in spears. "This guy is a nincompoop," Rob mutters as Matthew's spear hits the center of the target. So much for being a nonthreat. But when Alex and Matthew square off for the final challenge, Alex's arrow is the only one to find the center. Of course, he gets to pick a date. Quicker than sticks and twigs can drop their drawers, he picks… Jenna! Surprise!
Jenna launches herself into Alex's arms with the grace of a Homecoming Queen's practiced wave. A forlorn Heidi gapes vacuously. Might she be missing her cuddlekins Dave, whom she helped vote off last episode? Heidi is now exiled to the Homecoming Queen's court.
At the cabana, Jenna and Alex stuff themselves silly on pastries, cookies, and croissants while enjoying every variety of coffee, both hot and cold. "I couldn't have picked a better person to spend an afternoon with," Jenna strokes Alex as they gorge at the bar. "I love to eat and me and Alex are like bottomless pits," she giggles. (Seeing as how this is your second reward, Jenna, we wonder if anyone back at camp is calling you a "fat pig.")
Like a couple of juveniles at recess, Alex and Jenna dish the dirt on the other players. Jenna, Heidi, and Rob, are "so much fun" but that Deena is like - so strict! She's only three years older than me, Alex blurts, but she's sooo "different." "Yeah," Jenna interjects, "She's always thinking of another plot!" Jenna and Alex see Deena as the Hall Monitor who orders them back to Study Hall instead of hanging out with them behind the bleachers.
Enemy of the Court
Deena has been pondering the question of Matthew and his Olympic-caliber performance, and she's not happy. What if Matthew wins immunity, she poses to the others back at camp, setting them up for Plan B. Deena gets Heidi to testify how badly she wants to win. "Totally, with all my heart," Heidi swears, looking ever more braindead. "Tell me how well we're gonna advance if Matthew or Alex is in this game?" Deena prods. "Matthew's not in the picture," Heidi says blankly. Deena moves in for the kill. "I understand that - what if Matthew wins immunity?" She then informs Heidi and Rob that Alex must be the next to go.
Deena confidently assures Heidi and Rob that Jenna will go along with her plan, she just needs a little "finessing." "I'm in control," Deena informs the camera. "I always have a backup plan after my backup plan fails. I'm thinking 24/7 here and it's making my head hurt." So dumbstruck is Heidi by this maneuvering that she stays squatting on the ground, mumbling to herself. "This is getting so interesting." Heidi is blinking like a capybara (largest rodent in the Amazon) caught in the headlights. (This is getting way more complicated than diagramming the play in a volleyball game. Her inner dialogue starts to sound something like this. "What do now? Must think! Try - flirt? NO - flirt no good right now. Dave not here! Must think - have idea! Talk to Jenna. Jenna know - Jenna smart!")
Spy vs. Spy
At first, it looks like a repeat of the last episode when Dave and Deena returned to camp, only Alex and Jenna's entrance sounds like Rush Week at the Delta House. Alex thoroughly annoys the other players with his boisterous offers to hold down the next two fire watches and manic caffeine-driven behavior. But all is forgiven when he pulls out a clutch of chocolate cookies he smuggled from the cabana. Rob pushes his luck by insisting that they eat Butch and Matthew's share. "They'll never know. They're on the outside looking in, power wise. Even if they find out, what're they gonna do?"
Night falls, and Matthew and Butch return to a changed camp, not that they would notice. It would take a banner inscribed "Welcome pawns," to get their attention. Super secret, double agent Mata-Heidi wastes no time in pulling Jenna into the girl's washroom for a debriefing. "Alex and Jenna were my original alliance(?) I'm not gonna turn my back on them, so I just told Jenna about it and I knew she'd speak to Alex about it," Heidi shrugs nonchalantly. (What else was I supposed to do? What's that about a first alliance at Jaburu? Shawna who? Christy? Oh, yeah, the ugly girl.)
Based on the mature, thoughtful person that Jenna has proven herself to be, what do you think her reaction is? True to form, Jenna responds like any snarky13-year-old girl. "Deena's stabbing us all in the back because she's being selfish(?) I'm really pissed at her! She's starting trouble." Jenna shakes her head in disgust. ("She's sending my new boyfriend to detention and I won't let her!") Rob gloats behind everyone's back that he's the one calling the shots.
The adventure continues even after the tribe goes to bed that night. Big nasty furry spiders invade the shelter, and they're not your garden variety Daddy Long Legs. Some poor misbegotten Tarantula takes a bite out of Heidi, and moved on to bigger and juicier prey after discovering just how desiccated she is. Or maybe it was a scavenger beetle that thought Heidi was already dead?
"I feel soooo retarded right now," Heidi informs the others chirpily. (Once again, Heidi thoughtlessly slams those who are not in her "caste." Let's hope Heidi isn't in charge of the Special Ed kids at her school.) Heidi cannot bend, move, or touch her swollen knee and must be carried around like an oversized rag doll. She giggles constantly throughout this scene, reminding us of one of those bubble-headed blonde actresses from a '40s comedy. "It's from bugs, hee hee hee." Carol Channing meets The African Queen.
Immunity Challenge: Grubs On
Probst greets the players ominously, "If you want food, today you're getting food." Just like the Reward Challenge, the players will be whittled down from eight, to four, to two, to one. All the players line up at a table that holds eight covered bowls. "Go ahead, take off your tops," he commands. (No, not that challenge! No, Jenna, no! This isn't Hooters!) Under the lids are some delectable roasted grasshoppers. Big ones, too. "Mmmmm, crunchy!" Alex remarks. Poor Christy fights down her gag impulse while the others chew. Jenna refuses her portion. "I just can't eat it." (Jenna wouldn't eat that thing even if Dr. Atkins told her to.)
Next comes a serving of coconut worms. Even a box of Beetlegrub Helper won't make these critters go down easy. Mad Matt chugs his serving of worms in one gulp, like a Frat boy with a beer bong. He, Alex, Deena, and Christy win that round. Course #3 features five beetles. "That's disgusting!' the normally imperturbable Deena shouts. Alex, Matt, and Deena snack on the beetles like they were little cocktail weenies. Poor Christy gags and gags some more. Deena and Matt munch this way to the finish while Christy pukes into a bush.
The final course is a beetle larvae that looks like a Hostess Twinkie with claws. Deena goes into maximum gross-out mode. "That is just nasty ass!" she sputters. Mad Matt examines his dinner. "It's alive - it's alive and it's got big teeth!" "Sweet!" enthuses Alex. Probst reassures Deena and Matt that the beetle's pincers have been removed, "so it won't hurt going down." (But it hurts to look at them! Hopefully, someone was served the Carrion Beetle that snacked on Heidi.) Deena grimaces and fidgets while she pumps up her courage. When Probst gives the signal to eat, she makes a mock grab and then motions to Matt like a spokesmodel to the prize display. Matthew swallows the grub whole and raises his arms in victory. "I'm hoping my digestive juices are gonna do battle," he explains, pointing to his stomach. "This guy is crazy!" Rob squeals in his best falsetto. All the players bow to the master as Matt gives a Tarzan yell.
Deena informs Jenna of their plan to oust Alex, now that Matt has won immunity, not knowing that counteragent Heidi has already spilled the (coffee) beans. Jenna pretends to go along. "I convinced Jenna, Alex has to go. Bye, bye, Alex, " Deena says confidently. Knowing what we know, Deena sounds ominously like Roger in this episode. She's just not questioning the perfection of her plan, like he was doing. "Little fingers are outreaching and it's all falling into place," she gloats. Deena's made her closing arguments to the jury and thinks Alex's conviction is a done deal.
But the jury is still out. "Deena has stabbed us all in the back and I'm so incredibly disappointed and shocked and I can't ever forgive that," Jenna pisses and moans. Foreman Rob wrings his hands and bemoans his position as Monkey in the Middle. "It's like in the mob. There's gonna be a hit on one of my friends and I'm gonna have to look the other way."
Tribal Council: Attorney at Large
Heidi continues her hilarious version of bubblehead jock speak when Probst asks if she's concerned about her knee. "Oh my gosh, yes. My strongest assets to this group are athletic ability and intelligence. Hello? One of them is gone right now!" It's a setup not to be missed. "Which one?" Probst deadpans. Heidi's insightful response? Giggle, giggle, giggle.
Deena joins the ranks of the clueless when she claims that she didn't need immunity. She could take a lesson from Matt because he claims the same thing. "Immunity was a nice thing to have today, but it wasn't absolutely essential." Deena thinks she's a thousand miles from Loser Lodge, when in fact, she's camped out on its doorstep. If she loses, Deena says, it'd come down to a "bug spawned out of the pit of hell."
At the vote, only Christy stays true to Deena. Rob the Ambulance Chaser runs after the in-crowd and votes with Alex, Matt, Jenna, Butch, and Heidi. Jenna digs her claws in one last time. "You lied to me, you betrayed me, you screwed me, now I'm screwing you!" Prosecutor Deena will now view the goings-on at Jacaré from inside the jury box.
Next episode: Alex, Jenna, Heidi, and Rob bask in the heat of the Amazon sun and their own sense of superiority. "We're the majority and the other three know it."
Let's look at the players.
Butch: Dunce. Only your weakness and malleability are keeping you safe. It's only a question of time.
Christy: Even though you were more grossed out than anyone else at the food challenge, you hung in there and ate your grub. Your loyalty to Deena has come to naught and left you vulnerable.
Heidi: After you were bitten by the spider, your knee swelled up to almost normal proportions. You resemble a rag doll in more ways than one - the Scarecrow wanted a brain, too.
Alex: You've assumed Dave's Golden Boy status. Better hope the wretched outcasts don't band together and vote you off as well.
Deena: What we feared from your profile as an aggressive prosecutor has sadly come true. You kept a level head for a long time, and made logical decisions quietly. But emotions - yours and the other women's - did you in. You got overconfident and moved in for the kill. Even though you're the mother of three young kids, you don't know how fickle teenagers can be.
Matthew: Saved by your iron gut and lack of gag reflex. Unless you wake up and get the implant out of your brain, you need to win all the immunity challenges from now on.
Rob: You blew a sure-fire alliance with a trustworthy and able player for three fair-weather friends. You're just a comical and expendable Jughead that they'll ditch as soon they're in jeopardy.
Jenna: Meet Veronica. Like we said last week, and the week before, and the week before that. Vain, shallow, bitchy, and immature. So surprising to see these qualities in a swimsuit model!
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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