Survivor Psyche, Episode 12: A Cute Failureby Melinda Smith and Suzanne Tromblay -- 05/09/2003
Method To Their Madness?
It’s “all about me” again this week for Princess Jenna. Perched in the comfort of the shelter, she and Heidi take a thorough inventory of their physical and emotional state in the morning. Woe is me, is the announcement from Jenna, who says she is suffering from a condition she calls “phlaryngitis.” Whatever the heck it is, it can only be a good thing if it means that Jenna is gonna SHUT UP!!! Next comes the bulletin about her emotional state. “I didn’t feel half as betrayed as I did before,” Jenna sniffs, referring to the vote against Christy. Instead of feeling rejuvenated by their renewed alliance with Rob, not to mention actually staying in the game, Heidi and Jenna seem to be suffering from a terminal case of the miseries.
Rob arrives to take their emotional temperatures and unburden some of his own inner agitation. He quickly concludes that the girls are “very grateful” to him for saving their asses the night before. “I’m now at the point where I’m completely honest with them.” “Heidi, I’m gonna vote for you next,” Rob announces. “OK!” Heidi chirps back.
Emboldened by the girls’ reception, Rob gives voice to more of his inner dialogue. If I don’t vote for you, Rob confesses, “I’ll be screwing over everybody I ever allied with in this game.” Heidi now says the most insightful and humorous thing she has ever made in this entire game. “And you care about that at this point?” (Here we see the effect that faithful Matthew has had on Rob over the course of the game. Rob has managed to keep his emotional distance from the other players through most of the game, calling Matt for one a “spaz” and a maniac, but has been forced to confront his resurrected feelings of loyalty and friendship.)
In either a move of true brilliance or the kind of hubris Rob showed last week with Jenna when he told her she was the next to go, Rob now concludes that Heidi and Jenna “don’t have anything up their sleeves,” because they were so OK with his plans. After Rob leaves, Heidi and Jenna congratulate themselves for their playmanship in staying in the game. “We sit here thanking Rob but really it was us that got us here!” Heidi snickers.
In what looks like simple fun and games, we see Principal Butch on his daily firewood forages. It’s here, it’s there, it’s everywhere! Even under the shelter platform where Heidi and Jenna rest in self-induced comas. “Butch done lost his mind,” Jenna snipes in one of her more cognizant moments. “I’m just a wood crazy nut I guess,” Butch admits, and breaks into his own wacky version of “Walk Like An Egyptian.” “My wife’s always embarrassed when I dance, I don’t know why…”
Reward Challenge: Things To Come
Before setting out for the reward challenge, Butch makes sure to look over his wood stash and the state of the fire in the fire shelter. All systems are go, and they’re off to the challenge.
When they assemble at the challenge site, Probst asks they players how they’re doing. “I’ve got laryngitis,” Jenna immediately pipes up. “I don’t feel very good. I’m a little girl, (shrug) I can only ask so much from a small body.” Apparently, Jenna is sicker than we thought, as she’s now hallucinating that she’s back home complaining to SOMEONE WHO CARES!!
Back in the real world, Probst announces that the challenge is a blast from the past and a sneak at the future. (You know it’s gotta be the cool vehicle reward.) First comes knot untying, then a puzzle, a rope swing, message decoding, find the key, unlock the flying fox, grab the last key, and voila – a shiny new Saturn Ion! As if that’s not enough, the trunk opens to reveal the fixings for a tailgate party!
The challenge turns into a relay race between the three men as each takes a turn in the lead. Butch goes first with the knot challenge, followed by Matt and then Rob. Rob flies through the puzzle portion, but is overtaken by Matt at the decoder station. It’s a straight shot from then on for Matt, who blazes a course straight to the fire red Saturn.
Probst invites everyone to get in the car. “It’s the first time in 34 days I’ve been in air conditioning,” Jenna exclaims. Please God, don’t let it be Jenna or Heidi as Matt’s date at the tailgate party! But, Matt’s wiser head prevails, and he picks his old buddy, Rob, instead. “Everybody else out of the car!” Probst orders. A distraught Jenna has to be forcibly removed from the car’s comfy padded interior and helped back to camp by Principal Butch.
More juvenile hijinks follow, as Rob and Matt check out the car’s distinctive features. “How far back do the seats go?” Rob inquires. “It’s got a big back seat…” Matthew generously offers Rob the use of his new car to cruise for chicks “whenever he returns to Asia or the planet that he came from,” Rob laughs. Carnal desires of another kind take over and they break out the food. “Oh my God, they’re like Flintstone hamburgers,” Rob exclaims when he opens the hamburger Tupperware container. Both Matt and Rob lament the absence of Butch when they light the hibachi charcoal. “Butch’s gonna be so jealous we have coal,” Rob jokes.
Of course, the picnic is also an opportunity for Matt and Rob to lay out their final two strategy. Matt reflects that it’s good to see two different people come together who had such different strategies. “He helped me initially, and I’m helping him a lot now,” Matt … Matt tells Rob he’s the only one who still trusts him. “I’ve taken us to this point, there’s no more moves I can make, Matt is the player that’s in the driver’s seat, not me, …”Not one player would trust me to go to the end, and for that, I owe you everything.” “I’m so stoked that I’ve crafted very strong relationships with Rob and Butch, and as far as they know, I’m going to the final two with each of them.” I feel like I’ve got two options now locked in, one of them will be stabbed in the back and that will be the first time in the game I’ve had to do that.”
”I Didn’t Start The Fire…”
After surviving thirty-four days in the jungle, the tribe members return to their campsite to find that Mother Nature has paid an unexpected visit. And it’s a warm welcome indeed for Butch, Heidi, and Jenna when they see a smoldering ruin where their shelter and belongings used to be. Butch’s “Believe In Yourself” banner is only a melted nylon ribbon now, and Rob’s Magic 8-Ball has been reduced to a charred lump of plastic. Only Heidi’s backpack remains untouched, having been stored under the shelter. She tries to console Jenna, who is dazed by this new turn of events. “I had stuff that can’t be replaced like my pledge crown and my Zeta jacket,” Jenna mourns.
Like the good administrator that he is, Principal Butch has learned how to weather difficult times. ”My first thought was, God could it be my fault, but we’ll never know,” Butch shrugs. “Whose fault? It’s all of ours I guess, maybe it was too big a fire,” Butch tells Heidi and Jenna.
Soon enough, Matt and Rob return from their picnic. “We had a little problem, the shelter burned down,” Jenna announces. “The shelter burned down!” Rob shouts. ”Dude!” Matt responds. It’s a marked contrast of personalities as the tribe members cope with the loss of their possessions. Heidi wallows in survivor’s guilt because she still has her stuff, Jenna is stunned that she’s lost something “passed down for 5 or 6 years,” Butch has already moved on to plans for a new structure, and Matt has turned to his inner guide for help. Which leaves Rob as the only one willing to “point the finger.” “I believe in fate and this was probably unavoidable,” Matt ponders. ”I’m not gonna point any fingers cause we don’t do that in this tribe [not in the fairy tale version you’re living anyway] but in hindsight it was an inferno waiting to happen.” Rob is not so magnanimous, “With 135 days’ worth of firewood, our camp burnt to the ground, was there a connection?” he speculates. And he’s ready with the answer: “Cough/Butch!”
Phoenix or Flop?
A new day dawns with its opportunities for change, growth, and discovery. And which role on the Cosmic Wheel of Life do Jenna and Heidi choose? Victim – that’s who! And nasty, deluded, passive victims they are too. While worker ants Matthew, Butch, and Rob toil to construct a new fire shelter for the tribe, Jenna and Heidi stubbornly refuse to help in any way. The men have a “hard core alliance,” Heidi reasons, and there’s no way to break it. “I told Jenna I feel bad for not helpin’ them, but nah, I really don’t,” she snickers. The two girls mock the “boys” under their breath while the men haul palm fronds out of the jungle. It’s the old Grasshopper and the Ants fable come to life in the Amazon jungle.
Heidi explains their voting strategy in her usual eloquent fashion. (Grammar Alert!) “I want Butch to go before me and Jenna. I feel like we’ve earned it, we’ve worked our butts off. We’ve not been careless – we didn’t’ burn down the camp!” Jenna sees it this way. “We’re not doing any work for them – why? You’re gonna vote us off why would we do crap for you? We’re not making life easier for you.” Even Matt’s patience is tried and he’s forced to conclude that Heidi and Jenna are “digging a grave for themselves.”
Probst pretends to be ignorant of the devastation at camp when the players assemble at the immunity challenge. “What happened to the necklace?” he inquires. With his survival on the line, Rob grows impatient with recounting past history. “It’s gut-check time, we turned it up a notch – let’s go.”
No mental challenges this time, it’s sheer physicality. There’s a disc walk, rope tunnel, rope swing, swing steps, and a “V” tunnel, at the end of which the players get a feather. A collection of five feathers wins the game and Matt reclaims the scorched piece of organic artwork that was hanging around Heidi’s neck.
Back at camp, Jenna has lost all resemblance to the glossy, snarky Head Cheerleader she once was. “I can’t do this anymore, I feel like crap!” Jenna wails. “I can’t even walk, I take like two steps and I collapse!” Wait a minute – what’s Shawna doing here. This is exactly the same meltdown speech we heard back in episode six! But no, Jenna has come down with the same affliction that strikes many young girls when life is hard and no one around you cares whether you look like an adorable pixie or not. “How am I supposed to enjoy my life for the next couple of days here when I can’t even do anything!” Jenna is deaf to the sound of Heidi and Rob trying to help her out of her self-induced pity party, and the millions of viewers having their own snigger.
Crafty Heidi sees her opportunity to get something for herself and her friend. “Jenna is afraid!” Heidi tells Rob. “Afraid for her health, afraid she won’t survive. Afraid, afraid, afraid! Shoot her now and don’t wait til you get home!” Jenna has stopped short of begging for a mercy killing like Shawna, which leaves Heidi to do the dirty work.
”There are a couple of different reasons why someone would want to vote for Jenna tonight,” Rob, the Lord High Executioner explains. “She’s whining and she’s sick. Those are two things that you should try to avoid at this stage in the game because if you’re willing to put your head on the chopping block, I’m willing to lop it off.”
Tribal Council: “I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain”
Probst explores the fire at camp, asking Butch if his “ferocious wood collecting” had anything to do with it. But Butch still insists that he is not the resident pyromaniac and Probst moves on to find more willing victims. “Do you deserve to be in the final two?” is his next question to Jenna. “It’s impossible for me to recover cause we’re just not eating enough stuff and it’s been hard (sniff).” She says she wants to go up against some who is a friend and a great player. “I don’t want to go up against someone I know I could beat, because it’s not competition(?)” This comment gains a majorly confused reaction from Rob.
But that’s nothing like the level of confusion that Heidi lays on everyone next. “I definitely deserve to be in the final two. These other four people know how I’ve played. I’ve played so hard. I’m like the mastermind behind half of the plans that go on day to day and I’ve got three guys here that are scared to death of me.” (Oh. My. God. And we thought “the other players value me for my strength and my intelligence” was bad. The other players contort themselves trying to hide their gleeful smirks, and Rocket Scientist Dave is so stunned that he’s forced to hide his head in his hands. And if you didn’t know up to this point who was going out tonight, you had a thunderclap of an answer here.)
The skies open as the players cast their votes. Heidi, the latest self-proclaimed “mastermind,” gets her walking papers and it’s off to Loser Lodge for one of the cute girls.
Next episode: Survivor: Amazon concludes in a two-part finale.
Now let’s look at the players.
Butch: Who would have thought that you’d get this far? Let’s hope your buddy alliance with Matt holds firm to the end.
Heidi: An ability to laugh at yourself will definitely come in handy now that you’ve seen yourself on TV. Insight could be a dangerous thing for someone of your resourcefulness and intelligence.
Matthew: You continue to surprise and impress us more every week. You’ve gone from being dog meat to Top Dog, while never losing your patience, humility, or humanity.
Rob: Safe again! How far will your craftiness take you in the final days? If Jenna wins immunity, it’s all over for you!
Jenna: Take a clue from Butch’s melted banner and get a grip on yourself, you lazy wench! Off your butt, off the couch, and off the pity party! Oops! That just slipped out, it’s our automatic reaction when faced with clueless, whining girls.
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.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent Survivor articles at the Survivor: The Amazon page and take a look at our sections on Joe Millionaire and The Osbournes. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!