Surviving the Cook Islands, Episode 1: “Karma’s a Bizzle”by David Bloomberg -- 09/15/2006
After the long summer wait filled by Big Brother and numerous reality talent shows, Survivor is finally back! We’ve already seen that this season is drawing plenty of attention from people who have not seen a single episode of this season and, in some cases, probably have never even seen the show at all! There have been sponsors dropping out and politicians crying out. We even talked to former contestant Daniel Lue to see what he thought.
But, frankly, I don’t care about those issues. I want to see Survivor! So of course we’ve had our usual pre-season articles, like the RNO Roundtable predictions and What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned. So now we’re ready to go. Let’s get to it!
We begin on a ship cutting through the waters of the South Pacific, heading for the Cook Islands. And that ship is bouncing up and down, up and down – I hope they all have lots of Dramamine! Twenty contestants are waiting to be marooned for up to 39 days. The ladder is unrolled and they jump up to start grabbing items on the ship. They have only two minutes to get whatever they can, including a chicken that gets away and flies into the water. Jeff Probst’s first line to a contestant: “You need to catch that chicken! That is food you are going to want.” And so a contestant – Yul, I think – jumps into the water and grabs it.
In addition to the chicken, there are other items to help them, including Hawaiian slings (oooh, Ozzy’s gonna want that), firewood, traps, bananas, and lanterns. Probst tells us the players have been divided “into four very unique tribes.” Indeed, this is not a surprise, since we already knew this, but let’s play along. The tribes are: Asian-American, Caucasian, Latino, and African-American. Each tribe will live on their own island. As he goes on about how it’s more than a test of survival skills but a test of social skills, etc., the various contestants are throwing stuff off the ship and into the water, trying to pile it on their rather flimsy bamboo rafts.
Time is up and Probst orders the remaining contestants off the boat. And then words we’ve been longing to hear: “39 days, 20 people, one Survivor!”
The contestants paddle their four rafts away from the ship as Ozzy, from the Aitu (Latino) tribe tells us his first thought upon seeing that tribes were split along racial lines was that people with the same ethnicity might clash on things. Really? I would think it would be exactly the opposite. Sundra (Hiki, African-American tribe) says she couldn’t care less about the division by race – when it comes to surviving, “it’s a human effort.” Well said!
Yul (Puka, Asian-American tribe) says he was stunned. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity because there are more minorities, but he’s a little worried it might lead to caricatures and stereotypes. Parvati (Raro, Caucasian tribe) asks if breaking people up by race is “kosher.” No, Parvati, because there isn’t a Jewish tribe. (Maybe next season will feature tribes broken up by religion!) But she thinks it’s a cool social experiment.
The Aitu raft rows along as Billy says it’s “ass-backwards.” His parents got on a raft and rowed away from an island so he could have a better life, and here he’s rowing to an island! OK, I like Billy already! When asked, he says his parents are from the Dominican Republic. Billy tells us that the divided tribes should be an advantage for the Hispanics because they all come from Caribbean or South American backgrounds so they’re used to being in a tropical setting.
Cecilia says they have an opportunity to represent their community in a positive way. They need to show that they work hard and play hard, and they’ll go far. Billy takes the lead at camp and talks about how they can make a hut and a toilet. J.P. says Billy is all fired up and he doesn’t want to judge Billy on his (overweight) appearance.
Ozzy, however, says he could tell from watching Billy cut the bamboo (apparently by slamming it against a tree) that he doesn’t really know what he is doing. So he takes over to guide things, but he doesn’t want to appear to be a leader. There’s a smart guy who has obviously seen the show before!
Ozzy also heads into the tree to get fronds and coconuts, and he’s compared to Mogli from The Jungle Book by J.P. Ozzy tells us he thinks they will be able to work as a team and they have the strongest tribe.
Puka is rowing their raft while Cao Boi says he “can’t believe a bunch of Asians who are so little weigh so much.” Ha! But one of the women doesn’t find it funny and insists, “No more Asian jokes.” But Cao Boi doesn’t want to hear it. He tells us he’s not a first generation American, he’s a refugee and a survivor. If he survived the Vietnam war, he can survive this. “Second time being a boat person,” he says as they reach shore.
Cao Boi says the Puka tribe has an advantage because they fly under the radar. “Nobody suspects these little people with slanted eyes” can be strong or maybe even speak English! “People always underestimate the Asian.”
Introductions all around. Jenny says she’s Filipino, Yul is Korean, Becky is Korean, Brad is mixed Filipino/Hawaiian, and Cao Boi is Vietnamese. So really, she continues, they are a mixed group themselves.
Cao boi starts chopping coconuts as he tells the others there was a monk in Vietnam who lived only on coconuts. Brad says to Cao Boi, “I have a feeling you’re going to be telling a lot of stories tonight.” Hey, Brad, you don’t have TV, might as well have Cao Boi.
Yul tells us he’s having a problem with Cao Boi already, perhaps due to the generation gap. Cao Boi, meanwhile, tells us he has always had a problem being accepted by the Asian community. If you look at him, he doesn’t look educated, he doesn’t fit the Asian stereotype – he belongs in a hippy community. As he’s telling us this, we see him go off on his own and find a coconut – and eat it himself! Hmmm. Eating by yourself is really not a good idea at this stage of the game if anybody else finds out.
At Hiki, they are figuring out where to make their shelter. Sekou has them get in a circle and put their hands together in the center. They pledge to make it “from day one to the end” and “represent, represent, represent!” Stephannie reiterates the representing statement while Rebecca says being divided by race makes her feel like they have to prove black people can swim or get on a boat and paddle. “We don’t just run track.” Heh.
Sundra, meanwhile, appears to be living on a different tribe. She says their group has nothing to do with race and they’re just a bunch of city kids. Nate says things are going okay, but “black people don’t like to be told what to do” and they have a bunch of headstrong players – including himself. As they continue putting together a shelter, one of the women says she’s trying to figure out Sekou’s vision. He says, “I have a dream…” Ha!
Sekou tells us he has taken on a leadership role because he wanted them to stay focused. He hopes it’s positive for everybody. And it looks like they’ve succeeded in getting a rather low-tech shelter together.
Raro is rowing and swimming to shore as Adam tells us he doesn’t care if his tribe is all white people or any other race. The key is what kind of personalities are in the tribe and how you get along. Jonathan says it will be fascinating to see how it plays out, but no matter what ethnic background people may share, it’s still Survivor and people will have to cut the throat of the guy next to them to try to win the million dollars. Smart man.
Jessica, the Courtney lookalike, says they scored with supplies, including two machetes, two Hawaiian slings, and two chickens. They put the chickens under a box to keep them from getting away. Turns out Jonathan grabbed “the green team’s” chicken – he didn’t know, it was there and free. Heh. They crack open a coconut and toast to their success as
The chickens run and
It’s day two and the Hiki tribe has found water. Rebecca says it’s dirty and full of parasites, but as soon as they make fire, they’ll be good. Looks like Sundra and Rebecca have already made a friendship, as both are from New York and they work well together. Stephannie sounds a bit threatened as she says the other two women are much closer than she could ever be with either of them. They go off together a lot and are always talking. Mind you, folks, this is day two! But she’s keeping her eyes on that.
Sekou says they are going to work on fire and not give up. The whole tribe gathers to try to help as Sekou rubs the sticks. But then he wants to take a break, which Stephannie says he does a lot – he doesn’t stay focused.
At Raro that night, it’s getting a bit cold. So they decide to snuggle for warmth. Uh huh, that’s the reason. Candice wants to sleep next to Adam because he’s the biggest guy there and a good wind blocker. They all spoon in a “cuddle puddle.” Adam says it makes the island more bearable to have some good-looking girls with him, and he’s attracted to Candice “a lot.” Parvati thinks “romance is in the air.”
On day three, Brad at the Puka tribe has a headache, and Cao Boi is apparently going to treat him. This should be interesting. He sits Brad down and puts his fingers under Brad’s ears with his thumbs practically poking him in the eyes. Yeah, that should do the trick. He says Brad doesn’t just have a headache, he has “bad wind.” I’m thinking that’s a whole different problem – more like Chicken George had on Big Brother after eating all the slop. But Cao Boi is going to pull the bad wind out of Brad.
He squeezes Brad’s forehead and then starts pulling on his skin at the top of his nose. In fact, he does is so hard, he bruises Brad! Cao Boi says that’s an indicator of the bad wind leaving. Ooookay. And he tells Brad he’ll feel better shortly. I’m thinking Brad will say he feels better shortly no matter what, just so Cao Boi doesn’t do that to him again!
Brad returns to the rest of the tribe and the women just laugh at him and wonder “what the hell happened” to him. Brad tries to explain it as they continue to laugh. Cao Boi says the others in the tribe were born in America and have lost touch. I’m thinking losing touch with this sort of thing is good!
But Brad tells us he did have a headache and now it’s gone! “But I do have a red dot on my forehead.” Ha!
Yul says Cao Boi is interesting. When he first met him, he wrote him off as a “crazy kook” (as opposed to a sane kook?), but in between the random nonsense, there are actually nuggets of useful information.
At Aitu, they get their first treemail. It’s for a challenge that is both immunity and reward. The four tribes arrive and the challenge is the one we saw on the TV Guide Channel preview.
But before we begin, Probst wants to know about the marooning. He saw Yul jump into the water for a chicken – did he end up with it? Yul says no, he handed it off to a tribemate, but the next thing he knew, he saw somebody else running off with it. That would have been Jonathan, I bet. Jonathan says he doesn’t know if it was him – he did get one, but it was so hectic, he can’t say where it came from. Oddly, Probst doesn’t follow up on what happened to the chicken at camp (or if he does, it’s not shown).
Probst describes the challenge. On go, they race to assemble a puzzle boat and use seven braces to hold the boat together. They have to paddle out to retrieve a lit torch. Then they use the braces and race back to shore, where they will find four more puzzles in the form of north, south, east, and west. Once they’ve completed those, they use the braces as rungs to build a ladder and place the compass puzzles in their appropriate spots, then get to the top.
First three tribes who get to the top and light their fire win. All three of them get flint for fire, and the first-place tribe also gets a fire-making kit with kerosene, waterproof matches, and kindling. And of course, the three tribes also each get a piece of the immunity idol. There is one other twist to the challenge, which is in a note that he won’t read until after the challenge is done. I’m guessing it has something to do with Exile Island.
And they’re off! The race to the beach involves going over a couple sand berms, and everybody gets through it quickly. Puka is getting their boat together, as is Aitu. Hiki is “having a terrible time,” Probst says. And Raro is getting close.
Aitu has their boat together first and heads out for the torch. Puka is in second, Raro third. Hiki is clueless. Aitu is already heading back with fire, as is Puka, but Raro is having trouble paddling. Hiki – still not even on the boat.
Aitu is back and starts dismantling the boat as Raro gets fire. Puka is back to shore just as Hiki sets out. Yikes. They need a miracle at this point. Aitu is going back over the berms, and Billy is slowing them down while Puka starts to catch up. They both get to the puzzles at about the same time.
Hiki finally has their torch and Probst claims they’re still in it. Yeah, sure. Meanwhile, Raro is on the beach.
Puka gets the puzzles solved as Hiki arrives to begin the puzzles. Aitu has the puzzles too. Up the ladders they go with Puka reaching the top first! Aitu is next for second.
Jonathan and Adam are trying to put together the puzzles and losing time, while Hiki actually does have a chance (okay, I take back the “Yeah, sure” from a couple paragraphs ago). Whoops! Raro has the puzzles done. They’re putting together their rungs. Up they go, but they forgot their puzzle pieces! D’oh! But Hiki just isn’t close enough. Raro goes back up and lights their fire to come in third!
Probst hands out the booty – flint, firemaking kit, and immunity idol pieces. Then he reads the note: The losing tribe must choose one person from any of the other three tribes to go to Exile Island, where they will spend two days! The island has one bag of water, a machete, flint, and a pot. But there is also a hidden immunity idol somewhere.
So who is Hiki going to send? Interestingly, only Sekou and Nate talk about who to send while the women stand aside. They decide Jonathan took the chicken, so they should send him. Really? He didn’t take the chicken from you! When the guys return to give the news, Probst notes the same thing I just did about the guys deciding. Sundra says it seems they’ve taken control. Probst shrugs and asks for an answer.
Nate says “karma’s a bizzle,” so they single out “the chicken man.” No, no, no – the chicken man was on Big Brother this summer! Sheesh. But seriously, Jonathan has karma smack him as he will be sent to Exile Island. And like I said, he didn’t even take the chicken from them!
I don’t think Jonthan was really a good choice. I’d have gone with somebody from the first-place team to try to weaken them a bit. Yul looks rather imposing with those muscles, so why not target him? But Jonathan gets his clue to the location of the hidden idol and heads off.
Jonathan is delivered to Exile Island and tells us he was so shocked at being picked that he didn’t even have a comeback. He reads the clue:
stand in a line.
If the southern isle vanishes,
a salvation you’ll find.
Sure, no problem! Riiiight. Jonathan thinks making a top grade means an A, so he finds two pieces of a shipwreck that’s on the island and are stuck in the ground in an upside-down V. He stretches his arms to make it into an A and starts digging there. Sounds to me like he’s completely missing the point of the rest of the clue – whatever point that might be. He tells us Exile Island is cold and miserable before we leave him to go back to Hiki.
The three women gather on the beach and wonder who the two guys are talking about. Well, they’re talking about the women, of course. Sekou thinks the women will try to vote one of them off, but Nate thinks they’re stupid if they do that. They need to pull one of them in.
The women think Sekou is on “thin ice.” Rebecca thinks he is causing problems with establishing leadership and working together. So the team, they say, could be better without him. Sekou, meanwhile, talks to Nate about how there’s no way the women can do it without either of them. That’s great, pal, but you might want to try to convince one of the women of that rather than preaching to Nate the choir!
Nate says Rebecca and Sundra won’t turn on each other. So they need to pull in Stephannie and get rid of Sundra. Sekou agrees, and then turns around to tell the camera, “my plan and Nate’s plan” is to get one of the women to turn. Your plan? All you did was nod your head!
Sekou pulls Stephannie aside and explains to her that if they vote him off tonight, she’s out next. Why? Because the other two women are tight, “like peas in a pod.” He asks if she wants to be in a tribe with people who are in an alliance based on where they’re from or with people who know how to survive?
Stephannie tells us she knows her vote is the swing vote between the guys and the New York women.
Time for the first Tribal Council. The Hikis arrive by boat and proceed up a long boardwalk to arrive at a shipwreck, where they will actually hold the Council. They each grab a torch and light them – because fire represents life, in case you’re new to Survivor.
Probst welcomes them and begins the questioning with Rebecca, asking if anybody stepped up right away as a leader. Yes, Sekou did and tried to help get the shelter put together. Did Sekou have a plan to step up as a leader or did he look at the tribe and figure he was the best guy for the job? He says he took what he knew and tried to put it into effect. He thinks everybody gravitated towards that, but they worked together well.
What is the feeling of the tribe? Nate says they have beautiful spirit and are like a family. (Mind you, it’s been all of three days.) How do tribes divided ethnically change the game – or does it? Nate laughs and the others join in. Probst wants to know why it’s so funny, and Nate says it’s something you wouldn’t expect. But then he talks again about “representing.”
With only five people, Probst notes that how people pair up becomes very important. What did Sundra notice? She says Rebecca and herself bonded right off the bat, as did the two guys. It wasn’t like Stephannie was excluded, but…
What does Stephannie say about not being in one of those pairs? Well, she says naturally women will stick together, as will men. But she’s “the odd man out.” But they’re all still together.
What does Rebecca look for in terms of her vote? Where they’re weak and what they did wrong over the last three days. With that, it’s time to vote.
Sekou is up first, and he votes for Sundra (writing it as “Sandra”), calling her “our weakest, weakest link.” We also see Rebecca’s vote, which is against Sekou (spelled “Seko”), but she calls him a “sweet, sweet man” but it’s the right move for now. Obviously, we aren’t going to see Stephannie’s vote at this point.
Probst tallies and reads the votes: Sundra, Sekou, Sundra, Sekou, and… Sekou. The female alliance held. See, this isn’t a battle of the races, it’s a battle of the sexes!
As parting words, Probst says if what they said was true and they voted out their weakest link, they should go back to camp a stronger, more organized tribe. As a bit of good news, they are given flint to take back to camp.
In his final words, Sekou says a good leader can instill guidance, and he’s sure he had a real strong effect with is tribe. Er, he did? If so, why’d they vote him out? He thinks they saw he was a real strong leader and now they’ll have a really strong tribe. His torch may be out but his flame is still burning. Alrighty then.
So there we have it, the first episode of Survivor: Cook Islands. So far, certainly nothing to get upset about, though I doubt that will stop the naysayers and complainers.
It’s a little early to get a read on people, especially with the coverage being broken down for four tribes. But Nate certainly has to be worried if Hiki loses again! For that matter, I think Stephannie shouldn’t get too comfortable either. We’ll see soon enough if booting Sekou was the smartest idea.
Next week on Survivor: Cao Boi’s jokes (one of which involves a Vietnamese person with three dogs) get no laughs. And Billy’s slacking drives Aitu to drastic measures that could even involve throwing a challenge!
I’ll see you then! But don’t forget to check back every day here on RealityNewsOnline to see all our extensive Survivor coverage!
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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