Surviving the Cook Islands, Episode 3: Serious Plottingby David Bloomberg -- 09/29/2006
On last week’s episode, Billy used a strategy that he later admitted to me was “stupid” – and he paid the price by being sent home. Meanwhile, Yul was shipped off to Exile Island, where he found the hidden immunity idol. The prediction of four out of five RNO writers who thought he’d win is looking better every day.
This week, the commercials hint that there will be a tribal shuffle, which is about the timing I expected. Will they go all the way down to two or just to three for now? What will the shuffle mean for early allies? And who will get the short end of the stick? Let’s find out!
We begin at Aitu on night six, after they have returned from one of the most bizarre Tribal Councils ever. One of the women says she just can’t get over the whole “love at first sight” thing. Some of them think it might have happened but Candice was playing him. Others think if they ever tell Candice, she’ll say, “What? Who?”
J.P. tells us he doesn’t even know what to make of everything that happened. And the Candice situation, well, “if it’s true, it’s true… but it’s not true.”
The next morning, over at Puka, Brad is doing some shallow water spear fishing, and gets one. Cao Boi, meanwhile, is telling a story. Imagine that!
That reminds me – special thanks to Polly, who told me what she believes the answer is to Cao Boi’s unfinished joke from last week. As you recall, the joke was, “What do you call a Vietnamese with three dogs?” The answer: A vegetarian! Just remember, it was Cao Boi’s joke, not ours, so you can direct your angry letters to him.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure I understand what this particular story is about. Something to do with a Vietnamese man with teenage kids and somebody getting sent to Iraq. I don’t think it really matters, though. What does matter is that Brad is fed up with Cao Boi’s constant talking. He doesn’t think Cao Boi “is all there.” Well, as the story goes on, we can at least see that Cao Boi is definitely not a Republican, as he slams Bush.
At Raro, they have treemail. They do their morning exercises to prepare and feel ready to go.
The four tribes arrive and Yul is brought back from Exile Island. Hugs all around from his tribe. Host Jeff Probst gathers the pieces of immunity idol. Huh? An immunity challenge already?
Nope! Probst tells the contestants to drop their buffs because it’s “time to integrate.” The players are divided by sex and then reach into a bag to grab a small tile. They reveal to see who has tiles with a X on it. Cecilia, Parvati, Brad, and Jonathan each will be the new tribe captains. They will alternate picking players, with the women choosing women and the men choosing men. Hmmm.
Cecilia wins rock/paper/scissors and picks first – oh, and she has to pick somebody not from her tribe. She goes with “pretty lady with the dreads.” That would be Jessica. Parvati picks “cutie in the peach” – Jenny. Jessica then picks “the sister on the end,” aka Sundra. Jenny goes with “camouflage” – Cristina. Sundra chooses “yellow” – Becky. Cristina goes with Rebecca. Becky picks Candice and Rebecca is left with Stephannie.
Brad picks first for the guys, going with J.P. Jonathan chooses Yul. J.P. pulls in Nate, while Yul goes for Ozzy. Nate can only pick Adam. Ozzy ends up with Cao Boi.
The four captains each step forward and pick an egg. Probst has them squish the eggs, which reveal tribal colors. The blue men join the blue women. Same with red men and women. So there are only two tribes, as Jonathan’s group joins Cecilia’s and Brad’s joins with Parvati’s. All of the items previously accumulated will be pooled together and divided evenly among the two new tribes.
So that means the tribes are as follows:
New Aitu: Jonathan, Yul, Ozzy, Cao Boi, Cecilia, Jessica, Sundra, Becky, and Candice.
New Raro: Brad, J.P., Nate, Adam, Parvati, Jenny, Cristina, Rebecca, and Stephannie.
We visit new Raro first. Nate is thrilled at the new tribe. But talk quickly moves to how they felt about the original tribal breakdown. J.P. says he thought it was okay because it brought attention to the issue. Stephannie tells us now you don’t see color, you see individuals. Parvati calls them a melting pot. But Brad tells us that while everybody is all smiles and “glad to meet you,” it’s a game and you’re in it to win it.
Over at new Aitu, Cecilia gives them a tour of their new home. Jessica is thrilled about the move and the “change of energy” and “vibrations.” She and Cao Boi seem to bond quickly. There’s an interesting pair!
Cecilia has a question she’s dying to ask Candice. Yup, you knew it was coming – she talks about what Billy said at Tribal Council. Candice is obviously astounded. “Love at first sight?” she says. Then Cecilia talks about the “I love you” they supposedly exchanged.
Candice explains what actually happened – as we saw, after the challenge, Billy said he was going and so they just said, “We love you,” like in a friendly sorry-to-see-you-go way. The others get a kick out of it and rib Candice, saying she led him on. Heh.
Back at Raro, Parvati talks about how they got all the buff guys, and she plans to flirt with them. “It’s what I do best.” Everybody’s got a have a skill. She’s particularly working on Nate for starters.
Jumping back to Aitu, the plotting has already begun. Becky wants to know if Candice would trust Jonathan in an alliance. Yup. Becky says she totally trusts Yul. Candice figures the four of them and they need a fifth.
Becky talks to Jonathan, who in turn says he has Flica (Jessica). They’re good to go! And, apparently, Ozzy, Cao Boi, Cecilia, and Sundra could be in trouble. Jonathan talks to Jessica about aligning with “a couple of the Asians,” and tells Jessica if anybody else approaches her to just say “whatever” or that she’s not thinking about it. She says she’s not thinking about it, but he says he’ll think about it for her.
But Jessica is thinking about some things – including that she didn’t feel very comfortable on her tribe to begin with, so why would she feel comfortable in an alliance with her former tribemates?! She says she’s trying to play her cards by going as long as she can without being fake.
Becky brings Yul up to date, and also mentions they want to bring in either Ozzy or Cecilia. Uh, that would make it six, not five. Anyway, Yul wants to show Becky that he totally trusts her, so he spills that he found the hidden immunity idol. She obviously thinks that’s very cool. He says something about how he could use it to save her, too. She also says she doesn’t think he should tell anybody else. No kidding!
At the Raro tribe, Nate is spear fishing and spies an octopus. He shoots, he scores! It tries to ink its way out of it, but no go, he’s holding on and yelling to shore that he has an octopus. Brad and J.P. go in to help him bring it out, and the octopus decides it likes Brad, wrapping itself around him. But the feeling is not mutual, and the three guys bring the octopus to shore, figuring it’s time for a big meal! They bring it to camp and Parvati shamelessly flirts with Nate. Like she said, it’s what she’s good at.
But enough of that, it’s time for the next challenge! The two tribes arrive and are told it’s for immunity. They will be clipped together by a rope and carrying a 15-pound sandFbag on their back. They start on opposite sides of an oval course. On go, they race through knee-deep water, attempting to catch the other side. If they get tired, they can opt out of the challenge, but they have to give their weight to another tribe member. The first tribe to catch the other tribe and tackle an opposing tribe member to the ground wins immunity. There is one more element to the challenge that is in a secret note, which will be revealed after it’s over.
And they’re off! Probst points out that it’s an endurance challenge and will wear them out. It’s kind of a hint: don’t try to rush through it.
Ah, but Aitu has a plan. Cecilia, Sundra, Candice, and Becky – four of five women – drop out. The men are each carrying double, but they apparently hope they can make up some ground this way.
Stephannie drops out for Raro, but Nate encourages his tribemates by insisting the Aitu men will get weak from carrying the double weight. Cristina drops out, as does Jenny. I guess the others aren’t really listening to Nate.
Jessica drops out in Aitu and hands her weight to Jonathan, who now has 45 pounds. Parvati drops out for Raro, leaving Rebecca as the only woman left in the challenge. Jonathan hands off 15 pounds to Ozzy as Raro starts to close in.
And things are not looking up for Aitu. Jonathan can barely walk and Yul has to help Cao Boi along. At Raro, Rebecca drops out, so it’s all up to the men. But the Raro men continue to press their advantage. Yul suggests to the other Aitu men that they stop and fight because they can’t outrun ‘em. Um. I don’t think that’s right. According to what I heard Probst say, they have to catch the other team and tackle one. Turning around and fighting, to my mind, is not “catching.”
Anyway, the point is soon moot, because Raro is just yards away from Aitu. They pick up the pace more and are soon on top of them. Yul turns to try to fight them off, but J.P. slips by and pulls Cao Boi down. Raro wins!
What’s the remaining element of the challenge in the note? The winning tribe chooses one member of the losing tribe to go to Exile Island. That person will miss Tribal Council and be safe. They pick Candice. Aww, they love her!
Aitu arrives back at camp and Jonathan wonders why on earth Raro picked Candice to go to Exile Island. Yul thinks they were trying to protect her. But what’s more important is that Yul points out to us that she was in his alliance and had numbers. Now, not so much.
Ozzy tells Cao Boi he won’t write his name down. Cao Boi says they need each other and they all need to win. Ozzy’s kind of like, well, yeah, but we still have to pick somebody. Cao Boi thinks they need to let Becky go as the weak link, and Ozzy should go talk to the other women about it.
So he does, as he walks along the beach with Sundra, Jessica, and Cecilia. “Becky is seriously plotting,” he says, and the women seem to agree. With the three of them, Ozzy, and Cao Boi, they have the numbers.
Later, Jonathan checks in with Jessica. She plays it straight with him: “Just so you know, Becky’s going.” Oh, Jessica. Way too much honesty. Jonathan wants to know if she would vote with him if he says to go a different direction. Jessica says she doesn’t have a “good vibe” about Becky. Jonathan tells us he thought he had Flica handled, but she’s doing her own thing. Imagine that, she has a brain of her own. He’s stunned.
Jonathan tells Yul they are only three solid and don’t know where Sundra or Cao Boi are at. They plan to see if they can get anybody to switch. If not, all bets are off and they might decide not to stick their necks out.
Jonathan tries to pressure Jessica by saying he thought they had a tight bond, etc. Meanwhile, Yul talks to Cao Boi, who says Becky is a “weak link” and “a princess.” Yul says she’s been strong, while Cecilia has not been. Both push the Cecilia idea, saying they’ll then have numbers. Jonathan tries all sorts of logic on Jessica, and it appears to be going in one ear and out the other. I don’t know if it makes sense to listen to him or not, but I don’t think Jessica is even really hearing him. He’d have more luck talking to a tree.
Cao Boi tells us he doesn’t like the scheming going on, and then talks to Jessica. She says she has a hard time trusting Jonathan, and Cao Boi agrees. But Cao Boi says they have a point. But he also says the two of them are really not part of a crowd. But, but, but – hell, I don’t even know where he’s going anymore! And Jessica is totally confused as to what she should do.
Jonathan says there are different ways to play the game. There is I like you so I won’t vote for you. But there is also I like you but I have to vote for you so I can go further. He’s not sure which will win out.
Before we get to Tribal Council, recall that Yul commented earlier about possibly using the hidden idol to help Becky. Since they all know Becky is being targeted, he could give her the idol, watch as the other side votes against her, and then reveal it. Their votes would be canceled and only the votes of Yul, Becky, and Jonathan would count. They’d knock off one of the opposition, and still be four strong when Candice returns. I don’t know if it will happen, but it could.
The players arrive at Tribal Council and Probst immediately begins questioning them about the shuffling. Does Jonathan think the fact that tribes had been split along racial lines added anything to the shuffle? Nope.
Probst notes that Sundra is the only person from her former tribe, and suggests she has become powerful in that everybody wants her vote because she has no allegiances. I’m thinking the opposite – the others could easily have joined together to pick her off (though we didn’t see that happening). She says essentially the same thing – either valuable or vulnerable.
What does Yul think the best direction is for the tribe? He says people have different priorities as to what they’re looking for out of the game. Some are strategizing and came to win, while others came to find a personally fulfilling experience.
Jonathan says the people who came for the experience are still playing the game, and those who came to play are having to deal with the personalities and the experience.
Is the game more complicated than Jessica anticipated? She says she’s not used to the manipulation aspect of it and trying to figure out what people’s intentions are. Are they being nice or trying to get her on their side?
Ozzy is asked how the tribe will be different after the vote. Ozzy should say, “It will have one less person,” but he apparently doesn’t have my sense of humor. So he says he will know where everybody stands in comparison to what they’ve been saying.
Probst explains the rules on the hidden idol, in case anybody has it. He says if the person in possession of the idol receives the highest number of votes, they can present it to nullify those votes. Then the person with the second highest vote count is booted.
With that, it’s time to vote. Yul votes for Cecilia, saying he’s really sorry but his loyalty is to Becky. Cecilia, meanwhile, votes against Becky, saying it will be better for the tribe. Sundra votes the same, without a word. Becky returns the favor, saying it’s nothing personal, just strategy. Ozzy votes against Becky and says she made no effort to get to know him at all. So I guess for him, it is personal. But it’s not for Jonathan, who says Cecilia is very classy but it’s strategy.
Of course, we don’t see Cao Boi’s or Jessica’s votes. But Probst tallies and reads ‘em: Cecilia, Becky, Becky, Cecilia, Cecilia, Becky, Cecilia, Cecilia. Wow. OK, consider me shocked. I thought Becky was going all the way.
Cecilia gets a hug from Ozzy before her torch is snuffed and she walks off. Probst says it’s clear the tribe is not unified. Thanks for stating the obvious, Jeff. He continues that this soon in the game, it’s certainly risky. Um. Okay. Not sure where he’s going with that. It’s not like most tribes just line people up and agree on who should go each time. Ah well. Whatever. With those words of confusion, he sends the tribe back to camp.
In her last words, Cecilia says the vote was “insane” and a testament as to how quickly the game can change. She has no regrets and had a great time. It was amazing and she got to do things she never thought she’d do. As far as the tribe, she doesn’t think voting her out will strengthen them, but may in fact weaken them.
Next time: At Raro, new lines are drawn in a battle of the sexes, with the women working and guys… not so much. At Aitu, Cao Boi goes too far as he raids a bird’s nest and knocks out a baby bird. Jonathan says Cao Boi is a wild man and he doesn’t trust him. Hey, dude, he saved your alliance’s bacon this time around!
I have to say, I’m not really sure how Jonathan and Yul pulled this one off. I’m going to have to mull that over for a while. But I have a feeling Cao Boi and Jessica will live to regret it.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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