Friday, February 03, 2006

Survivor Panama: Exile Island - episode 1

Cue the drums! Cue the Survivors! Cue the snakes! Wait! Cancel the snakes!

Oh wee oh wee ohhhhh....

The lush landscape is familiar but not much else. Even though this is the third visit to Panama for the infamous game of Survivor, there’s a whole new set of stakes this time around. Not like the last set of new stakes but some new new stakes. This installment of Outwit, Outlast, Outplay seems to be pushing the envelope of all three elements. The chance of drama could be high. We can only hope…

As the opening shots sweep across a small island we see a giant skull on the edge of a cliff and four boats arriving ready to deposit their passengers. 16 brand new Survivors gather with their boat mates in front of Jeff Probst and wait for the game to begin. And may I quickly add that our elusive and increasingly cranky host already appears a bit refreshed and excited for the highly antipated 12th season of Survivor.

Jeff welcomes everyone to Exile Island and explains a bit about the game and the first big twist being Exile Island itself. He tells the contestants that each week someone will be banished to the island alone, thus missing out on team unity and possible strategizing. But, there’s a catch.

An immunity idol is hidden somewhere on this particular island and if someone finds it they can use it to save themselves at any tribal council at any point in the game. And just to give us one more corkscrew to keep track of, the person who holds the immunity idol can use it after the votes are read. So, if they are the member being voted out they can save themselves and the next person with the highest number of votes is a goner.

Jeff then asked if anyone noticed any particular differences to the tribes in this game. Obviously, instead of 2 teams divided with random samplings of genders and ages the Survivors found themselves split into 4 teams of 4. They were also separted by gender and by age, which most had already figured out. The age thing brought up some discord with one group and I have to agree with the “older” women that being in your 30’s shouldn’t qualify for the “older” team although the “older” chicks are still pretty hard core so here’s a swift kick in the box for Mark Burnett. "Old" indeed.

I wasn’t super confident the younger men were up to speed about the whole different team split thing at all since they tended to look decidedly mouth-breatherish to me and Austin was not happy to be a member of a member’s only tribe. If ya know whatta mean. Like he has any chance in hell at getting ass out there. But I digress…

Anyway, after a small discussion about the tribal splits Jeff got right down to business announcing the first challenge would begin immediately. Each team would quickly choose a runner to cross Exile Island to the other side where they would find a pile of nasty skulls. Each person would have to smash a skull open where they would find an object wrapped in what looked like King Tut’s ripped up ass bandages. If you unwrapped a rock you’d have to grab another skull from the pile and start over. If you unwrapped an amulet, you were good to go.

The first 3 team representatives to make it back to the starting line with an amulet would win reward consisting of flint for their tribe to make fire. This might not seem like a big deal but since they stopped giving the tribes rice and matches and stuff and started trying to kill them, if you don’t have flint you practically don’t survive at all. Also, the losing team would have to choose one person to stay and spend the night on Exile Island alone.

This challenge wasn’t so much based on speed but luck of the skull. Terry from the older men was first to find an amulet, soon followed by Nick of the young men, then there was nothing. Minute after minute passed by. They cut back to the two women feverishly smashing open skulls and trying to get the wrapping undone to hopefully reveal an amulet. Finally, rushing footsteps could be heard and Tina emerged from the trees, winning the third piece of flint for her tribe. The young girls were SOL and had to choose someone to spend the night alone.

The young runner volunteered herself straightaway, and this is where they showed their age, no offense to the younger gals, but her mates fussed and fluttered and decided to play a game of rock/paper/scissors to make their decision. I would have just said , see ya, beotch, I ain’t spending the night alone on a friggen tropical island with snakes and shit. But hey, I’m “older”.

Misty the rocket scientist lost the rps game and spent the night not making shelter or trying to start a fire but rather pushed leaves around looking for the immunity idol since Jeff had previously mentioned that clues would be given out regarding the idol and after a short goodbye to Misty he proclaimed he’d just given her one. Um, yea, OK. Didn’t quite catch that. And she ate a huge pink worm. I’m not kidding.

Meanwhile, the tribes were arriving at their respective beaches/camps and starting to feel each other out, so to speak. They all got to work in varying levels of effort with Tina the lumberjill being the biggest work horse out of everyone. Cirie proclaimed her fear of leaves. LEAVES!

Shane confessed to going cold-turkey from a 3 pack-a-day habit and I’m pretty sure he started to morph into Vlad the Impaler right then and there. The younger guys screwed around playing baseball with sticks and rocks and the older men got right to wheeling and dealing, while the remaining young women cried over a dead turtle. And there's some praying/zen/yoga shit going on that's going to make us all sick at some point, mark my words.

On day 3 the players gathered for the first immunity challenge and Misty rejoined her tribe. This season they busted out a complicated competition right off. The teams would have to swim out to 4 bouys with a climbing wall. At the starting gun each person would have to climb the wall one at a time, jump into the water and swim to a raft. One person would have to dive down and unclip the raft from its anchor. Then each team would have to paddle back to the beach.

Once the tribes made it to the beach, they’d have to solve a giant puzzle with ropes and rings. If they wanted to, they could try and retrieve a hint to the puzzle buried in the sand. Once the ring was removed from the rope puzzle they’d have to toss it to a grappling hook that was connected to another rope and a flag. The first three teams to unfurl their flags would win immunity and a three part immunity idol consisting of 3 disgusting shrunken heads that would scare Tim Burton into his happy place.

All 4 teams made it into the water and struggled to get their rafts unclipped. The younger women began paddling first with the older men on their heels. The older women took off in third place after a little confusion where the hook was and the young lads blew chunks with Nik fumbling with the wrong end of his clip. Aras finally took over and they made up some good time. And there was A LOT of body part blurring going on. Yikes people, please wear properly fitting and supportive clothes Miss Boobalicious!

All 4 teams eventually dug up their puzzle clue but the older women had the hardest time finding it buried deep in the sand. One, two, three, and it was over. The older women just couldn’t hustle fast enough with the puzzle and would be the first tribe going to tribal council and losing a member later that night.

Back at their beach, the older women, now known as Casaya, were contemplating their team members worth. Cirie was doing some heavy campaigning with Ruth Marie and Tina was off by herself where she spoke about losing her 16 year-old son 4 months earlier in a car crash. In fact, she was slated to compete in the previous season of Survivor but her son was tragically killed a week before she was to leave. Brutal.

While she was out wandering the island, Tina came across a large fish who’d gotten stranded on a reef at low tide. She brought the meal back to her team mates and all were impressed and happy. Maybe this would be enough points to keep her safe. And she was clearly the out-doorsy woman with the skills they needed. Another point in her favor.

Night fell and the four women made their trek to tribal council and were instructed to light their torches. Jeff asked them about camp and how they were doing after the first 3 days in the jungle. Cirie admitted to having a hard time and probably belonged back on her couch at home. This is not a smart thing to say at tribal council. Melinda also admits to being in “Panamanian hell”. This is not a smart thing to say at tribal council. Jeff then asks Tina if the others were pulling their weight at camp. She says not as much as she’d like. This is NOT A SMART THING TO SAY AT TRIBAL COUNCIL.

Despite her skills, Lumberjill was strong but she was dumb. Tina, your torch has been officially snuffed. Buh bye.

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