Survivor Cook Islands: Episode 1
The sound of native chants greets my ears as some impressive fog-like visual effects melt away to reveal an island in a very blue sea. Er, so where are we again? Let me check the official website. Ah yes, Cook Islands. It seems like it was a century ago that this show went to some place that didn't have beaches and waters, doesn't it? Cook Islands, by the way, are located in the Pacific Ocean and is a very well-known tourist attraction, a far cry from when this show first started and the Survivors were sent to places that this show at least pretended to be a little bit inhospitable.
I'm sure everyone has heard by now that the Survivors would be segregated by race in an effort to drum up some controversy to get people to watch this show. How sad it is that apart from some organizations as desperate as Mark Burnetto to get some attention biting the bait and making some noise, nobody actually cares? And how even more sad it is that this attempt at racial segregation results in, for the first time, the most racially diverse cast ever on this show? All this latest rating stunt proves is that Burnetto apparently cares about diversity of his cast if he can use it as a rating stunt. Otherwise, it's all about the same tired old casting formula. The same tired old casting formula is still apparent, but now we get that four times, over, yay. Although there's still a chance that Burnetto's xenophobia will shine through and we have an entire tribe of food-stealing, sexually inappropriate, vaguely threatening, and lazy African-American religious zealot quitters, eh?
On we zoom onto a surprisingly rickety-looking boat where our host Jeff "I'm Paid To Do This Show, What's Your Excuse For Watching It?" Proboscis voices over that we are all heading towards the "remote waters" of the South Pacific where the Cook Islands are. How remote, indeed. He then goes on to talk about how our latest bunch of twits have "volunteered" to be "marooned" on these terribly inhospitable islands as if these twits are not hoping to be rich, famous, and beloved after this show. And then one of the crewmembers of the ship rings a bell and the twits all spring into motion, grabbing all kinds of things in the ship. Er, have they encountered second thoughts about being on this show? No, not really. Probby is on the ship, as it turns out, and it's a tight squeeze as he tries to make his way through the frantically rummaging twits to get closer to the camera. He explains that in this special season, this show is doing something that has never been done before - separating the twits into four tribes according to race: "Asian-Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, and African-Americans". Yes, Probby, segregation by race is something that has never been done before.
On the bright side, there are many cute guys here. I think the guys here can give the men in Pearl Islands a run for their money and that's a good thing for folks like me who tend to wade in the shallow pool now and then.
Anyway, these twits have already been separated into their respective tribes and they are given two minutes to grab anything and everything on this boat to take to their camp. Someone hauls out a crate of chickens and one gets thrown over the ship, prompting a cute Asian-American fellow to swim in after it. Sticks, machetes, oil, fish nets and spears, lanterns, tarps, and other supplies are all grabbed and tossed overboard. I am waiting for someone to grab Probby and toss him overboard as well but alas, that isn't meant to be.
Meanwhile, as the winds make his shirt flutter dramatically to the point that his shirt clings to his body to give me this impression that Probby actually has abs and pecs for once - ah, what having a girlfriend half his age would do to his vanity! - Probby talks about each tribe has to live in a separate island for the next 39 days. Me, I'm betting that the four tribes will merge into two tribes within in the next few episodes. Probby also tries to give this latest rating stunt some credibility by calling the segregation a "social experiment". What, we haven't seen enough the consequences that arise from racial segregation by now? Probby explains that this show is a social experiment to determine how one fits in with a tribe. Heaven knows, after twelve seasons of this show, we're still experimenting and researching while wondering why we can't fit in! This show is educational, fancy that. And here I am thinking that we're just here to see people make a fool out of themselves.
It's a frantic scramble as Probby announces that there are only thirty seconds left to pillage and plunder. Still no one has tossed Probby overboard! I'm so disappointed with these people! Oh no, someone from the Chinese-American tribe realizes that they are missing a chicken. Cut to someone from the Caucasian tribe holding a chicken. Probby yells that the two minutes are up and everyone who hasn't done so has to jump overboard at once. Splash! Meanwhile, a shark swims closer. Alas, I'm also spared of a bloodbath because it soon becomes clear that this scene of a shark approaching must be a footage from some documentary spliced to this show. Damn it, twelve seasons of this show and all I ever get were a silly burned hand and a ruptured appendix! As the four tribes of five nimrods each row off to their respective islands, Probby gives the same old spiel about 39 days and one sole Survivor. With that, credits.
Credits. Yup, plenty of pretty hot guys are here this season. I have first dips on Nathan, JP, Yul, Cao Boi, Ozzy, Brad, and Adam. You guys can keep the rest. I also like this particular variation of the theme song. I think it's my favorite of all the theme songs so far. Oh heaven, so many hot guys about to get half-naked on my TV screen! Am I tragic that I am actually looking forward to this season?
As the tribes paddle onwards to the Great Islands of Reggie White, Ozzy gets the first confessional of this season when our cute baby-faced "waiter" of the Latino tribe Aitu says that he's worried about the nimrods of this season being divided by races and this will make it "hard". He then explains that he feels that people of the "same ethnicity" will clash on things. Well, what can I say? He's a "waiter", which means he's another aspiring actor whose agent gets him this gig to placate Ozzy and stop Ozzy from constantly harassing the agent via the phone about Ozzy's next big break. He isn't expected to give deep insights into the way society works. Sundra, our "actress" from the African-American tribe Hiki, says that she can't care less about the racial divide because when it comes to "surviving", she's all about it being a "human effort". See the previous sentence, only replace "aspiring actor" with "not very successful actress". Yul, our "management consultant" from the Asian-American tribe Puka who's so cute and who's so getting voted off as a physical threat, says that he's worried about this racial divide making them all look like "caricatures and stereotypes". Naw, that will never happen, I'm sure! Besides, I'm too busy stereotyping him as someone wearing as little clothing as possible to care about mundane and trivial matters like race issues on a stupid TV show. Yul thinks that it's great to have many people of minority races though. I agree, especially if these people all come from the same hot hunk factory like him. On to the tribe that many people will not want to publicly admit that they support, the Caucasian tribe of Raro, where Parvati, a "boxer", hilarious bimbo-speaks that she doesn't know what to think of the racial divide and asks simply, "Is it kosher?" She thinks it's a "cool social experiment" though. I really try to view such statements as examples of naivete rather than anything else because this is, after all, a stupid TV show, but a part of me really cringes at the thought of people talking about racial segregation as a social experiment.
The nitwits of Aitu paddle as Billy, "heavy metal guitarist", compares the situation to something that is "ass backwards" since his parents left their homeland in a raft while here he is, rafting instead towards an island. Cecilia, "technology risk consultant", asks him where he is from and Billy tells her that he's from the Dominican Republic. Billy tells the camera that the "Hispanics", as he puts it, will have an advantage in this particular situation because they come from the Caribbean islands and therefore they have an advantage in such an island. That is, of course, assuming that survival skills are passed on from generation to generation, which isn't the case. Heavy metal guitarist, meet actress and waiter. The Aitus finally reach their island which is called Aitutaki. As the Aitus haul their raft up to the shore and start unloading the stuff they have plundered from HSS Probby Probby, Cecilia tells the camera that this racial thing is a good opportunity for them all to represent their communities in a positive way. That's nice. Let's just hope that Cecilia doesn't turn out to some raving religious zealot. Anyway, as Cecilia talks about working and playing hard, the camera zooms to Cristina, "police officer", wearing this bright pink bikini top that barely contains her kittens. This message is brought to you by Mark Burnetto: "Play hard, represent positively... blah blah blah... whatever, just show us those kittens, baby!"
Billy starts to act as the chairman of the board by gathering the other four around and talk about how they should first build a shelter. He also says that he knows how to make a toilet. So do I, buddy. Just hand me a shovel and I'll show you a toilet in ten minutes or so. Anyway, Ozzy or JP off-camera then asks Billy whether Billy wants the machete. Billy quickly says that he just wants the other Aitus to have this "blueprint" in their heads as to what they should do. Clearly he doesn't want any misunderstanding to happen like the other Aitus assuming that he'll do any physical work now! Alas, JP, a "volleyball pro", seems to be on a different page as he tells the camera that Billy claims to know how to build a shelter and toilet, but JP, who of course says that he doesn't want to judge one from one's appearance, thinks that Billy looks out of shape. Oh, really? Does Billy's pudgy physique give his out-of-shape condition away? The other Aitus have better defer to JP on his powers of observation and non-judgmental attitude. Not that I want to judge JP on his appearance alone, mind you, but I think he's better off starring in adult movies where he gets naked a lot rather than speak more often.
Then comes the montage where Billy tries to cut some bamboo by swinging it against a tree until it breaks as funny music plays in the background. Ozzy watches Billy in befuddlement. He tells the camera that "obviously" from watching Billy, he knows that Billy doesn't have any clue what he is doing. Ozzy ends up setting up the shelter although he tells the camera that he is trying not to be a leader since leaders rarely meet a good ending on this show unless their names are Tom or Aras. Ozzy then climbs a coconut tree to get some fruits for the tribe. It's a nice scene, especially when one gets to see an expanse of untanned skin when the shorts hike down a little, heh. The other Aitus seem shocked that Ozzy can climb trees, judging from their stumped expressions. Then again, maybe they are just enjoying the view. JP compares Ozzy to Mowgli from The Jungle Book to the camera. So what does that make Billy? Baloo the Bear? Is JP that singing monkey king then? JP, who doesn't judge people by appearances, then says that Ozzy may not be "pretty big" (huh?) but Ozzy is an athlete so that is good in JP's books. I see where he is coming from, but surely there is a way to say all these things without coming off like some snooty elitist fellow. Ozzy's cute way of getting those coconuts down is to climb over the fruits so that he can place his feet on the coconuts and push them down. I think I'm in love. Then he speaks to the camera and my love dims a little. Ozzy, please, dear, let's not ruin our moment with words. Ozzy tells the camera that he thinks that Aitu is the strongest tribe. Translation: "Didya see me on that tree? Didya see me making that shelter? Am I not the hottest stud you've ever seen?" Still, he makes sense much more when he adds that as long as they stay fed and are happy with each other, they'll be a tribe to beat. The Aitus conclude their happy first few hours in Aitutaki by drinking from coconuts and attempting to get some tribe cheer going although everyone in that tribe seems to have his or her own way of saying "Aitutaki".
Let's be nice and hold off the unkind "fresh off the boat" jokes, please, as we now see what the Pukas are up to. As they paddle on their rafts to their new home - ouch, you should see me cringe as I type the previous few words - I meet Cao Boi the "nail salon manager" and "Prelate, Royal Order of the Moose" on the official website. Being a prelate in a charity-oriented community organization understandably sounds much better than being a nail salon manager and I think it also allows Cao Boi to introduce the Moose to the audience of the show. Anyway, Cao Boi jokes that it's amazing how they, as Asians, are so small yet they weigh so much. Jenny the "real estate agent", tells him not to make any more "Asian jokes". Cao Boi only answers, "Is that rice?" ecky the "attorney" adds that he should not stereotype them too much. I bet they don't like being told that they weight a lot either. Cao Boi says that he's just stating facts.
To the camera, Cao Boi says that he's not a first generation American or an immigrant. He's actually a refugee from Vietnam that came to America after the Vietnam war. He says that he's a survivor because he survived the Vietnam war and therefore this particular stint will not be much of a problem. Really? I'll just have to wait and see. Please, please, Cao Boi, do not become another Hagrid, that's all I ask. Be funny, be adorable, but please don't be an entitled whiny crybaby idiot like Hagrid or my heart will really break. Okay? Anyway, as the Pukas reach their island, Cao Boi makes another crack about being a boat person for the second time in his life. He then adds more gems that will no doubt endear him to the public by saying that the Pukas will have an advantage over the other tribes because the other tribes will never believe that the "little people with slanted eyes" will be able to do anything. Now, I'm Chinese and I find that particular confessional of his funny, maybe because it's exactly what I will say under the very circumstance. Burnetto divides the Survivors by race so if I'm asked about what I think about the racial divide, I'd charge ahead with guns blazing and make all kinds of cynical cracks about my own race. Why not? The premise itself is offensive, so I may as well mock the premise in the same exaggerated sardonic manner that Cao Boi is doing in that confessional.
The Pukas have reached their island. The camera doesn't pan on the name on the banner or on their crate but I strongly suspect that the island is called Puka Puka since the tribes are named after actual islands. The Pukas drag their raft ashore with Brad ("fashion director") being the only one clapping inanely when they are done. He's still cute though. The Pukas get to know each other as they begin unloading their plundered loot from HSS Probby Probby. Hmm, Yul's pecs bounce as he walks. Do you guys see that? Impressive. Jenny explains to the camera that she's Filipino, Yul and Becky are Korean, Brad's half-Filipino and half-Polynesian, and Cao Boi is, of course, Vietnamese. Jenny correctly points out that the Puka tribe is actually a mixed tribe rather than a homogenous tribe from a single community.
As Cao Boi begins chopping open some coconuts with the machete, he starts telling stories about his grandmother and how some monk in Vietnam once lived solely on coconuts for "many years". Brad says dryly that he's sure Cao Boi will telling them "a lot of stories" that night. Yul tells the camera that he has the hardest time relating to Cao Boi. He thinks there is a "schism" between them that has to do with the "generation gap". Nothing at all to do with Cao Boi's in-your-face personality, I'm sure! As Cao Boi scavenges from who knows what in the bushes alone, as if to emphasize his lone wolf status, he tells the camera that he's never really fit in very well with the "Asian" community because he doesn't fit the stereotype of a "hard-working, Mr Engineers with jacket, suit, and tie" who "drives nice cars". He's more of a hippie type, he says. Again, I can only speak for myself as a Chinese, but I do understand where he is coming from. The people described on this show as "Asian-Americans" do often place a heavy emphasis on high education, wealth, and conventionality and I can easily see Cao Boi not really fitting in with his people. Anyway, Cao Boi isn't asking for pity since he chuckles at the end of his confessional and concludes that he's in a dangerous position in the tribe since he's not fitting in well.
The Hikis have arrived at their island which is called Manihiki. Stephannie ("nursing student") remarks dryly about the "lovely accommodations" as they get off their raft. The Hikis vow to "make it" to the end "together". Good luck with that, Hikis. They will need it if they want to move an alliance of five to end without a glitch. Stephannie tells the camera that they have this pressure to "represent" their "people", which is nice but again, maybe people shouldn't try so hard to represent a value or a community when they are on a show where backstabbing and lying are the norm.
Anyway, when Stephannie talks about pressure to represent, she may be referring to Sekou ("jazz musician"), who tries to start a group cheer that has the word "represent" repeated several times like it is some magical mantra. Sekou doesn't have Ozzy's hesitation about leading - he tells the other Hikis that someone has to get firewood, another person to get bamboo, and so on. The other Hikis nod upon hearing his instructions and get about to work. Rebecca ("make-up artist") tells the camera that she feels a pressure to prove that yes, Black people can swim and Black people can get on a boat and paddle. "I mean, heh heh, we just don't run tracks!" Rebecca concludes in her confessional.
As the women work on the palm fronds to turn them into the roof their shelter, Nathan ("retail sales") asks whether the women are making cornrows on those fronds. As Nathan and Sekou walk about doing things and Nathan showing a glimpse of his buttcrack to the camera, Sundra tells the camera that she is less concerned about racial matters and more concerned about the fact that they are a bunch of "city kids" trying to live on this island. Sundra, I doubt the other tribes are more familiar with living in the wilderness. "We're just city slickers thrown in to the barrenness of life!" she concludes with a playful smile. Around camp, she wonders aloud whether she has to sharpen the machete before she uses it on a hapless palm frond. As they wonder how to build a shelter, Rebecca jokes that they just lay the bamboos "one here, one here, one there, and one there and just call it a night". I'd love to see the shelter collapse on her while she's snoring away at night, I tell you. Nathan half-groans and half-laughs at the suggestion, calling it "so ghetto". Stephannie however defends Rebecca, saying that the suggestion makes sense to her. She's joking, of course, and everyone laughs uncomfortably.
Or so the editing suggests anyway. Nathan explains to the camera that they are tiptoeing around each other as they try to determine how to set up the shelter because, as he says, "Black people don't like to be told what to do". Nathan goes on to explain his words by pointing out that the Hikis are a bunch of "headstrong people" who want things to go his or her way. Indeed, as Sekou tries to direct the others on how to set up the shelter, Stephannie pipes up that she's trying to figure out Sekou's "vision". Sekou jokes that his vision is something like "I have a dream!" The other Hikis again laugh uncomfortably, especially when one of the women (Sundra, I think) "jokes" from off-camera, "Wake up!"
To the camera, Sekou calls himself a warrior who's trying to inject some leadership to his tribe. Has this man watched this show before? Leaders never fare well, dude. He also claims to have pulled the tribe together to get things done. Indeed, the Hikis seem to be making good progress as they set about creating their shelter. They survey their shelter, with one of the women (Stephannie, I think) audibly saying that the shelter is "pretty impressive". Sekou calls their shelter "low-income housing" and this time the Hikis' shared laughter for once feels real. It looks like they're finally coming together as a tribe, how nice.
Here comes a shark... and here are the Raros. Is this some kind of foreshadowing, Burnetto? Is someone from Raro going to win? The camera zooms in on the name at the crate of the Raros - Rarotonga, the name of their island. Jessica ("performing artist/rollergirl", whatever that means) is swimming while holding on to the back of the raft. I don't know why. Maybe it's because there is no more room on that raft or she just needs to go to the toilet, I don't know. Adam, a "copier salesman" who has to be the cute one as well as the one who sounds the dumbest when he speaks (how typical, I know), says to the camera that he doesn't care about the race thingie. Is this where I say how typical of a white guy to say such a thing? Adam goes on to say that the personalities of the people in the tribe and how well he gets along with them are more important. How Miss Universe of him to answer so diplomatically. Jonathan ("writer" on this show and on the official website but "an actor who must have really hit a career low to go from a movie with Cameron Diaz to a reality TV show that is on the wane - is he friends with Shane from the previous season?) says that this racial thingie is a "true social experiment" that will be "fascinating". Yes, a cool experiment. That sounds terrible, I know, but Jonathan goes on to explain that he's thinking in terms of seeing whether a tribe that is cohesive in terms of race will function well together. He personally believes that eventually you have to "cut the throat" of your own allies in this game.
As the Raros get their things off their raft and Adam's tanktop looks like it wants to run away from its own owner (please do, dear), Jessica crows to the camera that they have stolen the most stuff from HSS Probby Probby. Make your own "White people, how typical!" jokes here as she babbles about having two machetes, two slings, and two chickens. Do I hear a "Stolen from the Asians! White people, they steal everything!" remark from the back of the room? As the Raros put their "treasures", as Jessica calls their loot, on the camp ground, Candice ("pre-med student", who looks like she's going to be the obligatory useless dead weight blonde cast for T&A or looks factor, whines that the other Raros have better not let the chickens "get out". Jonathan tells the camera that he grabbed a chicken from the "green team", not that he knows that the chicken belongs to them, since the chickens are free. I can practically hear my late grandfather's response to this statement, I tell you. "Yes! And our terracottas are free too! And our treasures! Our people! Our tea! You take, you take, they're all free, you BASTARDS!" See what I mean? The poor Raros are going to be the tribe that very few people would dare to admit they root for in public.
The chickens stashed away under the crate, where I hope they won't die from suffocation, the Raros stand in a circle where Parvati announces that they "kicked ass" that day. By plundering the most ill-gotten booty and stealing chickens from the Asians? The poor Raros, damned if they do, damned if they don't, bwahaha. They have a coconut toast where Jessica cheers, "To whiteys!" Well, what else is the poor dear supposed to say? It is worth noting that throughout this most awkward forced "merriment" I've seen on this show with the women trying very hard to laugh while Jonathan is too busy pigging out from a coconut, Adam is standing there looking very lost and confused with a biggest dumb fake smile on his face. It's a very nice smile though even if all that white teeth in display can be quite unnerving. When it comes to stereotypes, perhaps this tall, muscular, and blond dumb galoot is the biggest stereotype of all. Now all he needs is to act in some adult movies and we're all good to go. Back to "To whiteys!" Parvati loves it while Candice says that she was going to say "To Rarotonga!" but... she leaves it at that while Parvati laughs extra loud at Candice's statement. I don't think Parvati is a very smart person.
As the Raros get to work and Adam takes off his shirt and his pecs bounce hypnotically with every movement he makes - you know, he and Yul really should star in a Baywatch kind of show where they can both run slow motion on the beach - Jessica tells the camera that there are the jock (Adam), the sorority type (Candice), the study type (Candice), and the family man (Jonathan). She feels that she's the outsider because she feels that she is the "alternative version". She and Jonathan are walking around the place when she introduces herself as Jessica but tells him that her friends call her "Flika". "'My friend Flika' - that's easy," says Jonathan in a mocking drawl. Oblivious to such wit displayed by Jonathan, Jessica says cheerfully, "My friend Flika! I've never seen that flick!" That's even easier, as easy as it is to remember her as a weirdo, I tell you. Jessica pauses before the crate and, apparently forgetting that the chickens are cooped up under it, lifts it. Oops, the chickens are on the loose! Those two give chase with Jessica shrieking things like "Nooooo!" all the way. Adam turns to look at the commotion. I think he's been standing in that same spot with the same vacant and lost expression on his face since they first step foot on Rarotonga. The funniest thing in this scene has to be Parvati, in all seriousness, howling as she runs after those two, "NOOOOOOOO, Flika! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO IT?" It's all like a demented Greek tragedy.
While Jessica is loudly apologizing like she has accidentally stabbed Julius Caesar, Jonathan spots a chicken among some bushes and asks the other Raros to surround the chicken. The chicken isn't that stupid and starts fleeing the moment they start to close in. Needless to say, the Raros won't be having barbecued chicken for dinner that night. Jessica tells Adam and Candice how she accidentally released the chicken although she seems to be holding back a smile during this scene. Won't it be great if Jessica deliberately sabotages her own team? She'd be crazy to do that but it will make some amusing TV nonetheless. Jonathan rants to the camera that "one second of mistake" caused "the woods to eat the chicken" and now he can hear the chickens everywhere in the woods. Or something. I think he and Shane share the same script. He concludes that he can forgive dearest Flika but he doesn't have to because "she screwed up" his chickens. Lucky chickens.
Day two, Manihiki. Rebecca is giddily running after Sundra on the beach and the reason for their joy becomes clear when they discover their large container of water. "Parasitic paradise!" Sundra calls their water supply. To the camera, Rebecca says that the container of water may contain all kinds of parasites but still, they have fire to boil the water. There is no more worry about dehydration! As they walk back to the other Hikis to share the news (not that the other Hikis haven't heard the two women's squeals of joy and guessed the reason for their, um, loudness), Sundra is seen holding a map so yes, the tribe does have a map that indicates the location of the water supply. She tells the camera that she and Rebecca bond instantaneously, it seems, because they're both from New York. Sundra calls Rebecca smart and athletic as well and thinks that she can work very well with Rebecca. Ooh, how sweet. I wonder whether this set-up means that one of them will betray the other sometime down the road. Meanwhile, Stephannie says that Sundra and Rebecca are very close and those two are always talking as well as going off together a lot so she is concerned enough about the closeness of those two women to keep an eye on them for now. Isn't she the suspicious one, eh? What's to say that those two women aren't just in love or something? People are so cynical nowadays, I tell you.
Rebecca and Sundra return to camp only to realize that the other Hikis haven't managed to start a fire yet. Also, Nathan's trousers seem to be on the verge of falling off anytime now. Anyway, Sekou reassures the two women that he and Nathan will be working very hard to get the fire started. The two women watch as Sekou rubs two sticks together but alas, no fire. Sekou sighs deeply and asks everybody to focus. It's "everybody" because now all five Hikis are at it, with four pairs of hands holding the larger stick in place while Sekou rubs his stick hard against the larger stick. Rebecca goes "Ooh!" - I think Sekou must have accidentally stabbed her hand - and Sekou announces that he needs a break. The other Hikis end up trying to start fires on their own. Stephannie is not happy with Sekou taking a break, telling the camera that Sekou isn't focused despite his tendency to use that F word a lot around camp. They have a lot of things to do some more and Sekou's not the only one tired, she feels. She is then muttering under her breath as she works at starting a fire that sometimes one has to "beat" oneself to do something right. That, by the way, is not a dirty sentence so get your mind out of the gutter. Sekou hollers aloud as he sits by himself that he needs a break, in case the monkeys at the other side of the island haven't heard him the first time around. To the camera, Stephannie says that she won't say anything to Sekou though, not now, because she's smarter than that, of course.
Night falls on Rarotonga and how sad it is that the most interesting thing the show sees fit to mention is the fact that the Raros feel very cold at night and they decide to sleep closer, where Adam and Candice are predictably snuggling-bunnying more than the handbook of hypothermia prevention would recommend. I don't blame Candice, to be honest, because it's not like there are other options to choose from and Adam doesn't have to speak when they are snuggling so hey, good for her, really. Candice praises Adam as "fit" and "good-looking". You can't get more superficial than that and I have a hunch that when it comes to Adam, it's hard to be anything more than superficial. Dude, have you heard him speak or see him trying to function in bright daylight? Total turn-off, I tell you. Adam is exactly the "turn down the lights and for heaven's sake, shut up and kiss me!" kind of guy. Adam, his eyes squinting in a most unattractive manner in a confessional that takes place in broad daylight, says that it is naturally most pleasant to have great-looking girls around the island. He is also attracted to panties a lot, he claims. For a while he has me wondering why he would choose to announce his preference to wear women's underwear on TV until I realize he's actually saying "Candice" in his unique way of himbo-speak instead of "panties". Back to the cuddling between Candice and Adam where Adam has taken to wearing a shirt which I'm sure is a terrible disappointment to Candice, she is now rubbing her hand up and down that muscular arm of his. Again, I don't blame her. He is a very nice-looking guy, neck down and especially when prevented from speaking, so really, Candice should go for all she can get.
Parvati tells the camera that Adam wants to act like he's protecting small wee Candice while Candice is such a "sweet little girl" so who knows, perhaps romance is in the air. Oh please, that's not romance, that's just two people looking for a pleasant diversion to pass the time. As long as Adam and Candice know what they are doing and don't turn into the new Erika and Mike Boogie, well, they can go knock themselves out for all I care.
Day three, Puka Puka. Brad the cute boyish fellow tells Cao Boi while they are on the beach that he has a headache due to all the seasickness he experienced... er, two days before. Or maybe he went on a boat the day before to catch some fish and got seasick? Anyway, Cao Boi immediately decides that Brad's suffering from what he says will be called "bad wind" in Vietnam. Hey, my grandmother called it "bad wind" too! Only, it seems like everything is due to "bad winds". Stomachache? Bad wind. Aching joints? Bad wind. Headache? Bad wind. The only cure is to get these "bad winds" out and this is what Cao Boi starts to do by pressing his fingers against Brad's head with the thumbs pressing just above his nose at the center of Brad's forehead and does a pinching motion on that spot on Brad's forehead in what he describes to the camera as an effort to drive the "bad wind" out of Brad's sinuses. That leaves a fierce red mark on Brad's forehead although Cao Boi reassures Brad that the younger man will be feeling much better shortly.
Cao Boi's action may seems strange to some people, but speaking from my own experiences, what he did to Brad is what many traditional Chinese medical practitioners had done to my poor self when I was a young girl. And yes, while sometimes the treatment method can be painful, it always works.
Jenny and Becky see the red mark on Brad's forehead. While Jenny is giggling like it's the funniest thing she has ever seen (and the funniest thing she has ever heard when Brad explains Cao Boi's theory about "bad wind" to her), Becky seems to be torn between disbelief ("It looks like a burn!") and mirth. Cao Boi happily sits aside and eats a coconut throughout this moment. To the camera, he says that the other Pukas are genuine Asian-Americans because they were born in that country and therefore have "lost touch" with many traditional practices of their elders. Ah yes, the generation gap. The fuel that drives the Asian society no matter in what country they are living in. Anyway, Cao Boi then talks about how back in those days, in Vietnam during the war, perhaps, people didn't have antibiotics so they have to find ways to get rid of health problems like headaches.
Meanwhile, Yul has now joined the other Pukas and he gapes at the mark on Brad's forehead. "Are you alright?" he actually squawks to Brad. Brad with a sheepish smile tells him that Brad had a headache but Cao Boi had gotten rid of it. To the camera, adorable Brad says that he was "truthfully honest" when he said that he had a headache but now the headache is gone. Instead, he has a red mark on his forehead. Hey, some people would consider that kind of marking a sign of favor from the Goddess of Mercy! Well, the Chinese believe that anyway, heh. As Brad goes about explaining a few times to the other Pukas that he really doesn't have a headache anymore, Yul laughs. To the camera, he says that he initially wrote Cao Boi off as "a creepy kook" but he now starts to believe that Cao Boi has some "gems and nuggets of information that are actually useful" in between all of his "random kind of inane nonsense". Meanwhile, Brad asks Cao Boi when the mark will go away. "When you completely heal," says Cao Boi before bursting into laughter. This tribe is so cute.
Aitutaki. Billy, JP, and Ozzy collect the first tree-mail of the season where they find their tribe flag along with a rolled-up scroll and a small brown sack. Ozzy reads out the obligatory bad poetry that explains that the reward for the upcoming Challenge will be tools to make fire. Ozzy explains to the camera that the upcomin Challenge is for both Reward and Immunity, which makes sense since there are about twenty minutes left of this episode. Billy tells the camera that whether they win or lose, it's just the beginning of the game. That's what he thinks. Who does he think the other Aitus will blame if they lose the Challenge, huh? The muscular skinny guy or the fat guy? Think about that, Billy.
On to the beach where our fashionably emaciated Probby awaits with his unfashionably hideous hat. There are some boards set up like slides behind the mats and some buoys and a platform are set up in the sea. The tribes file in and Probby begins by getting out in the open that someone nabbed the Pukas' chickens. Yul explains that he dived into the sea to catch the chicken that dove into the water but when he has climbed back up onto the boat, he saw someone running off with that chicken. When asked by Probby, Yul points at Jonathan as that chicken-nabber. Jonathan at first acts dumb and then insists that he didn't know who the chickens belonged to. Parvati laughs extra loud in the way that telegraphs the tribe's guilt more than anything Jonathan can say and she's the only one laughing. Anyway, no one really cares about the chickens, it seems, because Probby moves on to explain the Challenge.
In this Challenge, a tribe must first assemble a "puzzle boat" (Probby's words, not mine) and use six braces to hold the boat together. They will then use the boat to head out into the sea where they will light their torch with the fire burning on a plinth on one of those platforms out there. They will then head back to the beach where they will encounter a puzzle at the base of the slide-like board that I mentioned earlier. The puzzle is simply to assemble four cubes for each letter to form the letters N, S, E, and W. Then they will use the six bracers as rungs to climb the slide-like thing and place the N, S, E, and W blocks at the correct places in the slots located at a painting of a compass on the board. Finally, they will light the tub at the top of the platform. The first three tribes to do this will each win a flint. The tribe that finish in first place will also win a "fire-making kit", which is pretty much a wooden crate filled with kindling, kerosene and waterproof matches. Oh, and don't forget the Immunity Idol, a squat and cute ugly statue that I will call Albert because I always want to recap an episode that has an Albert in it. Albert can be separated into three pieces because three tribes will be immuned from the Tribal Council disease. There is also another twist, Probby promises as he holds up a folded and tied-up note. A twist that anyone who has watched the previous season (and apparently not many people do, heh heh heh) will know, of course.
Probby gives the word and the tribes are off. Straight away, Hiki has even worse problems with assembling the boat compared to their issues with the shelter. Aitu is the first to hit the water with their assembled boat and despite my hopes and expectations, no boats fall apart to throw the nitwits into the water. Raro, Puka, and Aitu are very close to each other. Aitu is the first to light their torch. Raro have their torch lit when Hiki finally get their boat in order and they actually manage to begin catching up with Raro because the Raros are paddling very horribly and are starting to fall behind Aitu and Puka on the way back to the beach. Puka and Aitu end up competing to finish the NSEW puzzle first and Puka end up beating them to it and to lighting their tub first. Puka is the winner of this Challenge! Meanwhile, Hiki's superior paddling allow them to catch up with the Raros while those Raros are trying to complete their NSEW puzzle but alas, they are not fast enough. Raro beat them to the punch. Hiki will be attending the first Tribal Council of the season. Oh dear. Is it because Hiki have three women and one out-of-shape guy? But I'm not so sure about Sekou being the downfall of Hiki because Hiki paddle well enough to catch up with Raro so clearly their problem here is their inability to finish their boat-assembling part of the Challenge quick enough. Raro forget to bring their N, S, E, W blocks as they climb the board and have to go back down to retrieve them and Hiki still can't solve the NSEW puzzle fast enough to take advantage of Raro's mistake. In short, this seems to be an issue of the Hikis' brain rather than brawn letting them down.
Anyway, Probby announces the "twist": the losing tribe, in this case Hiki, now get to send someone from any of the other three tribes to some local Janu Island where a hidden Immunity Idol is kept hidden. The exiled dweeb will spend two days with only a pot, a bag of water, a flint, and a machete. Burnetto never learns: the Immunity Idol is good for use up to the Final Four. To quote my husband, "What's the point in giving someone such a powerful tool? It's like putting a monkey behind the control panel in a nuclear reactor - in the hands of a wrong person, the season can be ruined utterly!" See: Terry. Anyway, back to the show. Ouch, so on top of losing, the Hikis now have to assist someone else in getting the overpowered Terry Sucks totem pole thingie.
So who will the Hikis choose? Strangely and not very nicely enough, Sekou and Nathan move aside to discuss this matter, leaving the other three women out of the discussion. Probby speaks up about this and Sundra simply says that the guys have "taken control over it". Don't these two men realize that they are potentially alienating three people in the tribe? Not having much to base their decision on, the two men decide to take a safe route and send the chicken-nabber Jonathan to Janu Island. Never mind the two Hiki men's pointless moralizing and mention of "karma" (is it wise to alienate people so early in the competition?), I'm more aghast at the person being sent to Janu Island. No! If Jonathan gets the Waldo the Immunity Idol, he'll never leave the show until the very last episode and I will just throw up. Probby hands Jonathan the first clue to the location of Waldo as Jonathan leaves for the boat that will take him to Janu Island. The others are banished back to their camp. Hiki, of course, will meet Probby at Tribal Council that night.
Jonathan shows up at Janu Island, this particular version having an ersatz-looking shipwreck in a prominent spot in the central region of the island. Jonathan rationalizes to the camera that he's sent here because he took "the Asian guy's chickens". At least, that what he claims "the African-American guys" said. He then claims to be so "shocked" by this turn of events that he doesn't even have a "comeback". Well, since he was in The Naked Truth, I don't think I can expect him to come up with halfway decent comebacks. By the way, have you seen the screencaps of him half-naked in his movies and TV shows in the past? On this show, Jonathan is actually pretty fit in a non-metallic "I wonder why people always suspect that I abuse growth hormones?" way like Adam and Yul but man, one look at those screencaps and it's clear that he has let himself go.
Back to Janu Island, Jonathan ponders the clue to Waldo which is present in the form of a captain's log book. The "Exile Clue #1" turns out to be something like this: "To make a top grade, stand in a line. If the southern isle vanishes, a salvation you'll find." Ah yes, that's very helpful indeed. Instead of trying to find a spot where some southern island cannot be seen anymore, Jonathan instead focuses on the "top grade" part of the clue and imagines that he needs to find some structure on this island that forms an "A" and starts digging at that spot. In this case, it's a spot under two poles of the shipwreck that come together to form a triangle. He finds a rock for all his efforts. In the end, he resorts to dramatically roll on the floor of the shipwreck while moaning that he's cold and what-not as well as missing his wife and kids. Did he miss them when he was placing his hand on the hip of one of the Raro women during the group-huddle last night? Anyway, Jonathan concludes that Janu Island is a horrible, horrible place - exactly the script that Burnetto wants him to say so that people will forget that Janu Island is a terrible flop in the previous season.
Manihiki. As evening falls, the Hikis are determined to start a fire despite the fact that they didn't win any fire-making tools in the recent Challenge. However, as Sekou tells the camera, each Hiki is also concerned about having to vote someone out tonight. Sundra and Rebecca predictably run off together to conspire and plot while Nathan and Sekou do the same. Each twosome notice the other twosome and correctly surmise that the other twosome are plotting against them. Rebecca tells Sundra that no one is to be blamed for their loss as Stephannie joins them. Meanwhile, Sekou is telling Nathan that the women will be "stupid" to vote one of the men out. Nathan on the other hand mutters that they need to pull a woman to their side. Rebecca on the other hand is telling Sundra and Stephannie that clearly the two men are aware that they are on "thin ice" and Sekou should know that he's more in danger than Nathan. She explains to the camera that Sekou, or "Se" as she calls him, is the better choice of boot to the women because they believe that Sekou contributes significantly to the friction among the Hikis over leadership issues. Seeing how he and Nathan make decisions without consulting the three women, I can understand why the three women would believe, fairly or unfairly, that Sekou is the dominant decision-maker over the younger Nathan and therefore Sekou is the bigger stumbling block to Hiki's ability to work in unison. Besides, when it comes to the decision of keeping either a young hot guy with muscles to work around camp and win Competitions or a somewhat out-of-shape brash and loud guy set in his inertia, the fat guy gets the boot every time.
Sekou is meanwhile telling Nathan that it is not logical for the women to boot him or Nathan because those women cannot make a shelter or start a fire. Nathan agrees. I wonder whether Sekou or Nathan is aware of the fact that they haven't succeeded in starting a fire either. And who was the one hollering yesterday that he needed a break, hmm? Nathan tells Sekou the obvious: clearly Sundra and Rebecca are a unit therefore it is Stephannie that the men need to draw over to their side. The two men are targetting Sundra, by the way, for the boot. Sekou tells the camera what Nathan has told him, only he claims that it is his plan to make an alliance with Stephannie. Okay, if he says so.
Sekou's brilliant sell to Stephannie is that she will be the target of the Sundra-Rebecca two-headed monster once Sekou and Nathan are gone. Stephannie has to realize that she will also be the target if it comes down to her and the two men left on the tribe, so Sekou is not doing a good job here at all. Sekou also talks about how Stephannie needs to stick with the two men because the tribe needs people who can start a fire. Stephannie's expression is pretty much "This fellow is joking, right? Right?" as she tells Sekou upfront that they haven't had any fire so far. Sekou catches himself and quickly changes course by saying that when he has the fire started, the fire won't keep going if he's not here to, er, keep it going, I guess. Sekou is the life of the tribe, people! Without Sekou, there's no fire, and without fire, there is no life. Probby will so pleased that he has at least inspired one nitwit in his twelve seasons of babbling the same inane nonsense about fires and lives and torches. "This ain't a glamor war! This is about survival! This is the real thing! This is about gettin' down!" Sekou insists to Stephannie. "You get what I'm sayin'?" he asks Stephannie. Stephannie all but roll up her eyes at that man.
To the camera, she says that clearly she is the swing vote in this particular situation. As Sekou gets everyone to share a group hug as he launches into some spiel about how starting a fire is one thing but we all have fires inside us as well, Stephannie tells the camera that it is tough and not fun at all to get rid of someone because the Hikis need "everybody". Yeah, yeah, that's a nice thing to say. Does she believe in that sentiment though? Is she willing to share the million bucks with her fellow Hikis? No, I think not. With that, the Hikis paddle off to Tribal Council.
Night, Tribal Council. It's held in an artificial structure built in the shape of a ship on the beach this time around. Probby gives the drill: light the torches, think about life, and sit your asses on the stool now. The topics of conversation are predictable and the answers are equally predictable. Sekou talks about being a leader while the women barely hold back from rolling up their eyes. I think Sekou must have been more overbearing than his depiction in this episode is to have three women so strongly aligned against him in just three days. Nathan babbles about the tribe having "beautiful spirits". You know, waiters really should not be allowed to speak outside the taking of orders. The Hikis hoot with laughter although they refrain from saying, "You're kidding me, right?" when Probby solemnly asks about racial segregation in this season have changed the game for them. I have a hunch that Probby isn't looking for an answer like, "Hurrah for segregation! Now there are five African-Americans on this show instead of a maximum of two as per the Burnetto quota!" Meanwhile, Stephannie talks about being a swing vote and voting according to what she feels she has to do to get the Hiki to improve as a tribe. With that, Probby calls for the votes to be cast.
Sekou votes for Sundra, calling her the weakest link of the tribe. Rebecca votes for Sekou, calling him a sweet guy but adding that she has to vote him out since this is the right thing to do in this situation. Sundra and Nathan vote next. Finally, Stephannie votes. She writes an S and then the camera cuts away to Probby announcing that he'll be away to tally the votes. Let's see the votes now. "Sundra! Sekou! Sundra! Sekou!" says Probby. Surprise, it's a tie! Let's see the tiebreaker vote. Sekou is the first boot in this season! Nathan looks like he wants to melt away into the ground and I think it's going to be an uncomfortable moment back at camp, heh, while Sekou takes the long winding road out of the show.
Probby pretty much tells the Hikis that he expects to see them perform better now that they have gotten rid of who they believe is the weakest link. He also tosses them a flint, causing Rebecca to go "Hee hee ha ha!" and Nathan to smile and be all, "Sekou who?"
You know, the consequences of racial segregation on a stupid TV show aside, this season opener isn't half bad at all. After the dire previous season, I'm hoping and looking forward to an enjoyable season of Survivor, hot guys and bouncing pecs and all!
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