We are right at the midway point of Survivor: Samoa. We began with twenty players; we now have ten. Our early villains, Evil Russell, and idiot Shambles, have grown into heroic (seeming) crusaders against a true villain, Evil Laura, the Sarah Palin wanna-be conservative lobbyist co-ordinator and Christer pastor, who believes she's now running the show. We've seen two players sidelined by physical collapse: elderly obese Chef Mike, and athletic, bull-like Black Russell. We've seen a lot of puzzles solved and knots untied. And now-just-Russell has shown an amazing ability to find hidden immunity idols without a clue, which is good, because a lot of these contestants still have no clue.
Russell sees himself as an artist of Survivor, as Picasso -- and like Picasso -- his work is difficult to make sense of, and doesn't resemble real life. Here's Russell referring to last week's reverse-blindside: "That was almost as good as my kids being born." Given how much he hates women, I assume that the only reason the births of his kids were better was because he got to hear a woman screaming in agony.
Evil Laura on Russell's blindside: "We know that he's sneaky, and that he just like lurks around camp, and that he's always snooping around. We should have known better." Yes they should have. And they should have "snooped" around camp themselves! She acts like he's pulled some sort of evil double-cross by looking for and finding the idol last week that none of them even bothered to look for, though they all knew there was one there. I guess Evil Laura was too busy reading the memoirs of her personal idol, Sarah Palin. (I wonder if Sarah has read it yet? Excuse me. I mean: I wonder if Sarah has had it read to her yet?) How sneaky of Russell to be actually playing the game, while Queen Evil Laura just sits around camp, plotting the end of civilization, one ruined piece of progressive legislation at a time.
Shambles, who hates Evil Laura even more than I do, and that takes a lot, told Russell: "'Jew [sic] know what she said when you played that immunity idol? ... She said: 'He has ruined everything'." Actually, what she said was, "He just stirred up a whole lot of Hell, is what he did," but same difference.
This made Russell chuckle, "I ruined everything? What does she think I'm here for her for? To bake her cookies and cakes?" However odd that sentence is, he has a point.
But Shambles, as usual, is so dumb, her hilarity takes her one step too far: "I was thinking, I gotta find that immunity idol..." Good. Go with that, Shambles. "... Give it to Russ again." Doh! No, Shambles, no. If you find that immunity idol (fat chance), you have to keep it for yourself. Who are you playing for, Russell or you?
It was dawn in Samoa, and at Camp Igag, while everyone else slept, Russell was out looking for the immunity idol. This is why he's kicking all your butts, Galuvians. You're sleeping. He's out playing the game, though I don't see how the production team has had an opportunity to re-hide it again until the tribe all goes off to play a challenge, but I could be wrong. I have been wrong before. I remember once, back in 1947, I said Olivier's film of Hamlet would never win the Best Picture Oscar, because they never give it to a foreign language film. I was wrong then, and I was wrong again in -- ah -- Okay, that's the only time that springs to mind, but this could be time number two.
Shambles called Evil Laura "The Viper Queen of Galu." I like that. I'll take it. Henceforth, Evil Laura is The Viper Queen. After all, Clifton Webb is dead, so the title is freed up again.
Shambles has worked out that, by aligning with Zsa Zsa, which I've been saying she would for weeks, they will have a 5-5 tie. So now she wanted to recruit another Galuvian, to make it a six person majority. No, Shambles. If you ask the wrong one, your treachery will be exposed to the Galuvians. Keep quiet, at least until after immunity is sorted out, and you know better where things stand. Don't strategize, Shambles; you're too stupid to pull it off.
So she rounded up Rocket Scientist John, a man whose IQ is roughly 100 points above hers. Make that 200 points.
"Will you betray my confidence?" Shambles asked John.
"No," he answered, somehow managing to resist the temptation to sell her aluminum siding, or a bridge in New York City, while he's got her brainless ear.
Reward Challenge: This time they're playing for a trip to a waterfall for a picnic. Wait a moment! That was what they played for last week! Has the production team run out of reward ideas? This one does involve flying to a different island, although if any of these people watch Lost, they ought to be hinky about flying around islands full of survivors. They could end up in 1977, drop-kicking hydrogen bombs.
Plus they get a cell phone camera with which to take pictures. Jeff plugged it at some length, which means it was a paid bit of product placement. Well, Sprint hasn't paid me, so I shan't be mentioning what the gimmicky toy is called. (Sprint, if you want your products plugged here, well, I'm not above a small bribe, and I'm really not above a large one.) I loved part of Jeff's description of the prize trinket, "Now you have something that fits in the palm of your hand, and is easy to use." All the guys have something that fits that description, in their pants. He also said it could "make some fun memories." So can that object in their pants.
Russell wants to win reward to get the idol clue, although he's never needed a clue before, and while the others are away picnicking is a perfect time to find it. It's when he found the last one. I would think he'd be playing the challenge to lose.
They split the tribe into two teams for the challenge. This is interesting. The Yellow team has Shambles, Rocket Scientist John, and two of the Zsa Zsasians, but not Russell. This means Russell is on the purple team with his enemies: The Viper Queen, and Danger Dave. If they win, Russell will get the clue along with the very people most determined to keep him from finding the idol. If Purple loses, he'll be at Camp Igag looking for it, with his enemies watching his every move. Also, since each team has an equal number of Zsa Zsasians, the Tribe Zsa Zsa-always-loses factor is nullified. Both teams have an equal chance to blow the challenge.
The challenge involves four team members swinging around a fifth on a dangling platform, to gather numbered flags and stick them in holes in a log. It should involve a high nausea and disorientation factor. The swingers were Natalie and Rocket Scientist John. Sounds a bit dumb, but at least there's no puzzle-solving nor knot-untying. Since the challenge relies on the person being swung around sticking small poles into tight holes while being violently agitated in what amounts to freefall, I should think Rocket Scientist John would have an experiential advantage over Natalie.
But apparently John has never had sex in orbit, because he lost by a rather large margin. Russell was heading off to reward with Natalie, Danger Dave, some guy called "Brett," and The Viper Queen. I was disgusted to see The Viper Queen press her cheek against Natalie, whom she has been plotting and scheming against, with the kind of fake affection her idol Sarah Palin displays when Levi Johnston drops by to see his baby, hopefully clothed.
Russell: "If I can find this clue for the next hidden immunity idol, then I can't see how it's not going to be possible for me to do what I want to do, and take out [The Viper Queen]." Did that tortured sentence contain just a double negative, or was that a quadruple negative? I got lost in that sentence, but I was certainly surprised to learn that Russell wants to date The Viper Queen.
Oh, and Sprint didn't spring for five camera phones. All five players had to share one. Stingy bit of product placement.
And so Oceanic Flight 0 took off for a neighboring island, with our players taking pictures of themselves, which we got to see. Lucky us. I was amazed that The Viper Queen actually shows up on film, or digital, or whatever they shoot pictures on in phones. (I've tried telephoning people on my camera, but it just doesn't work, and the flash keeps going off in my eyes. Who knew Alexander Graham Bell invented the camera?)
The Viper Queen: "It's like a little Gilligan's Island or something, huh?" What stunning originality, Viper Queen. But, the excessively scenic island they were flown to bore no resemblance whatever to the Radford backlot in Studio City (The same lot where Big Brother takes place.), and looked rather more like the island in Lord of the Flies. But these savages are not so much flies as gnats, since they mostly fly about in tight little circles, and annoy the heck out of me.
At the picnic, the girls began squealing at the sight of weenies (What woman doesn't?), while the guys were dying have themselves slices of the fresh hot American Pies (apple) steaming there. "It felt just like home," drawled Natalie, whose backwoods southern lifestyle apparently doesn't include eating off of tables. I am not surprised in the least.
Back at Camp Igag, was anyone looking for the idol? No. MickMoron and Jaison were busy trying to seduce Not-Laura, aka "Monica," into being their sixth vote. Jaison, why aren't you idol hunting?
Not-Laura can count to six, although I'm not sure if she could make it all the way to seven. She pointed out that, even if she voted with them, that would only be five. No, no, Jaison and MickMoron assured her, they have a fifth vote sewn up. Shut up, guys.
Not-Laura: "How sure are you?"
Jaison: "115%." So apparently a degree from Oxford doesn't include basic math skills.
Not-Laura probed further, and MickMoron, living down to my nickname for him, began saying stuff like, "She actually encouraged things to make that whole thing [the reverse-blinside] happen." She! Why not just say, "She hides idols in her mullet"? Not-Laura may not be a rocket scientist, but they've all but announced to her that they've got Shambles voting with them. Boys, Shut up! Oh, they "refused" to tell her who their fifth vote was, so Not-Laura had to take a good ten seconds to work it out on her own.
Russell, trying to make himself ill by looking at pictures of himself with The Viper Queen, found that the next idol clue was on the phone thingy. Rather than keeping this information to himself, he let everyone know to check it on the phone. No one on this whole tribe knows how to keep their yaps shut.
They got this cryptic clue:
The [device] in your hand holds much information,
Which you'd better heed, or it will be your own loss.
The immunity idol is no rolling stone,
A rolling stone gathers no moss."
Natalie: "A rolling stone gathers what?" So Natalie's upbringing included neither tables, nor common, cliche expressions.
And just for people as dumb as Natalie, they included a video showing the idol hidden under a rock at camp. Hello? That's not a "clue." That's everything but a map with "X" marking the spot.
Arriving back at Camp Igag, an Idol search was launched that dwarfs the one American Idol has every year. Now the entire tribe was looking under every rock in Samoa, or rather following on Russell's heels as he looked for it, and they all followed him around.
Since Danger Dave had attached himself at the hip to Russell, Russ tried running to get away from him. "Oh man," said Dave, "Slow down, Russ." Yes, Dave asked Russell to slow down, so he could follow him more easily, and prevent him from obtaining the idol. Maybe he'd like Russ to bake him some cookies and cakes too.
But Russell selfishly didn't slow down and let Dave stay up with him, but instead, rather effectively ditched him. Once Danger Dave, or perhaps I should say Lame-O Dave, gave up, Russell looped back in a big circle to where he'd already been with Dave, to the rock he had spotted there before, rolled it over, and boom. The idol was in his possession yet again! Danger Dave, you're an idiot.
Not-Laura was reporting back her recruiting talk with Jaison and MickMoron to The Viper Queen. The Viper Queen is not too bright, but it doesn't take much in the way of brains to work out that her enemy Shambles is the Ethiopian in the fuel supply, as WC Fields once put it. The Viper Queen now knows that she's been targeted. Just as Russell needed to find the idol a third time, she needs to win immunity a third time.
Immunity Challenge: This challenge involved old, familiar challenge elements, though still without puzzles nor knots. Part one had them throwing rocks at ceramic tiles to earn spears; part two was firing those spears from a crossbow, at an archery target. Gee, actual skill could decide this. Shambles has Marine training. She ought to be able to hit targets. She can't do anything else. She ought to at least be able to do this.
Shambles took her one rock throw, and missed by a mile. What was she in the Marines? In charge of bad hair styles? Not-Laura throws like a girl, and didn't even get her rock all the way to the targets. You had to break at least one target to get a spear to fire from the crossbow. But Danger Dave's wild, uncoordinated throw hit one of Not-Laura's targets, so she got a spear. Turns out, it didn't matter who broke your tile, you get a spear for every target of yours broken, regardless of by whom.
The Viper Queen missed altogether, and no one else hit any of her tiles either. She was thus eliminated from winning immunity. Shambles does not have a future as a poker player, because she doubled over, laughing with glee, as her enemy fell into her clutches. Classy Shambles. You really know how to play it close to the flak jacket.
This Brett person however, cooked. He alone won two spears. His first spear hit the second ring on the target. Jaison, with but one spear, shot next. He's big. He's black. Surely he has experience at firing off his big spear into a large target.
Nope. He missed the target totally. After we're married, I can see I'm going to have to tutor him in aiming his spear, learning to keep his mouth closed when needed, and in understanding that you can only have 100% of anything.
After Not-Laura hit the target rim, MickMoron made his first impressive move of the whole season, and bettered Brett's shot. But, Brett had a second spear left to fire. How often I've longed for a man with a second spear left to fire. Brett gave it an impressive try, but he went too low, and MickMoron won immunity. Now all that remained was to find that sixth vote for The Viper Queen. I imagine The Viper Queen was trying to get that camera phone thingy to work as a phone so she could reach Karl Rove, and call in some favors.
Shambles, The Silent One, was right off telling Brett Two-Spears she was voting for The Viper Queen regardless of anything else on earth. The Queen of Vipers looked so doomed that I began to fear she would somehow save herself, because otherwise, what was CBS going to do with the remaining 20 minutes of show?
Rocket Scientist John, disgusted at the insistent strategic idiocy of Galu, suggested to Danger Dave and The Viper Queen that, instead of going for Russell, they gun for Natalie, whom he reasoned would have no idol, and not telegraph this decision to Zsa Zsa. This is a halfway intelligent move. It could result in a Natalie-Viper Queen tie, and could also get Russell to play the idol needlessly, if he has it. (The idiots actually don't know. Look around you. Is Russell looking for it, or is he swinging on a hammock? He's on the hammock. Therefore, he has the idol.)
Not-Laura came up with this plan. She'd tell Zsa Zsa she was voting for John, then they'd all vote for John (why?), and all of Galu would vote for Natalie. The obvious flaw here is that Russell wants Laura gone as much as Shambles does, so he's not going to vote for John, and the other Zsa Zsasians are most likely to vote with Russell and Shambles. This is pretty desperate vote scrambling. However, the appeals to seduce John and/or Not-Laura to vote with Zsa Zsa against The Viper Queen weren't panning out either.
And then there's this flaw also: Galu hasn't tipped off John that they were going to pretend they were voting for him to trick Zsa Zsa into voting for him. John is not likely to find this an acceptable plan, now is he?
Not-Laura worked all of Zsa Zsa, but they weren't buying it. And then Brett Two-Spears blabbed the plan to John. Guess what? The idea of getting Zsa Zsa to vote for him didn't strike him as a good plan. I'm so shocked. Good thing I had a firm grip on this martini.
Tribal Council: Jeff Asked Rocket Scientist John: "What is appealing about the [Zsa Zsa] foursome?"
Oddly, despite his being quite smart, he got the answer wrong: "They've already said it. You can use four votes." No. What is appealing about the Zsa Zsa foursome is that Jaison is dreamy, MickMoron is dumb-but-hot, and Russell has nice pecs and a well-stuffed basket, sadly inhabited by Russell.
There was further blather, including Lame-O Dave announcing that Lady Luck would be a good strategy, which is insane, but who cares? Let's get to the vote. Question one would be, had Russell snapped to the fact that he didn't need to play his idol tonight, or would he squander it?
He had snapped. He kept mum, leaving the idiot Galuvians to wonder if he found it or not for another episode.
No votes for John. No one bought that ploy. We got the 5-5 tie for Natalie and The Viper Queen. Now there would be a second vote. If one Galuvian switched sides, The Viper Queen would be gone. Otherwise, it would go to a random drawing of stones. Now, I love grabbing random stones as much as the next slut, but it would be very bad strategy. In fact, it would be no strategy at all. Meanwhile, The Viper Queen was trying to figure a way to get it thrown to The Supreme Court, who so famously ignored the vote in 2000, and appointed the loser to be the winner. The votes were cast. Jeff began the count. Would the tie repeat itself, or would someone flip?
Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the winter's furious rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must
Like chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
- William Shakespeare, Cymbaline.
It was a study in faces when The Viper Queen fell. Shambles was gleeful to see The Viper Queen kicked out on her asp. Eric on the jury was ecstatic. (Though not allowed to speak in council, he kept whispering "This is so good!" to fellow juror Kelly.) The Viper Queen was furious, her plans for revenge for last week's vote now come to ashes, and she a vote loser, just like her idol, Sarah Palin. Natalie was happy. Brett Two-Spears looked resigned. Lame-O Dave was shocked, his jaw back on the ground again. (Dave, you keep being shocked at Tribal Council. Think perhaps you haven't a clue as to what's going on?) John, whose flipped vote sent the Oregonian Republican to the jury, looked pleased. Not-Laura was shocked. And Russell was triumphant. He'd overthrown The Viper Queen, and he still had immunity in his pants. He was truly Lord of the Gnats.
In her parting speech to us, The Viper Queen displayed the same sort of absolute disconnect from reality that distinguishes her Alaskan inspiration: "I hope that Galu sticks together, and someone from the purple ends up winning the million dollars." Your Majesty, at the merge, Galu had eight members, Zsa Zsa had four. Now, three episodes later, Galu has five members, and Zsa Zsa still has their whole four. You are gone because two Galuvians voted with Zsa Zsa against you. Galu sticks together about as well as two north end magnets do.
In the preview of next week, we saw Russell liberating chickens in the dead of night. Now that he's Lord of the Gnats, the old midnight-sock-burner has returned. Shambles is leading a charge against someone, and I doubt it's Russell, and Jaison is sitting about shirtless. Oh boy. Fun ahead!