Sunday, May 07, 2006

Survivor Panama Thoughts for 5/4

Ah Survivor. I know that I’ve neglected you in these parts, but hey, if my neglect has caused you to start providing some really good episodes, then I might have to neglect you a lot more often.

First up, the summary of the show for those who missed it:

Shane was upset that he was sideswiped by Courtney’s elimination last week. Cirie and Aras came up with a story that they found out about Courtney’s plan to make a final three alliance with Danielle and Terry “10 minutes” before tribal council and since Shane was so far away, they couldn’t tell him what was going on. This seemed to placate Shane, as he went on to thank the world that that “crazy broad” was gone.

Next up was the “take elements from previous challenges and make a huge obstacle course” reward challenge. With Terry winning the car last week, this week had to be something special, and it was – the winner would get to allocate how much time everybody spent with their loved one. Finding out that this involved their loved ones sent Shane to his knees weeping.

The course was split into 4 stages. I’ll describe the stage and list the participants. The one who is not bolded was eliminated in that stage:

Stage 1: Within a defined circle, there is a bag buried in sand. The last person to dig up their bag and carry it over the finish line is eliminated.

Danielle, Terry, Aras, Cirie, Shane

Stage 2: Carrying the bag from the previous stage, the Survivors need to crawl under a set of bamboo gates, climb up through a bamboo maze to untie a wooden snake and then run over a dirt hill.

Danielle, Terry, Aras, Cirie

Stage 3: Carrying the bag and snake from the previous stage,, the Survivors need to run over a hill and into a pool of water. They then need to untie a fish hanging over the pool, and then run to the finish line, carrying all three of the items.

Danielle, Terry, Aras

Stage 4: Carrying all three items from the previous stages, the Survivors need to go move through a bamboo tunnel maze which goes up and down. If they drop an object while above the ground, they need to pick it up and then start from the beginning.

Winner: Terry, after Aras drops the bag.

So Terry gets to decide who spends what amount of time with their loved ones. The allocation that he has to decide is:
2 people and their loved ones go away for the night and stay at a house/cottage
1 person gets to bring their loved one back to camp for the night
1 person gets a hug from their loved one
1 person gets nothing from their loved one and has to go to Exile Island

Then we get introduced to all of the loved ones:
Terry’s Wife
Aras’ Mother
Danielle’s Mother
Cirie’s Husband
Shane’s son, Boston

Terry has to make the decision and he decides on the following
Terry and Shane et al to the cottage
Cirie’s Husband H.B. to camp
Aras gets the hug
Danielle goes to Exile Island

And off they go. Danielle isn’t happy about going to Exile Island and imagines a coconut to be Terry’s head (which she proceeds to split). Terry makes no bones about that being revenge for Danielle bailing on him and Courtney. Cirie’s husband comes to camp and is forced to do a lot of the work. (He is also appalled at the drinking water.) Terry and his wife get it on (with CBS being not too subtle about this – though not reaching Joe Millionaire levels of captioning the slurping sounds).

When Terry and Shane get back, Terry gives the old “we weren’t sleeping, if you know what I mean” routine to Aras and Cirie. Then an argument occurs between Terry and Aras, with Aras angry that Terry didn’t let Aras be with his mother. (Aras’ phrasing, not mine.) Aras accuses Terry of not respecting him or Danielle because he says that a mother isn’t as important as a spouse , while Terry says that Aras couldn’t understand the difference in feeling.

With the Terry/Aras rivalry defined, off we go to the immunity challenge. Basically, the survivors stand on a pole that is 20 feet of the ground and in the sea (ocean?). While on the pole, they have to drop a bucket into the water, pull it up, and then pour the water into a small bamboo shoot with is about 10 feet below them. This causes a flag to rise. First one who is able to grab the flag and lift it over their head is the winner. (Oh yeah, they can only touch the base with their feet or hands.)

Shane spends half of the challenge pouring his water into “the wrong hole” (which is apparently on his platform). Jeff is very funny in poking at Shane. And of course, Terry wins. Shane gets his revenge by mocking Probst’s “somebody is going home tonight”.

Back at camp, Shane thinks Danielle is going, while Danielle, Cirie and Aras have already decided on Shane. Terry is very excited because he’s in the final three. Then, Cirie shows signs of flipping to Terry and Shane to vote out Danielle. We’re left hanging on whether Cirie will vote out Shane or Danielle (as if there’s a choice in the matter).

At Tribal Council, Aras is asked about wanting to beat Terry. Aras says that Terry’s dominance drives him and the thought about “is this the time that he slips”. Probst counters with “when does it go from ‘is this the time he slips’ to ‘he isn’t going to slip’” and Aras says something about winning challenges is only half the game, and the other half is winning over people. Courtney shakes her head at this and a comment from Danielle about getting further in the game, while smiling at a Shane comment. Up comes the vote and we see Shane voting for Danielle, and Aras voting for Shane.

Jeff reads the votes: 1 for Danielle, and then 3 for Shane, eliminating him. Shane, surprisingly, does not flip out and instead exclaims “In a minute, I’m going to be eating an ice cream bar!” Terry salutes him, and then off he goes.

(During the comments, Shane seemed shocked that he was voted off, even though he asked Cirie straight up if she, Danielle and Aras were in an alliance and got told no. Also, we find out that Terry voted for Aras, which was probably the biggest surprise of them all.)

Now, my thoughts:

- Aras’ comment about winning people over is funny. I’m not sure he realizes that he has become the Boston Rob of this year – unless you get a lot of people who believe that his alliance making was spectacular, he will lose because he pissed off people when he put them on the jury (Shane especially, since he specifically asked if he was going to be going and was not told.) He’s already lost the game to Terry, and has probably lost the game to Cirie as well. Danielle is a bit of a toss-up because of Courtney. So while it’s great that he is cognizant of the jury, he’s done nothing to “win them over”.

- The talk of Terry’s arrogance is pretty funny as well. Terry wasn’t the one sitting out of an immunity challenge to eat hamburgers. Terry wasn’t the one calling team meetings in front of the smaller tribe to talk about who was going to get voted out. So this talk of Terry’s arrogance is pretty damn hypocritical.

- With that said, Terry is getting pretty cocky, though I think in part it is because of the situation he is in. He knows the only way he can survive is by continually winning. He also knows that his continual winning is his main argument for winning the game. So the longer he keeps on winning, the cockier he gets. What Aras says does apply to him kinda – he has to be careful that he doesn’t face somebody like Cirie, who can be viewed as the safe choice to win.

- As for what Terry’s options are now, it’s pretty clear – he should not try to win the next immunity challenge but not look like he is trying to throw the challenge. Then, if he is “voted out”, he can decide who is actually going (most likely is Aras, then Cirie then Danielle.) Another thought is for him to say that he has the immunity idol, show it to everyone and then say “Either way, you guys have to decide amongst yourselves who you are voting out”. (Of course, if Terry wins immunity, then he has some more fun to play, as he can give the idol to whoever decides to join the final two alliance with him.) No matter which way you cut it, Terry is actually in a position of strength, not weakness in the political side of the game.

- Next week, apparently Danielle approaches Terry about a possible final two alliance. She has probably realized that she stands a chance of winning against any of the other final four players, depending on how the vote breaks. This doesn’t mean that she is guaranteed to win, but she is right that it is in her best interests to form an alliance with Terry. The only way it is found out is if she wins immunity in the final 3 challenge, and opts to take Terry over one of her Casaya tribemates. And even under those circumstances she can explain it off by wanting to bring the more deserving to the final two.

- I meant to also talk about Cirie for a second. I don’t understand why seasoned watchers like Dalton Ross are calling Cirie a power player. She did manipulate things to get rid of Courtney last week, but this week, I’m not sure that she did anything other than vote with her alliance to get rid of the outsider to the group. And while her reasoning to get rid of Courtney was sound, she pushed it too far. Yes, if Courtney was everybody’s choice to take to the final two, that would hurt Cirie’s chances. But at the same time, it did not do anything to guarantee Cirie a final three, let alone a final two. Does she feel that she’s so solid with Aras or Danielle? Does she trust either of them after they took out their initial final two alliance partners in consecutive weeks?

Your list for this week:

Most likely to win:

1. Terry
2. Danielle
3. Cirie
4. Aras

And who’s going this week? I’m guessing Aras. This is based on Terry throwing the challenge and then getting the vote against him. If the others are smart, they will do something to get the person out who they want to go.

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