By Tom Rose
On episode one of Survivor: Gabon – Earth’s Last Eden Michelle was the first member to be voted off tribe Fang (pronounced fung) leaving grandma Gillian hanging by a thread. It just goes to show that age is not the all-determining factor in the game… it’s more about attitude. Remember Rudy?
Mark Burnett is on his game as well by getting right to the heart of Survivor: The Alliance. On the morning after tribal council, Charlie is salivating for “Doc” Marcus over at Kota camp. Marcus plays his hand and immediately signs Charlie, Corinne and Jaquie on to his “Large Onion” alliance. He’s just gonna peel back the layers until the million dollar prize is his. The doctor is in.
GC’s new leadership status at Fang camp takes hold as his maintenance man background kicks in. He’s good at cleaning up, but Randy immediately takes issue with GC’s cooking skills. Why use the fresh water to cook the rice? Use the lake water, since it has to boil anyway. It actually makes sense, but Randy’s cocky, superior tone makes everybody want to boil him instead. Randy gets the message and vows to sit back and let the others tie their own nooses. I doubt it. Randy, a wedding videographer from Missouri, is exactly that guy most people take an immediate disliking to. Survivor is on!
Bob has no such trouble over at Kota. He’s virtually a Mr. Rogers clone and all the girls stand back and let him play. But the guys have their guard up. Can’t let the old man get too strong. The tribe splits quietly into two camps: Bob versus Marcus. As they enjoy the fruits of their challenge win they lazily spend the day courting each other, but Jaquie holds the deciding vote. She’s on Bob’s side.
A tempest is brewing at Fang. And it starts early in the morning. GC is so disturbed by the loudly snoring Gillian, he gets up to do a wash. That slowly brings a crowd and before the sun is up, the early birds are chattering away. Gillian catches the worm when she tries to impose a no-getting-up-early-and-talking rule, which the group immediately rejects as old lady nonsense. When GC sees it’s directed at him, he abruptly resigns as leader. Randy opens his big mouth for a minute, but the tribe is leaning towards Dan taking over. He’s a Boston lawyer and looks every bit the part. But he wisely defers for the moment.
Tree mail brings a verse designed to put them in the mood for fishing so Dan steps up with some charcoal from the fire and paints a game face on each member. Susie only takes a swipe but the move puts them all in the right mood. Dan (unofficially) leads by example and Jeff Probst is duly impressed when they show up looking very native for the next challenge.
The teams must roll a large ball over a hilly course through several gates which hold a set of keys. The keys will open the last gate to an enclosure containing a pedestal. The first team to sit the ball on the throne wins. The reward is a full set of fishing gear.
As the two teams begin, Kota jumps out ahead again because of their stronger members. They’re literally on a roll. Fang starts out just as weakly as before, but as soon as Gillian gets out of the way they gain some ground. It’s a dead heat this time at the end, but Kota manages to keep their edge and win the challenge.
The victory gives Kota the choice of who goes to Exile Island. Kota picks Dan. Maybe they can smell the blood in the water over at Fang? Off goes the esquire.
Kota camp is party town as the boys head down to the fishing hole and the girls build a roaring fire. Like Jaquie says “we’ve got all the clever guys.” Dan proves the point at Exile Island. There’s a new twist this season. You can choose a clue to the immunity idol, or a comfort item. The comfort is an apple and Dan quickly turns it down. He’s gonna dream about that apple later as the clue leads him nowhere. We see him doing a lot of digging, but does he find the idol? We won’t know until tribal council, but it doesn’t look good.
The good fight that Fang put up in the challenge lifts their mood despite the loss. As Dan’s day at Exile Island plays out, the group starts sharpening the knives. Ken says Gillian is the problem (he won’t forget his lost kiss) but Gillian turns it right back at him. She makes a desperate plea to Susie the hairdresser, claiming “some of the young ones are weak.” Susie has patient eyes but the writing’s on the wall for Gillian. You know things are bad when people start asking you if Gillian is spelled with a G or a J…
As council day dawns Randy decides to use some down-on-the-farm ingenuity and crafts a fish hook out of his eyeglasses. Wow! Neat trick. GC jumps in with his shoelaces and damn if they haven’t made a crude fishing rod. And it works! The two triumphantly return from the lake with 5 “sardines” which they immediately fry up on the fire. A last meal for all as they head to the chopping block.
Before they go Dan returns acting very mysteriously. Did he find the idol? He won’t tell. The consensus is yes. Why else would he act so weird? To hammer home the point, Dan puts on his tie before heading out.
At tribal council Jeff learns that GC quit the leader job because of sniping from Gillian and Randy. Randy says they’re not a team but “8 individuals” and Dan is a mess because he reveals he did not find the immunity idol. But Jeff is heartened to hear of their ingenious fishing method and reminds them all of the benefits derived when you’re playing for the team. It doesn’t help Gillian (with a G) as the tribe votes her off 5-1 over Kenny. It was just a matter of time.
Jeff sends the rest packing with the reminder that not all the news is bad for Fang.”The good news is, you know if you pull together, you can do it.” Nobody does it like Probst.
Next Week: Fang is a tribe with big leadership problems and they’ll have to fight for their lives to move on.