|"This Has Never Happened Before!: Days 1-2" -
Pulau is a beautiful tropical configuration of islets set due east of the Phillipines. But it was also home to some the ugliest air and naval battles of World War II (and I'm CERTAIN there's a video game based in it SOMEWHERE). Now, twenty Americans are rowing towards one of the small islets, left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a canteeen of water each and dreams of a million-dollar check at the end of 39 days.
Hmmm... guess that means it's time for the tenth installment of SURVIVOR!
DAY 1: SURVIVORS, ROW YOUR BOAT ASHORE
Twenty people, as stated, row towards the...wait,...TWENTY? Ayup, I didn't miscount. This has been promised to be the most memorable start to a Survivor game in its five-year history.
But, wait, there's someone in a speedboat
heading towards them. Why, it's Jeff Probst! Guess it wouldn't be a start to the game without "Vice Principal Radcliffe" to clue people in. Well, this time, Uncle Jeff doesn't give them many clues. He points to a beach with a greyish flag on it... and tells them that there are a number of things on them: a machete, a map to drinkable water... and TWO Immunity Necklaces. He says that the first man and woman to get the necklaces win the first
Immunities of the game. They're about a mile out right now so they'll have to decide when best to make a break for it. And, by the way, the game is ON!
Well,...THIS is awkward. No splitting into tribes, no word as to when, how or even IF they'll be split...this is most befuddling. But the fact that Immunity is up for grabs right now is enough to motivate them to start rowing harder and faster. During the row, the players jockey for best position IN the boat for when they eventually abandon ship and swim for it. About half-way in, Wanda Shirk, an English teacher from Pennsylvania, does her best "Kathie Lee Gifford in a Carnival Cruiseship commercial" impersonation... and makes EVERYBODY feel like jumping overboard!
The first ones to jump, though, are
Stephanie LaGrossa (pharmaceutical rep from Philly) and Jonathan Libby (sale & marketing assoc. from Dallas). But it becomes obvious that they jumped too soon because the boat soon overtakes them and leaves them behind.
Soon they get close enough to actually SEE the Immunity Necklaces hanging from the flag posts. As soon as they hit rather shallow water... the swim is ON! For the men, it's not even close: Ian Rosenberger (dolphin trainer from Key Largo, FL) practically WALKS to the flag and grabs his necklace. For the women, however, it's a race...until Jennifer Lyon (nanny from Encino, CA) trips at the finish line and gives Jolanda Jones (lawyer from Houston) the chance to grab the women's Necklace.
AFTERNOON/EVENING 1: EAT, DRINK AND BE CRAFTY...
Well,...now that THAT'S out of the way, the score of Survivors get to know each other better... and to find out just what the @#$% Uncle Jeff has thrown us into. There's no tribe name on the flag so, technically, there're no tribes to speak of. This makes some players a WEE bit paranoid.
But nothing qualms fears like work. Soon the Survivors are set to tasks. Some try to build fire, some go to find the water supply... but most of the rest try to build their shelter. It is... organized chaos, to be sure. They are fast to start, but they seem to have not clue one on where to go for food, water and materials. They would find the watering hole, though... along with a surprise of everybody's sneakers. As for food,... well, there are grasshoppers... which Jolanda can't seem to WAIT to down.
Another problem was that, much like the Pearl Islands, these guys came WITH a wardrobe at first but were denied access to it before being set adrift. So a few modifications have to be made. High heels are trimmed, pants are chopped into shorts and skirts and shirts are made into makeshift sarongs for BOTH genders.
But, as was said, the game IS on... and alliances
are ALREADY starting to form. Coby Archa (hairstylist from Athens, TX) and Angie Jakusz (barmaid from N'awlins) hit it off right away since they are quite different from the other dozen-and-a-half people on the isle. Strategy is ALSO in play, such as getting on the other players' good side with good deeds. When someone is needed to climb a tree to help make the shelter, it's Janu Tonell (Vegas showgirl) who uses her rock-climbing skills to help out. It's hard to make strong connections since they don't know how long they'll be together.
That night, without fire, the players cuddle for warmth (some more than others) and ponder what tomorrow will bring.
DAY 2 : ...FOR TOMORROW WE MAY DIE
With the dawn comes coconut milk, plantains, semi-drinkable water... and Uncle Jeff! He asks Ian and Jolanda to go to a side and announces that the Immunity Necklaces they wear will keep them in the game... for another ten minutes. The other 18, however,...aren't so lucky!
It's time to make the traditional two tribes for Survivor. Ian (being first to get a Necklace) will choose from the other 18, then Jolanda will choose. Then whoever Ian chose will chose another, then whoever Jolanda chose will choose. This will continue until there are two tribes of nine. That makes 18. And that means that the last two standing... well, their stay in Pulau will be a grand total of ONE DAY and they'll be shipped home.
I won't bore you with the entire draft, blow-by-blow. Suffice it to say that the tribe I've been chosen to cover had their picks started by Jolanda. Along with Stephanie and Angie, my tribe includes:
Bobby Jon Drinkard (waiter in Troy, AL)
Jeff Wilson (personal trainer from Ventura, CA)
Kim Mullen (grad student from Huber Heights, OH)
James Miller (steelworker from Mobile, AL)
Ashlee Ashby (student from Easley, SC)
Ibrehem Rahman (waiter from Birmingham, AL)
The two sent home are Wanda and Jonathan. (I'm quite relieved. After the last Amazing Race, I've grown an antipathy towards ANY reality-show player who spells his name 'Jonathan' without another 'h'.) Wanda sings some more as the boat hauls them away to the tears of the other 18.
So...we're two tribes now. Jolanda's tribe is Ulong (an island in Pulau) and wears sky blue Buffs. Ian's is Koror (named for the capital of Pulau) and wears brown. But just as we think this is good-bye, Uncle Jeff says that we're to stay on the same beach for now. It'll be a little weird... but, hey, everything about the last 24 hours has been weird... even by Survivor standards! We seem to be the younger of the two tribes... so any physical challenges that comes our way we should have the advantage with.
Or... should we?
DAY 3 - REWARD/IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: WHAT TO LEAVE IN, WHAT TO LEAVE OUT
We all row in that huge honkin' boat to Challenge Beach where Uncle Jeff awaits to give us our first Reward-slash-Immunity Challenge. It's the typical obstacle course that starts every version of the game. After a net maze and a bunch of hanging tires, each tribe will reach a covered supply duct holding a flint for fire, water jugs, flour and rice for food and a tarp for shelter. The crates these items are in are weighted, so the tribes'll have to decide what to keep and what to leave. After undoing the crates wanted and grabbing oars, they race with the crates to the beach, going over a wall and through a small swamp en route. They'll leave the items behind and hop on outrigger canoes, paddling out to grab their tribal flag floating on a crate. the first to have all nine tribe members back on the mat WITH the flag not only wins the coveted Tribal Immunity Idol but will get to bring the supplies they brought with them to the beach back to camp.
"Survivors ready..........GO!" The tribes rush through the net maze, but Koror seems to surge ahead, getting two members through it before ours even gets one. However, Ulong dumps out of the maze almost all at once afterwards and work on the supply dump. Now we start to untie the crates and decide which ones to take with us.
And this is where the problem arises. Jolanda more-or-less wants to take EVERYTHING and Koror takes only their flint. It takes a LONG time for Jolanda to loosen everything with the other tribemates yelling at her. Koror has an easy time getting themselves and their flint over the wall while Ulong wastes even MORE time getting food and water over. (All right, who's the genius who left the flint behind?!) The swamp's no piece of quiche, either. By the time we start to paddle out... Koror is practically at their flag. I guess I don't have to say it... but I will anyway. Koror wins Immunity and the flint!
But that's not all! It's time to TRULY split up the tribes! Koror has a choice to make: either head back to the original beach and force Ulong to a new beach... or go to the new beach themselves. Oddly enough,... they choose to go to the new beach. So... they are given directions to said beach and take off, flint in tow. As for us, we get to go back "home"... but one of us won't be calling it home for very long.
AFTERNOON 3: EXCUSES, EXCUSES!
While Koror promptly loses the flint they worked so hard to obtain along with Immunity, we shlep back to our beach for the long drawn-out process of finding the right person to weed out of Ulong. Angie (complete with tattooed bra) thinks SHE'S toast, still not over being last picked by Ulong instead of being picked by Koror's Coby. Jolanda agrees that Angie must go and has Ibrehem and James on her side. She tries to talk Steph into joining her, even going as far as apologizing for slowing the tribe up. But, Steph (thong and all) KNOWS who's to blame for their loss: Jolanda.
TRIBAL COUNCIL: LAW & DISORDER
Surrounded by war relics and jungle, Uncle Jeff's Abandoned Supply Dump of Doom awaits the nine members of Ulong. They light their torches and prepare for the grilling. Steph says the biggest surprise was... pretty much everything of the last three days. James (in his hard Southern drawl) says it's a "damn fine tribe". Jeff then asks Jeff about how brains beat brawn today. And Jolanda makes excuses for not bringing the flint, but still would like to help lead the tribe. Ashley admits that they don't have a tribal leader. Angie has the "picked last" deal still in his head (must've had bad school dodgeball flashbacks).
Well, it's time to vote. One by one, they march to the alcove and write down their votes. Jolanda (Angie), Steph, Jeff, Ashlee, Ibrehem, Bobby Jon, Kimberly, James and Angie (Jolanda) scratch on the parchment and slip it into the military-like box.
Uncle Jeff collects the votes and reads them. The first six are split between Jolanda and Angie... but the next two go for Jolanda, and that's enough. If Jolanda has any objections, they would be overruled because this lawyer is in contempt of the tribe.
Uncle Jeff tells Ulong to "stop with the excuses and get a plan". He REALLY lays it on us with this "pep talk" as we head back to camp sans fire.