"They Came At Us With Spears: Days 1-3" - September 16
Vanuatu. Perhaps you saw the country's athletes (all 4
or 5 of them) march in during the Olympics. It's an
archipelago of 80 islands in the South Pacific. Nine
active volcanoes exist within the nation because it's
part of the "Ring of Fire", a wide circle of volcanoes
which covers the entire Pacific Ocean.
Vanuatu. A country that's only really BEEN a country
since 1980. A country where cannibalism is part of the
history. A country whose native inhabitants are VERY
into their spirituality.
Vanuatu. The site of the ninth rendition of SURVIVOR!
DAY 1: GET THIS PARTY STARTED.
Eighteen castaways from America are sailing into the
island home of Mt. Yasur, one of the active volcanoes
mentioned earlier. Nine men and nine women get a rather
unexpected welcome from the natives: a tribe paddles out
in canoes and whoop and holler as they approach. But a
comforting sight appears as your host Jeff "Leaving Rock
& Roll Jeopardy! Was The Best Move of My Life" Probst
boards the craft.
Uncle Jeff tells them that, in order to be able to stay
on the island, they must take part in a ceremony that
they may find beautiful, sickening and frightening at
different points. But he REMINDS them that this "rite of
passage" is typical for them... and not to disrespect
the natives since they're only visitors. The 18 people
board the canoes in threesomes (though the one with a
guy who only learned to swim six weeks ago (Travis) tips
over momentarily) and begin their journey.
It starts with the tribe encircling them in their canoes
as they paddle for the shore. Then, as soon as they
REACH the shore, MORE tribesmen come at them and taunt
them with spears right in their faces (well, not ALL of
them; the African-American guys seem to be immune from
their taunts). Then the women are separated from the
men, the women made to kneel on the ground and watch as
the men got to sit on stumps, drink sacred fluid and get
the blood of a pig (that was killed right in front of
them) smeared on them.
Then came the Spirit Stone. According to Uncle Jeff,
it's supposed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck,
which are the LAST things they need here. The chief of
the tribe wants to give the men the Stone... IF they can
grab it off the greased pole that a tribe member places
it on top of. If they DON'T, the WOMEN get it. And it's
here where we get the first inkling that it'll be men
vs. women in this edition. The chief calls one of them
(Brady by name) to take to the task first and he rubs
his hands and feet with dirt for traction and mimics the
tribe member perfectly to get the Stone! No sooner does
he grab the stone... than it starts to rain. (SPOOKY!)
The ceremony ended, Uncle Jeff hands out buffs... and,
indeed, it's the loved men against the downtrodden
women. The men are the Lopevi Tribe and wear red buffs.
And they are:
BRADY FINTA - 33, FBI agent from Huntington Beach, CA
TRAVIS SAMPSON - 33, loss prevention director from
LEA MASTERS - 40, drill sergeant from Columbia, SC
CHRIS DAUGHERTY - 33, highway construction worker
BROOK GERAGHATY - 27, document manager from Winthrop, MA
RORY FREEMAN - 38, housing care manager
JOHN "J.P." PALYOK - 31, sales manager from L.A.
JOHN "JOHNNY" KENNEY - 22, model and mechanical bull
operator from L.A.
CHAD CRITTENDEN - 35, teacher from Oakland, CA
The women are named after the volcano, the Yasur Tribe,
and wear yellow. Then Uncle Jeff sends us down the
beaches with NO map and NO torch to help. All that each
tribe will have upon arrival are a machete, a pot and a
map to drinking water... just like some of the previous
Survivor editions. The tribes get sent in opposite
direction... and I start my vague attempt to truly merge
with my tribe by switching to a first-person-multiple
NIGHT 1: ON THE BEACH
While the women argued about whether to stay or go on,
we have trouble finding our tribal flag as well. Rory
says a game plan needs to be thought of, which sets
Brook off him from the start. We decide to continue
despite the tension... and we find our beach! We raise
the Spirit Stone high and thank the various deities for
DAY 2: MAGNET AND STEEL
The sun comes up and we get our first real look at our
beach... and it looks UGLY. The water is fresh but needs
to be boiled... and that means fire. With no flint or
matches in sight, we start the task of gather dry wood.
J.P. works out a way to start a fire... though Chris
feels, "he's got the frame but he ain't got the brain!"
They made a small ember... but not enough to light brush
Chad then reveals a secret: he has a metal right leg! He
lost his leg due to cancer close to 2 years ago and had
a prosthetic limb attached. This, of course,
freaks ALL of us out. Brady thinks we're screwed because
Chad'll get the sympathy vote... but Brook says he'll
"vote his ass out" if he must.
DAY 3: REWARD/IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: SOMETHING'S BURNING
"Welcome... you've got Tree-Mail!":
A show of
pride and unity each time the two tribes meet,
Bring your tribal flag with you whenever you
Assess your tribemates' strengths, whose talents
One tribe leaves with heads hung low, the others go
home with fire.
Ah, the standard
combination Reward AND Immunity Challenge that starts
every Survivor off with a bang. And, judging by the
clue, SOMEONE is going to be able to boil some water
Down to Challenge Cove we go, where we meet Uncle Jeff
and the Yasur Tribe of Ami, Dolly, Scout, Mia, Lisa,
Leann, Eliza, Twila and Julie. Uncle Jeff asks the
girls how they're doing, and their first reaction is "no
fun". We, on the other hip, have only one complaint: no
fire. Well, that's what we're here for.
What we have is a wicked obstacle course. First, all
nine members must crawl through mud under some beams.
Three of us then work through a maze a ball which, once
completed, we take with us since there are matches
inside for later. Then all nine of us must navigate a
high and narrow balance beam, being forced to start over
if our feet touch the catch net at any time. After THAT,
three OTHER members must build a fire (with the
matches), burn through a rope and drop a torch. The
first tribe to light their giant wok with their torch
Then Uncle Jeff shows what we'll win. For Reward, we get
the prerequisite flint which, in conjunction with the
machete, should make fire. And then, of course, there's
the Immunity Idol: a spear with a tiki on the handle.
Whoever holds the Idol cannot be voted out of Tribal
Council tonight... and that's WAY more important than
fire in THIS game.
"Survivors ready...GO!" Aaaaand we're off! Now, one
would think that, with an ex-military man on our team,
we could get under the crawl no sweat. Well, one would
be wrong. Our bulk makes it hard to stay under the
beams. But, thanks to a little teamwork, we get everyone
split-second before the women do. Three are chosen to
ball maze... and this is where we stumble. We run into a
few dead-ends while the women calmly work their ball
through. However, we manage to finish first and head for
the balance beam.
Strength and speed is one thing... but balance is QUITE
another. Chad's bum leg is a big hindrance to us as he
keeps falling into the net. But, thankfully, the
women have more problems with the ball maze than WE did,
so we have some time. John actually takes off his
sneakers and walks across by grabbing the beam with his
toes! Travis (called "Bubba") tries to crawl across
instead of walk and, soon, EVERYBODY from BOTH tribes
follow suit, making it look like a bad reproduction of a
scene from "Full Metal Jacket".
It comes down to Chris vs. Scout for the last one
across... and Chris STUMBLES! Scout crosses
(inadvertently flashing the camera) and they get going
on the fire. Chris tries to make it across after
removing his muddy shoes... but Yasur has already made a
big fire and brunt through the rope. For the second time
in a Men vs. Women edition of Survivor, the women have
kicked the males' asses (not to mention their libido)
and have won the flint and the Immunity Idol!
NIGHT 3: IT'S RAINING, MEN!
To say that my namesake is depressed would be an insult
to Zoloft users everywhere. The men comfort Chris and
laugh it off... but it's on Chris' mind that he's
most-likely the #1 suspect for letting his tribe lose to
And his paranoia is well-founded. As soon as he walks
away by himself, some of the other guys discuss him
being the victim at Tribal Council. Lea, however,
says he'll think about it, not feeling Chris is the
"weakest link". Lea then tells Chris about this and they
ally themselves to get Brook off instead. Of course, it
IS seven against two so... that'll be tough. Brook seems
to know himself as a target, but Brady assures him that
it isn't Brook going down tonight (either Chris or Rory,
TRIBAL COUNCIL: MEN ARE GETTIN' SCARCE
To Uncle Jeff's Stone Temple of Doom march nine bummed
guys. They grab their torches and stick them in the fire
to represent their life... in the game. Before one of us
heads home, though, let's talk about the DEBACLE that
was the Challenge.
Almost half the men blame Chris for the loss because,
according to Lea, it was "so easy". Chris never thought
during the Challenge that he was dead, since he didn't
feel that way about Rory on Night 1 when HE was running
his mouth. Rory thinks he fits in "fabulously well" with
the "family". J.P. says they're on "red alert" due to
the lack of drinking water.
Travis is upset that they underestimated the women and
hopes everyone respects them. Brook wouldn't mind ending
up on a tribe with some of them and promises NOT to
underestimate. J.P. still cannot BELIEVE nine "strong
men" got their asses handed to them like that.
And with that, it is time to vote. One by one, they head
for the voting room, uncork a magic marker made to look
like something native and write names on parchment on
who they want out. First is Brook (who votes for Chris),
then Rory, Lea, J.P., Johnny (voting for Rory), Chad,
Brady, Travis and, finally, Chris (telling Brook that
"it's all part of the game").
Uncle Jeff reads the votes: Chris, Chris, Rory, Brook,
Chris... and then, shockingly, four STRAIGHT votes
for... BROOK! That's five votes, that's the majority...
and that's all for the project manager. The tribe has
spoken and his torch is snuffed.
Then Uncle Jeff reminds us that we have no drinking
water, we cannot bring fire back (like in "All-Stars",
we can't bring our torches back lit until we earn or
make fire) and that three different tribe members were
voted for. We head back to camp with our heads hung at
half-mast. Not a very good way to start off our Survivor
(BTW, Chico, you would think, since you have the women,
that a woman will win. Well, remember, Gordon didn't
predict the last Celebrity Mole after guessing the first
three... so every streak is made to be BROKEN! >:) )
(C-Note: Game on,