Editor's note: So it's come to this. A contestant has been booted three episodes into a season, who didn't receive her first (and only) confessional until a few minutes before her terminal Tribal Council visit. (And that sole confessional was inconsequential enough that we initially thought her Final Words soliloquy was her only one.) So... this week's recap will be presented from the viewpoint of Contestant H, who, due to lack of contradictory information, we presume is a war-weary, 19th-Century Southern belle.
This week's guest voice: Contestant H.
The nights are the most difficult. Hour upon hour of the tortured wails of the wounded, rising up from the darkness. They shriek and moan, assaulting one as if from the Depths, giving voice to their loss, their agony. Letting all of Creation know that yea, even in these darkest times, they still linger. They still exist. And yet, even as one's senses are assailed, even as one might wish, even for a second, that the cacophony might cease, one remembers that a lady must venture onward, across the Night's lightless expanse. Forward into daylight, with head held high. Without that resolve, that fortitude, all Hope is lost.
It was not always this way. Once my Edward would gaze up into the stars, and court me with his delightful witticisms. "We are alike," he would say, "we are the hottest." I must confess, I never understood how my constitutional temperature bound me to him, but Edward was insistent, and versed in matters of flame and heat. I turned away out of modesty, but somehow, in my heart, I knew his words must be true, as he was so learned.
Those days of wonder, however, are now lost to the mists of Time, as we are beset by this great Unpleasantness. As I gaze about me, searching for my strength, I find myself surrounded by naught but fleeting, phantom memories of my sweet, departed Alexandra. We have lost so much already. Our previous lives of grace and comfort, gone. Now, we sleep on a platform of an Oriental wood, which plagues us with its foreign, unyielding curves. No servants, no manners, precious little food. All around, bodies line the ground, motionless. The devastation surrounds us all.
How did we come to this terrible place? And who are these silent observers, carrying metal boxes on their shoulders? Can they not discern our distress? Why must we continue this accursed fight? Are we that different from our opponents?
As I ponder these questions aloud, we are met by a messenger from the front. He brings with him shocking news of those very same opponents. Scandalous etchings of a dark-tressed vixen, curls aflutter as she beams astride a strapping young gentleman. Both are, I hesitate to add, barely clothed. Even as I gasp, I am suddenly reminded of a distant night, when I espied Alexandra and her Reynold, clasped in a similar embrace. Alas, poor Alexandra! Plucked so soon from this forsaken land! My delicate constitution has scarcely righted itself when the messenger presents a second image, even more shocking than the first: the same couple, still outrageously undergarmented, locked in a curious embrace of their smallest fingers, hands to their mouths. I daren't imagine what madness this may represent. As the clutches of a spell threaten to engulf me, I find a platform upon which to lay myself. Not a chaise, not a bed. No, such luxuries have been stripped from our existence. I recline instead on that same accursed, gouging, Oriental wood.
Much later, I awaken to a curious scene. The loud, large warrior, who so recently had been at loggerheads with our bearded Matthew, has proposed to lay down his sword. I do not fully comprehend how this shall affect our displaced group. Will his departure bring us food? Comfort? Perchance a servant or two? My clothing stands in shameful disrepair, crying out for the efforts of a launderess. Meanwhile, my companions express misgivings at the warrior's stated intentions. Does this mean we will not be receiving the services of a butler? Gracious, this situation is fraught with endless confundity. And yet, in my heart, I am assured that Providence has prevailed. Our valiant warrior announces he will instead remain to fight on. Is a huzzah in order? Even if I know not for what we fight, this surely must be a sign of our benevolent Creator's blessings.
In our jungle refuge, our spirits further rise at the discovery of a written message, in some sort of rhyming code, that appears to offer a hint of Salvation. But these dreams turn to despair once again, as we are forced into a carriage and taken to a distant location. Upon our disembarkment, desperation grips me again, as we are lined up, and a small, oldish man in a shirt of Yankee colors addresses us, interrogates us. He seems vaguely familiar, as if a character encountered in a dream, or perhaps a distant memory. He informs us we may win some form of freedom (at last!), if only we follow his orders explicitly, and do so with greater haste than the other group of captives. For some reason the man also offers us some furniture.
Oh, the comforts of home! But my mood darkens, as he does not offer us any servants to serve us juleps whilst seated in said furniture. And yet, I suppose a lady must make do with the situation in which she finds herself. Then, as I survey the visages of the opposing group of captives, I espy both the vixen and the gentleman, with whose images the messenger had so deeply troubled us. My resolve rushes back, like the uncageable waters of the wide Missouri. I do not understand the terms of this bizarre competition, nor do I fully comprehend why I, myself, am only partially clothed, and wearing some strange, flexible, orange corset about my midsection. But I shall do my duty as a lady, to see that the oddness and depravity of the vixen and her consort is not unduly rewarded. In addition, I am terrified of the dark-haired half-man I see across the way, whose body is decorated with images of snakes and jungle creatures.
The elderly gentleman tells us we must swim to a cage. I must confess, I am not well-versed in the aquatic arts, but it seems impractical that we must first imprison ourselves in order to escape. And yet, we do this as instructed, and liberate a chest, no doubt full of the tableware and other necessities we so desperately require. Our group carries the chest to a beach, but instead of opening it and removing its contents, the others proceed to turn it, end over end, toward some track-like area. I am, as one might expect, horrified at the prospect our plates and tea cups might be damaged by such brutish treatment. But the others pay no heed, and proceed to extend our track with a rope and ring. It's a delightful game, similar to the stories one hears of the Western settlers, apart from the incessant exhortations of the diminuitive commander.
Alas, our efforts are for naught, and the exotic whoops of the striped half-man indicate we are not to be Saved this day. Our opponents grasp one another in fits of passion. We shall receive no furniture, no cushions. We are not even permitted to open our chest and remove our still-unseen plates and stemware. I steel myself to this eventuality, and remind myself that they were probably chipped, or of an outmoded pattern, and in all likelihood not worth saving anyway. One must remain strong in the face of Adversity. We file into the carriage and are returned to our desolate camp.
The others, including my Edward, set to discussing the events of the day, often in raised voices. I refrain, as is my wont. It would not do to utter deprecations at this time. Instead, I prefer to seek the solace of the waterfront, although my solitude is disrupted by the unwelcome advances of the warrior, who strikes a conversation. He speaks in riddles, inscrutable conundrums of "them" and "votes." I think back on my dear Alexandra. She was prone to speak of such things as well. She would know what to do. Yet I find no answers in her memory.
After the setting of the sun, we are again shepherded into a carriage. We are given torches, flames alit to stave off the perils of the Darkness. Soon enough, we arrive at our destination, only to find ourselves reunited with the short, oldish man. He resumes his inquisitory probing, and I am overcome with a strange sense of foreboding. I want to cry out, "Why are we here? How must we avail ourselves, in order to win our freedom?" But it would not do for a lady to be so forward. Instead, I speak only when spoken to, as one ought. We are instructed to write names on parchment. Is this our path to freedom?
The oldish man reads the parchment scraps triumphantly to our group. Now I remember it: This same reading preceded Alexandra's departure. A chill wave washes over me. My dear Alexandra! I look to my Edward. His face is a mask, offering no counsel. Just as my Hope is about to expire, the oldish man tells us we must enscribe names once more. Except that, for reasons that remain unclear to me, I am not permitted to do so myself. Eventually, I hear my name again, repeatedly. My Edward turns to look at me, trepidation marring his visage. Am I to be saved?
I am dismissed from the meeting place, lacking even a torch to vanquish the black of night. Will I find my Alexandra at the end of this path? Won't someone please tell me?
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Hope Driskill