This week we learn a painful lesson that should have been obvious a while ago: Mark Burnett believes in the paranormal, and is willing to re-shoot "reality" TV scenes to thump his beliefs down our throats. This is his reality, dammit! He also reveals that he is willing to forego standard storytelling techniques, such as plot and character development, in order to "shock ya" by revealing something that, had you had access to certain details previously, might make sense. This is not unlike a murder mystery, in which, in the dramatic final scene, the detective reveals the real killer was... some wandering vagrant who hadn't been introduced in the previous 450 pages. Betcha didn't see that coming, didja? But we digress. Getting back to the show, not surprisingly, this week, the show begins by revealing... (dramatic, spooky music-filled pause)... the Survivors have... mosquito nets. Yep, that's right, mosquito nets. Pay attention, there will be a test later.
We start with scary, scary animals. They growl, or at least wheeze a lot. They have shiny blue eyes when shot with nightvision cameras. The incredible danger inherent in this situation was driven home earlier in the day, when CBS paid former star Jeff Varner good money to mug for the Early Show cameras. It was an insightful, spine-tingling piece, in which Varner revealed that dangerous African animals also live... in a park in New Jersey! Where you can drive right through, and even run over some if you're in a hurry and driving an SUV! But you can't get out of your car, unless you're a brave ex-contestant from Survivor, whose acting expertise made him seem as smooth in front of the cameras as, well, a former web designer with tousled hair and a weak script. But where were we? Oh yeah, the scary pair of asthmatic lions. The Borans wake up, crawl out of their mosquito nets that magically appeared in episode 3 (we hear in episode 12 it's revealed there was a McDonalds a half mile away... with a Playland that has a ball pit, no less, where the youngsters on Samburu had loads of fun), ring some bells, and they go away. Big whoop. The next day, they figure out that maybe, just maybe, all that time yelling at Clarence might have been better spent actually building a fence around their campsite.
Meanwhile, back at Samburu, Kim P, Lindsey, Silas and Brandon, hereafter referred to as the "All Rats" (they were the Mall Rats, but they decided to keep the M for themselves, because it reminded them of Mickey Mouse, and hey, screw you for asking, it's our M, dammit, and we're going to keep it), are sleeping in. The old people - Carl (whom the editors allow to visibly be called "Doc" in this episode, so that you can understand the ballots at the end), Frank, Linda and Teresa - decide, like they always do, to do some boring work that will help the tribe live to see the next day, like tending the fire and fetching water to boil. "Water is important, you know," the Moldy Oldies say, in that tiresome way they have. The All Rats decide this is boring, and sounds too much like work. Once the old farts hike away, Brandon springs to life, and shocks everyone by moving more than three inches from the shelter. Okay, technically it was about five inches, but it's a start. The All Rats decide that, yippee, the old bastards are gone, let's eat their food! And a good time is had by all.
Except, of course, for the Elders, who start to suspect that their concrete-solid alliance with Silas might just be a little iffy, when they return to camp to see the All Rats flashing gang signs and giving each other matching tattoos that say "Kill the Old Farts." Carl whispers to Teresa in a reassuring manner, "Don't worry, I think he'll still vote with us," after Silas beats the crap out of him with a stick, and steals the money Carl had concealed in his underwear. Lindsey scoffs, "Ah, you don't need it, Fatty."
We suddenly switch back to Boran, where everyone is positively giddy that they get to compete in a new challenge. "Hooray," they proclaim, "Let's go for a four-peat!" In a true test of Survival skills, it is revealed that the Reward Challenge will involve rolling large, boulder-shaped pieces of styrofoam, painted a convincing rock-like yellow or red by Disney Imagineers, around a twisty, turny course. The reward is water, which Boran looks at, dreaming of the day they don't need Clarence around to carry it. The younger half of Samburu says, "Enough with the water, already! We're too tired to help you get it, and if you ask again, we're gonna put a cap in your ass!" Surprisingly, Brandon volunteers not to help, as does KimP. The challenge begins, and within seconds, Boran has an insurmountable lead, after getting Kelly to lie in the path of the Samburu ball. She later "helps" by running near the ball and yelling at it. Still, Samburu seems to have a chance, except Jeff Probst keeps standing in their way, then forcing them to go back and follow the actual path. With visions of multimillion-dollar Stacey Stillman dancing in their heads, Samburu decides to keep quiet about the Human Obstacle, and keep going, even though Boran won several hours ago. Eventually, they finish, as Boran celebrates, with Lex and Ethan leaping into each other's arms and grabbing each other's rear ends, as professional athletes are prone to do. Boran gets their water, and, in a revealing moment, decide, that yes, water is good.
Mark Burnett now decides that it's time for some heavy-duty foreshadowing, and trucks in an industrial-strength hair dryer to knock over the immunity idol in the Samburu camp. He then places it back up, and films it lustily, to make it appear that the cameramen knew all along the idol was going to fall. See, Mark is in touch with the paranormal world. Later, the napping Samburu youngsters crawl out of their brand-spanking new mosquito nets (!), and read the day's tree mail about the immunity challenge: design an SOS signal. Which, of course, was interesting when it appeared in the first, much more popular, Borneo season (we hear that in "The Twist" episode, the current cast is replaced by the original, much more popular, Borneo castaways). The All Rats make it damn clear they are not willing to move far from camp, especially if there's bugs out there, so if they have to do this boring immunity thing, they'd better not have to make anything new. Frank shows them who's boss by ordering them to do exactly what they were planning, dadgum it. Lindsey helps SEG productions enter into a lawsuit with the Kenyan government by destroying protected Shaba National Reserve flora with her impressive kung fu fighting skills. Then she lays down and cries a lot. KimP decides it's a good time to rest, too, as well as to yell at Evil, Spooky, Ghost-Talking Linda for trying to lend a helping hand.
Over at Boran, things are getting goofy, apparently because someone (we're not naming any names, Lex) discovered that the first aid kit contained about forty blotters of top-quality acid (for emergency purposes only, of course), and slipped it into the water cooler while nobody was looking. All of a sudden, MamaKim is breaking out the paints, everybody's stripping, and Tom is going into some sort of convulsion, screaming incoherently (not that this is necessarily a sign of intoxication), with a feather sticking out of his butt crack. MamaKim says, "whoa, I'll bet these new mosquito nets we just got would look pretty trippy if we painted them, man." Soon, the Borans are near naked, carrying shiny objects, and dancing around a dry lake bed, staring at reams of tie-dyed cloth. Jeff Probst flies over and says, "Dude, is that Burning Man down there? Give 'em some parachutes to play with." Samburu sees the parachute drop, and swears it's coming right for their skillfully camouflaged distress signal. "Sit tight, everyone," Carl says hopefully. Hours pass, crickets chirp, lions wheeze. "It's not over yet," hopeful Carl maintains.
Now it's tribal council day, and the tribe discusses who they're going to vote off. Strangely, they're still wearing the clothes they wore the previous day, and different clothes than they are wearing later that day when they go to TC. But hey, this is Mark Burnett's show, and if he says it's reality, then dammit, it must be. They troop off to the circle of fire, and are told what their torches are for - shockingly, "fire represents life," even though the previous fifty minutes have implied that this role was played by water. In a nail-biting vote, the two, evenly-matched, deeply-divided factions end up with... (dramatic pause, more spooky music featuring an Australian didgeridoo, despite being in Africa - hey, quit asking questions, this is Mark Burnett's reality, dammit)... a tie. They revote, and in a stunning conclusion, as Jeffy pulls the last, crucial vote from the box, its... (another dramatic pause)... still a tie. Shocking! Absolutely shocking!
Next they resort to "Sudden Death Trivia," in which it's revealed: most dentists went to dental school because they weren't particularly adept at taking the multiple choice tests required for med school admission. Nor did dental school cover basic first aid. After three questions, it's tied, and Jeff quickly consults with the production team on the fourth question, which dealt with some obscure maker of magnetic insoles. After confirming that, no, this company had not paid for product placement, and that the New Colby had switched his allegiance to the side that would probably miss that question, the Probster settles on one that is more fair for someone who spends time outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. Amazingly, Lindsey guesses right, and Carl gets snuffed. Linda throws in some more "spiritual" nonsense, and the All Rats decide that, well, camp is far, and you old farts had better carry us back. Crickets chirp, lions wheeze, and hopeful Carl looks back at his departing tribesmates, and says "I think that might be the plane coming back now... and hey, is that a parachute?... guys?...."