If you can't read this very well, it's because we're whispering. Sssshhhh! Someone might overhear!
We left our stopwatches back in Episode 5, but we're fairly confident that 90% of this episode was whispered, driving millions of Americans to either flip over to the Weather Channel and start paying attention to all the hearing aid commercials, or perhaps just keep watching Friends, like they have been for the past five weeks. For those of us who, through no fault of our own, still have broken remotes, and are just too damn lazy to walk over to the TV to change it, here's what we were stuck with.
We open, as always, back at Boran on the last night of the previous episode. They've just returned from tribal council, a recipe which usually serves up heaping dollops of intrigue and excitement. Instead, these bozos inexplicably waste valuable screen time giving us an extensive discourse on the wisdom of rationing. Seems the merge might be delayed. Or is it? The last we heard of this was Episode 5, and it's not mentioned again. Yawn. Maybe we should think about looking for batteries for the remote.
Luckily, we're swiftly whisked away to the dawn of Day 16 at Samburu, where Lex, Tom and Kelly are whispering. Now, Mark Burnett has lauded the audio on this edition of Survivor, and for good reason. We can't hear a damn thing. Luckily, this also keeps the ex-Borans' shock at having to perform sentry duty for five straight hours away from prying ears, and Brandon, KimP and Lindsey blissfully, obliviously, slumber away. Presently (time passes in leaps and bounds in Survivorland, except during these thrilling "action" sequences), everyone is alert, and they all commence with their daily chore of sitting around, staring at each other, and whispering loudly. Since this serves no obvious purpose plot-wise, this must be foreshadowing. In this episode, the role of Big Tom is played by an inanimate lump of elemental carbon. A carbonaceous blob after our own hearts! We think he's a shoo-in for a guest-appearance Emmy
Now it's back to Boran, where we discover that, overnight, their topic of discussion has ranged all the way to - food. Or, more accurately, chickens that had better start making some, or they will become it. For reasons that are not immediately apparent, Clarence makes a guest appearance this week as well, playing himself. We had been a little worried about Clarence, since he had largely disappeared since Episode 1, and we were concerned Tom may have eaten him after the failed tree-climbing incident. Luckily, that turns out not to be the case, because not only is Clarence smarter than the complete editing-out of him in the past four weeks might suggest, he's pretty funny, too. Sure, the script he has to work with is pretty one-dimensional, but he brings a lot to the part. As you've probably gathered by now, yes, Clarence spends the entire episode talking about food. Clearly, this is a man not worried about typecasting.
Soon the exciting reward challenge arrives, and the producers decide that, since there's no chance of their valuable trivia questions coming up at tribal council in two days, they'd better use them here. Since the challenge involves climbing stairs, Samburu waves politely at Lump of Carbon, as he sits contentedly on the sidelines. And tell us what they're playing for, Jeff Probst? Why, it's an extended product placement ad for Mountain Dew™! Wait, where's the Code Red™ that was supposed to be here for this? Dammit, they didn't use Fed-Ex™! Oh well, is there any way we can dub in Tina's Doritos™ orgasm from last season? They stopped payment on the check? All right, that does it, for Survivor 4 in Tahiti, we're exclusively using Mastercard™, no more of these penny-ante money wiring problems!
So where were we? Oh yeah, Samburu wins handily, thanks entirely to Kelly - not that we're overlooking the valuable page-turning service provided by Lindsey - and gorges themselves on the food and Mountain Dew™. Sadly, instead of further tales of Rodger's holy leaf and the tent's aroma of Nick's ass, this year all we're treated to is a lusty belch, emanating from somewhere in the vicinity of the amorphous carbon-based body. Oh, and a ten-minute tease of KimP almost, nearly, maybe, it might be, it could be, it... nah... not-quite puking. But Lex seems pretty cranked up from all the Mountain Dew™, at least. There may have been some clever comments, but they were buried under an avalanche of further whispers. All the fizz and caffeine clearly goes to Lindsey's head, though, causing her to admit that maybe, they just might have "treated Frank and Teresa poorly." Future contestants take note: apologizing on camera, even in a confessional, is a sure sign of imminent expulsion. It happened to Jerri, and it could happen to you.
The next day (Day 17) seems to consist entirely of Boran teasing Clarence about the chickens. Well, at least that's what we think, since there was a lot more whispering involved. Yes, Clarence, unlike everyone else on the show, is still interested in food. Frank swears that he, himself, could take or leave the practice of eating, but this weak Clarence fella just seems addicted to it. Everyone has a fine time playing hide-the-egg, hilarity ensues, and then a chicken's goose is cooked, along with the rest of it. Frank rethinks his devotion to fasting.
Finally, immunity challenge day dawns on Samburu, who it's clear are going to lose handily, since they've been whispering strategically the entire episode. To add to the suspense, the ex-Borans hushedly recall MamaKim flashing the international symbol for "loser" to them at the RC. "What the hell was that about?" Kelly asks. "I was wiping the stairs with her atrophied trivia ass!" Slowly, as the sun rises gently through the sky, creating welcome shade beneath the broad expanse of the Carbon Lump, it dawns on Kelly that the "loser" to whom MamaKim was referring might actually be Lindsey. Or Brandon. Could one of them have votes? Perhaps fearful that this valuable nugget of wisdom might be overheard, Lex confesses to the camera that they agreed that it must be Brandon, since everyone (which would be, well, Lex and Lex) has always thought Brandon had picked up a ballot or two somewhere. Meanwhile, Boran has learned that the immunity challenge involves archery, prompting Frank to demonstrate the age-old axiom: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
At the challenge, we learn that Americans are simply hopeless at the ancient tradition of flinging barely-smoldering projectiles at Disney-produced "tribal" targets that have been soaked in gasoline and lighter fluid, then rigged with pyrotechnic charges, even at extremely close range. Except Lex, of course, who inexplicably is able to hit two targets while shooting like a girl. In a tension-filled, back-and-forth battle, doomed Lindsey finally comes up, with the chance to win immunity, and three more short days in Shaba, and promptly shoots the arrow at a widely-grinning Jeff Probst, standing two feet away. Sadly, she misses. Ethan, summoning all the forces within, and thinking back to the sage advice of Obi-Wan Frankobi, closes his eyes and somehow manages to hit another target, on only his 53rd try, sealing an immunity win for Boran. As the target bursts into a Death Star-like engulfment of flames and smoke, Lindsey looks on, seeing her AllRats Empire disintegrating in front of her.
Speaking of explosions, we next learn that MacGyver has recently lost his mullet, and is now putting his encyclopedic knowledge to use hawking long-distance cards. Look, Kelly, there could be life after Survivor, after all! Eventually, we're back to more whispering about Lindsey's predicament. Or, it should have been, but Brandon was practicing his pissing-off-Boran-to-become-a-target extra-loud voice at the time, which Kelly hears, then scuttles off to Lex and Tom. But all is not lost! Lindsey can still turn traitor, and vote for Brandon! She whispers something along these lines to her newfound bosom ex-Boran pals (we think). As soon as she departs, they collapse in convulsive fits of laughter, fighting back tears to ask, "Did she get that strategy from Silas or something?" The Carbonaceous Blob reflects the waning sun's rays warmly.
At tribal council, the gamut of emotions are run. Samburu laughs, it cries, it discovers Linda's secret stash of ecstasy and commences extensive hugging. The festivities are interrupted briefly by the pained guffaws of Jeff Probst, when, after tying Big Tom in votes, 3-3, Lindsey admits the obvious, and makes a break for the exit. "Not so fast!" Herr Probst screeches. "Don't make me swap you guys around again! This is my fifteen minutes of unexciting camera time, and no surprisingly likeable, now-almost-bruise-free chick like you is going to rob me of it! Now, we'll do things my way. Tommy Boy, tell us about yourself!"
"Well," Tom drawls, "as an inanimate lump of elemental carbon, I am unlikely to alter significantly within your lifetimes, being as I have a near-infinite half-life." Lindsey uses her speech to give a heartwarming thumbs up to the time-honored tradition of almost stabbing your friend in the back, then thinking better of it at the last second. She neglects to note that all of this could have been avoided if she had simply followed through on her voting-booth threat to vote for herself. More hand-holding, hugs, and kisses follow, as Commandant Probst slowly, delicately lifts each shockingly unchanged vote from the ballot box, pausing to smile rakishly at the camera with each one. After a few retakes to ensure they got his good side, he eventually relents, and allows Lindsey to leave with her dignity squarely intact.
Oddly, she was the only one not crying this time.