Liar. Liar. Pants on Fire.
Days 37-39: December
Aired: May 19, 2002
Sorry, it was just
too easy, and someone had to say it. Might as well be us.
So it's come to this: the last episode of Survivor: Marquesas.
Normally, this sort of occasion calls for two hours of "fond"
memories of contestants past, much sitting around (since the only physical
challenge involves not moving), and angry interrogations from spurned
former friends on the jury. In short (and no, it's never short),
it's like an extra-long edition of The Real World. Except,
unlike the MTV show, someone gets a million bucks at the end.
Oh, the tension! So without further ado, let's get it over with, shall
We open, as we often do, stirring the ashes of the
previous episode's tribal council, in which Sean, who could have guaranteed
Kathy a spot in the final two, was booted. Kathy seems to now be wavering
about her decision. And it's a good thing, because she has no chance
in hell of winning the million now. But she can at least go through
the motions, and participate in the fun camp activity of "Say Goodbye
to Sanity Day." Paschal, appearing not unlike a furry skeleton,
admits he doesn't look so good, but swears his mind is sharp. Having
stood up to make this claim, he retreats to his previous activity of
laying under a tree. Meanwhile, Kathy tries to convert Neleh to a new
religion, one that apparently involves wearing rocks and screaming a
lot. Neleh seems curious, and tries out some of these rituals. Her yelps
alarm Pappy, to the extent that he almost lifts an eyelid in an effort
to de-program her, but quickly gives up and returns to his flatlining.
Exulting with her new disciple, Kathy screams, "I hate third place!"
Whoops! Actually, it was "I hate this place." Sorry to ruin
the "suspense" for ya.
Soon it's time for the final four "Fallen Comrades"
immunity challenge, also known as, "What's in Vee's notebook?"
This was chosen mainly because that's what they always do at this point,
except in Australia, where everyone got really wacky on the security
guards' bounteous spliffs, and used it for the final three immunity
challenge instead. But also because Mark Burnett has been itching to
use his new tiebreaker rule for the last five weeks, and the only way
he's going to get to do it is if Vee wins immunity. So while Vee quietly
studies her "poetry" book (which everybody has politely declined
to listen to for the last 36 days), Paschal, Neleh and Kathy rack their
brains trying to remember who the other people they booted off were.
This is indeed challenging, since Pappy and Neleh have spent all their
time making googly eyes at each other, and Kathy has been busy combing
the ocean in a desperate search for more sea urchins for John. "Who
was that one guy with the curly blond hair?" Pappy asks, desperately.
"You know, he was like my son?" Neleh offers, "Oh my
heck! Wasn't he called Zowie or Zooey or something like that? I think
he caught lobsters...." Meanwhile, Kathy rocks back and forth,
cackling, "This is crazy!"
And the challenge itself is pretty much more
of the same. Vee wins, narrowly, but the real shock is that she does
not immediately leap up, exhorting the heavens with cries of "Praise
Jesus" for the next half hour. This is because, since Sean was
booted, she's formed a secret alliance with God, who swears that they
will go all the way to the million together. Of course, in doing so,
He's stabbing poor Kathy in the back, but as He explains in a confessional,
"When she did that thing with lining the rocks up on her legs,
all bets were off. It's go time!"
So, in this completely "unpredictable"
turn of events, a tie vote happens, with Kathy and Vee trying to oust
Neleh, and Kathy being targeted by Humbert Humbert and his young bride.
Probst threatens them that they'll have to grab the round objects in
his sack if they don't come to an agreement about whom to boot, and
pronto. After a brief discussion with God, Probst amends that to "Except
Vee, of course." After a couple of minutes of negotiation, Kathy
and Neleh selflessly decide that Paschal also deserves the opportunity
to be booted, so all three have to draw colored rocks from Jeff's magic
bag. In a dramatic moment, they all reveal their lots, and Neleh and
Kathy have harmless yellow rocks. But Paschal stares in horror at the
purple rock in his hand, which, as he vividly recalls from the Rev.
Donald Wildmon's crusade against Tinky Winky, is the universal color
of homosexuality. "Oh my Lord, I'm turning gay!" Pappy shrieks,
and he collapses to the floor. Later, he lets loose a withering departing
comment about the tacky decor of the tribal council set, and suggests
it might be improved by some fabulous window treatments. "But I'm
not holding my breath."
Back at camp, the three remaining women take
stock. On the bright side, they're now free to curse like sailors and
fart like Sean. The downside is, there's nobody around to turn away
in horror from their "Chick Dance." Which begs Kathy's rhetorical
question, "I mean seriously, what use is there in dancing, apart
from making guys cringe?" So instead, Probst rousts them early
so they can enjoy a full day of arts and crafts and makeovers. First
there's something about the assembly of a canoe (which appeared to be
largely pre-made), which they must paddle "around the island"
to the challenge site. In reality, they make it out to the speedboat
waiting just off shore, but their efforts still look Herculean on camera.
Next, it's time for the traditional "feigning
cultural sensitivity" segment, in which the American contestants
defame the local indigenous people by mimicking their native dress with
approximately the same depth and precision as third graders at summer
camp wearing feathers and war paint. In this case, it's "Marquesan
tattoos," which leads us to believe that in traditional Polynesian
cultures, people covered their bodies with crucifixes. All the while,
Neleh reminds us that "This is soooo neat you guys, I mean, seriously!
Especially that we got to shave our legs before this painting stuff!"
You might think that this would be enough blatant
padding to get us to the final immunity challenge. But you'd be wrong.
Dead wrong. Before we even consider such a thing, we have the traditional
hike past the departed contestants' torches to endure. This is an opportunity
for many, many more shots of weeping, reminding us just how much we
miss that one guy who got booted the first week, and the woman with
the big boobs. (As a side note, much of the footage seemed to showcase
Sarah's cleavage, which was all the more cavernous on the massive big
screens in Central Park. This may have helped, briefly). And no maudlin
torch-walk would be complete without a heartfelt closing scene of Neleh
kissing Pappy's pole.
But wait, there's more! Now, the women have
to paint themselves yellow and accessorize themselves with reams of
island flowers (we suspect Pappy may have had a hand in planning this).
And again, since this is an ancient Marquesan ritual, the majority of
it seems to involve praying to the Christian, American God, and a looped
audio track of Neleh saying, "Gosh, this is neat, you guys."
Finally we get to the last challenge, which
"shockingly," (since the exact same set and scripted remarks
by Jeff Probst were used in Survivors 1 and 3) we discover it's
the old stand-by (sorry about that, some puns are just too easy), "Hand
on Hard Idol," in
which the final three stand for hours on end, holding on to a pole.
Suddenly we realize that this is Neleh's challenge to lose. Why? Because
all this time, she's been practicing. Sure, all those scenes of
her sitting around while others worked in the past few episodes may
have appeared to be simply a Princess-like aversion to perspiration,
but it was really a top-secret, intensive training program in the gruelingly
physical art of staying almost completely motionless. To ensure a fair
and equitable outcome, Kathy and Vee are given spots that force them
to double over at the waist, while Neleh is allowed to lean, gracefully,
in a vertical position. So the challenge begins, and unlike in previous
seasons, when Jeff Probst would circle the contestants, all but pelting
them with food in an effort to dislodge them from their perches, this
time he just sits there, counting out the time. Apparently they
blew this episode's budget on the paint for those "tattoos."
By the four hour mark (and yes, it seems to pass
in real time, just like 24), shortly after Probst gets Neleh
to admit she's taking Vee to the final two when she wins, the valiant
host starts getting bored, and hollering his time announcements in 30-second
increments. Soon Neleh has had enough, and takes matters into
her own hands. "Oh my heck, Kathy! Your boobs are hanging out
on national TV!" Kathy seems non-plussed, responding with a husky
chuckle, "Yeah, they've been hanging there for the last 38 days, Sweet
Pea. Is this the first time you've noticed? That's crazy!"
Neleh tries an alternate tack: "Don't look now, Kathy, but John has
his arms between your legs, and he's waiting for you to pee again."
At this, Kathy leaps
20 feet in the air (easily clearing the puddle of cameraman vomit below
her perch), and is immediately disqualified. Neleh apologizes,
"Whoops! That was your boob again, Kathy. Sorry, my bad. Better
luck next reality show!" Nudging Vee, she asks, "God will forgive
me for that, right?" Vee reassures her, "Oh, sweet Jesus yeah.
Just ask for forgiveness, and you can go right back out and sin again!"
And with that, Vee steps off her block, having completed the letter
of her deal with Kathy to choose each other for the final two, should
either win immunity.
At tribal council, we learn that the unthinkable
has happened: Pappy has collapsed again. Probst declares, "John,
since you're on the jury and are not allowed to talk to the contestants,
why don't you fill us in on what happened?" After spending a couple
of minutes arching his eyebrows, John confirms that yes, Pappy still
thinks he's gay. "He's been starving himself for the past few days
to get his weight down to his ideal body image, and as soon as he shaved
yesterday, he was out all night at the local leather bars. This might
have contributed to the fainting. Apparently, he thinks that wearing
his magenta buff for two weeks altered his sexuality. We all had a good
laugh about it back at the cruise ship, but this fainting stuff is a
bit worrisome, and not just for its woefully inaccurate stereotyping.
But I'm pretty sure that as soon as he sees Neleh again, he'll snap
out of it." Then, without further ado, Neleh kicks Kathy to the
curb. Leading us to....
The Final Two
and Jury Vote
something this momentous, this completely unpredicted deserves
its own special section. Let's recap where we are, shall we? On the
one side, we have Vee. And we will know her by the trail of dead corpses,
denoting her many broken alliances (Rob Mariano, the Rotu Three, Zoe,
Paschal and now Kathy). She has flip-flopped her way into the final
two (three, if you count God), but is looking pretty solid. Then there's
Neleh, who, as she will remind us ad nauseum in the coming hour, started
playing the "game" on Day 24, when she stabbed John in the
back, bringing down his ruling alliance. Well, they're doing a lot of
hugging, trying to get that Love Tribe vibe going for one more day.
The saccharine stench is so overwhelming, the local fauna are briefly
distracted from their newfound vocation of leaping in and out of John
and Robert's snares, and they venture over to take a peek at what's
going on. Seeing it's just Vee and Neleh, they go back. Finally, demonstrating
her profound worry over Paschal's condition, Neleh burns his discarded
trousers (in his new mental state, Pappy prefers more slimming legwear).
So we're left with: A liar, another liar, and pants on fire.
Eventually, they run out of clothes to cremate,
and head off to the final Tribal Council. As they hike, we are treated
to insightful observations from the jury members, who (as they are each
season) are forced to go on camera and read the giant cue card saying
"Tonight will be a tough decision, I have no idea who I'm going
to vote for." Okay, for Zoe this may actually be true, and John
does try out a bit of improv styling, driving home his point that neither
really deserves the million, particularly in light of their willful
destruction of otherwise relatively fashionable clothing.
At Tribal Council, we are relieved to learn
that Paschal has recovered sufficiently, and he can now spend the rest
of the show staring and winking at Neleh. Whew, what a relief! First,
the two remaining contestants are given the opportunity to make a statement.
Vee immediately plays the George W. Bush card, filling her speech with
inventive vocabulary such as "deciseful" and "gunction."
And in a crippling blow, she closes with the Presidential, "God
bless America." Left without a surefire strategy of her own, Neleh
retreats to her standby routine of "Oh my gosh, you guys! This
is so neat! I love you all! Oh my heck! Day 24!"
Now it's time for the jury to grill Vee and
Neleh. Tammy starts things off by channeling the spirit of Susan Hawk,
calling both contestants hypocrites for their holier-than-thou back-stabbing
shenanigans. Sadly, she neglects to phrase this in the form of a question,
and it is stricken from the record. Sean then quizzes them whether they
preferred the braids, or the 'fro-with-headband look. Both agree that,
as long as they're in a well-ventilated area, it's all good. As Paschal
rises, soft music swells up from an unseen orchestra. He croons a brief
medley of Andy Williams hits, in an attempt to woo back Neleh, then
makes his final campaign statement. "Both of you are wonderful,
please vote for me! What? I'm not in the final two? Where am I? Who
am I? Well, anyway, you're both great, and in a sense, I'll be splitting
my vote tonight! Although in another, more accurate sense, both of those
halves will be going to Neleh."
Robert gets things back on a hostile track
by daring each of them to apologize for booting him. Only Neleh falls
for it, since Vee takes the opportunity to apologize to Kathy. Unfortunately
for Vee, Kathy is still shell-shocked from her booting, and is busy
imagining the happy days back at Camp Rotu, when John was slicing the
skin off of Robert's toe. Then Zoe gets up, and says simply, "I
should have won, I was there too." Suspicion creeps across Probst's
face, as he asks, "Hey wait a minute, who are you? You're not on
this show! Security!" After a brief scuffle, in which Zoe sends
twelve set workers to the hospital, Kathy gets to formulate a question.
She tries to determine how, exactly, Neleh made it to the final two
under her own power. Not having any evidence to back this up, Neleh
describes the times Paschal told her how to vote, and how neat it was
that he brought her along when he won challenges involving mints. "I've
still got one in my mouth, you want it?" Shaken by this threat,
Kathy promises to vote for Neleh, if she'll just stop with the mint
Last but not least, the final shot is passed
to John. He bemoans his decision, "why should I vote for either
of you?" Pointing at Kathy, he says "She should be up here!
Where were your full bladders when I asked for them, huh? Okay, technically,
Vee's was at the other camp, but still! Give me a reason, dammit!"
Neleh, after slightly rearranging all of her previous speeches, comes
up with, "Oh my heck, you guys! This is so neat! I love you all
(wink, wink, Pappy)! This sucks! Day 24!" Vee, ever the strategist,
replies simply, "Because I have a secret alliance with God."
God takes this opportunity to cue some spooky Marquesan chants and drums.
Now, after the contestants' final statements
(Vee: "I wanted questions, you slackers! Think about what we said,
especially you, Zoe." Neleh: "I love you guys! I started playing
at Day 24! I love you guys!"), the jury stumbles off to vote. As
they had threatened to do previously, the Rotu Four exacts revenge on
Neleh for stabbing them in the back, and votes for Vee. Except Zoe,
of course, who never could seem to get that voting thing straight. And
it probably wouldn't have been as close as the 4-3 final tally, except
that Kathy had to choose between the one who stabbed her in the back
(Vee) or the one who looked down her front (Neleh). In the end, she
decided she liked the compliment. And so Vecepia, the invisible castaway,
was crowned victorious, just as stealthy Tina and hermit-like Ethan
were. And as in every series, the final three IC winner was given the
cold shoulder. Oh, and as a footnote, Vee revealed in later interviews
that her secret alliance partner, "God," is better known as
Mark Burnett. (Sssh! It's a secret! Don't tell anyone!)
But don't worry, with the Survivor franchise
hanging in Les Moonves' good graces by a slender thread, and substantive
format changes sure to be afoot for Survivor: Thailand, we couldn't
possibly be forced to watch the exact same finale a fifth time in a
row, could we? Could we?
Eh, we'll see. Maybe.
Oh yeah, one more thing... we were there in Central
Park for the finale. If you care, read
about it at votedoff.tv.
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