Every now and then, even reality shows need a little tweaking to "keep it real." As Gawdfathah Rob himself brought up in the last episode, as long as you have fear on your side, you can get people to do anything. Even the stupid, stupid Maraamu, who begin this episode reveling in their brilliant stratagem that rid them of Hunter, who, as the Atlas of the tribe, had been doing them the disservice of carrying the entire tribe on his back since Episode 1. Okay, on second thought, even the fear of the mighty and all-powerful Burnett may not be enough to pierce Maraamu's thick skulls, but that's mainly because as soon as they remember their pre-show survival training included watching the S3 "Twist" episode, two seconds later it's gone again.
Rob is especially pleased with himself, because he now wields the power in the tribe, which he is not above gloating about at length to the camera. Hint to future contestants: No matter how powerful you may or may not be, it is extremely unwise to taunt the producer in this fashion. It's all well and good to ignore the sign saying "Please don't tap on the window" next to his cage, but waving your alleged game-playing prowess under Mark Burnett's nose is tantamount to begging him to whip out a rules change that he's been "planning since before the game even started."
Shockingly, just as in Survivor: Africa, there is a noble, hard-working victim in this mess, this time by the name of Gina. And again, we are strongly encouraged to believe that her days are numbered, and that those numbers may be similar to the number of letters Sarah can remember to put on her ballot when voting someone out. Alas, all is lost!
But then we see the Promised Land. Or at least the alleged Promised Land. The Rotus are as happy as clams, or at least clams that haven't been been dug up and ground between the tribe's teeth. Everyone, from Gabe to Tammy to dear old Pappy, goes on and on about how Rotu is a happy family. Sure, it's a family that appears to have taken enough ecstacy to kill and elephant, and the dad is wandering around in embarassing yellow short shorts that all the kids wish he would quit wearing in public, but it's a family, nonetheless. Pass the toasted coconut, please! Had Gina known this ahead of time, she may have opted to try to swim back out, to see if she can still catch that fishing trawler.
Just as America is about to doze off watching the Rotus sing their eighth verse of the Barney theme, Burnett whips out the kicker, in the form an earth-shattering treemail. Knowing that the animal rights people would get all in a tizzy if he sent it on an actual severed horse's head, he opts for the next-best thing: scraps of wood from the construction of the Tribal Council building, a place the Maraamu know and love a little too well. Sadly, the pitiful M's get distracted by the message on the wood, and completely miss the symbolism, instead jabbering incessantly about Wheel of Fortune and puking. Mercifully sparing us the majority of this witless repartee, Vee glibly informs us "We decided we just didn't know" what it was about. Oh, really?
Turns out it's a fun game of Hide-the-Buff. Under more severed Tribal Council hut chunks. Psst, Maraamu, we're looking at you! Anyway, the tribes "completely randomly" select wood chunks to stand on, by walking en masse to the discs closest to their carefully-placed tribal mats. And as luck would have it, as they turn over their discs and put on the new buffs waiting below, the Rotus end up with a majority on both new tribes, sparing Gina. How about that?
Kathy looks over her new Maraamu tribemates and thinks, "No, it's not a problem that each of the five guys on Rotu, and probably the three women as well, are stronger than the three skinny girls and the old man on this tribe put together. I can still order them into winning." Sean and Rob celebrate their escape to the cool tribe by asking "When's nap time?" And Sarah, looking lost and flea-bitten, vacantly wonders who's going to tell her how to vote now.
Jeff Probst trudges slowly into Mark Burnett's office. "Okay, we're in deep Maraamu now, Herr Commandant. Your attempt to save Gina worked, but created bigger problems. Sure, the twist shot those slackers smack into Rotu State Penitentiary, just as you planned, but now Operation Eye Candy is stuck with the Taskmaster and the Dynamic Divinity Duo! She's a goner for sure!"
Adjusting his monocle (because all evil masterminds need a monocle), Burnett squints over at Probst, the slanted light of his venetian blinds illuminating the faint crinkle of a smile on his lips. "Poor misguided Jeff!" he exclaims. "Didn't you get the memo? We've decided to take a different direction with Sarah. The whole skin thing has become too much of a distraction. She's starting to look like a smallpox victim, and it's making the camera operators vomit. I don't need to tell you we don't want a repeat of the final immunity challenge from Africa, do we? I mean, yes, she was supposed to be the winner and all, but if word gets out that another IC was lost because of one of our employees puking, those internet geeks will never let us hear the end of it! At least on the sites we don't own."
Probst looks confused. "Shouldn't you have been worried from the start that people would notice the irony that our 'reality' show spends a lot of time focusing on the size of Sarah's chest?"
"Really, Jeff, you've got to start paying closer attention. Haven't you heard? September 11th changed everything! Irony is dead!"
Hey Sean, I'll betcha if they can't see our lips move, they won't be able to hear all the insulting things we're yelling!
And so, it appears, is Rob, who seems to be upset that his new tribe is not honoring his union contract of three two-hour breaks for every minute worked carrying wood. Sean spearheads a revolt, first drawing a slavery angle into it, while adding that ancient Rome had lots of slaves,too. Therefore, the lasting scars of Sean and Rob's combined cultural heritage demand that they be given reparations, in the form of extra servings of food. But don't worry, they'll make up for their lack of effort by lying around on the beach, making insulting comments about their new tribemates. Holed up in the editing room, Burnett cackles gleefully, "Don't blame me, I didn't say it!"
To fill time before the immunity challenge, we also see the new Maraamu going on a hike to nowhere in particular, and getting lost. As thrilling as this sounds, Sarah manages to become bored. This would be wholly unremarkable, except that Sarah is then shown back at camp using Paschal's American flag as a blanket, further inspiring Hunter's Navy SEAL friends to track her down and neutralize her. Meanwhile, Neleh reignites that happy old Rotu family-hour spirit by giddily slaying trapped shrimp.
Eventually, as we're quickly becoming sick of both new tribes, they get around to having an immunity challenge. It involves weaving, in the sense that it's a puzzle with pieces that are already woven together. So, in a more real sense, it has nothing at all to do with weaving, but it does require teamwork to move the woven pieces, so Kathy's extensive experience at ordering people around might come in handy. Except that she's now on Maraamu, where both orders and skill are as foreign concepts as, well, teamwork. And, as with every other challenge, Rotu race out to an insurmountable lead. At several points, Maraamu in fact seem to be losing more and more of their design, causing Jeff Probst to race over and whisper the solution into Sarah's ear. In a cruel twist of fate, it comes trickling out the other side.
So, once again, the Crappy Yellow Tribe That Couldn't makes a trek to tribal council. Probst asks the usual set of questions, such as "Now, seriously, you are aware that the point is to stay in the game, right? I mean, sure, the vacation you get once you're booted is probably worth more than the prize money you get for staying in, but we do actually want you to try here. Or at least fake it well enough that we can fix it in editing." Everyone nods profusely, and they go off to vote. As the wind kicks up, it whistles through Sarah's ears. After reading the inevitable four votes against, Probst invites her to bring him her torch, to help light up his etchings back at his tent. "Maybe you can end my innocence while we film the next episode, huh?"