It's episode four of Real World: The Amazon, and you know what that means: more nudity! Oh wait, no, actually, that's just in the recap and trailer portions, sorry. And in episode nine.
What we meant to say was: more crying! Seeing as they've been there for nine days now, and the show has dispensed with the usual physically taxing challenges, it must be about time for an otherwise able-bodied young person to collapse from exhaustion, and spend a full episode weeping. Because, as we all know, tears and human suffering, even when induced by the production staff themselves, equal Emmys, at least in the eyes of Survivor producer Mark Burnett. Tragically, actual Emmy voters seem to have so far overlooked this connection. And if not Emmys, at least ratings. Still, it's never too early to start shooting for the gold, right?
It all starts innocently enough, with JoAnna ritualistically sharpening a machete blade, and glaring over at the necks of her slumbering (self-described) "Cute Chick Alliance" tribemates. Yeah, nothing bad can possibly come from this.
"I should stop getting by on my 'beauty' alone, eh? Read between the lines, JoAnna!"
Over at Tambaqui camp, we're introduced to two new characters. The first is some guy named Butch. He looks familiar, but we can't quite place him. Oh yeah, he's the guy who was worried about machete safety, and whose positive-thinking banner gets shown in camp each time the men lose a challenge. His banner seems to have gotten more air time than he has. Butch is talking about digging up worms. We begin to suspect Butch may have been upstaged by the banner because of its more dynamic screen presence.
Then there's this fellow named Matthew, who has made Survivor history as the first android contestant. Previously, he's been shown silently cooking, silently hacking at tree limbs, speaking Mandarin Chinese with Daniel, and silently glaring at Daniel for mentioning this at Tribal Council. As it turns out, he also speaks English! How about that! Apparently, the software team that programmed Matthew forgot to include the subroutines involving the rules of the show, since he just seems to be figuring out that this voting-people-out thing might be better avoided by actually talking (in English!) to his tribemates. Although, as we witness some of those conversations, we begin to see why the coders may have made that decision in the first place.
Back at Jaburu, the battle lines are becoming more deeply ingrained. The Barbie Alliance (which, naturally, includes Deena), doesn't seem all that thrilled about the whole working concept, preferring to get by on their looks. Again, this includes Deena. As Heidi helpfully explains, the older women have more body fat (such as JoAnna, who seems to be close to 0% body fat) and can therefore work harder. JoAnna begins preaching in non-sequitur Bible verses, which confuses the Barbies, but they're pretty sure she was calling them cute, so it's okay. And with everything running smoothly, they're off to the Reward Challenge.
"Silly Jenna. I'm pretty sure JoAnna was talking to me."
Just as a side note, we've been told that, due to an extensive product placement arrangement reached with the show, the Coca-Cola Company ("Coke! No longer just a cure-all elixir featuring cocaine!") has requested that we refrain from using the acronym "RC" to refer to Reward Challenges, since that is the name of one of their competitors. Sadly, Coke failed to back this persuasive argument up with an actual monetary demonstration of their position, so from here on out, the Reward Challenge will be called the "Pepsi".
As you might have guessed, the reward is a refrigerator full of cans of Coke. It's unclear how said refrigerator will be powered in the middle of the jungle, but we'll leave that up to the Survivor crew to figure out. The challenge itself involves building a series of fires to burn through strings, releasing a banner that contains the tribe's name (shockingly, with no visible Coke logos). And if you followed the first episode, read the CBS print ads, or watched the CBS commercials for this show, you'll remember that the men win this. So the men win the Pepsi! Apparently, SEG didn't want to have to film the women sitting around camp, belching.
Besides, there's even better footage to be had, what with the women sitting around camp, complaining. Or at least, watching Shawna cry, then complaining privately that she was doing so. And that's her friends! Meanwhile, JoAnna stops by the hut, and seeing Shawna's reclining figure still there, yells, "Sloth!" She may have been talking about the deadly sin, or was talking to one of the more active primates hanging around the camp.
All is running much more smoothly for Tambaqui. They have a refrigerator, a big fish that Matthew caught, chilled carbonated beverages to wash down the fish eyes, and, as Rob notes, reading material for the bathroom on the sides of the can. It just doesn't get any better than this.
No really, we mean that. Because it all goes downhill quickly, as Rob, giddy on sugar and caffeine, decides that this is a good time to come out of the closet, and admit having practiced karaoke in his basement. Not only that, but demonstrate his, uh, "prowess" by leading his tribemates in the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" (which was of course to soothe poor Roger's feelings of longing since Daniel's departure). Here's a piece of advice for future contestants: if you too have a secret fascination with karaoke, revealing it in front of 20 million people on national TV may not be the best idea. The fact that you've made several of your own Starfleet uniforms, wear them to work frequently, and speak fluent Klingon - well, that's okay. But karaoke? That might be something you want to keep to yourself.
Having gotten such great mileage out of the conflict in the Jaburu camp, the producers decide to pull out all the stops, and come up with another Challenge the Women Can't Possibly Win. In this case, it's a one-hour fishing competition. On the Tambaqui side, we have an experienced fisherman (Butch) and a trained chef (Matthew), skilled at quickly pithing and processing fish. On Jaburu, we have six women whose approach to getting the piranha into the bucket is to bring it up onto land, and chase it as it flops around, until it suffocates. But wait, the guys have a handicap: there's no beer. Maybe it will be close, after all.
Or at least, that's what Probst's voiceover wants you to think, as time is called, and each tribe pours their relatively-full buckets onto one side of the fish-weighing scale. And as Probst pulls away the restraint on the scale, allowing the heavier side to fall, we learn that Matthew's secret strategy for survival wasn't so much finally getting around to talking to the rest of his tribemates, but rather, taking the fish they'd caught during the IC, and stuffing them full of rocks. So while it looked like the two tribes had caught a similar volume of fish, Tambaqui's in fact weighed about ten times as much.
Probst looks over at the pebbles spilling out of the fish parts, and briefly confers with Burnett on the ruling. Since he didn't explicitly disallow such tactics, and since the men are boring anyway ("I'm serious Mark, if we let them lose, there's a good chance they'll break into some more karaoke"), while the women are likely to provide some priceless footage and cry some more before tribal council, the final decision is: Tambaqui rocks!
Sadly, while logically sound, this decision backfires. Instead of bemoaning her fate, Shawna seems airily complacent about it. "Yeah, whatever, they'll probably vote me off. No more boob shots for you guys if they do!" Worried by this, the cameramen hustle over to JoAnna, who flatly refuses to read the diatribe script they had prepared, in which she would congratulate the women for spurning the evil Immunity Idol. Even Christy seems to have lost the chip from her shoulder, pleasantly agreeing to vote along with the Cute Chicks for the time being.
Panicked, the crew searches their pockets for another granola bar, an extra can of Coke (TM), anything with which to stir things up. Urgent calls are placed back to headquarters at the Ariau Towers, but it's too late: the ladies are already wandering off to Tribal Council, and all they got on tape was some minor alliance shifting, and a (hopefully, at least with editing) vague quote from Christy about how she might not vote the way she was just shown agreeing to do.
As usual, Jeff Probst's "tough" interrogation at tribal council asks the women to repeat the painfully obvious, in case people happen to tune in ten minutes before the show ends (in retrospect, this seems like a good idea). Except for an in-depth look at JoAnna's role in the tribe, which is useful, since we really haven't seen her do much since Episode 2, apart from the occasional scowl. JoAnna informs Jeff that she takes care of "the singing" for the tribe.
"Is that what you call that?" Jeff asks, flabbergasted. "I was sitting in the booth, watching the dailies of the Barbies bathing, and the production guys pranked me pretty good by splicing in some of your, uh, 'songs,' or should I say, 'song,' since it always seems to be the 'Hallelujah, oh Glory' thing. I figured it was some sort of sonic disruption device you'd snuck in to stun the fish or something. Here's a suggestion: We've got the guys singing Righteous Brothers songs, horrendously out of tune, over in their camp. Couldn't you find something with an actual melody? You know, like 'Closer,' by Nine Inch Nails, or 'Blasphemous Rumours' by Depeche Mode. I think we'd all appreciate it."
At this point, Deena raises her hand, and interrupts Probst with, "Uh, Jeff? Can we move this along? We're voting her off tonight." Probst stammers, "Oh... yeah, right. Uh, carry on, then." And so they do. But fear not, JoAnna still manages to provide a medley of her Greatest Hits, at maximum volume during her final words. Hallelujah, amen. Only nine more episodes to go.