The story so far:
At least nine Americans (there may be more but they haven't been on the show yet) were abandoned in Panama's Pearl Islands and left to fend for themselves, blah blah blah. The Drake tribe, which will always wear blue, consists of a gorilla, a schmoozer, a drug addict, and a Spanish-speaking chick who reminds me of that song that goes "I'm with the DJ!" The Morgan tribe, which will rarely wear anything, is better known by their original name, Ogakor, or their professional name, the Detroit Tigers. The first three days on the island went very well for the Drakes, as they built a neato-keen shelter and won a nail-biter of an immunity challenge. You all saw it. Friends was a rerun last week, wasn't it?
The second episode continues the same themes introduced in the premiere: "Drake = good" and "Morgan = suck". We begin in the latter camp as they return from voting out... um... I've already forgotten her name. Anyway, the seven stranded castaways are huddled around their meager campfire shivering in the equatorial summer night.
"It's hard to survive at night," observes Tijuana, who apparently is from a planet in a binary star system where it's always daytime. Andrew, the tribe's leader (as ruled, I imagine, by the Florida Supreme Court), is concerned about the effects of sleep deprivation on this struggling tribe. Osten is outwardly more optimistic, though we sometimes catch him mumbling to himself, along the lines of "okay, but I'm gonna set the shelter on fire." Ryan S., meanwhile, has abandoned English and now communicates through a complex series of shrugs.
Dawn breaks on the Drake island. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and everyone is oh-so-deliriously happy. The aptly-named Rupert is quite pleased at the condition of his tropical commune. Rupert is a giant, crazy hippie with a big scraggly beard, which could easily conceal a granola bar, though judging from the man's voice and demeanor he's probably stashed something a great deal more potent. We see him in the ocean trying to nab fish, and MB's editing has become so flawless that it looks like Rupert actually caught the frozen Minnesota walleye impaled neatly on his spear. "Fishing is important," Rupert says, "fishies are food. Food is good."
He grins while saying this, the kind of grin that makes you add a second deadbolt to your front door. But Rupert is a lovable character, and as we get to know him we come to understand that he wouldn't hurt a fly, unless he got really angry, or really hungry.
All through the Drake sequence we are treated to cheerful, upbeat pirate music, providing a stark contrast to Chopin's "Funeral March" which begins as we head back to Morgan. Skinny Ryan, whose trim physique reminds me of the scene where Elliot finds E.T. dying in the creek, is sent to fetch the treemail alone, so his tribe can discuss voting him out. "I need to win this challenge," he muses, and with that statement, knowing my Survivor foreshadowing, he will almost certainly pull off a miraculous victory for his tribe.
The reward challenge involves diving and retrieving valuable equipment that the film crews accidentally dropped on the ocean floor. The inimitable Jeff Probst, resplendent in his shirt-and-khakis wardrobe that inspired a national fashion craze among putzy game show hosts, explains that the reward is two-tiered: you not only get to swipe something from the other tribe's camp, but you also get a clue to the whereabouts of a secret treasure chest buried on each island. At this point Ryan S raises his hand.
"So if we can take one item from their island, can't we just ask for their buried treasure chest?" The other players look at each other, nodding and agreeing that this is technically reasonable.
"Um..." Probst mutters, glancing nervously at Mark Burnett, who begins to turn purple with fury. Probst shrugs at him. Burnett mouths, "Make something up!"
"You, um, forgot to phrase that in the form of a question," Probst stammers, leaving a bewildered look on Ryan's face, while Burnett leans to an aide and whispers, "The kid knows too much. Institute the Stillman Contingency."
The challenge begins. Shawn and Ryan race out into the water. Ryan immediately begins to drown, but Shawn easily nabs the first object for his tribe. Drake is up two items to nothing by the time Ryan gives up, swimming back to shore. Andrew decides to take charge of the situation. "Okay team, Ryan was a bust. Who else can't swim?"
Sadly, Probst was not fooled by Ryan's 20-minute "Man impersonating a treasure item" performance art piece.
The entire Morgan tribe raise their hands.
Drake receives their clue, a rhyme along the lines of "your treasure is buried at the following coordinates." They'll never figure that one out! Next the Boys in Blue elect Sandra to play pirate against the Morgan tribe, theorizing that even if the tribe has nothing of value to steal, Sandra could at least kidnap one of the women to sell to the eyeball lady in the village.
Upon arriving at Morgan, Sandra asks the standard questions: how are you doing, are you eating okay, who did Debb vote for last night, etc. After a quick survey of the pitiful excuse for a campsite, Sandra is so heartbroken that she actually asks the producers if she can give them an item. The producers say, no, please be as cruel as possible, and so Sandra tears their tarp off its supports, destroying the shelter in the process. Tijuana is horror-struck. Skinny Ryan begins to cry. But Sandra takes the tarp, stays for tea, and then speeds off, before realizing that the tarp probably wouldn't be big enough to make a new skirt for Rupert after all.
A mini-drama erupts at Drake the next day, as Shawn returns from fishing with the unfortunate news that he's lost the spear for the spear gun. Aside from pounding Shawn into the sand like a cartoon character, Rupert takes this surprisingly well, and actually starts to tear up about it at one point, blubbering "the nasty little Shawnses, it loses our preciousss!" Thankfully the lovable oaf finds the spear ("in da ocean!") and Shawn is spared from a most gruesome death.
"I am the lizard king!"
Immunity challenge time. I didn't quite understand how this challenge worked, but I know it involves bondage, which Mark Burnett seems suspiciously fond of. Morgan jumps out to an early lead as Drake struggles from the get-go, and...well, for the results of this immunity challenge, please consult the review of last episode's immunity challenge.
Morgan returns home weary, disheartened, and ready to misdirect us. Ryan stands at camp, hacking with pathetic futility at a log, while the rest of the tribe watches him from afar.
"Hey, watch this," Osten says, and tiptoes over to Ryan.
"Um, hey Skinny," Osten says monotonously.
"I told you not to call me that," says Ryan in indignation. "My name is Ryan. I'm a Level 44 Red Wizard and a badged MESS Hall member. Those titles carry a lot of respect."
"Okay, sorry, man," Osten replies seriously, glancing at the others and winking. "Um, what I came to talk to you about was, I was wonderin' if you would vote for me tonight."
"Vote for you? Why, Osten? You're so strong. We need you!"
"I know kid, but I'm having a tough time out here, and I don't think I'll be able to make it 39 days." Osten then puts his hand on Ryan's shoulder and gazes into his eyes.
"But I know you can."
Ryan stares at the ground, not saying anything for a while. Finally he looks up, squinting at the waves crashing onto the beach.
"Okay, Osten. I'll do it if you really want me to. I'll do it because you're my friend, and I just want to make you happy. I'll do it...I'll do it for the good of the tribe."
Osten smiles and gives a small nod.
"For the good of the tribe." The two men embrace, and over Ryan's shoulder Osten gives a thumbs-up sign to the others, who can barely contain themselves with laughter.
So Tribal Council arrives again for the Morgans. As they take their seats, Probst says, "we'll now bring in the members of our jury," which is his cover for having to film with a panel of observers from the FCC watching the proceedings to make sure the game show guidelines are being followed, just in case someone like Jenna wins again.
Probst launches into his unbearable litany of questions, asking things like "how did you sleep," "is the food okay," "how can we improve service for a future visit," and on and on. Finally he tells them to vote, though he still has to look at his seating chart to remember names, as only three of the players have actually said anything on the show.
Darrah: "Hah thayre, Rahn. You may not know me, but ah'm on this show called Survivor."
Ryan obediently votes for Osten, and Lillian, whose scouting lessons taught her to conserve resources, reaches into the urn and takes out Ryan's vote so she can write on the back to save paper.
But the rest of Morgan pulls a fast one and votes for Ryan instead. Some of them felt bad about it, but insist that he just wasn't pulling his weight, though frankly I don't see how hard that could be. Ryan accepts his fate, takes it like a man, and disappears into the darkness, his plans to follow in the footsteps of dorky wieners like Clay Aiken dashed to pieces. The shrinking Morgan tribe watches wistfully as he goes, and Probst gives them his standard smirk, saying:
"You guys can head back to camp. Don't bother bringing your torches, though. You can probably just leave them right here."