This episode reminded us why we didn't think all that much of this season or cast as a whole, despite liking the winner and a few other major characters. And that reason is: the new Raro tribe is boring. Painfully, stultifyingly so. When you're turning a major chunk of the tribal narrative over to the vapid, sonorous insights of Adam, clearly there's a problem.
They're a tribe so devoid of entertainment value, the editors have been forced to manufacture "villains" out of two successive people whose sole crimes were sitting around while delegating work (well, okay, maybe J.P. was a bit of an arrogant knob, as well). Never was this deficit more pronounced than when two of the bigger characters of the season (plus Ozzy) visited New Raro's camp, unannounced, in this episode. Their unanimous revulsion at Cao Boi's storytelling was hilariously revealing: "Tell entertaining stories? *eyeroll* We don't do that here."
Special section: It's all Rebecca's fault!
While the framing of the episode made the case that part of the reason for Stephannie's boot was the men of Raro wanting to break up the dominance of the Raro women (even though none of them actually said anything of the sort, and the boot choice was between two of the women), it's still really weird that Stephannie was the woman who ended up going home. She should have been doubly safe: she had two ex-Hiki tribemates that ostensibly had her back, in Nate and Rebecca, plus the women had a 5-3 majority. That it was Nate who led to her ouster makes it seem all the more strange. Was this retribution for her not siding with him and Sekou in Episode 1? Is he potato-intolerant? It's just odd. The editors seemed to have a soft spot for Stephannie, giving her a prominent role in the first four episodes (far more than any of her current tribemates not named Nate or Parvati), and despite her taking the blame for the IC loss in the previous episode, and her ill-timed "it's either Cristina or me" comment to Nate, editing made clear she was a fairly competent, solid contestant (even by the low standards established by Hiki and New Raro).
So why Stephannie? She was one of the only fans/applicants this season! Especially when, in retrospect, Rebecca was clearly the weak link in the tribe. Who was the only New Raro to drop out of the reward challenge? Rebecca. Who knocked the entire tribe off the platform when she was trying to climb up during the immunity challenge? Rebecca. Who had the audacity to call Ozzy one of "the three we can't stand" when he showed up in their camp, contradicting Jeff Probst's "impromptu online poll" he conducted to determine that every real Survivor fan was desperately hoping Ozzy would appear in the South Pacific season? Yes, Rebecca. Given that we have been given absolutely no insight into her gameplay, nor the tribe's feelings about her, she must have some sort of secret mind control powers, because despite these obvious shortcomings, we can't fathom why her name has never been mentioned as a possible boot candidate. Maybe they're all hoping she can get them a gig helping her out as Elisabeth Hasselbeck's makeup artist at The View when she returns to work stateside? Your guess is as good as ours.
Our special-er section: Other random observations
One of the best parts about Ozzy, Flica, and Cao Boi's trip to Raro camp was the series of increasingly ridiculous reasons their tribemates came up with to avoid participating. Yul's desire to catch a chicken seemed reasonable, since he's done it successfully before. Candice, being Candice, came up with "stuff that I could do... to get done," which presumably consisted of comparing armpit hair with Sundra and Becky. Sundra fretted about the deathly hazards of the water, followed by a perfect jump cut to a glassy-appearing lagoon. Becky, as usual, was unheard from.
Hmm, this place looks familiar
We feel we should point out that, at no point during the lengthy paddle across the lagoon, does it appear Flica thought to mention that the island/beach towards which they were heading was the same one where she lived for the first six days of the game.
Degree of difficulty
The immunity challenge, recently recycled for Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites, gives us further insight into how epic the challenges were in Cook Islands, and how far they've fallen since then, due to some combination of budget cuts and laziness. This was essentially the same challenge as the Caramoan version, except for the platforms used to move the two tribe members from tower to tower. In Caramoan, they were large-ish square, pizza box-sized steps, with big hand-holds. Most were held, easily, by two people at shoulder or waist height, and with four handles, were quite stable. Here, not only was the step itself a tiny circle, but they were at the top of really tall poles, making them quite precarious as perches. Not only that, but the poles themselves were puzzles that had to be assembled first. Wow.
And our other special section...
The Growing Collection of Arcane Cook Islands Statistical Anomalies
What's most objectionable about this statement is the grammar
Great moments in continuity: Whoever the 'they' Cao Boi was complaining about appears to have been on the Puka tribe, not New Aitu
The prospect of wine gets a good reception at Aitu
Raro seems less excited about 'spices'
Never Tear Us Apart - also known as Tear One Of My Arms Out By the Socket
Close your eyes, it'll all be over soon
Oops, #teamcamo has another stealth member
Penner is not amused at your wait/weight punnery, Probst
Note the difference between Adam's weight (on the left) and Rebecca/Stephannie's
'Dead weight' Cristina and Stephannie both outlasted Rebecca. Just pointing that out.
Time for taunting
Perhaps the taunting was poorly timed
Yay! Spices! The pain was totally worth it!
Please pick Candice. Please pick Candice. Please pick Candice. Damn.
Aitu minus Penner
You're giving me another confessional? Seriously?
Well, to be fair, this guy is about the only other option. We can't let Parvati do ALL the talking, can we?
We think there might be some herb, I mean herbs, on that other island
Your future physicians, hard at work, America
I told them I had work to do. I'm getting pretty convincing at this.
Seriously. It's like placid, and stuff. That usually means a shark attack is imminent.
Do you SEE how freaked out I am? Do you?!
This freaking out stuff is tiring.
Alas, poor boobie! I knew him.
How dare you, Rebecca?
Hello! We would like to partake of your bread and salt
Come on, even I could have remembered that this was Raro's island
Parva-... Parv-... eh, it probably doesn't matter. Who's going to remember that name?
Fascinating. Do go on...
Just kidding, that would involve us working.
The two previous clues were: 'Look, it's right here on the map, just dig it up.' and 'Come on, you can't seriously need more clues, can you?'
Exile Island is awesome. Great times. Thanks, guys.
Blue shirt, Aitu baseball cap. Classic Probst.
Jenny and Parvati, starting across
Size of the poles does matter
Becky vs. Parvati
Aitu, almost there
Oops, my bad. I mean, Cristina or Stephannie's bad, apparently.
I know we've been hugging for the last five minutes, but let's hug some more!
No hugs for Stephannie. Stepanie. Whatever.
The camera crew really screwed up in not getting a close-up on Livid Parvati.
Nate gets another confessional, in which he does not explain his confusing 'strategy'
Stephannie, not keeping her mouth shut
Stephannie, about to get booted
Rebecca, in no danger whatsoever
Cristina, saved by mashed potatoes
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Stephannie Favor