Scrapping, Socializing, and Strategizing
How to Alienate a Tribe & Make Enemies
Survivor Recap: Episode 2- Taking Candy from a Baby
By Kimberly Bourgeois a.k.a KimPossible, September 25, 2009

An Introduction to the New & Improved Survivor

Close your eyes and imagine Samoa. Touted as one of the greatest locations in terms of comfort and beauty; However Jeff immediately skips over the obvious to introduce evil incarnate, a human bulldog, in the form of a man called Russell. This was Survivor’s host, Jeff Probst’s, introduction to the new season. This standout intro was one of many as our host revealed his own opinions on the upcoming season, but watch out editing. Russell is taking over. Jeff did not leave much to the imagination, nor has the intentions of Producer Mark Burnett.

Survivor prepares to enter the new decade and make history in its newly adapted format. Big Brother meet your match. This season looks to have the sizzle to keep it interesting. The politically correct has been left in the wake of the changing climate of what is reality television. Expect the manipulation, dishonestly, and roles found in the real world – at its worst. Expect every stereotype to come to the forefront resulting in some of the highest ratings in Survivor’s long history.

A little background to whet your appetite, “Episode 1: The Puppet Master” took us to an isolated island in a remote area of Samoa. Insert voice of Jeff Probst. Cue the music. Enter the sounds of a distant waterfall with the far-off sound of tribal drums beating an unfamiliar ancestral beat against a volcanic backdrop. From Jeff’s mouth to your ears . . .

An experiment in the tribal social structure of the indigenous people of this nation is about to be examined under the microscope of the explosively fascinated reality fans that catapulted Survivor into instant fame. However, vulgarity takes hold in this new era of reality-based television where any person can have their fifteen minutes of fame. The superstars of yore are no longer existent is this day and age. Each year, consistently bringing gratuitous violence, contemptible dialogue, and an increasingly sadomasochistic, blood thirsty audience; Survivor has managed to add more twists and turns to this once traditional tribal experiment in social psychology.

I must admit that after being an avid fan from the first season, I feel a little like a married woman who comes home after 20 years to find a sports car in the drive way, a rug on his head, and a mid-life crisis looming in the air. There is comfort in the norm. Yes, I must be boring. I prefer my Survivor sans malevolent drama. Good game and sportsmanship used to be the order of the day

Quickly the castaways descend on the beach, machetes in hand and canteens thrown about their shoulders. Our host starts his introduction; These 20 castaways were marooned on the beachfront of the tiny island nation of Samoa. “You have already been divided into two tribes. Wearing purple, you are Galu. Wearing yellow are Foa Foa.”

An eager Jeff chimes in. Without missing a beat, Jeff directs them in selecting a leader based solely on first impressions, in the spirit of the leaders of tribal Samoa. Galu chooses Russell S., an attorney. Foa Foa opts for eye candy, Mick, a doctor. Blessing or curse, they all realize the implications. Some castaways opted to vote for a strong competitor while others opted for what seemed most “unlike” their own personality, as “like meets like”, so goes the outcast. However, not unlike real life the brawn won out over the outcast.

Our first look at camp life, showed Galu in the midst of their first task of building a shelter but those problems were minor compared to Foa Foa. “We have strong male persons that aren’t really hearing one another. “ The ex-marine Shannon or “Shambo” shares with the audience; Her proudly worn mullet only a meager distraction against the backdrop of the 20 personalities that have descended upon these beaches.

Galu's, problems were minor compared to Foa Foa’s. It remains quiet in contrast. In walks Russell. Evil Russell to be exact. It’s shaping up to look like he’ll be that one of the “outstanding” cast members that you can’t quite forget, as there is atleast one in every season.

Jeff interjects at the beginning of our introduction to the new tribes, that Russell's plan is to “perpetrate every dirty trick in the book in order to win.” On the first night, he sabotaged his own camp just to make life miserable for others. Pouring out canteens, burning socks, and the first evening begins with a bang! He jumps immediately into a diatribe. "They can be my little puppets, when I’m through with them I’ll just throw them in the trash." Russell boasts. "I think if I can control how they feel, I can control how they think."

He made a series of secret alliances. “I've got an alliance with the dumb short haired blonde, that even dumber long-haired blonde, and the dark-haired girl. I like to call it “My Dumb Ass Girls Alliance.” I believe I would be insulted my hair was naturally blonde and if I didn’t just believe this Neanderthal crawled out of a cave somewhere!

He lied. He lied again. We’re barely a few hours into the season with the first episode and I’m quickly tiring of his antics. Don’t get me wrong, it was creative, what he did to the poor socks. I had to laugh. I feel as if I’m stuck on a freeway. I can’t help but look at the passing accident. Everyone is rubbernecking at this point. It’s a disaster in the making and I find myself waiting for the next calamity.

At camp, Evil Russell moves into position. He stands ready to further his game as he plays on the emotions of the other castaways. Lying (no pun intended) in the thicket of his hut beside the newly stranded, doe-eyed mates, he leaps into a quick-witted improv of his exploits during the New Orleans Katrina disaster “when it hit. I realized that I was never getting out alive..."

Laughingly he boasts to the audience “I never lived in New Orleans... It's crazy how you can break their hearts by telling them a lie." States a proud Russell, devoid of any conscience, seemingly the cock of the walk for the moment.

Foa Foa’s notorious characters seem to have left a lot of Galu’s celluloid on the editing room floor, as there seems no room for the weak or smaller personalities! All eyes seem to be centering on the villainous characters of their opposing team, Foa Foa. Actually, I’m wondering if the other camp actually exists. Was it a tease? Somewhere out there in the dense trees lies a Shambo, complete with mullet, vying for some airtime.

An intense immunity challenge left our yellow friends in the lurch. After Foa Foa lost the immunity challenge, Russell needed a fall guy. A suspicious Merisa became his sacrificial lamb. "I'm starting to feel like he's really slimy." Says Marisa to a night vision camera; chewing on her nails and hip thrown to the side. All body language is right on cue, she is untrusting of our reptilian tribe mate. She reiterated her feelings again to Russell during the daylight.

"We have to get rid of her." A few other castaways waver. Russell’s squeaky wheel mentality manages to win some of the castaways over, like a farmer leading his sheep to slaughter. Nevertheless, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since it’s early in the game. In addition, we all know what happens if you come out of the chute too quickly or aggressively! I suppose the select tribal leaders should be grateful. Under any other circumstances, their heads would have most certainly been on a platter; Evil Russell’s manipulation is making a stir that diverts the attention from what would most certainly be some of the most obvious targets under normal circumstances.

Let’s return to Evil Russell’s plan, since his entrance to the show has cast him in the middle of the spotlight. Our lovable police officer, Betsy, does not quite agree with the unpleasant taste his “maird” is leaving in her mouth. Sound judgment seemingly intact, she is making quite a target of herself. I can’t help but love her for it! Could there be hope yet?

However, Betsy insists that the original plan to vote off Ashley as the weakest player is the smartest play, despite Russell’s attempts to direct her vote. She attempts to recruit some of the others to no avail. There will be no women’s’ alliance as they stray in all directions. Russell's affect over the others was too strong, leaving officer Betsy to return from Tribal Council to camp wondering where Russell would strike next.

Episode 2: Taking Candy from a Baby.”

Spotlight center stage. Enter Evil Russell. The idol is found without a single clue, the immunity challenge turns into a full out WWF brawl or “rumble in the jungle”, a competitor gets ejected from the competition and racial outbursts proliferate the campsite as the newest villain or bully makes his way into Survivor history. To further prove that this harsh environment is a young “man’s” game, a mature castaway is flown out.

Russell starts his morning predictably. “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” Betsy has become his next target as it is obvious from tribal council that she does not trust him. He confronts her only to claim she will see
“she has made a huge mistake.” He continues to attempt to align himself with each and every person in Foa Foa. Betsy remained at a distance while a promising young Jaison seemed to jump at an opportunity to make a deal with the devil himself. Russell is no fool to this, knowing that a calmer player such as Jaison can be a great asset to his game. But does the seemingly Ivy league-like law student, who made it to the Olympic trials seem like the type to fall for his ruse?

To add to the morning’s entertainment, the editors of Survivor decide to grace us with a glimpse of Galu and offer an introduction to one of their winning personalities. Yes! Galu does exist! Yasmin, a Detroit hairstylist, proclaimed that if she could make it there, she could make it… Yes, sing it! Anywhere! But after one night she is barely moving “I’m from the hood, not the wood.” This self-proclaimed diva is out of her element.

To my great surprise, Russell begins his quest for the immunity idol. With no clues in hand, he blatantly goes about camp and announces the same. Sometimes the best lies are the truth! Who would think this troll of a man would actually find the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” In the midst of the entire Foa Foa community, he actually reaches into the center of an aged tree, flashes of Winnie the Pooh in the honey tree run through my head as he finds the idol. Somehow, in another Survivor first, a tribe member finds the idol without a clue. Russell deftly sneaks the idol into his scantily clad nether regions unseen by anyone. Who could have ever predicted? It is a completely unlikely occurrence, nonetheless. In an attempt to gain the trust of Jaison, he shares this secret with him.

Of course, keep in mind that this does not give him immunity since the castaways must find “their” tribes idol at the other tribes site according to Jeff Probst’s earlier instructions. However, this does give the added value of leverage, bargaining, and something better than socks. But then again, anything is possible. After all, he did find the idol with the odds stacked against him, didn’t he?

First Immunity & Luxury Challenge

Mike, the New York chef with the mouth of a trash compactor, is posturing for the upcoming competition. Tree mail has come to indicate an all out brawl, complete with Samoan warrior paint. “I’m a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter man! When it comes to one-on-one stuff, I’m going to take him downtown to Chinatown! This lackluster speech would have made any New York cabbie ashamed to be from the same place. My stereotypical gentile, mint julep drinking grandmother can talk better smack than that! Mike is worried about his position in the tribe as the oldest castaway.

Trying his best to pose for his tribe mates, Mike is pumped up. Regardless, Liz is addressing the audience with the simple statement that as the weakest physically, he would be the next at tribal council if they lost the next challenge. Schmergenball is around the bend and immunity is for the taking. This invention and past time of the Survivor crew, it is a balling, brawling, battle that involves rugby like tactics – but without the safety gear. Steroids would be a good pre-game snack.

Starting with three members from each team on the field; they will fight, scratch, and scrap for one of three balls. Once the player recovers the ball, it is passed to one of three tribe mates on opposing platforms who then attempt to shoot the ball full-court into the opposing tribe’s basket. The first tribe to score 3 wins immunity and a brand new set of fishing gear.

The men start the game in a frenzy with Mike tackling Erik like a pro defensive lineman. Evil Russell was using his WWF wrestling pastime to pile drive the opposing team into the mud pit. I honestly couldn’t tell who was being flipped, tackled, or injured. What went in looking like men came out looking like the mud people from Woodstock – minus the peace and love. Men got up. Some stayed down. It was one of the most brutal competitions seen on survivor to date. Even the Season 16 challenge where Erik managed to throw Amanda on her head paled in comparison by far.

The women made their way to the mud pit and proceeded straight to catfight, slap, and chokehold each other. Hell hath no fury . . . Yes, Shambo proved it by landing a right cross on Liz’s petite face. John scored to tie it at 1 – 1. “Sambo! Easy on the face!” Jeff interjects.

Where is John Madden when you need him? Howard Cossell backed Mohammad Ali, but could he handle this gnarly cast of surviviors?

The next round was to begin and Jeff stopped to warn the tribes that “. . . there would be no more warnings. You are right on the line of getting ugly.” The level of aggression was nearing the limit of maiming each other and he would in fact throw out any player crossing that line or for any type of perceived cheap shot. The stretcher would be brought in if the game continued in the direction it was headed. Adrenaline pumping through their veins, they were all dangerous adversaries to be dealt with. Yasmin was next up to bring Ashley crashing to the ground in a choke hold, which apparently was acceptable. After all, she did eventually let go. Meanwhile, Ben started channeling the infamous Tonya Harding. Russell, the dreadlocked attorney was taken aback literally, when Ben came from behind to “trip him” as he told Jeff. In fact, Ben had his hiking boots on and took out the lower leg or front shin of Kerrigan. Uh, I mean Russell S. He immediately dropped to his knees in agony. Jeff ejected Ben from the game without a moment’s hesitation.

The final round began with one man down, the Galu tribe would continue minus one man, Ben. Mike the motor scooter took a hit from Erik that landed him near lifeless and without movement in the mud. The final score went to Galu for the win. However, Jeff was not at a loss for words, red-faced and apparently frustrated, he confronted Ben about his behavior and asked how “… he felt being the first person in the history of the game to ever be thrown out of a challenge?” Ben’s only response was an indignant shrug and comment to say “Outlaw, baby.”

Evil Russell was elated if you took the time to look. One more person to take the target off of him. One more to play the Russell game. He was all absorbing of Ben’s impact as well.

Galu stepped up to receive the immunity idol and fishing gear. However, there was also an additional twist. Russell Swan, the tribal leader, was to choose one member of the winning tribe to go to their opponents’ tribe until Tribal Council. He choose his “home girl” Yasmin, who was also given a clue to find the hidden immunity idol at Foa Foa’s camp. Yes, this is indeed the idol found previously by Evil Russell.

The contestants’ were obviously injured and shaken after the contest. However, Mike the motor scooter sustained some injuries that were more serious. Unable to breathe, a falling blood pressure, all contributed to the medical teams decision to evacuate him from the game and obtain further medical assistance. More to the point, Jeff announced that despite this loss, Foa Foa would make it’s trip to tribal council as planned and vote out a member of their tribe. This would leave the tribe three members short of Galu in numbers. Thank you! I was worried how in the world I was going to keep up with 20 people! Let’s thin out the herd.

How to Alienate a Tribe and Make Enemies

Yasmin returned to the campsite with Foa Foa, an unwelcome visitor. However, she continued to alienate the entire tribe with every word she delivered in her speech to the tribe. “If you all would come closer, I’d like to introduce myself and tell you guys who I am and find out a little bit about you … I don’t know how you are feeling about me but let’s just say I’m not the enemy. Not only that, I am here to help you guys strategize, because to me I don’t like a ‘not fair’ fight, you know what I mean . . .” Calling the tribe out on their lack of strategy, as without her help it would be like “taking candy from a baby.” Additionally, she took the time to direct a statement to Ben regarding his “cheap shot.” Evil Russell is still steaming over her disrespect and vows vengeance upon her.

Pulling Ben to the side, Yasmin attempted to confront him on his cheap shot in tackling her, a woman. How dare he? He was not a “man” to do such a thing to a helpless woman of her size! He simply stated that it was a challenge and there were no rules about tackling a woman. “ I want to know why a dude as big as you would takle me? . . . I understand but you’re not understanding me!!” This led to a much larger argument that ended with Ben calling her “ghetto trash” and a “hooker”. Her comeback consisted of calling the Missouri bred man of being “ignorant.” Of course it did go on to become quite racist, elitist, and just ridiculous. But I refuse to digress into such “mediocrity.” In fact, I truly could not make heads or tails of 95% of the Yasmin/Ben tirade. Ben did leave Yasmin with the thought that “She is ghetto trash . . . needs to go back to eating ketchup sandwiches and drinking Kool-Aid.” The race card was played. Evil Russell has enjoyed the show immensely and intends on taking advantage of it. The remainder of the day was left to look for the immunity idol, as she received a clue to find it. However, Princess Yasmine coolly dismissed it with “it’s all trees!” She was left to mingle with the tribe until tribal council.

Meanwhile, back at Galu, Shambo bragged about her spear fishing expertise. Unfortunately, she was so great that not only did she not catch any fish, but she lost the mouthpiece to the snorkel gear. However, she did manage to take a relaxing dip (where she lost her gear) without the rest of her tribe, though earlier it was beneath her to swim with the youngins. This did not go unnoticed. Her announcement upon return was “Would you like the good news or the bad news?” She explained the bad news to her tribe. Fury was evident on a few of the ladies faces. The men seemed dumbfounded by her mistake. Even better was her good news that “There are thousands of fish over the reef!” I’m not even going to touch that remark as the castaways did a good job of that. But there are fish in the ocean!

Later in the evening, back at Foa Foa the final castaway of the day to put a bull’s eye on his head as Ben decided to wake the tribe to the sounds of chopping wood. Wordlessly, a camp of angry castaways stayed awake throughout the night. Not a sound move considering he lost the competition for them. Betsy saw this as an opportune time to target Ben and save herself as tribal council was looming. Ben continued like a mad man throughout the night.

Mick, the tribal leader, took it upon himself the next day to address the situation. While Betsy was the next up to leave, Ben had proven himself unstable and caused them to in fact lose a challenge and immunity. His argument with Yasmin and disrupting the tribe’s sleep during the evening only put him further on thin ice with Foa Foa.

Because Betsy doubted the intent and honesty of Evil Russell, he was determined to have her voted off. As she did not trust him, he was able to attempt to sway the vote arguing she would be the “weakest link” physically. Ashley and the others debated the situation only to end up angering Evil Russell as he saw this as her aligning with other tribe mates, Jaison & Mick.

Tribal Council

Returning to tribal council once again, Jeff wasted no time in outing Foa Foa’s Ben for his confrontation with Yasmin and his unsportsmanlike behavior during the immunity challenge. Ben simply brushed off the comments and stated he had the same likelihood of winning the game as anyone else, and much to the surprise and chagrin of Jeff he stated he didn’t feel he needed to play by Jeff’s “sissy rules.” He continued his tirade upon Yasmin, the visiting tribal member from Galu. Russell even joined in to partake of the festivities. The only cooler head that prevailed was that of Jaison, who articulated intelligently and with dignity that he was taken aback by her remark regarding their team. However, this was a game and as such it will be played like one – on the field. A very classy move by the law student, if I might say so myself! Yet Mick defended this behavior as Ben’s way of dealing with the situation, period.

Betsy did not let the opportunity slip by to make a case why Ben should leave the tribe. An intelligent, classy lady stuck with a tribe of stooges was unable to convince her tribe and fellow women folk that Ben was a threat and liability to the team. Yasmin was dismissed to return to her own tribe, Galu.
Jeff counted the votes. Ben was safe. Betsy Bolan, my favorite of this tribe and 48-year-old police officer from Campton, NH was voted out of Foa Foa with a 7-1 vote.

Next week Episode 3: ”It’s Called a Russell Seed”

In episode 3 of Survivor: Samoa "It’s Called A Russell Seed" — Russell struggles to maintain his control as the tribe turns on one of his allies. A clever lie turns a tribe against one of its most harmless members. Meanwhile, at the reward challenge, the chief of one tribe makes a controversial decision that lands him in the crossfire back at camp, on SURVIVOR: SAMOA, Thursday, Oct. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network