Bruce Fretts
February 05, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Kel gets the boot on ”Survivor”

So much for alliances. In the second episode of CBS’ ”Survivor: The Australian Outback,” the strategy that helped Richard Hatch win a million buckaroos backfired. Kel, an army intelligence officer (ironically), revealed that on the first day of the competition, he recruited Ogakor teammates Tina and Maralyn to vote against drama queen Jerri. Tina and Maralyn turned around and stabbed Kel in the back, nominating him for expulsion, as did every other member of the tribe — except, of course, Kel.

What can we say? War is hell, Kel. Other highlights of this highly enjoyable hour: The Ogakor tribe won its second challenge in a row, a cliff jump inspired by ”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Even though his Kucha squad lost, farmer/ teacher/ token old guy Rodger conquered his fear of heights and made the leap. Too bad he couldn’t swim, though he did manage a respectable dog paddle. Kucha then won the immunity challenge, an oft disgusting food eating contest inspired by ”Wheel of Fortune.” The Ogakors’ fate was sealed when Tennessee nurse Tina vomited up the tripe she was supposed to down, then blew a worm swallowing tiebreaker. Fourteen contestants remain, but certain personalities are already breaking out of the pack like so many wild dingoes. Here are the early stars popping up Down Under:

The bartender from Lawn Guyland, annoyed everyone (especially first castoff Debb) with her whiny voice and X rated anecdotes in the first episode. Yet this week she emerged as a woman of conscience, a vegetarian who risked her teammates’ wrath — and thus the million dollars — by refusing to consume cow brains. ”I don’t eat land dwelling animals,” she told her horrified fellow Kuchas. She soon redeemed herself in the tiebreaker, happily swallowing a worm. (Um, don’t worms dwell on land?) She’s probably had plenty of practice, albeit with tequila chasers.

The singer songwriter from South Dakota stands out from the crowd as well, not just because he’s 7 feet tall or because he’s been temping in EW’s business office (Full disclosure: I haven’t met the guy). What’s impressive is his take no prisoners attitude, so far hidden behind his lanky likability. He described his strategy in Fox Mulderesque terms: ”Trust no one.” Then he added that he’d gladly vote his own grandparents off the continent. That kind of heartlessness could get him far in the magazine industry.

The aforementioned aspiring actress from L.A. (natch) rubbed passive aggressive chef Keith the wrong way by criticizing his pasty rice and promptly whipping up a batch of acclaimed tortillas. She also sneakily engineered Kel’s ouster by accusing him of hoarding beef jerky, turning his Ogakor teammates against him (he claimed he was just chewing grass). And in the scenes from next week, she puts the moves on Texas auto customizer Colby, explaining she has a weakness for cowboys. If this ”Survivor” thing doesn’t work out, she’s a good candidate for the inevitable second season of Fox’s ”Temptation Island.”

The software publisher from Michigan has captured attention for his passing resemblance to Ed Harris as well as his protesteth too much ambivalence about taking a leadership role in the Kucha tribe. Plus, when he goes out fishing, he actually catches something, unlike Kel or last season’s ”Superpole” Sean.

The retired police officer from Virginia confirmed her status as the new Sue by misspelling Kel’s name (”Cal”) in her tribal council vote and alluding to the truck driver’s instant classic ”If you were in a desert dying of thirst” diatribe in her explanation. Earlier, she had admirably stuck to her law enforcement guns by objecting to Jerri’s illegal search of Kel’s bag for the phantom beef jerky. But what really won me over was when she popped out her teeth before eating a worm. Now THAT’s a lady.

Who are your favorite new ”Survivor”s?

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