Survivor All-Star: Monty Brinton/CBS
Dalton Ross
February 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

They have fire — finally!

Going into this game, I really liked the Saboga tribe. I liked the fact that it pitted two mortal enemies (Jerri and Tina) against each other. I liked the fact that it pitted two ”allegedly” former lovers (Ethan and Jenna) against each other. I liked the concept of seeing how 75-year-old Rudy would deal with the young’uns. And I liked the concept of seeing how Rupert — the sole contestant without previous ties to the others — would be able to deal with being the odd man out. But that was all before I realized that THEY’RE COMPLETE MORONS!!!

Saboga started the episode off by leaving a contaminated pan in their bucket while they were at Tribal Council so they could not collect the massive amounts of rain water for drinking, and then, ironically, finished it by not being able to get rid of water fast enough, causing them to lose the immunity challenge. They had immunity won! They were kicking ass!

But then they managed to (A) not flip their boat over, thereby not draining it of all water, (B) lose their bucket for scooping out said water, and (C) forget their paddle on the platform once they started heading to shore. It got so bad gentle giant Rupert even got pissed at Ethan, proclaiming that he ”wanted to smack him in the head.” I kinda wish he had, if for no other reason than to witness the following heated debate: ”My hair’s curlier!” ”No, mine is!” ”Screw you!” ”No, Screw YOU!”

Okay, Saboga did do one smart thing. They put aside their whole hatred of rich winners and instead got rid of the weakest link, Rudy. I’m sure this was an unpopular decision among many viewers. I’ve actually been flabbergasted at the number of people I’ve spoken with lately who absolutely ADORE the former Navy SEAL. I guess some folks find his mildly offensive comments cute and amusing in some way. But let’s face facts: Saboga needs to start winning some damn challenges, and I’m not talking about the ones where you end up winning just as much for the other tribes as you do for your own. I’m talking about immunity. And Rudy wasn’t gonna help much in that regard.

Now, Rupert stayed loyal to the end, voting to oust Ethan, but only time will tell if that was a good strategic move. Some may see that as being loyal and try to get him on their side. Others may see that as a sign of weakness and pounce on it. And others still might have their own crap to worry about and not even take notice. Who knows. What I DO know is that Rudy gave one of the best send-off speeches of all time, proclaiming of Jenna and Jerri, who turned on him at the last minute, that ”If I was them I would steer clear of me. I got a lot of friends.” Friends who do what? Play shuffleboard and meet for early bird specials?!? I’m, sorry, that was kinda mean and ageist, but still, his reaction was pretty golden.

Getting back to reward challenge. At first I didn’t like the fact that Mark Burnett ended up sort of caving in and giving them fire after all. I mean, he warned them all before the game started that it would be hardcore. They made this big point about how they WEREN’T giving them anything, and then they go ahead and hand it all over. And in that respect, I still don’t like it. (Hey, watching people suffer is fun!) But, then again, I can see the other side of it. I don’t think Burnett was legitimately worried about these people dying. Frankly, I think he could care less about that. (Think of the ratings!)

But the problem is, the more depleted these suckers become, quite simply, the less they do. You can’t really carry on a whole season of people just sitting there because they’re too weak to move, much less bicker and backstab. It was time to give their batteries a bit of a recharge. Also, the whole ”we have no fire and no water!” angle was threatening to take over the show. It’s time for other curious subplots to gain steam. Like why nobody has used their machete yet to dismember Richard Hatch.

So Rudy, it was nice knowing you? again. We all respect seeing a 75-year-old endure the things you did. Seriously, pretty damn impressive. Next time we meet up, I’d love to buy you a drink. Just don’t ask where the ice came from, okay, buddy?

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