Survivor All-Star: Monty Brinton/CBS
Dalton Ross
April 23, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The best episode so far this season!

Boy did Alicia get a bum rap. I’m not talking about her getting voted off. I’m talking about her being named (along with Shii Ann) as the contestant least deserving to be an All-Star. Are they crazy? Alicia is strong as an ox, and a hardcore competitor. No one was shocked to see her name on the list of participants when All-Stars was first announced.

WHAT ABOUT FREAKIN’ AMBER?!? Now don’t get me wrong, Amber looks like she may actually win this thing, but do not mistake her for a player by any means. She did absolutely NOTHING in Australia, and her only real move here has been snuggling with Boston Rob. She was here to act as the resident eye candy, and basically has survived for being eye candy — Rob’s eye candy.

But Alicia is gone now, in what amounted to one of the best episodes of the season. Yes, it was a little bit transparent what Burnett and company did with those pointed reward challenge questions (”Who never shuts up?” ”Who uses sex appeal as a weapon?”). This was a trick they also pulled out on that lamest-of-the-lame first season of ”Big Brother” to try and get the lovey-dovey contestants to all turn on each other. It didn’t work then, but here it did at least give us Alicia’s meltdown. And I don’t blame her. Again — Amber! Next thing we know the strongwoman is telling off Shii Ann both before AND after the immunity challenge (which we’ll get to later).

So, yeah, the reward challenge was a bit cheesy, but served its purpose. (I also liked Rob’s mask with the Red Sox hat. Nice touch, art department.) I usually hate rewards when contestants are whisked away to a fancy restaurant to dine on delicacies, but this one was kinda legit for two reasons. (1) To hear Shii Ann say, ”Leave the Asian girl with the rice.” And (2) to see our main man Rupert get absolutely, positively WASTED! Homeboy was chugging booze like he was that lush whats-her-name from ”Thailand.” He even started licking his plate!

Now onto the immunity challenge. Endurance tests are almost always a good call. I especially like that Amber was only able to raise her arm in the air for four minutes. (Again, how is she not the least deserving All-Star? Seriously.) And watching Probst get soaked was pretty sweet too. (Jeff, I kid ’cause I love.) Now, say what you want about Shii Ann. (I know that EW’s Dan Snierson, for one, HATES her.) But her performance was pretty damn clutch. And I liked her little ”take that!” to the rest of the players. They were openly cheering against her. (Yo, Jenna, zip the lip, babe. There’s a reason you were unanimously selected as the ”Survivor” who never shuts up.)

Plus, you had to be rooting for the Asian sensation just so we could see the members of Team Chapera turn on themselves. For the first time since the Hatch/Colby showdown, we went to Tribal Council honestly having no idea who was going to go. Alicia, Rupert, and Rob all seemed vulnerable. I was actually surprised that it was Alicia, and especially by that margin. Even Big Tom voted her ass out. I’m not quite sure where that leaves him, but it doesn’t seem like a good place.

Unfortunately for Shii Ann, however, her head still seems next on the chopping block. Unless she can pull a Kelly Wigglesworth (man I’ve been looking all season for a way to work the word Wigglesworth into a column — SCORE!) and rattle off a streak of immunities, she’ll never make it. But here’s hoping she sticks around a little longer just to make everyone else squirm. Which is actually how they probably feel anyway having to sit there at Tribal Council staring at Lex and his stupid-ass mohawk. Can we vote that haircut off the island?

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