TV Recap

Playing Dirty

The next-to-last episode of ''Survivor: Cook Islands'' is all about hot tubs, massages, and mudslinging; plus, Yul pulls off a hat trick

THE WAR ON PARVATI Even though she bared all, Yul and his troops voted her off
THE WAR ON PARVATI Even though she bared all, Yul and his troops voted her off

''Survivor'': Getting down and dirty

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Put the kids to bed, turn the lights down real low, and slip into something more comfortable, because it is time for Survivor: After Dark. We're gonna start things off nice and slow with a few titillating shots of Yul busting out of his ripped green T-shirt, but that's just to get you in the mood. Awwwwwwwwww yeah. That's right. Now we're gonna move on from mere foreplay to the real deal. We're gonna get ourselves a huge puddle of mud and make six sexy young thangs roll around in it any which way they please. We'll take special care to make sure you get plenty of shots of Parvati spreading mud all over her boobs (and, of course, later wiping it off). And for all you little fetish freaks out there, we'll also make sure to catch plenty of close-ups of people wiping brown mud off their booties. Don't fight the feeling, baby! ''It's like watching bad performance art,'' you may say to yourself. Only if they show performance art on Skinemax! But pace yourself, because we ain't even close to being done.

No way. We're gonna move on to a little place I like to call ''Rumours,'' where we'll be sure to snag lots of sexy shots of people taking off their pants, showering, and then having strangers rub their hands all over them. And then...the pièce de résistance: naked people in a hot tub! Three of them (four if you include the ''Great Cook Islands Humpback Whale'').

Okay, okay, we now return you to your regularly scheduled Survivor. The funniest part about everything I just wrote: All of it is 100 percent true! But what do you expect when you sign up an amateur porn star (Ozzy) and Perfect 10 boxer (Parvati) to be on your show and then provide them with a mud pit and a hot tub? Don't get me wrong — I'm not hating on Ozzy and Parvati. Ozzy has dominated the challenges on an almost Westman?Dietz level. And Parvati made no bones about playing the social game and using flirting to her advantage. It worked, until her wily ways finally got her the boot last night. But this last episode did feel pretty skeezy. Not complaining, mind you; merely observing.

I guess the producers needed something to spice up an episode that otherwise didn't have a whole lot of juice. Okay, that's not entirely true: Parvati gave us the best quote of the season, saying, ''I just peed my pants, and I'm not even wearing any!'' (Of course, you aren't.) And that shot of Becky taking a major fall off the balance beam during the immunity challenge was just the kind of Survivor spill we could watch over and over. And then some more. And then in slow motion. And then backwards. And then in slow motion again.

But the main drama of the episode revolved around a stupid little hat. When Yul decided to honor Jonathan's request to return his hat, it all of a sudden became a controversy of beef-jerky-type proportions. Jeff Probst fueled the fire by dubbing it ''quite possibly the boldest move yet I've seen from someone trying to win a vote should they make it to the final tribal council.'' Next thing you know, everyone is taking digs at Yul for being the puppet master and strategizing too much. You know what? Good for him! He should be playing the game! He should be strategizing! Why is that a negative? I will say I think Yul could have responded to the whole situation a bit better and could probably have made everyone feel a little stupid if he had just said, ''Look, he asked for his hat, so I brought it to him. Why wouldn't I have done that?''

In any event, the whole affair added some spice to what was essentially a setup episode for the finale. Personally, I'm pretty amped for Sunday. My preseason pick, Yul, is basically guaranteed a spot in the final three because he has the hidden immunity idol, and it will be fascinating to see (a) if Ozzy can keep winning immunity and (b) if he doesn't, whether Yul, Becky, and Sundra will try to get rid of him before Adam. Outside of Adam, who admitted himself that he is ''not all there mentally'' (gee, really?), you have to be pretty happy with the rest of the final five. We saw Becky finally doing something last night in trying to make a move on Ozzy (not in the same way Parvati did, mind you), and Sundra has been solid if unspectacular.

It's usually right around this point that I rank the current season of Survivor against past ones. Obviously, this ranking can change depending on what happens in the two-hour finale, but for now I put this one at — drum roll, please...No. 5! (Behind Borneo, Amazon, Pearl Islands, and Palau, and ahead of Marquesas, Panama, Australian Outback, All-Stars, Guatemala, Vanuatu, Africa, and Thailand.) Before the whole mutiny thing, I would have probably put Cook Islands all the way behind Australia, but it's been a whole new show since then, and the fact that we have a pretty deserving crew heading into the final episode only helps.

Okay, knock yourself out arguing over my ranking of seasons, and I'll be back with one last Survivor Watch for the Sunday-night finale. See ya then!

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Originally posted Dec 15, 2006
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