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Survivor

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Message in a Bottle

In a new twist on ''Survivor,'' the increasingly feeble -- and Caucasian -- Raro suffers a double elimination

A WHITE TURN Nate has suddenly become a minority in his own tribe
A WHITE TURN Nate has suddenly become a minority in his own tribe

''Survivor'': The curse of the green bottle

I want to get into the whole green-bottle thing. I want to get into how the season has gone from pretender to contender in two short weeks. But first, I have to ask a simple question: Was that a string of fish attached to Jonathan's crotch? I'm only asking because, well, it looked like the man had a string of fish attached to his crotch. I know the dude was fighting to impress his tribe and stay alive, but c'mon....

That was just one in a series of odd images from this week's Survivor. We also had the Aitu tribe winning a challenge only to then be rewarded by having some guy in a funky headdress jump out and scream at them. Next thing we know, the tribe members are being carried around on thrones like C-3P0 in Return of the Jedi, only I'm pretty sure these natives could sing a hell of a lot better than the Ewoks (if for no other reason than they did not appear to know the lyrics to ''Yub Yub''). But this wasn't Aitu's reward. No, their reward was to sit back and watch Yul get molested by two large-and-in-charge ladies, who whipped up their own personal Yul sandwich. Man, and I thought I was a bad dancer. Actually, I am a bad dancer.

Okay, okay, back to the matter at hand — the complete and utter destruction of the Rarotonga tribe. Four straight challenges they've lost since the mutiny, and the reward challenge was a perfect illustration as to why. You had Jonathan thinking the first clue was ''north-northeast'' when it was ''north-northwest.'' You had Jenny not digging. You had Adam and Candice not being able to figure out where east-southeast was. You had Jonathan and Jenny leaving too early and having to go back to the mat. You had Adam and Jonathan arguing with each other. You had a break-dancing hippopotamus busting out the robot. (Sorry, I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.) The point is, they may have more muscle, but Raro is not strong in smarts, heart, or overall tribe chemistry, so they keep losing. And I love it.

This is exactly what was missing from the show before the mutiny — no clear people to root for or against. And now, with the four Aitutaki members abandoned by their peers, they have become the clear underdogs we love to see stomp traitor ass. (My favorite part was when Aitu gave their decision on whom to send to Exile Island in unison: ''One, two, three — Candice!'')

Okay, now about that little green bottle. It would have been an awesome, jaw-dropping reveal of a twist had CBS not sabotaged it in advance! At the start of the month, the network sent out a press release with all the November-sweeps programming info, and mentioned that the Nov. 16 episode would be a double elimination. Then last week they sent out another press release saying that the green bottle would be opened after a person had been voted off. Put that all together and it was pretty gosh-darn obvious what was going to happen. Unlike some of you out there, I prefer to live in a spoiler-free universe, so knowing this in advance dampened my enthusiasm a bit when it actually went down. That's not to say my jaw didn't drop, but it was more due to a yawn than anything else. Still, it was a cool twist, and a million times better than making a winning tribe vote someone off just to get down in numbers.

I haven't talked about Rebecca yet, but really, what is there to say? She came. She saw. She lost her top repeatedly in swimming challenges. Unfortunately, those breast-baring adventures were her only memorable moments. I guess the producers didn't find her too engaging either, as her parting thoughts didn't even make it on the air! (Talk about getting snuffed.) But at least Rebecca didn't pantomime shooting a gun while evicting a police officer who had been shot and had lost her father to a firearm. So far, I've been willing to give Jenny the (relative) benefit of the doubt for that miscue with Cristina and chalk it up to immaturity rather than maliciousness, but I will be interested to hear her reasoning for it when I drill her about it on Survivor Live.

But Nate must be just as bummed as those two ladies. He's now looking like the odd man out in a new Caucasian Coalition. This is what Candice and Jonathan had hoped for when they spoke of reassembling Team Whitey, and Nate, Jenny, and Rebecca all sat back and let it happen. Just another reason to root against Raro.

What do you think? Is Nate done? Will Yul dance his way to million dollars? And can someone please get Miss Boo-hoo Woe Is Me Candice a box of Kleenex?

Originally posted Nov 17, 2006