''Survivor'': A power play succeeds
It's Thanksgiving, so I am going to start off this column by giving thanks. Giving thanks for my family, thanks for my health, thanks for my limited-edition Planet of the Apes box set that comes in a big monkey head, and thanks for another insanely incredible episode of Survivor. Remember on the Vanuatu Thanksgiving episode two years ago when the all-female alliance turned on Ami and voted her out? This was even better. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb here and call the last three episodes of Cook Islands the best three-episode Survivor run ever. Seriously, the stuff that has gone on the past three weeks is unbelievable. First you had the mutiny. Then you had the underdog Aitu tribe dominating. Then you had the green-bottle double elimination. And now we've been treated to one of the best pure strategy episodes of all time, with Yul slyly getting Jonathan to flip sides yet again by threatening use of the hidden immunity idol. Who would have thunk it a month ago when this season seemed to be running on fumes and there were no heroes or villains to root for? It all culminated at the end tonight when I actually jumped out of my chair and pumped my fist in the air after Nate got voted out and Nate was the one guy on Raro that I actually liked! In any event, I give thanks. Even though I looked like a major dork.
I give thanks to the members of Rarotonga for giving us this season's token drunk hilarity at the merge booze cruise. First, Adam started puking off the side of the boat, and then every scene Nate appeared in for the next 15 minutes featured him carrying at least one beer. To quote my good friend Bill Murray (actually, we've never met), ''I wanna party with you, Cowboy.''
I give thanks to Adam for simultaneously hitting on both Candice and Parvati, even going so far as to promote the first ever Survivor three-way freeway with the proclamation that ''you can both appreciate me.'' Anyone else in America appreciating Adam right now? Show of hands? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller...?
I give thanks to the word ''hypothetically'' for being used approximately 18,427 times in under an hour.
I give thanks to Yul for being the smartest player to ever play this game (sorry Hatch and Cesternino) and making me look damn good for picking him to win before the game even began. (Trust me, that doesn't happen often.) Figuring out that he might be able to use his possession of the immunity idol to win Jonathan back over to Aitu's side was pure genius. It wasn't like he threw this offer out willy-nilly. He correctly recognized that such a proposal would not work with any other Raro member, and he therefore targeted Jonathan even though the Alan Alda sound-alike had ditched him just a few days earlier. Now the folks from Aitu have gone from a one-person disadvantage to a one-person advantage, and Yul still has the freakin' idol! He gave absolutely nothing away! ( I think Morasca's right. I do have a man crush.)
I give thanks to Jonathan for being so devious and making all of this possible in the first place. His and Candice's jumping ship set all this drama in motion to begin with, and now him flipping back to Aitu only adds more tension. At this point, he just may be one of the most disliked Survivor contestants ever and that is exactly what this season needed.
I give thanks to the other members of Raro for blindly insisting that there was no possible way Yul could have the immunity idol and deciding to vote for him. If Jonathan, Adam, and Candice all said they didn't have it, who the hell else do they think did? Have they never watched this show?
I give thanks to one of the most tense and unpredictable tribal councils ever. What would happen? Would Yul have to play the hidden immunity idol? Would Jonathan flip? Would he go back and tell the Raro folks to vote off Sundra instead to maintain their advantage? So many possibilities. (And so few correct spellings of Yul's name.)
I give thanks to the new merged tribe name of Aitutonga, because it is actually half-decent.
I give thanks to the advertisement that came on my TV at one point for a local news story on ''pet braces,'' because it made me laugh and almost spit out my Heineken beer. (I'm at my mom's house for the holiday, and unfortunately she is not wise to the ways of Milwaukee's Best. I'm working on it.)
I give thanks to Jonathan and Yul for pointing out that the immunity challenge was not fair to men with bigger feet. It wasn't a huge discrepancy like last season's final-three challenge, where Danielle's lighter frame gave her a clear advantage in not sinking, but it was something that crossed my mind as well. And how much do we love Yul's comment that ''it's kinda why elephants can't run up trees.''
I give thanks to Jeff Probst for showing a pretty damn good sense of humor in informing Ozzy that the ugly-ass immunity idol was indeed ''unisex.'' While we are on the subject of funny quotes, I also give thanks to Parvati for describing Yul as ''Mr. Harvard Yale Stanford Guy,'' and thereby reminding us that she is not, in fact, ''Mrs. Harvard Yale Stanford Girl.''
I most assuredly do not give thanks to another Adam-Candice make-out session. If you knew how smelly and stinky these people are out there, you would be grossed out too.
But lastly, I give thanks to Nate for one of the best parting-thoughts speeches in Survivor history, when he told Jonathan to ''kiss my ass'' and described him as a ''dirty, stinky, whack fruitcake'' (although with the ''Nancy boy'' and now ''fruitcake'' references, he is coming dangerously close to challenging Rudy Boesch for the Ultimate Survivor Homophobe award).
A month ago it looked like we had another Africa-Thailand-Vanuatu-Guatemala on our hands. But all of a sudden, feelings are hurt, heroes are emerging, and villains are everywhere. The only thing missing was the Milwaukee's Best. (Like I said, I'm working on it!)
What do you think? Can you remember any Survivor season that has turned around more than this one? Did Jonathan make the right move in switching back? And who would you pick if you were Adam Candice or Parvati?