''Survivor''

Recall Election

Another episode, another shocking twist. Which outcast will be voted back on? Hopefully, for all our sakes, it won't be Osten, says Josh Wolk, who was finally -- after weeks of begging -- allowed to quit

Osten Taylor, Survivor: Pearl Islands | SWEET SURRENDER Osten finally gets what he wants -- a boot off the island
Image credit: Osten Taylor: Monty Brinton
SWEET SURRENDER Osten finally gets what he wants -- a boot off the island

Another episode, another shocking twist

In ''Big Brother 3,'' when the evictees were kept on ice until they came back to compete to get back into the house, the producers sent them all to beach resorts. But on ''Survivor,'' Mark Burnett continued to starve the ousted ones so their competition to get back in the game would be fair. No wonder they were all fired up to compete: While banished, they'd been eating just as little as the contestants, but weren't getting filmed for their troubles. You can take a reality-TV contestant's food, but if you really want to hurt him or her, take away their camera time.

Some might complain that letting cast-out players back into a game messes with ''Survivor'''s integrity. To that theory I must paraphrase Jon's memorable words to Shawn: ''SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!'' Burnett is amazing at introducing enough twists to keep his concept interesting. Compare it to ''Joe Millionaire'': The brain trust behind that show thought and thought about how to eke out another year, and the best they could come up with was casting patronizing European women and a really, really dumb guy.

So without knowing who is subbing in, where does this leave the tribes? Over at Drake, Rupert is getting cockier by the minute. It is inconceivable to him that anyone should vote him out: he ranted at Jon, asking him how he could ding Rupert when he had gotten them all the food. He seemed like a troll's Jewish mother. And when he made Jon and Shawn argue for their lives in front of him, Sandra, and Christa, he was getting dangerously hubristic. Anyone remember what happened to John, Zoe, Tammy, and the General when they thought they had control of the game in Marquesas? Well, it ended with John in tears: I don't want to see Rupert get all snuffly, mostly because it will take forever to get snot out of that beard.

But he's still in control, for now, as Shawn is out. There must be miles of footage on the cutting-room floor of him being a complete ass: That's the only way I can understand someone wanting him out over the hateful Jon. ''Survivor'' thrives on casting a Guy You Love to Hate, but the weasley, arrogant Jon is just a Guy You Love to See Get Kicked in the Groin. And until someone does so, there's nothing to Love.

Over at Morgan, Andrew is also getting dangerously authoritarian. When his tribe lost the challenge, he was apoplectic over the idea of one of the ''misfits'' coming back into the game, and demanded a pledge from his teammates that the returnee would be voted back out immediately. Andrew is turning into the Colonel Kurtz of Morgan. If he shaves his head bald next week, I advise the rest of Morgan to back away slowly.

But Andrew didn't need to worry about his delusions of power backfiring, since Osten volunteered to go. He said his body was a temple, and I guess he was packing up his Torah and going home. In this game, Osten has been a more pointless muscleman than Arnold Schwarzenegger at a NOW rally. And has anyone else noticed that the more tired he's gotten, the more his Boston accent has come back? ''If I can't give a hundred and one pah-cent, fahget it.'' He claimed that he hit a wall, which implies that there was a time before when he was actually effective. Hmm... wonder exactly what percent he was giving when he almost drowned?

His surrendering seemed to infuriate Jeff Probst. Robbed of the suspense of tribal council, all Probst could do was browbeat Osten, determined to make him admit that he was a failure and a quitter. But Osten was far more dedicated to bailing out without apology than he ever was to playing the game. So Probst made his way around the rest of the tribe, making them all say Osten was a wuss. It was like the Bizarro world version of ''An Officer and a Gentleman,'' with Lou Gossett Jr. wanting Richard Gere to stay. I was waiting for Osten to start wailing, ''I've got too many other places to go!''

Finally, Probst let Osten leave, and was visibly disgusted. I expected him to say, ''Get off my island,'' and boot Osten in the pants as he left. He wasn't even allowed to say his final words over the closing credits. I wouldn't be surprised if Probst told him to find his own way home, and Osten is still living on that island.

So who will the outcasts vote back into the game next week? People won't be able to vote for themselves, since they all would. And there's not much incentive to rally behind other people, since there's no splitting the winnings, and there's not much pride in losing a vote twice in this series. Well, at least Morgan might get a stronger player than Osten to replace him: in other words, Lil it is.

Originally posted Oct 31, 2003
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