Exile Island Episode 1: The First Exile

Lots of black birds - ravens? - scatter before the camera to reveal an island with what seems like a man-made giant skull located prominently on the plateau in the middle of the island. The sea is blue, the island look like it's been carefully created in some Hollywood studio for the next Pirates of the Carribbean movie, and then there's Jeff "Will You Believe Me If I Promise To Quit The Show Next Season?" Proboscis walking around to tell me that we're at Exile Island. Apparently this show has run out of tame locales to pamper its latest batch of wannabe-Survivors that Mark Burnetto is resorting to made-up names for the locations of his show. Can I call it Janu Island in honor of the Las Vegas dancer that went to the first Exile Island back in Palau? Of course I can.

Probby says that Janu Island will see many Survivors left here in Janu Island which he claims is an isolated and terrible place. Yes, one look at the neatly-mowed glass and the carefully cropped trees of this Club Med location and I can feel the cold barren chill of the desolate Janu Island cutting into my spine already. Most likely, this place will be a heaven for people who can't wait to spend some time alone from their annoying tribemates. Can you imagine how someone really blunt will answer Probby about what he did all day in Janu Island? "Well, Jeff, when I'm not hunting for the hidden Immunity Idol, I'm masturbating all day long with abandon everywhere and anywhere. Can't think of a better place on earth to live, Jeff!" Back to Probby, he promises that there will be plenty of twists that I have never seen before. From the promise of more twists to that fake giant skull prop to the whole Janu Island thing, this show now resembles Survivor: Theme Park more than ever. This time around, sixteen people are being boated to Janu Island in four boats, being that each four Survivors are separated into tribes, with old people separated from those artifically constructed in plastic surgeons' operation theatres, men and women from each class further segregated. As the wind blows from the wind generator over Probby, vainly trying to make Probby's package more comparable to one Philo Koughie's, Probby delivers the whole thirty-nine days, one Survivor thing. With that, credits.

Probby awaits the sixteen people to step onto the mats before him. I think one of the younger ladies, Courtney or Danielle (I can't tell them apart at this moment), winks at one of the younger guys, Aras or Nick (can't tell them apart as well at this moment). They must have become buddies after meeting into each other often as they frantically run around the country attending casting calls for every reality TV show they can show up for. Probbie asks Cirie what criteria she thinks the Survivors are separated according to. Cirie thinks that they are separated by gender as well as age. She's like, whoa, she is not that old so she has no idea why she is with the "older ladies". Cirie is a nurse, by the way. Meanwhile, one of the older guys, Shane, says that this kind of twist has never happened before and it will be interesting to see what comes next. He sounds like he's reading aloud from a script. Probby agrees that this show has never segregated Survivors into tribes according to age and gender before and he has no reason to lie, of course. One of the younger guys, Austin, who's a "writer", says that he'd prefer some "females" in his tribe because he has this tendency to "flirt with anything female". Of course, he's thinking of Courtney, Misty, Danielle, or Sally instead of the older women like Cirie, Tina, Melinda, and Ruth Marie. I wonder though, judging from his use of the word "females", that he'd flirt nonetheless if a female warthog shows up in his camp.

Then there's Bobby, the token African American male contestant, who calls himself the president as well as charter member of the "young beefcake crowd" that he is currently with. I love a man who is not ashamed to announce that he's a beefcake. Since this is a Burnetto show though, I cringe and await what kind of bizarre neurosis he will develop on the show. Will he be lazy, psychotic, or ultra-religious? Will he quit? Will he grind his crotch against the butt of Cirie? Or will Bobby turn out to be... normal? Only time will tell. Bobby calls the older men tribe "the Love Boat crowd", the older women "the Golden Girls", and the younger women "the Spice Girls". I don't think this guy has paid attention to popular entertainment culture since 1990.

Probby now explains the concept of Janu Island to the Survivors, telling them that one of them will spend time here alone, out of loop, away from the others, as if that is truly a dire fate too awful to contemplate. I suspect that one of these days we will see Survivors complaining that they will have to leave Janu Island and return to their annoying tribemates. Maybe someone will even refuse to leave and has to be dragged screaming back to his or her tribe! Probby next drops a bombshell on the Survivors: they will begin the Reward Challenge now. The prize is a flint. Each tribe must pick someone to participate in this Challenge. This person will run across the plateau to the giant fake skull where there are some smaller fake skulls piled up near its base. This person has to grab these skulls one at a time and smash them open. Inside each skull is a tightly-wrapped object that is either a piece of rock or an amulet. If this person finds an amulet, he or she will run back to Probby. The first three people to do so will win the flints for their respective tribes. The losing tribe will have to select one of them to spend time on Janu Island. The exiled person can only rejoin the tribe before the Immunity Challenge. Ruth Marie will represent the older women, Danielle who claims that athleticism is her forte will represent the younger women, Austin for the younger men, and retired Navy pilot Terry will represent the older men.

Austin nearly trips early on and he seems more intent on keeping his stupid cap on his head rather than to run. Luckily for him, the women are slower than him. Terry gets the first amulet, Austin follows, and Ruth Marie beats Danielle in coming in third. Danielle offers to stay behind on Janu Island since she lost the Challenge for the ladies, but the other three decide that it is only fair that one of them stay since Danielle took part in the Challenge and therefore did... er, something, I suppose. Misty ("missile engineer" - and yes, the jokes just write themselves, I know) tells the camera that she doesn't want to be the first on Janu Island but after the other three play scissors-paper-rock to determine who should stay, Misty ends up being the unlucky one. At least she has her cowboy hat for company.

Probby now takes the opportunity to reveal that there is a hidden Immunity Idol on Janu Island. Ooh, but unlike in the previous season, this time around the person who finds it can use it after the vote has been cast for him or her. And instead of revoting again, the person with the next highest number of votes will be booted. This is a potentially great twist. I mean, last time around poor Bobby Jon was sent home because Gary had the Immunity Idol, but if this twist happens in the previous season, assuming that after the votes have casted and Bobby Jon, Gary, and Danielle send lots of love to Judd while the other faction send love to Gary, Gary will reveal that he has the Idol after the vote is cast and Judd is the one who will be booted! The Hidden Immunity Idol - let's call it Wally again - has the delightful potential to turn the tables on a dominating alliance in a tribe.

Probby sends the others back to their respective camps, which are on other islands, and then tells Misty that there will be clues to Wally's location. After explaining to Misty that there is a machete and a bucket of water for Misty (although since Misty can't make fire, the water won't do her any good), he tells Misty to think about why fate chose her to be the first one out here. "Which is also why Immunity is already so important," he adds. He then lets Misty know that he has given her the first clue to the location of Wally. Hmmm. Poor Misty is left alone on the island and she digs around for Wally, thinking that Probby's clue is probably in that part where she imagines that he told her to think about why fate left her behind on the island. She thinks that the word "behind" must have some significance - such as the possibility that the clue is hidden behind where Probby was standing - but the problem is that Probby never used the word "behind" to her. He said "why fate chose you to be the first one out here", not "why did fate leave you behind" like Misty imagined.

Let's see what the older women are doing. Their tribe is Casaya, by the way, but I'll call them Cadaver just because I can. The Cadavers get off their boat and survey the island, with Cirie saying that they find only a pot and a machete on the island and the machete scares her because the presence of a machete means that there will be some clearing to be done. Cirie is scared of the things that may appear once you clear the land. Ah yes, there's at least one of these pampered twits every season. Anyway, the Cadavers share a group hug and a prayer to the official mascot of Survivor, Jesus H Christ. Oh, and they ask for some extra blessings from Jesus H Christ since they're older and all that. Melinda, who's a "singer/entertainer", tells the camera that the women decide to get down to work and they do. It's a great pleasure, I tell you, to see a tribe of women actually being competent for once. Tina, a "lumber jill" according to the show, seems to be in fine form as she gets the fire started without having to pray or scream in anguish like Survivors in the past were known to do. As Tina goes about showing the other women how to properly cut down branches and all, Ruth Marie tells the camera that Tina has an "interesting background" and calls Tina a "log roller". She says that she's happy to let Tina lead and be a "worker bee" for now. I'm sure the world is waiting in bated breath for that day when Ruth Marie shows her true mettle as the almighty boss. Cirie picks up some leaves and screams and shrieks, because, as she tells Tina, leaves scare her. Oh yes, Cirie is going to last all the way to the top five if previous history is anything to go by. Tina, to the camera, looks around to check that no one is listening before wondering aloud what show does Cirie think she's on. Cirie probably caught that Pearl Islands season and told herself, "Hey, that Sandra can't swim, can't win, is entirely useless but she wins a million dollars so holy moly by the quivering of my pendulous bosoms, here I am!" Oh, and when I say that these women all sing Kumbayah together, I'm not joking. I'm stumped. All joking all these while about people holding hands and singing that song on this show, it finally happens. Whoa!

Let's see what the beefcakes are doing. Hopefully they are stripping off their clothes slow-motion before they run baby oil all over their bodies. Their tribe name is Viveros, but I'll call them the Vancheros. Instead of making me happy, these selfish beefcakes are playing catch-the-ball on the beach. Aras, a yoga instructor who looks like Ryan Seacrest in some angles, tells the camera that the Vancheros aren't doing much work at the moment. But they're running around in shorts and showing off their shirtless torsos to the audience so they can run around all day playing ball for all I care. He then gathers the men around, although Bobby stays clear so it's basically Aras, Nick, and Austin like the three Aryan shirtless Vancheros doing Baywatch. Aras asks them to put their hands together but with some gap between each hand so that the ladies watching this show won't think that he's gay or anything. He wants them to close their eyes and concentrate on, um, stoking their energy or something. Bobby is definitely staying clear of Aras' blazing energy, that's for sure. Aras asks the other two men who are channeling energies all over each other what they want to do. Austin brings up getting the fire started because all that hot energy going around makes him think of blazing fires. Man, I have to learn that trick from Aras. I bet that will make a great party trick. Nick, who I can probably tell apart from Aras if I stare at his stereotypically handsome face long enough, calls Aras' foreplay-for-Vancheros thing "hare-brained". Why, because it makes him think of activities normally associated with bunnies? Dang, I really have to learn that trick. The men are pretty hopeless in starting fire, leading Austin to wonder whether people will think of them as "four jackasses". Nah, I just think that maybe they should get Aras to do that hand-thing again, only this time with all the guys completely naked. They end up building a "shelter" which is pretty much some leaves and sticks piled against a tree like the handiwork of a beaver who's just starting out in dam creation. Nick says dryly that the Vancheros don't want to "peak" on the first night, after all. "Peak"? "First night"? It's still daytime. Oh dear, what has Aras done to these guys? Speaking of Aras, I'd expect someone who is obviously hoping to get some TV or modeling gig out of this show to hit the tanning bed before going shirtless in the sun and revealing that most comical tanlines of his.

At Bayoneta (Bimbonettas to you and me), the tribe of the younger women, Courtney, who is a "fire dancer", whatever that is, tells the camera that being only three women with no shelter-building experience (how shocking, I never expect to find silly bimbos with no outdoor experience on a show like this), they can't build any shelter, they can't start a fire, and they are so helpless. How sad. Sally, who is a "social worker", says that it's quite tragic how they just walk around looking for a spot for their shelter. Oh no, that area isn't flat enough! This area isn't big enough for the swimming pole! Where should they build the jacuzzi? Oh, the dilemma of aspiring actresses and wannabe-models lost in the wilderness! While wandering around the place looking for salvation or at least a clue, they chance upon a dead turtle, which allows Courtney to spend what seems like two hours telling the camera that turtles are holy creatures in some cultures so she has to venerate this turtle's passing by... drawing a heart on the sand around the dead turtle. Sally tells the camera that she thinks Courtney is being stupid and she's not going to pretend to weep over the turtle. Danielle thinks that they should be focusing on building a shelter and looking for food. It looks like there may be hope for the others yet.

The older men's tribe is oddly called La Mina. I'll just call them LaDida. The LaDidas are competent and getting along well, no doubt because they really are working guys instead of bartenders and physical trainers waiting for their big Hollybreak like the dweebs and bimbos of Bimbonetta and Vancheros. Dan approaches Terry for an offer of an alliance and Terry accepts even if it's way too early for this kind of thing. They both are thrilled to learn that they are related to Gary from Guatemala. No, not really, but Dan reveals that while he has told the others that he worked with space shuttles at NASA, he hid the fact that he had flown on those shuttles. Terry has an equally shocking secret: he revealed to the others that he is an American Airlines pilot but he never told them that he flew F-14 fighter jets before that! I'm like, "Wow, boys! What a brilliant move to keep these things a secret! The world - and the game - will be rocked on its core if word ever gets out that Dan was in a space shuttle before while Terry flew a F-14 once upon a time!" Dan then tells the camera that his job as a space explorer has prepared him well for this show because he has a bloated sense of importance about this game. Dude, it's just a game for the million dollars. The premise is simple: get some allies and pray that they are the ones who will help you instead of dying on you like flies in a toad picnic. That's all! Elsewhere, Shane reveals that he is not happy to be stuck with those old leathery workhorses and even better, he has decided to stop smoking three packs of cigarettes at, er, right now. Is it because Burnetto didn't allow him to import cigarettes from the mainland? Shane tells the others that they must all take care not to hurt each other's feelings (read: his feelings) and there is no reason all four men have to work all the time. Shane tells the camera that he is cranky, et cetera, and I wonder whether I should pretend that I care even a little bit.

The day ends with Misty having a splendid time on Janu Island. She has started a fire, she has communicated with the wildlife, and they are all having a grand time dancing around a huge bonfire. And if you believe that, how about buying a bridge at Janu Island for a steal, eh?

Morning, day two. Misty has a long sad story to tell about her stay at Janu Island and she hopes that her fellow Bimborettas are faring better or things won't look so good for them in the upcoming Immunity Challenge. Oh, and she'd love to give this impression that she has found Wally, just in case it's they who lose and they have to boot somebody at the end of the day. She joins her tribemates who understandably don't look like they missed her much while she was gone at the Immunity Challenge site by the beach. Probby asks her what Janu Island is like and she tries to imply that there are some "advantages" to being exiled to Janu Island. She's not a very good actress but I don't think anybody is buying her act at this moment.

Probby explains to the others that for this Challenge, where three out of four tribes will win immunity, tribes will swim out and climb over a wall to get to a raft that is tied down by weights. Each tribe will send one person down each time to untie the raft one by one. Then the tribe will paddle back to shore where they will have to dig in a sand pit for a rolled-up parchment that has a diagram that will instruct them how to untie a ring in a post. The ring is tied up in a complicated manner and the diagram will tell them what to untie first. The tribe will then throw the ring to catch a hook a distance away. The hook is attached to the wooden post structure that has their tribe flag. When the ring is pulled, the tribe flag is unfurled down. The first tribe to completely unfurl its tribe flag wins Immunity! Okay, so will the second and third tribe. The last tribe will head over to Tribal Council where someone will have to live down the shame of being the first person voted out in the season.

T&A (albeit pixellated ones) for this Challenge: Cirie pops out of her swimsuit, although I'm sure most people aren't too eager to see that happening. I could have sworn that she must have packed her thirteen-year old daughter's swimsuit by mistake. Aras' butt crack is also pixellated. Other than that, it's a dry spell, folks. Other than that, there's nothing too interesting to report. The swimming and climbing to the raft go off without a hitch but the LaDidas and the Bimbonettas are the first to release their raft. Hey, Nick, can you wear a more revealing pair of swim trunks in the next water-based Challenge? Thanks! The Bimbonettas overtake the LaDidas while the Vancheros are left struggling when the Cadavers release their raft earlier. All four tribes end up at the untie-the-ring puzzle post and it's pretty much random luck which tribe finds their parchment in the sand first. The Bimbonettas find their parchment first and unfurl their tribe flag first, followed by the LaDidas. The Vancheros manage to untie their ring faster than the Cadavers so in the end, the Cadavers are going to Tribal Council. Probby looks thrilled that he will get to boot someone from the show as he sends them all back to their camps.

Over at Camp Cadaver, Cirie is worried that the others may boot her because she's not the fittest person around. Gee, I wonder what makes her come to that conclusion? However, Cirie, Ruth Marie, and Melinda soon find Tina's taking off on her own for long walks apparently disturbing. Tina writes "Charlie" on the sand with her machete and explains to the camera that Charlie was her only son that died four and a half months ago in some car accident. She cries to the camera. Oh dear, I'm so sorry for her loss but I also wonder at the same time what she is doing on this show then. It's not exactly the most healing experience around, after all. Tina says that she doesn't want the others to know about Charlie - which explains her writing his name on the sand, I suppose - and she takes her long quiet solitary walks in order to talk to him. Back at camp, Cirie and Ruth Marie agree that they can't beat Tina in any challenges. Melinda apparently agrees with them too, according to Ruth Marie. Do these women know that the whole beating Tina at challenges issue only come into place after the merge? Which certainly won't be taking place in the next few days? Cirie tells the camera that she wants Tina to go so that she herself can stay, which makes her reasoning pretty sound. I can't say the same for Melinda, who apparently told Ruth Marie (as per Ruth Marie telling Cirie) that she can't stand Tina for being loud. Melinda is a singer and also an "entertainer" - I find it hard to imagine that she can find anything about Tina that is too loud. Tina catches some fish for her tribemates, although she really shouldn't bother. Melinda tells the camera that there are many reasons why Tina shouldn't be booted. Since she will vote for Tina anyway, this means she doesn't need any good reason to keep Tina. Or something. These Survivors never do what they say, I tell you, it's like their brain and their bodies are separate entities or something. Cirie clean the fish that Tina caught, hoping that she will convince Melinda and Ruth Marie that they don't need Tina in doing so. Yay, Cirie can clean the fish, so they don't need Tina, because... um... somebody else will fish for everyone. Right? Right?

Night, Tribal Coucil. Probby asks the Cadavers what their first two days are like and Melinda immediately launches into this speech about how it is tough and people watching should try the whole thing for themselves before calling Melinda a useless heifer. Hmm, someone seems too conscious of how they are being portrayed on TV. Cirie says that people watching this show on the couch should stay on the couch. I hope people watching this show who know that they aren't cut out to be on the show really do stay on the couch, which is far more than I can say of Cirie. Cirie says that she's here and she intends to do well on the show. Even if she's scared of leaves and who knows what else, see? Then Probby steers the conversation to How Valuable Tina is and Cirie tries to make it sound like Tina finding the water and starting the fire aren't important contributions. Probby disagrees and is very sarcastic in the process and Cirie responds in kind by saying that maybe they should break Tina's arms so that the other women can do some things on their own instead of letting Tina do everything. So says the woman who is afraid of leaves and clearing the camp. I understand that Cirie is trying to fight to remain on the show, but I wish Cirie doesn't come off as so stupid while she's doing that. Tina, on the other hand, makes the same mistake as too many workhorses do on the show: saying that the others aren't pulling their weight as much as she'd like. Melinda disagrees with this and it's clear that if she hasn't made up her mind to get rid of the kooky lady that reminds her of how worthless she is at camp, she has done so now.

Probby sends them to vote. Cirie tells Tina as she votes for her that they didn't click. A great loss for Tina, I'm sure. Tina votes for Cirie, saying that Cirie's fear of leaves plays the biggest factor in her decision, heh. See, she has some snark in her. That's why when it is revealed that Melinda and Ruth Marie also voted for Tina to leave, I'm quite sad to see Tina stand up to get her torch snuffed. Probby tells the others that they have voted out the one person who can actually help them out at camp and wonders how things will turn out. Of course, this show will never give me the satisfaction of Cirrie, Ruth Marie, and Melinda crash and burn spectacularly because... well, because of things that happen in the next episode, that's why, hmmph. In her final words, Tina wishes that the others have a horrible time at camp without her and leaves the show too early for my liking.