POISONED PENNER Jonathan's infection could have been life threatening.
After suffering injuries, Jonathan has to quit the show, and Chet asks to be voted off| Published Mar 14, 2008
I want to get to all the action on the latest episode of Survivor. But I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable about something. I'm feeling uncomfortable because...well, I'm poop pants. And let me tell you, Ami was right: No one wants to be poop pants. Because the more you're poop pants, the sooner you're going out. And I tried. I tried not to be poop pants, but I always get sad when I see a colorful player leave the game, especially because of an injury.
And what an injury it was. Hell, from all the crying going on, I would have thought Penner was about to have his leg amputated. ''We need you! I need you!'' Kathy sobbed, having been on a team with Penner for three days! Kathy was crying, Penner was crying, Eliza was crying — hell, I think Probst may have even been getting a little misty. And just what was he doing down there while Penner was being examined anyway? I couldn't tell if he was there to disqualify Penner or hit on the medic. (Not that I blame him: Dr. Jessica Sartini can examine me anytime.) But as I was watching all of this go down, I started to feel a bit angry. I wasn't certain why at first. Sure, I was sad to see Penner go: He made a lot of moves, started some fires, and was always complaining at challenges. But angry? I couldn't place it at first, but then I did. The music! They were playing that cheesy ''fallen comrades'' music they usually reserve for when the final four are paddling down a stream past poles with the names of former tribemates. My irrational hatred of the fallen-comrades montage and everything associated with it triggered a violent reaction on my part. And it was then that I ceased to be Dalton Ross and became...poop pants.
Penner's exit actually did serve one good purpose. We obviously were going to have a few double eliminations at some point. There is nothing I hate more than a double elimination in which the tribe that wins the challenge has to kick someone off. I've complained to the producers about it for years. It's weak! Super weak! It's so weak I shall now refer to it as the Chet of creative game play decisions. Anyway, if Penner's departure saved us from one of those, then I'm actually okay with it.
Regardless, his leaving served as the dramatic high point of what turned out to be a somewhat ho-hum episode — at least ho-hum compared with the past few weeks. Once again, we had a much more exciting reward than immunity challenge. The immunity one was pretty much a direct rip-off of one from, I believe, the Cook Islands season (but don't quote me on that because it's late and I'm drinking something called Skull Splitter). I loved it the first time around, when the teams were neck and neck to the end, but this time Airai basically busted this challenge up by having their smallest women crouch down on one pole and carrying it all the way over. It actually didn't really matter because anyone paying a lick of attention knew that Malakal was going to lose. They weren't showing all that early-episode strategy talk between Ami, Tracy, and Erik for nothing. A little less obvious next time, please.
I was intrigued by the reward challenge, however, and not just because we got to see Penner fall on his ass. I like challenges that are physical, but I like ones even more that call on teams to play both offense and defense; having the tribes do their best to block the other tribe's tunnel was a nice touch. And I'm officially going on a tangent now, but what I really wish John Kirhoffer and the challenge department would do more of is incorporate options and decisions into the mix. Remember the very first challenge from the Palau season? At least I think it was Palau (again — Skull Splitter). The tribes were given goods that they could carry with them to the end. If they won, they got to keep them. But carrying those items could also slow the tribes down and potentially cost them the victory. They had to decide whether it was worth it to bring them or not. I wish they would do more stuff like that — adds another dimension to the game. Okay, tangent done.
So Airai won the reward, which meant they got a visit from two native Micronesians — Micronesians who would not make it 30 seconds on the beach without being hit on by Parvati. Surprisingly, however, it was the natives who showed Parvati and company how to catch crabs and not the other way around. I'm going to pause for a minute to let that sink in......................................................................................................................................................Okay, now that that's settled, we can get back to the matters at hand, and the matters bring us to...Exile Island!
Poor Jason. Poor, poor Jason. He talked so much before the game about matching up against Ozzy and taking him on, but the Challenge Wizard of Oz has been smoking him in competitions, and now he fooled the newbie with that ridiculous-looking fake immunity idol. That thing looks like what I carved at summer camp when I was kid. And I couldn't carve to save my life! Seriously, I sliced my thumb open once trying. (Where's Dr. Jessica Sartini when you need her? Probably off being wined and dined by my boy Probst, the lucky bastard. ''Did I ever tell you about the time I tossed Osten's torch into the fire? It's true — refused to snuff it. He wasn't so tough, that guy.'') Back to Jason — I will give props where props are due (although no props will ever be given for sticking a sharp stick down your pants). When asked about the idol at the immunity challenge, he threw all the attention back at Ozzy, deflecting it from himself. Then again, seeing as how Ozzy basically rented out a skywriting plane to inform all of his tribemates that he had already found the idol, I'm not sure how much damage that will do.
NEXT: Chet's weak end