Survivor: Fighting Nature Instead of Each Other

Survivor entered its post-Jerri era April 5 with fewer interpersonal conflicts, but with a new battle brewing: man vs. nature.

Some viewers have worried that without Jerri there would be no one left to hate. But at least now the winner will be someone deserving of the prize, if not the incessant media attention that will surely follow. (Even the Dalai Lama doesn’t deserve that kind of hype.)

It was a refreshing change to watch the remaining seven castaways battle their environment instead of a member of the tribe. That was the whole idea behind the show, right? OK, so maybe it wasn’t exactly refreshing to watch people suffer from hunger and fatigue, but with the rice supply running low and the fish not biting, I was curious to see whose survival instincts would emerge.

Keith and Colby took the initiative and tried to wrangle grasshoppers for bait, while Nick and Amber seemed as though they were ready to head back to civilization. Petite Elisabeth tried to persevere and fish, but she seemed frail and frighteningly weak. (Thankfully, though, she still had enough meat on her bones to keep her Survivor bandeau from falling down.)

That made the food auction the most hilarious reward challenge I’ve seen in some time — especially the women getting into a bidding frenzy for a few measly morsels of chocolate and peanut butter. And just when it seemed as if there couldn’t be anything funnier than watching the famished tribe scarf down food, everyone rushed back to camp and shared the joy they had relieving themselves. (It reminded me of Thanksgiving with my relatives.)

After that and host Jeff Probst’s offer of more rice in exchange for their shelter — hey, at least he didn’t want their clothes — the tribal council seemed anticlimactic. The biggest surprise wasn’t seeing Nick go, but rather that Amber still voted with Keith, Tina and Colby, the remaining members of the Ogakor tribe, even after they excluded her from their decision the week before to vote off her pal Jerri.

I still expect to enjoy the remaining four episodes, however. Without Jerri, there may not be as much bickering at camp, but when the game reaches its final stage, things get interesting no matter who the contestants are.

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