Cook Islands: Episode 5

Stephannie’s teammates granted her wish on this week’s Survivor: Cook Islands. They voted her off so that she could spend the night with a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Before Raro found itself back at Tribal Council, things seemed to be going well. Booting J.P. had the exact effect that the Raro ladies wanted: getting the guys to help out around camp. The ladies awoke the morning after J.P.’s elimination to find the remaining three guys cheerfully gathering wood and fishing.

Later that day, at the Reward Challenge, the tribes faced off in a test of strength. Each tribe fielded three pairs to hold weights, and two individuals to load weights.

Both members of the pairs used one hand to hold a rope attached to a hook via a pulley, and at 2-minute intervals, the two weight loaders from the opposing tribe added 5-pound weights to one pair’s hooks. Once either member of the pair dropped their hook, the pair was out.

Cao Boi and Becky, the weight loaders from Aitu, decided to target Nate & Adam, adding 30 pounds to their hooks before moving on to the other Raro pairs. Parvati and Jenny gave some weight to all of Aitu’s pairs before loading up on Yul & Jonathan.

Raro’s strategy worked. Aitu’s Yul was the first to lose his grip on a rope. Then Raro’s Rebecca & Stephannie bowed out. When Sundra & Candice lost their grip, Jessica & Ozzy were the only ones left standing for Aitu, against Raro’s Adam & Nate and Brad & Cristina. Jessica taunted Cristina, but it was Jessica who lost her grip first.

Raro won some fishing gear, spices, and, most importantly, a few bottles of wine. They also sent Jonathan back to Exile Island.

The wine took its toll on the castaways. The Raro tribe woke up the next morning to find Adam with an octopus wrapped around his foot. (I can’t tell you how often that happened in college. And we were landlocked.)

Determined to augment their camp’s dwindling supplies, Cao Boi, Ozzy, and Jessica rowed from Aitu’s beach to a nearby island. There they found coconuts, medicinal fruits…and Raro’s camp.

As the invaders approached, Rebecca muttered, “And it’s the three that we can’t stand.” Mistaking the silent treatment for an invitation to sit down, Cao Boi launched into a lengthy explanation of the symbolic meaning of monkeys, rats, dragons, and horses.

When everyone had all but fallen asleep, Cao Boi asked permission to collect supplies from their forest. An annoyed Adam said, “Not on our island.” Undaunted, Cao Boi asked if he could just have a few of Raro’s newly won spices. Another negative response, and the invaders rowed back to Aitu.

Meanwhile, on Exile Island, Jonathan correctly interpreted the clues and dug a trench big enough to “bury Yao Ming,” but he didn’t find the Immunity Idol. “I have to assume that the Idol’s been found,” he said, “otherwise, I’m a complete moron.”

Jonathan returned to the mainland for the Immunity Challenge. This challenge was an over-the-top version of something from a sixth-grade outdoor education trip.

First, using three stepping poles (long poles with small platforms at the top), six members of each tribe had to stand in shallow ocean water and hold up the poles. The other two tribe members then used the poles as stepping stones to go from one tall platform to another.

Following that, all eight members of each tribe had to swim a short distance to a small platform (about five feet tall and less than 2′ x 2′ on top). Tribes had to climb the platform until each member’s feet were on or above the top of the platform at one time.

Raro took an early lead, as Jenny and Parvati crossed the stepping poles slightly before Jessica and Becky did. Raro then got seven people atop their platform, and they were shifting to accomodate the eighth: Rebecca. But when her teammates tried to hoist Rebecca into place, they all fell off the platform and into the ocean.

While Raro scrambled back up their platform, Aitu realized that the tribe members on the platform’s outer edge only needed to have one foot on the platform. The other foot could then be lifted in the air. Cao Boi and Yul lifted their feet, and Aitu won.

At Raro’s camp, most tribe members wanted to vote out Cristina. She’d taken over J.P.’s vacant role, barking orders while lounging around. It seemed like her demise was certain.

Talking over the plan with Nate, Stephannie joked that she could see herself in front of a big plate of mashed potatoes and gravy that night. Nate took her dreams of comfort food seriously. Because he felt Stephannie couldn’t be counted on to give her all in challenges, Nate told everyone at camp that she had chosen mashed potatoes over Survivor.

Stephannie tried to plead her case, but she’d opened a delicious, gravy-soaked door she couldn’t shut. The decision at Tribal Council was unanimous, and she was sent home.

Next week, Cristina gets the chance to correct her bad behaviour, after Nate broached the subject at Tribal Council. And it’s two-for-one week on Survivor; each tribe must vote out one of its members.