Survivor field narrows down

by Hank Leukart | 3/29/01 5:00am

By now, they're famous. Elisabeth, Rodger, Nick, Keith, Tina, Colby, Amber, and Jerri are the only castaways remaining on CBS's "Survivor: The Australian Outback." With only seven episodes remaining, their peers have voted half of the contestants off the show already. Let's take a look at what has happened during the last three episodes (last week's episode simply recapped the first seven episodes).

Episode Six: Trial by fire

The sixth episode of this "Survivor" was probably the most shocking episode of the show ever aired, including episodes from the original "Survivor." The first half of the episode was typical, as tension mounted in the Ogakor tribe over Jerri's obsession with sex and her interest in cooking fried green tomatoes. People were starting to get worried that Keith and Tina might kill Jerri. Meanwhile, the Kucha tribe progressed well as usual, eating like kings with a special chicken feed concoction they cooked up.

In the reward challenge, the players competed for a "picnic" (Mountain Dew and Doritos). Both teams excepting Jerri and Nick were blindfolded, and their seeing members were forced to guide the team verbally through a complex obstacle course. When it was all over, Kucha won as usual, and Colby threw a bucket of water on Jerri in anger.

Then, all hell broke loose. Michael passed out after inhaling smoke while working on the bonfire, sustaining third-degree burns on his hands and arms. For the next 30 minutes, viewers watched in utter disbelief as unknown cast members (the "Survivor Medics") entered the Kucha camp, and evacuated him from the Outback using a helicopter. His entire team cried as he was lifted off the ground yelling, "You will be fine without me, you guys know what to do."

If the incident had not been completely real, it would have seemed too melodramatic. Instead, it was the finest and most compelling 30 minutes of Survivor ever. Neither tribe was forced to vote anyone off the show, because Michael was so badly hurt that he could not return.

Episode Seven: The merge

During episode seven, both teams received mail instructing them to send half of their team to the other camp. The meetings turned out to be a boys' and girls' night out, and while getting to know each other, they discussed to which camp they would like to move. Later, to their surprise, host Jeff Probst announced that the teams would move to a completely new camp. The castaways agreed on Berramundi as a name for the new tribe and built a new shelter.

Then came the excitement of the immunity challenge. In the game, each castaway was forced to stand on a perch above water for as long as possible. Nick was the first to go, followed then by Colby, Rodger, and Jeff. After nine hours, Elisabeth finally gave up, followed by Alicia. In the end, Keith begged Tina to leave because he thought he was most vulnerable to getting voted off, and she conceded.

In one of the strangest Tribal Councils in "Survivor" history, the vote deadlocked, five people voting against Jeff and five voting against Colby. In the end, Jeff was forced to leave due to votes against him during past episodes. In retrospect, the whole event seemed cleverly orchestrated by Colby, who managed to convince the other team to attempt to vote him off the show because he knew the voting would be deadlocked and Jeff would be forced to leave.

Episode Eight: A sleeper

After these two thrilling episodes, "Survivor" moved into low gear. Not much happened during episode eight. Not surprisingly, Kucha tribe members have started to hate the evil Jerri, especially after Jerri and Amber won a reward challenge resulting in a huge feast. Keith managed to win a boring immunity challenge based on an old children's game played on graph paper. Then, during tribal council, Ogakor tribe members ganged up Alicia, and Kucha members were sad to see her go.

Nevertheless, they now have more important things on their mind. If Elisabeth, Nick and Rodger want to save themselves, they need to do some serious strategizing. Otherwise, the rest of the show is going to bore viewers to tears as it follows the same plot path as the original. Let's hope that CBS has some plot twists up their sleeve.

Survivor airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.

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