Samburu sends 'SOS' to world

by John Teti | 10/29/01 6:00am

Fun facts: the Samburu and Boran tribes of Kenya adhere to monotheistic religions. While some Samburu have been converted to Christianity, and some Boran to Islam, others observe traditional beliefs -- which still place faith in one God.

So where are Linda's "gods and goddesses" and "spirits" of Africa?

The Harvard career counselor and member of Dartmouth's Class of 1978 keeps jabbering about the deep meaning of Africa. Does she really expect to gain favor with her tribemates by regurgitating hackneyed stereotypes about African tribal beliefs?

Take the reception when Linda addresses the other members of the Samburu Association for Retired People on the importance of strong spirits. Carl is out of earshot, Frank walks away, and even the cameraman turns in the opposite direction for a moment, thinking -- hoping -- that Linda is finished.

Back home, we see the young Beautiful People hogging all the gruel. The editors are trying to turn us against the Gen-X members of Samburu -- and will do so throughout the episode -- but they are too darned cute!

Seriously, it is impossible to sympathize with SARP. They made an alliance and promptly bungled it by letting the secret out. Now there are consequences. You don't plot to screw half of the team and then return to hugs and kisses when the scheme falls through.

Lindsey continues to lead the charge against SARP with an overt gesture of animosity -- she makes friendship necklaces for the other Beautiful People. All others get to wear nothing but wrinkles on their necks.

The old people act indignant at this and other moments of defiance, but I love it. Lindsey is the first "Survivor" contestant to plot against tribemates openly, and it is a refreshment from all the maybe-but-maybe-not alliance B.S. of the first two "Survivors." Yes, give SARP its comeuppance, and do it for all of us to see.

The ebullient team spirit at Boran is also fun, though. Perhaps united by a lion scare at their camp, Boran wins both challenges this week. In the first challenge, the teams have to roll two boulders through an obstacle course.

At the starting line, it's hard to tell how heavy those boulders really are. Are they just flimsy props? We get our answer when Boran's Kelly and Kim are crushed by Samburu's stone only to emerge unscathed seconds later.

The second challenge is to construct a distress signal that will be easily spotted by rescue aircraft. It is nice to see a challenge with more emphasis on creativity and mental prowess than the usual glorified footraces, which always remind me of that old show "Double Dare" on Nickelodeon. (Please tell me there is someone else out there who remembers the phrase "We'll take the physical challenge!")

Samburu builds an ill-inspired "SOS" with their camp as the center "O." Boran uses Kim's acrylic paints to construct a brightly-colored work of art that handily wins the idol.

Tom contributes by sticking a feather in his ass and calling it macaroni. This causes his shorts to descend to a level where a localized on-screen blur is necessary, but on some shots CBS is not so merciful.

Linda's explanation of Samburu's first immunity loss: "I believe there are a lot of spirits out here, and I believe our idol goddess will not live in a home of conflict." Say, isn't this the same Linda that eagerly joined the SARP alliance? Maybe the immunity idol is afraid of hypocrisy.

Tribal Council goes to a double deadlock as expected, and we get to see, for the first time, the "Survivor" tiebreaker round. It's a sudden-death savanna quiz, and Lindsey trumps Carl on the fourth question.

As the remaining members of SARP face certain extinction, only one question remains -- what do the spirits think of their dire situation? I bet we'll find out from Linda on next week's episode.