Jenna quits to be with her dying mother. Richard battles a shark -- and wins! That's one powerful ep, says Dalton Ross

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Jenna Morasca, Survivor: All-Stars
Credit: Survivor All-Star: Monty Brinton/CBS

Jenna quits to be with her dying mother

Wow. Let me say it again. Wow. Now, let me say it backwards. Wow. Great, great episode of ”Survivor.” I’m not the type to get all weepy. And Lord knows I’ve taken Jenna Morasca to task in the past for her me-hot, me-first attitude. And even though I knew this was all coming (Jenna’s mother’s death is a matter of public record), it still was pretty powerful.

And well handled by Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst. They didn’t turn it into a huge production, but did allow the other contestants to state their views on her decision to quit, some agreeing with it (Amber), some questioning it (Big Tom and Rupert), and others wondering why she even came in the first place (Alicia). I liked hearing all these different views, seeing (as Probst said) that there are different right answers for different people.

I will say this about the decision. I spoke to Jenna two days before the game started and then watched her up close for the first couple of days in the game. She was upbeat, joking about how she had basically ignored Mark Burnett’s order to not talk to other players before the game (she knew who every single contestant was, even the surprises like Amber and Jenna Lewis), and wading pleasantly in the waters with Lex, Colby, and company.

Never once in my half-hour interview with her did she mention her mother. I’m sure she was on her mind (as someone with a mother who has had breast cancer, I know that kind of stuff never strays far from it), but she thought she would be able to power through it. My point is, spending eight days with hardly any water and food while being subject to near-constant downpours can sap not just your physical strength, but your emotional fortitude as well. I think that combined with her situation back home was just too much for her. And obviously, she made the right decision, being able to spend time with her mother before she passed away. That’s worth a HELL of a lot more than a million dollars? especially when you already have it.

Okay, sorry for getting all heavy, but, hey, it was a pretty heavy episode, but heavy with good, funny stuff as well. Ladies and gentlemen, two words: SHARK ATTACK!!!! We all saw the promos and figured, oh, I’m sure they’re making more of it than it really was, but holy naked fat man, that was no joke! Hatch sat there for a good half hour with a freakin’ shark attached to his arm! Then he pounded the shark’s head on a rock and ate him.

”Is it possible to call a gay man a stud?” asked Colby. I’d say so. Look, we’re all pretty much sick of Hatch’s act by now, but that was damn clutch, especially the way he seemed so blasé about it when it was going down. Can you imagine how Rob Cesternino would have been screaming like a sissy if he had been in that predicament? As Shii Ann so well put it, ”He may not be impressive downstairs, but, oh, he’s impressive in other ways.”

Then over at Chapera we had Big Tom referring to Sue as ”a hag from hell,” while Rob and Amber got rosy and cozy. ”I’m getting drunker and drunker,” Amber insisted after downing a big jug of wine, which was cool, because I thought I was the only one who said that during an episode of ”Survivor.” (The big difference: I’m sitting on my couch chugging Milwaukee’s Best. Then again, I don’t have bug bites on my ass. Call it a draw.) Probst stopped by the EW offices before the season and told us there would be a romance this season. Personally, I figured it would be between Cesternino and Big Tom, but whatever, I guess this is good too.

Of course, the folks over at Saboga continue to win the Boneheads of the Beach award. Only this time it was my main man Rupert taking the fall. Dude, why are you digging your shelter 3 feet down?WHEN YOU’RE ON A BEACH!!! YOU’RE RIGHT NEXT TO WATER!!! This was really, really dumb. I know there’s been a growing anti-Rupert sentiment among some of you out there that probably delighted in this, but I’m sticking in the big fella’s corner. Hopefully it won’t cost him next time he’s at tribal council. After all, he’s the only one there catching fish on that beach, right? Sorry, Ethan. Better luck next time, bro. And better luck to you as well next time, sharks. You don’t know how many people were rooting for your buddy.

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