Jeff Wilson: Monty Brinton/CBS
TV Show
March 03, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

”Survivor”: Taking one for the tribe

He didn’t want to bail out, but he had to do it for the good of the team. I’m not talking about Ulong’s Jeff, the heroic personal trainer with the injured ankle who sacrificed himself so that his tribe might live. I’m talking about EW’s Dalton Ross, who agreed to let someone else write his beloved Survivor TV Watch when technical difficulties made it impossible for him to meet his ridiculously early deadline. (Don’t worry: Unlike Jeff, Dalton will be back next week.)

But how about that Jeff? Watching him take the bullet for Ulong in tonight’s excellent episode (sharks!) kept me flashing back to those old World War II movies, like The Guns of Navarone and The Bridge on the River Kwai, in which the injured British officer stiff-upper-lippedly tries to persuade the other commandos to continue on their mission and abandon him to certain death on the trail. ”There’s no possible way I could get to the end with a busted-up ankle,” Jeff told his tribemates after they lost the immunity challenge. ”There’s no reason to vote off anybody else.” Later, at tribal council, he humbly informed Jeff Probst, ”I’ve always been a team player my entire life.” As he heroically limped off into the night, I half expected the producers to replace the usual swelling post-vote soundtrack music with ”God Save the Queen.” Yes, if Survivor and its tribes should last for a thousand years, men will still say this was their finest hour.

Forgive me for being a Jeff Probst-style cynic, but I too was wondering why the injured Ulong member was smiling so much at his last tribal council. Maybe the prospect of spending the remaining four or five weeks in the cushy production-crew accommodations was starting to look pretty good. After all, the two challenges (the Life Preserver Smackdown and the Seaside Death March), while fun to watch, must have been hell to go through. Constantly seeing tattooed Angie in her shrinking skivvies, which necessitated repeated digital blurring of her naughty bits, would get old quick. (Am I the only person who thought that the producers provided a sewing kit as a reward in the hope that someone would piece together a muumuu for her?)

And even Jeff’s nascent showmance with Ulong outcast Kim didn’t seem to be that much fun. After we saw them snuggling in the dark, the night cam cut to scary Alabaman James, glaring in their direction. ”Right now they cuddling,” he said. ”Next week they gonna be makin’ out, you know, suckin’ face and stuff. . . . I’m keepin’ an eye on them. I got ears like a bat, I’m tellin’ ya.” Suddenly, my thoughts weren’t of war movies but of horror flicks — specifically of what tends to happen to attractive young people if they even think about having sex within slashing distance of a redneck. Maybe Jeff, who’s presumably a film buff, decided to flee before James started talking about his sling blade.

What did you think? Did Jeff do the right thing or take the easy way out? What exactly about Stephenie and Jennifer’s battle over the life preserver made Jeff Probst lasciviously call it ”a good old-fashioned catfight”? Do you hate it when the castaways kill animals, even for food? And how did business consultant Gregg become such an expert on the effects of sea-snake venom?

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