On ''Survivor,'' Shane continues to melt down, but Casaya wins immunity again anyway, and La Mina sends gentleman Dan packing
Credit: Dan Barry: Jeffrey R. Staab

”Survivor”: Dan was too good for this show

Okay, first things first. I’ve been taking a lot of flack from posters and coworkers alike over last week’s debacle in which I couldn’t write the Survivor column because I misprogrammed my VCR. It seems people were both amused and annoyed by the fact that a guy who makes his living off of television doesn’t have a stinkin’ TiVo or DVR. I would just like to state a few things for the record:

1. I do have a TiVo. At work.

2. I actually meant to order a DVR at home like six months ago.

3. I didn’t because I was lazy.

4. I’m not sure why I didn’t just combine Nos. 2 and 3 into one item.

I realize none of these revelations makes me any less lame — I just wanted to keep you all in the loop. Okay, now for this week’s episode. When we last left Survivor after Bob Dawg’s ouster, CBS promos were promising a ”tribal council like never before!” Ummmm, you mean a tribal council where some dude has already been alerted to the fact that he’s being voted out and yet graciously walks away from the game anyway? Yeah, I think we’ve seen just a few of those before. (The entire Ulong tribe in Palau comes to mind.) So, okay, that was more than mildly disappointing.

I have to admit, when I heard that it was a ”tribal council like never before!” I just assumed that Casaya would be involved, and with all their bitching and moaning in the first half hour, it seemed they were heading that way. But this zany band of misfits somehow found a way to win…again!

This is seriously baffling to me. You have Shane going off on Danielle and talking about how worthless Bruce is — and Bruce is lying right next to them! You have Courtney talking about chopping Shane’s head off ”guillotine style.” You have Aras looking befuddled that he’s caught up with all these clowns. And then you have Bruce, who for a super talkative guy has basically said nothing at all (at least not that we’ve heard). They go into the immunity-reward challenge, they’re getting smoked, and then they have to start the final puzzle way behind against a guy who builds freakin’ robots in his spare time. And not only do they win, but they win convincingly! You know how much I hate quitters in Survivor, but seriously, I give up! I can not for the life of my oversize 8-track collection figure this one out. Last time I checked, Casaya has no team unity, less physical strength, and seemingly no one who you would exactly consider a mental heavyweight either, yet they are flat-out dominating!

Actually, I didn’t mind Casaya winning as much as I minded their reward. I never liked these rewards that involve visiting a local village. They always end up showing the same thing — people mingling with natives, playing soccer, and talking about what an emotional experience it is and stuff while tear-inducing music hits an emotional crescendo. Blah, blah, blah. Didn’t like it when Ethan and Lex were scarfing down French fries in Africa (doesn’t particularly seem like a native dish to me), and I didn’t like it here. The whole purpose of Survivor is supposed to be cutting these people off from civilization, and whenever one of these challenges pops up, and all of a sudden tons of people are around handing out cigarettes and stuff, the show seems to lose its focus. (I have to admit, the whole cigarette thing was kinda funny, but still.)

Okay, enough of that holier-than-thou soap-box stumping. Let’s move on to more important matters like?the Sally Alert! Another seesaw week for my girl. She and rocket boy positively blew the immunity challenge. But then the knuckleheads at Casaya took pity on me and my fourth-grade crush and sent her away to Exile Island, guaranteeing her safety. My gal may just make it to the merge after all! And by the looks of things, whenever the merge is (could be in the next new episode in three weeks), it will not be a strictly numbers game. The Casaya crew is in emotional and strategic tatters, and every single one of them appears ready to jump into just about any new alliance that presents itself. And who wouldn’t want to align with a girl in knee socks? You’d have to be crazy not to want to!

While I’m excited Sally was spared, I am genuinely bummed to see Dan go. They guy is super nice, super interesting, and super loyal. Which is also why he never would have won this game in a gazillion years. In addition, he proved that the Entertainment Weekly Survivor curse is alive and well. I don’t have to go into my pathetic history as a Survivor prognosticator, but I certainly added to the legend when at the beginning of the season I chose four people to profile in the magazine: one from each of the four original tribes. Well, we’re only six weeks in, and all four of those contestants are gone. Melinda? Gone! Misty? Gone! Bob Dawg? Gone! And now Dan? Gone! (In my defense, these were not people I predicted to win or do well, just folks I thought were interesting. Of the people I actually picked to go to the final four before the game even started back in October — Terry, Nick, Sally, and Tina — three are still in it to win it. So all hope is not lost.)

In any event, now Dan can go back to working on his robots, one of which made history by becoming the first robot to appear on a Febreze Family Moment. (We laugh now, but this little sucker is gonna someday turn into a T-1000 and mow all us humans down in a bloody killing spree.) And I don’t have to worry about that pesky VCR for a few weeks, since next Wednesday is a clip show and the week after is completely Survivor-free. But when I return, I promise ”a Survivor column like never before!” Whatever that means.

What do you think? Should Dan have fought harder to stay? Are you for or against using a visit to a local village as a reward? And will Shane last until his elimination without snapping?