On ''Survivor,'' Nate gets Stephannie voted out after she confesses a food craving; plus, Ozzy makes a rude gesture

By Dalton Ross
Updated October 13, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Survivor”: Death by gravy

I want to talk about Stephannie and her untimely cravings for mashed potatoes and gravy. I want to go over a few questions I had surrounding that little tribal play date. And I want to get into how much I absolutely loved that immunity challenge. But first…did Ozzy just give me the finger? ‘Cause I could swear homeboy just flipped me the bird. He may claim he was merely displaying the cut on his middle finger, but we all know better. He’s a filthy boy, that Ozzy. And I’m not just saying that because of his fine work on Playboy TV’s Foursome.

Now that that’s settled, let’s get into episode 5 of Survivor: Cook Islands. We have a pulse, people! It seems the post-tribal-realignment hangover may have finally worn off, as wow, whaddya know — stuff actually happened! You know that any episode beginning with women comparing their armpit hair is on the right track. (By the way, Flica totally would have won that competition had she been around to partake.) Soon after, we were off to the reward challenge, which was basically an updated version of one from Pearl Islands, only now this time, people were paired up to support five-pound bags. I actually enjoyed this 2.0 version better than the original. For one thing, you had a contestant talking major smack, as Flica accused Nate of whining and then tried to psych Cristina out, which was made all the more humorous when Flica, not Cristina, dropped out. For another, it made for some quality cuddle time between Nate and Adam.

Of course the real star of this show was the immunity challenge. When Parvati started moving across those raised poles, I figured it was over. After all, I had watched her up close before the game bending in all sorts of crazy positions while doing yoga. Now, why I was watching her so closely is not important here. In fact, let’s just forget I ever wrote that to begin with. My point is, the woman has incredible balance. And she kept Rarotonga’s lead. At that point, the challenge was merely okay. Where it became great was at the very end, when both tribes were forced to cram eight people on a tiny deck. When I first saw this, I figured it was merely an attempt to slip a soft-core orgy onto network television (hey — unfair advantage for Ozzy!), and perhaps it was. But it also forced the tribes to work as one and demonstrate their teamwork skills. I was practically screaming at my television — something that is usually reserved for when Jeff Probst shows up wearing orange baseball hats — when Raro all fell into the water. It was a tense, terrific finish, made even more terrific by the fact that the far more interesting Aitutaki won.

That meant Raro had to send someone home. It looked like Cristina, until everyone’s favorite sequel opened in theaters: Stephannie Sticks Her Foot in Her Mouth II: And This Time It Tastes Like Gravy. Last week, Stephannie volunteered to be voted out. This week she said part of her wanted to be sent home so she could get a good meal. (By the way, it doesn’t seem like these people are exactly starving, does it?) But this was coming long before last week. As I mentioned in that behind-the-scenes article in EW magazine, Stephannie was having problems with the elements the day she arrived in the Cook Islands, before the game even started. I’m not saying she is a diva or a weakling, but this clearly was just not her bag. It’s a shame when folks like that make it through casting, when there are thousands of other people just begging to be physically punished on national television for our amusement. Anyway, the rest of Rarotonga did the right thing in getting rid of her. (Interesting how Cristina flipped on her fellow Latino J.P. last week, and Nate sold Stephannie out this week. So much for ethnic bonds.)

As good as this episode was, I did leave with a bad taste in my mouth. First, I don’t like getting flipped off by porn stars. But even worse was the news that next week will see one of those dreaded double eliminations when a team wins a challenge and still has to send someone home. I don’t think there is anything on Survivor that bugs me more. We knew multiple send-offs were coming because there were 20 — as opposed to 16 — contestants, but I hate the concept of having to kick someone off after kicking the other tribe’s ass. I think you all know what I’m getting at — Willard was robbed!!!

One last thing before we go: What’s up with Flica, Cao Boi, and Ozzy visiting the opposing tribe? In the past, such interaction between the tribes has been strictly forbidden. Then we saw producers loosen the rules for Danni’s birthday in Guatemala. While it was pretty funny seeing Cao Boi talk on and on and on, the decision to allow them to have a little powwow seems pretty arbitrary. Kinda like forcing a winning tribe to vote somebody out. (What? I told you I don’t like it.)

What do you think? Should there be double evictions? Did Stephannie get what she deserved? And what’s happened to all those ethnic bonds?