On ''Survivor,'' the aging underdog Yau-Man finds the immunity idol, then creates a fake one to fool the others; plus, Rocky gets paid back for bullying

By Lynette Rice
Updated March 30, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Survivor Fiji: Monty Brinton

Survivor: Fiji

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”Survivor”: A false idol

At last, some sweet satisfaction from what was otherwise becoming the Sanjaya of all Survivor seasons: The guy I like to call Pebble (because there’s only one Rocky in the world, and this creep ain’t him) got his just reward and was finally sent packing. Too bad it had to happen a week after he ripped poor Anthony a new butthole at tribal council and was allowed to stick around (and I do hope Probst can explain to us someday why he sat by silently while that schoolyard bully pummeled Anthony with the most ridiculous slams I have ever heard). Now Pebble becomes the first member of the jury and will most assuredly remember how his homeboys turned on his skinny arse. I’d like to think that Pebble will target Mookie should the latter dude make it to the final two, but the fact is, I’m not really sure I care. Up until last night, when I was forced to write everyone’s name down because I was filling in for a traveling Dalton (back next week, folks, we promise), I didn’t even know Mookie’s name, much less the moniker of his tribe. Who can pay attention to such somnambulant activity?

I certainly posed the question to Dalton this week — he’s out here visiting his compadres in the L.A. bureau — but amazingly, the Milwaukee’s Best man was of surprising few words. Like Doc Jensen with Lost, Dalton can spew for hours about Survivor, but he’s virtually speechless this time around, and I think I know why: We just don’t care about anybody.

Anybody except Yau-Man, that is. Other than Rudy from season 1, I’ve never really found myself rooting for the budding Ensure drinkers in the Survivor casts, but so far Yau-Man’s got my vote — if not for the sweet enthusiasm he felt and displayed when finding the immunity idol, then for when he successfully threw a fireball in the luxury challenge in spite of all that ageist mocking from Ravu. Sure, I bristled a bit when Yau-Man said he ”never thought a big strong black man would become one of my allies.” (More racial chatter? What is this, the Cook Islands?) But Yau-Man is honest, kind, funny, and damn sneaky to boot: His decision to create a faux idol and bury it for another loser to uncover was pure genius, and I do hope somebody finds it and attempts to play it at an upcoming council.

There were a few other random highlights from last night’s episode: We now know that Earl is a pretty legit artist (at least when it comes to drawing in the sand), and Michelle’s got a promising future working for the Lighthouse for the Blind, as long as it doesn’t require her to balance on something tall (man, that tumble had to hurt). But otherwise the night was slow enough to get me thinking about the future of this franchise. We all know good things must come to an end, and that end should be coming right quick for our precious Survivor. CBS has signed the franchise for one more year, though we don’t know what will happen during that time. Could there be a time-slot change to a less competitive night? Would Mark Burnett consider another all-star edition? Might he finally take this show to a wintry locale? But what I really want to know is what may happen beyond May of 2008. Make no mistake, this show has suffered from some serious Nielsen erosion (to say nothing of its constant snub by Emmy voters), but it still remains the gold standard of reality TV. After seven years, it’s hard to imagine CBS without it. But maybe you can.

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And that’s my question to you, fellow diehards, who wouldn’t miss an episode even if it meant watching an hour of Dreamz stuffing hotdogs down his piehole: What do you think about the future of this franchise? Will you love this show as much in 2009 as you do today? Can it go on forever?

Survivor: Fiji

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