May 9, 2008By Joe Diliberto Posted: May 9, 2008
How can SURVIVOR: MICRONESIA — FANS VS. FAVORITES continue to surprise me this late in the game? There has never been a season with such a succession of remarkable tribal councils. Each week has been more jaw-dropping than the last, because people just don't learn. Case in point: Erik voluntarily gave individual immunity to Natalie, setting a new high-water mark (or, more properly, a nadir, but I'm working with an island theme here) for SURVIVOR stupidity.
The show opened with the battle lines drawn: Amanda, Parvati and Cirie on one side, and Natalie and Erik on the other. When Erik won the (boring) trivia challenge, it was revealed that he had "promised" both Amanda and Nat to take them with him if he won the reward trip. Uh-oh! He chose to take Amanda to the spa, and send Parv to Exile Island. Parvati didn't mind, because she was just there to keep Nat from finding the last hidden immunity idol. So Parvati enjoyed simply lounging on the beach, sunbathing (which made me feel like I had won the reward!).
When Erik and Amanda returned with newly poofy hair, he was Island Enemy No. 1. (Nat glaring at him while squatting with that machete reminded me of Karen Black at the end of TRILOGY OF TERROR). However, the girls needed to find a way around the fact that Erik went on to win individual immunity. So they hatched a complicated plan to make it look like Nat needed to be protected from elimination by big, strong Erik — who himself needed to make a magnanimous gesture to counteract all his previous backstabbing. The ladies manipulated the tribal council discussion and played Erik like a kazoo. As the shaggy fan handed the immunity necklace to a grateful Natalie, the members of the jury looked like they were going to stroke out from laughing, and Parv gave Nat at kiss. (Talk about a reward!) Erik crossed his fingers, but it was all for naught as the vote went against him. "You guys drive me crazy," he lamented. Host Jeff Probst snarked, "That is what you call a life lesson." As Erik's flame was snuffed, James exulted, "I lost my reign as dumbest Survivor ever!" Yes, James, congratulations. That dubious honor will live with Erik forever. Don't forget: The SURVIVOR finale airs Sunday night at 8 o'clock. I hope everyone crosses fingers for Parvati...
At 10 o'clock, I figured, why not cross over networks and take a moment to check up on ER? Abby was offered a job at a fancy private clinic with great facilities, regular hours and a better salary. Hmmm, didn't that same thing happen to Dr. Benton — or was it Ross? Maybe Greene? I know: Lewis, right? Well, one of them. BO-ring... When I check back later, a glum Neela is sobbing while looking at a Web site. Poor Neela....
LOST used its signature opening-eye motif to kick off the island portion of the episode. Intriguing: Locke's flashback covered a period before he was born. This reminds me of the time-travel rules on QUANTUM LEAP, where Dr. Sam Beckett could leap to any point within his lifetime — counting conception as the starting point, not his actual birth (See the episodes "Play It Again, Seymour," and "The Americanization of Machiko" for examples).
I guess it should be no surprise that Dr. Richard Alpert again turned up so far in the past (and still played by Nestor Carbonell), since he never ages. The test he gave young Locke seems enormously important to me, because it reminded me of the test Buddhist monks administer when searching for reincarnations of the Buddha. The prospective Buddha child is asked to identify items (such as a rice bowl) that "belong" to him from his previous incarnation. This implies to me that Alpert thought Locke was the reincarnation of someone — but who? Remember all the talk of how islanders have been "waiting" for him? But Locke's apparent failure of the test casts that in doubt. He must have done something in the interim to, er, reincarnate hopes. Ben lamented how he no longer has dreams, which I took to mean "prophetic" dreams. He noted that "being chosen" is a bitch. (See? Locke is special!) The reappearance of Abbadon (Lance Reddick) was unnerving. "I'm a lot more than an orderly," he smiled. On this show, who isn't?
Take Christian, for example. It's not enough for him to be a ghost. No, he has to manifest in Jacob's cabin, acting like he owns the place. Why was Jack's late dad giving the orders? It occurs to me that it's possible Christian keeps appearing because his corpse was on the plane when it crashed. Perhaps Jacob is inhabiting the elder Shephard's body, like a ghost in the shell. The whole cabin sequence had a very TWIN PEAKS feel to me. I was thinking about the Red Room, which led to the Black Lodge, the whole time; both have creepy guys spouting cryptic nonsense while a hot blonde languishes nearby. Is Jacob a version of The Man From Another Place? Why was Claire looking so calm after abandoning her baby in the jungle — is she dead, like Laura Palmer? Perhaps Locke needs to shout the invocation, "Fire walk with me!" to access the secrets of Jacob's cabin.
How funny was it that Hugo ended up spotting the damn cabin first, after all that discussion over whether he was needed? Why did the ghost of Horace Goodspeed so closely resemble our shadowy profile glimpses of Jacob? I confess I forgot all about the "Pit o' Dead Dharmas," but at least now we know what happened to them — Ben. The episode ended with one of LOST's best lines ever, Locke remarking: "He wants us to move the island."
It's time for me to move along, until the next Night Shift...