Airdate: April 26, 2001
Boot: Elisabeth Filarski
Quote: “We’ve lost a third-grader.” – Elisabeth Filarski, on the final four’s combined 85-pound weight loss
Rating: 3 + Tier B (4) = 7
It’s the summer of 2000, and Mark Burnett and CBS have got a hit on their hands. In planning the obligatory Survivor sequel, they understandably adopted an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, only making one key adjustment: stretching the sophomore season by an additional three days. Whether this was because Burnett decided the first season finale was too fast-paced, or they wanted to make the experience a bit tougher, or–and let’s be real, this is the correct answer–CBS wanted to wring out an extra week of ad revenue from their cash cow, The Australian Outback remains the only season that extends the adventure beyond the trademark 39 days. (Technically, both Blood vs. Water seasons had a “Day Zero” in which each couple spent the night together. Man, what I wouldn’t give to see the raw footage of Rupert and Laura on the island together.) Bigger isn’t always better, and the penultimate episode of Australia makes it clear why this was never repeated.
These four players are exhausted. Physically, emotionally, mentally…they are spent. Now, in fairness, Australia was a much harsher environment than the show’s new seemingly permanent home in Fiji. And plus, these days the show often has to account for 17 eliminations rather than the 14 we saw in early seasons, and the extremely rushed nature of the final episodes of Millennials vs. Gen X and Game Changers could probably have been diminished with an extra episode. So maybe 42 days isn’t such a bad idea anymore and I’m just wasting virtual ink here because there’s not a whole lot to talk about with this episode.
Seriously, they literally devote airtime to Colby doing the math to convert kilograms to pounds when the contestants are gifted with a scale to see how much weight they’ve lost. I don’t mind slow-paced Survivor, but something needs to be, you know, happening. Keith’s introspective solo trek was probably one of the greatest experiences of his life, but all it offers the show are some admittedly stunning scenery shots. Tina and Elisabeth giving Colby a car-warming gift of flowers is a sweet and genuine gesture, but all it does is punctuate what we already know; that these three get along and like each other. This whole episode is basically just an exercise in delaying the inevitable elimination of fan favorite and last Kucha standing, Elisabeth Filarski.
Ah, sweet Elisabeth. My first Survivor crush. Don’t get me wrong; Colleen was great and all, but Elisabeth was the one whose picture was taped inside my locker in eighth grade.
Elisabeth’s later career on The View and Fox News may have overshadowed her permanent status on the Survivor Sweetheart Mount Rushmore, but nobody can deny that she looks dang cute in glasses in this episode.
But the reward is what everyone remembers about this episode: the Pontiac Aztek. It’s a car! No, it’s a tent! Hey, hey, calm down you two. The Pontiac Aztek’s a floor wax and a dessert topping! Colby wins the car/tent/fog machine/George Foreman grill/Nintendo 64, as well as a night of camping complete with a hot meal and shower, and he’s joined by two guests: a super-awkward Jeff Probst, who reveres Colby the way a boy looks at his best friend’s hot older sister, and his mom. (“His” being Colby’s, of course, although how great would it have been if Probst’s mom was there for some reason?) The editors have a field day turning the affection between mother and son into an Oedipal thing, complete with juxtaposing shots of Colby showering and his mom snapping pictures. Somehow this was not the most misleading sequence in Colby’s Survivor career.