Survivor Samoa: My New TV Girlfriend Goes Home After the First Date
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
I'm crestfallen. Last night on Survivor: Samoa, Marisa Calihan became the first person voted out of the Foa Foa tribe. Russell targeted her because she admitted she was "leery" of him, and as Jeff Probst read the votes she reminded me of the horse in The Neverending Story sinking into the Swamp of Sadness. Every time Jeff read a vote for Ashley, Marisa seemed relieved to learn the whole thing was a mistake.

Then he read a vote for her and her mouth became a child's zigzagging magic marker line. I wanted to jump off the couch and shout "No! Spare her! Vote me off instead!" Unfortunately I wasn't playing.

When Probst snuffed her torch, the farm girl who said her good looks never got her an extra piece of chicken looked at him with sad puppy dog eyes as if to say "How could you?" Then she blubbered. I get a lump in my throat watching insurance commercials. After watching that, well, I had to take a walk.

From the time she hit shore the proud first generation Appalachian was shaking with frenetic excitement to be there. It was as though we'd met, gone on a Tivo speed date and she'd agreed to be my TV Girlfriend before the first commercial. She was surprised to receive Russell's vote for tribal chief, but you could see in her eyes that she felt like she deserved it. Her comic book thought bubble would have read, "Yes, I could be the tribal chief. Thank you for noticing."

She pulled a Rain Man in the challenge, shouting out part of the answer to the puzzle just from looking at a tangle of sticks. And she told a man built like a brutish hippopotamus why he was leading her to question his trustworthiness - not exactly the flirt and giggle strategy. I was very impressed. She'll be missed.
Thankfully, we're looking at an especially deep roster of good Survivor characters this season, so there will be many adventures ahead.   

Biker chick Shambo "The  Female Rambo" has a voice that could be confused in a double blind study for Sue Hawk's. One could easily imagine her fitting in on the original Survivor. She's from Renton, Washington, which, from the perspective of people in Seattle, might as well be small town Wisconsin.

Since leaving the United States Marine Corps Shambo has gone gray and assumed a civilian waistline.  What's worse, she's lost her edge, as she seems awfully goofy and lovable for a drill sergeant. But she's obviously having a contagious amount of fun out there. She was more surprised than anyone that she outperformed Liz the Attorney in a puzzle challenge since, as she put it, she's "wise in the ways of life, not so much academics." Go Shambo! Get your Rambo on!

Betsy Bolan was one of my pre-show favorites because of her unusual and intriguing life story. She's a former substance abuser who cleaned up her act and started her career as a police offer at age 47. I love the idea of Betsy. I really wanted to see her put a lifetime of hard won wisdom to use.

Unfortunately, she sucks. She came up on the wrong side of the vote. But what's worse, she answered Jeff's question about who the weakest member of the tribe was, and she chose someone who wasn't going home. That's like breaking up with someone at the start of a four-hour car trip.  Enjoy the awkward conversation, Betsy, and just hope you don't get kicked out in the middle of BFE.

To make matters worse, Ashley, the girl she picked on, is a super fan of the show, like Todd Herzog as a cheerleader. She may have been the only person on Foa Foa who was thrilled to go to Tribal Council. In fact, she was so insensitive to the emotional realities of voting someone off that Jeff Probst suggested perhaps she wouldn't mind going first. I think she was just too distracted by seeing the bright lights of Tribal Council - you know, the set of her favorite TV show. I'm sure she was only too happy to verbally joust with Betsy because she knew it would make the broadcast. So again, bad call Betsy.

You may notice I haven't paid a lot of attention to Russell Hantz. You know, the "fireman who was in Katrina." That's by design.  See, it's been very clear since the cast was announced that Russell was the star of this show. Every commercial, every media article and, yes, almost every scene in the episode revolves around "The New Face of Evil" Russell. The man burns socks.

He burns socks!

That's evil. Russell feeds on attention the way Hurley from Lost feeds on volcano burritos. But since he voted off Marisa, I say let him starve.

The New Face of Evil? I call Russell the New Face of Weevils. Now all we need is to find a woman who doesn't mind squashing bugs.   

Who was your favorite? Do you think Betsy has a chance?

-Henry Jenkins, Guest Columnist
(Image courtesy of CBS)