Anhtuanbui_cookislands_240_1 It’s been several episodes since the tribes were integrated, but racial paranoia plays a key role in Thursday (Oct. 19) night’s Survivor: Cook Islands.

Pre-Credit Sequence From Raro.
In middle school, we had a crackpot substitute teacher who dedicated a Spanish class to teaching us about the importance of P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude). That’s both why I can’t speak Spanish and why P.M.A. comes to mind as Thursday’s episode begins with Adam and Cristina getting into a heated argument around the fire over whether or not she’s annoying. Interestingly, she insists she isn’t, while he maintains she is. Adam informs her that "That’s just the way it is." Cristina is reduced to tears. Talking to the camera the next morning, still red-eyed, the cop reminds us that she’s been shot in the line of duty, so this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to her. See? Positive Mental Attitude, kids.

So long and thanks for all the fish?
Ozzy, just about the only player worth admiring so far this season, is a fishing machine. He’s darting between reefs, staying underwater for minutes at a time and bringing in piles of fish (which must have something to do with his tribe’s recent strength in challenges). Jonathan, Ozzy’s mostly useless fishing buddy, is grateful for the protein, but he recognizes that eventually they’re going to merge and Ozzy may be unbeatable. Although Jonathan hints at needing to get ride of Ozzy, this is a thread that’s never mentioned again in a poorly edited episode.

Reward Challenge.
They’re playing for a feast of lamb shanks, bread and apple cider. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the feast will take place at Tribal Council. Both tribes will have to vote somebody out. But on the plus side, the winning tribe gets to eat while listening in on the other tribe’s negotiations. Castaways from one team cling to a wooden post while players from other tribes try to pry them off and drag them across the sand. It conjures up fond memories of last season’s finest challenge, one that also had contestants pulling hair, eating sand and wrapping their limbs around each other in occasionally appealing ways. Candice has a darned strong grip, or else Parvati’s skills as an alleged boxer don’t convert to actual strength. I wanted to see a bit more GLOW action between those two. Instead, Candice is so dominating that her tribe builds an insurmountable lead. Jeff Probst promises that one more surprise will be revealed at Tribal Council.

Plan Voodoo.
It’s not quite a Pyrrhic Victory, but all joy in the Aitu camp is tempered by the awareness that they’re still going to have to lose a player. Thankfully, Cao Boi’s had a shamanistic vision that makes everything clear. Actually, it makes everything confusing as heck, as it stems from a dream featuring an old lady distributing credit card applications. The opportunity to secure a Players Club membership leads Cao Boi to Plan Voodoo, an intricate plot to split votes between Candice and Jonathan in an effort to flush out the immunity idol Cao Boi is convinced Jonathan possesses. You know who loves this idea most? Yul, who actually has the idol.

Cristinacoria_cookislands_240Nate fears the Asian Conspiracy.
While Nate looks for octopi Cristina is trying to mend bridges with Adam, who nods to her face, but assures the camera that she’s still going home. Nate, though, figures that sparing Cristina would create a faithful ally, admitting that he fears a potential Asian conspiracy should Jenny be reunited with her former tribe.

Cao Boi fears the White Alliance.
Jonathan thinks that Cao Boi is a wild card and needs to be voted out. But Cao Boi is mobilizing everybody else against the supposed White Alliance. Sundra and Becky worry that Jonathan has a lean, hungry look. "For whatever reason, he seems to inspire some level of mistrust among everyone," Yul notes, adding that if everybody is worried about Jonathan, there must be a reason. Plan Voodoo appears to be in full effect, with Ozzy introducing the only note of skepticism. Jonathan tells the camera that he’ll be shocked if he’s voted off. Stupid white man.

Tribal Council No. 1.
After a lengthy discussion about the metaphorical value of the immunity idol, Cao Boi admits that in life he’s usually either loved or hated. Jonathan tries to deflect a leadership position. They all concur that it stinks that they need to vote anybody off. Cao Boi insists that the vote will expose the Queen and give the tribe a truer picture of itself. He so crazy! Somehow, in ways entirely unmotivated by the editing of the episode, the person voted out is Cao Boi. I hate it when the editors think they’re being clever, when really all they’re doing is keeping me from caring about the strategy of the game. Cao Boi gets bonus weird-points by blaming the Asian Conspiracy for his demise.

Tribal Council No. 2.
Aitu passes around a tasty looking Tub o’ Lamb Shanks. They lick their fingers as Raro licks their lips. "Snap, that smells good over there," Nate mutters. Meanwhile, Candice and Adam keep making googly eyes from across the flames. The twist is that Aitu gets to kidnap one member from the Raro tribe, making them immune to elimination and earning them some bonus lamb shanks. They decide to collect Nate, preventing Candice and Adam from enjoying each others, um, shanks. After Aitu departs, Jeff tallies the votes. Jenny gets her share of votes, but Cristina is still eliminated.

Who are you more afraid of, the Asian Conspiracy or the White Alliance? And if you had to pick a winner now, who would it be?

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg