|Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am|
In an emotional decision, the dynamic 52-year-old Maralyn "Mad Dog" Hershey, a retired police officer from Wakefield, Virginia, was voted out of the tribe by five of the seven remaining Ogakor members. The much-liked but physically weakest elder Ogakor member, Maralyn was sacrificed largely because she had difficulty keeping up with the intense physical nature of the last immunity challenge. Some Ogakor members even acknowledged that they might have had a better chance winning immunity had they not voted out Kel Gleason three days earlier.
It was a difficult but important decision for the tribe: well-liked and respected, Maralyn was an important contributor to Ogakor's spirit, but physical strength was important too. Even Tina sadly joined the others to cast her vote for Mad Dog, despite their friendship, which was probably tighter than that between any other tribe members. Thankful for her time spent in the Outback, Maralyn claimed, "This experience has meant so much to me at 52. I can really feel myself coming alive."
The Pig Hunter
At Kucha, Michael Skupin took up the cause of catching food for his tribe. Worn out and hungry from lack of protein, Mike stressed to his tribe the importance of eating properly in order to compete in the Outback: "Ultimately this game is about the million dollars, but there are small steps along the way to get there. One of the steps is eating. None of us are going to win anything without protein in our bodies so we can compete in the challenges. I am going to get us something living; I am very determined to kill a pig." Many, however, considered Mike's goal ridiculous, and suspected that he was merely out to please himself. Having never seen a pig, his fellow tribe members dreaded the thought of Mike's losing their only knife on a useless cause. But with face painted, Mike remained committed. "It's classic Mike, he's an idiot!" exclaimed Jeff Varner.
Day 7 continued with both tribes receiving "tree mail" summoning them to the reward challenge, "Water Torture." In this challenge, each tribe selects their strongest member to be the "water bearer." Each of the other tribe members must walk along narrow planks above the river, Colby carries the load for Ogakorcarrying two jugs filled with water, without falling off. Once a tribe member successfully completes the walk, the two water jugs are placed on a wooden pole, which the opposing tribe's water bearer carries over his shoulders. The water bearer who endures the weight the longest without falling off his platform wins. The reward: much-needed fishing tackle.
The fate of the challenge rested on the shoulders of Colby Donaldson for Ogakor and Michael Skupin for Kucha, who both ultimately bore over 400 pounds each on their backs. After a long standoff, Mike's pole broke due to the weight of the water, prompting a run-off match between the tribes. That round consisted of a five-minute race in which the tribe who gets more buckets on their own water bearer's pole wins. In a close match, Ogakor won and took home the valued fishing tackle.
Kiss the Cook
After Ogakor's morale-building victory, Jerri, Amber, and Mitchell did not hesitate to put their reward to use by successfully catching an abundance of fish. To the astonishment of Keith, who had his cooking duties revoked after Jerri successfully made her tortilla, the tribe pleaded with him to gut and fillet the fish for dinner. Keith obliged, blindly thinking that his stock would rise after he prepared his delicacy, but Colby had a different assessment of the situation: "Even when Keith was cooking the fish, I noticed that there were several eyes paying close attention, and what that tells me is that his stock didn't go up at all. He only played the role of instructor." Others agreed: Although he gratefully devoured the meal, Mitchell pointed out, "Having a chef out here isn't critical, because we really don't have much to work with. I could have cooked that."
While winning over the hearts of his tribe and earning their respect, Rodger Bingham, the farmer/school teacher from Crittenden, Kentucky, took on a new nickname from his fellow Kuchas: "Kentucky Joe." No other tribe member felt a stronger bond with Kentucky Joe than Elisabeth Filarski, the 23-year-old footwear designer from Newton, Massachusetts. In a sign of affection, Kentucky Joe gave Elisabeth a heart-shaped stone that he had found while fishing, telling her that it symbolized how much he cared for her. A teary-eyed Elisabeth later acknowledged, "It matters so much to me that he is around. I will not spell that man's name on a piece of paper."
Meanwhile, Jeff and Alicia created a strategic bond of their own by agreeing that they were the only two who could trust each other and that they would work to stay together until the final four. The two calculated each member's worth, concluding that Nick couldn't be trusted and wasn't contributing enough around camp. Alicia added, "He is way too comfortable with his position here." (
Flirting with Disaster
JThe mutual attraction between auto customizer Colby Donaldson and aspiring actress Jerri Manthey began to draw attention. The two had been spending hours privately sharing their thoughts and playfully flirting. Said Jerri, "I would really like it if Colby and I got together. He's exactly my type, plus he's a cowboy, and I'm a sucker for a cowboy." One night, Jerri even gave Colby a back massage, much needed after the hundreds of pounds of water jugs he had carried during the challenge earlier that day.
Dubious about Jerri's intentions, Keith wondered whether she was merely spinning a web to lure Colby closer into a trap. He may be right. Even Jerri ultimately vowed, "If it came down to me having to vote for Colby, I would."
Cold and wet from a torrential overnight storm, the tribes were feeling lethargic when they convened at the next immunity challenge. The most grueling challenge yet, "Lock Step" requires that each tribe be tied together with rope as they traverse over and under obstacles, through water and deep sand. The first team to cross the finish line entirely wins immunity.
Kucha took an early lead until battered and fatigued Rodger Bingham tangled himself in the rope and fell to the ground several times. His tribe did the best they could to support him, but ultimately fell behind. Out of breath and energy, Mad Dog stumbled. Colby valiantly lifted her in many attempts, but the last one was too late: Kucha had regained the lead and ultimately won the race. Both teams nearly collapsed at the finish line, but Kucha still had enough energy to cheer as they accepted the immunity idol. Defeated, the Ogakor tribe realized that they would soon be facing their second consecutive tribal council.
Strategy and Trust
With weakened morale, the Ogakor tribe returned home to contemplate a difficult decision. Strategies were at work. Keith lobbied Tina and Colby, whom he felt he could particularly trust, to vote Mitchell out of the tribe, declaring Mitchell to be weak and less of a contributor to tribe activities than Maralyn, whom he admired. What he hadn't realized is that Colby and Tina had already allied with Mitchell; Colby even informed Mitchell of Keith's maneuvers against him, and Mitchell called him a "backstabber."
Tina and Maralyn develop a bondBut the most difficult decision was Tina's, for she and Maralyn had formed a very strong bond. In fact, at Tribal Council Maralyn described Tina as conjoined to her hip and a constellation in her eyes. Voting against Maralyn, Tina expressed her hope that Maralyn would understand she was simply upholding her promise to the others. But another bond had also formed among a larger group; as Jerri acknowledged, she's been getting along particularly well with Amber, Mitchell, and Colby.
And so in the end, Maralyn gave her "Mad Dog" cap to Amber and gracefully watched as her torch was extinguished.
It was Kimmi and Alicia who created Rodger Bingham's Kucha nickname, "Kentucky Joe."