Season 12: Episode 2 - SWAN SONG FOR SINGER: Melinda doesn't make it
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

On night six, during a heartfelt Tribal Council, Melinda Hyder, the 32-year-old singer/entertainer from Sevierville, Tennessee, is voted out of the game. After the four tribes become two, Melinda falls victim to an alliance in which her personality doesn't mesh with the others. Despite her sincere Tribal Council plea, she becomes the second person voted out of SURVIVOR: PANAMA--EXILE ISLAND. As she departs Tribal Council, Melinda delivers her Final Words: "I just found myself on the tribe that's like, 'Hey man, Yo dude,' and that's just not me. It will never be me."

A storm pounds the four tribes during the night as they struggle to keep warm and dry. The Older Men's camp is nearly knocked out by lightning, while the Younger Men huddle in their shelter. "We are dying here, fellas," cries a desperate Aras while the rain continues to pound them.

As the sun breaks through the morning clouds, the mood brightens at the Younger Women's camp when Sally and Courtney find a papaya tree. As the tribe feasts on their island delicacy, Misty beams, "I am so happy I can hardly talk. We have food!"

All is not fun at games, however, at the Older Men's camp, as Shane is breaking down because of the harsh elements and missing home. "I have no idea why I did this to myself. I miss my son so much, and I am thinking about all the things I am missing back home," laments a tearful Shane as he walks along the beach.

The Survivors arrive to greet host Jeff Probst and are shocked to learn that the four tribes are to become two. In a schoolyard pick, one by one the two new tribes form. The new Casaya tribe consists of Danielle, Courtney, Aras, Shane, Cirie, Bobby and Melinda. The new La Mina tribe is Dan, Terry, Austin, Nick, Ruth Marie, Sally and Misty. Not being selected, Bruce is told that he is banished to Exile Island. However, there is a silver lining: he will be immune from the vote and will replace the Survivor voted out in the upcoming Tribal Council and join that tribe.

Jeff Probst explains the rules of the Reward Challenge. The two new tribes must race through an obstacle course, collecting six wooden snakes along the way. The tribes will collect two snakes at each of three stations. Each tribe must delegate one player to carry all six snakes throughout the entire course. The first tribe to cross the finish line with all their snakes wins the Reward: valuable fishing supplies.

Nick is designated snake wrangler for La Mina and Courtney for Casaya. Both tribes are neck and neck throughout the race, until, La Mina takes a slight lead after Sally unties the second snake. Casaya is not far behind, with Courtney doing an impressive job managing the weight of the snakes. Casaya closes the gap at the last station, but in the end, fortune smiles on La Mina as Terry and Dan quickly find the last two snakes buried in the pit of leaves and cross the finish line, winning the prized fishing gear for their hungry tribe.

Upon arrival at their camp, the younger members of Casaya quickly begin to bond. Shane's emotional highs and lows continue, rising to a peak after the morning's valley. "I'm in a much better mood than I was this morning," he remarks. "I've always related better with younger people." But not everyone is as excited about their new tribemates. Cirie and Melinda sense a division between themselves and the tribe. Melinda laments, "If our tribe loses the coming-up Immunity Challenge, I think Cirie and I are screwed." Melinda's concern is valid, because Shane wastes little time engineering an alliance with Courtney, Danielle and Aras. Shane seals the pact, saying, "I swear to you on my son's life, it's us four."

At La Mina, alliances are foremost on the minds of the tribemates. Terry is first to strike, approaching Nick and Austin with a proposition to align with him and Dan. Nick and Austin find themselves in a tug of war between the older men, Dan and Terry, and the younger women, Sally and Misty. Sally makes her plea to Austin: "We were thinking if the four of us stuck together, meaning you and Nick, we'd have the numbers." Ultimately, the decision goes unmade as Austin reveals, "We are definitely in the middle of a tug of war. It lets me know that this is not all fun and games. This is serious, and somebody is going to get hurt."

Alone on Exile Island, Bruce finds the clue for the Immunity idol: it is above the tide line. Along with the clue is a map that excludes a section of the island where the idol is not hidden. With the day waning, Bruce opts to delay looking for the idol, instead setting his priorities on making fire. Several attempts and a broken flint later, Bruce is without fire for warmth, has no way of boiling water to drink and no shelter to protect him from the impending storm. As night closes in, so too does the storm, leaving the exposed Exile in misery.

Not having eaten in days, La Mina tribemates are anxious to see their reward in action. After some brief spear-tutelage from Terry, Sally sets out with Nick to try her luck. Sally's first attempt to use the spear proves disastrous when she neglects to hold onto the handle, losing the precious Hawaiian sling in the dark abyss. After several unsuccessful attempts to recover the spear, Sally paddles back to camp and shares the bad news with her tribe. No one is more disappointed than Terry, who laments, "I have no question in mind that we would be eating tons of fish right now if we had that spear."

The tribes reconvene with Jeff Probst at the Immunity Challenge, where he explains the rules of the game. The two tribes must work together to transport a giant zombie head from the ocean to the beach. Each tribe has a boat anchored to the ocean floor with a large wooden box. In addition, each boat has six holes filled with rubber plugs. Five tribe members have to pull out the plugs and begin bailing water out of the boat while the other two tribe members jump into the water and start moving the boat by pulling the anchor towards shore. Once the boat is clipped onto the hitching post, it's a race up the beach to put the anchor on the finish mat. The first tribe to put the zombie head on the zombie body wins Immunity. Both tribes struggle until Terry dives deep in the water to drag the anchor across the ocean's sandy floor. Terry's Herculean effort helps La Mina take a huge lead, while Casaya continues haplessly. La Mina never relinquishes their lead, and Nick hoists Ruth Marie onto his shoulders as she places the zombie head on the body, thus securing Immunity and sending the battered Casaya tribe to that night's Tribal Council.

After returning to camp from their demoralizing defeat, Casaya realize that one of their own will be sent packing that night. Shane, feeling the pressure of the game, missing his son, and going through cigarette withdrawal, pleads with his tribemates to vote him off. To the dismay of some and relief of others, it seems that Shane will be going home at Tribal Council. But after a discussion with Aras, the mercurial Shane has a surprising reversal: he doesn't want to go home. In the aftermath of Shane's wavering, the focus shifts to Cirie and Melinda, and the Casaya alliance is exposed when Shane brazenly reveals, "There's been an arrangement obviously made. I don't care which one of you goes. Whoever doesn't go now is going next."

The newly formed Casaya alliance prevails, voting out Melinda in a 5-2 decision, making her the second castaway voted out of SURVIVOR: PANAMA--EXILE ISLAND. Before returning to camp, Bruce is given his purple buff and joins the Casaya tribe, replacing the distraught Melinda.