Season 12: Episode 4 - BACKSTABBED!: Ruth Marie Run Off
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

Going to their second straight Tribal Council, La Mina's male alliance flexes their muscles by voting out Ruth Marie Milliman, the 48-year-old director of retail leasing from Greenville, South Carolina. Ruth Marie's diminutive stature and unimpressive challenge performance are cited as weaknesses, but no one denies her loyalty. With her freshly extinguished torch still smoking, Ruth Marie remains positive until the end: "I'm not upset about their decision. It's a game, it's fun, there's lots of twists and turns."

On the heels of a Tribal Council in which a male-dominated vote cast out Misty, Sally questions her own standing with La Mina. "Last night we went to Tribal Council, and Misty was voted out. The guys had said the vote was going to be for Ruth Marie, so it seems I am the odd woman out." Sally determines to work hard, hoping to prove she's valuable to the men.

While Sally bemoans her rank in camp, Ruth Marie couldn't be happier with her tribe. Anticipating a merge, the male alliance recognizes the need for a fifth person in their pact and clandestinely offers the position to Ruth Marie. Dan intones, "I don't think Sally feels like a part of this team, and I think when a merge comes, she will drop us like a stone. But with Ruth Marie, I think she'll stay with that group of five all the way to the end."

At Casaya, Bruce, Shane and Aras scour the rocky shoreline, gathering snails for the tribe's breakfast. Returning to camp with their bounty, the three men are stunned to discover the fire has died and some tribemates are still sleeping. When Aras openly questions the work ethic of the tribe, no one is more defensive than Courtney, who sneers, "Honestly, that kills me to hear that, because I'm constantly working." Annoyed, Aras admits, "If I had my druthers, I wouldn't be in an alliance with Courtney. I would almost lose it on purpose to get Courtney voted off."

The dissension in the tribe is especially palpable to Cirie, who, biding her time until the alliance of four crumbles, admits, "My strategy right now is to continue like I've been working and stay out of the drama."

The tribes reconvene at the Reward Challenge, where host Jeff Probst explains the rules. Each tribe gets six floating puzzle pieces. One tribe member at a time will swim out, dive down, unclip a puzzle piece, and bring it back to the puzzle frame. Once the piece is placed in the puzzle frame, the next person can go out. When all six of the puzzle pieces have been collected, the tribe may start assembling the puzzle by matching corresponding symbols on each side of every piece. First tribe to get it together correctly wins the Reward: Casa de Charmin: a full-service bathroom courtesy of Charmin.

The competition gets underway as Sally and Bobby dive in for their puzzle pieces. Sally's speed in getting the first puzzle piece and her superior strategy helps La Mina to an early lead. After a few heats, Casaya closes the gap when diminutive Ruth Marie struggles to pull her puzzle piece into the frame. Neck and neck with all six puzzle pieces in the frame, the two tribes scramble to assemble their puzzles using two different strategies: Casaya works quickly and quietly, while La Mina is fraught with confusion. In the end, Casaya's cooler heads prevail, gaining them victory and its Reward. With the power to choose an Exile, Casaya selects Terry, hoping a stint on the dreaded outpost will deplete La Mina's fierce leader.

Choking on a bitter defeat, La Mina returns to camp in disarray. With morale down and Terry in exile, the tribe is struggling without clear leadership. Austin laments, "With Terry not being here, you just don't have that person who just seems like they're completely in charge."

At Casaya, the tribe is overjoyed when they return to find Casa de Charmin, a fully functioning bathroom and shower. As the tribe commiserates in the rain, Aras suggests they store firewood and towels in the covered bathroom to keep them dry. While Casaya contemplates the spoils of their victory, Bobby threatens to spoil their Reward. Despite his tribemates' objections, Bobby christens the Casa when nature calls. Danielle moans, "Bobby just frustrates me all day. He's not a gentleman. I can't stand the fact that he's not a gentleman. I just can't stand people like that."

With Terry on Exile Island, Shane revels in the fortunate turn the game has taken: "We've got 'em right where we want 'em. You know? Which is: their leader hurt and the rest of the tribe underfed. Terry's in hell."

With four clues uncovered, Terry wastes no time searching high and low for the hidden Immunity Idol. After trekking the expanse of the island, his search takes him back to where it all started: a clearing high on Exile Island. Pondering the "why" in the very first clue, Terry spots a Y-shaped tree at the edge of the clearing. Using his machete as a shovel, Terry digs deep into the muddy earth until he finally hits something solid. Unearthing a mud-caked wooden crate, Terry hastily pries open the box to reveal the coveted Immunity Idol, which will keep him safe from the vote through the Final Four!

As dawn breaks, Casaya's bonfire is out yet again. Hoping that moving the fire pit closer to their shelter will help them sustain the flame, the tribe gets to work. The fire may be extinguished, but sparks fly when Shane confronts Danielle about what he sees as her poor work ethic. Danielle goes on the attack, calling Shane and everyone else into question. No one is more pleased with the disagreement than Cirie: "The Danielle-Shane and Courtney-Aras foursome is like some psychotic joke. And it seems to be unraveling little by little."

After 11 days, La Mina has had very little to eat. With sole provider Terry stranded on Exile Island, the tribe is floundering. Nick laments, "We really suck at fishing. We're catching no fish. We haven't eaten. I figure we've got about three more days before the entire tribe can't get out of bed." Concerned that their lack of sustenance will result in a weak performance at the Immunity Challenge, Sally feels the pressure more than anyone. "It's just so frustrating, because it's my butt on the line. And if we lose another Immunity Challenge, I'm going home."

The two tribes make their way to the Immunity Challenge location, where Terry is reunited with his hungry La Mina tribemates. Host Jeff Probst explains that the Challenge will test the tribes' balance, teamwork and patience. One person is seated in a chair attached to a pulley, while another person is situated directly above them in a crow's nest, where an empty water drum hangs. The other four remaining tribe members are together in pairs, which will race across a balance beam carrying buckets. Once they reach the water, they must dip their bucket in, get water, race back and empty the water into a larger pail. The person in the crow's nest will pull that pail up and empty the water into the drum. As the drum takes on water, it will lower, but the person in the chair will rise until they're high enough to pull a pin releasing their tribe's flag. First tribe to release their flag wins Immunity.

With Danielle in the seat for Casaya and Ruth Marie in the seat for La Mina, the two tribes are in a dead heat until Dan, bound to Terry, falls off the balance beam, forcing him to start again from the beginning. Casaya is steady, but the swift combination of Sally and Austin make up the difference, forcing an even race to the finish. La Mina falters when Austin's slow, cautious pouring allows Casaya to splash ahead as they hastily fill their bucket moments before La Mina, elevating Danielle to the top of the pole, where she releases the flag, insuring Immunity for Casaya.

As the task of sending someone home looms, the politicking at La Mina rivals that on Capitol Hill. With the male alliance in control, Ruth Marie and Sally are on the chopping block. Having made a pact with Dan, Ruth Marie believes she has the protection of an alliance, but Austin, who has grown fond of Sally, sites Sally's athletic ability and keen performance in the challenge as he lobbies Terry on her behalf. With Terry back from Exile Island, the power structure is back in place. Sally, knowing her fate is out of her hands, laments, "Terry calls the shots around here, and if he doesn't think I'm worth keeping around, then I'm gone tonight."

In the end, Sally was saved, but Ruth Marie was not as fortunate, and the 48-year-old mother of two from Greenville, South Carolina was edged out in a 4-2 vote, making her the fourth castaway voted out of SURVIVOR: PANAMA--EXILE ISLAND.