In the Green bunkhouse, a few of the kids are talking about how to make the most of the last few days. Morgan says they need to padlock the arcade so kids can spend more quality time with each other. Kennedy agrees. Live life to its fullest by outlawing fun.
Zach, meanwhile, is milking a goat. "I'm from Miami Beach, Florida," he smirks. "I'd like to see my parents try to do this." Let's just let Zach go on thinking that he's the best goat-milker in the greater Miami area, at least until he's old enough to get into certain clubs.
Possibly inspired by the Council's journey of discovery (which they wouldn't be if they knew what was going on), Alex and Jared have decided to go on a little walkabout of their own. At the edge of a dry wash, they look down and spot what looks to be a bleached cow skeleton, or at least the prop version thereof. They scamper down to check it out. Pointing at the bone in Alex's hand, Jared says, "That's either a thigh or a femur." Pointing out the ball and socket joint on one end, Alex identifies it as...the latter. He interviews that when he grows up, he wants to be "a chemist, a geography teacher, or a linguist. Especially a linguist because linguistics are really fun." Jared interviews that he'd like to have Alex as a best friend or brother. Back at the skeleton, Jared talks about using carbon dating to determine the age of the skeleton, which is the most recent excuse for me to start wondering if Jared is maybe not quite as smart as he tries to come off. I mean, it still has most of its teeth attached. As they leave their little dig site with Jared carrying the cow's hipbone, Jared declares, "Pelvis has left the building, baby!" And when you've made a nine-year-old with one tooth groan at your bad joke, you're in trouble.
Darkness falls, and the Council is still hanging with the Pueblos near their campfire. The Chief Dr.-Phils at them about how it's easy to be mean and selfish, but hard to live well, although it's more rewarding. "What goes around comes around," Greg translates. Somehow, DK makes the leap of interpreting this to mean that they should look at some of the smarter kids in the town and give one of them as Gold Star as an investment in the future. Which, for the town, consists of four more days, but never mind.
Day 36. In their color-coded hats and anoraks, the kids (minus the Council) meet up on the Showdown field. Jonathan's rocking a cowboy hat this time, and surprisingly enough, it kind of works for him. So how did they come up with a Showdown to go along with the "Council gone" theme? Well, it's kind of a stretch, so bear with me. Jonathan asks if anyone knows about the Homestead Act. Jared speaks up, saying it's "when you get 160 acres of free land and you can only keep it if you work it for five years or more." That actually kind of impresses me. I've been going back and forth on Jared for a while, trying to figure out if he's actually a genius or if he's just so weird and nerdy that everyone assumes he is, and he plays along with it by using big words and subscribing to Discover magazine. If I'm ever going to figure that out, it's going to have to be soon. Jonathan confirms that Jared is correct, and here's how it relates to the Showdown. Each district gets a "homestead," which consists of a small, wooden, one-room house; a crate of chickens; "a grumpy old alpaca," as Jonathan calls the ruminant tied to a stake in each district's starting area; and a flag with their team's color. "Basic pioneer stuff," he claims, as we all remember the Ingalls' ill-tempered alpaca, Ramon, and the giant calico flag flying over their little house on the prairie. What the kids are going to have to do is move all of that crap across a couple hundred yards of scrub. There's a gentle rise that Jonathan calls a "ravine" before the kids get to a small, fenced-in area where they're supposed to move everything and set it up. "These homesteads are heavy," Jonathan warns. In an interview, Mike points out the irony of being without their strongest boys for a purely physical challenge. If by "irony" he means "contrivance." The first to finish, as always, gets to be Upper Class, and they've all got an hour to finish in order to get their reward. And about that? Guylan interviews, "If Sophia picks the reward that I don't like in the Showdown, I will go insane!" Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Guylan. Even if, as Alex assures us, "Using kid power, you can haul a lot of things, actually."