Poor, poor Gretchen is shown next, at the pre-school where she teaches. Her audition tape is one of the only amusing Blair Witch parodies ever. She is filmed in dark woods-style, crying, saying she's so, so scared they won't pick her. Classy, smart. Gretchen, why couldn't you have won? Her son, who seems very smart and well-adjusted, too, is shown on the tape. He says he just wants the money, and seems clever enough to know that he's not really being serious. Can you tell I'm on love with Gretchen? She's Every Woman. In her interview tape, she talks about her survival skills and the fact that she's had natural labor twice. Damn! She does slip by saying she's been "mentally challenged," which doesn't quite sound like it's what she meant to say.
On the island, she talks about her luxury items, which are a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. Okay, this is how cool Gretchen is: She shares her floss and toothbrush with the rest of the tribe. I know married couples who won't share a toothbrush. Her attitude is that they all share spoons and stuff anyway, so if none of them has a cold, they're not going to get one. Damn, Gretchen. Will you be my big sister? She talks about the shelter they've built. She complains a little bit, and the insinuation is that people are bitter about her complaining. So far in the DVD, we've heard nothing about an alliance. But this is where it comes out that one must exist. At tribal council, Sue says she's voting Gretchen off because she's too strong. Rudy mentions, for the first time, that it's because of the alliance. Rich harps on what SNL has coined as "strategery." Just like that, Gretchen is off. Last summer, the whole country gasped. Now, I'm just sad. She should've won. Life isn't fair. Gretchen shakes Jeff Probst's hand and leaves. Her final words are that she didn't conquer, but that she had a great time playing. She also says that Greg reminds her of her son, and she hopes her son might grow up to be like him. Wow. Her only regret is that she thinks people didn't say their true thoughts about her to her face.
A segment right after that shocker is on Survivor Challenges. They range from goofy to actually quite cool-looking, and nothing is ever as gross as the beetle larvae competition. We get a montage of swimming, running through the forest, spear-throwing, rowing. The fact that it can all be shown in just a few seconds demonstrates that in the grand scheme of things, the challenges were all setup, and very little of what made the show successful. We do hear the f-word for the first time when Kelly says of Gervase, "I got beat by a guy who can't even fucking swim." I go over and kiss my DVD player. Rope swinging. Hugs. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. Richard does his little scary fire dance. Everybody jumps in the mud. You know, some of the challenges were actually pretty funny. Rudy's Alzheimer Challenge is shown, on which he couldn't remember anything in the forest trivia quest.