Rupert didn't get the shark. Hmm, didn't get it, huh? Imagine. He did not get the victory. He did not overcome adversity. Rupert did not succeed. Rupert came down on the losing side of the epic battle. Take a minute; let it sink in. Anyway, Rupert says that he "loves being the baddest hunter out there," and would have loved to bring the shark back. "I never give up; I never surrender," he says gravely, to the delight of Galaxy Quest-loving forum posters. "I never admit defeat." That's going to be a little tough when you're enjoying your first KFC meal at Loser Lodge, babe.
Commercials. God bless Old Navy and whatever drugs their marketing department takes every year around this time. It wouldn't be the holidays without them.
On Day 26, there is some seamail to interrupt all the intrigue. It suggests an event involving running around on a boat, and Burton interviews that if it's a speed thing, he expects to do well. He says that if he wins, he anticipates that he'd probably give the reward to Rupert, just to keep peace. He even -- rather foolishly -- tells this to Rupert. Rupert solemnly says in an interview that he and Burton have a deal that Burton will give Rupert the reward if he wins, because Rupert gave Burton what he calls "my breakfast...my wonderful breakfast." Of course, when he gave away breakfast, Rupert said it was because Burton gave him immunity the night before, so it would appear that they are already even, but...far be it from Rupert to see it that way. "Burton promised me," Rupert whines in an interview that we will later learn took place after the reward challenge was over. I didn't see a promise myself -- I just saw a statement that that was what Burton planned to do, but whatever. Rupert goes on to say that the idea of this promise was that "it keeps unity between he [sic] and I [sic]; it keeps unity in our group." In other words, "It would operate to manipulate me just as Burton intended."
The group -- the members of which are looking pretty damn thin and scraggly these days -- makes its way up the beach to Jeff, who explains that the reward challenge involves an "obstacle course" on a mocked-up pirate ship. They'll run the course in teams of two; it involves a net climb, a rope swing, a crow's-nest climb followed by some knot-untangling, a slide down a sail, and some ringing of bells along the way. The winning pair will move into the finals, because once again, we're in heats. (No, no, we're in heats, I said.) And what is the reward? Well, the reward is a trip on a deep-sea fishing boat, where the recipient will receive beer and pizza and, of course, some deep-sea fishing. Jeff calls this "an adventure day," because he got the challenge description off the website for a fitness resort and spa, where a catamaran and a catered meal can still spell "adventure." He draws something out of something to determine the teams, and Burton and Lill (together again!) are paired against Christa and Darrah. Christa and Darrah actually pull ahead at the beginning, but then Darrah has a little bit of trouble grabbing the rope swing, and Burton's a little quicker with the knots than Christa is, and Burton and Lill take the first heat. In the next heat, Tijuana and Sandra face Rupert and Jon. Tijuana apparently really wants this reward, because she is a monster on the nets, and when Jon forgets to ring his bell and has to go back, the ladies seem to have a shot. In the end, though, Sandra is too slowpokey and Rupert and Jon move on to face Burton and Lill in the final. The final turns out to be a little different, and involves retrieving puzzle pieces and then assembling them. The early highlight is basically that Rupert's skirt gets caught during the climbing, and he full-on flashes the entire world with pretty much everything he has. Rupert and Jon take an early lead, but -- what do you know? -- in a challenge that isn't physical, Rupert basically loses it on the puzzle assembly at the end, and Burton and Lill take it home. My favorite part is where Rupert pounds a puzzle piece with his fist, trying to force it to fit together. WHO GAVE ME THIS PUZZLE PIECE THAT DOESN'T FIT!? Heh. And also the open-mouth kiss Lill semi-accidentally plants on Burton at the end, prompting him to go, "Quit doin' that, Lill!" It's hard to tell how serious he is, but it's kind of funny either way. Because whether your mom means to kiss you on the mouth with her lips askew or whether she does it by accident? Still comedy. Or, you know, Greek tragedy.