Survivor: Dominoes

Boston Rob might have moaned “Why does there have to be a twist?” when Jeff Probst told Murlonio to bring a super-secret package with them to Tribal Council, but it ended up working completely in his favor. On this week’s episode of Survivor we saw the last two members of the former Zapatera tribe get picked off, which means one thing:

It’s about to get very interesting.

There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s start from the beginning. Phillip found his shorts.

I Dream of Geneology

Someone should hook Phillip up with Shambo when this season wraps, since they both seem to take their dreams so seriously. Phillip arose the morning after voting Julie out and declared he’d had another dream/premonition/imaginary conversation featuring his great-grandfather. And this time, old pops told him where to find the swimming trunks Julie had buried. And the lunatic actually found them! What the hell? I was so bummed. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of watching Phillip prance around in his fuchsia Underoos for the rest of the season, but I did like the idea that Julie had somehow foiled him. Phillip found them, dug them up and declared “Am I good, or what?!” I’m sorry, Phil – I thought it was your great-grandfather who found the shorts? I don’t see how you deserve any credit in this situation. Phillip also bragged that he’d found the suit with “no clues”. First of all, Phillip? It’s not a hidden immunity idol. You are not the Russell Hantz of swimming trunks. Second of all? I’d say a message from the dead with the location of the trunks counts as a clue, if that is the story you are going with.

In other Phillip news, he refused to accept Steve’s offer to bury the hatchet after the racially charged discussion at Tribal Council. He’s a classy dude, that Phillip. Apparently he “didn’t feel it was totally genuous”. Man, the dry mouth strikes again! As for poor Steve, he now has to add a “no prejudice” disclaimer every time he talks about how crazy Phillip is – which is a lot, because Phillip is insane.

Prayers and Glares

Over at Redemption Island, Matt was getting more and more…what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah. Annoying. I took a little heat over my comments about Matt and religion last week, but I have nothing new to say this week. I cannot stand Matt and his constant moanings about how god wants this, and god wants that. No! No, no, no! God and Survivor have nothing to do with one another. God has not put Matt on Redemption Island, and he sure as hell doesn’t care if he stays there. He has bigger fish to fry! So Matt, if you wanna go, then go. There are other people who want it, and at this point I’d say deserve it, way more than you do.When Matt told Probst “I told him [god] I’d stay here as long as he wanted,” it really annoyed me. Matt’s there because he thinks god wants him to be, but everyone else is there because they want it. They want to play, they want to fight, they want to win. Matt doesn’t have it in him anymore, and now it’s just pathetic.

If I were Mike or Julie, I would have taken the opportunity to exploit Matt’s weak state of mind. This is a game, after all. Feed off his misery! Convince him that, yes, this is the worst. That what Boston Rob did to him was horrible. That he is wasting away. Echo every miserable, depressed, pathetic thought he utters so that when he goes into the challenge he has the worst possible state of mind. Call me mean, but I think it would be a smart strategy.

image The truel this week was a little dull – Survivor shuffleboard. At this point, I want to see things that really take a lot of concentration or will power to complete. Endurance challenges, puzzles, etc. Show me who wants to win, not who has a rec room in their basement. Matt completed the challenge first, followed by Mike. Julie was out, and we all felt really sad when she said how her house is in foreclosure but she’d had a really good experience. And then I might have rolled my eyes a little when she said Matt had inspired her to get involved with a church back home.

The Matt/Andrea soap opera continued on Redemption Island, when she made eye contact with him and he reacted as though she was Medusa. Later, Andrea mused “It almost kind of looked like he gave me a really dirty look.” Oh honey. No. He definitely gave you a really dirty look. Andrea shouldn’t have spoken up about her guilty conscience, though, because it set off alarm bells for everyone in her alliance.

Rollin’ on the River

I had a feeling Grant would win the Immunity Challenge as soon as Probst explained what it was – the players would face each other in pairs to see who could balance on a rolling log the longest. Grant has proven that he’s really good at a variety of challenges – strength, agility, even some puzzles – and I’m surprised no one has floated around the idea of axing him as soon as Zapatera is gone. I know he’s Rob’s right hand man, but I cannot see Rob taking him to the finals. You’d think there would be some concern that Grant is strong enough to win his way there, and they’d want to get him out sooner rather than later.

It was interesting to see how the challenge broke down – in the first round Grant beat his BFF Rob, Ashley beat Andrea, Ralph beat his BFF Steve and Phillip, unfortunately, beat Natalie. I was sure Phillip would last all of 0.6 seconds, based his natural inbalance – mentally and physically.

Next Grant took down Ashley and Ralph took down Phillip, and their final face-off was pretty close. Ralph is a lot more agile than he looks! But Grant is pretty unbeatable, and he won the pretty, pretty necklace once again. He won chocolate cake and milk, and chose Rob and Andrea to join him. I thought it was a good decision – Grant wanted Andrea to feel comfortable, and selecting her for reward is one of the few ways you can do that. Though I’m surprised he managed to turn down Ralph’s incredibly tempting offer to “hug your neck” in exchange for being included. What a deal! Unfortunately, the reward was all kinds of suck. Instead of getting to actually enjoy the food, they had two minutes to stuff their faces. Like animals. Plus no alone time to chat or bond.

Last Ditch Effort

After the challenge, Probst gave the tribe a super secret special package to bring to Tribal Council. Everyone knew it would likely mean two people were getting voted out that night, but they weren’t sure under what circumstances. Ralph would go first, but Grant and Rob were tossing around the idea of voting Andrea out second. Steve had all but given up, and her relationship with Matt is still a concern. She really should have kept her mouth shut about feeling bad that she betrayed him.

And then Steve went and did something brilliant, that unfortunately sealed his fate.

I’ve been saying all along that I couldn’t root for anyone on Zapatera because I didn’t think they were working hard enough to break up the dominant alliance. Well, Steve finally stepped up to the plate. In fact, I think he did everything right and did everything he could. It was a valiant effort, and it’s unfortunate that no one bit.

Steve made a plea to Natalie and Ashley that they should get Andrea on board and take out Rob. He’s the dominant player in the game. They’ve been riding his coattails all along. He told them they were kidding themselves if they thought Rob wasn’t going to cut them loose in favor of taking Phillip to the end. He told them now was the time to make a big move, take the gave into their own hands and position themselves to actually win. He told them everything they needed to hear, and what did they do? They didn’t even entertain the thought for a millisecond and ran to tell Rob!

It was so infuriating. Even Ashley acknowledged that it would be a great plan if they wanted to keep Andrea around. Come on, girls! Do you really thinking Andrea is a bigger threat than Rob? They could have made this play and still cut Andrea loose by bringing Phillip to a final three with the two of them. Obviously, it would be idiotic to go to the finals with anyone from Zapatera. So you vote out Rob, then you vote out Grant if he doesn’t win immunity. Then you vote out Ralph and Steve. Then Andrea. Boom – either Ashley or Natalie ends up with a million bucks. But no. Instead they had to run and tell Rob.

This news, of course, made Rob reassess his decision to oust Andrea before Steve. Steve had gotten a second wind, he’d made a brilliant play, and Rob couldn’t take the chance that maybe his girls would bite. So Steve would have to go.

Sitting Ducks

Everyone headed to Tribal Council, where Steve made one last, public plea for the girls to consider his offer. He even brought up Rob cutting Lex’s throat on Survivor: All-Stars! Rob retaliated by mentioning that he married his real alliance. Are these girls sticking with Rob in hopes that he’ll propose at the finale? Because he and Amber have kids and stuff now, so that’s a long shot. Again, I thought Steve made the right move. For the first time, I felt like someone from Zapatera actually did everything he/she could to change the game. But Rob’s zombies didn’t go for it. Ralph, predictably, was voted out.

As for the twist, it was what most people thought – an on the spot challenge, and then everyone would have to vote out another player. It was a quiz – Probst showed a series of images, and everyone would have to replicate the pattern with their own cards one image at a time. It came down to Rob, Steve and Ashley. If Steve won, it was likely that Andrea would be blindsided. If Rob won, it would make the very, very, very slim chance that he’d convinced the girls to vote out Rob a complete impossibility. Rob won. (BTW, can we just all agree that Rob must be quite smart? The strategy, the puzzles, the memory games. I’m not sure people are giving him enough credit, which I am chalking up to his accent and slow manner of speaking. I’d like to know his IQ.)

I know it’s really boring to watch one tribe dominate the other after the merge in Survivor, but you have to hand it to Rob – he ran a tight ship, and it worked. Like it or not, this is the most foolproof way to play Survivor – form an airtight alliance and go into the merge with numbers. It rarely happens because there are almost always cracks in an alliance that can be exploited. Rob has ruled with an iron grip so far, and now his alliance are the only ones left in the “real” game.

From here on out, things will get interesting. First of all, I do not at all like the Redemption Island twist anymore. It was fun in the beginning, but now it’s taken all the drama out of people getting voted out. Yeah, Ometepe successfully dominated the game. Sort of. But four other people are still playing in some capacity. We’re almost at the end of the season, and there are ten people left who could possibly win the game. I hate that. Secondly, if Matt, Mike, Ralph or Steve reenter the game too close to the final Tribal Council, I feel they’ll have an unfair advantage. Look at Matt – he’s never had to vote anyone off. He’s never had to really play the game. And he’ll have had all kinds of time to bond with the jury members are commiserate over how Rob, Grant, Andrea, etc. totally screwed them all over. How could someone who actually had to play their way to the end hold a candle to that?

I think Rob’s best move is to vote out Grant next week. He’s a threat, he could win in the end, and he’s also their best chance at getting Matt out of the game. If Grant wins immunity or Rob doesn’t want to cut him loose yet, then I guess we’ll be saying goodbye to Andrea.

What did you think of the episode? Did Steve impress you? Do you wish Natalie and Ashley had had enough brains between them to take his offer and oust Rob? Are you excited that things are finally going to heat up?

In related news, I am very excited that Boston Rob has a new TV show coming out! I love the premise – circumnavigating the world using 80 different modes of transportation – and can’t wait to watch. 

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