Honestly, how can you not love an episode of Survivor where Boston Rob throws a clue for the Hidden Immunity Idol into a volcano? That’s TV gold! Last night’s episode hit multiple high notes – crazy outbursts from Phillip, great Boston Rob moments and one of the most intense immunity challenges I’ve seen in a while. And with the merge happening next week – and our Redemption Island survivor reentering the game! – things are sure to heat up even more from here.
As always, each camp experienced some drama before sending two people off for the duel.
At Zapatera, David’s idiotic vote for Sarita had done nothing to ease the bad blood between them. I say David’s vote was idiotic because it damaged his position within the tribe for nothing. He voted with Stephanie and remained true to her even though she was getting voted out. He made himself the odd one out in the tribe. Had David just kept his mouth shut (impossible for him, I know) and voted Stephanie, it would have been much easier for him to convince people to vote out Sarita in the following Tribal Council. Now, even though he succeeded in getting Sarita voted out, or sent to Redemption Island or whatever, he’s known in the group as being untrustworthy. And for what?
Meanwhile, Phillip stirred up some drama at Ometepe by, you know, just being Phillip. He’s miffed that Rob is at the top of the totem pole and will do whatever it takes to eliminate him, but Rob is onto him. In a way, this meant it was almost better for Ometepe to lose the Immunity Challenge this week, because it might have benefited them to cut Phillip loose before the merge. I’m not saying that they should have thrown the challenge, but it was definitely a double-edged sword.
In fact, at the beginning of the episode it looked like both Ometepe and Zapatera were in the same position. Six players on each tribe, with one dude (Phillip, David) who looked like a serious threat to flip. It made for a very interesting episode.
Rob accompanied Phillip to the duel as a babysitter, while David and Ralph showed up for Zapatera. I honestly wasn’t sure who to root for here. On the one hand, Matt’s story is great. One dude getting voted out very early in a total blindside, and then winning every single duel until he reenters the game is pretty much the ideal Redemption Island story. But I don’t know what Matt reentering the game will mean for Boston Rob, who is a delight to watch, and more importantly, my Survivor pool pick Ashley.
On the other hand, even though I didn’t like Stephanie when she was on Zapatera, the girl has spunk. If she reentered the game, she’d be sure to mix things up, and most likely to the advantage of Rob and his crew. So I was torn.
|Look at those luscious locks! (I mean Matt’s, obvs.)|
The challenge was interesting, since it was the first completely mental duel we’ve seen – a game of concentration. I really thought Stephanie would win this one, actually. She and Matt are both smart, but he’s been out there by himself a long time. I have to say, I didn’t love the challenge – I think these huge games of concentration work better when there are several players, and each person has to wait a while before getting another turn. That way it’s harder to remember the placement of symbols you’ve already seen. I’d expected a great duel between Matt and Stephanie, and although it was a nail-biter, it was also a bit dull. I mean, Matt got two matches by pure chance, and they only needed five!
Matt won, and Stephanie had to throw her buff in the fire – but not before the requisite spilling of information! Yes, before she departed she warned Rob that Zapatera was coming for him. I don’t like this aspect of Redemption Island, where eliminated players get to make little speeches before they exit. We’ve already lost the drama of elimination at Tribal Council, and I don’t like how once a player is actually eliminated they still get to participate in the game by interacting with other players. You’re out, so get out.
Scoop of the Crazy
|Will a spoonful of crispy get him to take his meds?|
On the way back to camp, Phillip continued to dig his own grace by asking Rob how much they should tell the rest of the tribe. Rob, of course, told everyone that Phillip had wanted to hold out information and therefore put himself in the role of trustworthy hero. It was well-played.
Phillip then continued to be ridiculously delusional as he caused a major scene at camp over rice. Rice! Look, I get it. People on Survivor are starving, and that makes them act crazy. But first of all, Phillip is already crazy. Second of all, a good player knows how to rise above it. Is one spoonful of crispy rice worth damaging your already hurting reputation around camp? No!
It was all so silly. Everyone at Ometepe had cooked some rice and divided it up amongst themselves. (Did anyone else notice Grant’s heaping supply? Was it because he needs the fuel to single-handedly win challenges?) They’d saved Rob all the crispy rice that was stuck to the pan as his portion, because that’s how he likes it. Pandering to the leader of the cult? Yeah, of course. But that’s Survivor.
Huff, Puff, Blow the Challenge Down
The challenge this week was recycled, but it was a good one. It reminds me of the Three Little Pigs because there was hay, sticks and bricks, all amounting to one crazy obstacle course. Last season, I believe this challenge was done post-merge as a reward, and the teams were randomly divided up. It crazily resulted in a men vs. women battle, and the women never really stood a chance. So I was glad to see it come back to get some action with evenly matched teams – and oh man, was it close.
Ometepe took an early lead as Sarita struggled to unhook the first bag of balls from a coil while Rob employed the genius technique of just flinging the thing around the coil until it came off. But when Zapatera switched things up and put David in that role, he made up a lot of ground – especially because Phillip was causing Ometepe to fall behind.
|This is a guy you want on your team.|
Just like Ometepe had to drag Phillip through the course, Zapatera had a weak link in Sarita who did herself no favors by crying out “Help me!” the whole time. Way to prove you’re not holding the team back. Zapatera managed to free up all their balls first, but they still had to shoot them all into a small basket. And this is where once again, former pro athlete Grant came through for Ometepe. He scored shot after shot, making up a ton of time while Zapatera repeatedly missed. It was damn close, but he won it for them. Incidentally, Grant was my number one pick for the Survivor pool and I think he’s looking pretty good right now. The only problem is that pretty soon he’ll be viewed as a threat and will have to win challenges to survive.
Like I mentioned before, Ometepe winning the challenge is bittersweet. I’m glad they won, but will keeping Phillip this long come back to haunt them? If Rob’s made one mistake this season, I think it’s deciding to cut devoted fan and one half of a showmance Matt loose while keeping loose cannon Phillip around.
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
|He’s already counting the money.|
Has anyone on Ometepe other than Rob actually figured out that clues to the Hidden Immunity Idol come with the reward? Have they even figured out that there are clues? For goodness sakes, do they know that there is such a thing as a Hidden Immunity Idol?! Once the gang arrived at their picnic on the volcano, no one was looking for it! No one other than Rob.
Rob, being the insanely good Survivor player that he is, immediately noticed a jar of tube-shaped cookies that could easily hide a rolled up clue. He made a big show over handing out the delicious cookies, all the while stealthily (because he is, after all, part of Stealth ‘R’ Us) sliding the clue into his back pocket. He didn’t even need to look at it, and tossed it into the volcano during his confessional video later that day. Boston Rob is essentially a professional Survivor player at this point – not only is he the puppet master of the game, but he knows exactly what to do and say to make good TV as well. If it wasn’t so damn entertaining, I’d almost think it was unfair.
Trust me, I’m a lawyer
While Rob was cackling into the abyss of the volcano, Zapatera was trying to decide if it would be more advantageous to keep David or Sarita. Strength in challenges vs. someone you can trust? My answer is the same as last week – trust.
Now that we know the tribes will merge next week, it’s easy to say it’s a better idea to keep trust. But even last night, as Zapatera prepared to head to Tribal Council, I thought it was smarter to keep Sarita. First of all, I figured they only had maybe one challenge left. So it’s a little old for “strength in challenges”. That’s a good mantra at the beginning of the game, but post-merge you don’t really want someone around who will beat you for individual immunity. You want someone like Sarita, who will suck in challenges. You want someone like Sarita, who you can sit next to at the finals and say “Come on guys, I outperformed her.”
You do not want someone like David. When a merge is breathing down your neck, you do not want someone who will flip to the other side. Yeah, you’ll lose a player if you lose another challenge – but guess what? You’ve already lost someone who is going to flip, and the competition will gain a vote. David would also be harder to eliminate later on, as he’d be strong in individual immunity challenges, and he’d be less desirable to sit next to in the finals. Maybe people don’t like him now, but the guy argues for a living – he could win votes from former Ometepe players, or make an undeniably strong argument. Who knows?
In the end, the only person who sided with Sarita (and therefore was in line with my method of thought) was a man who doesn’t know what the word “cohesive” means. Seriously. Probst explained it to him like he was talking to a toddler; it was painful to watch. You know, in a hilarious let’s-laugh-at-the-redneck-in-overalls kinda way.
Sarita was voted out, and she hadn’t even brought her stuff to Tribal Council. Really? First of all, I think you should always bring your stuff. Second of all, you should really bring your stuff if your name is one of a few being tossed around. People change their minds, play idols, pick stupid rocks out of a stupid bag when the vote is tied…there’s always a chance you could go home. That said, David is an ass and I’m annoyed that he’s still in the game.
Next Time on Survivor!
I cannot wait for next week’s episode. The final duel! The merge! Boston Rob in danger! There are so many variables here, it will be impossible to predict. I’m glad the Redemption Island player will be returning at the merge – anything else would have been a mistake, I think. Will Matt win? Who will he vote with? Will he team up with Andrea to take down Rob or does she think he’s, like, so yesterday? What if it’s Sarita, will she jump ship since all her homies (other than Ralph) voted for her?
The good news is, Rob has an idol. I hope he’s prepared to play it. Even if the other players target one of his minions rather than the kingpin himself, I hope he’s ready to hand it over. Some of the best and brilliant moves in Survivor have been when players gave their idols away. It’s not always expected, and it can save your whole alliance rather than just buying the individual player three more days.
What do you think? Did you love this episode as much as I did? Are you still laughing over Rob throwing the clue into the volcano? Are you giddy with anticipation over the thrills to come?