Survivor: Rob is great, Rob is good

Wow! What an episode. This week on Survivor we saw Matt win the final Redemption Island duel, rejoin the game on a newly merged tribe, and then get sent straight back to where he came from. All because that’s what Rob wanted.

Poor Matt, though. Not only does he kind of suck at playing Survivor, but he seems to have trouble pronouncing Rob’s name as well. He keeps saying “God” instead. Matt, it’s Rrrrooooobbbb. After being blindsided once again by the Survivor master, Matt said that God’s will hadn’t been in line with what he’d wanted. No, dear. Rob’s will wasn’t in line with what you wanted. This dude God? Not only is he not playing Survivor, he’s not even watching.

There are two things to note about Matt getting voted out of the game only a couple days after rejoining it. The first is that it was, to quote Dave, a genius move on Rob’s part. Pure genius. Matt was waffling and couldn’t truly be trusted. And guess what? Ometepe didn’t really need him! Without Matt, the former Ometepe members would be six to Zapatera’s five. If they kept Matt around, there was a chance he’d convince Andrea to flip and then Rob and the gang would be outnumbered. Plus it was a move that the Zapatera players had even contemplated.

Blinded by the light?

The other thing to note is that Matt dug his own grave. First he made a plan with Andrea to take down Ometepe with the promise from Mike that they’d go to final four. Great. Good. Just don’t tell anyone. But then that damn God got in the way, and Matt decided to stay true to Rob. Not only that, but he ‘fessed up. Because that’s what you do when Rob God is involved. By telling Rob that he’d seriously considered teaming up with the enemy, he completely lost Rob’s trust. And he threw Andrea under the bus while he was at it! He endangered the relationships Andrea had been creating over the past three weeks and completely jeopardized her position in the game by confessing that she’d considered flipping too. Add in the fact that it was Matt’s close relationship with Andrea that got him voted out in the first place, and you have yourself a great reason to vote somebody out.

Now, we have so much more to discuss so let’s get to it.

I’m Still Standing, Yeah Yeah Yeah

Sarita arrived at Redemption Island with absolutely no bitterness for the people who’d just voted her out. She told Matt that Ralph, Julie, Steve and Mike are all lovely people. (We’ll just pretend that Dave guy doesn’t exist.) Basically, she told Matt the reverse of everything he’d heard from Russell and his two minions. In fact, it seemed as though Sarita’s sole purpose at Redemption Island was to prep Matt to join forces with Zapatera when he reentered the game, not to actual fight to earn her own way back in.

That said, I actually thought Sarita might win that challenge. I figured that the final Redemption Island duel would be endurance-based, and women have typically done well with those. Plus Sarita looks like she might do yoga, which can come in handy with these sorts of challenges. To boot, Matt had cut his foot “pretty bad” – although, frankly, I was expecting a bigger gash when he said that.

Both tribes got to come watch the duel, and they knew it would probably mean a merge was happening. Phillip’s insistence that they didn’t need to take their belongings with them was a great example of why he sucks. Why wouldn’t you take your stuff? Why would you take that risk?

The Phillip moments were abundant this week, as he becomes more and more like Coach. The duel lasted quite a while, and it seemed as though Phillip was telling a story about Samurai warriors for most of that time.

Sarita gave the challenge a good effort, but eventually fell. Matt was told he’d be reentering the game just in time for the merge. Which is where I thought the Redemption Island player should enter the game. You know what I didn’t expect? To hear that the Redemption Island twist will continue, even though Matt had won the duel and reentered the game. This is not a twist I’m happy with.

First of all, while the Redemption Island twist is fine, it does kill some of the drama of being voted out of the game. Because, you know, you can reenter it. And as we’ve now seen from Matt, he’s actually not a very good player. So he could potentially win the rest of the duels and reenter the game AGAIN, but would he deserve it? I don’t think so. Redemption Island was nice while it lasted, Matt did an impressive job in the duels, he earned another shot in the game and he blew it. End of story. I don’t need to see this continue. I want to see people make the jury, I want to watch fun Ponderosa videos, and I want to see people actually get eliminated from this game.

Handing Tickets out for God

Even though I was disappointed to hear that the Redemption Island twist will continue, at least this episode didn’t disappoint. The merge brought lots of humor and new dynamics to the game.

Murlonio, the Ringleader

First off, Murlonio? Hilarious. Rob told everyone it meant “of the sea” and so that’s what they named their new unified tribe. In actuality? It’s the name of the “ringleader” of Amber’s collection of stuffed animals. Look, I’ll admit to hanging onto more than a few stuffed animals from my childhood (I want to give them to my kids someday, OK?) so I won’t mock Amber for having a collection of them. Though the fact that there is a ringleader is funny – are they conspiring to vote Boston Rob out of the household? Really, I just thought it was hilarious that Rob is so bored that he’s inserting inside jokes between him and his wife into the game. Awesomesauce.

The best part of the merge, though, was the emergence of “The Christian Coalition”. Looks like there are quite a few Friends of Jesus on the new tribe, and they’re Bible Bonding was making Rob uncomfortable. Everything he said was both hilarious and right on point. That he’s join in the conversation but wouldn’t have much to add. That he has nothing against God but doesn’t like to see people bonding over something. That it doesn’t matter if people like romantic comedies or Oreos, if they’re liking it together then he wants to break it up. Those are the words of a guy who really knows how to play Survivor.

Ball For One and One For Ball

I don’t know if it was the best idea to put two endurance challenges in the same episode, but the immunity challenge was a good one. And the new immunity necklace? So glam.

The immunity challenge required each player to stand on a log while balancing balls on a disc. They started out with one ball and worked up to three, and the last person standing on the log with all three balls still on their disc would win. I liked this challenge a lot because it seemed to require a lot of concentration – players had to keep their arms still so the balls wouldn’t roll off the disc, but they also had to focus on remaining still on the log. It was pretty captivating to watch.

Small, but mighty

Phillip looked like he was going to fall off his log from the moment Probst said “Go!”, but he lasted surprisingly long compared to some others. But the real surprise was little Natalie. Yes, she’s Rob’s minion. But you have to give her serious credit for winning that challenge. It came down to her and Mike, and I was sure Mike had it. I figured an Iraq war vet was used to having to endure. A teenaged dancer? Maybe not so much. But dancers have good balance, and Natalie pulled through.

I know we haven’t seen a lot of Natalie, but I think she could be one to watch. She’s young and giggly and has so far done Rob’s bidding, but that’s working for her. She’s clearly his favorite. And this week she proved that she has the desire to win. I wouldn’t be shocked to see her in the finals.

What if God Was One of Us?

I’ve already covered how I think Matt blew his chances in the game, so I won’t reiterate it too much. But I have to say, the way he constantly pulled the Big Guy into the game really annoyed me. God doesn’t want you to backstab Boston Rob? Come on! Christianity is no reason not to play the game. What does one have to do with the other?

Close, but no cigar

What went on before Tribal Council was truly captivating. I think Mike and the rest of Zapatera did the best they could to try and gain the upper hand. Mike tried to woo Matt with Jesus and love notes. (Though the note was a questionable decision since, historically, that hasn’t worked out so well on this show.) Ralph gave up his immunity idol for Mike because that’s who they thought would get the votes. It was an admirable effort, but they got outplayed. Rob outplayed them. They never expected him to simply eliminate the swing vote, but it was a really smart move. Without Matt kicking around, it will be harder for them to pull someone else over to their side. Not impossible – it’s never impossible – but more difficult.

I love how Rob went about telling everyone on his tribe that they needed to vote out Matt. He told Natalie “This is a turning point in the game. Can you figure it out?” The blank look on her face suggesting no, but the way he implied that it was the obvious move was a great way to make sure she wouldn’t question going along with it.

Tribal Council was fun. David immediately informed the Ometepe players that he’d thrown the first challenge they’d won, thus ensuring that no one thinks he sucks at puzzles. Because if there’s anything you want to be known for post-merge, it’s being a threat in challenges. Phillip delivered another soliloquy, this time about parasites. When all was said and done, Zapatera threw their votes on Grant, Ralph played an idol on behalf of Mike, Matt voted for Steve as per Rob’s instructions, and everyone from Ometepe voted out Matt. Julie summed it up best, saying “That poor kid” as a bewildered and blindsided Matt once again headed to Redemption Island.

What did you think of the episode? Are you loving or hating Boston Rob’s total control? Are you glad Matt will have another chance to reenter the game, or did you think the Redemption Island aspect of the game should have ended with the merge?




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