Survivor: Thanks for the memories

Wowzers. Now that was a Tribal Council, am I right? Last night’s premiere episode of Survivor: Redemption Island was more entertaining than all of Survivor: Nicaragua combined. You thought the return of Russell and Boston Rob would be exciting? That was nothing compared to the boatloads of crazy the other contestants brought. Namely, Kristina, Francesca and Phillip.

Before I get into the details of the episode, let’s talk a little about basic socialist theory. In the most simple terms, what’s good for the group is good for you. This is something all Survivor players need to get through their thick  skulls before they play. For the first few weeks of Survivor, possibly until the merge, what is best for the tribe is almost always best for you. It’s a team sport. Going to Tribal Council is bad. Going to lots of Tribal Councils is worse.

So Kristina and Francesca’s idea that voting out Boston Rob first was best for them was a really, really idiotic idea. For countless reasons, but the first of which being that it would weaken an already disadvantaged tribe. They began the game with five female and four male players, while the other tribe began with five men and four women. They were decimated in the physical component of the immunity challenge. And they think it’s a good idea to vote out one of their strongest players? Even though he might be “good for the tribe, but not for me”? Dudes! What’s good for the tribe is good for you! The fact is, Kristina, Francesca and Phillip were all playing with their egos rather than their heads. They wanted to blindside Rob because they thought it would be really cool, or because they coveted his leadership role. Not because they thought it was an intelligent play.

The second reason Kristina and Francesca’s plan was incredibly moronic was because they wanted to try and blindside Boston Rob with the immunity idol Kristina found. At the first Tribal Council! Oh yeah, that’s really going to win you brownie points with your tribemates. Not only did you vote out the strongest player, not only did you blindside their friend, not only did you eliminate a helpful and likable guy, but you’ve immediately colored yourselves as the most weasely, scheming, cutthroat players in they group! And they wouldn’t even have the numbers to win the next vote! Who would keep them around?

So that’s why I think Kristina and Francesca are idiots. Now before we talk about that insane Tribal Council, let’s discuss the rest of the show.

Back for more!

The looks on everyone’s faces when Rob and Russell stepped off that second helicopter were pretty hilarious, even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of bringing those guys back this year. Francesca (idiotically – why would you say this out loud?!) summed it up when she declared the two Survivor vets were sizing everyone up like prey. It was great to see how the tribes reacted as a group, too. On Rob’s tribe, he had more fans than enemies. On Russell’s tribe, he’s being watched. And rightly so – two seconds into the game and he was lying! Any idea that Russell would try to play differently this season went right out the window (not that I thought he would) when he cozied up with cutie-pie Stephanie.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of Russell’s tribe, Zapatera. There are a bunch of cute girls, a hick named Ralph who seems like the love child of Russell and Big Tom, and a startlingly good looking Iraq war veteran.

I wish the editing didn’t make it so obvious which tribe would be going to Tribal Council. Since we barely saw Russell and Zapatera, I pretty much knew Rob and Ometepe would lose the immunity challenge. They made up a lot of ground during the puzzle part of the challenge (thanks, I’m sure, to Rob) but they were blown out of the water in the earlier physical component. Why? Is it because of the gender imbalance? Are the players on Zapatera just generally stronger? Was it a fluke?

Strategy 101

So Zapatera won, and was never heard from again. Or pretty much, anyway. We had too much to deal with over at Ometepe.

First, let’s talk about Kristina finding the immunity idol without any clues. Seriously, Survivor producers? Could you please make these things a little harder to find? That was pathetic! Kristina found the idol, and almost immediately told not one but two people about it. First she told Francesca, which sort of made sense since they had become BFFs. (Though if I were in those shoes, I wouldn’t tell anyone.) Then she told Phillip, so she could convince him to vote Rob with her.

There were SO MANY flaws in Kristina’s plan. First of all, why would you tell a loose cannon like Phillip? Why would you even want someone like Phillip in your alliance? They couldn’t stand the guy, and rightly so. Phillip was rubbing people the wrong way from the start, barking orders and reminding people every two seconds that he used to be a federal agent. This guy has really done a number on the level of respect I have for the FBI and CIA.

The reason Kristina told Phillip about the idol was because he’s approaching Survivor like a terrorist investigation and wouldn’t stop grilling her about who else was going to be voting Rob. I understood his concern, even though his methods left a little to be desired. Why should he put a target on his back by voting Rob if they didn’t have enough people to successfully vote the guy out? But if Kristina was planning on voting out Rob using the idol anyway, she didn’t need his vote. She and Francesca could have done that on their own. So why take the risk of telling Get Smart you have the idol? It was foolish.

You know who’s not foolish? Rob. He knew Kristina was looking for a clue to the idol. He even suspected she had the idol. And he suspected that she was planning to vote him out! That’s what happens when you play Survivor four times I guess, you get a sixth sense for stuff like that. So Rob put in place the same plan that was his unfortunate demise last time – splitting the votes. (Honestly, hearing him make everyone promise they understood because of how one guy screwed him over last time? Hilarious.)


Has there ever been a first Tribal Council so crazy? There have been other seasons that delivered good ones, but this was something else. There was so much going back and forth, it almost feels like a blur. I need to watch it again.

Two things really stood out: One, that Rob is a professional among amateurs. Children. Two, that it is really weird that Phillip can’t manage to say “Francesca”. Francesqua, really? I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that Phillip blamed his frequent mispronunciations on having a dry mouth (which he was getting treatment for, FYI) or the fact that he also spelled her name wrong. As my mom said, what, did he have a dry hand too?

Phillip was the loose cannon that got the whole ball rolling, but if I only had one dunce hat it would go to Kristina. Not only did she come up with the harebrained scheme, but she had the bad judgment to let Phillip in on it. She never really gained his trust, and the minute he started to feel like he’d been deceived he let all her secrets out. He exposed that she had the idol. He exposed that she and Francesca had recruited him to vote off Boston Rob. It was completely insane and entertaining.

Like I said, Rob handled it like a pro. He tried to get the idol from Kristina, and then declared that he was going to do “exactly the thing I said I’d do with the people I said I’d do it with”. Boston Rob and most of his friends split their votes. Kristina didn’t play her idol. Francesca was sent to Redemption Island.

It’s too bad Francesca’s out already, since she was pretty hilarious. But at least we have her duel in episode three to look forward to. What did you think of the episode? Did it get your excited for this season?

Modern Family: Mommy Issues

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