So Russell has just been voted out and heads to Redemption Island where he acts out every Survivor fan’s nightmare. As Matt sleeps Russell asks “anybody home?” as softly and sweetly as possible, then climbs into the shelter and cuddles with him. QUIT RIGHT NOW MATT NO ONE WILL BLAME YOU. Russell is really pissed that he got voted off and also that his tribe (pointlessly) lied and said Fran would be there, so good job for doing something to anger him, guys. Then he starts talking about how nervous as hell Matt will be as a rookie going up against him and he’s gonna pick everyone off and blah blah blah this is gonna get SO sweet in about twenty minutes.
“I will crush you with the power of a thousand gods. Unless I lose, then I will be your little brother after a checkers defeat.”
It’s morning at Camp Crazy, and because we were busy dealing with Russell’s awfulness last episode we are long overdue for some Phillip shenanigans. This morning he’s attempting to do everything annoying that Survivor tribes have ever voted anyone off for, starting by making lots of noise while people sleep. Natalie talks about how annoying he is and Rob makes fun of Phillip and his pink briefs to the others in the shelter. Which is funny, but also probably exactly what he was like in high school.
Whereas I was more like this.
Also, Phillip’s briefs now require a frontal blur.
Would you rather watch an hour-long show on Phillip’s briefs or Russell’s armpits? Discuss.
Rob keeps being Rob but I am more interested in more fantastic shots of Phillip hunting crabs with his spear. Survivor is a haven for the insane, Rob, so as much as I like you I’ll take wacky antics any day. Phillip says that the others don’t know “if he’s a criminal or a schoolteacher” and doesn’t get along well with the others. Sadly, this does not devolve into the patriotic discourses that the other confessionals have.
Over at Zapatera, Stephanie and Krista are outcast on the beach. And hey, she can talk!
“…and also every conversation.”
Stephanie calls the others goobers and says she’s not having any more fun, because why play Survivor if you can’t scream at people and bully them into blindly following one of the worst players ever?
While they’re away, Ralph decides to show everyone else he has the idol. Why he couldn’t have done this yesterday and saved the nation an enormous amount of stress over last night’s vote is beyond me, but that’s Ralph. He’s excited about this uniting them. Call me crazy, but I really like the harmonious and seemingly solid alliance of likable people.
“Sure, they can have my idol. Just as long as they keep away from my rocks.”
Back at Ometepe, Phillip hits us with this little gem: “The early bird gets the worm. In this case, he gets the mail.” Then this happens.
I would empty my bank account to hang out with both Phillip and Coach at the same time.
It’s the Dual invite which, much like a really passive-aggressive middle school teacher, this week emphasizes that the tribe should really try to agree on two people to go without picking rocks. Phillip just goes ahead and volunteers himself and Kristina. He says that he wants to go because of his background (“as a special agent with the United States government,” of course) and he wants intel. Rob letting those two go together is either sloppy or a HUGE display of his confidence in Phillip’s blind faith.
Sarita and Ralph decide to go for Zapatera, with their alliance basically railroading Steph and Krista into having no choice. Though given what’s coming, how I wish those two had been there instead. Sarita says watching Russell go home will be her million dollars. Word, Sarita.
And now. The sequence that eleven years of this show has built towards. Everything we love about this show will literally be combined into one awesome segment. Starting with crazy dramatic good v. evil imagery.
HEROES VS. VILLAINS
The challenge is the block-stocking domino thing that they did a few seasons ago. They take their spots and then it’s all about some intense block stacking! I know I gave Jeff a lot of shit last week for making his commentary both golf game-like and overdramatic and I won’t this time because of how great this whole thing is, but note that he’s totally doing it again.
Matt finishes first and pushes his blocks, but there’s a whole in the chain! THEY DON’T ALL FALL! So Russell gets his done AND THEN HIS FALL SHORT! This is some intense domino-ing. Matt hits them, they all fall, the marble is released, RUSSELL IS GONE!
Jeff says something stupid about Matt seizing the moment and then, in an awesome moment I could (and have) watch over and over again, Ruseell BREAKS DOWN AND STARTS SOBBING. Like, visible wobbling of the lower lip and audible tears and gasps. Jeff gets all weird about Russell bearing his soul (was that when he lied about surviving Hurricane Katrina? Or when he constantly reasserted how great he was with ZERO self-reflection for two seasons?), and there is just no end to his crying. Or my joy.
While some react like this…
…I was more like this.
Matt tears up because he is a million times a better person than me, and Jeff asks him why he’s crying (because he’s a little bitch apparently not the answer he wants). Russell, delightful even in loss, says that he respects the game too much and is upset that his tribe threw the challenge and voted him out because he’s Russell Hantz without worrying about numbers. First, you are a conniving snake that ALWAYS tries to flip, so you do not count as numbers and I will always stand by that. And second, they made the plan to vote you out AFTER you alienated yourself from them and started stupid fights over the idol clue. So you would have been gone had you been a returner or not. BECAUSE YOU’RE AWFUL AT THIS GAME.
“YOU voted out my Russell!”
He keeps bitching about having to do everything and Ralph pipes in, not able to resist telling everyone that he found the idol right away. Oh, Ralph, you did ID yourself as a dumbass so I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything less. Russell demands to see it and Ralph starts digging in his bag, but Sarita (who I am liking more and more every episode) calmly whispers to him not to show them because she might be the only person in this arena that actually knows how to play.
So the keen mind of Ralph comes up with a backpeddle strategy in which he tells everyone he was just faking Russell out, and you can totally tell Matt and even Jeff buy this. BUT they didn’t count on one thing, and his name is Phillip, former federal agent. This entire episode wins a place in the Survivor Hall of Fame as Phillip immediately assures us that he earns his living discerning lies and Ralph has the idol.
Who would watch a spin-off in which Phillip solves crimes, accompanied by his sassy sidekick Christina? At the very least, we gotta get them on The Amazing Race.
THEN Russell starts telling Phillip everything about the Ometepe Alliance, which seems majorly unfair now that he is OUT OF THE GAME. Yeah, Ralph totally did the idol reveal to himself, but no way Jeff should have let Russell monologue to the Ometepes as much as he did. Then Russell tries to make some weird argument about how he will live on in Phillip and Kristina. This statement is so rich in dramatic irony I don’t know where to begin. Then he leaves and says more things about being cheated and how he’ll never play again. Whatever, Russell. Why don’t you tell us how 17th place tastes, instead?
See you second from the beginning in the Fallen Comrades montage!
And now, just in case we need some more Russell / Rob contrast, let’s see what he was up to while Hantz sobbed uncontrollably. Rob has organized a beach day for the tribe, which is really just a huge scheme to get them away from camp so he can claim intestinal problems and sneak back to look for the idol. And in yet ANOTHER classic Survivor moment (complete with hilarious Rob deadpanning about how specific the clue is), he totally finds it.
I’m pretty sure this episode is the worst hour of Russell Hantz’s life.
Back at Zapatera, the Alliance freaks out about how great it is that Russell is gone and how he sobbed and sobbed and then gave up their alliance. Stephanie and Krista are like “stoooooooooooooop” but no one pays attention, so again, awesome. They have a stupid argument about synergy and none of it matters because they are still screwed.
Phillip has a master plan to leverage all their info to save Kristina. SWING ANDREA OH MY GOD. Kristina is awesomely like, “you have evidence in these covert matters, Phil, so go ahead.” I like that she’s the only one that calls him Phil. Phillip tells the whole story about Russell leaving, then when he’s alone with Grant and Rob he says he’ll give him all the info if that would save Kristina.
Major mistake, because this just shows Rob that Phillip is insecure and looking for ways to get ahead in the game with other people. Rob humors him to get the info but his confessional confirms how he now has to eliminate Phillip also. oh my GOD I wish the crazies would swing Andrea.
Challenge time. Remember that one last season where they had to carry the giant guy and then they got to watch Gulliver’s Travels and it was the most cringe-inducing challenge ever for hardcore Survivor fans? That’s nothing compared to this challenge, which is basically a giant Craftsman commercial. Every station is a demonstration of a CRAFTSMAN tool that they apparently must do while keeping the logo in sight at all times according to the demo. Winner gets immunity and a BBQ.
Even Rob can’t compete with the overall hickness of Ralph, so by the time they get to the end Zapatera has a good lead. Mike and Steve work the CRAFTSMAN saws way faster than Omepete and so Zapatera wins yet again. I’m sad because this almost surely means no more Kristina or Phillip, but at least Russell could not have been more wrong about a loss of momentum. Also, Ralph does the stupid Big Tom rooster call. He I am liking less and less.
Is it me, or is there a ‘Rob bending over and looking concerned’ shot in EVERY challenge he has ever competed in?
Zapatera gets to have their BBQ so we get the standard how hungry everyone is montage. Mike tells us that he hasn’t thought about sex in two weeks, just food. Oh, Mike, now I have to associate you forever with that comment! You should have known not to say anything that forward until you had already developed a persona. I guess you have Iraq War vet, but now it’s Horny Iraq War vet. And that makes me feel unpatriotic somehow. Also, was there a clue in this reward? I know it’s moot but I feel like Steph and Krista would have been all over that. Dave the master of producer-encouraged segway says he’s glad he doesn’t have to be like the other tribe thinking about the vote, so we switch to…
…Ometepe, where Phillip is giving his standard post-loss / pre-Council speech. Rob describes the “palpable utter malice” towards Phillip, which is an awfully Coach thing to say, and then Ashley has a confessional to confirm this. So far have Natalie or Ashley’s voiceovers been used for anything OTHER than to confirm what Boston Rob has said? More shots of Phillip hunting.
Kristina starts campaigning and reminds everyone how annoying Phillip is, then also starts stirring everything up by suggesting Rob and Grant have the idol. Kristina is very calm but Natalie hasn’t heard any Latin horns in awhile, so she has no idea if Kristina does have it or not. She runs to Rob and Rob, ALSO playing calmly, says this means Kristina probably does have it. He says Kristina is way too smart to keep around so gives them a needless vote split to put 3 on Kristina and 2 on Phillip.
First of all, more than anything this episode shows that players that are calm and collected (Sarita, Rob, sometimes Kristina) are way superior to those that yell and try to aggressively manipulate (Stephanie). And second, Andrea knows that the dominant alliance is splitting the votes and DOESN’T grab Phillip and Kristina to pull off an upset? All she needs to do is be one of the people supposed to vote for Kristina and then vote with those two to send anyone they want home 3-2-2. Any respect or good will towards Andrea, gone. ANYWAYS, the tribe keeps debating keeping Phillip around because he’s crazy. Also, Phillip asks Rob what to do and Rob gives him Kristina’s name. This pisses Phillip off but he does nothing.
Tribal Council: Jeff asks if Kristina is going home maybe, and she says yes because she’s always on the wrong side of numbers. This is boring so he instead starts asking really broad questions about redemption and second chances. Rob kind of jumps in and says that Kristina might have done too little too late, and Kristina immediately shoots it over to Phillip as the most annoying guy ever. Jeff AGAIN tries to therapy them by asking if this is how Phillip is in life, but again just note what a good job Rob has done at making this Tribal Council a standard question of which of the two bottom rungs to vote out. Subtlety and calmness, does it every time. Also, Phillip apparently worked in “field sanitation” and won a really important medal.
The vote is 4 Kristina / 3 Phillip, so everyone kept their blind obedience to Rob. I really hope she beats Matt because I am NOT ready to say goodbye to her.
How FANTASTIC was the first half of this episode? How much did the challenge make you want to vomit?