It’s time again for Survivor: Rob v. Russell. Will Rob finally pull it together and get the win that sends Russell or Russell Lite (Stephanie) home? How will Francesca be snarky when there’s no one around her? And just, Phillip? Let’s find out.
We start with Francesca arriving on Redemption Island. Man, it must suck to be like the first person ever on Survivor to go through the shame of being voted out and then not even get food and a bed afterward. She says her mind is racing and then reads the posted rules for RI.
“The voted out player will re-enter the game when it is either Rob or Russell.”
But seriously, rice every day and “plenty of drinking water?” Between the entire Craftsman store that the tribes used to build their camps and the ENORMOUS pile of supplies that Francesca digs through to search for flint, this is like the least-’survival’ Survivor ever. She keeps talking about how this could be good for her because she was pretty solid with everyone in her tribe (uhhh, you have empirical evidence otherwise) and she isn’t sad at all because she gets to be away from Phillip.
“This machete is SO crazy and annoying. I made an alliance with it.”
Back at Ometepe, Rob tells the tribe that was one of the wildest tribals he’s ever been to, and everyone falls all over themselves to fawn over how true this is. Kristina speculates that everything would have been fine if she hadn’t confided in Phillip (except Rob was gonna vote-split your ass, so not really) and she still has the idol ready to deploy.
Phillip wants to talk to Rob, and we FINALLY get our first snarky B-Rob confessional! He knew Phillip was with Kristina, but “it doesn’t take a genius FBI man to figure that out.” Oh, Rob. This is why we keep inviting you back, despite your continued pattern of inevitable failure. Basically, he pledges undying loyalty to Rob until he gets voted out.
Because that strategy never fails.
Rob identifies him as a piece of work but ultimately a good guy and makes some joke about government jobs being stressful. Ah, the comedic stylings of Rob Mariano. Phillip keeps babbling about how he’ll do everything Rob says.
This really could have been the subtitle for the entire season.
But then, like two seconds later, Rob tightens his alliance with everyone on his tribe that we’ve never heard speak before and they confirm Phillip is next to go. “At least THIS group of people can follow directions,” says Rob. Yeah, you did get fucked by Tyson, but I’d rather watch Rob play with a Sandra or a Parvati than this herd of sheep any day of the week.
After the intro we’re back to Ometepe, and Phillip is like hunting crabs with a spear and talking about primal tests or something? Good lord, we don’t even need the other tribe this season. Also, I would guess this is the longest we have ever watched a Russell era episode without once seeing Russell.
So Rob’s posse is snarky about Phillip being a great hunter and Phillip starts talking about how much he loves his country and then HE STARTS CRYING IN CONFESSIONAL AS THE PATRIOTIC MUSIC SWELLS. Oh my God, I love this show. Phillip’s rambling confessionals about his emotional state and his trustworthiness and his endless references to being a special agent take me back to the heydays of Coach, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Oh rats, over to Zapatera. Ralph is doing basically everything Big Tom used to do (jumping around like an idiot, slurring, preparing for an inevitable defeat to Rob) and Russell is pissed that someone besides him is getting airtime. Oh, what I would give for him to be on the same tribe as Phillip. Also, this happens.
She knows this will be on TV, right?
So Russell talks about all the dumb girls on his tribe and how happy he is that he has a strategy that works wonderfully up until the last day of the game. Then he approaches Krista and tells her they need to start looking for the idol, because apparently Krista is also in his Dumbass Girls Alliance, Part 3.
I don’t believe for one second that he hasn’t already spent the first three days tearing the camp apart for the idol, and I think him watching Kristen doing it on like Day 2 is going to be delicious. In a rare moment of truth, Russell admits that finding idols is basically all he does.
So then, this continues to be the season of Russell Looking Not So Great when Big Tom 2.0 Ralph is picking up rocks (presumably just to amuse himself) and stumbles over the immunity idol. This provokes, like, zero change in emotion in him, which is pretty awesome. Hey, didn’t the producers say they were going to start hiding idols in places where rednecks couldn’t just stumble over them? Also, does it seem a little fishy to anyone else that Kristen had to hike around and dig under piles of really random rocks at Boston Rob’s camp while the idol was in a fairly unique hole in a tree root at Russell’s camp? HMMM???
Ralph is more excited about beating Russell to the idol than actually having it. As are we all, Ralph. As are we all. Also, he tells us that was simpler than “wiping your hiney with toilet paper,” so good luck getting that image out of your head.
But even that is better than this.
There’s this really weird contemporary music playing as we switch back to Ometepe, where Matt and Andrea are forming the Aryan Alliance.
“If we made babies, Hitler would be jealous.”
But Rob knows a thing or two about showmances and is really worried about Matt and Andrea being too tight, so he talks to Natalie about splitting them up. Natalie, who is just so starstruck every time she’s around Rob, totally agrees. Rob says it has to be Andrea or Phillip if they lose. Hurray for Krazy Kristen sticking around!
Challenge time. Zapatera all mutter how dumb Ometepe was for voting out Francesca because she was strong. Uh, what did they see that we didn’t? Jeff takes the chance to ask Phillip how he feels about seeing the other tribe so cocky (because Phillip should provide commentary on everything ever) and Phillip’s voice goes really deep and he promises to outlast any man on the other side. Was even Coach this crazy, this fast? Jeff weirdly asks about the women, and Phillip promises to save them for another day. This is getting awkward, let’s start tackling each other or something.
They’re playing for immunity and fishing stuff, and it’s that tile breaking thing they did in Micronesia combined with the tile breaking thing they did last season, only all in a tank of water. Remember when they used to do shit in the actual ocean? Giving us such memorable moments as Osten’s panic attack? I hate these weird tank things.
The challenge is pretty back and forth, the highlights being when Grant sort of cheats and just grabs his key instead of breaking his tile, when Russell is bald and we all remember why he wears a buff all the time, and when Jeff gets a huge hard-on because Rob and Russell compete head to head. It comes down to Ralph and Phillip breaking tiles and Ralph edges him out by one, so Zapatera wins again.
Also, minor controversy when Matt shakes the other team’s hand after the competition. Boston Rob says this is terrible, because underneath how cool and funny he is America tends to forget that he’s also kind of a spiteful asshole.
Back at Zapatera, Russell makes sure to carry the basket and snatches the immunity idol clue out of the flippers. Oh, what I would give for him and Naonka to have been on the same season. “It’s not my first rodeo,” Russell snears. Except Ralph sees him and immediately begins telling everyone about the clue. Everyone agrees not to let Russell around rewards anymore.
Weirdest confessional ever.
What follows is a complete replay of Heroes v. Villains, with several minor differences. Russell and two random girls outcast themselves even more from the group by talking trash and counting on immunity idols and the group strengthens around them. But this time, the majority has the idol. And Russell doesn’t have Parvati to fix everything.
Then Russell says really absurd things about how he doesn’t need numbers because he has trust and loyalty. There’s a difference between playing smart when you find yourself in the minority and idiotically placing yourself in the minority from the get-go, Russell. Just because no one ever likes you you can’t pretend like you choose not to try and be in the majority. In a GAME OF NUMBERS!
Stephanie has a terrible laugh and they all mock Sarita for being a bad swimmer. AND THEN, we get demonstration #365,877 of way Russell sucks at this game. Ralph asks him if there was a clue in the basket, and Russell is all “maybe there was” because he wants to look like a badass. When they press him he switches into Russell panic mode where he just says all the random shit he thinks sounds cool: “This is how the game is played.” “I know how to play this game.” “You’re either with me or against me.”
“I’M AGAINST YOU, RUSSELL.”
Then he crazy backpeddles and says he doesn’t have it as though he’s speaking to a group of first-graders and tells Ralph he doesn’t like the way they’re talking to him. OH MY GOD VOTE HIM OUT IMMEDIATELY YOU’VE LEARNED NOTHING IN TWO SEASONS. Ralph keeps being folksy and charming and swears to take down Russell. Russell mocks Ralph and says a lot of things about how people that know how to play this game don’t talk back to Russell Hantz.
“I don’t know about thaaaaat…”
Larger ego: Russell or Phillip?
Oh, yeah, Francesca is still around here somewhere. She gets to write in her journal or something and talks about how worried she is for the duel. Awesome. Leave us alone until you have something to say, damnit.
When Omepete arrives back, Phillip wants to have a group chat and promises he’ll be brief.
Phillip believes they all performed “gallantry-ly” and promises he won’t campaign this afternoon so the tribe can do whatever the tribe wants to do. I think I enjoy his apologetic speeches more than his victory speeches, though they both pale in comparison to his patriotic speeches. Rob jumps in and says they’re all a team and that’s how it goes. For some reason though, Rob is now really worried about Matt being a vote suck at the end. Come on, B-Rob, I feel like it’s a little early to be turning on your insanely loyal alliance.
Did Kristen and Andrea like call each other the night before and coordinate the bikinis?”
So my girl Krazy Kristen puts on the immunity idol necklace and starts talking to Phillip, who is all gentlemanly “that looks pretty on you.” Seven sisters, remember? Also, where the FUCK is our update on his dry mouth treatment? He says he isn’t worried because he needs redemption anyway. Kristen has unfortunately totally misread the group and plans to play the idol tonight.
Rob keeps making a big deal about Matt shaking the other team’s hands so that Grant and Natalie are also ready to vote him out. Does this seem weirdly amateurish of Boston Rob to anyone else? Matt would probably vote himself out before Rob and you have, like, fourteen more chances to blindside him before the jury. I do not understand Rob’s logic at all here. There’s got to be a lot more we’re not seeing for Matt and Andrea’s Aryan Alliance to be making Rob this paranoid.
Day 5 on Ometepe. Rob’s alliance (including Matt and Andrea) are going to split the vote between Kristen and Phillip. Because it’s not an episode of Redemption Island without the most complex tribals ever, here’s Rob’s OTHER plan: trick Kristen into giving up the idol and at the same time betray Matt and vote him out without Andrea’s knowledge.
And of course, here comes Phillip to mess everything up. He and Rob go for a walk and tells Phillip he’s going to be fine but don’t freak out at tribal like he did last time. Rob knows that Phillip can’t keep ANYTHING a secret so he devises a plan where just before the vote he’ll put his right hand on the person Phillip should vote for. Why not just tell Phillip to vote Kristen? Even if he tells everyone that, it only means she’ll for sure play the idol. Again, I think Rob is overcomplicating things. He urges Phillip to pretend that he thinks he’s going home. Then Phillip and Rob awkwardly hug. I’m SO excited for the kiss of Judas / mark of Boston Rob.
Tribal time! I love that the only question is not who will vote for whom but will Phillip screw things up so much that the entire plan needs to be changed. Kristen, why didn’t you play the idol last week? Cause I’m sort of insane, Jeff. Phillip, show us your biceps.
The worst part is that this is a fairly common tribal council request from Probst.
Phillip talks about his tattoos and being an animal and loving his country and don’t attack the United States. Jeff tries to continue to metaphor by asking what lions and gorillas do when they screw up like he did in the challenge, and Phillip says animals don’t lose but he did and he will suffer the consequences.
Jeff asks Matt and Rob what to do about Phillip, because he screwed up but there are also lots of weak girls to get rid of, and they give cop-out answers. Phillip jumps in and says he looks forward to meeting his nemesis on Redemption Island. Good lord I love this man.
Also, Rob does the really awkward shoulder rub to Kristen. Not as cool as I was hoping.
Before the votes are read, Kristen plays the idol. It’s 4/2/2 Matt/Phillip/Kristen, and he’s blindsided. Uh…good job, Rob? I don’t really know if alienating Andrea like that was a good idea.
So, Matt v. Francesca. She better hope it’s a snarky challenge. How annoying was Russell? Does anyone else love Phillip, or is that just me?