This week on Survivor, JT learned that some things just aren’t true, no matter how much we sometimes want them to be.It’s Day 25, and the Heroes are looking haggard. “This whole thing is exponentially worse than I ever remembered,” Colby says, miserable. JT points out that the five Heroes have been together for a long time; they’re praying for a merge just so they can change things up and get some new people around. “I hope I’m not annoying anyone,” Rupert tells Amanda. I think he means the other Heroes and not the audience, but either way: the answer is yes.
Amanda and Rupert go to check the treemail and find a chest. A note tells them to take the chest to camp and wait for the key, which is over with the Villains. The key comes with a “map” to the Heroes camp, which I’m pretty sure was cut from the back of a cereal box.
Russell looks like he belongs on a Rice Krispies box. Circle of life!
Before the Villains can leave, they need to come up with a plausible story to explain why Parvati is still around. They decide to tell the Heroes that Parvati played an idol at the same time that Russell did. As we know, this is much more plausible than even Russell knows, since Parvati has her own idol in pocket.
Of course, all the Heroes have to do is compare notes with Sandra. The smart thing to do would be to bring her into your alliance, because right now, she has a one hundred percent chance of trying to screw you over. Anyone who’s seen her in her prior season knows that her vote is for sale, so the safe thing is to include her here.
The Villains arrive at the Heroes camp, key to the chest and all. “I saw Parvati coming and immediately wanted to know where Russell is,” JT says, confused. “But then I saw his legs and was like ‘thank god!’” This is an accomplishment, because finding Russell’s tiny legs is no small feat.
JT immediately assumes that Parvati must have played an idol. In fact, he’s “one hundred percent sure” of it. You’ll hear JT talk about how he’s “one hundred percent sure” about a lot of stuff during this episode.
“Did you know that if you eat pop rocks and drink Coke, your stomach will explode? I am one hundred percent sure about this.”
As expected, the box contains a feast and new buffs, signaling that the merge has arrived. While the remaining players mingle with each other and eat, new tribe names get thrown around. Sandra suggests “Hillains”, which is completely terrible and a slight disappointment, coming from Sandra. Jerri suggests “All Villains”, which is even dumber, because she thinks everyone’s a villain, and Colby gives her the WTF face behind her back. As with all things, Jerri’s statement is an opportunity for Rupert to become preachy and act superior. “We’re all something good and positive,” Rupert says. “Why do you need to keep the Villain attitude? I guess that’s what villains do,” he continues, shrugging. I guess Rupert’s constant references to what a bright and shining beacon of light he is constitutes doing something “good and positive”.
Why do you need to keep the jerkbag attitude, Rupert? I guess that’s what nozzles do.
While everyone else chats and catches up, Parvati sits by herself in the shelter. She’s visibly upset that no one’s interested in talking to her, and she knows that she’s the prime target. Danielle tries to comfort Parvati, telling her that they have the game on lockdown and no one knows it, so she should quit worrying about who doesn’t like her because they’re not going to be around for long anyway.
On a side note, one of the conversations we overhear during this sequence involves Amanda telling Russell how one of the other contestants has a worm living under their skin, which is pretty much the grossest thing I can think of.
After the feast, Rupert and JT converse quietly with Russell in the shelter; Russell tells JT that Parvati played an idol too, and then they had to have a revote and he couldn’t vote and somehow Courtney went home as a result. Since we have no idea what the procedure would be when no votes count, we can’t be sure he’s lying, so this is actually a pretty good detail to add. “I swear on my kids I’m with you,” Russell says, trying too hard.
JT swallows it up, though. “He’s a good old country boy, just like me,” JT says hilariously. I guess if you’re a country boy, that makes you automatically trustworthy? That’s such an American thing to say. As with most other people in my generation, growing up in the era of Clinton and George W. Bush has brainwashed JT. Excuse me; do you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line? If so, here’s my ATM pin number!
“Russell could be lying, but I’m very sure that he isn’t,” JT says. “He could have never been going home, he could be the leader of the girls over there. Do I believe it? Not a chance in the world.”
“Did you know that if you turn all of the lights off and say Bloody Mary three times into the bathroom mirror, a woman appears? It’s true, Russell told me. I am one hundred percent sure.”
Sandra, however, will no go down without a fight. The rest of the Villains are apparently supposed to be babysitting her, but she manages to sneak away and get in front of Rupert for a brief moment. She tells him everything: that she’s the last of her alliance, that Russell and Parvati are working together, and that Russell is not to be trusted. Rupert tells us that he has to believe Sandra, since they were aligned before in the Pearl Islands. Sandra can get loud too!
On the morning of Day 26, the tribe enjoys a breakfast of leftover eggs (from the feast, I’m guessing), but afterwards Parvati is still hungry. She wanders over to where the Heroes have been keeping their bananas and starts to eat, and this pisses off all of the Heroes, particularly Rupert, who knows that bananas are only for good people, which is why you need a permission slip from a Nobel Peace Prize winner to buy them at the supermarket.
The Heroes go for a walk to discuss their frustration with the banana situation. Rupert chooses this point to tell the others about what Sandra told him, pointing out that the Villains can easily vote them out if they believe Russell and he chooses to screw them. JT, however, is having none of it. He is absolutely convinced that Russell is on their side, and he won’t listen to reason or even indulge the possibility.
“Did you know that alligators can crawl up through your plumbing and then crawl out of your toilet and then bite you on the ass? I am one hundred percent sure about this.”
Rupert persists. “He’s on the Villain side for a reason, JT,” he says. You know what? Way to make me side with Rupert, JT, you dick. Worst thing anyone’s ever done to me. I can feel my glands shutting down.
But the other Heroes agree with Rupert, so JT acquiesces and decides to go along with the new plan, which is to test Russell’s loyalty by telling him they’re voting for Parvati, but in actuality voting for someone else, likely Sandra or Jerri.
“Rupert needs to be told where to vote by someone smarter than him,” JT says, continuing his streak of unintentionally humorous confessionals. I can’t make these things up. Here’s another gem: “Think about this a minute: Do you believe what Sandra told you, or do you believe the obvious truth?”
“Did you know that if you’re in college and then your roommate dies, the college has to give you a 4.0 in all your classes? I am one hundred percent sure about this.”
Meanwhile, Rupert is busy disrupting my worldview some more. “The minute I met Russell and he swore on his kids’ life, right away I didn’t trust him,” he tells Amanda and Colby. When Rupert’s instincts are correct, I feel like everything’s backwards. It’s strange, all of a sudden I simply cannot wait to go see The Back Up Plan, you know?
Later, Amanda and Parvati finally find some time to sneak off together and compare notes. Parvati knows she’s a target, but Amanda tells her that she’s working hard to make sure that Sandra is the one going home this week. NO. That is not permitted.
Parvati then tells Amanda that she has an idol. Amanda goes “Another one?” because she’s testing to see if Parvati’s story matches Russell’s, and Parvati takes it in stride and shakes her head. They do the secret handshake from Micronesia that they used to do all the time and go their separate ways, agreeing to watch out for each other. That alliance could have potential if they agreed to work together in secret to disassemble their tribal alliances from the inside.
“Of COURSE you can trust me, look at this face! I don’t even remember how to BLINK.”
Immunity Challenge. The Survivors file in, and when Probst asks for a tribe name, they reveal that they did indeed go with “YinYang”, which is pretty damn terrible. “It means good and evil,” Russell says helpfully. Thanks! Up next: Russell explains the plot of The Matrix to everyone.
Today the contestants will be competing in the traditional first individual challenge, the “hold onto a pole for as long as possible” endurance test. Sandra’s in trouble like thirty seconds in, of course, but what’s surprising is that Colby is, too. They agree to step down together, and they’re the first two out before a minute has passed. Russell falls next, followed by Rupert. Parvati’s hot ass is hanging on with one foot, and when Jerri falls we get a shot of JT sitting with a blanket over his head in what is perhaps the most blatant metaphor in Survivor history.
Don’t literally pull the wool over your eyes, fool.
Pretty soon it’s just Parvati and Danielle left, and because they’re situated right next to each other, they have the luxury of whispering. Danielle tells Parvati that she needs to win because Parvati has the idol, and Parvati agrees to step down from the pole and give Danielle and her disgusting left breast the immunity necklace.
You guys, I think she might be the one with the worm under her skin.
Back at camp, people are rightfully suspicious that Parvati would just quit the challenge when it’s plain that she’s on the chopping block. Indeed, that was a pretty bad move. Rupert wants to use Parvati’s resignation as reason to oust Russell, and for real, I cannot say it enough, screw you JT for making me root for Rupert. They agree to move forward with their plan to vote for Sandra or Jerri as a test to see if Russell’s for real.
Meanwhile, Russell’s ready to execute on the Villains’ plan to eliminate JT by tricking them all into voting for Parvati. He gives her the idol that JT gave to him last week, because he has no idea that she already has one. So now, Parvati has two idols, which she shows to the camera wickedly. “I guess they’re right; I am the most dangerous player out here,” she says, satisfied.
“These sort of look like Danielle’s boobs.”
Parvati checks in with Amanda before Tribal Council. Amanda wants them to play together, but has no idea how to make it happen. “All I can tell you is to play the idol,” Amanda says, trying to be coy but coming off obvious and stilted. Being clever is not Amanda’s strength. Amanda’s strength is her function as a reliable sidekick. Also her butt, but mostly the sidekick thing.
Parvati can tell that Amanda’s lying because they’ve spent a lot of time playing the game together. “Amanda is so fake,” Parvati says, “I could tell immediately that she wasn’t telling me the truth.”
“My head hurts,” Amanda responds. She’s as reliable as ever. Try not to think too hard, honey. Hey, do you guys remember when she was smart? I’m having a hard time reconciling that with what we’re seeing in front of us now. I agree with Rupert ONE TIME and all of a sudden everything is magically reversed and now Amanda is a brainless zombie. Thanks, JT!
“Russell told me that one time, he picked up a hitchiker and gave her a ride home, and then when he got to where she lived, he turned around and she was gone, and then he went up to her house and knocked on the door and her mom told Russell that she’d been dead for YEARS. I am one hundred percent sure about this.”
Tribal Council. Hey Rupert, what’s it like having new people around camp? “It’s…an adjustment,” he says like the perfect asshole. He brings up the stupid banana etiquette thing again, and Danielle can’t stay quiet any longer, pointing out that there are bananas all over the place. “No, there are plantains everywhere,” Rupert says. We have reached the point where these people are arguing over fruit, so I cross “exhaustively recap the least interesting argument ever” off of my Bucket List.
Russell halts the banana discussion, causing me to be grateful for his presence, which is yet more evidence that I’ve crossed into the land of I Blame JT For This. Russell points out that nothing is going to change with this discussion, and that there are still two separate tribes. I believe someone is required to say that at the first Tribal Council after every merge.
Parvati notes that everyone’s avoiding her, which makes her think she’s being targeted. Probst thinks she’s just being overly sensitive, because she is a girl who has girly parts. “Is that because you’re used to getting attention all the time, in life?” he says, making everyone laugh and crossing the line yet again. Tone it down, Probst. We get it.
Time to vote. Russell votes for JT: “You seem like a real cool guy, but it was a real dumb move to give me your idol.” Less cocky than I thought, but also pretty funny given what’s about to happen, and how little Russell actually has to do with it. He just gave Parvati an idol with exactly the same amount of correct information that JT had last week.
Parvati votes JT. “This is my love letter to you. X O X O!” she says, mocking JT’s Do You Like Me Check Yes Or No letter to Russell last week.
We see Amanda, Rupert and Candace vote for Jerri, explaining that she’s the least likely person to be given the idol if one exists. Pretty solid strategy, right?
Yeah, except: Probst goes to gather the votes and gives the group the opportunity to play the immunity idol. Parvati pipes up, telling Jeff that it would be sad to have to watch bananas ripen without everyone around. Then, she pulls out an idol and gives it to Sandra, who looks pretty damn shocked (in addition to everyone else in the room).
And then! Parvati pulls out the second idol and gives it to Jerri. For the first time in many years with this show, I was legitimately and honestly blown away.
Think about it: Parvati has used the power of logic to deduce the following: that the Heroes can’t vote for Danielle because she has immunity, that they won’t vote for Russell because they think he’s on their side, and that they aren’t voting for Parvati herself because they believe that she’s going to play the idol. Thus, this leaves two possible options for the Heroes: Jerri and Sandra. By giving them both idols, Parvati has eliminated every single possibility the Heroes have given themselves.
Parvati’s essentially guaranteed herself safety for the next few rounds by playing for her entire alliance instead of just herself. This one move has guaranteed her safety for at least another couple of rounds, and here’s why: In one fell swoop, it moves the target off of her back and paints it squarely on Russell, whom the Heroes are going to blame for flipping. There’s a one hundred percent chance that Sandra’s going to flip, and when she does, the Heroes and Sandra will be going at Russell instead.
The move also endears her to Jerri and Sandra, two members of her alliance that were originally on the outside of the central Danielle/Parvati/Russell triad. If things go south with Russ and Danielle, Parvati is straight up covered. Sandra’s already said that she wants to keep as many winners around as possible, so why not give her more incentive?
Yeah, Parvati could have played one idol and kept one for herself, but what would that do? She has a 50-50 shot at selecting the right person, and even then she’d still be targeted sooner than later and would likely have to play it at the very next Tribal Council. Better to protect everyone and form a tight alliance in which every single member owes you, giving you a guaranteed shot at keeping your needed votes around.
In short, I believe that it is the single best play in the history of this show. So, so smart and well thought out.
“I guess I’ll never find out if seagulls explode when you feed them Alka-Seltzer.”
Oh, and for those of you that have been emailing me all weekend telling me I’m a hypocrite for thinking that this is the same thing I criticized Russell for back when Tyson got voted out, this move is WAY different. Parvati systematically eliminated every potential choice the Heroes could have made; Russell took a shot in the dark. It’s a shot which turned out to be correct thanks to some dumb luck, but what’s different is the thought process. Parvati’s thinking in this scenario is much more advanced than Russell’s was a few weeks ago.
Probst begins to read the votes; all five votes for Jerri don’t count. The votes for JT, however, do. The person who’s the most shocked at this turn of events is actually Russell, who shakes JT’s hand as he’s voted out, then tells Parvati that she’s got some explaining to do. “Secret!” she says, giggling. I get the feeling that Russell’s not amused to be kept out of the loop like this. Also, if they had gone along with his remedial-ass plan, Jerri would be gone right now, his alliance would be down 5-4, and he’d likely be the next person out. Just saying.
In JT’s final words, he tells us that the one thing he’s taking away from this is never to trust women. Russell is apparently blameless in this entire scenario. Wonderful!
Next week: Sandra finally gets Russell, hopefully. But probably not, because previews showing Russell in trouble are always wrong.