This one is a little more recap than review. I'm in Los Angeles right now putting together some Oscar reports and coverage for ShowbizMonkeys.com, so I'm not able to go through my summary notes on tonight's Survivor episode and come up with more of a review. But I will say that this episode had a lot of what I love about Survivor: smart decisions, stupid decisions, good challenges, hidden immunity idols, and big decisions that could affect alliances and the tribal make-up.
We started off with SadCoach. Apparently, Coach didn't like Sandra's Tribal Council shots directed at Coach's work ethic around camp (from last week), and immediately after the tribe got back to camp, Coach pulled Tyson aside and tearfully wondered why nobody liked him. Tyson, in the first moment of unsnarkiness we've seen from him, told Coach point blank what he had to do to get people to back off: stop wearing feathers in his hair, stop telling his crazy stories that nobody believes, and do his Tai Chi in public. To us, this all seems obvious, but it's possible this is the first time Coach has heard the reasons people don't like him laid out so clearly -- and it doesn't help the situation. He told Tyson that he wanted out of the game, and it took a lecture from Boston Rob (in which Coach complained about wanting to bond more with Rob -- how whiny can someone be in one Survivor episode) to decide to get back in the game.
The reward challenge was a decent one, with oiled up bodies and sliding toward balls -- numbered balls, that each contestant had to then try and throw through a mini hoop (get your minds out of the gutter, people). And while picking the rewards out of a "Sears Catalogue" was a little lame, the choices by each tribe were solid. Unfortunately, only one of them would actually GET their choices, though. In a final showdown with the score tied, Tyson beat out Colby to take it for the Villains.
On Day 9 (DAY 9?!?) the Villains were gearing up to finally build a decent shelter with their Sears tools (how many shelters have they gone through now?). But the biggest thing in the reward wasn't the tools -- a note about the hidden immunity idol fell out of a knife holder. The players who were on pre-hidden idol shows (Rob and Sandra, specifically) convinced the rest of the team that if the idol is found, it should be thrown in the ocean, but to really not search for it at all. Russell, having used his idols to perfection in his season, thought differently, and almost immediately (at least in TV time) went on his search for the idol.
Of course, he made it WAY too obvious he was going to look for the idol, and with the tribe so furiously anti-immunity idol (what is wrong with these people?), Rob sent Sandra to see what Russell was doing. (I'm already sick of Sandra this season, and we're only 4 episodes in -- it took me way longer in Pearl Islands to want her off my TV.) The Villains decided that he's gone -- idol or not -- simply because he went looking for it. Sure, tribe loyalty is a good thing, I guess, but especially around a bunch of Villains, there's a point at which you have to save your own ass. Why they're all so against the idol is absolutely beyond me.
Despite not winning the reward, the Heroes ALSO got an immunity idol clue, which fell out of their coffee stash. Unlike the moronic Villains, they didn't make any weird pacts. Sure, they were obvious about going to search for it, but they didn't wish the plague upon the people searching for it or finding it, because they're not stupid. In fact, pretty much everyone was searching for it, which is logical. In the chaos of searching, Tom managed to sneakily find the idol on the Heroes beach, but Amanda was able to notice his odd behavior after finding it (since everyone was around the same area) and told everyone. But even with everyone knowing, it certainly should help Tom and Colby's mini-alliance to have a hope in the game.
The immunity challenge this week (by the way, nice to see separate challenges this week for the first time in a while) was the same one last season where the OTHER Russell passed out and seemed to almost kick the bucket from exhaustion (thus ending the challenge with no winner). Tom and Boston Rob were the sighted ones, first guiding blindfolded teammates pushing them in a giant ball through a course, and then guiding others as they move a ball through a wooden puzzle maze. And big surprise, with Rob leading the charge and guiding his team, the Villains won immunity once again -- anything not purely physical seems to still be going the Villains' way.
Back at the Heroes camp, the bigger alliance had a "foolproof" plan in place to get rid of either Tom or Colby (depending on if Tom played the idol or not), but Tom had his own plans in play. First, he came up with a plan to join an alliance with JT, Amanda, and James to vote out Candice. Then, when that looked shaky, he came up with another plan to counter the supposed perfect plan to get Tom or Colby out. It was a smart one that would work without the major alliance catching on, but it came down to a decision by JT. He could have either stuck with the original plan and wrote down Colby's name, or gone along with Tom and Colby to oust Cirie.
In the end, it was the strategic mastermind Cirie -- who almost made it to the end in each of her 2 previous seasons -- going home 4th in Heroes vs. Villains. I'm sad to see her go, in the sense that I always love how good she is at stirring the pot and cleverly convincing/manipulating people to side with her, but I think it's kind of funny how she was essentially out-Cirie'd on this one by Tom. And think, if she hadn't tried to talk Amanda and James out of the plan to side with Tom and vote out Candice, she'd have never even been considered to be voted out.
So are you happy with the Hero going home? Has JT now moved from a strong alliance to a weak one, with little to no upside (other than Cirie being out of the game)? And over on the Villains' side, while it's a near-certainty Russell found the idol, will he be able to use it to save himself for a while, or will the Villains flush it out at the first opportunity and then take out Russell at the next? (It kind of seems that, even though it's early in the game, Russell is already being forced to play like he did post-merge in Samoa -- but that almost worked out perfectly for him over there.)
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)
I think JT did the right thing... and not just because I love Tom. The "stronger alliance" has no brain now that Cirie is gone and will likely self-destruct. (And don't say Amanda can handle it; she is nothing without Parvati.)
Ramya Velmurugiah says...
This was an awesome episode. Mad props to Jeff Probst for asking some tough questions in tribal council about the stupid decisions the tribe was making. Even with this enlightening perspective, Rupert and James are idiotic to think that Cirie will help their tribe win more challenges that Colby or Tom. Jeff said it best, in a game with the objective to "outwit, outplay and outlast" why is Rupert putting so much emphasis on keeping his word to his loosely formed alliance? Gah! Go Tom!