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Good news this week, Survivor fans. The tribes were given their swimsuits! The bad news: before that, there was a significant period of time during which Secret Agent Droopy Drawers was out stalking tiny crustaceans with a stick the size of a telephone pole. He was probably looking for radio transmitters under the crab shells. Rob and his crew, hiding behind the trees spying on Phillip, could barely hold in the laughter. Matt, with a great Australian-accented imitation of the Crocodile Hunter, whispered, “This fine specimen is creeping up on his prey…” Rob, grinning widely, advises: “Let it be a lesson to you. Government Jobs. Stressful.”
”I STILL LOVE PHILLIP SHEPARD.”–Phillip Sheppard
I hate it when the show makes me start to feel sorry for a contestant I’ve decided is fruit-loops. Phillip stands alone in the jungle, terribly hurt by the events at tribal the night before. Suddenly there’s stirring patriotic music blaring from the television, the kind they usually play over a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. Tears are streaming from Phillip’s eyes. He’s distraught. [talking about Francesca] “Having worn the uniform. Having sworn to protect and defend. To have her take some of that pride I have. Having served as a special agent and earned the right to be trustworthy. It hurt me. The lesson I got from last night? I still love Phillip Sheppard. He’s a good guy.”
Okay, so I haven’t changed my mind that he’s a loon. But a loon with good intentions. Maybe.
One other thing about Phillip: he’s gone from thinking he was getting rid of Rob to being totally subservient. He pledges Rob his vote, “til I’m sent to Redemption Island.” Rob pretends to believe him, but knows better, “I knew Christina and Phillip were lyin’. Doesn’t take a genius FBI man to figure that out–their lips were movin’.”
She who caused Phillip’s great sorrow, Francesca, is fending for herself over at Redemption Island, which, by the way, looks awfully like those one of those Mayan temples used for gory human sacrifices. No doubt merely coincidental. Or not. Francesca gives herself a pep talk, saying that being sent to Redemption may just be the best thing for her game. To help maintain her sanity, she’s been allowed to have her “luxury item,” a journal. I’m pretty sure the first entry she makes will be something along the lines of “Phillip is crazy.” Francesca will be alone for the next three days, when the second evictee will join her. I wonder if they’ll spend time together on Redemption or duel immediately? There were some posted “rules” about Redemption, but I couldn’t make them out. Anyone?
ROCK, TOILET PAPER, CLUE
At the Zapatera camp, all the action centers on the Hidden Immunity Idol. Rooster Ralph is out gathering rocks. For what? Maybe to replenish the ones in his head? Whatever his intent, it turned out to be a rewarding excursion for our resident werewolf, because he accidentally uncovers the Hidden Immunity Idol. It looked as if he replaced it in the tree trunk, but then later is shown on the beach fondling it, so I don’t know what he was putting back in its place. Ralph is, to say the least, thrilled, “I was lookin’ for rocks, found the idol. That was as simple as wipin’ your hinie with toilet paper.”
While Ralph is speaking poetically, the King of the Hidden Immunity Idol himself, I’m A-Russell Hayantz is deputizing his deputies, Stephanie and Krista, to be on the lookout for clues to the idol in the next reward they win. “You seen me play before. You seen me findin’ idols.” Evidently, a knowledge of English Grammar is not a prerequisite for locating an idol.
(Going to jump ahead a bit here to finish the story of the Zapatera idol.) After the challenge, Russell grabs the basket containing the fishing gear the tribe won. This isn’t his first rodeo: he knows there’s bound to be a clue in it. And sure enough, slipping right out of the slippery flipper, is the clue. Russell palms it and stuffs it into his pants. Unfortunately for him, Ralph is watching.
When they reach camp, Russell slips away with Krista and Stephanie and shows them the clue. He’s feeling cocky, “I have three people. I have three votes. That’s all I need. I don’t need no stinkin’ numbers.”
Mike walks up to the threesome and Russell quickly changes the subject to rant about Sarita having a “pitiful performance” at the challenge. And then, here comes Rooster Ralph. Now if Ralph were a man given to caution, he’d just smile and say Howdy to Russell. Alas he is not. He walks right up to the Troll and throws out a challenge, “Russell, was there a clue in that basket?” Russell’s hackles rise like a threatened cur, “Maybe.” There’s some jawing back and forth, with most of the tribe looking on, and Russell growls at Ralph, “I don’t like how you comin’ at me. I know how to play this game. Don’t tell me how to play this game. What the hell was that? You just done that to me, to Russell Hantz and you know how to play this game?”
Ralph wastes no time in making sure the others are all aware that Russell has found, and not shared, a clue to the immunity idol. Ralph does not, however, volunteer that he has the actual idol in his bag. Mike and Steve take particular note of the danger of Russell Hantz with an idol to play.
IT’S TILE TIME!
The tribes are gathered for this week’s immunity/reward challenge. The props department is still trying to use up all the surplus ceramic flooring they bought last summer at the closeout sale of the Nicaragua tile manufacturer. And that slime-pit swimming pool will also be involved. I hope they’ve disinfected it since Fabio urinated in there.
The task will be for five team members to jump off a platform wielding a baton, smash a hanging tile and retrieve a key. When all five keys are collected, a series of three locks must be undone, and then a final tribe member will throw a ball successively at five tile-covered tables until all are smashed.
Notable at the challenge:
•Andrea bellyflops when she hits the water. Ouch!
•Sarita can barely swim. She dogpaddles. Might have been the only thing she could do, considering one hand was required to hold up her knickers.
•Grant cheated (but didn’t get penalized for it) by grabbing his key without breaking the tile.
•Natalie fumbled and bumbled trying to open the locks.
•Worrisome that a Special Agent like Phillip has such bad aim.
•Kristina’s belly tattoo is even bigger than her tramp stamp.
In the end, Ralph out-threw Phillip and Zapatera won its second immunity in a row.
Now, pay attention, because what happens next may affect the whole outcome of the game! Sweet blonde Matty, remembering what his mama taught him about sportsmanship, rushes over to hug and congratulate Zapatera on their victory. Rob’s face is contorted in disgust, “We just got our asses kicked twice. I’m not goin’ over to shake the other guy’s hand.”
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR
Matt might not have been in so much trouble with Rob over the collaborating with the enemy thing except for his earlier behavior: he’d been seen canoodling (actually just sitting and talking, but to an observer it might have looked like something more) on the beach with his fellow-blonde, Andrea. One of the things he tells her in that conversation is, “I prayed God would put me in an alliance like this.”
Rob knows the Power of the Pair–he and Amber used it to finish one/two on All Stars. He shares that with Natalie, who he’s chosen to be his Girl Friday. Privately, he’s a little worried about her, “I think Natalie’s gonna be a good partner, but I’m gonna have to put her on my back and carry her to the end.” Natalie is comfortable with Rob as her protector, “I’m gonna make big moves, but I trust Rob.” (To remind: Natalie is the brunette dancer, at 19, the youngest person ever on the show.)
Rob has decided that Matt is a threat and that he needs to be taken out at once. Has Rob pushed the panic button too soon? He’s playing dangerously here: they’re already the weaker tribe, why get rid of a strong, hard-working guy? There’s not only Redemption Island with the threat of a player returning, but also the fact that by blindsiding Matt and Andrea (that’s the plan), Rob is going to make an enemy of Andrea. And wouldn’t you think anyone who knows the game as well as Rob would remember all the times players have suffered the consequences of turning on their own alliance too soon?
But Rob has decided Matt is the enemy: “I get it. Matt’s playin’ Survivor. He’s playin’ textbook. But he’s playin’ with me.”
So Rob has Natalie, Ashley and Grant lined up to vote with him against Matt. Andrea and Matt are to be left in the dark and think they’re voting Phillip. Poor Matt, he even talks in his PI about his love for Rob, “Every day Rob impresses me, how he can talk to people and figure out what they need.
Still, there’s the problem of Phillip. Rob considers him a looselipped loose cannon. He’s not telling him anything until the last second. He does assure Phillip that he’s safe, but encourages him to talk at tribal as if he thinks he’s going home. He warns him to stay calm, “Don’t blow up at tribal council like you did last time.” Phillip persists, wanting to know how he’s supposed to vote. Don’t worry about it, says the Godfather, “Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna put my right hand on the shoulder of the person I want you to vote for.”
Rob confides privately, “This is gonna be a good test if he does what he says he’s gonna do. If he does, he can earn his way back into the rotation.”
Kristina, meanwhile, thinks it’s her head in the noose. She’s so sure she will have to play her idol at tribal that she’s walking around camp wearing it. It looks like a noose.
LION, GORILLA, ROADKILL
Tribal council goes exactly according to Rob’s plan. Phillip talks about not minding being sent to Redemption Island because he’ll get to meet his nemesis, Francesca. He’s so proud, he managed to get her name right. Which is more than he’d done earlier at camp when he told his teammates “you performed gallantry” at the challenge.
Jeff can’t resist querying Phillip about his ginormous arm tattoos, one of a gorilla and one of a lion. Phillip is only too pleased to explain that the gorilla won’t come at you unless provoked and that if you bother the lion, the whole United States is going to crash down on you. Or something. Nothing Phillip says makes any sense.
Before the vote, Rob makes a big show of giving Kristina a neck rub. She’s so surprised she practically jumps off her seat. She probably thought Rob was trying to choke her, but, as we know, he was giving Phillip his signal–and making sure Phillip understood it!
Jeff collects the votes and has hardly begun his “If anyone has the Immunity…” when Kristina bounds up and practically throws the necklace at him, “Jeff, I think I’m gonna need a little extra help tonight.”
Andrea and Matt, the objects of Rob’s blindside, vote for Phillip. Phillip votes for Kristina. Kristina returns the favor. Everyone else votes for Matt. As Jeff reads the vote, Matt and Andrea each look as if they’ve been punched in the stomach.
Matt gets his torch snuffed, and is nearly speechless, “It coulda worked, guys.” He pauses. “My goodness.”
Jeff sends Ometepe off with an ominous benediction, “already your second tribal council and already a vicious blindside.”
Next week will find Matt at Redemption with Francesca. Who will survive their duel?