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Episode XI, in which Matt talks to God; Great Great Gramps talks to Phillip; Grant declares his love to Rob and Ralph offers Grant a hug.
To be candid, I really don’t care if God wants Matt Elrod to get Survivor’s million dollar check (it’s looking more and more as if that’s where things are headed), but I’d appreciate it if he’d just go ahead and hand it over and get the whiny, sniveling, stringy-haired annoyance off my TV on Wednesday nights.
In truth, if I have my druthers, at the end of this season the whole Redemption Island will sink into the ocean like Atlantis, never to be heard of again. It’s like someone poured a quart jar of molasses over the game of Survivor to muck it up. Doesn’t it seem as if almost no one has gone home yet? By the end of this episode there’ll be so many bodies in that tiny shelter on Redemption, it’ll be as crowded as steerage on the Titanic.
THE FRUITILITY OF IT ALL
After last week’s volatile tribal council, Steve tries to make peace with Phillip. Forget that, Phillip doesn’t believe Steve is genuous. Any attempts at rapprochement are, says Phillip, fruitile. Steve still thinks Phillip is “a freakin’ lunatic,” though he keeps that to himself.
Phillip, though, has more important things to consider, i.e., his swim trunks languishing in a grave so cruelly dug by Julie. Once again, Phillip is not alone! He’s visited by Great Great Great Grandpa Jessem Hallum, who advises him to dig near the water and a rock. Phillip can’t seem to make up his mind exactly who’s appearing in these visions: last week it was his grandfather Jessem Hallum; this week it’s a more distant ancestor of the same name. Or maybe it’s just the ancestors trying to distance themselves from the cuckoo side of the family tree.
Miraculously, Phillip proceeds directly, without passing go or collecting two hundred dollars, to the very spot where the shorts are buried and unearths them. To those of you who suspect producers or cameramen may have had a hand in the success of his endeavor, I say SHAME! How dare you doubt Phillip’s personal Ouiji Board Grampa?
Phillip is exultant, telling himself “You be da man!” He can’t wait to flaunt his shorts in front of Julie, “She’s gonna know you can’t pull the wool over the undercover specialist.” I’m all for undercover, so long as it’s the pink pantaloons that are staying that way. Channeling (and misquoting) his inner Jack Nicholson, Phillip crows, “Some people can’t stand the TRUTH.”
STILL WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS
On Redemption, Matt, now in company with Mike and Julie, is nearly in the throes of despair, “It gets harder and harder to get up every day. I’m wastin’ away out here. I’m just so over this game.” Still, he’s sure it’s meant to be: “God wanted me here; I can’t see that but I know. God has literally been carryin’ me the last four days.” Means of transport not shown.
Mike discusses Matt’s misery with Julie, “Since he was blindsided he’s been on kind of a downward spiral. He’s already thinkin’ about goin’ home.”
When the crowd gathers for the duel/truel, Jeff notices that Matt seems down-hearted and asks about his state of mind. Matt admits he’s thinking about going home, but that ain’t gonna happen, “There’s more of God’s will to accomplish. I told him I’d stay as long as he wanted me to.”
Evidently, God is not too busy to oversee a game of Survivor Shuffleboard–which looks like tiddly winks on a table–Matt gets his three hockey pucks into the end zone first. Mike is next, and Julie is headed to the jury.
Probst tries to make Matt out as some sort of messiah, comparing the 39 days of Survivor to Jesus’s 40 days wandering in the wildnerness. Don’t know if Probst has renounced the devil Hantz, but he’s sure become an acolyte in the church of Matt. He even got all huffy during the show on his Twitter feed when fans weren’t fawning all over Matt’s devotion.
As for Julie, she too has seen the light. Revealing that she came on the show looking for a way out of financial problems, including her home in foreclosure, she says the game gave her “so much more. Thanks to Matt I’m gonna go home and find a church to join.” [Update: In exit interviews today, Julie reports she found a church; her home is now safe; she declared bankruptcy to deal with her debts, and life is good–though she is having to pay her ex alimony and child support.]
Back at camp, Andrea is suffering remorse over her last betrayal of Matt, “He says he forgives us, but I think he’s kinda pissed at me. If Matt came back in the game, I’d wanna talk to him, but I don’t think he’d every trust me again. Why would he?”
Grant is worried about Andrea’s loyalty. He tells Rob, “I was thinkin’ when the time comes, I think we should get rid of her first.” Rob could not agree more, “I was thinkin’ the same thing.” Later, Rob shares his concerns with Natalie and Ashley, and they’re on the same wave length.
ROLLING OFF A LOG
The immunity, and for a change, reward, challenge this week has the Survivors pairing up to compete in a log-rolling contest. Grant & Rob are up first. Grant lasts longest, but plaintively calls up to Rob as he’s climbing out of the cesspool, “I love you Rob!” Ashley defeats Andrea, then Steve and Ralph match up. Jeff teasingly asks Steve if he’s ever done this before. Steve quips, “Yeah, I’m in a league. Every Saturday.” Phillip bests Natalie; there’s a second round of eliminations and the final face-off comes to a barefoot Grant and a shod Ralph. They’re evenly matched, but it’s no surprise when the yoga instructor keeps his balance longer.
It’s decision time. The reward is a huge chocolate cake and an iced pitcher of milk. Everyone’s practically drooling. Ralph is oh so hungry. He pitches Grant, “I’d hug your neck if you let me eat some of it.” Then, abashed, he hurries to explain, “I’m not gay. But I don’t know what else to say.” Grant chooses (wait for it) Rob! Then with a second pick he selects Andrea (later explaining in interview that he didn’t want her to know she might be in jeopardy of elimination). They’re given two minutes and no utensils to consume their prize. Much of the chocolate winds up smeared over Andrea’s face. The faces of Natalie and Ashley are covered in frowns.
THERE’S GONNA BE NONE TELLIN’ WHAT HAPPENS
Before he sent the Mulonios back to camp, Jeff handed them a wrapped bundle and told them not to look inside but to bring it with them to tribal council. That sets off a flurry of speculation as to what the twist may mean. Ralph, who’s resigned to his probable fate, mumbles something totally unintelligible. Steve, trying to comprehend, asks “What?” Ralph mumbles again. It sounds like a made-up language. Finally, on the third try, he makes himself understood, “There’s gonna be none telling what happens.”
Getting Ashley and Natalie alone, Steve makes a half-hearted attempt to convert them, warning that Rob will betray them in favor of Phillip, “he’s gonna keep dragging along that nimrod until he takes him all the way to the finals.”
The argument has been made that the girls were unwise not to make a move on Rob at this point. I totally disagree. If they’d turned on Rob (and Grant) before the Zapaterans were wiped out, they’d have made a huge enemy that would definitely come back for revenge. If they’re smart enough to ally up with Andrea, they’ll still have the numbers to control the game. Joining an alliance with Steve and Ralph would be idiotic: they’d be the appetizers at a Zapatera feast at the finale.
The girls can hardly wait for Steve to leave them so they can run and tattle to Rob. That makes him reevaluate his evening’s plan, “Seems like Steve’s got his second wind. What I was thinkin’ about doin’ I’m not doin’ now.” And if there’s the expected double-elimination Rob says, “I may have to get rid of Andrea.”
TO THE ONE I HAVE THIS DAY
Tribal council offers little excitement. Questioned by Jeff, Andrea says she feels “perfectly safe” because the Ometepe Six has “worked hard to get where we are.” Both Ralph and Steve agree that Ralph is more in jeopardy, because he’s a stronger player. Whoa, there, interrupts Grant, “You can’t trust Steve’s lackadaisical stance…He played in the NFL; he’s not a quitter.”
On cue, Steve throws a Hail-Mary pass trying to get the girls to turn on Rob. He reminds them that in All-Stars, Rob made a deal with Lex to save Amber, then betrayed him. He turns to the girls, says he and Ralph are voting for Rob, and pleads, “I’d say ‘It’s now or never’.” Jeff recaps the events and how Rob double-dealt Lex, but concedes, “You stayed true to the true alliance you had with Amber.”
Rob grins widely, “The one I still have to this day.” (For those who didn’t see All-Stars: Rob carried Amber to the final with him. She won. He proposed at the reunion show. They’re still happily married with two beautiful daughters.)
It’s hardly surprising when Ralph gets all the Ometepe votes. He says goodbye and starts to leave without his torch when Jeff reminds him, “You’re still in the game. Head on over to Redemption Island.”
AND THEN THERE WERE SIX
Time for the big twist. Jeff instructs Steve to open the parcel and read the card. As they’ve guessed, it’s a second elimination. There’ll be an immediate immunity challenge. Decks of symbol-imprinted cards are passed around. Jeff will reveal a series of cards. The object is to get their cards in the same order as Jeff’s. A memory challenge? Why bother playing? Give it to Rob right now. Yep, called it: Rob wins.
They go to vote. Again. Will Andrea be in danger? No, the last Zapateran, Steve, is sent to join the burgeoning throng on Redemption Island. They’re going to have to stack themselves up like firewood to sleep over there.
Jeff gives them the good news/bad news: all of Zapatera has been dispatched; now they’ll have to turn on their own.