For those of you who did not take proper notes during last week’s episode, Shambo had a dream vision showing that Dave was going home. This was a wondrous thing to Shambo because Dave had risen to the top of her “I hate you and I’m gonna get you” list. Vision or not, Russell decided he’d rather ixnay John, and so it came to pass. At Tribal Council Shambo was left with egg all over her face when she cast the only vote for Dave. That’s figurative egg, needless to say: Shambo had already boiled the egg producers to smithereens.
Wimpy Jaison had panicked when he heard about the plan to thwart Shambo’s “hit” on Dave. He needn’t have worried. One good lie from Russell to Shambo that John had told him how much he hated Shambo and that he (Russell) didn’t tell her because of his oh-so-enormous respect for her integrity and not wanting her to have to lie to John and she nods meekly and blithely toddles off into the woods to whack on yet another palm tree. (And yes, I’m aware that’s a run-on sentence.) That night, as everyone’s about to fall asleep, Sham whines to Russell, “Next time we gotta get rid of Dave.” Russell’s answering grunt sounds very much like, “Whatever.”
Day 32 dawns with one of Survivor’s awesome fake sunrises—that film footage is getting so old I’m starting to see cracks in the celluloid. Jaison has decided it’s time to start making some moves on his own. He approaches Monica and Brett on the beach and prods them by suggesting that Mick and Russell are putting themselves in position to win.
And you know what, Jaison laconically avers, the truth is I’m the real power-player in this game: “behind the scenes it’s been me and Russell. I’ve left him out there out front while I’m making the decisions. I’m just waiting until Day 36 when he can’t use his immunity idol any more.” Oh, puhleeeze, Jaison, your relationship with Russell is like the game “Mother May I?” You don’t so much as peel a mango until he gives you permission. But according to Jaison, that’s the argument he’s planning for the jury—that he’s been in the driver’s seat all along. Yeah, and while you’re at it, why don’t you try to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge?
Oh, but Jaison isn’t finished. He has more to say: You know that good ole boy Russell? He told Mick he made two million dollars last year. He doesn’t need the money. Okay, first you’ve violated Mick’s confidence, and second, this is an argument better saved for the jury. If Russell finds out you’re blabbing about his wealth…
Brett is both surprised and pleased at Jaison’s revelations; he sees the cracks starting to form in FOA’s solidarity. “It’s just a matter of time ‘til that bomb ticks and blows up.”
BOWLING FOR A BAUBLE
You were expecting a reward challenge? Maybe another shot at spending half an hour with one of those awesome Sprint Palm-Pre Three phones? Nope, says Bwana Jeff, this one’s just for immunity. That suits Russell fine, “I’m ready to start eliminatin’ some people.”
I thought the tee-ball challenge was lame, but this one’s worse: it’s bowling. We should have expected it; sooner or later there was bound to be an occasion suited to Probst’s polyester bowling shirts. There are two “lanes” set up with pins—the balls appear to be de-fuzzed coconuts. Two people at a time will roll two balls. Highest number of pins knocked over moves on to next round. I’ll spare you the boring details of the early rounds except to say that when Dave Ball rolls a strike and it seems as if his bowling skills may earn him immunity, Shambo’s fury makes her head swell up like a balloon left on the helium tank too long.
In the end, only Shambo and Jaison are left to compete against one another for the immunity necklace. Shambo, incompetent klutz as always, rolls two gutter balls and Jaison defeats her by knocking down a single pin. Shambo hardly seems to care, “I was like, Dave’s goin’ home tonight.”
At camp, Russell informs Monica that Dave is going home that evening. Monica, after sitting around for the previous twelve episodes contemplating her navel, finally decides to make an effort at a strategy move by messing with Russell’s mind. She points her tiny manicured finger at Shambo, suggesting that Russell may be underestimating her strength and that since the majority of the jury will be GALU Shambo might be able to compete with him for votes.
Hmmm, Russell stops to think (for all of a nano-second): “One option I have is keeping Dave. I can beat Dave for a million dollars.” As if to prove the point, the camera lingers on Dave picking his nose. And there are other important scenes to be viewed. Natalie launders her delicate yellow silk and lace panties and hangs them on a line to dry. Shambo, the antithesis of lady-like, hacks her way through the bamboo, her belly heaving over the top of her boxer-briefs so violently I’m surprised she doesn’t get seasick.
Russell, as usual, carefully covers his bases, suggesting to Dave that he might be saved by voting out Shambo. Dave grabs at any life-line, “If a miracle happens tonight, I won’t be surprised, because the Lord frickin’ provides.” (I’m wondering if this is the same deity who visited Shambo in her dream to tell her Dave was going home. Very confusing theology here.) Russell also decides to stir up Shambo, suggesting that GALU may be starting to gun for her. She scoffs at that, “Starting to? I’m Sham with the Plan.”
Russell whispers secret final instructions to Natalie.
At Tribal Council, Erik leads in the jury wearing a Brett-designed tee shirt that looks like a toddler dumped the yellow finger-paint jar down the front (I’m hoping Brett has a back-up career in mind, just in case; I see dusting rags in those tee-shirts’ futures.) Bwana Jeff tries to goad the remaining Survivors into controversial statements. Jaison claims that the chief strategy now is to try to get rid of the strongest players. The strongest players? They’ve just been picking off the weaklings one by one. Shambo makes a lame attempt to curry favor with the jury by saying she’d never have voted for John; nobody’s buying it, even Jeff. Dave half-heartedly offers his advice, “You gotta convince ‘em they’ve got a better shot with you than whoever they’re aligned with.”
No surprise in the vote. Big Dave Ball is headed over to Ponderosa to become the fifth member of the jury. Only the fifth? Geeze, at this rate, we won’t have a jury by President’s Day! Bwana Jeff tries to look grave as he announces, “for the first time this the original members of FOA have the advantage in this game.” Laura whispers encouragement to Brett, “Stay Strong!” He grins back.
DO IT AGAIN
Back at camp the next day, the Survivors are starting to look at their end-game strategies.
Russell: “To me the biggest threat left in the game is Brett. Brett is a huge threat in this game. Gotta get rid of him.”
Mick: “I was elected leader on the first day, but Russell is the definite leader of us. Maybe he’s thinking of taking other people to the jury.”
Russell: “Mick is freakin’ out. When you freak out you’re gonna flip. That makes me think he’s gonna send me home. That’s what I’d do.”
Today’s immunity challenge, explains Host Probst, is two-part. They’ll race out into the water, where one-at-a-time, they’ll have to untie and retrieve three bags and return them to shore. Each contestant has a plank-catapault set up; they must place the bag on one end of the plank and jump on the other end to launch the bag into a raised basket.
Now I don’t know whether or not it was deliberate, but this challenge is not one that either Natalie or Monica can possibly win—neither has the weight necessary to vault their bag high enough into the air to reach the platform. Besides, Natalie can barely keep on her bikini bottoms. Jeff, observing the contestants struggling in the water, yells, “Thirty-three days is evident. Natalie’s struggling. Struggling just to keep her clothes on.”
It’s evident that no one has any reserves of energy to use for the challenge. Falling behind, Jaison looks disgusted and more or less quits. Brett and Mick at the end are close, but Brett gets his third bag into the basket first and wins immunity. This bugs Jaison, “Brett’s shown he has new life. Now we gotta get Monica, but this could be a problem if Brett keeps winning immunity challenges.”
SNAKES IN THE GRASS
At camp AIGA, Monica and Brett are working on Mick’s psyche, suggesting that perhaps Russell is planning on taking Shambo and Natalie to the final, not him. Mick is not unaware of the possibility of Russell double-crossing him: “Definitely part of me wants to make a big move. Every time I sit there and visualize in my head one million dollars with my name written on it.” He compares Russell to a snake, “it’s like kids playing with a snake. The snake promises not to bite them, then it does. It’s a snake; that’s what it does.”
Mick conveys his concerns to Jaison, “Do you think his (Russell’s) plan is to take the two off us? I don’t wanna be caught off guard. He may be thinking of taking Shambo and Nat.”
Monica is really working on Russell. She informs him that Natalie told them he was a multi-millionaire (not true, by the way—it was Jaison) and that Jaison has claimed he’s just waiting until Day 36 when Russell can no longer play the hidden immunity idol to make his move. She might have had some success if she’d stopped there, but she makes the mistake of threatening Russell, telling him if he takes her out she’ll never vote for him on the jury and that furthermore (nyah nyah nyah) she’ll make Huge trouble for him with all the other jurors. File this one under Classic Bad Moves Made by Players on Survivor.
That information sends Russell up in smoke. “It makes me mad and I like it. It fuels my fire.” In fact, he’s like a rumbling volcano on wheels, running around camp on his stubby little legs raising hell. He’s on a mission to find out who which confidante has blown the whistle on him. He confronts Natalie angrily; she swears innocence. Evidently he believes her, because he then goes to Brett and demands to know who told him “that I make a lot of money.” Umm, says Brett, “might have been Jaison.” Russell confronts Jaison—“why would Monica have said that?” Jaison denies the charge.
Jaison is quaking in his boots, “Russell was soooo angry. I might have made a mistake and told her what he does for a living. Gotta nip this in the bud.” [Info perhaps worth noting here: we weren’t shown Russell confiding his wealth to Jaison, only to Mick. Did Mick blab to Jaison, then Jaison to GALU?]
Monica has sealed her own fate by challenging Russell: “Monica had to run her little pie hole. She needs to be sent home.” He puts the hidden immunity idol into his pocket. “Now I have to worry about Jaison. If I’m feelin’ any kind of heat at tribal, I’m gonna play the idol.”
A PURTY LITTLE NECKLACE
The jury has filed in to Tribal Council, and the torches have barely been lit when Russell abruptly stands, pulls out his immunity necklace, and with a knowing grin, hangs it around his neck. Bwana Jeff is astonished, “Whatcha doin’ Russell?”
Russell: “I just found a purty little necklace. Thought I’d wear it. Some people here think it puts a target on my back. I think it puts a target on theirs.”
Does anyone remember a Survivor flaunting an immunity idol like that at the start of a Tribal Council? Russell is absolutely Daring anyone to try to make a move against him. The thing is, if this weren’t just a bunch of dummkopfs, they’d have realized that this was exactly the right time to move against him. His confidence in his complete control of the vote was obvious: he wasn’t about to actually Play the idol.
Monica, like a picador thrusting a hook into the bull, taunts Russell, “He’s cocky, isn’t he?” And she doesn’t stop there: she grins and boasts, “Russell was huffing and puffing around camp. I got under his skin for the first time.” Jeff asks Monica why this seems to thrill her so much and wants to know if Russell is concerned that Monica has stirred up things.
Russell relates Monica’s threats about undermining him on the jury and tosses her a back-handed compliment saying if she’d played as hard for the whole time as she did today she’d have become a force in the game. IF being the operative word.
Before the vote, Jeff asks pointedly if anyone has the hidden immunity idol and wants to play it. Russell just sits there, silent, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. No surprise, the vote goes against Monica. As the votes are being read, Mick nods in acknowledgment and Shambo grins blissfully.
As they prepare to head back to camp, Bwana Jeff warns, “There are six of you left in the game. It may not have worked for Monica, but everyone’s scrambling.”
Tune in next Thursday, and again on Sunday night for the finale. I’m betting there’s some Peace about to be Disturbed!