March Madness has nothing over this week’s episode of Survivor, in which one contestant makes the dumbest move ever, a wrong is righted, an opportunity is lost (perhaps forever) and the spectre of Miss Manners hovers about the island.
You will recall that when last seen, some two weeks previous, the Heroes had just opted to send home Fireman Tom, and to keep in his stead a severely crippled James. This move left Colby the odd man out, in an alliance with no one but himself. James, demonstrating his complete lack of couth, sarcastically asks Colby back at camp, “You want a hug?” Colby visibly cringes, backs away and announces that all he wants is to get some sleep. Candice makes a half-hearted excuse for her betrayal, whining that she had to vote for Tom because “there was no use throwing a vote away and making people coming home mad.”
WATCH YOUR BACK, MAN
Over at the Villains camp, neither Russell nor Rob can sleep. They have a midnight confrontation.
Russell: “I’m glad you’re up. I wanted to talk to you. Just sittin’ around thinkin’ too much. I don’t wanna be at your throat. I don’t want you to be at my throat.”
Russell (PI): “I decided to have a conversation with Rob to make him think I’m not after him which I am. I don’t care how strong he is. I don’t care how powerful he is. He’s threatening Russell Hantz; when you do that—you go.”
Rob to Russell: “A lot of people are mad though that you went to look for that idol. Cause we all said that if anybody did, then you’re going to be a marked man.”
Russell (lying—he already has the idol): “Well, I went lookin’ for it, but if I get the next clue I’ll find it. I’ll go lookin’ for it again.”
Rob: “I’m just bein’ straight with ya man. I don’t know whether you have it or not, but if you do have it, hang on to it tight.”
Rob (PI): “Russell’s gonna find out soon enough that he’s out of his league. I just did everything I could to make him as more paranoid as I could so he runs around like a crazy man. He’s not playin’ with the amateurs any more. He’s playin’ with the big boys now.”
Rob: “I’m not a rat and I’m not gonna say who it was but a lot of people are mad that you went lookin’ for that idol. I’m just tellin’ ya, watch your back, man.”
Russell: “Yeah. Well same thing for you man. Watch your back.”
Rob (grinning in spite of himself): “Good talk, Russell.”
End of chest-beating by chief Villains.
COPE WITH THE ROPE-A-DOPE
Day 15 brings the tribes to the challenge beach where a course of fence-like obstacles which players must navigate while tethered to ropes is set up. Coach, JT and Tyson have seen this one before on Toncantins. This time, Host Probst tells the Survivors, they’ll be competing against their own tribe-mates for an individual immunity. The winner from each tribe will compete against one another for a team reward. Both tribes will have to go to tribal council to vote off a member, but the winning tribe goes first and gets to feast on hot-dogs while listening to the losers discussion.
Before leaving camp, James has strapped his leg into the brace provided by the medical team. We’re talking serious device here, not something you can grab off the shelf at Rite-Aid. Despite that encumbrance, he quickly takes the lead in the Heroes’ heat. Colby is going nowhere fast. And wait, I knew something had been missing from the season: finally, Amanda’s bikini gets pixellated. After everyone is shown throwing their bodies willy nilly over and under the railings, it’s Candice who wins.
Now it’s the Villains’ turn. Initially, Parvati, Russell, Tyson and Coach are in the lead. Sandra looks like she’s decided to take a coffee break. First to the finish line is—ta da—Boston Rob!
Now Candice and Rob must go head to head for the tribe’s honor, and the hot dogs. Jeff announces there’s been a third level added to the obstacles course; it does not look like fun. Rob makes quick work of the task; he’s through before Candice makes it half way. Victory for Villains once again. Rob brushes off his team-mates congratulations, “Big deal, I beat a girl.”
JT voices what others probably believe, “Colby had to be thinking, ‘That just done me in.’” Except I bet Colby would have said “did me in” not “done me in.”
For the Heroes, the two most likely candidates for a bus ticket home are Colby, who fully expects to be booted, and James, whose busted knee makes him about as useful around camp as an ashtray on a water-ski. JT is concerned that James contributes nothing around camp and Rupert moans that James is “eatin’ us out of house and home. Four bananas on the way to the challenge and three on the way home.”
It seems James must have skipped the cotillion rehearsal where the chaperones talked about good manners at the refreshment table. He’s been grabbing bananas out of the communal supply as if the FDA is about to outlaw potassium. Considering that he’s the size of a Texas longhorn bull and bellows about as loud, it isn’t surprising that he hasn’t been confronted on the subject.
Fearing that her protector (from what is the question—marauding Visigoths?) may be in danger of elimination, Amanda corrals James for a helpful chat. “Can you run? Cause you’re gonna have to prove it. And you can’t steal any more bananas.”
James scoffs at the suggestion: “Everyone eats bananas.”
Amanda patiently explains: “When you eat a banana, you take one from everyone else. It’s like an etiquette.”
James clearly needs further convincing. Grinning with mock politeness, he inquires of JT, “JT, would you like a banana?”
James, Rupert and JT decide to stage a “Heroes Olympics” to prove James’s worthiness. It’s a non-event, with JT running backwards to try to give James a shot a winning. Rupert stoutly avers that “James is power. Colby is not. Colby’s checked out.”
He may be right about the latter statement. Colby returned from the challenge with no illusions about his fate, “I know I’m goin’ home tonight. Let’s don’t have any scrambling around; let’s just have a relaxing afternoon, and not give them (the Villains) any information at tribal.” With that, he takes himself off to lounge in the surf.
R AND R
Rob, wearing the immunity necklace from the challenge, is excited, “It feels RRRRRR.” He taunts Russell: “If you don’t have the immunity idol, you better go get it.”
Rob gathers his troops and explains how the vote must be cast to counter Russell holding the immunity idol. They’ll split the vote 3-3 (Courtney, Coach and Jerri will vote for Parvati. Rob, Tyson and Sandra will vote for Russell.) Russell controls the votes of Danielle and Parvati and they will no doubt go after Tyson. That way, the total vote will be a three-way tie. If Russell plays the idol, the revote will be between Parvati and Tyson. If Russell has given the idol to Parvati, the revote will be between Tyson and Russell. In either case, the alliance of six will be able to take out either Russell or Parvati. (Danielle never came in to the discussion—but then she’s about as active in this game as a potted fern.)
Russell, with just the right touch of contrition, claims to Tyson that he’s come to the realization that he, Russell, must vote for Parvati, though it cuts him to the quick. He simply cannot come up with any other way to survive, “If there’s any way I could have saved her…”
Tyson apparently lacks the sense God gave lettuce. He buys Russell’s song and dance, “When Russell told me he was voting for Parvati, I thought, ‘I could flip my vote and get her out.’” Idiot. Nincompoop. Numskull.
Russell pretends to be agonizing over whether to give the idol to Parvati or to keep it, “It’s a really tough decision. Way worse than last time.”
THE VILLAIN VILLAGE IDIOT
The Villains, having won the feast and front-row seats at the Heroes’ tribal council, must first vote off one of their own. As usual, Host Probst tries to instigate controversy in the discussions. Rob talks about how the game is different now, with the addition of hidden immunity idols. Sandra snidely notes, “We know who has it.” Russell continues to bluster that he has no idea what they’re talking about. He claims, “If you don’t have it, you can’t play it.” Anyway, interjects a seemingly perceptive Tyson, “When the numbers are still this big, it’s not that beneficial.” Parvati makes an unconvincing argument that Tyson is a “huge threat. He’s really charming and funny; he has connections here and on the other side.”
The Villains vote. Sandra, for one, is very pleased with her decision. Writing down Russell, she jeers, “Go wash your ass in the ocean.”
Before he reads the vote, Jeff asks if anyone has the idol and wants to play it. With great showmanship, Russell rises, pulls out the idol and walks up as if to hand it over. Then he stops and turns to face the others. Addressing Coach, he says, “You know Coach, you always says loyal, honest and trustworthy. No matter how that turns out tonight I’m gonna stick to that.” He reaches over and puts the idol into Parvati’s hand.
Her face shows surprise, but her actions belie her expression. Her fingers have barely curled around the idol before she’s up like a shot and handing it over to the Host.
Probst gives ‘props’ to Russell: “This is a bold move by Russell.”
Now it’s time to read the votes. Russell gets two. Parvati gets four. She has immunity; those votes don’t count. Tyson gets three and the title of Dumbest Survivor Player Ever.
Russell’s grin is so bright it lights up the night Samoan sky. Rob glowers. Parvati is delighted.
Tyson gets his torch snuffed. On the way out, it belatedly occurs to him what a fool he’s been. “Oh, man, I have nobody to blame but myself. I was the victim of my own stupidity.” That’s an understatement; Tyson makes Charlie Brown letting Lucy hold the football look like a genius.
For those of you conjecturing what Tyson must have been thinking in switching his vote from Russell to Parvati, don’t bother. There was absolutely no scenario that might have benefited him by doing that. Under Rob’s plan, either Parvati or Russell, depending on which of them held the idol, was going home. He played the fool and threw away the only chance to get rid of Russell. And it wasn't as if he hadn't been warned: Rob had told Tyson that the other alliance would probably be after him.
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, THE OTHER ON A BANANA PEEL
After what just happened with the Villains, the Heroes’ tribal council is bound to seem anti-climactic. As the Heroes begin to file in around the campfire, Jeff sends the Villains over to the gallery to ostentatiously chow down on hot-dogs and eavesdrop on the Heroes.
Jeff notes that Rupert is covetous of the Villains’ meal, “Rupert, you haven’t taken your eyes off that food.” Rupert laments, “The line between the Heroes and Villains is so blurred. The Villains are showing the Heroes how to play.”
The discussion turns to the Heroes’ decision to keep a severely handicapped James last time and dispense with Tom. Jeff wants to know if they plan to do the same to Colby. Colby relates that he and James had a conversation about that very question. Earlier in the afternoon, James had lectured Colby, “I still think I can kick your ass. But you’re the great Colby. So if you turn it on and start winning, we’ll be all right. I don’t mind that as long as you start winning, but if it’s the old sleepy-ass Colby that gets beat by a fat man and a cripple, that ain’t right.”
James expresses his admiration for the Colby of old, “This is one of the baddest Survivors ever.” And yet, he says, he’s discovered his idol has feet of clay, “It’s like I found out Superman was in a big girdle. You see those muscles, then you get up close and it’s a fat suit.” James is clearly disgusted by this lot, “I’m more of a do-er. I got told today there’s a banana etiquette. If you go get a banana, you have to ask every person in the vicinity if they want a banana. In my world, if your ass is hungry, you go get a banana.”
Before the vote, Jeff end the Villains’ picnic and sends them back to camp. The Heroes vote. James has over-stayed his welcome. He’s going home. He envelops Amanda in a bear hug. She sniffles, “I love you.” As James hobbles away from the group, JT calls out, “Have a shot for us.” James promises, “I’m gonna be good and drunk in the next five minutes.” I’m guessing his drink of choice is not going to be banana daiquiris.
Join us next week at the usual eight o’clock on Thursday night. March Madness will be over—but the Survivor Insanity is just getting started!