Have you ever left up the Christmas tree so long it dries out and the needles fall on the floor? No matter how many times you vacuum, you never seem to get the last one. That’s how I think about Survivor Redemption Island: just when we it seems we’re about to see the last of them, we find another pile of them lurking over on Redemption.
“USIN’ YOU LIKE TOILET PAPER”
If Andrea thought she’d find a nice welcome mat all laid out when she arrived on Redemption last week, she was in for a world of hurt. Ralph, sounding as much like a rooster as he looks, is happy she was double-crossed, “Rob was usin’ you like toilet paper. He wiped his ass and now he’s through with you.”
And Andrea’s former best-mate, Matt? He’s holding a major grudge. She tells him she knows he’s mad because of the dirty looks he’s been directing at her during challenges. Matt denies it and accuses her of looking at him with “puppy-dog eyes.” Yeah, well, Andrea says, he brought it on himself, “You came back and were so wishy-washy. Then you went off and had a heart-to-heart with Rob and threw me under the bus.” Matt (in a decidedly unchristian tone of voice) snipes “Well, I’m sorry for ruining your chances in the Survivor game and throwing you under the bus.”
YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO HOME BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A BAD MOOD
Duel time for Matt, Mike, Ralph and Andrea. Jeff goads Andrea, who’s fiercely clinging to what looks like a giant Navaho blanket, “Andrea, do you feel betrayed?” I can’t help wishing she’d just say “No, not at all, but if I don’t get back in to the damn game, I’m going to make sure every single person sitting in those bleachers is screwed by the jury.” Instead, she gets all verklempt, whining about people looking her in the eye and lying to her. I’ve never understood why it’s worse to lie when you’re looking someone in the eye than if you’re, say, gazing off into the distance.
The challenge is three-part: guide a handle through a maze of blocks, smash a tile (more tiles!) to retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces and assemble the puzzle. Ralph quickly figures out the technique for maneuvering the handle and gets a huge lead. Andrea is frustrated, cursing, and constantly looking to see how the others are doing. Jeff warns her, “You do not want to last this long and on Day 33 go home because you’re in a bad mood!”
Ralph has begun his puzzle long before the other three get through the maze. To be specific: Ralph is staring at the pieces as though the words on them are written in ancient Sanskrit. It’s probably a safe bet that Ralph isn’t missing any MENSA meetings while he’s away from the farm filming Survivor.
Mike, who has won the last several Redemption contests handily, finishes first again. Andrea and Matt virtually tie for second, and Ralph is still standing befuddled. I’m sure his friends at Ponderosa will be glad he’s joining them.
THE SPECIAL AGENT OF RICE
Back at camp, the five remaining Ometepe’s assess their rice supply and try to figure how much they can eat and have it last to the end. Zapatera did their best to consume it before being eliminated. Phillip’s all for eating more now, arguing that people will keep leaving, so they’ll have to divide it fewer ways.
Phillip then becomes aggressive toward Ashley and Natalie, demanding that they give up part of their rice to Grant and Rob, claiming girls don’t need as many calories. Yeah, that goes over well. Natalie and Ashley scream at Phillip to get out of their faces. Phillip won’t stop his diatribe, claiming women can survive on 1700 calories, but big strong macho men need 3600. (For the record, to get 3600 calories from cooked rice, you’d have to eat 20+ cups.)
The girls demand of Phillip why he thinks he knows so much about diet, and he cackles, “because I’m a well-read person!” Then he begins to accuse the girls of always haranguing him, but never arguing with Rob or Grant, “From Day One you snuggled up real nicely with them!” “Maybe,” Natalie says, “we don’t argue with them because they’re normal.” Phillip is angrier still, “The thing about me you open up a can of [bleep] I will drag you down in it!” Phillip threatens the girls, “I’ll get in your faces…” and jumps up beside them in the sleeping platform. They leap away with a “EWWWW” and as they’re scurrying off shout back, “PSYCHO!” Phillip isn’t about to let them have the last work, taunting, “You little princess, go get on your pageant, go get on Miss USA.”
Rob sighs with dismay that Phillip has driven the two girls into an even tighter bond with each other. To the camera he observes, “Phillip, so makin’ so much work for me. He’s pathetic. He’s crazy. Not the N-word crazy. Just crazy.”
ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS DO WHAT I SAY
Throughout the episode, Rob wheels and deals trying to keep his troops in line. He’s worried about the closeness between Natalie and Ashley, recognizing the power of an unshakeable pair. He tries to reassure Natalie, “Whatever you need to know, know I got your back all the way to the end. I know it’s hahhhd, but I can’t stand what she’s doing to you. Don’t be scared, all you gotta do is do what I say.”
Rob and Grant confer, and Grant suggests that their best play is to take out Ashley, because then Natalie will be too scared to try to turn against them and ally with whoever may be returning from Redemption. Grant calls Ashley “a dark individual.”
Rob concurs with Grant’s assessment, “Natalie may not be the smartest player ever in this game, I think we all know that, but she’s pure and innocent. I’m excited about Day 35. I think I’m finally gonna get rid of this pain in my ass. I think I’m finally gonna get some relief tonight.”
Ashley comes to Rob with the proposal to take out Grant next because he’s strong in challenges and may be a threat later on. Rob doesn’t commit, but assures her it’s an interesting idea he’ll think about.
Rob takes Phillip aside to keep him in line. Phillip, meanwhile, is betting all his chips on the crazy card. He knows that of all the players left, he’s the one everyone wants to be sitting next to at final tribal. Which is fine with him; he’s got the “oral argument.”
WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND YOUR BACK
The immunity challenge is quite complicated: players race across the sand, one hand tied behind their backs to use over-sized fishooks to snag bags of puzzle pieces. The pieces represent the bones in a fish skeleton which must be painstaking inserted into slots in the “backbone.” To make it even more difficult, none of the “bone” pieces can be touching one another.
Grant initially takes the lead, but Ashley quickly catches up. Rob is not far behind. Phillip is next, and Natalie is a pitiful last. As the others near completion, she’s still working on her first section. Probst even suggests she should just “sit down and watch.” Ashley wins–and thwarts Rob’s plans!
For a change, there’s also a reward today, a “room-service” three-course meal delivered to camp for the winner, and one guest of her choice. She picks Natalie and they squeal excitedly. I’m thinking these two may be a force to be reckoned with, and a thorn in the side of the Robfather. He knows it, “Ashley and Natalie are getting too close for comfort. Even if a pair is two girls, if they trust each other completely, it’s too powerful.”
The girls gorge on their feast, hug and kiss and declare their mutual love for each other. At one point, Natalie swipes food from Ashley’s lip with her index finger, then licks it off. Gross. The whole thing was a little too much Tom Jones for Chicks. Meanwhile, Grant and Rob are talking and seemingly agree that since Ashley has immunity, the only play is to vote out Natalie and split up the pair.
Privately, Rob isn’t yet sure what he’s doing, “It could be a problem if somebody were to come back from Redemption Island and they were to team up with ‘em.” It seems he may have decided to go against Grant, projecting into the future, “Buddy, if you’re watching this at home, I’m sorry. I think of us as friends, but I’m not in this game to make friends. Still, it’s a problem he’s prepared to handle, “One man should not have this much power in this game. Luckily I’m not an ordinary man.”
Tribal Council No. 14, and there are still nine people in the field of play. There are but four on the jury: David, Julie, Steve and Ralph, who’s wearing a shirt in the exact same shade of orange as his hair.
There’s not much discussion before the vote, though when Grant chokes up talking about his “soon to be wife.” He vows, “having that bond is a greater gift than you can ever find out here.” Rob looks almost ill, no doubt feeling bad about what he’s about to do–and wondering if it’s a decision he’ll come to regret.
The votes are cast. Rob has decided that Grant is a bigger risk than the girls. Poor Grant: a few hours earlier he’d been interviewed about Ashley winning immunity, “It’s okay, we have an escape hatch. It’s gonna be exciting. You’re gonna see my name twice, then the princess is gonna have a red card to Redemption Island.” Instead, what he sees is his name three times: Jeff reads Natalie, Grant, Grant, and then Grant. Because Jeff doesn’t read that last vote, Grant can’t be sure whether it was only Phillip who turned against him or if Rob also betrayed him.
Jeff’s final words of wisdom: “There are only four days left in the game. Somebody you voted out is ging to return from Redemption Island.” Personally, I won’t be surprised if they bring back the whole original cast and have some massive gladiator-style battle to see who gets back in the game.
Sunday Night, 8:00 p.m. It’s the two-hour finale. Three of the four people on Redemption Island will join the jury; the winner gets back in the game, and three finalists will face off for the million. To be followed by a live reunion show, no doubt starring a certain Troll being fawned upon by his chief toady, Host Probst.