Tolstoy wrote, “All unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.” On this week’s episode of Survivor, Heroes vs. Villains, the dysfunctional family that makes up the Yin Yang tribe takes unhappiness to a stratospheric level. Russell calls Rupert a dumbass; Rupert publicly accuses Russel of being a disgusting, terrible human being and Colby finds Candice pathetic. (Takes one to know one.)
Last week Candice lost her nerve and flipped to the Villains to send Amanda home, a move which further weakened the Heroes and forced Sandra to abandon her plan to oust Russell and to vote with her original tribe . At tribal council, Russell panicked and played his immunity idol—Parvati accused him of “wasting” it.
Back at camp, Rupert despairs, “Colby and I are standing out on a sinking ship now. There are no other heroes.” Candice sits alone on the beach. Rupert wants nothing further to do with the turncoat. He thinks she’s “self-centered, manipulative and greedy.”
ANOTHER JONNY FAIRPLAY?
By the next morning, moods have not improved. Russell, talking to Sandra, has nothing but contempt for his enemies, “I mean, what game they think they playin’?” Rupert has had enough of Russell’s chicanery. It’s time to put on his Dudley Do-Right Mounties’ hat and ride to the rescue. For all anyone knows, Rupert thinks, “He could be another Jonny Fairplay.”
With a ready-made audience around the fire, Rupert walks right up and gets in Russell’s face: “You’ve proven yourself a disgusting terrible human being…swearing on your kids’ life.”
If Rupert expected Russell to be chagrined, he miscalculated. Russell snarls, “It’s the game! You [bleeped] it up for yourself! I'm here to make your life hell.” He jeers at Rupert, “The great powerful Rupert, the good guy. The second coming of Christ. You’re such a dumbass Rupert.” Afterward, as if to punctuate, Russell says to the camera, “Get your tie-dye ready, ‘cause you’re goin’ home.” (Russell is not a fan of arts and crafts projects?)
MILLION-DOLLAR MILK AND COOKIES
The Survivors arrive at the challenge expecting a reward. Instead, Jeff tells them, they’re playing for individual immunity. Each of them will be standing on a rather small platform, one arm above their head, chained to a bucket filled with liquid. Relaxing their arm will not only eliminate them from the challenge: it will also cause the contents of the bucket to dump directly upon their head. Unfortunately, it wasn’t plain old H0 hanging over their heads: turns out the producers went a little banzai and dumped in a bunch of dye. Oh, well, I’m sure most of those guys have begun to smell like rotten Easter eggs; may as well dye them to match. Although…I can’t help but think of how many tee-shirts Rupert could have made with that many packages of Rit. Parvati is the all-time champ at this game—on Fans vs. Faves she lasted six HOURS!
Jeff throws in a twist: he’ll be “tempting” the gang with various foods during the challenge, but they have to step out and surrender their chance at immunity to claim the refreshments. Almost before the challenge begins, Sandra and Russell hop down to snatch the covered plate from Jeff’s hand. Colby jumps at a chance for doughnuts and iced coffee. Jeff proffers peanut butter sandwiches and milk. That’s enough to coax down Candice, Danielle, and Jerri. The force of the water from the overturned bucket pushes Danielle’s bikini bottom completely off. What did we ever do before pixels?
With a bit over an hour elapsed, every one of the players except for Parvati and Rupert have chosen carbs over cash. Hard to know whether it’s super-confidence or near-starvation driving their decisions. Rupert looks a little wobbly; Sandra shouts encouragement to Parvati, “His toes are movin’ a lot. He’s swayin’ side to side.” She’s right; Rupert slips off his perch and Parvati’s neck is taken off the block by the immunity necklace clasped around it.
The girl-fight from last week between Danielle and Candice over the clue to the hidden immunity idol has inspired the producers. Maybe they can have a total mélee! It’s like an Oprah show: You get a clue! And you get a clue! Everybody gets a clue! Jeff reads the clue aloud; it sounds ominously Biblical, with references to salvation and stones and paths and keys and burning bushes.”
IS THAT AN IDOL IN YOUR POCKET, OR ARE YOU…?
The minute the tribe sets foot back in camp, a mad scramble to find the idol begins. Sandra starts looking for a “bush on fire,” but noticing that the others are looking under shrubs that have bright-colored leaves and aren’t literally in flames, she changes her approach. She and Russell are within spitting distance of one another when she turns up the sought-after prize in the midst of some magenta coleus plants. Sandra quickly realizes that if she tries to hide the bulky idol on her person, it may be obvious that she has it. Right under Russell’s nose, she pretends to continue the search for a few more minutes, then casually heads off into the jungle—presumably to secure the idol from prying eyes.
Rupert, meanwhile, is wandering aimlessly. Then the idea comes to him: what’s just as good as having an idol? Why, everyone thinking that you have it! He decides to scoop up a rock from the stream, slip it into the side pocket of his Cargo shorts (What kind of self-respecting pirate wears Cargo shorts?) and saunter back to camp looking smug. He hopes the rock-in-the-pocket will be mistaken for the idol.
Eagle-eyed and suspicious Russell spots Rupert’s bulging pocket right away. “I have a lot of experience with idols; I know what they look like. Rupert has a big thing in his pocket; it’s the idol wrapped up.” Russell goes straight to Sandra, tells her Rupert has the idol in his pocket, and because of that they need to split their vote. Sandra’s acting is Oscar-worthy. Even though she knows she’s the one with the idol, not Rupert, Sandra maintains a poker-face and pretends to gravely accept Russell’s big ‘discovery.’
Elsewhere, Parvati, Jerri and Danielle are strategizing. Their first thought is that Colby should be taken out, but Jerri lobbies hard to get rid of Candice instead. (Did I miss something? Has Candice done something to rate Jerri’s hostility?)
NO USE FOR EXCUSES
Tribal council convenes and Jeff doesn’t have to prod very hard to bring out the venom. It’s clear that Rupert and Colby are furious at Candice’s betrayal. Candice tries to defend herself, “Amanda was gonna go home regardless of how I voted.” [Camera on: Amanda sitting in the jury box, not buying a word of it.]
Colby snaps at Candice, “I have no respect for excuses!”
Candice whines, “There was no reason for me to go down on a sinking ship.”
Colby, “Then that’s what you should have said.”
Russell offers a half-hearted defense of Candice’s move, saying she managed to put herself ahead of Colby and Rupert. But as for him, he’s holding the line, “I’m gonna vote off my own villains? No way..”
They vote. Jeff asks if anyone has/wants to play the idol. Rupert, stupidly, fumbles around with the rock in his pocket. Maybe he was just hoping to make Russell squirm for a few seconds. Rupert gets three votes, but Candice learns the hard way that traitors are never trusted. With five votes against her, she’s out.
Jeff sends Candice off with a warning for the remaining players, “It’s a risky move when you betray trust to gain trust.”
Candice is all too aware she sealed her own fate, “I made a risky move yesterday and it didn’t pay off. Karma’s a bitch.”
THEY AIN’T GONNA KNOW WHAT HIT ‘EM
After tribal council, Russell is furious at everyone, including himself. “We just blew it. The girls got their hearts involved in the game; they wanted Candice out.” He berates himself for not having a sit-down with the girls and making them promise to split the vote. He’s worried about Rupert: “All he has to do is win one immunity and he’s made it to the final five.”
Oh, calm down, Russell’s harem shushes him. “Don’t worry; we still have five.” Besides, they say, they don’t really believe that Rupert has the idol. (What, they’re challenging that the troll can’t recognize the shape of an idol in somebody’s pocket when he sees it? Puhleeeze.)
Adversity has only toughened Russell’s resolve. He is after all, Russell Hantz, the self-anointed king of Survivor. Nobody, but nobody is going to get ahead of Russell. “I’m not fully in control of this game. Me and Parvati are equally in control. You know what? I’m gonna take control so fast, they ain’t gonna know what hit ‘em.”
It’s day 33 already, and time for the episode’s second immunity challenge. It’s a three-parter, with each leg knocking out two players. The first segment requires the Survivors to dig up a peg from the sand, place it into a slotted table and maneuver through a maze. Jerri and Colby are the last two. I’ve never believed in Alien Abductions, but I’m pretty sure that’s not Colby Donaldson in the body that looks like him. The real Colby would never step out of a challenge for a couple of doughnuts or barely lift a finger to slide a peg along a board.
The second phase of the challenge is to use four pegs as footholds to help one ascend a steep wooden ramp. Rupert, Russell and Parvati are the first to reach the top.
The third task is to maneuver the parts of a sliding puzzle to form a picture of the Survivor logo. And the winner is—Russell! He’s safe tonight from the vote.
THE LIE…IS NOT GONNA SAVE YOU NOW
Rupert is weary and worried, telling himself, “you’ve made it so far. Just the lie of a rock in your pocket in not gonna save you now.”
Rupert knows of what he speaks. Parvati has him on her radar, “I want Rupert to go home tonight. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the idol. He’s dug his own grave. No, I don’t feel sorry for Rupert at all.” She isn’t worried about Colby, he “isn’t gonna challenge us.”
Russell sees devils wherever he turns. One of them is named Danielle, the other Parvati. He regards their teaming up as his only roadblock on the way to his million-dollar prize. He decides to turn Parvati and Danielle against each other. First he trots off on his stubby little troll-legs to tell Danielle that Parvati wants Danielle out of the picture, “She might try to blindside us!”
While the seeds of discord are germinating in Danielle’s mind, Russell rushes off to find Parvati. Oh, my goodness, he tells her, “Danielle came to me. She wants to get rid of you at five or six.” Parvati is incredulous. Fine, she says, “I want to talk to her.”
Russell freaks and screams at Parvati, “Parvati, if you do that you’re out of this game. If you even bring it up. I can’t believe you’re even thinking about this!”
Parvati isn’t the least bit intimidated, “Don’t tell me I can’t have a conversation.” She goes directly to Danielle and in about ten seconds they’ve discovered Russell’s treachery. Better make sure the troops are in order. Parvati runs to Jerri to sternly caution her, “No matter what he says, do not change your vote tonight.”
No worries, Jerri assures Parvati, “I’m not changing my vote. I’m voting for Rupert.”
Russell, on his own imaginary throne, is ecstatic, “I’m gonna get rid of Danielle, then Parvati won’t have any choice but to stick to me like glue.” To make sure of his success, he enlists Rupert and Colby, who are only too happy to go along with a plan to take out any of the five remaining Villains.
Jerri is really under the gun. Here comes Russell with contravening orders, “I want Danielle out tonight. You have to help me help you. Or you’re next.”
That riles Jerri, “Don’t threaten me!”
Oh, no Russell hurriedly assures her, “Not because of me.” You know, it’s those other broads she has to worry about.
LET’S PLAY HAPPY FAMILIES
In front of the jury with its newest member, Candice, the Yin Yangs gather for another tribal council. Jeff asks Rupert who’s in charge. After a lengthy pause, Rupert allows, “I don’t know, probably between Russell and Parvati.”
Danielle knows that’s not helping her cause. She jumps in, “I think the Villains all make decisions together.”
Jeff isn’t buying it, “Really? This close to a million dollars and it’s just one big happy family?”
Obviously, watching on television, we don’t see everything that happens at tribal, but in any event it doesn’t take long before a full-fledged screaming match breaks out. Parvati decides to accuse Russell publicly, “Crazy couldn’t describe what happened today. Danielle and I were pitted against each other. Russell’s trying to test our loyalty.”
Russell interrupts, “Danielle came up to me…”
Danielle is furious, shouting “Liar, liar, liar!”
Jeff pounces, “Russell, you got caught.”
Over on the jury side of the campfire, Courtney is enjoying the show. She mimcs, “Boo Hoo.”
Danielle has dissolved into hysterical tears. “I haven’t done anything disloyal. I don’t know why he’s testing me. The three of us have been in this together from the beginning.”
Russell is just rolling his eyes, as if to say, Who cares?
HAS HE HURT YOUR FEELINGS?
Oh, my goodness, Jeff asks Danielle, “Is this personal? Has he hurt your feelings?”
Pay close attention, now, dear friends. Danielle will now make the million-dollar blunder. All she has to do at this point is shut up, take her black buff and wipe the tears off her silicone rack and Rupert will get his ticket punched to Ponderosa. But no, she can’t resist the temptation to go for Russell’s jugular, crowing “I’m closer to Parvati than you think!”
The alarms ringing in Russell’s head are almost audible. His mouth flies open; his eyebrows go up like exclamation points. Hastily, he turns and mouths to Jerri, “Vote Danielle.” Jerri looks surprised—and terrified.
The vote begins. Russell writes down Danielle, saying, “You’re closer to Parvati than I think, so I’m gonna have to cut that tie.” He seems quite pleased with his decision.
We don’t see Jerri’s ballot, but she knows her vote is crucial, “I have no idea what just happened, but with this vote I’m sealing my fate.”
Jeff retrieves the votes; no one plays an idol. [For the future, keep in mind that Sandra has one—and she’s the only one who knows she has it.]
Parvati, Danielle and Sandra have voted for Rupert. Russell has used the others—Jerri, Colby and Rupert—to get rid of Danielle. Parvati is not pleased. She tells Russell, “That’s messed up.” From the jury, JT gives Rupert a victory wink.
Jeff sums up the evening’s proceedings, “So here’s what we learned tonight. The Villains clearly are not one big happy family. Colby and Rupert lived to see another day and it is anybody’s game.”
Danielle’s parting remarks acknowledge her mistake, while damning her nemesis, “Russell is insane. Tonight I might have put my own foot in my mouth. I felt like I played a good game, maybe a little too aggressive.”
Don’t miss next week’s episode on Thursday and then the finale on Sunday, May 16. Things can only get more vicious from here to the end. Previewed: Russell warning Sandra, “Either you’re with me or you’re against me.” Sandra blithely retorting, “Oh, I’m against you, Russell.”