It must feel pretty foolish to get blindsided “twice by the same people,” which is what happened to Matt last week. He finds himself back on dark Redemption, alone with his thoughts, “First and foremost, I’d like to congratulate myself on being the most na´ve person ever to play the game of Survivor.” At least he’s not blaming God, “I guess you wanted me to come back…You’re using my stupidity for your glory.” Evidently, God wouldn’t sign the release to have his part of the conversation televised.
A HIT STRAIGHT OUT OF A MOB MOVIE
David can but admire Rob’s coup last week, “It was a hit straight out of a mob movie. You sit down and have dinner with him, go out on a fishing boat and you kill him.” Mike compliments Rob, “As much as I hated it, that was a brilliant move.”
Rob’s harem-girls are twirling a spit-curl on his forehead so he’ll “look like Superman.” Rob, as would any good mob boss, has consolidated his troops, “separate shelter, separate eating times. It’s us versus them. We’re gonna be arrogant about it. But not me.” He’s thinking ahead to final jury voting.
Poor Ralph, who every week looks more like the love-child of a rooster and an orangutan, is getting desperate. He approaches Natalie and Ashley to beg them to tell him if he’s on the chop block. They rebuff him quickly, “We can’t talk about that.” But Ralph won’t stop, telling Ashley, “cause if it got to the final three, I’d vote for you over Rob.”
Later on in the episode, after the first tribal council, Ralph resolves to approach every single one of the former Ometepe members looking for a turncoat. David tries to warn him that it’s a stupid move, that at best they’ll only “have one shot” but Ralph ignores his advice. He tries to speak to Phillip and Andrea, who are lounging in the beach chairs. They politely decline to speak to him at all about the game, though they offer that they’d be happy for Ralph to talk about innocuous topics such as his family, or his fire. Ralph won’t give up; he blusters, “You wanna win a million dollars or you want Rob to win it?” Phillip, hautily sticking his nose in the air, reprimands Ralph, “We appreciate your opinion, but like my grandmother said, opinions are [bleeped]. We were having a private conversation here. Most people would have said ‘Excuse me’ before interrupting.”
Natalie can’t wait to report to Don Rob on Ralph’s approach and to tattle on Ashley, who planned to keep the conversation secret from Rob. As far as Rob’s concerned, that will cost her a place in his final three, “She’s not gonna be there now and it’s her own fault. You have to tell me everything. I’m in chahhhge.”
GOING TO THE TROUGH
Phillip shows up at the challenge all Yankee Doodle Dandy with a feather in his headband. Jeff can’t wait to ask about it. Phillip claims he was in a “meditation” and asked for a sign and in answer a feather just fell out of the sky. There was something about a dead grandfather, but more about that later…
The challenge tasks are to first dig up a club buried in a bag in the sand, untie the bag and use it to smash one of the Nicaraguan TilesRUs tiles. The top six in that leg then must slurp up a mouthful of water from a communal horse trough that looks to be harboring cholera bacteria, crawl through the sand under a low barrier, spit the water in a funnel over a flask. They must repeat the process until the level in the flask reaches a marked line. The top three, which are Grant, Mike and David must assemble three-dimensional puzzle pieces. The race is very close between Mike and Grant, but Grant wins the Immunity. David’s much-praised puzzle-solving not in evidence. Highlight: Probst getting showered by tile shards when Rob smashes his.
THE MARIANO CRIME SYNDICATE
Back at camp, while Rob’s taken his troops off to the beach, Mike and David observe that the flagpoles have changed their position in the sand. They think, “Immunity Idol!” and start to dig. From a distance, Rob sees them and immediately realizes what they’re doing. He and the others head back at a gallop. Mike and David, having determined there’s not an idol there, decide to play head games with Rob, and act as if they might have found an idol, “Let’s screw with them.”
Rob and Phillip grab shovels and start digging as if they’re trying to rescue an avalanche victim. Pretty soon they have a crater. David tells the camera, “The Mariano Crime Syndicate dug out a few feet deep. We’d pretty much decided there was nothing there.”
Rob constantly has his idol-antenna up. “I can’t shake this idol paranoia. Idols are what killed me last time.”
Rob and his Ometepe gang have a get-together to talk about who they’re voting out. To protect against defectors, he’s paired them up buddy-style. It’s like first-grade; he makes them hold hands with their partner. Ashley objects, saying she has to go to the bathroom. Natalie quickly volunteers that she has to go, too. Ashley is no longer trustworthy.
“I ENJOY BEING ON THE BOTTOM”––Phillip
Phillip has worn his sky-fallen-feather to tribal council. The feather, it seems, didn’t just fall willy-nilly: it was sent by his full-blooded Cherokee Indian grandfather, Jessem Harry. (Harry? I’d have been more inclined to believe him if he’d said Running Brave or something.)
Tribal doesn’t take long. Julie warns that the person on the bottom of the Ometepe alliance doesn’t know it; David comes right out and says it’s Phillip. Phillip is cavalier; he doesn’t care: “I enjoy being on the bottom, looking up. I have a new family now.” He reaches out to gather them in a hug.
Julie jabs, “Matt thought he was your family, too.”
Ralph hopefully pipes up that tomorrow “I might get a feather, too.”
Huh, snorts Phillip, "It takes courage, and determination, and knowing when to hold your tongue to get a feather."
Ralph challenges, “And I don’t know when to hold my tongue?”
Phillip doesn’t hesitate, “No.”
This is just more than Ralph can bear. He mocks Phillip, “Tomorrow a whole bird might fall on his head. Then he’ll have a whole passel of feathers.”
David, too, has lost all patience with Phillip, “Give it up, you sound like a lunatic.”
Before revealing the votes, Jeff asks if anyone has/wants to play an immunity idol. Rob looks anxious, but no one from Zapatera comes forward. He’s obviously relieved; that assures him there’s not another idol in play.
From the things said at tribal, I’m thinking Zapatera has abandoned any hope of turning Phillip to their side. Indeed, when the vote is counted, they’ve all voted to send him home. The Mariano Syndicate votes for Mike, opting to take out who they perceive to be the strongest player, and the one most likely to defeat Matt on Redemption.
Back at camp, Rob is thrilled with Phillip’s allegiance, telling him, “Dude you were a soldier out there tonight. Phillip’s preening with self-satisfaction, “Maybe I should try out for a theater company!” What do you think? A good fit for Dogberry?
One person who doesn’t think Phillip is as crazy as he seems is Rob, “Phillip’s not really crazy, but he’s playing crazy. (PAUSE) But maybe a little crazy. As far as Phillip’s concerned he’s at the top of my list: it’s Natalie and Phillip comin’ to the final three.”
Phillip, it seems, may have other ideas, “Everybody wants to stand at the finals with a guy like me, who’s polarizing. I’m Phillip Sheppard. I’m a complex person. I’ve gotta make a move, but today’s not the day.”
PICNIC AT WHITE ROCK
Before you can say “the C in C.I.A. is for Crazy”, it’s time for another challenge. Spread before the players is a table loaded with platters of hamburgers, french fries and fixings.
Jeff has each person take two rocks, one white, one black. On his signal, they’ll extend their hand holding one or the other, “Black rock means ‘I want to play’, White means ‘I want to eat’.” Only Phillip and Steve opt for the food. (I have to assume that they weren’t allowed to talk to each other before making their choice, or surely all the Ometepe people would have decided to eat. They had to know they weren’t in danger of being voted out. The only motivation in choosing to participate in a grueling challenge would be to not seem cocky or too self-confident in front of their allies.)
For the first twenty minutes, the Survivors will have to cling to a wood trellis suspended above the slime-green cesspool (Yes, the very one in which Fabio urinated. I’ll bet Sanitation Supervisor Sheppard would never have tolerated that sort of behavior). After that, they can only use their legs to remain hanging.
It looks like an exceedingly painful position in which to hold one’s body. Rob loses first his hat, then his grip. He’s first out. Jeff taunts, “Now he’s gonna have to sit within inhaling distance of those burgers.”
Phillip is offering a running commentary, “I’m concerned about David. His head is starting to turn blue.” Jeff asks David if he and Phillip will be friends after the show has ended. David sardonically answers, “Best Friends.”
After forty-five excruciating minutes, only David, Natalie, Ashley and Andrea remain. Steve tries to encourage David, “Natalie looks like she’s hurtin’.” Phillip goes one better, “David’s only got one leg, and that one’s going to be decapitated.” Never mind that only a head can be decapitated. It’s probably as close to the right word as Phillip could get.
David’s leg has gone completely numb, and he falls into the pool. The three girls look as if they could stay a while, but with the last Zapateran out, there’s no motivation. Andrea says she “really wants this one” so Natalie and Ashley dive in and Andrea gets necklaced. Jeff announces that whoever is voted out at the coming tribal council will be joining both Matt and Mike on Redemption.
THEY HAVE RIGOR MORTIS
At camp, Ralph makes a discovery, the storms have washed up piles of fish. Dead fish, but Ralph doesn’t care about that “Hell, we got all kinds of fish. We got fifty fish.”
Rob warns them the dead fish are dangerous to eat, “They’ve got rigor mortis. They’re stiff as a board.” Julie, whose hunger is her concern, pokes one in the side, “No, it’s soft.” Farmer Ralph is adamant the fish are fine, “Shoot, I done gone to the river and taken three or four hours to get back with em.”
Rob quickly lets it be known that none of his gang will be partaking. Instead he gathers them in the shelter. Grant, smelling the cooked fish, has a moment of weakness, meanders over and accepts Julie’s offer of a piece. Rob quickly calls him to heel and Grant sheepishly walks away.
Is this Rob’s firt real tactical mistake, keeping his pals from the food? Although I’m sure his motivation was to circumvent any possible comraderie with the enemy, Robb wasn’t entirely wrong that eating fish of an uncertain time of death can be a risky proposition.
THE OLD DYING T-REX
Rob has a debate with himself over who to send home, “What it comes down to tonight is David or Steve. Do I eliminate the biggest strategic threat or do I give the old dying T-Rex what he wants? It might be worth a vote on the jury. I’ve been known to have a mercy killing in me from time to time, haven’t I?”
Tribal council begins. Jeff can hardly wait to hear from Phillip. He asks how things are going. Phillip proudly claims, "For the first time in 22 seasons, there’s a highly effective and beauteous and glorious operation in effect right now."
Jeff pretends to be in ignorance: “What?”
Phillip (with a military mein): “STEALTH”
Jeff (with a knowing nod, points): “StealthRUs”
Phillip: “And I am known as the Specialist. My responsibilities: infiltrate and insupplant into the former Zaparerra, uh, Zapatera tribe.
We have here, Boston Rob, the Mineralist*, principal responsibilities: to develop strategies for strategic alliances that are impervious.” (*Phillipism for mentalist)
He goes on to anoint Grant the Assassin and the girls the Three Degrees. (qualifications: “effective, affable and agile”)
Jeff turns to Ralph: “So, Ralph it’s pretty hard to compete with StealthRUs.”
Ralph delivers a zinger, “Do you think his granddaddy told him to sit on the bench and eat hamburgers?
When Phillip, talking too much as always, reveals, “We have a buddy system,” Julie jumps in. “They are never alone. It’s not even a tribe; it’s a cult.
David, resigned, offers, “With the numbers the way they are, Redemption Island may be the best way to advance.” He’s about to find out if that’s the case or not.
Once again, no idol is played. Rob gets the four Zapatera votes, and David is ousted by the six from the Syndicate.
Ashley whispers, “And then there were three.”
Jeff admonishes, “If you’re a former Zapatera, it’s pretty clear you have to crack the StealthRUs organization.”
Tune in next week to see what happens on Redemption, when the triad of the Saint, the Sailor and the Shyster face off. Phillip goes ballistic and yells racism. Probst promises tribal council will be “jaw-dropping”. Should be interesting.