At precisely 8:03:37 p.m., EDT, April 1, 2010, I threw a shoe at my television. Later in the episode, I was sorry. Sorry that I hadn’t emptied the closet to have a pile of footwear at the ready. I was fine while the voice of Host Probst droned on about what a miserable lot of losers the Heroes Tribe has seemed, how Colby has been “mired in mediocrity,” and that the Russell/Boston Rob rivalry has been an “Achilles Heel” for the villains. Where I lost my temper, and my shoe, was when he referred to Coach and Jerri as “the Dragon Slayer and his fair maiden.” Dragon Slayer? Please. Coach couldn’t beat the Geico Gecko in a thumb-wrestling match. And Jerri is no fair maiden—more like a long-in-the-tooth ill-tempered hag.
Rob is dispirited. He still can’t believe Tyson was such a dolt as to switch his vote at tribal council and lose not only his own spot in the game but also their chance to oust Russell. “That’s so stupid.” Courtney excuses Tyson, “I think he just freaked out.”
Meanwhile, Russell and his harem-of-two, Parvati and Danielle, are standing at a little distance from the others, having a private victory celebration. They couldn’t have looked more smug if they’d been leaning back on bed-pillows lighting up a cigarette. Courtney takes notice, “Russell’s like a bandy-legged little troll and Parvati has no problem flirting with anything that walks.”
Rob knows what’s happening right under his nose, “It’s apparent to me. I was born yesterday, but not last night. [It’s unlikely]…that three people would have that much confidence unless something else was going on. Unless two of the people in my tent are actually with Them. Then the joke’s on me.” (Odd coincidence, isn’t it, that Russell made the same “born yesterday” comment last season on Samoa?)
The Russell, Parvati, Danielle triumvirate go to work on the psyche of a severely depressed Jerri, who confesses, “I’ve been harboring resentments for 38 years.” Who would have guessed that, what with her sunny disposition and all? Parvati, undoubtedly with her fingers crossed behind her back, purrs that if Jerri will just join the team, “I promise I will take you to the Final Four.” (Yeah, I heard that’s what John Calipari pledged to those rabid Kentucky fans, too.) And then it happened. The Miracle of Samoa. Danielle opened her mouth and words flew forth. She can speak! She takes a stab at subliminal suggestion to Jerri, “You know, if you have a really tight alliance of five you’ll get all the way to the end.” Reconsidering, it probably wasn’t Danielle speaking—more likely just Russell practicing ventriloquism.
Russell and Parvati bask in self-congratulation. Russell brags, “Jerri Hated Parvati, but I brought them together. I’m that good that I can bring people together for my good.” Parvati goes into Vixen mode, “I think Jerri is leaning more to coming with us because she saw what Russell did for me and she’s a little jealous that a man hasn’t done that for her.” As the flight attendants proceed down the aisle, please place your barf bags carefully into the provided trash bag.
Heading off for today’s Reward Challenge, the Heroes are counting heavily on Colby (like who else is there, really, Rupert?) and Colby knows it, “It’s unbelievable I’ve survived two huge tribal councils where I thought I was going home. Now it’s put-up or shut-up time for Colby.”
Today the tribes will be playing for some recreational time at a nearby waterfall and a feast. The game is water basketball. Two tribe members (evenly balanced gender-wise) at a time will start out at a buoy in the water. Another team member will be stationed under a basketball goal. First tribe to score three goals wins. The rules of engagement will be “anything goes”—take the ball away from the other team via fair means or foul.
From the start of the game, it’s apparent that Coach and Colby have some sort of personal vendetta going. Coach tries to drown JT. Colby shoots and misses; Coach’s throw is so feeble it doesn’t even get halfway to the goal. Colby knocks Coach down and scores! Heroes are one-up.
Jeff shouts that the Heroes are “way more aggressive than the Villains.” It’s true: Colby grabs Jerri from behind and slams her into the water. Candice scores; heroes lead by two.
Sandra, sitting on the sidelines with Parvati and Courtney (Surprise! Courtney is sitting out a challenge.) dryly remarks, “Looks like we might be eating chicken from camp.”
Colby quickly scores again. Heroes win. Russell and Rupert ignore the fact that the game has ended and continue their rough shoving match. Candice flings her arms around Colby’s neck; he reciprocates by helping himself to a handful of her derrière.
The Heroes are digging-in to their sumptuous luncheon, when Candice discovers a rolled-up piece of paper bearing a clue. While the others are content to eat before reading, Amanda can’t wait. The clue tells them another immunity idol has been hidden at camp, in a silly verse about tree roots and shallow graves. (Too bad James has gone, he could probably have gone right to the spot.) JT immediately wants to make sure the new idol won’t cause dissension among the “Fantastic Five” as Rupert has dubbed the victorious Heroes. He pleads, “Let’s all go look for it together. Don’t let it come between us.”
HONOR AMONG THUGS
The same afternoon. The Villains’ camp. Russell uses his new tool Jerri to work on Coach, “I don’t wanna swear on my family or anything, but it’s you and Jerri I wanna take to the Top Three. Parvati? I don’t think I can beat her for the million.”
Coach seems to be aware that Russell is trying to sell him a bill of goods, “Russell’s just sitting there spinnin’ a pure line of gold. Jerri’s just buying it, hook, line and sinker.”
Later, Jerri and Coach have a private moment. Jerri tries to work her wiles, “You’re the only other person in this game I can look in the eye and say ‘I trust you 100%.’ What Russell pulled off last night at tribal council took balls. Rob is not trustworthy.”
Coach is now pouting. His manhood (such as it is) has been threatened, “I’m hurt. You’re sitting there talking to Russell and you didn’t talk to me about it first. You lump me and Russell together in trust. You sit there and say you trust Russell. And anyway, Rob has kept his word so far.”
Jerri thinks she’s had a revelation of the highest order, “You and I are in a really good position. It finally just all made sense to me.”
Coach is astounded, “I can’t believe you just threw all your eggs in that basket.”
As for Jerri, she has no illusions about her cohort, “Coach is so naïve. He’s almost dead-set against manipulating the game. You can’t be the good guy to everyone and win this game.”
NOT AS FUN AS IT LOOKS
The Immunity Challenge for this episode will require members of each team one-by-one to race/bounce across a net trampoline, climb a vertical rope traverse, retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces and return them to the puzzle table. Once all bags have been gathered, a pair of tribe-mates will assemble the pieces: Sandra and Rob for the Villains, JT and Amanda for the Heroes.
To even the teams, the Villains will bench Jerri, Danielle and Russell. Uh-oh, that means Courtney has to play. Rupert’s injured toe immediately proves a hindrance, but that’s nothing compared to the slow-down Courtney’s fragility causes. While everyone else gains speed by launching from the top of the rope ladder back to the trampoline, Courtney slowly climbs back down. It’s probably a good decision: she’s so paper-thin she looks as if she’d crack like a graham-cracker.
Amanda and JT get a big time advantage in putting the puzzle pieces together. Rob and Sandra struggle with theirs and can’t catch up. Villains lose again. Rob sighs in frustration and disgust.
Coach is not pleased with Courtney, “She looked like she was almost broken in half out there. She needs to go home tonight.” Sneering, Russell places the blame on both Courtney and Rob, “That was one of the most pitiful challenges I’ve ever seen.”
LIE AND LIE AGAIN
As is usually the case on the afternoon eve of a tribal council, the tribe in jeopardy debates.
Russell, Rob, Courtney and Sandra make a foursome on the beach. Sandra is braiding Courtney’s hair. (Somehow, I never pictured Sandra as the big-sister type.) Rob asks Russell what he thinks should transpire. Russell doesn’t hesitate, “I think we need to weed out the weak.”
“Who?” Rob demands.
Russell looks directly at Courtney and Sandra and points.
Rob, laughing in spite of himself, ruefully shakes his head, “I never heard of that approach before. Tellin’ somebody to their face.”
Rob moves on to check in with Coach, who’s promised to love and cherish him as his ultimate life-model forever and ever. Coach natters on for a while about needing to get rid of Courtney, as the weakest link, or Parvati, as a danger to all of them. “So,” Rob wonders, “What does Jerri think?”
Ughh—ughh—ughh, Coach stutters, you know, thing is, “I haven’t talked to her.” Coach is a lily-livered coward.
In the end, Coach and Rob agree they’ll be voting out Russell come nightfall. Coach shakes hands with Rob on the deal.
Meanwhile, Russell is wasting no opportunity to further cower Coach into doing his bidding. He, Jerri, Parvati and Danielle gang up. After insincerely mentioning a couple of other alternatives, Russell strikes an ‘I’ve just had the best idea’ pose. As if the thought had just occurred to him, he brightly offers, “I know. Let’s blindside Rob.” He plays to Coach’s vanity, suggesting Coach is, well, just the very man he needs, “Let’s think about this. Me and Coach, we can beat any two other guys.”
Coach still shows some reluctance. He stares wistfully at his magic kerchief and wails, “I don’t want Boston Rob going home. He deserves to be here. But now (after he’s agreed to go along with this latest scheme), I can’t go back on my word, ‘cause Russell crammed it down my throat.”
Rob confronts Jerri, “Are they coming after me?” She lies through her teeth, “I don’t know.” Rob, nobody’s fool, knows she’s being disingenuous. “Don’t sweat it. You gotta do what you gotta do. But I’m at your mercy.”
Jerri excuses her impending betrayal, “I want to trust you, but I can’t.”
Rob offers a rather good argument for himself, “You can always trust somebody when their back’s against the wall. You’re smart, Jerri, you figure it out. You know what to do.”
Back with Coach, Jerri moans, “I feel like I’ve aged five years in one day. I’m not a good villain. I’m just not.” Actually, Jerri, dear, when it comes to villains, I’ll put you right up there with Cruella deVille.
AND SO IT GOES
Tribal council begins with Host Probst taunting the Villains by suggesting that the Heroes are walking all over them, “The Heroes have stumbled onto this magic number of five.” He inquires as to the tribe’s state of mind. Sandra replies, “I think we’re all over the board.”
Coach, with his advisor Tyson gone, is back to wearing the ridiculous ear-feather. He offers a non-sequitur, “I think at the dawn of every morning hope springs eternal.”
Jeff brings up the craziness of the previous tribal council. Russell rushes in to congratulate himself, “I could have blindsided anybody. It was my decision.” Parvati, for some bizarre reason known only to herself, pipes in, “At lot of people are still mad about it. I think it shows in challenges.”
Russell is brimming with antagonism tonight, “I’m using Rob’s quote, ‘If you aren’t with me, you’re against me.’”
Rob quickly parries, “And you’re against me.”
Russell by now is bristling with anger and self-righteousness, “I put my butt on the line for my people. I don’t think you have the guts to do what I did last tribal council. If you’re gunnin’ for me, then you have to go.”
The lily-livered coward, Coach, chooses this time to make a strange plea, “I know lines have been drawn in the sand today. I’m beggin’ you guys to reconsider.” I’m thinking Hell will freeze over before that happens.
Jeff prods Jerri about her vote. She isn’t wavering, “I hope the decision is right. I’ve decided I have to believe it is.”
Rob has a look of resignation on his face as he votes for Russell, “It’s game over. It’s gonna be you or me.”
Jeff retrieves the votes. Russell has three. Courtney, courtesy of the lily-livered coward, Coach, has one. Rob has four. As Host Probst tells Rob to step forward with his torch, Coach jumps out of his seat and tries to hug Rob. Rob pushes him away and condemns him with the words, “You’re a little man.” I only wish Rob had had a white feather to place in Coach’s outstretched hand.*
As Russell beams over his victory, Jeff tells the Villains, “That is without question the biggest move so far in this game. It’s not gonna take long to find out if voting out Rob brings this tribe together or destroys it.”
On his way back to Ponderosa, Rob stops to give us some parting thoughts, “I mean I saw it comin’ tonight. It’s tough. I wish Coach would’ve kept his word. I did what I could for my tribe to put ‘em on my shoulders and carry ‘em, but at the end of the day this is what I get.” It always is, on Survivor.
Join us, same place, same time next week. From the previews, it looks as if the Villains are going to be at each others' throats. Do you think the Heroes will still be willing to split that hidden immunity idol into five equal pieces?
—*In the British army, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, being handed a white feather meant that you were being called a coward. In Coach’s case, I think an entire white chicken was deserved.