Pre-credit sequence. I’m still scratching my head at the absurd, ridiculous awesomeness of Parvati’s move last week. I’m not the one one. The Yin Yang tribe returns to camp on Night 27 and Rupert is all “TOLDJA!” to Colby. The women are cackling, but Russell is feeling confused about all of the secrets going around, specifically the secrets that didn’t include him. Over fire, Russell vents to Parvati that he feels lied to, while Parvati insists that it was a surprise. “Russell likes to be in control, because he thinks he’s the Godfather of this game,” Parvati explains, admitting that she enjoyed seeing Russell scared. The remaining Heroes are scrambling, with Amanda telling Rupert that she’s going to try working on Sandra. Rupert, still rocking his Cassandra Complex, knows that he had the shot with Sandra last week and nobody listened to him. He opines, “With all that has happened, I don’t know how easy it will be to pull Sandra back in. She opened the door once. My only hope is to maybe get Sandra to open the door again.”
Full recap of Thursday’s (April 29) “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” after the break…
The bland girl becomes a power player. There are whales in the water. And under the water. But back on land, Candice is still shaking her head at the Villains’ move, telling Russell how impressed she is. Russell attempts to woo Candice over to his side, telling her that if she comes over to his side, she won’t go out at No. 6. He thinks she’s ready to burn her house down and he promises his Pretty Girl Alliance that Candice will flip and Sandra won’t even matter anymore.
Shuffle Bored. It’s time for a Reward Challenge. It’s a “Survivor” version of shuffleboard with three teams — black, blue and red. Want to know what they’re playing for? The winning team will go to Robert Louis Stevenson’s house, watch a screening of “Treasure Island” and get a comfortable night’s sleep. Candice, Parvati and Jerri are the Black Team. Sandra, Rupert and Russell are the Red Team. Colby, Amanda and Danielle are the Blue Team. This is not a very televisually interesting challenge. The only amusement comes from Jeff Probst’s occasional mockery of the more feeble efforts. And even that isn’t amusing. Colby has the last shot and wins reward for the Blue Team. Yay?
I somehow figured Danielle and Amanda wrestling would be hotter than this. Robert Louis Stevenson had a very nice home. The three winners get taken around the house looking all raunchy and game-weary. They’re taken on a guided tour around the house, with Amanda keeping her eye out for Hidden Idols. Amanda is so antsy she can’t even enjoy Lionel Barrymore in “Treasure Island.” Danielle, however, is the one who finds the clue to the Immunity Idol. She tries to hide it, but Amanda and Danielle get into a literal cat-fight over the clue. There’s brawling and words are spoken, with Colby playing mediator and ruling in favor of Danielle, who wanders off to a corner with the clue and a glass of wine. It’s an ugly moment. They share an awkward night in a single bed. A tour, a black-and-white movie, an crowded canopy bed and a cat-fight? That’s a strange Reward.
It’s too easy to find Idols. Back at camp the next day, in the rain, Danielle tells her allies the story of her triumphant skirmish with Amanda. The Villains go off in search of the Idol and Russell finds it while Danielle is looking the other way. Turnabout is fair play, Russell figures, re-declaring himself The King of Hidden Immunity Idols. He gladly leaves Danielle off by a creek searching. As is Russell’s way, he goes to Candice and tells her about the Idol as a sign of good faith. “Stick with me, I can take you places,” Russell tells Candice. After saying something different earlier, Russell now promises Candice a journey to the Top Three. We’re reminded again that Russell doesn’t know he lost “Survivor: Samoa,” or even in jest he wouldn’t be talking about taking non-descript blondes with him to the Final Three.
Sandra opens the door again. It’s Day 30 and it’s time for Sandra to make her move. She goes off into the jungle with Colby and tells him the story of the season, from her point of view. She knows this is the perfect time to jump ship. Colby, somewhat foolishly, works off the assumption that Danielle has the Idol and uses that as the basis for all future strategy. Colby isn’t sure if their best plan is to take our Russell first or Parvati first. Russell, suspicious as ever, warns Sandra that his alliance now has a sixth person, making it clear that if she flips, he’ll know and it won’t matter anyway. But Sandra continues with her plan and tells Rupert both that she’s prepared to vote for Russell and that Russell thinks he has another vote from the Heroes side. Rupert only hears the first part, though, and he’s eager to boot Russell. Colby knows the first key is winning Immunity.
Tower of Power. And, coincidentally, it’s time for Immunity. The challenge asks players to use tiles to build a 10-foot house-of-cards. I remember the devilishness of this challenge from its first appearance and I can’t tell you who it favors. Jerri, Russell and Danielle make the first incursions to the eight-foot mark. The other players all basically stop to watch as Jerri and Russell both get to nine feet. Russell doesn’t have enough tiles and has to scramble, giving Jerri a win. She’s very proud of herself. I’m less impressed. That challenge felt much too easier, far easier than before. I wanted more heartbreak and more teetering towers. Sandra announces to the camera that she’s going to vote Russell out as revenge for Boston Rob and Courtney and Tyson. She pauses and adds, “Even Coach, who I don’t care about. But I’ll stick him in there too.”
Swimming in Yay. More stinking whales. Is that the only available nature? Jerri is experiencing an extreme high. “I’m swimmin’ in ‘Yay,'” Jerri gloats. Russell’s perfectly happy at who won. He compares Amanda to “Boston Rob in a girl’s body.” The first half there seems like an overstatement. The second part? Well, I can’t deny. Russell calls Candice over and tells her the vote and she says she’s willing to turn, because Amanda has turned on her too many times. Candice says that she has to go with the most solid plan and that’s Russell’s. The Heroes-and-Sandra are all determined to write Russell’s name down, though Amanda looks pensive. Candice tells Russell that the Heroes are writing his name down and Parvati wonders why Amanda would be laying down like this. Candice also outs Sandra’s flippability and Russell accosts Sandra and Candice simultaneously to warn them that they need to stay in line. Russell knows the only way he goes home is if both Candice and Sandra flip on him at the same time. Again, Sandra attempts to warn Rupert that they’re screwed, that Candice turned. Sandra asks Candice point blank, with Rupert and Colby nearby, if she’s on-board and she swears she is. The new plan? Voting Parvati? “If this thing doesn’t work, it’s Candice’s fault,” Colby says point-blank. There’s a frantic last-minute conversation between Sandra and Candice. Sandra lobbies Candice aggressively. Very aggressively. So aggressively she basically tells Russell to screw off when he starts hovering. The last thing we hear is Sandra saying, “Tell me who you want out. Please.”
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst leads with a discussion of flippability. Rupert says there’s no reason for any Villain to flip. Sandra agrees that the best bet is to remain with the Villains. Amanda says Sandra could get a better deal with the Heroes. Russell disagrees. Russell goes through all of his allies with their advantages, ending by saying that Sandra’s just along for the ride. Russell admires Danielle’s scrappiness. Colby expresses the consensus that Danielle has the Idol, which makes Parvati feel weak. Russell’s aware he’s got a target on his back always, but he’s willing to take the risk.
The Vote. Russell writes Amanda’s name down, adding that he plans on using the Idol tonight. Amanda writes Parvati’s name. Will anybody play an Idol? Russell decides to, much to Danielle’s amusement. “I hope I’m doing the right thing and playing it for myself this time,” Russell says. The votes: Amanda. Amanda. Parvati. Parvati. “Damnit,” Russell says. Amanda. Amanda. Parv. Amanda is voted out. “OK, Jeff. I know you’ve been waiting forever to do this,” Amanda laughs. Parvati tells Russell he wasted the Idol and rolls her eyes. Amanda admits that she made too many mistakes, calling giving up the clue to Danielle her biggest mistake. She says the rest of the game is going to be crazy and that she’s glad not to be a part of it.
Bottom Line: Y’all know I adore Amanda. This is the first time she’s ever had her torch extinguished on “Survivor” and I admire that. Boy oh boy, though. After her little fight with Danielle, she basically went out without a fight. That’s a huge disappointment to me, as huge as her bikini-clad absence will be. I look forward to grilling her tomorrow on basically checking out of the game. I can’t see any way that Candice made the right move here, but I don’t have much to say about it. She isn’t an interesting player and it bores me to see her in a position of such power. The big thing to note this week is that Russell has now been confused, misled or just out-of-the-loop three or four times in the past five weeks (The Coach vote, last week, this week). He did successfully target Candice as the Hero to flip, so I guess he deserves credit for that. But Parvati’s eye-roll said it all. Russell has very little mystique. The odd thing is that that might work in his favor.
Last Point: Are Immunity Idols becoming too much of a crutch to produce drama in the game? Does it make them less entertaining if one is being played practically every week? I have no idea how Russell would play this game if he didn’t seem to constantly have Idols in his pocket.
Thoughts on this week’s episode? Was there anything Amanda could have done? Or was she just stuck putting her whole game in Candice’s hands? And has Russell lost any of his mystique for y’all lately?