Pre-credit sequence. Russell arrives at Redemption Island, having been voted out for the first time in his three seasons in the game. Matt is amused to see him. “I figured I’d see him sooner or later, but first off? That’s a bit of a surprise,” Matt says with slacker glee. “I was pissed off. I watched to b****slap every single one of them,” Russell grumbles of discovering that it was Matt waiting for him on Redemption Island and not Francesca. “Blindsided by Rob, bunking with Russell,” chuckles a star-struck Matt. Russell hopes his old tribemates come to see him and one-by-one, he’ll make them suffer. “Sleep in the mud, fool…” cackles Russell.
[Full recap of Wednesday’s (March 9) “Survivor: Redemption Island…]
My new band is called Pixelated Groin. We pick up over at Team Rob’s camp, where Phillip has decided to do a little early morning sweeping around the camp. As any true “Survivor” fans know, there’s nothing castaways love quite so much as a busybody who thinks chores are best performed at dawn. “He’s so weird,” complains Natalie. Rob is perplexed by how little Phillip’s tighty-pinkies leave to the imagination, a mental image the producers add to by showing us The Former Federal Agent’s pixelated crotch. “It’s not only disturbing, it’s actually disgusting,” Rob winces. In addition to sweeping, Phillip is also back out in the woods hunting. Unlike the first time, we don’t see any fruits to his labors. “They don’t know if I’m a criminal or a school teacher. They don’t know how to take me,” Phillip says of the generation gap with the kids. Phillip knows that he may be suffering in the “Survivor” social game, so he’s going to try to expose another side of himself. And no, he’s not planning on exposing *that* other side, which the producers have also pixelated.
Goobers and Boobers. Over at Camp Formerly Russell, Stephanie and Krista find themselves without Russell, trapped with “a bunch of goobers.” [Did I type “boobers” there originally instead of “goobers”? Yes. Yes I did. How could I not have?] How do they handle their disadvantageous position? By tanning in their bikinis, duh. Krista knows that if they don’t find an Immunity Idol, one of them will be going home. With the girls off in the water, Ralph decides this is the right time to tell everybody else that he has an Idol of his own. His alliance-mates are overjoyed. Mike knows Russell may re-enter the game, but he also knows that without an available Idol, his position could only be weak.
Reconnoitering is a funny word. Over at Camp Rob, Phillip finds Tree-Mail and wakes up his Tribe to reveal that, once again, it’s time to select two people to go watch the Redemption Island Duel. Phillip wants to go. Why? Because of his time as a former intelligence agent with the US government. He wants to do a little recon. But who will go with him? It appears that Kristina is his eager partner. Over with Team Formerly Russell, Ralph and Sarita decide they want to watch Russell go home. Mmm… That’s some tasty hubris.
I kick a** for The Lord. On Redemption Island, Russell is getting ready. He vows that the duel will be “Man oh man, good vs. evil type thing.” Does he mean that it’s gonna be mano y mano? Or that it’s gonna be “Man oh man, good”? “If this was the real world, I’d be rooting for Matt. But it’s not,” Russell says. In contrast, Matt observes, “I’m fighting to honor my God.” In honor of that Matt quote, I present you with this fine, possibly NSFW, clip from Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive.”
This calls for divine intervention. The Duel is build around creating a long domino run while avoiding a number of trip wires. Again, it’s a task that wouldn’t appear to favor any particular kind of player. You have to be careful and space the dominos properly, while not toppling the wobbly platform. Matt thinks he’s assembled his dominos properly, but he has a gap and has to restack half of the line. Russell thinks he has it, but he also falls short. Matt’s second chance is… successful. Matt WINS! And Russell is heading home. “Holy Mackerel,” Kristina says.
The Duel aftermath deserves its own paragraph and bolded headline. Russell shakes his head in confusion and covers his eyes with his hat. He’s actually crying. What does he think he is, a player for the Miami Heat? He’s really emotional about this, hands on his knees. Miserable. For one second, Russell is humanized. But only one second. “I respect this game too much to go out this way,” Russell declares, before going off on a rant about his team quitting. “It’s hard to be a professional QB when you’ve got Pee-Wee Leaguers on your team,” Russell carps. But Ralph is having none of Russell’s disrespect and first mocks Russell for not sharing the Idol clue and then double-mocks him by telling him that he’d already found the Idol anyway. Russell’s incredulous and taunts Ralph into showing him the Idol, as the Team Rob-sters look on, confused and curious. Sarita practically pulls Ralph’s hand out of his bag, rendering it a bit pointless when Ralph tries saying he faked him out. Big smile on his face, Russell jokes about how easy it’ll be to get Ralph out, as Ralph tries saying it was a lie. “It was not a lie! I earned my living discerning if someone’s telling the truth or not and you have an Idol,” Phillip jumps in. Russell is utterly loving this, even getting a fist-bump from Matt. Figuring he’s got nothing to lose, Russell tells Team Rob that Sarita is in charge and that Mike and Steve are a team. “Through these two, I can stay in this game,” Russell says, pointing to Phillip and Kristina. “This is my last time playing the game. That’s it,” Russell tells the camera, wishing Matt well. I’ll talk to Russell tomorrow.
Chief bowels got to move. Teepee full of… Over at Team Rob, they decide to have a Beach Day, setting up a game called Royal Treatment. It sounds like a lot of fun. There are elaborate rules and luxurious prizes. But it’s all a ruse. Rob wants to find the darned Immunity Idol. After getting everybody out on the beach and comfortable, he complains about his bowels and goes sprinting off into the woods. “I’m digging through rocks, I’m climbing trees, I’m looking everywhere,” Rob says, squandering his 15 minutes of bowel time. He’s getting desperate and then he looks up and… BINGO. “Maybe I learned something since last time,” Rob says, vowing to use the Idol to last 39 days.
Long live Dorothy! Ralph and Sarita are giddy as they return to Team Formerly Russell. They’re practically singing “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.” Sarita tells them that Russell had outed all of their secrets, but nobody even cares. Russell’s gone. Stephanie and Krista aren’t doing so well at pretending to be OK with Russell’s defeat, even as as Mike tries telling them that it was a good move for camp chemistry.
Leverage. You’re using it wrong. Going back to Team Rob, Phillip and Kristina are trying to figure out how to use their new knowledge. “You have experience in these covert matters, so do whatever you think,” Kristina tells him. Kristina then tells us, “The specialist thinks he’s running the show, but the specialist is just one big windbag.” First Phillip narrates half of the story for the whole tribe, before taking Grant and Rob aside and giving them partial information. He volunteers to give them the whole truth in exchange for safe passage for Kirstina. So, um, the Former Federal Agent who makes his living reading people didn’t read Boston Rob so well. With blanket assurances, Phillip spills, leading Grant and Rob to agree that Phillip has maybe outlived his usefulness. [Side note: I love Grant taking up the role as Rob’s muscle, standing behind him and nodding intimidatingly. I think this is probably a good strategy to win.]
Blah blah. Craftsman. Blah blah. Sears. Blah blah. Immunity. It’s time for Immunity. The Tree-mail clue warns them that they’re going to need teamwork, creativity, performance, trust and building. Julie just hopes Team Formerly Russell will be able to recover their lost karma. The challenge is sponsored by Craftsman Tools. They were given tools at the start of the season — we saw Rob use the shovel earlier — and now they have to show they can use the hammer, saw, shovel, crowbar, hatchet and a few other Craftsman related things. They’re also playing for reward, in this case a BBQ set provided by Sears. They’ll also get the BBQ fixings. Led by Ralph, Team Formerly Russell gets out to a lead on the hatcheting and the lead only gets bigger as Grant and Phillip prove to be weak saw-ers for Team Rob. “You need to DIG, Phillip,” Jeff Probst screams. And he does. But it’s not enough. Team Formerly Russell unties their hammer and Ralph slams three nails home. He hops on the platform and crows.
Uninteresting celebration of Sears BBQ equipment. Team Formerly Russell returns to camp with steaks, vegetables. They’re a little bit peckish. “I haven’t been this hungry in my life. I haven’t thought about sex in two weeks. All I’m thinking about is food,” Mike explains. They fall on the food and morale is through the roof. Mmmm… Sausage.
Bigger crime? Being annoying or being devious? Team Rob returns to camp defeated, which can only mean one thing: A reassuring pep talk from Phillip, who tells them that while they sucked, they still put forth great effort. “At this point, there’s an utter malice towards him that’s palpable,” Rob says. And Phillip just keeps making things worse. He’s even backseat-driving the process of filling water-bottles. Kristina knows she’s on the wrong side of the numbers, but that Phillip might be so annoying they could get rid of him. Kristina decides to play things cool, which perplexes Natalie into believing that Kristina may have an Idol. “This is so tricky I can’t figure it out!” Rob says when Natalie comes to him with the conundrum. They decide to split the vote with three on Kristina and two on Phillip. But Ashley and Grant aren’t so sure they wouldn’t be better off losing Phillip, which means Grant has to approach Rob to raise those concerns. This leaves Rob in a tough position: He knows that the girls really, really want Phillip out, but he also wants to maintain control over the tribe. If the vote goes against him, he figures he’ll be in trouble. Rob tells Phillip that the vote is against Kristina and suddenly Phillip’s sacred vow to Rob has been broken. It’s time to let Phillip be Phillip, yo!
Tribal Council. There appears to be a lot of time left in the episode as the tribe sits down in front of Jeff Probst. Kristina knows she’s being targeted, but she says she’s a fighter. Natalie’s in favor of second chances. Grant agrees. But Boston Rob is having none of that, saying that Kristina only just joined the tribe after spending eight days on her own. Kristina turns her attack against Phillip, for being “a little disruptive.” Phillip disagrees, calling himself “a doer,” questioning Kristina’s effort. We could talk about other things, but instead, we need to talk about The Sheppard Stamp: Phillip goes through his biography. He was one of 12 kids. He lost his mother early. He served in the army and did field sanitation. Kristina just says she can be a valuable member of the tribe and she wants the opportunity.
The vote. Phillip votes for Kristina. Kristina votes for Phil. Jeff Probst tallies the votes: Phillip. Kristina. Phillip. Kristina. Phillip. Kristina. Kristina is voted out. Her torch is snuffed. And Rob appears to still have control. “I just got my rear end raked across the coals at Tribal Council,” Kristina admits. She vows, uninterestingly, to rock it.
Bottom Line: The Redemption Island Duel was quite excellent again, satisfying for the results and the five minutes of subsequent craziness. Part of me laments that we never got to see Russell and Phillip on the same tribe. Speaking of Phillip, has he begun to wear out his “Survivor” viewership welcome yet? We all expected him to do something wacky at Tribal Council, but if all he has left is The Sheppard Stamp, that’s not much. And it was another good episode for Rob, who’s having so much fun out there. It’s amazing that nobody is catching on to all of the smirking and eye-rolling he’s doing, but I guess they figure that’s all part of his thing. It’s also hard to imagine Team Rob winning many more challenges, isn’t it? They were a weaker team to begin with and they haven’t gotten stronger through eliminations. Rob’s gonna need that Idol eventually.
What’d you think of Russell’s departure? Enough fireworks for you? And how are you feeling about Phillip these days?