Pre-credit sequence. Francesca is gone, but she’s not forgotten. Well, maybe the pronunciation of her name is forgotten by Phillip, but he’s a former federal agent, so he can’t sweat the details. But actually, we’re starting with Francesca, who’s alone on Redemption Island, mind racing. A sign promises a ration of rice and ample water and eventually the arrival of a potential competitor. Her provisions include flint, so her mind-set is strong. In fact, she figures that because she didn’t make any enemies, she’s in good position to eventually win the game. Plus, she doesn’t have to spend time with Phillip.
[Full recap of Wednesday’s (Feb. 23) “Survivor: Redemption Island” after the break…]
My sword shall be your sword. I pledge you my troth. Speaking on Phillip, Team Rob is returning and Boston Rob declares the previous Tribal Council as one of the wildest he’d ever been a part of. Kristina admits that it wasn’t exactly her Barbie Dream Tribal Council. “I lost the battle, but it’s not the end of the game,” Kristina says, relieved that she still has the Idol in her possession. Meanwhile, Phillip pulls Boston Rob aside, pours out his soul and announces, “Until I go to Redemption, you own my vote.” Phillip wants to play with integrity. Rob is amused. “I don’t know if he’s delusional. I think he’s a good-hearted guy. I do. He just might not all be there. Let it be a lesson to you: Government jobs… stressful,” he declares. Who out there thought it could possibly be a bad thing having Boston Rob back in the game? While he’s reassuring Phillip, Boston Rob pulls aside his young alliance and the all agree that Phillip has to go.
I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, doggone it, people like my briefs. The sun rises over Team Rob. Phillip is on the prowl. Self-made spear in hand, swathed only in his much maligned fuchsia briefs, he’s stalking elusive tiny crabs. “You find yourself going back to that primal state,” Phillip explains. With a faux Aussie accent, Matt narrates Phillip’s pursuit, as the girls giggle. But this is serious business, y’all. Phillip cries as he recalls his time in uniform and his trustworthiness and his love of country. He’s hurt that Francesa — whose name he’s learned — dared to question his integrity. But Phillip is unbowed. As he spears a wily wee crab, he tells us, “I still love Phillip Shephard. He’s a good guy. And that’s OK.” Hmm… Is anybody else suspecting that Former Federal Agent Phillip Shephard might just be some guy this dude is keeping chained in his basement? That crab-catching was a lot of effort, but I’m sure Phillip would tell you it was worth it. Now how do you share that crap seven ways?
The cock crows, but will the cocky eat crow? Off to Team Russell, where Ralph wakes the camp up with a rooster crow. “He might be the dumbest person on the face of the Earth, besides being the dumbest player to play ‘Survivor,'” an unimpressed Russell says of the burly redneck. Russell’s confident in Stephanie and he thinks that if he can just get Krista on-board, he’ll have a trio he can work with. Russell pulls Krista aside and tells her that they should begin the process of looking for an Idol, which he knows is out there. He’s cocky about his ability to find an Idol again, even without a clue. Steven and David, though, know what Russell’s game is and they hang back warily watching him meander. At the same time, The Dumbest Person on the Face of the Earth, Ralph is off collecting stones. In the process, he gets bitten by a few ants and, as a result, literally just happens upon an Idol. “Hot doggie,” he announces, before laughing, “Russell, eat your heart out.” Team Ralph!
She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s got a great personality and her a** is smokin’.We return to Team Rob, where Matt is relieved that God has put him in an alliance with Adorable Andrea. They’re already making plans for future home visits and Adorable Andrea giggles amiably about his cuteness. Boston Rob is concerned that Adorable Andrea has found a willing puppy dog. “I know how strong a pair can be in this game,” Rob says. Boston Rob has found a welcoming ear in Natalie, who he dubs “a perfect partner.” Natalie is appropriately Amber-esque and using the exact language he used in his first All-Stars season, Rob says, “It’s like literally picking the girl up, putting her on my back and I’m gonna drag her ass to the end and hopefully they’re gonna it to me at the end.” Rob says that the next elimination has to be either Phillip, or possibly Adorable Andrea to keep the tribe strong. “I really trust Rob,” Natalie says, seeing the wisdom of making big moves with him.
Better plate than never. It’s time for an Immunity Challenge. Ralph returns the Idol to Jeff Probst, which raises Phillip’s hackles. He barks out, “It brings out the animal in me! I will out last any man over there.” Oh Phillip. The challenge involves swimming out for keys. The key unlocks the chest. The chest contains a ball. The ball has to be used to break five tiles. They’re also playing for Reward, in the form of fishing gear. We’ve seen absolutely none of Grant previously, but the former NFL scrub is a physical specimen, getting Team Rob off to a fast start. It doesn’t last long and Team Russell opens its chest first, but it’s very close. “It’s Ralph and Phillip tossing balls,” Probst says succinctly. Ralph seems to have the advantage, but he can’t hit that last tile. Suddenly it’s all even. Can Phillip bring his team back? Alas, no. Ralph smashes the tile. Then a weird thing happens. As his team hangs its collective head in shame, Matt walks over and congratulates the winning tribe. Boston Rob is displeased, calling Matt’s behavior despicable.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but you’re either with me or… something else. Team Russell returns to camp triumphant. Again. Russell immediately grabbed the basket with the fishing gear, knowing it will contain the Idol clue. He’s correct and filches the clue before anybody else seems to notice. Except that Ralph notices. “This is not Russell’s game. This is my game,” Ralph announces. Russell takes his two women off to find the Idol while everybody else grumbles, particularly Marine Mike. “I don’t need no stinking numbers. All I need is trust, loyalty,” Russell says. [For some reason everybody is making fun of Sarita and her swimming. Stephanie even says that Sarita sucks at life, which may be an overstatement. But maybe not. Who the heck is Sarita?] Ralph comes and confront Russell about the existence of a clue, which Russell initially denies. He then shifts to “You’re either with me or against me,” he says, biting his cross-tribe rival’s catch-phrase. A storm is brewing and Russell keeps denying. “I don’t like how you’re comin’ at me,” Russell tells Ralph, who just nods and looks down his nose, reassuring everyone that he also knows how to play this game. Ralph’s chest-hair is an impressive thing. But Russell? Not impressed. “You just done that? To me? To Russell Hantz and you know how to play this game?” Russell sneers.
Whatever. We’re on Redemption Island, where Francesca has received a luxury item, in this case a journal. She’s worried about what will happen when the next person arrives. And that’s all we get from her there. That was not interesting, but at least we know Francesca is still alive.
In praise of performing gallantryly. Team Rob returns to camp and Phillip demands the floor to make a speech, what Boston Rob calls “the Pre-Tribal Council before the Tribal Council.” Phillip praises his team for performing “gallantryly.” He says they should be proud of their effort and that he wished he could perform well in his moment. Phillip then says he’ll leave it to the Tribe to decide what’s best for the Tribe. He opens the floor and nobody speaks, at least until Boston Rob reassures him and his performance. Boston Rob knows Phillip blew the challenge for the team, but he’s more annoyed by Matt. A bit later, Phillip tells Kristina that he isn’t worried and, “If it’s to be Redemption, I kinda like that name.” For her part, Kristina is determined to play the Idol that night. Grant agrees with Rob’s outrage at Matt’s sportsmanship and a four-person pocket of the alliance decides to vote Matt out and tell the lovebirds that they’re splitting the vote. Rob grumbles that he didn’t want to play the game this way this early.
So now, the first thing I need you to do is not be insane. There’s still a lot of time left for something weird to happen for Team Rob. The six-person alliance decides girls are voting for Kristina and the guys are voting for Phillip. Or that’s what Rob, Ashley, Natalie and Grant are planning to do. His goal is to break up Andrea and Matt and also get the Idol flushed out. Phillip wants to know what’s coming and Rob and Matt agree there’s no reason not to tell him. “Every day, Rob impresses me,” Matt says as Boston Rob takes Phillip off to tell him… something. But what will he tell him? Rob first reassures Phillip that whatever’s coming, the vote won’t go against him. Smart Move No. 1. Then he makes sure to tell Phillip that he isn’t trying to pull one over on him, but he needs him not to go off on a tirade at Tribal Council. Smart Move No. 2. Rob then tells Phillip that when the time comes, he’ll put his hand on the right shoulder of the person he wants him to vote for. This is a bit hilarious. He coaches Phillip to play like he’s going home. “This will be a good test to see if Phillip says what he does what he says he’s gonna do,” Rob tells us. I’m intrigued. Are you intrigued?
Tribal Council. Kristina begins by admitting that it was a tough decision not to play the Idol last week. Then it’s time for The Phillip Show. Probst starts, pointedly, by asking if this brings out the animal in Phillip. And wouldn’t you know it? It does! But not just *an* animal. Two animals. He points first at one arm. “The gorilla. Powerful animal. Won’t attack anyone. Unless provoked.” He points at the other arm. “A lion. One of the few animals that no animal, whether it’s starving to death, will approach.” He warns us that this is how he feels about his country and his family. I love Natalie and Rob sitting next to Phillip and not cracking up. Boston Rob is, again, marvelously diplomatic about Phillip’s challenge failings, but Phillip lays it on thick. “When I get to Redemption Island, I’m not gonna lay down and die, because I’m going to have the opportunity to meet my nemesis,” Phillip says, looking forward to a little payback. As Probst is saying his last words, Rob nudges Phillip and puts his hand on Kristina’s shoulder.
The Vote. Matt writes Phillip’s name down. And Phillip does what he was told, voting for Kristina, who in turn votes for him. “I hope you don’t hold it against me,” Rob says before voting. Will anybody play the Idol? Yes. Kristina plays the Idol. Kristina. Kristina. Phillip. Phillip. Matt. Matt. [Big smile from Matt. Terror from Adorable Andrea.] Matt. [“Wow,” Matt says.] “Good work, guys. My goodness,” Matt says as he exits, leaving Adorable Andrea pulling her lip in confusion. In his exit, Matt calls this an emotional roller-coaster. On one hand, he’s ready to go home, but on the other hand… “Rob just set me up to have the greatest comeback in ‘Survivor’ history.
Bottom Line: I love Boston Rob. Y’all know that if I were out in the jungle with him, I’d pretty much be Johnny McHeroWorship. But there’s no logic by which this was a smart move. This was random wounded pride leading him to take out another Alpha Male who threatened him. As much as it pains one part of me to say this, if you’re threatened by Adorable Andrea and Matt, we’re at the point of the game when Adorable Andrea has to get voted off, even if she actually isn’t bad at challenges as Grant maintained. You can’t run the risk of shifting the balance of your tribe even more in favor of tiny girls and, perhaps even more importantly, you can’t can’t populate Redemption Island with too many physically strong (and not obviously mentally weak) players from your tribe. The possibility for blowback is just too high. This was a pride move for Boston Rob, not a strategy move. It concerns me. Meanwhile, it was another fine episode, albeit lacking the fireworks of the premiere. Boston Rob remains endlessly entertaining, as does Phillip, but I’m really hoping that their tribe finds a way to win something next week. I’m looking forward to seeing things come to a head between Russell and his harem and Ralph and his chest-hair. The clash could be epic.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode? Did Rob make the right move at the right time? And are you looking forward to seeing the showdown between Matt and Francesa?