Pre-credit sequence. When last we left the castaways, they had just blindsided John, leaving Shambo confused and doubting the validity of her nocturnal visions. It’s Night 30 and Shambo is pretending to be impressed at John ouster, even after Russell approaches her and attempts to calm her down. “I’ll do whatever it takes to win this game,” says Russell, who reminds us that he’s been lying to everybody all game. We’re well-aware, Russell. Shambo, slightly placated, tells Russell that Dave has to go next. Russell mostly ignores her.
[Full recap of Thursday’s (Dec. 10) “Survivor: Samoa” after the break…]
Brett speaks! There are crabs everywhere. Symbolic crabs? Are there any other crabs. Sitting at the beach, Brett and Monica tell Jaison that Russell’s the biggest threat. Jaison insists to the other two that he’s been working with Russell the whole time and that he’s just let Russell be the frontman. Jaison is already doing his lobbying to the prospective jury. He also outs Russell’s economic status to Brett and Monica, who are shocked. Brett is waiting patiently on the outside waiting for the Russell Alliance to erupt. Right. That’s why we haven’t seen you all season, Brett. You’re laying low.
The Golden Bowl. There’s no Reward Challenge this episode. It’s just Immunity. “I ready to start eliminating people,” Russell declares, eager for Immunity to be up for grabs. The game is “Survivor” Bowling. It’s pretty literal. Head-to-head bowling, winner advances, loser sits down. Shambo and Natalie are up first. Shambo knows what she’s doing, Natalie does not. Shambo advances. The next round pits Brett against Russell, with Russell coming out victorious. Brett’s clearly laying low. Jaison beats Monica and Dave, with the first strike of the tournament, knocks off MickDreamy. In the first semifinal, Shambo edges Russell. She faces Jaison, who upsets Dave in the second semifinal. Both finalists toss gutter balls on their first roll. Shambo also gets a zero on her second roll. Can Jaison knock over a single pin? Yes. Jaison wins his second consecutive Individual Immunity. Once again, Shambo’s saying farewell to Dave.
A Monica Seed is planted. Time is lapsing as the castaways return to camp. “For me the tide has turned,” Dave grumbles. He knows survival will take effort. Unfortunately, Russell and his alliance has no alternatives to Dave. Monica goes to Russell to lobby, arguing that Dave isn’t a threat and that Shambo may do well with a Galu jury. Monica’s persuasive, planting her seed. Oooh, a Monica Seed. What flowers will sprout from a Monica Seed? Russell nods and says that he knows he can beat Dave for the million bucks, so keeping him around might be strategic. He’s so intrigued that Russell goes to Dave and asks Dave to beg and plead. “Miracles happen constantly,” Dave says. “It one happens tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised, because the Lord frickin’ provides.” Russell tells Shambo that the others are gunning for her, Shambo already knows. Why are the gunning for her? “I’m the Sham with a Plan,” she boasts.
Tribal Council. Once again, I lament the silent, departed cuteness of the previously mute Kelly. At Jeff Probst’s prodding, Jaison says that strategy has begun to kick in and to steer voting. Shambo, insisting she wouldn’t have voted John out, says she was even more blindsided than the bootee last week. Jeff salutes Shambo’s jury-baiting. Dave says that a good strategy would be keeping people you know you can beat. Russell agrees. Or Russell says he agrees. There may be a difference.
The Vote. You’ll notice that it’s only 8:25, as Shambo casts her vote for Dave. Wackiness is bound to ensue. Dave votes for Shambo and that’s all we see. The first two votes are split. The third vote goes against Dave, followed by the third, fourth and fifth. Dave is voted out, meaning that the Monica Seed failed to bear fruit. Jeff Probst points out that the original Foa Foa now has the majority. Way to suck, Galu. Brett only remains around because people keep forgetting he’s there.
Wait. The show is still on. So it isn’t going to be a half-hour episode this week? The next morning, Russell makes the argument that Brett is way too likable and has to be eliminated next. But MickDreamy is worried that Russell may be ready to ditch him. “It makes me nervous thinking that you’re nervous,” Russell says, admitting that if he were Mick, he’d be sending himself home. Or he’d be sending Russell home, if Russell were MickDreamy. Know what I mean?
This one’s in the bag. Again no Reward? Boo. I’m hungry. I want a feast. The Immunity Challenge asks players to swim out, accumulate bags and the propel the bags into a high basket on a plank. Natalie’s exhaustion is evident, as is her weight-loss, pointed out by Jeff. Then again, all of their bathing suits are slipping down at this point. Brett is on a tear. This episode is all about Brett. He gets out to a lead and only MickDreamy seems capable of restoring order and claiming Immunity. MickDreamy, after earning mockery from Jeff for his effort, allows Brett to win Immunity. Jaison figures Monica is going out now, but admits it may be difficult.
Shark in the water! Is that shark supposed to represent Russell? Or Brett? Or Monica? And who’s going to be the chum? Russell comes to his alliance and they all seem to agree that Monica’s the next to go. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Monica vows. Brett is attempting to stir up MickDreamy, who tells the story of the frog and the scorpion, only with a snake and some kids. MickDreamy knows that this might be the opportunity to take Russell out and he comes to Jaison and asks how confident Jaison is in Russell’s devotion. Meanwhile, Monica approaches Russell and tells him he’s taking too many threats. Her target seems to be Jaison, quoting a couple Jaison comments out of context, particularly the comment about Russell’s wealth. Russell is angry and uncomfortable, pulling Jaison aside and accosting him. Jaison claims he doesn’t remember outing Russell’s economic situation, but he wants to nip Russell’s paranoia in the bud. “Making me mad fuels my fire,” grumbles Russell, who still wants to boot Monica, but promises to play the Immunity Idol if he feels any threat at all. We haven’t seen enough to justify a vote against Russell, so the editors may be trying to blindside us.
Tribal Council II. As his first action, Russell pulls out his Idol and puts it around his neck. Monica interprets it as cockiness. “Nobody really knows what you’re going to do wit it,” Russell says. “That’s what makes it so powerful.” But Brett warns us about the dangers of getting too full of yourself, recommending humility. Monica’s trying hard to push Russell’s buttons, laughing at him, doing a subpar Russell impression, taking pride in having riled him up. Russell actually compliments Monica for how hard she’s suddenly playing. Russell insists he isn’t worried. There’s some fun back-and-forth going on here. Is Monica’s play brilliant or is it a desperate grasp at a straw?
The vote. Russell writes Monica’s name down, calling her a “stupid, stupid little girl.” Monica writes Russell’s name down and tells him to watch out. Will Russell play the Idol now? Russell looks around. Takes a deep breath. And does NOTHING. The first two votes go one apiece against Russell and Monica. The next two are also split. “Awesome,” Dave says. The third vote goes against Monica and we can assume it’s over, right? Indeed. Russell played the situation correctly. For the first time in weeks, there isn’t giddiness and excitement among the jury. They wanted to see Russell punished.
This episode felt odd, didn’t it? It wasn’t a double-elimination episode so much as an episode where two boring and predictable eliminations were squished together in one episode. It was a bit of a come-down after three or for terrific episodes. How did we end up with the season paced in this way?