Recap: ‘Survivor: Samoa’ – ‘It’s Called a Russell Seed’

10.01.09 8 years ago


Pre-credit sequence. For the second straight week, Foa Foa is returning to camp after Tribal Council. Jaison has been thinking. He thinks Crazy Ben needs to go home. And MickDreamy agrees. Jaison was OK with most of what Ben said to Yasmin last week — calling her “ghetto trash” and whatnot — but only up to a point. Boy. Jaison is slow to anger. He calls Ben “a mental plague.” And speaking of Mental Plagues, Psycho Russell is chattering with the anonymous blonde who may be Natalie. Almost as a joke, Psycho Russell asks Natalie for ideas about who should go home next. Ideas? Natalie doesn’t have inklings. Or intimations. Or thoughts. She certainly doesn’t have ideas. This plays perfectly into Russell’s thesis:  “This might be the worst group in history and I might be the best.” Will Psycho Russell’s words continue to be true, or will this be what the dramatists call “hubris”?

[Full recap of Sunday (Oct. 1) night’s “Survivor: Samoa” after the break…]

Come on Benny, Light My Fire. Still at Foa Foa, they’re making fire. The problem? They’re nearly out of flint. Ben calls everybody else pansies for their poor fire-making. Can they afford to vote Ben out? He thinks not. “Without my help, these people would die,” Ben explains. He’s lecturing everybody on fire maintenance, making it clear to everybody that they won’t be able to make fire without Ben. He’s especially skeptical that the weak-armed women would ever be able to make fire without him. Psycho Russell is all for Ben’s rationalizations and all for Ben’s possibility inappropriate discussion of his bowels (moved with authority that very morning) and maybe even his conversations with lizards. Psycho Russell doesn’t want Ben out just yet, because he can still get use out of him. 

The dullest tribe in “Survivor” history. In the “previously on” sequence, Jeff Probst tried to make it look like things were tense in Galu. Ha. Things are so serene that they’re actually doing yoga at camp, with Laura as their spiritual ringleader. You know who hates serenity? Shambo. This isn’t what she signed on for, mocking the yoga-doers as “The 90210 clique.” She’s playing provider instead. And that’s all we get at Galu.

Planting Russell Seeds. Back at Foa Foa, Psycho Russell explains to Ben that Ashley has been trying to get him out. Their plan is to blindside the blonde cutie. He’s just planing what he calls “Russell Seeds.” How very “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” of him. Ben isn’t so good at subtlety and he goes straight to Ashley to accuse her of stabbing him in the back. Psycho Russell just stands in the background cackling, “It’s shocking that these people trust me so much.” Ashley is just confused at how she came to be the one person targeting Ben. But she still doesn’t suspect Psycho Russell.

Galunatics. We make a brief appearance back at Galu, where Tree-Mail is encased in a pillow-case. Tree-Mail included new swimsuits. They’re dry, soft and fabulous and they look good on Monica. Shambo, however, has no interest in the fresh garb, or playing Charlie’s Angels with the other three Galu women. Dullest. Tribe. Ever.

This is getting ridiculous. Both teams arrive for the challenge, where Galu gets its first look at Foa Foa, down two players since last they met. The challenge involves swimming through a Battle Zone to collect crates, which then have to be stacked. Want to know what they’re playing for? Immunity. But also? Comfort, in the form of pillows and candles. Who the heck is Brett? All I know is that he’s sitting out for Galu. Due to that tribe’s dullness, there are several players we’ve barely seen before. The Battle Zone leads to a lot of choking and tussling. Apparently producers decided that “Survivor” had been too tranquil in recent seasons. At one point, Jeff describes Kelly as “unstoppable,” but she’s yet another contestant who’s been a non-factor. Galu gets off to a comfortable early lead after the swim. Galu needs to lose something or else we’ll never know if any of them are as horrible as as Ben and Psycho Russell. Foa Foa thinks they’ve solved first. They’re wrong. Galu thinks they’ve solved. And they’re right. This is their third straight Immunity win. Psycho Russell, as ever, smirks. Non-Psycho Russell gets the choice between keeping comfort or a pile of functional supplies. He takes the comfort, because who doesn’t need towels and candles in the jungle? Dave and Brett aren’t so pleased, but Non-Psycho Russell says he made the decision to keep the ladies happy. With his second decision, he sends Shambo off to hang with Foa Foa. Really? Isn’t the strategy to keep sending the same person over and over again? Ben declares that Ashley is doomed.

Galuoose Lips sink Shambo. Shambo is much better at making friends than Yasmin was. She comes over to Foa Foa and introduces herself. She’s all hugs and compliments and kissing up. “We’d like to adopt her,” MickDreamy says. She calls Ben “beefcake.” He’s won over instantly. And Shambo has also been won over, telling secrets about her tribes and admitting to us that she feels more at home over at Foa Foa. She keeps ranting about her “90210” thing. Yoga really annoyed it, didn’t it? She’s so outgoing that MickDreamy begins to doubt her. He needn’t be. Shambo has no guile. She unwraps her Immunity clue, that tells her both that it’s in a tree and that it’s in the roots of a tree. Well, it’s actually in Psycho Russell’s pants, but Shambo doesn’t know this. She doesn’t know that Psycho Russell is the boss.

Russell is The Ladies Man. Galu also seems disheartened as they come back to camp. Has winning lost its charm? Non-Psycho Russell explains his “Take care of your women” strategy in taking the comfort over the function. It’s unclear who, exactly, this is supposed to please. In fact, it sounds mighty condescending, but none of the available women seem to take it that way. John the Rocket Scientist questions just how comfortable the comfort items could make them. Erik wanted the tarp that came with the functional items, warning that pillows and towels won’t be so useful after a downpour. But Russell knows his women and they’re all happy.

Least. Convincing. Ultimatum. Ever. Jaison is making threats that if they don’t vote Ben out, he’s going to quit. Jaison says he doesn’t really plan on quitting, but he sells his point. He’s leading a crusade, which is fine by Ashley, who says she’s fine with not having him eliminated. Psycho Russell is adamant that Ashley’s out, but MickDreamy has loyalty to Jaison. MickDreamy tries pleading Jaison’s point to Psycho Russell, but only briefly. He exacts Psycho Russell’s promise that Ben will go out after Ashley. Psycho Russell cements that relationship by showing McDreamy the Immunity Idol. The point is made. “I was born for this,” P.R. cackles. “This is what God made me for.” I’m not sure God is the spiritual force I would credit here, but whoever’s on Psycho Russell’s side seems to be working overtime. Whatever happened to Jaison’s bond with Russell and why has he not tried lobbying The Mastermind?

Still at Foa Foa. Because why would we ever spend time with Galu? Shambo has moved into mentor mode, teaching the Foa Foa women the art of torchmaking. She’s partially scooping up firewood and partially seeking out the Idol. She’s swayed the Foa Foa tribe to her level of outrage at Galu’s Yoga. Ah. Here comes Jaison to advocate against Ben. Jaison’s point is that Ben is physically strong, but he hasn’t exactly helped out in challenges. Psycho Russell plays the Lysistrata card, warning Jaison that the women will unite if it’s three-on-three. Jaison promises that he’s going to raise a stink at Tribal Council. This argument briefly seems to register some humility, or feigned humility, from Psycho Russell, who fears making his point too strongly.

Tribal Council. Jaison begins discussion by telling Jeff that, given his druthers, he’d gladly trade Ben to Galu for Shambo. Ben says he’s going to vote Ashley out for coming at him with some trash. Ashley just smiles and nods and says that she isn’t bring any bad energy. Jaison makes a compelling point, citing all of the times Ben has yelled at everybody. Ben calls Jaison a bully. Natalie, stuck between the two of them, is afraid she may get caught up in the fracas. Psycho Russell kinda turns on Jaison, saying that his tribemate had turned on Ben after he made some comments that were “kind of racial.” Ben makes the semantic argument that if you’re from the ghetto and you’re trash, you’re ghetto trash. Ben is disgusting. Russell’s evil, but he’s kinda brilliant. Ben’s evil, but he’s just a nasty bigot. Jaison is treating Ben with vastly more respect than he deserves, or than he would understand. And if you’re wondering, yes, of course Jaison is a law student. Ben has no apologies. If MickDreamy votes Ashley out, I won’t have an iota of respect for him anymore. The “vote out the weak” excuse doesn’t fly, because Foa Foa couldn’t possibly do worse without Ben than they’ve done with him.

The Vote. Ashley writes Ben’s name down. Ben writes Ashley’s name down. The first two votes are split. Then the votes start coming down on Ben. You’ve restored my faith in humanity, Foa Foa. Jeff doesn’t congratulate them on ridding themselves of a cancer. Then, in a good touch, the show directs people to to make donations to Samoan tsunami victims. In his farewell, Ben calls his tribemates “sissies” and repeats that they’re going to starve without him.

Were you glad that Psycho Russell actually had to back down? Were you impressed that he had the common sense not to insist on Ashley’s eviction?

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