Recap: ‘Survivor: Samoa’ – ‘This Is the Man Test’

10.22.09 8 years ago 3 Comments

Monty Brinton/CBS

Pre-credit sequence. Foa Foa keeps losing and they keep voting out people I like. Well, except for Ben. He was a tool of epic proportions. But I’d only begun to stop missing Marisa when Foa Foa bid adieu to Ashley and her dimples. It’s Day 15 in Foa Foa and the rain is coming down. MickDreamy is shivering and his wrinkled toes and fingers are just a bit gross. “There was some envy last night when Ashley went home,” MickDreamy admits. Jaison makes a really geeky “Captain Planet” reference, saying he wishes he had a heart ring. But as for Psycho Russell? He’s just lounging in the water in his fedora. “Hell yeah, I’m having fun,” Psycho Russell declares. He makes the accurate point that when they were just enjoying sunny days in Samoa, it might as well have been a family vacation. He promises, “This makes makes me stronger.”
My kingdom for a tarp. Underwater photography? Is this showing that everything’s better down where it’s wetter, under the sea? Non-Psycho Russell is standing on the shoreline fishing, which means he’s missing out on hearing his tribemates complain about how much happier they’d be if he’d gotten them that tarp. Rocket Scientist John, who hasn’t done anything memorable since getting schooled by Jaison in the premiere, blames Non-Psycho Russell for his poor decision-making. As everybody else huddles and complains, Non-Psycho Russell is trying to get food, trying to keep fire going. Some cypher named Brett is concerned that Non-Psycho Russell is going too far to try to be helpful. But the pressures of being chief weigh heavily on Russell. Kelly worries Russell’s pushing himself too hard. This, kids, is what we call foreshadowing.
Thumbsuckers. Yes. Everybody’s uncomfortable at Foa Foa. We get it. MickDreamy is so desperate he’s hiding out in the hole in the tree next to the camp, the same hole that held the Immunity Idol, back in the day. The holder of that Idol, Psycho Russell is displeased. “Where they all from, New York City?” Psycho Russell mocks his teammates, accusing them of being lazy babies, “sucking each other’s thumbs.” He’s not holding back. “If you don’t throw up after every frickin’ challenge, you didn’t do your job,” Russell rants. 
Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side? Like MickDreamy, Erik has been hiding in a hole. But after 26 hours, he gives up, comes out of his hole and sees a rainbow, which he sees as a sign from whichever Samoan Gods he was praying to. These Gods only wanted his subservience, it turns out. It’s just like the story of Noah, only… Not. Even Non-Psycho Russell’s spirits are lifted by the rainbow, saying that the tribe weathered the storm together and now they’re stronger than ever. As you might imagine, this is still foreshadowing.
The world is spinning. It’s challenge time! There’s a table maze, human-sized rolling spheres and blindfolds. It looks like fun. Want to know what they’re playing for? Pizza. But there’s a twist! Win or lose, both tribes are going to Tribal Council and both tribes are voting somebody out. The winning tribe will also sit in on the losing tribe’s Tribal Council. This feels like a modification meant to keep Foa Foa from being entirely decimated. Although he’s weakened, Non-Psycho Russell insists on participating for Galu, taking responsibility for blindly pushing the orb. It’s hard work and even Jeff Probst notes that Non-Psycho Russell is getting tired. He completes the course, but Non-Psycho-Russell needs assistance getting to the table maze and then, in a terrifying, not-at-all-entertaining way, he passes out on the corner of the table. Jeff, finally aware that something is very wrong, stops the challenge and calls in medical, which arrives just in time for Russell to collapse again. Perfect time for a commercial break!
Hope you enjoyed those advertisements. Russell? Still not overwhelmingly conscious. He’s only semi-responsive as the docs take his blood pressure and Jeff gives everybody permission to take off their blindfolds. His blood pressure is low, but he keeps saying he’s good, not that he sounds good. Non-Psycho Russell’s blood pressure is even lower than Mike’s was when he got forced out of the game earlier this season. Jeff, showing Emmy-winning discretion, calls the challenge off. Neither tribe will win reward. But both tribes will still vote somebody out. So basically, they all got screwed out of pizza. Where’s the fairness in that? Jeff won’t make a call on Russell’s status, saying that if he’s still in the game, he’ll show up at Tribal Council.
This is wet and dull. As you might guess, Galu is shaken. Dave is already predicting Dave’s depature, a contention the Rocket Scientist echos. Galu’s shelter isn’t providing much shelter and without their leader, they’re adrift. This is not good television. Nobody has the time or the energy to strategize. They’re just unhappy. 
Blackout. Back at the challenge site, Non-Psycho Russell is getting water and oxygen, but at least he’s sitting up, admitting to being light-headed. Sitting up, though, is a mistake, as Russell goes out again. Does anybody else find something icky about “Survivor” choosing to give this moment musical accompaniment? I guess the producers figure that since they know Russell survived, it’s all good? Russell shakes out of this latest spell, but the doctor has seen enough. Jeff explains to Russell that he’s being pulled out. Russell still tries fighting, telling Jeff that his family depends on him. Jeff reassures him that he did everything he possibly could and that he played well. Tears are shed. Sadness abounds. Which must mean that it’s time for another commercial break.
Enough scary medical stuff, back to the game! There’s a shark in the water. And also, presumably, on land over at Foa Foa. Liz ridiculously declares that they had been close to winning when Russell had his accident and she doesn’t want to go to Tribal Council. Liz reckons she’s probably heading home, though Natalie guesses she’s the other alternative. The three guys in the tribe have all of the power and Russell is telling Natalie that the vote is going against Liz, or at least his vote is going against Liz. MickDreamy and Jaison are less convinced, or at least they’re less willing to discuss strategy. Jaison is also convinced Foa Foa was on its way to winning the previous challenge. Wasn’t he blindfolded at the time? Natalie thinks they still have hope if the Galuvians are willing to flip. 
Be consistent. Be be consistent. And speaking of the Galuvians, Monica doesn’t want to go home and she’s rounding up the other “90210” girls to make sure Shambo can’t raise a revolt against her. The negligible Laura agrees that Shambo’s the clear target. Shambo lobbies her case to the other women, touting her credentials as a firestarter and a wood gatherer. The other ladies nod appreciatively, though Monica blasts Shambo to her face for writing her name down at their one previous Tribal Council. This is the only reason Monica wants Shambo out. She’s bitter. Meanwhile, though, the four remaining Galu men agree that Monica is the weakest woman and that Shambo doesn’t have any sway. John fears the bond between Laura and Monica. They want to keep Shambo around, but they also don’t want Shambo to know that they want her around. They hint to Shambo that she would do well to be consistent. It’s a hilarious circle of riddles. They advise her to “lock it up.”
Tribal Council For Two. With 13 players sitting across from him, Jeff breaks the news that Non-Psycho Russell is gone. “It was the scariest moment I’ve ever had on the show,” Jeff tells them, before reassuring them that Russell is being monitored and he’s doing fine.  “If I was gonna beat him, I don’t wanna beat him like that,” Psycho Russell says of his dispatched foe. Dave and Erik agree this is the hardest think they’ve ever done. “I feel like I’m in solitary confinement for a crime I didn’t commit. And that is not anything that was advertised,” Erik says, voice cracking. In the background, we hear the thunder and the rain starts coming down again. Everybody looks skittish and miserable. Dave insists that despite the rain, Galu is ahead. “The attitude at Foa Foa is fine,” Russell says, warning that Galu will be shocked at future challenges. Foa Foa stands by the contention that they won the challenge, which Erik mocks as “a tie.” It’s here that Jeff cuts in and says that due to the unprecedented nature of the challenge, there will be no Tribal Council vote. Most people are happy, but Erik correctly says that Galu already lost one player and that it’s time to stop the bleeding. Only Remaining Russell predicts a string of Foa Foa victories from here out. Eric is incredulous, challenging Foa Foa to a game then and there, vowing to bring No Longer Remaining Russell’s spirit to every future obstacle. Jeff hands Russell’s leadership necklace to Galu and tells them to choose a new leader. 
Russell’s parting words: “To do it and fail is better than to never try.”
So what’d you think of this surprising episode? And why the heck did CBS decide to give away several major plotpoints from next week’s episode in the “Next Week on ‘Survivor'” montage?

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