Pre-credit sequence. Welcome to the season’s penultimate episode of “Survivor: Russell,” featuring Russell, Shambo and a group of other people. Oh and some guy named Brett, who suddenly became really important last week after not opening his mouth for the first 31 days in Samoa. Monica has just been eliminated. It’s night 33. And for some reason, Brett is doing the grossest thing I can imagine, massaging Shambo’s mullet. She keeps moaning. It’s really unfortunate. Meanwhile, Brett is celebrating being the Last True Galu. Russell knows that Brett still has to go, since there are too many Galus on the jury.
Recap: ‘Survivor: Samoa’ – ‘Two Brains Are Better Than One’
Proper Mullet Maintenance. Brett is quoting from Ephesians. I don’t know why. But Natalie’s digging on his scripture. I can’t tell if he’s thinking he wants to sleep with Natalie, ally with Natalie or go door-to-door selling Bibles with her after this is over. It appears that he’s hopping to do a little of each. But back to Shambo’s hair, which she insists needs to be cut. “She should shave that ho-head,” Russell cracks. “Mullet went out in the ’70s.” He accuses Shambo of hiding large quantities of food in her hair, including peanuts and coconuts and banana. Ick.
God is deeply invested in “Survivor.” In two teams of three, the players have to do some task involving pulling ropes and keeping coconuts from falling. Want to know what they’re playing for? It’s time for the season’s anthropological reward, specifically the feast with villagers. Russell and Natalie are captains. Natalie selects Brett first, while Russell takes Jaison. Natalie adds MickDreamy, meaning that Shambo’s last and joins Russell. At Jeff Probst’s prodding, Shambo admits that her hair is “Shambolicious” and she’s had it since 1986. Nothing Shambo says anymore makes any sense. It’s all a combination of Marine cheers and ’70s pop songs. As Brett, Natalie and Mick bond as Prayer Warriors, Russell’s beginning to be concerned. Something is working for the Prayer Warriors, as Natalie’s team gets out to a huge early lead. Mick, apparently not a Prayer Warrior brings things closer, but the Island Gods love Mick compared to Jaison, who single-handedly drops 47 coconuts. Natalie posits that God has supported her, at least until she drops 58 coconuts in one pull. God actually appears to favor Russell, who in a key moment pulls a rope without dropping a single coconut. Can Prayer Warrior Brett keep his team in the game? No. He cannot. God chooses Russell’s team.
Jaison gets jiggy. Jaison hasn’t been on a reward all season, so he’s initially reserved about this opportunity. Or he’s reserved until he sees the shellfish, the pig and the noble natives, drumming and juggling flames just for their entertainment. Russell tears into the food with the appetite of a dozen natives. He’s especially pleased that Brett and Mick will be hungry and dehydrated for the next challenge. A seemingly hammered Shambo proposes a toast to the people of Samoa and then falls on her back. As the music swells, Jaison rises and announces, “I’ve been fortified by the power of food and I’m about to get jiggy with it.” Sadly, Jaison’s getting jiggy is every bit as pathetic as you might guess.
Look at that S Car Go. Back at camp, Brett proposes that they should go get snails and chill on the beach, eat snails and watch the sunset. My boy Brett knows how to party. “I don’t play this game overly aggressively,” admits Brett. We know, man. Suddenly, though, Brett is something of a Chatty Cathy, going on and on about the Foa Foa infiltrators. Natalie is happy with Brett, but she’s been tied to Russell since Day One. “It’s the hardest thing to balance your heart and your head,” she observes.
Pillow talk with Shambo. Back at the Reward, Shambo and Russell and Jaison have pillows, sheets and a mattress and Shambo is pretending to be a seven-year-old. They’re having childlike fun until Jaison asks about Natalie’s quick selection of Brett before the Reward. Russell is planning to spend two hours taking to Natalie when they get back to camp, or that’s what he tells them. In truth, he says he’s certain that Natalie is secure. Russell makes it clear that the next person out has to be either Brett… or MickDreamy.
Security exchange. The next morning, the tribe is reunited and Russell tries to make sure that Natalie is secure. He also throws out Mick as a secondary option for elimination. “I’m in control of it all,” Russell gloats. Natalie is confident that Russell’s being truthful with her and that she’s been truthful with him. Their goal is still to get Brett out first. “There’s gonna be no argument…” Russell says of Brett. He’s a little punk. He’s 110 pounds. He’s not faster than me. He’s not stronger than me.” He says several other things, but who can really keep up? Russell talks a lot.
Counting on Immunity. It’s a fun challenge for Immunity. There are a number of objects, including pigs, crabs, octopi and fish. Contestants have to remember the number of each object and then combine the numbers to open a lock. There are six stations. Each lock has a different combination. In the pouring rain, Mick begins work on his combination first, followed quickly by Jaison and Russell. “We got a race,” Jeff yells. Several contestants get their combinations wrong as the challenge goes from interesting to monotonous almost instantly. Brett’s combination is correct. Again, Immunity goes to Brett. Jaison knows that Russell wants Mick out, but he’s turned on Shambo. Meanwhile, I’m confused: Why would God want Brett to win Immunity, but not Reward? How fickle!
Suspicious minds. There’s a rainbow. And a red bird. And a coconut with a knife stuck in it. I’m not sure what that means. Jaison pulls Russell aside and says that his vote is Shambo. At just that moment, Shambo walks up and Jaison turns away, raising Shambo’s suspicions. Russell is caught off guard and has to scramble and scrambling Russell makes Shambo nervous. She’s sure that she’s contributed enough to be safe, but she doesn’t think anybody is beyond the chopping block. It turns out that Shambo also has bad breath, something Russell brings up with MickDreamy. “We ain’t buddy-buddy,” Russell says of Shambo, which surprises MickDreamy. We’ve now reached the point at which everybody is suspicious of everything said by everybody else. Russell explains that if he keeps Shambo, she won’t write his name down, she sucks at challenges and she won’t get any votes for the million bucks. Russell’s wearing his Immunity Necklace to Tribal Council, just for fun. Because he’s cocky like that.
Tribal Council. The jury enters, looking clean and content and Galuvian. Jeff brings up Shambo’s betrayals almost immediately. Russell explains that we’ve moved into the End Phase of the game, which comes down to who will get the most votes for the million bucks. Jaison raises the possibility of Brett sweeping the jury. “My strategy is just win the next few Immunity challenges like I’ve won the last two,” Brett says. MickDreamy insists he’s played as aggressively strategic a game as Russell and that he’ll be pissed off if he’s voted out. Russell pretends that his vote tonight will be “pretty tough.”
The vote. Mick writes Shambo’s name down. Shambo writes Mick’s name down. Shocking. It’s the last night for Russell to play his Idol and he says, “You know what, Jeff? I think I’m going to keep it for a souvenir.” The first two votes are split between Shambo and Mick. The next three go against Shambo. I will not miss Shambo. On the jury, Danger Dave rolls his eyes. In the end, Jeff and Brett share a moment. It’s a dimple thing. In her exit interview, Shambo is almost hilariously gracious, saying that Foa Foa just stuck together, as they should.
Don’t forget, kids. Sunday (Dec. 20) is finale night. I’ll be there. Unless I forget.
Did the Foa Foa alliance make the right vote? Should they have turned on MickDreamy? And what do you think of Jaison steering the vote?