Pre-credit sequence. I miss you, Amanda! I’m not sure if anybody else does, but still… Are the Heroes on the verge of a total Pagong-ing? It sure looks as if things are heading that way. It’s Night 30 as the remaining castaways return to the Yin Yang camp. Jerri’s grateful to Candice for joining their alliance at Tribal Council that evening, but she’s distrustful of anybody who would switch that easily. Rupert is even more unhappy with the flip-flopping Candice. He calls her a “pitiful player” and says that Candice belonged on the Villains tribe, declaring, “Colby and I are standing on a sinking ship now. There are no other Heroes.”
[After Thursday’s (May 6) “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” would there be any true Heroes left? Click through…]
Rupert, the Great and Powerful. The next morning, birds fly and bats nap. And bananas fail to ripen. Ah, nature. Russell is dismissive of Colby and Rupert who don’t want to talk to him. Again, Rupert is the most outspoken Hero, announcing that Russell is worse than Johnny Fairplay. Over breakfast, Rupert calls Russell a disgusting human being, particularly for his decision to swear on the lives of his kids. Rupert knows that he’s pretty much doomed, but he wants to stir up Villain discord before he goes. Russell tries to explain to Rupert that it’s all part of the game. Russell takes “the great, powerful Rupert” to task, calling him a dumbass and telling the camera that Rupert had better get his tie-dye ready to go home.
Splash Zone. The players arrive for the next challenge and they’re unnerved to discover that it’s not a Reward Challenge. Immunity is, again, up for grabs. It’s the challenge where players have to stand on platforms with their arms over their heads, attached to buckets of water. Parvati is a previous winner at this challenge, though she did it without the new precarious perch. Meanwhile, Jeff has food and he wants to temp them. Jeff has a covered tray and Sandra and Russell both step down after a single minute without seeing the food. They’re rewarded with cookies and milk. After 20 minutes, another tray comes out, this one holding four donuts and an iced coffee. Colby quits for donuts and is doused in green liquid (“Ninja Turtle style,” Candice says). After another 15 minutes, Danielle, Candice and Jerri quit in exchange for peanut butter and jelly, chips, candy and milk. That means that after only 35 minutes, we’re down to Rupert and Parvati. After 70 minutes, Rupert teeters, slips and falls. He’s displeased, grumbling to Jeff, “I could have made it hours. So I go home tonight.” But there’s a TWIST. There’s a hidden Immunity Idol and Jeff reads the clue to everybody. It’s something about a burning bush and a rock. Russell practically has the thing in his pocket already.
Rupert adjusts his bulge. The players reach camp and the race is on for burning bushes and the crucial Immunity Idol. While the players target one big red bush, Sandra targets another and quickly uncovers the Idol. She rehides her Idol and decides to use it for herself. With the Idol seemingly unfound, Rupert decides to bluff. He puts a rock in his pocket, something big enough to look dangly. “Rupert has a big bulky thing in his pocket,” Russell says, noticing Rupert’s bulge. He decides they’re going to split votes. Sandra hears Russell’s paranoid theory and decides to keep quite and nod politely. The Villain women discuss the vote splitting. Danielle’s ready to ditch Colby, but Jerri wants Candice out. But Colby has a plan. He approaches Rupert and says that if they both vote against Candice and that’s the way the Villains choose to split, they could get rid of the snake. I’m at least somewhat intrigued.
Tribal Council #1. Rupert begins Tribal Council by stripping Candice of her Hero title. Candice protests that the numbers were already there. “I have no respect for the excuses,” Colby says, telling Candice to own up to scurrying from the sinking ship. Russell disagrees and says it was a good move and he pretty much tells Jeff that Rupert is going home. Asked about the Immunity Idol, Rupert just coyly tells a story of going into the jungle and not returning until he was comfortable. Whether he’s talking of finding an Idol or moving his bowels, nobody can be sure.
The Vote #1. Colby writes Candice’s name down and spits out, “I can honestly say I’m proud of the way I played this game, can you?” Candice writes Rupert’s name and say something stupid about how her mother always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all. Jeff asks if anybody has an Idol they want to play. Rupert feels his bulge and remains seated. NICE. The votes: [After a commercial break.] Rupert. Rupert. Rupert. Candice. Candice. [We knew those three votes.] Candice. Candice. [Parvati is amused. Rupert is relieved.] Candice. [Big smiles from Colby and Parvati.] Oooh, that’s some tasty karma. Jeff attempts to make this into a teachable moment. Candice whines that she got thrown under the bus, but she knows that her risky move backfired. And even she knows that karma’s a bitch.
Russell admits confusion. It’s dark as they return to camp. “We just blew it,” Russell admits, calling it a terrible decision by the girls to focus on Candice rather than Colby. He at least partially admits that he should have been more dictatorial in steering the votes. The women all try to convince Russell that this minor setback doesn’t matter. “I’m not fully in control of this game now,” Russell confesses, but he promises to reclaim control.
Peg Leg. It’s time for another Immunity Challenge. It involves running, digging and a peg maze in the first segment, wall-climbing in the second segment, followed by a slide puzzle at the end. Rupert, Sandra, Russell, Parvati and Candice move on from the first leg. Russell, Rupert and Parvati reach the top of the wall first. Can Rupert possibly win a mental challenge against Russell and Parvati? Well, no. Rupert puts up a good fight, but Russell wins Immunity. “I have to believe in myself, because just the lie of a rock in your pocket is not going to save you tonight,” Rupert mutters.
Russell outsmarts himself. Or maybe he outsmarts everybody else. More clouds. And then rain. And lightning. Yuck. The weather back at camp stinks. Parvati thinks that Rupert dug his own grave and she looks forward to a world without Heroes. Parvati makes the case to Danielle and Russell that Rupert has to go out first. Russell, though, is concerned that Danielle and Parvati appear to be a team and he wants no part of that. He pulls Danielle aside and says that neither of them can beat Parvati and that it may be time to vote her out. Then he goes to Parvati and says that Danielle approached him and said that she wanted to vote Parvati out at the Top 5 or Top 6. It’s unclear what his goal is other than to mess with both of their games. Somewhat shadily, Parvati tells Russell she wants to talk to Danielle about this situation, which is the last thing he wants. He bullies her and finally gets passive aggressive. Parvati’s head is turned around, but she approaches Danielle and tells her what Russell said. They’re very much hoes before bros and they agree not to believe Russell. Meanwhile, Russell goes to Colby and Rupert, who are amused and confused, but also willing to go along with anything. Parvati thinks Russell’s going crazy because he’s being outplayed by both of the women. Suddenly, Jerri is the swing vote. Parvati and Danielle warn Jerri not to change her vote, while Russell tells Jerri that if she doesn’t swing to his side, she’ll be out next. Ack. Chaos. Which way will the vote go?
Tribal Council #2. Jeff begins by asking the castaways who’s running the show. Rupert says it’s either Russell or Parvati, but Danielle disagrees, saying that the Villains are in agreement. Jerri disagrees again, saying that it’s not a big happy family. Danielle backs down from her show of unity by describing the day’s craziness with the help of Parvati. Russell stands by his lie, even as Danielle yells, “Liar! Liar!” With Parvati sitting between them, yelling and confusion ensues. Danielle breaks into tears wondering why Russell is testing her. “I can’t believe I’m crying,” Danielle bawls, as Russell rolls his eyes. On the jury, Courtney looks ready to run over and beat Russell upside the head. Then, Danielle does it. She ends her argument with Russell by telling him, “I’m closer to Parvati than you think.” Ooopsie. Russell glowers and mouthes “Danielle” to Jerri. Yikes. That was cutthroat.
Vote #2. Parvati writes Rupert’s name down. Russell writes Danielle’s name down. “I have absolutely no idea what just happened, but with this vote, I’m sealing my fate,” Jerri says, writing down her unseen vote. Jeff prepares to read the votes: Rupert. Rupert. Rupert. Danielle. Danielle. Danielle. [Danielle goes slack-jawed.] The final vote: DANIELLE. “That’s messed up,” Parvati tells Russell. Jeff makes another teachable moment. “Russell is insane and I might have put my own foot in my mouth at Tribal Council,” Danielle tells the camera, suspecting
Bottom Line: That was a surprisingly awesome episode. What began looking like a straight-forward Rupert-Colby double-elimination was torn asunder by a rock in Rupert’s pocket and by Russell’s paranoia. And instead of the two most predictable Heroes going home, we eliminated both of my betting-line favorites to win the whole thing. Fun! Candice obviously blew it last week. She said that she switched because there was no point in going down with the sinking ship, but instead her vote didn’t matter and she put a target on her chest. Dumb. As for Danielle? That was a major Tribal Council gaffe. Do we figure that Russell really went into Tribal Council prepared to vote Rupert and that he changed his mind at that moment? Or did he just use that moment to convince Jerri of the dangers of the Parvati-Danielle alliance? Either way? Great TV. And since Danielle and Candice were never All-Stars in my book, I’m perfectly happy to see them both go.
The ongoing Russell question: The pre-episode recap raved about all of the blindsides Russell had seemingly orchestrated. It didn’t mention pesky details like how Sandra was really the one behind Coach’s ouster and that she played Russell like a fiddle. Or that Russell has been out of the loop on at least half of the recent evictions. He looked like a fool last week when he wasted an Idol and he looked like a fool this week when he fixated on a bulge in Rupert’s pocket. And in the second vote, he successfully broke up an alliance that *would* eventually have beaten him. But did he make that move too soon? And did he make it in a way that alienated too many other players?
Last point: Sandra’s looking pretty great suddenly. She has an Idol that nobody knows or even suspects she has. She’s watched an alliance that would have turned on her disintegrate. And she probably still has some modicum of Colby and Rupert’s trust, should she want to form a moveable three-person voting block. She was basically the one person who could have found the Idol, kept it secret and also silently played along with Rupert’s ruse. I’m becoming increasingly impressed.
What’d you think of this week’s “Survivor”? Who’s in control? Who’s out of control?