Recap: ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’ – ‘It Don’t Take A Smart One’

Pre-credit sequence. Apparently nothing interesting happened when Stephanie arrived on Redemption Island, because Wednesday’s (March 30) “Survivor” begins with Team Formerly Russell returning to camp. Steve tries to patch things up between Dave and Sarita. Dave’s feeling no regrets about how bluntly he tore into Sarita at the previous Trival Council. For her part, Sarita thinks that David went over to The Dark Side with Stephanie, though she tries telling him how much respect she still has for him. Ugh. I wish Sarita had a backbone. Dave’s not interested in her platitudes and Steve is worried about unity. “Dave’s showing he can be a bit of an antagonist, but hopefully David can be man enough and put his ego and pride and emotions aside for the bigger cause of the team,” says Steve. “If not, there could be problems.”
[Full recap of Wednesday’s (March 30) “Survivor: Redemption Island” after the break…]
God is deeply invested in the Redemption Island Twist. Ah, now we’re over to Redemption Island. Stephanie and Matt are talking about their favorite foods. Well, Stephanie is talking about her favorite foods. Matt is not talking. He’s covering his face with his buff like a bandito and he’s ready to draw guns on his chatty new rival. “I really want to win this one,” Matt admits, informing us that he’s willing to stay on Redemption Island as long as God wants him there. God, I suspect, has other things to worry about.
According to Iron Chef Miyamoto Musashi… Phillip decides it’s his turn to go to Redemption Island to witness another Duel and Rob volunteers to go along with the Former Federal Agent. This is smart of Rob, who doubtlessly senses that Phillip is still hurt by the clue-hiding debacle of the previous Reward. Phillip, who struggled with the name “Francesca” earlier in the season, has no trouble dropping “Miyamoto Musashi,” in quoting from “The Book of Five Rings.” The wisdom he’s gleaned from Musashi is “let your enemy move first,” which Phillip describes as Rob’s weakness. Rob, Phillip tells us, likes to be extremely controlling. “Nobody’s controlling me,” Phillip declares. The admiration is mutual. Of Phillip, Rob says, “He’s dangerous because of his stupidity. He’s probably the most unaware person I’ve met in my entire life.”
So long and thanks for the Memory. Team Formerly Rob has sent Dave and Ralph to bear witness in Redemption Island Arena. Matt has now spent 12 nights on Redemption Island and Jeff Probst says that this Duel is basically a straight-forward game of Memory. The first player to match five symbols wins. Stephanie wins the coin flip and decides to let Matt go first, which is exactly the right play in this circumstance. Unfortunately for Stephanie, Matt matches a pair of skulls. “Unreal,” Probst says. “Golden Boy,” Stephanie grumbles. But Matt isn’t the only golden one, as Stephanie matches a pair of crocodiles on her first turn. In no time, Matt’s lead grows to 4-2. Stephanie briefly closes the lead to 4-3, but Matt matches two war clubs to win his fifth consecutive Duel. BOO. Sad Recapper. “I feel like there are people who don’t deserve to be here,” Stephanie says, before telling Ralph that he needs to get rid of Sarita. Figuring that this will be her last shot at TV time, Stephanie also advises Rob to watch his back. Rob nods politely, as if he’d never considered that he might be viewed as a threat. Stephanie tosses her buff on the fire and leaves, but Jeff has already forgotten about her, he’s so overwhelmed by his man-crush on Matt. Jeff isn’t the only one in Matt’s thrall. Phillip, who seems to have switched on his “Japanese” setting today, tells Matt that he is a samurai warrior. Rob has taken the temperature of the room and he knows that Phillip is just waiting for the Merge to make a big move and get him out.
Sandra Bullock has her next Oscar vehicle. As they return to camp, Phillip asks Rob if he wants to withhold information about the Duel. Rob hastily assures Phillip that this isn’t the time to start keeping secrets and then reassures us that this was the moment he was waiting for. Back at camp, he spills everything, including Stephanie’s warning to him. “I want everybody to know that the target’s on me so that they feel safe, number one, and, number two, I need to keep everyone else against Phillip,” Rob explains to us, waiting for Phillip to leave before telling everybody about Phillip’s willingness to keep secrets. Rob’s prepared for his team to lose, so that he can make his move. “There won’t be any blindsides. I’ll go right up to Phillip, when he asks me who to vote for and I’ll say, ‘You know what, Phillip? You’re going home. I’ll frontside him,” Rob says proudly.
What do you call one lawyer on the wrong side of a “Survivor” alliance? A good start! HAHAHAHA. Huh? Back at Team Formerly Russell, Ralph and Dave are having a disagreement over how much Stephanie laid into them. Ralph is impressed with Matt, telling his alliance that Matt is unlikely to flip on his tribe and, not only that, but that he can sense Dave ready to flip. “He’s a lawyer. You’ve  gotta look at them that way. They think they’re a lot better than everybody else,” Ralph instructs us. It’s true. Dave really does think that he’s better than everybody else, at least when it comes to proper fishing time. Suddenly everybody hates Dave. Sarita, so smiley and insincerely kind to everybody, wants to punch him in the face. He’s making Julie sick. “David, he might be smart, but it don’t take a smart to win this game. It just takes somebody that knows how to renuber around and play the ball,” Ralph informs us, before adding that Dave’s got to go. 
Me wants it. The CRISPY. MY PRECIOUS CRISPY! Team Rob is eating rice and preparing for a challenge. It comes out that Rob loves the crispy rice at the bottom and Natalie is saving it for her hero. Phillip decides to stir up trouble by requesting some crispy stuff for himself. The girls stand up against Phillip, as he rants and raves about his desire for The Crispy. “Rob, Rob, Rob,” says Phillip, doing his best Jan Brady. Oh, but this is more than just The Crispy that’s eating at Phillip. “Just because they sleep in his underwear each night — that’s not speaking figuratively, that’s literally, they’re sharing his underwear, the girls, his socks, his bed — so they want to pay him deference on everything. Let it be known, the first opportunity I have to eliminated him, I WILL,” Phillip declares, fire in his eyes. Meanwhile, Rob’s Zombies (as Kristina called them) giggle with Rob about Phillips audacity in demanding The Crispy. But Phillip isn’t done. He’s ranting again about his “red-headed stepchild treatment.” His rant continues. And continues. And continues. Phillip has now become Gollum.
My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose. Immunity is up for grabs, as it usually is. It’s a series of obstacles that lead to the collection of balls, balls that then have to be shot into a hoop. There’s also a Reward. Want to know what they’re playing for? The winning tribe will get a picnic and a helicopter ride. Why do I feel like we’ve seen this exact same challenge already this season? Jeff Probst likes yelling “Balls.” Rob struggles to unleash his second bag of balls, ceding his tribe’s large lead. Phillip isn’t helping matters by struggling to get through each obstacle, requiring Rob’s assistance. Team Formerly Russell has a big lead as the time comes to shoot baskets. But when you have Grant and balls, you’re never out of a race. Grant single-handedly keeps Team Rob in the challenge and wins it for them. Grant is a Master of Balls. What’s their secret? Phillip has the answer! “Some tribes advance boldly. Weak tribes grow agitated. But superior tribes, like ours, we find a way to win. And we did.”
Boston Rob vs. The Volcano. Everybody loves a helicopter ride on “Survivor.” Team Rob is high-fiving up a storm as they arrive at a volcano crater. Even Rob is impressed with this experience. Grant jokes about falling into the volcano. Then everybody eats. Somehow, even Phillip is feeling like he’s part of the group. “Right now I’m on top of the Earth,” Phillip says. But it’s not a Reward without Rob doing something ridiculous to capture the Immunity Idol clue. In this case, he spots a jar of cookies, realizes that they’re cylindrical and takes it upon himself to pass out the cookies until he finds the clue hidden in the middle. “It really doesn’t matter what it says, because I already have the Idol. So…” Rob turns and whips the clue into the volcano crater. Best. Moment. Of. The. Season. [Did we see if they enforced the “No alcohol” rule with 19-year-old Natalie?]
Oh, *now* Ralph done respects Dave? “That certainly sucked,” grumbles Mike, as Team Formerly Russell returns to camp. He feels a merge looking and the Marine is less than excited. With Sarita and Mike leading the charge, the core alliance agrees that David has to be voted out next. “He’s a loose cannon,” Sarita whines. Sarita, who can barely do anything physical in challenges is suddenly very energetic when it comes to mobilizing people to vote for somebody who isn’t her. She finds a stubborn outlier in Ralph, who says “He done great,” referring to Dave’s challenge performance. Dave’s working extra-hard around camp and don’t think that Alpha Males Steve and Mike aren’t noticing. Poor Ralph is utterly flummoxed as Steve and Mike try to convince him to keep Dave. It comes down to Trust vs. Puzzle-Making. “We need to figure a way out of this tailspin,” Mike says.
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst begins by asking what went wrong, but when Ralph starts muttering about how close they were, the Emmy-winning host interrupts and gives Dave a Mad-Lib. “Excuses are for…” Now if you play Mad-Libs the way I do, the answer is “Excuses are for boogers.” But Dave says “losers” instead. “I’m a loser then,” Ralph agrees. Julie admits to bad karma in the aftermath of their Russell-booting challenge throw. Dave explains that they used to have unity back when they all agreed that they hated Russell, but now they just aren’t as cohesive as Team Rob. Ralph doesn’t know what “cohesive” means. After Jeff tries explaining, Ralph says he’d rather have a team where everybody disagrees, because they work harder. Now it’s time for Sarita and David to snipe at each other. David makes lots of “disgusted” faces. Sarita keeps smiling and making all Stepford Wife. Boy, I hate Sarita.
The Vote. Sarita writes Dave’s name down. Dave writes Sarita’s name down. Jeff tallies: Sarita. David. David. Sarita. Sarita. Sarita! “Oh my God. I wish I’d brought my stuff,” Sarita says, blindsided.
Bottom Line: This has to have been the wrong vote, right? Even if you didn’t watch the “Scenes from next week’s episode…” you have to assume that a merge is coming and that if you’re already down in numbers as you approach a merge, you want to hold onto the useless person who you know won’t flip over the semi-useful person who’s bound to walk over and give Rob a big hug the second the tribes come together. Right? And yet I’m glad that David survived, both because he’s a semi-interesting contestant, but also because “Survivor” had been in a long run of 100 percent foregone conclusion votes since Rob orchestrated the Matt blindside. And look how that’s working out. Matt is surrounded by a Ring of Jesus Fire and he’s unstoppable. It’s my sincere hope that Stephanie won’t have imbibed the Matt Kool-Aide in her brief sojourn on Redemption Island and that maybe she’ll be an interesting interview tomorrow. I’m determined to find out one bad thing about Matt. Otherwise, this was a more-of-the-same episode. More crazy Phillip! Dude, The Crispy! More self-amused Rob! Dude, tossing the clue into a volcano? That’s badass. At least Rob has that Idol. It won’t last him long, but if people turn on him, he’s got that.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode? Excited for next week?