When Steve walked into the Redemption Island camp, his excuse for why he got voted off was “I just didn’t want to go back there tonight.” You know, because it was totally up to him.
Now that Zapatera is totally gone, Ometepe is going to have to start eating itself. It doesn’t seem like any of these players (except Rob, and perhaps Phillip) even entertained the possibility of having to turn on their own alliance. Andrea actually commented on how excited she was to start playing the game. News flash, Andrea: you should have been playing all along.
I’m seeing shades of Koror here. Back in Palau (season 10), a few really strong players carried their entire tribe to the endgame. This meant a lot of cool players from the other tribe were ejected by the mid-game, and that there was a lot of dead weight going into the final act. Ometepe, as Koror, is full of players who got where they are without having to lift a finger.
The middle of this episode was filled with the same tearful family reunions we get every time this season. Natalie cries “hormone tears”, Mike laments that he had more contact with his family during his military service than here on Survivor… blah blah blah. Then it’s on to a four-person redemption duel.
Steve, who is utterly spent in the physical, mental and emotional sense of the word — as well as a few other senses I’m forgetting about — loses the challenge quite handily, and is sent to the jury. It was at least a little interesting to see the redemption “duel” has evolved into a full-blown challenge, complete with reward. Probst commented on the “first ever four person duel”, which isn’t strictly correct, considering there is a four-player free-for-all challenge at the end of every season. Still, the game is shifting.
Mike won the duel in any case. (Matt and Ralph, who neither won nor lost, were at least not sent to the jury.) He was then presented a choice: he could spend time with his loved one, or let Matt and Ralph spend time with theirs, or let everyone back in the regular game have theirs.
He took the safe option, giving Rob and his gang some love. Lots of Jesus talk. He swears this wasn’t a strategic move, but I’m not stupid enough to buy that, and in any case it’s not enough to win him any points with Rob. Every single season these family reunions are touted as having some kind of emotional impact on the game, yet every single season they completely fail to make any changes to the game state. Mike was already out on Redemption Island; he may as well brought his mom back (or whoever it was, I forget) and at least had that one day.
The immunity challenge was an incredibly physical challenge which involved lugging heavy planks up a huge staircase. Rob just about killed himself at this challenge. After he won, he flopped onto the ground like a dead fish, crying out for water. He wasn’t even able to stand on his own legs for a few minutes. Come to think of it, he worked himself to the point of physical exhaustion in Heroes vs. Villains, too, didn’t he?
Maybe that’s the benchmark for how committed you can be in this game. Everyone goes into their confessionals and talks about “giving 110%”. Rob is one of the few players who actually means it.
Ometepe then enters its scrambling phase, which… ah… didn’t really involve much scrambling. Every player felt totally safe from the vote, and was totally confident some other player was getting blindsided. Unfortunately, someone had to get shafted, and that player was Andrea.
“Oh my god,” she said. Simply stunned. Looks like that’s how all the rest of the votes are going to fall out this season.
Musing: nobody has discussed or even thought about the hidden idol in quite a long time. Aren’t any of these players even the slightest bit curious? It’s not even coming up in strategy discussions anymore! The reason for this, of course, is that all the players are sucking at Rob’s teat — and he’s got the idol. If he doesn’t bring it up, they won’t think about it, and he’s got no reason to bring it up. Q.E.D.
Who’s gonna win? My prediction is as solid as it is boring: Rob. They’re at five now, so this is Ometepe’s chance to remove him if they want — but they won’t. There are only two ways he loses this game: (1) the redemption comeback makes it to the finals with him, or (2) Zapatera has such a heavy case of sour grapes they deny his jury votes for sheer spite. Some juries are like that, but I don’t think this one is; Mike and Ralph and them are all lame players, but they are solid dudes. I think Rob can sway them with a “look how hard I played” argument.