Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, week eight

(Late update! Tried to get this typed up my first hour at the office, but wouldn’t ya know they had actual work for me? Oh well!)

Just typical early-in-the-episode stuff, up until the reward challenge. The challenge itself was bowling, and the Heroes won easily. But two interesting things happened which changed the game up.

First: Colby made a comment about Boston Rob being gone: “Looks like a women’s alliance.”

Second: Coach insisted on Sandra and Courtney sitting out of the reward challenge.

Thing the First manifested in extra confidence for Russell: he believes that the Heroes will come directly to him after the merge, looking to flip someone. And why not? They believe it’s a women’s alliance, and he’s one ugly ass woman.

Thing the Second manifested itself as such: Sandra caught some fire from Jerri, and Sandra retaliated by gunning at Coach.

Hm… let me back up a little bit.

The Villains have been losing hardcore since they started voting off their tough guys. Losing Tyson was bad enough; losing Rob was a real blow. Sandra and Courtney are the tribe’s weakest players, for sure. It’s against the rules to sit players out of back-to-back challenges, so having the two weakest players sit out of reward meant they had to play for immunity.

In short, Coach wanted to gamble away immunity for a shot at pizza… and lost both.

Sandra is the type of player who does absolutely nothing until her hand is forced… but her plays can be devastating. She’s good at manipulating the big egos, and why not? She learned her game alongside Rupert, Burton and Fairplay. So when she saw she was in trouble, and nudged the tribe towards Coach instead, she took care of it in a way that can’t really be traced back to her.

Sandra convinced Russell that Coach was gunning for him, and he bought it. Simplified version: Sandra manipulated Russell. That’s… that’s big news.

Let us not forget that Sandra played the entire game too — and won. She’s one-up on Russell as far as the track record goes.

There was a little spat between Russell and Danielle that may or may not be a thang. If it is, I’ll note it next week; otherwise I’d rather just ignore it.

Over on Hero Beach, J.T. found the immunity idol… but Amanda caught him. Whoops. He covered his blunder by sharing it with the tribe. I think Candice is the first Hero to really see J.T. for the player he is: a slimy liar who will trample anyone he has to in order to win. This, likewise, may or may not be a thang.

Back in Villaintown, Sandra’s ploy worked and Coach is (hallelujah!) gone. First juror, too, which suggests to me we’ll have three finalists and nine jurors.

Who’s gonna win? I’ve been nominating Russell and J.T. the entire game, and for good reason. But Russell now has an advantage J.T. doesn’t: J.T. and the rest of the Heroes believe they can flip him, which means approaching him with their plans just after the merge. Russell can then swing those plans right back around and dismantle the Hero alliance instead.

However, now that Sandra’s armor is gone we’re going to see her step it up. I don’t know how deep her colors run, but she and Rupert were extremely tight back in Pearl Islands. Sandra is very persuasive and Rupert is very gullible. If she plays him a little post-merge, she could flip Russell’s own strategy against him and secure her spot in the Heroes alliance. That’s where she wants to be anyway.

I can’t wait for the merge, and my picks now are Russell or Sandra.

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