Survivor: Redemption Island (episode seven)

Survivor: Redemption Island

This episode opened with Zapatera still, still! not learning their lessons. Immediately after tribal council, Steve conducts a nighttime confessional in which he talks about how badly he wants Dave to set aside his ego and pride, and be a team player. Of course, he does nothing about his own ego and pride.

The episode overall was rather dull. The immunity challenge was pretty tense, but other than that there were no major surprises or switch-ups. God helped Matt win his fifth duel, sending the final Stephanie-shaped traces of Russell away from the game for good. Before her exit she lectured Ralph and Dave (who came to witness the duel) on the importance of winning challenges. Ralph didn’t seem to understand what she was talking about.

It’s worth noting that Stephanie, too, broke down a little after losing the duel to Matt. It’s heartbreaking to see this tribe full of scrubs take out players whose boots they aren’t fit to lick. I know, I know… that’s the design of the game. It just falls that way sometimes. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Over on Ometepe, Phillip wants special treatment because he’s the oldest tribe member. He had a little meltdown with the girls about crispy rice. He went through his little song and dance about how resentful he is of Rob’s position on the tribe, and how Rob had better watch his back etc. It’s cute, isn’t it? These players are so bulletproof in their confessionals, where they aren’t beholden to anyone but the cameraman and the home audience.

In the actual game, though? I don’t see how Phillip could possibly eliminate Rob in any pre-merge scenario. Rob keeps the girls giggling, lazy and utterly blind — just how he likes them. Phillip yells at them about sunbathing, tells them to gather firewood, and wants to hog all the tribe’s delicious, precious crispy rice. Where are these anti-Rob votes going to come from?

This is not the first time we’ve seen a player like this. Phillip is absolutely right: if Ometepe were a for-real jungle tribe, he would be top dog simply by virtue of his age. His tribemates would revere and respect him, and would shower him with praise and all the crispy he could eat. Phillip’s personal hang-up is that he cannot figure out why this isn’t already happening. The answer is pretty obvious, though: Ometepe is not a jungle tribe. Ometepe is a team on a game show.

Coach had this same issue, as did Rupert before him. Coach viewed the game as a battlefield, and himself as the greatest warrior to walk upon it. Rupert viewed the game as a personal adventure that nobody could take from him. Both of them were dumbfounded when they were removed from the game by a combination of deception and trickery. Coach was eliminated by people who weren’t warriors, and Rupert was eliminated by people who weren’t adventurers.

Phillip is going to be eliminated by people who aren’t jungle tribesman. He can talk all day long about the Way of Bushido, or his freaky gorilla tattoos, or how patriotic his stint with the FBI made him. In Survivor a vote cast by a dumb giggling girl carries exactly as much weight as one cast by a dragonslayer, or a fearsome pirate, or a bold tribe elder. This is the lesson the good players over on Zapatera have been learning the entire game.

About Zapatera, then! Remember last episode when they had to choose between strength or trust, and they chose trust? Well, it turns out trust doesn’t mean half a dick in intense, physically-demanding obstacle course challenges. Sarita dragged ass the entire way through the challenge, only to lose in a photo finish. Had the tribe eliminated her instead of Stephanie their lead would have been large enough that Ometepe couldn’t make a comeback. Just like that, Zapatera’s numbers advantage is gone.

Ometepe’s challenge win sends them to the mouth of an active volcano for a huge feast. Rob once again finds the hidden immunity clue, presumably because nobody else on his tribe cares enough to look for it. He pitched it into the volcano. Truly a man after my own heart!

Zapatera’s tribal council was pretty brutal. Sarita wants to eliminate Dave, Dave wants to eliminate Sarita, and Zapatera finds themselves in the same trust vs. strength situation as before. Sarita was getting so desperate at one point that she began making mutually exclusive cases for why her tribe should keep her. See if you can spot the logical error in these arguments:

  1. “Dave hasn’t actually been doing that good at challenges. I can do anything Dave can do.”
  2. “We’re not actually voting Dave out, because I think he can beat Matt in the redemption duel. So he’ll be back.”

Oh, Sarita.

Two final tribal council notes. First, Ralph is still a fucking idiot. He doesn’t know what the word “cohesive” means. Jesus Christ. This guy, man. This guy here. I don’t even know about this guy. He revels in his stupidity. I want him gone more than any other player. Not only that, I want him removed in a way that highlights his ignorance in a way that is clear, concise and totally undeniable even to his tiny walnut brain. On national television, I want this man declared legally, medically, certifiably retarded.

And second, Steve went back to the old mantra bout betrayal. About how, by voting for Sarita at the previous council, Dave betrayed them all. Maybe that’s true, but isn’t it also true that Sarita betrayed the tribe by performing so badly at the challenge they lost their overwhelming lead? Is betrayal something that must be consciously done? More importantly, is the difference between the two at all important in the game of Survivor?

In the end, Zapatera did the right thing and dumped Sarita. So much for trust and loyalty, eh Steve? Unfortunately, they did it two votes too late. Next episode is the merge, and Ometepe is going to start dismantling these idiots.

Who’s gonna win? Karma being the sick butt-fingering bastard it is, probably Ralph. But we’ll have to wait and see!

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