Survivor: Samoa
Tastes Like Chicken
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
November 14, 2009

Here they go voting off the pretty ones again.

Previously on Survivor, Erik went nuts and thought he was the ruler of the plantation, with all of the Foa Foa contestants acting as his slaves. Thus, he went from Mr. Popularity to Tribe Pariah in about 12 minutes of edited footage. His was a flameout for the ages. Also, a female alliance may have been forged, Evil Loser Russell senselessly threw away his immunity idol, and Jaison and Mick earned a smug sense of satisfaction as they watched Erik take a stroll down loser lane.

How bothered are the members of Galu by their recent decision to eliminate Erik? Well, former trusted allies Dave and Brett are fantasizing about cookies. No, that's not a euphemism. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Erik, but they clearly won't be losing any sleep tonight over their vote. Even better, because there are 12 members of the jury this time, we get to see him glaring at Galu the rest of the way. If someone from Foa Foa wins, Erik might spontaneously combust.

Evil Loser Russell takes this opportunity to remind everyone that it's all about him. He is convinced that as the current primary target, his number of days on the island is limited, which makes us wonder if he realizes that he failed to receive a single vote at Tribal Council. As Natalie tells ELR that she'll pray for him (seems kind of silly to pray for someone who's in league with the devil), we note that Shambo is working around camp. While she gets things done, the other girls lie in bed and talk about how great everything is going. Laura and her friends are ready to take a victory lap. They believe that everything is going exactly as planned, and that Evil Loser Russell's playing of the hidden immunity idol at Tribal Council sets the board up perfectly for them to take him out at the next vote. It's pretty obvious that Laura and ELR are gunning for each other, and much will be determined by how immunity plays out.

Back from commercial break, Natalie sees a rat. You'd think that a delicate Southern belle such as her might run away, but she immediately sees it as something potentially tasty. The only question then becomes whether she should kill it with a rock or a stick. We scream at the little dude to run away, but he doesn't hear us through the television tubes. She kills the little dude with her stick and returns triumphantly to camp, where all of her cohorts are cheered. Jaison talks about how proud of her he is, and Brett gives Natalie a high five. So now she has proven that she's both a tough strategist and someone who has what it takes to survive out in the wild. If we didn't feel so badly for the rat, we'd be super impressed.

And with that little rodent tragedy out of the way, it's Probst time! Today's reward challenge divides the group into two teams of five. You might be thinking to yourself, "But wait, Kim and David! There are 11 people still in the game!" This is correct. Only ten people will get to play. Let's see how this all works out.

The first team is comprised of Jaison, Laura, Mick, Evil Loser Russell, and Brett. They'll be battling Shambo, Kelly, Dave, John, and Monica. If you've sussed out that the odd person out is Natalie, you're absolutely right. This is probably karmic retribution doled out by the rat gods.

Jeff informs Natalie that she has a choice to make. She will choose one of the two teams to support. If she selects the winning team, she earns the reward. Likewise, if she goes with the losing side, she goes back to camp emptyhanded with them. It really shouldn't be surprising at all that she chooses the team with her three Foa Foa compadres. It was pretty evident last week that she, Mick and Jaison are pretty tight and there's no reason to think she wouldn't throw her support to them...other than that whole issue where Foa Foa has a history of losing.

The challenge has three segments. The first one is a foot race where each group must relay race to retrieve four sets of poles with coconuts on them. This segment of the race is effectively a dead heat, though Shambo is slow enough that she brings her group's morale down slightly. Once both teams have obtained all of their poles, they must arrange them in such a way that the white coconuts on the poles spell out four numbers. When the number is obtained, they yell it out to a blindfolded teammate, who will unlock a box, finding those numbers by sense of touch. The non Foa Foa group finishes with the coconut arranging part first, which gives Monica a pretty solid head start on the other team. Thus, Foa Foa winds up on the losing side of things again (including Natalie).

The winners get to head to a natural rock slide (which is more like a water park than something that blocks the interstate) and then enjoy a picnic lunch. As for the losers, it's back to camp, where Evil Loser Russell is pretty certain that a new immunity idol will be hidden, and we're pretty sure he'll take the first opportunity available to find it.

When we visit the winners at their water slide adventure, they are enjoying some crystal clear water, some delicious chicken, and what Monica refers to as "ridonkulous" donuts. They also receive a clue that verifies what ELR was pondering. There is in fact a new immunity idol hidden back at camp. Since there are no Foa Foa members in this group (because Foa Foa is incapable of winning challenges), the five of them decide to share the information only with their other Galu tribe members (Brett and Laura). Also, for the first time ever, the talk turns to voting out Russell, as the remaining members of Galu are smart enough to figure out that he's a schemer. Shambo argues against it - because she likes Evil Loser Russell, for some reason - but the rest of the tribe knows they have the numbers that her opinion really doesn't matter. It's possible, though, that she might share the immunity idol information with ELR.

Not that she has to, of course. The next segment shows Evil Loser Russell (maybe we should drop his middle name for a little while) searching for the idol back at camp. Impressively, he thinks about all of the places that would make sense to hide it (you have to be able to clue people into its location). He locates it under a bridge, and gloats about his cleverness. This is irritating, but justified.

Naturally, Evil Russell needs someone to admire his genius (other than himself). Every con needs a mark, after all, and his is Shambo. Once again, he whips it out, and she stares lustily. (We mean the idol, you pervs.) Shambo tells the camera that she has been in an alliance with Foa Foa for several days. This is obvious by the way she for Jaison at the last Tribal Council. In her defense, she would have voted for Derek if she could have figured out who that was. Anyway, she does seem to be aligned with Evil Russell if for no other reason than to lop the head off of Laura. We think/hope she means this figuratively, but ratings will be through the roof if she's taking a more literal interpretation. Their stated back-up plan is that if Laura wins immunity, they will eliminate one of her evil henchmen (Kelly). So, if recent history holds true, those two appear to be 100% safe this week. The best place to be is in Foa Foa's crosshairs, unless you're an idiot like Erik.

Probst returns! Today's immunity challenge has each contestant tossing out a hook on a rope to try to reel in two bags of puzzle pieces. The first three to do so will move on to the final portion of the challenge, which is a puzzle. There are different strategies employed, with some people trying to reach the more distant bag first, while others grab the short one. Dr. Mick is first to finish (and rather easily, too). He's thrilled to see that the second person to the final will be...Shambo. We're pretty confident that there's no one you'd rather be up against in a puzzle challenge, especially if you're a doctor.

The final spot comes down to a race between the duo engaged in a blood feud, Laura and Evil Russell. At one point it looked like they had become best friends, but they've now degraded to the point where Evil Russell takes time out from retrieving the final bag to smugly taunt her. Karma strikes quickly (the rat gods are angry today, my friends) as his hook is untethered from his final bag just before it crosses the finish line. Laura pulls with all her might and manages to eke out the win. We feel pretty comfortable in giving Evil Loser Russell his middle name again.

We know that a certain segment of Survivor fans are convinced that Evil Loser Russell is a savant at the game, but we just don't see it. For every good play he makes such as finding a hidden immunity idol sans clue, he bungles like this, throwing away a chance at immunity this round simply because he had to gloat to a girl that she couldn't beat him. Hey, ELR, guess what? While you were gloating, she beat you. Idiot.

It gets worse, though. Even with Shambo and Mick being spotted a lead because Laura has trouble opening one of her bags, once she has her pieces, her focus is singular. She looks at her pieces and then quickly locates the spot where they belong. Basically, Laura is a machine at this game. She completes the challenge easily, while it appears that Mick had about two-thirds of his puzzle left to go and Shambo was still struggling to shove square pegs in round holes. Evil Loser Russell is discouraged, and says something to Shambo along the lines of, "Just look at the shape and match it up," but it's all for naught. ELR's need to make people feel bad when they lose has been his undoing. Where he had a shot at immunity (and could have saved his hidden idol for another day), he's now in a spot where he almost certainly has to use it - particularly as Laura thinks she can get Natalie and the other Foa Foa members to vote for ELR.

Sometimes the Survivor producers love their jobs, and this is one of them. Once Evil Loser Russell shares with the other Foa Foa members that he has the idol (hint: this makes them happy), we cut to a discussion between the decision makers at Galu. Monica has this nagging feeling that ELR has already found one hidden immunity idol without a clue, and thinks that history might repeat itself. Dave treats her the same way Evil Loser Russell treated Natalie when she saved the day last time around. He completely disregards her thinking process as overly paranoid, which leads John to argue Monica's point further. He and Laura agree that if they were in ELR's situation, they would spend a significant amount of free time trying to find the idol. Dave considers all of this to be pure panic, which the producers and viewers know is going to come back and bite him in the ass. In his defense, they are in a difficult position. There are 11 remaining players, four of whom are the tightly knit Foa Foa. If they split the vote, their choices are either five for ELR and two for someone else or four for ELR and three for someone else. They don't have the numbers to create a dual majority where someone from Foa Foa is eliminated either way. So although his arrogance is pretty funny, there's not much they can do. Of course, if they had Erik there... Oh, well. Best not to dwell on lost Dereks.

There's a moment of interest when Evil Loser Russell hears this same group tossing out names to vote, and he convinces himself that he heard them say Natalie would be the one to go tonight. He shares this information with Jaison, who tells ELR that he needs to be certain that his name will be the one written down so they can proceed with their plan. Since we know that Laura has an Evil Loser Russell vendetta, we're pretty confident that he is the target, and if the Foa Foa gang can stick together and vote for Kelly, they will have an effective 5-5 tie if you count Shambo as an honorary Foa Foa (though we think this remains dubious).

We've seen some people hyperbolically describing this Tribal Council as the best one ever, which is absurd, because not much happens before the vote. Monica smugly says that Foa Foa isn't trying hard enough, which demonstrates both short-term memory loss and a lack of anticipation of things to come. Other than that, the fireworks are saved for after the vote. Evil Loser Russell brazenly flaunts the presentation of his hidden immunity idol (we retract the middle name again temporarily), which jury member Erik thinks is the greatest thing in the world - a slightly different reaction than he had last week. When the votes are read, Galu has unanimously voted for Russell (yes, including Shambo). Meanwhile, the first vote that counts goes to the wonderfully coifed Kelly, one of our favorite contestants this year. Two votes later, she is having her torch extinguished, while Evil Russell has redeemed himself for last week's immunity idol misfire.

P.S. We have no idea what Shambo is doing. Nor are we certain she does.