Survivor: Samoa
Off With Their Heads
By Jim Van Nest
December 6, 2009

Everyone around me is a bunch of idiots.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Samoa. My name is Jim and I'll be your guest host for tonight's episode. David and Kim are taking a much needed break this week and I was quick to volunteer to take the helm for a week because I'm upset about how this recap has been handled thus far this season.

The Russell Seed was planted at the Van Nest household and I don't think Russell has been shown the love and respect he deserves. I love me some David and Kim, but I think they've totally missed the boat on Russ and because of their obvious bias; they're not giving him enough credit for the masterpiece he's painting for us on a weekly basis.

So, please bear with me for a minute while I try to undo ten weeks worth of injustice. Russell is in control of this game and has been since day one. He has made alliance after alliance, each one serving his purpose of cashing the million-dollar check. He's cut off alliances when it was time and he's gone along with the crowd when it served his best interest. He sabotaged his own team and in the process created a four-person alliance that looks to be as solid a four-person alliance as we've seen since the Rich-Rudy-Sue-Kelly alliance from the very first season. The only way this alliance gets broken is when Russell decides to break it. And he will break it. He has the most solid alliance in the game right now with Natalie and when it comes time, Mick and Jaison will have to go so he and Natalie can sit together as the finalists. Sure, immunity can throw a monkey wrench into his ultimate plan...and many times it will. But with an 8-4 deficit erased and an immunity idol in his pocket, Russell is sitting in the catbird seat and is poised to make a run deep into this game.

All that being said, let me give you a quick rundown of my feelings of all the players left in the game. I think John has the mentality to completely mess up Russell's game, if he can find ANYone smart enough to go along with him. Natalie is playing a brilliant social game right now and with a break or two could find herself cashing a big fat check. Monica's an idiot. Dave's not much better. Mick has shown me nothing in the game that would suggest that he's anything other than Russell's pawn at this point. Jaison is a very smart guy. And I think he really wants to win. I just don't know that he's got the right kind of smarts to play a game as cutthroat as Survivor. I heard there's someone named Brett in the game. I've only seen tiny bits of evidence to confirm this rumor. Then, there's Shambo. God love her, she's just not built for this game. She's a hoot and she's good for a vote. But as it stands right now, she's set up to be a fifth wheel no matter which way she goes. Her best option may be to stick with Russell and hope to be the third wheel in a potential Final Three. Every season, a horrible player seems to make the finals. If things go her way, Shambo could be Samoa's version. Ok, with that all out of the way, what do you say we get to tonight's action...?

As always, we begin as the tribe returns from Tribal Council. John is the voiceover telling us that he had no intention of picking stones to save Laura. He tells Monica that he tried to tell Galu that they were making a mistake and since no one listened, he made the move to join Russell. Naturally, Monica is pissed off about it because, apparently, she was willing to go home to keep Laura in the game. Because of his betrayal, John has definitely earned Monica's vote tonight.

The next morning, Tree Mail arrives and each player is given a wallet with $500 in it. You know what that means!!! SURVIVOR AUCTION TIME!! This is always one of my favorite episodes.

Probst sighting! Jeff lays out the rules: no sharing food, no sharing money, bid in increments of $20 and as always, the auction can end at any time. First item up for bids? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Natalie jumps right in with a $200 bid and no one counters. Next item will remain covered. After a pretty long bidding session, Shambo comes out on top with a bid of $240. Her item? "Sea noodles" aka slug guts. Showing that he's not a complete tyrant, Jeff sprinkles a little parmesan on them for her. Not surprisingly, she grabs a fork and sucks 'em down. Um...EW! Next item up for bids is also a covered item. Dave bids $300 right off the bat. Monica jumps up and takes it for $340. What does she get for her money? A whole roasted chicken. Not too shabby.

The next item up for bids is an advantage in the next immunity challenge. After John bids $300, Jaison asks Jeff a question. "We both have $500, what if we both bid $500?" Jeff tells him that it's whoever gets there first. After a moment's hesitation, Jaison bids $500 and takes the advantage. Next item, cheeseburger (and a frickin huge cheeseburger) fries and a cold beer. Before Jeff can even set the lid down, Mick shouts out $500 and wins the burger. Another non-food item is next. A clue to the location of the hidden immunity idol, which gets sold to John for $200. (Have I mentioned that Russell already has that idol? Just checking.)

The next item is the opportunity to take a hot shower and get a change of underwear. For $120, Natalie wins this item and let the stripper music begin as she undresses. Next item is a huge piece of apple pie. John wins it for $300. As he gets to the table, Monty Probst wants to make a deal. John can keep his slice of pie OR he can give up his piece of pie and have a full pie to split up between four other people. He asks the group what they want and they all want some pie. So, naturally, John takes the greedy way out and keeps the slice for himself. Russell states the never take the pie. You give it away. He tells us that he would have given a piece to each Foa Foa and Shambo and John just showed how stingy he is. When you think about it, was this even a choice, really? I mean, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that you share the pie. Oh, wait a minute... And with that, Survivor Auction 2009 is over.

We come back from break to join John on his search for the hidden immunity idol. The second clue is essentially, "Go to the wall and look in the hole in the base." Even with the incredibly detailed clue, John still takes a heckuva long time to even get to where the idol used to be. He does finally find the place and after a while, he feels pretty convinced that Russell has the idol.

What comes next can only be described as "Shambo goes completely batshit crazy." We join Shambo having a heart to heart with the chickens about how they're going to die and she'll see them in heaven. So, Russell and Mick do the deed and Shambo is SO broken up about it that she asks...nay, demands to cook them. Jaison suggests that they just skewer one of them...and Shambo refuses. She basically tells him that one thing she knows about is cooking and he should shut up. Dave, poor guy, walks up shortly after this exchange and has the misfortune to ask, "How's that chicken coming?" Shambo tells him it'll be about an hour and a half. He then makes the mistake of suggesting that the hard boil might not be the best way to cook it. What transpires is a classic exchange. So classic, in fact, that I have to type it all here.

Dave: "You boil a chicken for two hours, it's gonna be ruined."
Shambo: "You have no idea what the f* you're talking about right now and you gotta just respect that on SOME level."
Dave: "All right. Cool."

Shambo goes on a diatribe about how stupid he is to even think about questioning her cooking methods. And it becomes quite clear that Dave is the new Laura. As day fades into night, we see some sweet camera work that looks like something out of Saw VII - Shambo's Revenge. As we're seeing this, Shambo is telling us about how she has dreams and they actually come true. She's had about 30 of them. And what did her dreams tell her last night? Well, she dreamt that Dave was the person voted out. Naturally, Shambo wakes up with this in her mind and sets out to make that dream come true.

First up is Russell, and he's good to go with whatever she wants to do. As he laughs at her, he tells Natalie that Shambo votes with her emotions and that they ought to just run with it. Once they vote out Dave, they'll have the numbers and he can ride it to the top.

We come back from break to the Immunity Challenge. This week's challenge is the ole test of strength and will. Each person will hold a rope. At the end of these ropes are very heavy logs. The challenge is simple, hold onto the rope. Every three minutes, they will switch hands and move down a notch on the rope, until there are no longer any notches to move down. As the rope gets longer, the logs will get heavier. At this point, Jeff has Jaison read the "advantage" he'll have in this challenge. The parchment says that at any time during this challenge, Jaison can move his hand up two spots on the rope, giving him a huge advantage over everyone else as he'll be able to stay with the lighter weight for longer.

Everybody takes their spots and grab hold with their right hand. Jeff mentions that the logs weigh as much as they do, so these are not light. As the group moves down to the fourth notch, Jaison uses his advantage to go back to the second notch. We get 21 minutes into the challenge and everyone but Jaison is on the second to last notch. This is where Shambo bows out. Next to go is Russell as he claims to have gotten a charlie horse in his forearm. Hmmm...seems a bit suspect to me. At the 24-minute mark, the group moves to the last notch and no longer has a knot to aid them in the challenge. Jaison, however, is still two notches up and will stay there. Monica, John and Brett drop out rather quickly. Next out is Mick leaving Jaison, Dave and surprisingly Natalie. After a few more seconds, Natalie loses her grip and bows out. After another minute or so, Dave gets shaky and finally loses his grip, giving Jaison immunity. He was really bummed about not getting any food at the have to wonder if it still bothers him right now. I'm betting, um, no. As we go to break, Shambo tells us how she is in a great position of power and how Foa Foa is basically doing whatever she wants. I'm telling you, the woman is completely delusional.

We return from break to play "It's Anyone But Dave." The bummer for Dave is that he doesn't even know he's playing. Mick confirms that Foa Foa is pretty much counting on Shambo's vote, so Dave is the target. Next we get to see John trying to cash in on Russell's promise to vote off a Foa Foa next. He throws Mick's name out there and John is quite happy, but ultimately, you know Russell's lying through his teeth. As the conversation progresses, John gets Russell to admit that he has the hidden idol. Russell tells us that the better move here would be to get rid of John. He made a mistake telling John about the idol and John's gonna have to go home for it.

A little while later, we join Russell talking to Dave. He tells Dave that Shambo wants him gone. He tells Dave he thinks the better move is to dump John. He asks Dave to talk to Monica about John. Dave agrees that after John flipping last time, he's probably pretty ripe to go. Content with Dave's reaction, Russell goes to Mick to see what he thinks about John. Mick is with him on this deal. Russell tells Mick about the deal with Dave and the two of them agree. Mick goes to Jaison and alerts him to the plan. Jaison tells Mick that this may create a 4-4 tie NEXT time, as Shambo will flip on them. Mick says that he thinks Russell could salvage it with Shambo, to which Jaison replies, "After leaving her out there hanging the same way Galu did? Exactly the same way?" He makes an outstanding point here. And we get to see nothing else, as it's time for the jury.

First up is Jaison. Jeff asks him about the immunity advantage and winning. He says he doesn't care how he got it, he's just glad he got it. He asks Dave whether or not the advantage helped Jaison win. He says that his hand slipped and that's all that matters. Next up is Shambo. He asks if it's easier or more difficult to get along with people. She says that today was very peaceful. Russell interrupts to say that it was totally strategic to which Shambo says "Wow." Jeff asks the question that everyone wants to hear the answer to. How in the hell can Shambo NOT KNOW that people were scrambling? She goes on about how her vote is to keep someone who doesn't warrant getting the million dollars away from it. He asks John if he deserves to be there. He says he doesn't think he's done anything to make her think anything else. Jeff asks Mick if there will be another blindside. Mick says he doesn't know how anyone could be surprised any more. Russell says he thinks the person going home WILL be surprised. Shambo thinks the person knows they're going home. Dave says that if everything goes as he expects it to go, he'll be shocked. John doesn't think the person will be shocked. Jaison keeps his immunity and it's time to vote.

We see Shambo vote for Dave thanking him for the chickens. John, clueless soul that he is, votes for Mick. Dave votes for John saying that it's just to get him closer to a million bucks. Does anyone want to play a hidden idol? Nope? Okay, let's red the votes.

First vote, Mick. Next vote Dave, next vote John. The rest of the votes all come up John. It's hard to say who's more shocked...John or Shambo. Russell's gonna have some serious damage control to do tomorrow if he wants to keep Shambo with him. The sad part is that he probably could have approached her right before Tribal, given her some lame "the rest of the group is going for John, we need to vote with them" excuse. She'd have been a little pissed, but she wouldn't have been left hanging on a limb by herself after the vote. Russell is playing a fantastic game, but a little mistake like this could come back to haunt him. And what of John? Do we have to start thinking of a new cliché? Cause John did a disservice to rocket scientists everywhere. Through this entire episode, he did not make one smart decision. If he had a choice to make, he made the wrong one. EVERY time.

Next time on Survivor: Mick is shown questioning Russell's motivations to Jaison and Natalie. He compares him to a snake that tells a kid he won't bite him and then after the snake bites him, the kid asks him why and he says, "Cause I'm a snake, that's what I do." So, it looks like Russell is on the chopping block again. All I can say about that is...I'm gonna really miss Mick. Thanks so much for hanging out with me this week. Next week, David and Kim will return with all the Anti-Russell bias you can imagine. Until next time, take care!