Survivor: Samoa
Damage Control
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 13, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, two of the worst players in Survivor history!

Previously on Survivor, Jim knocked us for being anti-Russell. He correctly pointed out that the man we had previously called Evil Loser Russell has somehow positioned himself to be a factor at the end of the game. The difference of opinion we have with Jim is whether he earned this spot or bungled into it due to the even worse gameplay of his competitors from Galu. Let's be honest here. If Erik hadn't been a dumbass to Jaison, Mick and Natalie, Foa Foa would have been swept out of this game. All Evil Russell's play to date has demonstrated is that he hates women, a point that cannot be denied, and that it's often better to be lucky than good on Suvivor. This season, we call it Shambo Law.

Speaking of the only person in the world who still sports Sylvester Stallone's 1980s hair (even Stallone thinks that's sad), Shambo's a bit confused about the previous vote. She had a dream that, although not quite Martin Luther King Jr.-esque, still spoke profoundly to her. This dream revealed that Dave would be the next one to go, and yet, there Dave sits at camp, after the vote! Shambo hates when her dreams lie to her.

And hey, would you look at that! Russell, who she had previously trusted completely, broke his word and arranged for rocket scientist John to be voted out. Only a fool would believe anything he said from now on!

Two minutes later, Evil Russell has convinced Shambo that he got rid of John to protect her.

Back from commercial break, Jaison happens upon Brett and Monica, who are discussing the fact that they are looking to be next on the chopping block. Jaison tells them that the game ain't over yet, and moves forward with a bit of strategy of his own as he tells them that Evil Russell is actually a millionaire in real life. This is actually an interesting tactical move. Since Jaison can deduce with a high likelihood and both Monica and Brett will be on the jury, letting them know that Evil Russell is wealthy can only help him if he's in a final vote with the man. We've seen it before. In a previous season, when retired NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom was playing the game, people looked at him differently due to the fact that he already had a ready supply of cash. There's an expectation that if you're playing this game to win a million bucks, it's because you *need* a million bucks.

There's only one problem with Jaison's decision here. If it does get back to Evil Russell that he spilled the beans on this topic to some Galu tribe members, that likely will put Jaison in Russell's crosshairs. We know that Evil Russell will target people out of vengeance, whether it's to his own benefit or detriment. If he thinks Jaison has betrayed him, he might see him as a potential target. (As we've seen, this doesn't guarantee the rest of the votes go Evil Russell's way, but we're getting to the point where it's very risky to put yourself out there in any way.)

Today's Elimination Challenge is basically coconut bowling, save for the fact that the ball itself looks more like an oversized skee ball than a coconut. Also, it rolls about as well as Ralph Wiggum's banana. There are four heats where the player who knocks down the most pins moves on to the final round. In all honesty, this seems just like Shambo's thing, because we think she probably hangs out at a lot of bowling alleys. And in fact, Shambo does win her heat versus Natalie, followed by Evil Russell beating Brett (who never even knocks down a single pin). Then, Jaison beats Monica, while Dave gets a strike to knock off Mick. (He follows that with a stupid Mr. Miyagi bow. Dave bugs us.)

Round two pits Shambo versus Evil Russell, and the girl wins! (That's gotta burn.) Jaison goes against Dave, and though they both try their hardest to lose (neither one hits a pin with his first toss), Jaison comes away with a chance to roll against Shambo for immunity. With their first rolls in the final round, both Shambo and Jaison get gutter balls. Shambo misses again with her second ball, which means that Jaison only needs one pin to win. He gets about two or three pins, and takes home immunity for the second time in a row.

This means it's time to play It's Anyone But Dave. At this point, the numbers are still questionable enough that the Foa Foa four need to stick with voting out a Galu. Monica tries to convince Evil Russell that if he takes Shambo to the final, he might not win out in a jury vote. "With me on Dave's side and whispering Shambo's name in Russell's ear, anything can happen," she says. Of course, the editors try their hardest to make us think Evil Russell is considering this play, even going so far as to show him approaching Dave about a Shambo vote. It's a pretty half-hearted attempt at trickery, though, and it's obvious that Dave's torch is being extinguished tonight.

And with the Tribal Council vote, there is very little suspense. The only vote Shambo gets is Dave's. Obviously, Dave gets the remainder of them. Here's a guy who relied too much on luck and faith and did absolutely nothing to further his own position in the game. Good riddance.

If you're thinking, hey, that was the fastest time getting to Tribal Council ever, wait! You have spoken too soon. You see, the producers of Survivor are apparently tired of several players here, and we will be having another Elimination Challenge and vote in the second half of the show. Of course, we're probably just going through the motions. In fact, we'll refer to Monica as Dead Meat for the rest of this recap.

As we return from the commercial break, we're allowed to ponder the question "how nice is Brett?" The answer to this can be found in Evil Russell commenting how much he likes the guy. Obviously, he's realized that if the jury is choosing between ELR and Brett, the nice guy is going to finish first. This puts a (temporary) target on Brett's back, and also allows a little editing to show some (fake) tension between Evil Russell and Mick with regards to who should be the next candidate for elimination.

Speaking of which, it's time for the next challenge. The contestants must race out into the water three different times to pick up three different bags. Then they have to return back to the beach and put the bag on one end of a plank. From there, they will hop on the other end of the plank to shoot their bag in the air and hopefully into a basket. The first Survivor to get all three bags in the basket wins immunity.

This is one of those crappy challenges that seems to favor the men, and it definitely plays out that way. Brett and Mick are neck and neck in first and second, with Jaison and Evil Russell following behind. Meanwhile, Shambo does sort of average while Monica and Natalie are past hope. It's quite close between Mick and Brett, but the doctor is showing signs of exhaustion and the lone remaining Galu male takes home the immunity necklace.

What does this mean? Why, it means it's time to play It's Anyone But Dead Meat! She laments her inability to "get the thing in the basket," presumably because this leads to her getting the hose again. In adorable fashion, Brett and Dead Meat scramble a bit to try to convince Dr. Mick that Evil Russell will almost surely take Shambo and Natalie to a final with him. Mick seems to consider this, asking Jaison if he really believes that Evil Russell will take them to past the final five. Mick says, "It's like a little kid sees a snake and the snake's like, 'Hey, come play with me. I'm not gonna bite you.' The kid starts playing with the snake and the snake bites him. He's like, 'What happened? You said you weren't going to bite me?' And he's like, 'I'm a snake. That's what I do.' So I am very skeptical. This as an astute evaluation of Evil Russell as anyone has offered at any point during this season. ELR is the living, breathing definition of mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Dead Meat tries to further stir things up by telling Evil Russell that both Natalie and Jaison told her and other members of Galu that he makes a ton of money. ELR immediately goes and yells at Natalie about this, but she denies having betrayed his trust. The two of them go and ask Brett who told them that Russell is rich. Brett answers that it was Jaison.

Therefore, ELR approaches Jaison to find out what's what. With the worst poker face ever, Jaison denies being the culprit in this case. Evil Russell correctly surmises that Jaison has just told a fib. It's pretty clear that both Jaison and Mick are suffering from some mental exhaustion at this point, which was bound to happen based on the fact that they've actually, you know, been playing the game - unlike the Galu tribe members.

At Tribal Council, Evil Russell pulls the hidden immunity idol from his pocket and puts it around his neck. This leads Dead Meat to accuse him of being cocky. We have officially come full circle in the game, where a member of Galu is saying that a person from Foa Foa is too cocky. For his part, Evil Russell clearly just wants Dead Meat to suffer and then die - even more than is usually the case with his feelings for a woman.

Really, there's nothing the editors could have done to make this Tribal Council interesting. Dead Meat is voted out and we're on to the final six, which means there are only two episodes left. Now is the time when people have to make a move, so it should be an engaging couple of shows. Considering that tonight's episode had two elimination challenges and two tribal councils, it was...lacking in intrigue, so we'll hope for improvement.