Previously on Survivor, Ali Faroukmanesh buried a three-pointer to eliminate Kansas from the NCAA tournament. Okay, that wasn't Survivor, but it's been two weeks, and we've moved on to other shiny things. Has Boston Rob won this thing yet?
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
March 23, 2010
This week's quick recap reminds us that the Heroes just made one of the dumbest elimination choices in the history of the game. They elected to vote out Tom, who is healthy and useful around camp, rather than James, who is lame (literally - he can't walk) and full of bad attitude. Meanwhile, we've been promised an impending Evil Loser Russell versus Boston Rob showdown, which may be a bit misleading. We do believe that the Villains' ease in eliminating the heroes jeopardizes Rob's safety. As we said at the beginning of this thing, his tribe would be crazy to keep him around any longer than he is needed, and that need is greatly diminished. Then again, Rob is fun to be around, and ELR is a tiny, bald ball of rage and misogyny.
Punctuating this is a discussion between Rob and Evil Loser Russell. They are first ones up in their camp (or last ones awake, it's hard to tell), and ELR decides to have a man-to-man talk with Rob, which we think is overstating ELR's masculinity. In Evil Loser Russell's mind, the two of them are the big alpha males, titans about to clash. Rob doesn't see the need to release the Kraken just yet. Why? He thinks ELR is a fraud, and points out that everyone on the tribe has it in for him since he went looking for the hidden immunity idol after they agreed not to. Realizing the best approach is to implant some vague boogeyman in ELR's head, Boston Rob says he's "not going to rat anyone out," but they've all heard about Russell's shenanigans. They both tell each other to watch their backs, and Rob dismisses ELR by sardonically saying, "Good talk" as he leaves with nary a look back.
Probst sighting! He reveals a surprise to the Heroes and Villains. Today's challenge will be for individual immunity, one winner for each tribe. Those two people will not be eliminated in the two tribal councils that will take place tonight, and will also compete for reward for their respective teams. The winner gets their tribe a hot dog dinner and the opportunity to watch the tribal council of the opposition. Previously, Tyson, JT and Coach did this challenge in their season, with Tyson beating JT in the finals. Smaller, more lithe individuals do seem to have an advantage. Let's see if that theory holds true this time around.
The Heroes compete against each other first, with Candice, JT and James acquitting themselves admirably. We even cringe a couple of times at the way James contorts his injured knee during the challenge. Eventually, Candice pulls out the win, which is grim news for Colby. Feel free to mock us later if we're wrong, but we foresee no circumstance where he survives the next vote. (Then again, we wouldn't have voted off Tom last time, either.)
For the Villains, the contest boils down to Rob versus Tyson, with Evil Loser Russell and Parvati just a bit behind. Sandra gives no effort whatsoever. Given the names we mentioned, it's no surprise that Rob wins individual immunity and then beats Candice in the contest for reward. You know what? From now on, we're just going to call him Awesome Winner Rob (AWR for short).
Back at Villains' camp, AWR is once again celebrated as king of the tribe. The majority of the Villains stand on the beach and announce their joint intention to vote off Parvati while making ELR think that it's him, forcing him to use his hidden immunity idol. The people involved in this conversation are Sandra, Courtney, Coach, Tyson, AWR, and Jerri. We're amused by the transparency of the Villains' voting. Of course, this is Survivor, so it's almost never that easy. Colby hopes.
AWR takes this opportunity to taunt ELR, stating that if Russ has the hidden idol, he should use it at Tribal Council. When ELR says he doesn't have the idol, Rob smiles and says, "It's been real." We laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.
Still, Awesome Winner Rob does overplay his hand a little bit here. ELR is pretty confident they're going to vote for Parvati and only want to flush out his idol. So, he plans to give his idol to Parvati, with his alliance (Danielle and Parvati) writing down Tyson's name, which would be enough to get of an ally of AWR. After all Evil Loser Russell has used the idol to maximum effect in the past, so if anyone can scheme their way to avoiding elimination, it's him.
Over at Heroes camp, Colby refuses to play It's Anyone But Colby. He offers to fall on his sword for his tribe. He knows he's next to be eliminated and thinks they should all just enjoy their afternoon and then sit quiet at Tribal Council so as not to give anything away to the villains. Our favorite moment in this sequence is when JT says, "Our five has to be the strongest possible five we can have." Somewhere in the northeast, Tom is throwing his remote control through his plasma screen right now.
One vote too late, James's health is questioned by his remaining tribe mates. A discussion ensues about what a resources hog he is. Apparently, he takes more bananas than a Donkey Kong Country player. And other people want bananas! This is a serious breach of banana etiquette (and thus we have the explanation for the quirky title of the episode)!
Amanda informs James that he's going to have to race to prove his health in something James dubs the "Hero Olympics". She also tells him not to eat so many bananas - at least not without also offering one to his tribemates. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
During the race, James gingerly runs down the line and appears to tweak his injury again, losing to a backwards-running JT. Of course, James immediately says, "I'm not hurt!" While all this is going on, a brutal edit shows Colby being blissfully apathetic to his tribemates. Obviously, he's convinced himself that he's at a private island resort, and he's enjoying every last minute of late checkout.
We conclude the message portion of our show with James demonstrating that he has learned proper banana etiquette. "Hey, JT - would you like a banana?" It feels like we're watching PBS for kids.
The majority alliance in the Villains tribe meets to discuss strategy. AWR has thought ahead, and points out that as long as the six of them vote correctly, tonight's result will be satisfactory. A 3-3 split vote between Parvati and ELR will eliminate whichever one of them fails to produce the hidden immunity idol. In case you're confused on the math, once the players are in a tie vote, the majority alliance wins the runoff handily. It's a plan that has no downside in our estimation. Given that the episode is barely half over, however, we doubt it goes that smoothly.
And...it doesn't. Rob and Sandra (and we should include Sandra whenever we discuss strategic moves because it's apparent that the two of them are tightly aligned) specifically define who should vote for whom. AWR, Sandra and Tyson will vote for Evil Loser Russell, while the other three will vote for Parvati. ELR himself states that it's a genius move if their plans are built around flushing out the idol and creating a three-way tie. Rob and Sandra have maneuvered the board perfectly to get what they want with this vote, assuming the competence of all the voters. This is the brilliance of Survivor as well as the primary frustration of master strategists. You can tell a person who to vote for and explain why it's the best decision at the time. You can do all the voting math correctly. But you can't write down the vote for them. The maxim about being only as strong as your weakest link is proven time and again, and tonight is one of those instances.
Awesome Winner Rob has manipulated Evil Loser Russell into a circumstance where he will be voted out if he gives away the idol. To his credit - and anyone who reads this column knows that we have been less than lavish with our praise for ELR in the past - Russell makes a fantastic move here. He informs Tyson that even though he hates to do it, he has decided to sacrifice Parvati in order to secure his place after tonight's vote. We dismiss it at the time as a transparent ploy that only an idiot would believe. Alas, Evil Loser Russell picked the right idiot. When the night's vote is revealed, five members of the majority alliance perform their task correctly. Tyson, seeking to...hell, we don't even know - it's that inexplicable. He says he wants Parvati gone right away, but if she's not out today, they can eliminate her the next time, so...
Anyway, Tyson doesn't vote for Russell, which screws up EVERYTHING. We're not joking here. Tyson effectively pulls the pin on a hand grenade and drops it in his own encampment. His own vote for Parvati means that she gets four, Tyson gets three and Evil Loser Russell gets two. Everything was based on there being a three-way tie. Rob and Sandra had pushed the necessary buttons to eliminate ELR from the game. He should have gone home. Tyson's stupidity (and a clever amount of manipulation by Evil Loser Russell) means that someone else goes home. That's right. Tyson has just effectively voted himself off the show, which the rules theoretically prevent from happening. This is not a joke. This is what actually happened. Tyson voted Tyson off the show by being easily duped and failing at math.
This is in the conversation for stupidest personal decision in the show's history, right there with James not playing either of his two idols and Randy playing a fake idol. We're flabbergasted, and have to concede that we cannot call Russell "Evil Loser Russell" for a least a little while. He's back to just Evil Russell (but can you be evil on a tribe of villains? Hmm).
As the Villains eat their hot dogs and watch the Heroes' Tribal Council, Rob stews and Evil Russell somehow struts while sitting. Rob's frustration is understandable. This would be like going for checkmate in chess only for one of your pieces to say, "I think I'll stop right here instead."
And oh, yeah, James gets voted out at the Heroes' Tribal Council. Amanda is crying before the vote is revealed, while James doesn't seem the least bit surprised. We therefore assume that the choice was made in advance and with James's knowledge. We have no doubt that the producers of Survivor were fist bumping and high fiving like crazy at these turns of events. The perfect scenario going into this evening was a AWR versus ER battle in a Batman versus Joker type war. Tonight's episode sees Gotham imperiled despite the fine detective work of its Dark Knight. Next week's episode is going to be very interesting indeed.