Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 1, 2010

Rob during happier times (when he was dealing with more competent players).

Previously on Survivor, we praised Evil Russell for his ability to make an innocuous-seeming comment significant enough to cause Tyson to change his vote in a perfectly planned strategy by Boston Rob and Sandra. Despite the fact that Rob had prepared for every contingency, Tyson still voted for the wrong person - and executed himself in the process. We were so impressed with the way things transpired that we dropped the "Loser" from Evil Russell's name. Those who have been reading this column for the last two seasons will know what a big deal that is.

Trouble is, we happened to read a few interviews with Tyson after the fact. In those interviews, Tyson was a little surprised to learn that Evil Russell had an impact on his vote at all, because frankly the comment shown on television was a throwaway one that he barely even remembered. Tyson says he made the decision all on his own, as basically he was thinking a couple of votes ahead and looking at the bigger picture. Instead, he should have been focusing on the now. It's not the first time that Survivor editors have been deceitful - Sugar was portrayed as a heroine despite the fact that everyone who has been on the two shows with her has said that she is annoying and a big crybaby - but their desperation to make the Boston Rob/Evil Loser Russell battle significant is pretty transparent at this point (notice that we're giving Russell his middle name back until he does something that actually proves us wrong. We're not talking about finding hidden immunity idols, either). We won't be fooled again, Probst and friends.

Almost as an afterthought in last week's show, James was also voted out as both the Heroes and Villains had to go to Tribal Council. Colby lives to fight another day. Will the Heroes regret this move? We already know that Colby is a tough competitor who can put together a great challenge run. Has he checked out of the game as much as his tribe believes? Let's find out.

As the episode begins, Boston Rob is in a foul mood. Everybody else in his alliance agrees that the most likely scenario is that Tyson voted incorrectly and caused the result that came up, but Rob realizes that he has to consider all possibilities. Someone in his group could have been treacherous and then managed to lie about it. Although he suspects that it was just one person's dumb mistake, Rob will still be paying close attention to his "allies," particularly Jerri and Coach.

The other side of the equation is Parvussell (and that other chick whose name we can't be bothered to remember. ELR's crush on Survivor's most notorious flirt had him fall on his sword for her, and they're celebrating like crazy. This annoys Rob and Co., as they're wondering why Evil Loser Russell and friends don't realize that three is still a lot less than five. As we learn, though, Parvussell sees the Villains alliances as 3-3-2: Boston Rob/Sandra/Courtney, ELR/Parvati/Danielle and Coach/Jerri, who theoretically are sitting in the "swing" position (kinky). To that end, the three of them decide to "court" Jerri and try to draw her to the Dark(er) side. Parvati promises Jerri that she'll take her to the final four, but the thing is, the two of them have been in conflict for pretty much their entire stay at camp. Jerri dislikes and distrusts Parvati (and is probably a little jealous of all the attention she gets).

Meanwhile, Parvati very much likes being the young, pretty girl, with frequent comments about Jerri's age. She even notes during a camera confessional that she thinks Jerri wishes someone would be a hero for her, just like ELR was for Parvati at the last Tribal Council when he gave her the hidden immunity idol. Jerri seems to smell a rat. The dubious look on her face tells us that she doesn't think Parvati is sincere, and her instincts are absolutely correct. This doesn't necessarily mean that Parvussell is the wrong group to ally with, but it surely shouldn't be because she thinks anything they say is reliable or worthy of belief. After all, Rob is still the most dangerous person on Survivor, and Jerri damn well knows it and could easily decide that know is the time to make a bold strategic move.

Over at Heroes camp, the message is simple. Colby needs to step it up or he is almost surely the next person to be voted out.

Right on cue, here's a Probst sighting. Today's Reward Challenge will pit the teams against each other in a game of water polo with basketball nets. There is no complexity to the game, and in fact, the producers of the show have thrown the Heroes a bone by giving them a challenge with no puzzles and that requires primarily strength and athletic skill. Since we know that the only athletic person on the Villains is Boston Rob, you know exactly where this challenge is going. Colby leads the Heroes to a win, and they're given a lovely feast where they can replenish their energy and bond.

While dining, they're given a clue that indicates there is another hidden immunity idol. The Heroes agree that they will find the idol together, which could be important depending when the merge occurs.

The next segment features Jerri coming to the conclusion we thought she might. She feels Rob isn't trustworthy because of his play in previous seasons, so she approaches ELR to discuss a potential alliance. She tells ELR that she would be okay with going to the final three with him and Coach, and hopes that Coach will agree. Jerri waves Coach over, who has a sick look on his face as the three of them come to some sort of agreement that they will go to the final together. For ELR, his reasoning is that he doesn't believe he can beat Parvati in a vote. For Jerri, she feels that ELR is the play instead of someone like Rob, and for Coach, well, he's honor bound to hang tight with Jerri (some people call that pussy whipped).

After ELR leaves the area, Coach tells Jerri that he's hurt that she didn't approach him before making the agreement with ELR. He believes that Evil Loser Russell is spinning a line of bullshit (he is) and feels uncomfortable about getting in an alliance with someone who appears to be lacking in honor (he should be). Jerri reiterates that she feels that Boston Rob is a liar, but Coach reminds her that Rob has not lied to them yet. Again, we're actually totally with Jerri that Rob is a huge threat and that now is probably the time to consider making a move to take away the massive advantage he has in the game, but we also can't argue with Coach that ELR is the wrong guy with whom to cast your lot. Of course, Jerri points out in a confessional that Coach wants to be the good guy to everyone, but that just can't happen in the game of Survivor. At some point, you have to stab someone in the back. She's souring on him as an ally, and given his past gameplay, she has a point.

With that, it's time for Probst to return. Today's Immunity Challenge has the Survivors running over an obstacle course and climbing a rope to grab some puzzle pieces to assemble. The first team to complete the puzzle wins immunity. Although the Villains start out with about a quarter lap lead or a little more, when Courtney's second turn on the obstacle course comes, she appears to be exhausted. Candice catches up to her as they climb to retrieve their puzzle pieces, and when Courtney hesitates to jump down, she loses a significant amount of time. This allows Colby to close out the race portion of the challenge with ease, which means that the Heroes are first to start their puzzle. With JT and Amanda tasked with solving it, they don't have any trouble (for a nice change). It seems that our "too many chefs" theory posited previously was correct. Boston Rob and Sandra are left in their dust, and Rob looks a little ill.

What we speculated last week comes to fruition in the segment prior to the vote. Had Tyson written down his assigned name last week, Evil Loser Russell would have been gone last week and Parvati would have been gone tonight. Coach and Jerri would have stayed loyal to their initial alliance. Due to Tyson's incompetence, the split is 3-3, with the Coach/Jerri coupling (?) up for grabs as ELR surmised. Somehow, Jerri has talked herself into aligning with a woman she genuinely cannot stand in Parvati (and the feeling is mutual) as opposed to Rob, a guy she seems to like, but doesn't trust. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of Survivor as a social experiment. Ordinary people find themselves placed in these positions, then wind up making illogical short-term decisions without thinking through the long-term repercussions (this is the third straight episode where something like this has unfolded).

A Jerri/Parvati alliance isn't likely to last through appetizers at dinner, much less until a period long after the merge. We wouldn't be surprised if Parvati started calling Jerri "Amanda," because that's how replaceable she is by a soon-to-arrive member of the other tribe.

For his part, Coach continues to be in a terrible position. While we frequently state that we don't believe a word that Coach says, his loyalty to Rob seems sincere. There's a duality to Coach's personality where he respects people - those he considers warriors, dragon slayers and whatnot, but as we saw during his season, he also wants to be the cause of their elimination. In spite of this conflict, his respect for Rob appears to be so complete that he relishes the idea of them going to the final vote together. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, there is *something* going on with Coach and Jerri and there is reason to believe that they're a near-couple. He can't go against her even though she's gone to the crazy place - hey, we've all been there with a significant other.

Coach seems focused upon eliminating Courtney, who *was* the reason they lost the Immunity Challenge. Evil Loser Russell, who never passes on the opportunity to belittle a woman, actually tells Rob that they need to vote off Courtney or Sandra. Even for him this is less tactful than normal, as the two women are sitting right beside him when he does it. The appropriate cliche to describe Sandra's stare is if looks could kill, Russell would look like he's starring in a Saw movie (note to Saw's producers: you need to make this happen). Despite the fact that ELR tosses out these two names, his true focus is on Rob, who he "flippantly" suggests and Jerri latches onto. Although the (correct) argument is made that their tribe is weaker without him, we've said since the first recap that anyone who lets Rob last too long deserves what they get.

Soon after this discussion, Rob chats with Jerri and he knows the score. He specifically tells her that she knows what the right thing to do is, while her body language plainly indicates to him that she is going to do exactly the opposite. There's not going to be a blind side if his name is revealed at Tribal Council. If this does happen - and the editing over the last three weeks, straight down to the episode title of "Knights of the Round Table" a couple of episodes ago indicates it will, Jerri will be putting her younger, prettier frenemy, Parvati, in complete control of the game.

At Tribal Council, Probst discusses the clear rift in the tribe. Evil Loser Russell disingenuously tries to act like he's a team player before flipping his position totally by acknowledging that yes, he is playing selfishly now that his name has been written down. (That was the motivation he needed to be a selfish player.) Rob initially miscalculates his position in the game by thinking logic has swayed Jerri and Coach to vote with him. Jerri then says that she is making a move that she hopes will be best for her long-term position in the game. At this point, Boston Rob knows he's a dead man. He looks over at Coach, who does everything but shout, "I'm not going to vote for you!" but then the vote reveals that Coach might as well have written down Rob's name. His vote for Courtney is the only one that doesn't go to either Rob or Russell. The annoying little troll man that Rob doesn't respect gets three votes, while Rob gets the other four.

If you're trying to understand Jerri's reasoning, she seems to believe that she is better served being in camp with someone she dislikes and who has no loyalty whatsoever to her as opposed to someone that she does like and who hasn't lied to her yet. We'll hold our tongues for now on how effective we expect this strategy to be. In the meantime, what's important is that the best player in the game has been eliminated, meaning the game has been opened up for everyone else, including the Heroes. Their primary task will be to keep Amanda loyal rather than instantly joining Parvati at the merge. It appears that Parvati is in control and can dictate the way that the game will move forward, and since she's won before, we know she can do this. The question we have is whether a merge happens immediately, and if so, whether JT and Sandra can combine forces long enough to eliminate the shaky new Villains' alliance. If they can't, there are going to be some genuinely dislikable people at the final vote.