Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
Survivor History
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 16, 2010

Skin and bones is not just a metaphor with her.

Previously on Survivor, with the order of Boston Rob's reign as ruler of the Villains a thing of the past, chaos ruled. No honor among thieves was the theme of the episode with Jerri quickly realizing that the maxim about the devil you know has stood the test of time for good reason. Her new allies, Pavarti and Evil Loser Russell, capitalized on their opportunity to eliminate sworn enemies Sandra and Courtney Jerri's deserted island boyfriend, Coach, out of the competition. There's loyalty for you.

The particulars of how ELR came to turn on previous ally Coach are where our interest lies. Sensing that Courtney and her were in a lot of trouble, Sandra casually went over to the reality show troll and manipulated him like she was Jim Henson and he was Miss Piggy. She slyly pointed out a conversation Coach was having with Courtney, describing in detail the pertinent information about it. What ELR should have done was wonder how she could know this about an ongoing discussion. What he did instead was start ranting about how he's blah blah blah and Coach better watch his blah blah blah else he'll *yawn*. Look, if you're still paying attention to what ELR says at this point, you're demonstrating more focus than the two of us are willing to expend on Mr. Napoleon Complex.

There was one important development during the episode that should bear fruit this week, though. As it happens, this permutation also involves ELR. Upon noticing that Boston Rob had been voted off the show, the Heroes immediately jumped to the conclusion that there must be a women's alliance at play that led to his demise. Television viewers know this is not the case and if the Heroes spent even an hour at camp, ELR would repeatedly let them know that he is running the show (he isn't) and that he outplayed Rob (he didn't). Since there was no merge last week, that couldn't happen and this quirk caused J.T. to pounce on the idea that if they can swing ELR to their side, the Heroes can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

In reality, the move J.T. needs to make is to reach out to Sandra, but the teaser for this week indicates that he goes an entirely different way with it. He unearthed a hidden immunity idol last week that the commercials indicate he is going to give to ELR in order to save him from the majority alliance at the Villains camp...his own. We find it difficult to believe that they would strongly tease this possibility unless it comes to fruition since that sort of bait and switch advertising is pointless for a show that will win its time slot anyway. More harm than good would be done in denying viewing the promise offered by the advertising. As such, this promises to be a fascinating episode.

As the episode begins, Jerri is being her typical, self-centered self. Although she's devastated that her only true ally, Coach, was voted off, her real concern is that her name not be written down next. Danielle and ELR assure her that she's safe with them, and she admits to the camera that her crappy collaboration with Evil Loser Russell, Danielle and Parvati is all she has so she's stuck with it. Hey, you know what could have helped you not be stuck with them? That's right, not voting off Boston Rob! The fruits of Jerri's betrayal came to pass much more quickly than even we could have anticipated.

The Probst sighting comes early this week. Even before the Reward Challenge occurs, everyone knows what it's going to be. This contest is a brutal balance challenge where the contestants must stand on a series of progressively smaller pegs, with the first round set being relatively comfortable. The two teams are told to arrange themselves from strongest to weakest, and the Villains quickly deduce that their "women's alliance" gives them a tremendous advantage. Lighter people with smaller feet struggle less with the pain and discomfort. For the Heroes, JT has won this challenge previously and Candice and Amanda are smaller, but they're at a definite disadvantage for the most part.

This proves out as the challenge goes through its three round process. The way this game is set up is that five Villains will match up against five Heroes (ELR sits this one out). The pairings that will compete are Rupert and Sandra (incidentally, Rupert was certain he would dominate), Colby and Jerri, JT and Parvati, Amanda and Courtney and Candice and Danielle. Needless to say, Colby and Rupert become very uncomfortable very quickly. Sandra makes the most of her moment, taunting Rupert by talking through the challenge and showing that she's having no trouble at all. Meanwhile, JT is sending love letters to Evil Loser Russell with his eyes, and ELR plays up every moment of it. The Villains' decision to vote off Coach has accidentally become a great strategic move, as everyone on the Heroes team is thinking that ELR can be flipped to their side with ease.

The challenge plays out as you would expect. Once Colby and Rupert go down, Amanda also struggles. The Villains win 3-0, and are off to have a fabulous dinner from Outback Steakhouse. It's a shameless plug, but at least there's a sincere element to it as Sandra talks about how she and her husband, a military man, love the restaurant and eat there all the time. It's clear that she's pleased to have this reminder of home.

During their dinner, Parvati has a clue fall out of her napkin, and wisely hides it in her pants so that no one else can see. Have we mentioned that Parvati is in a great position to go very far in this game? Her alertness and quick move have just given her another edge. She shares the news with Danielle with the intent of gaining her loyalty deep into the game, but comments that they will not be telling Evil Loser Russell about the clue - at least not until it's absolutely necessary.

The next segment shows us JT's plan, as promised in the commercials. His big idea is to win the Immunity Challenge, and while they're doing that, he'll slip Evil Loser Russell the hidden immunity idol with a note attached that instructs him to vote off Parvati. If you are getting a sense of foreboding right now, you should. JT is heading down to the basement where the axe murderer is. But don't worry! He's armed with a flashlight!

Of course, as we know, there is a second hidden immunity idol out there now, and Parvati and her underling go searching for it. Note that Evil Loser Russell is left out of the loop. Usually, he's looking for the idol while no one else knows, but the tables have turned on him. Not only is there an idol he's not aware of, but it's his own "allies" who are searching for it. This leads to the interesting speculation that both ELR and Parvati could play an idol at Tribal Council against each other, meaning that one of Danielle, Courtney or Sandra would have to go home. Alternately, there could be a merge with five Villains and five Heroes, but the Villains would control two hidden immunity idols. This is getting good.

Back at Heroes camp, JT is embarrassing himself in a way we've never seen before on national television. He's been looking at Evil Loser Russell as they stand across from each other in challenges, and he's sure from the glances they've exchanged that theirs is a meaningful relationship. There's just something about that man. Basically, JT writes him a note that says, "Dear Russell. I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no." We're just...befuddled. We're convinced that Evil Loser Russell is one of the X-Men. His mutant power is to make others work against their own best interest.

The Immunity Challenge borders on irrelevant. It seems like everyone there is operating under the same assumption. The Heroes will win, and JT will do the stupidest thing in the history of the show. And that's exactly what happens. Everything plays out so perfectly that Colby and Evil Loser Russell are the only two contestants standing near each other on a pair of platforms, which allows them to have a conversation. Colby says, "Hey Russell. You going home tonight?" Russell nods his head. Colby goes on, "Listen, when the challenge is over, you go to JT. He's gonna give you something. Okay? Use it tonight. Protect yourself. Get rid of one of them. Come on board with us."

When Russell asks who he should get rid of, Colby quickly states, "Parvati." ELR shakes his head in disgust as Colby goes off for his leg of the challenge. The Heroes have "won" and then everyone pretends not to look as JT hands over the idol and what's left of his pride and respect as a Survivor player.

Back at camp, JT is the dumb criminal who brags about his carrying out a brilliant bank robbery while the FBI surrounds his home. It gets worse, of course, when Rupert chimes in. We'll just quote him for you. "With Russell getting the hidden immunity idol, Russell is probably beaming with excitement. Russell is probably having trouble containing himself right now." Well, at least we're pretty sure he's correct.

And now, it's time to play It's Anyone But Courtney. Although she and Sandra are tight, Courtney does make an effort to argue why she makes more sense after the merge than her buddy. The gist of it is that she has a close relationship with Amanda and this notion does appeal to Parvati, who would then have her choice of loyal handmaidens to step over on the way to the final. For various reasons, all of Parvati's allies are against the Sandra vote. For ELR's part, he realizes that the numbers would be too far in Parvati's favor, while he would have no henchmen of his own. Note to Russell: this is a sign that you're not in control of the game. With regards to Jerri, her situation is tenuous at best already. They even literally sit "above" her at camp - she's down below them as they talk about voting strategy. And Danielle is worried that Courtney, who has some personality, will replace her as highest ranking Parvati drone.

With most of Parvati's allies against the idea, Courtney's fate is sealed, which we find particularly stupid. Courtney finished a respectable second during her season, but Sandra didn't just win. She was one of the most impressive champions the game has ever seen. If there is a merge next week, there will be five members of each tribe, but the reality is that Sandra is untethered and Jerri doesn't have much holding her to the power trio, assuming someone can slap some sense into her on the point. Of course, the Heroes aren't exactly a brain trust, so...

To recap this episode, JT gave a hidden immunity idol to the opposing tribe. Rupert and Colby encouraged him in this act of madness. Do you know who could have prevented this from happening? Tom. The fireman could have talked his team down from the ledge. Instead, they kept Colby, who just egged them on. We might not like Evil Loser Russell, but we were laughing just as hard at the Heroes' ineptitude as he and Parvati were. We can guarantee you this: JT was not checking his voice mail or reading any texts during the airing of this episode.