Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
Going Down in Flames
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 23, 2010

I can't believe he didn't like my letter!

Previously on Survivor, JT lost his damn mind. You know when an episode is called "Survivor History" that someone is going to do something stupid. JT did not disappoint. He inexplicably gave a hidden immunity idol to a member of the opposing team's power alliance. The end result is that we're expecting a merge tonight and the Heroes have just basted themselves with barbecue sauce and jumped on the Villains' grill. We have always considered JT to be one of the best Survivor winners in the history of the show, yet his decision last week is one that even Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel would realize is a bad idea. We're expecting Amanda to flip on him by joining forces with Amanda and for JT to be eliminated tonight. Frankly, he deserves that fate.

In a perfect demonstration of "be careful what you wish for," master strategist Rupert is hopeful that when they next see the Villains, they will be comprised of Evil Loser Russell and four girls. Almost immediately afterward, it is revealed that the Villains will be arriving at the Heroes camp for the expected merge. The Heroes will get their "good news" that ELR is still in the competition. They'll also receive the less good news that Parvati is still there and that they *might* have miscalculated.

Speaking of stupid, Evil Loser Russell takes this time to brag about how he possesses the only hidden immunity idol. Note: He's not correct.

To punctuate this point, Parvati reminds us that she also has a hidden immunity idol - one that she's chosen not to tell Russell about. It at this point that she begins to show all of the telltale signs of getting too overconfident. She refers to herself as "the queen," Russell as "the king" and, tellingly, Danielle as her "lady-in-waiting." Parvati, it's okay when we do this. When you do it, it's egomaniacal and creepy. Though on the plus side, it's clear that Parvati is planning some regicide.

When the Villains arrive, JT quickly surmises that the only possible explanation for Parvati's presence is that she and Russell must have both played an idol during Tribal Council. After all, JT totally wrote Evil Loser Russell a letter and stuff! The instructions were explicit! "It's a known fact," JT says.

The two groups come together and a lot of fun and chatter is had by all...except Parvati. Her feelings are hurt by the fact that the Heroes want her gone and she's feeling out of place amidst all the celebration. She declares that her plan is to pick off the Heroes one by one. This is a human reaction, but we're a little confused. The nature of the game is to eliminate the strongest players, and she should be flattered that they consider her to be in this category.

With regard to gameplay strategy, a couple of thoughts have come to mind. For Evil Loser Russell, the more we hear the Heroes do all the heavy lifting for him, the more we think it might be in Russell's best interest to betray his previous alliance and jump onboard with this group. After all, the Heroes don't know him the way the Villains know him. And let's be honest, the remaining Heroes have proven themselves to be quite gullible. We don't necessarily think much of ELR's skills, but amongst Colby, JT, Amanda and Rupert, they start to look a lot better. It's a pearls before swine scenario.

Likewise, it also occurs to us that perhaps this highly touted women's alliance that everyone is so sure about might just have a chance at becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since we know already that Parvati (and by extension, everyone else) distrusts Evil Loser Russell, there's no real reason for her to stick with her alliance with him, either. With the merge, the women outnumber the men 6-4, and it's not like Colby and Rupert are showing any ability to strategize or go any distance in this game.

What we're saying is that we think Evil Loser Russell and Parvati are about to file for Survivor Divorce.

"I told you. He's a good old country boy." --JT, evaluating Russell's sincerity.

We're starting to look at JT the same way Star Wars fans look at the prequels.

Sandra takes the opportunity to drop the bomb on Rupert that everything he thought about Survivor this season is dead wrong. She informs him that the women are not in fact running the show, and that Evil Loser Russell is actually the kingpin in charge of the villains. We wonder briefly if Rupert will take her at her word, but Sandra's reputation as a straight shooter works to her advantage here. Sure, she's a villain, but she's not a dishonest one. Instead, she's blunt to a fault, which is why we argued she really belongs on the Heroes tribe.

What does this mean? Basically, Sandra has blown Rupert's mind. He's realized that the Heroes have been played and that Evil Loser Russell is, in fact, evil. Maybe that's why he's on the Villains' tribe!

If the Heroes were sheriffs, the crime rate in their town would be 100%.

They prove this to us when Rupert approaches his alliance to discuss the possibility that Evil Loser Russell might, in fact, be evil. Maybe that's why he's on the Villains' tribe! JT and Amanda effectively tell Rupert that he shouldn't hurt himself by thinking. That's what their big brains are for.

JT has an extended confessional, but we're not going to describe it because it's awfully hard to watch. Michael Scott has never done anything this embarrassing in his worst moment at Dunder Mifflin (or Sabre).

At this point, the segment we've been waiting for all season unfolds. We've said all along that we thought Parvati and Amanda would work together as soon as there was a merge. And hey, guess what? The two of them find a moment alone in the woods to find out if this can be the case. Neither one fully trusts the other, but they realize that they are in a great position to team up once more. This is horrible news for the Heroes, who need every vote they can get, and will find themselves one short when it matters. The upshot of the discussion is that Amanda will reveal to Parvati who the Heroes plan to vote for, while Parvati tells Amanda that she has an idol.

Finally, a half hour into the episode, we have our first Probst sighting of the evening. The new joint tribe announces that they have selected the name of Yin Yang. Evil Loser Russell thinks it means "good and evil." He is, of course, wrong.

Today's challenge is eerily similar to last week's. This time, the Survivors must hang or hold onto a slotted pole. It's another situation where a lot of the women have a huge advantage due to their smaller size. Sandra does quit almost immediately because her leg is shaking, but Colby drops out even before her. Probst berates him for awhile before moving back to the other non-quitters. In the end, the final three are Candice, Parvati and Danielle, with Candice making the odd decision to quit despite the fact that she was feeling no adverse effects from the challenge. Probst considers this to be a maddening decision, but the following one is even more important from a gameplay perspective.

After a brief negotiation, Parvati agrees to dismount, ceding immunity to her lady-in-waiting. Evil Loser Russell has just spent an inordinate amount of time creating a smoke screen that the only reason Parvati remains in the competition is because she used a hidden immunity idol at the previous Tribal Council. Were this true, there is absolutely no chance she would simply give up immunity to anyone - even an ally. After all, Parvati knows that the Heroes are so desperate to eliminate her from competition that they gave a hidden immunity idol to a virtual stranger to secure such a result. A crafty player would notice this stuff immediately. We'll see if any of them are smart enough to make this determination.

What are JT's first words after the break? "The only thing that concerns me is the way Parvati stepped down at the challenge."

"We tell Russell it's Parvati and then vote for Sandra," Colby replies. The two Heroes come to an accord that either Jerri or Sandra could go.

You know how we're always talking about how Evil Loser Russell is not that smart and makes a lot of dumb moves? Remember a couple of episodes ago when Sandra nonchalantly manipulated him into voting off Coach, his only true ally in the game? Yeah, if you thought that was stupid, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Unsolicited, ELR walks over to Parvati, who possesses a hidden immunity idol he doesn't know about, and gives her...a hidden immunity idol. His reasons for doing so seem to be motivated by...well, a blood rush in the body area generally hidden by shorts. This pleases Parvati greatly, and she even gives Evil Loser Russell a hug. Humorously, she does rub the troll germs off her shoulder the instant he turns his back.

A fascinating discussion ensues in the final segment before Tribal Council. Amanda and Parvati, who had previously agreed to work together, are now feeling each other out before their first joint vote. Parvati has a sense that she is safe at Tribal Council as demonstrated by her actions during the Immunity Challenge. Amanda explicitly tells Parvati that she needs to use her immunity idol, but the Queen Villain sees through that ploy immediately. The unmistakable disappointment in her eyes and body language when she realizes that Amanda is not fully with her is quite clear, but she does handle it "professionally" by smoothing over any potential ill will by advising Amanda to vote with the Heroes. We aren't sure what has been resolved here. We had believed they might join forces, but it's possible that Amanda has done all she can for her sort-of ally.

When the vote comes around, the Heroes state during the writing of names that the reason they are targeting Jerri is because they consider her to be the least likely recipient of a hidden immunity idol. What happens next takes our breath away. We say without hyperbole that this may be the best strategic move one player has ever made in the history of the game. Parvati gives one of her hidden immunity idols to Sandra, which causes much premature celebration from JT, Rupert and Colby. Then, she gives her other idol to Jerri, at which point JT realizes he is screwed.

JT, let's trace the mousetrap that leads to your execution. Remember a couple of episodes ago when you found a hidden immunity idol and tried to hide it from everyone, only to be discovered by Amanda? Remember how you inexplicably made the determination that the best thing to do with your idol would be to give it away to a complete stranger on the opposing tribe? Also, do you recall how you gave that stranger a letter instructing him to vote out a specific individual on the other tribe? And do you also note that this person you wanted him to eliminate was actually his Survivor crush? Well, it turns out that Trolly McThinkswithhisjunk thought that the best way to impress her would be to give her his (your) hidden immunity idol. And she thought that the best way to use that immunity idol would be to make sure that your ass was eliminated. Yes, JT, you sealed your own fate. And it only gets worse when you hear the words that Parvati uttered as she wrote your name down:

"This is my love letter to you. Since you tried to vote me out, I figured I should return the favor."

JT, we don't know how to say this politely, but we have decided that Stephen was the brains of your operation when you won.

Parvati, we're officially under your spell. We'll give you our "hidden immunity idol" any time.