Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
Anything Could Happen
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 17, 2010

Remember when Russell told me I couldn't beat him? Wasn't that funny?

Previously on Survivor, everyone's favorite pirate (besides Jack Sparrow...and Keira Knightley) was finally voted off after what seemed like a month's worth of episodes where he should have been voted off but wasn't. We are left with these five remaining contestants:

Sandra: Hooked up with Boston Rob from the start and seemed to be in complete control of the game right up until Tyson's epic mistake prematurely ended their entire alliance. She showed tremendous tenacity in surviving the past several votes despite having no allies since Courtney's elimination. Sandra made the right plays early on and received no reward for her efforts; nonetheless, she has picked up a lot of steam as she has made move after move that reminds people why she's one of the craftiest Survivors ever to play the game. Jury members and remaining players respect her.

Parvati: She said early on this year that she didn't ride coattails and then spent the body of the game proving it. She has been unexpectedly strong in challenges, while running a tight shift with the dominant Villains' alliance. We said at the merge that she was in the best position to win the game, and despite the elimination of her most trusted ally, Danielle, that still seems to be the case. We've run through all the permutations, and while we believe Sandra has played a slightly better game, Parvati is the odds-on favorite to win tonight...but it's very close between these two women. We'll be disappointed if Survivor does not feature a repeat winner tonight, because Sandra and Parvati have earned it more than anyone remaining in the game.

Jerri: We said earlier this year when she betrayed Boston Rob that the move could not be judged until much later in the season. Much as we predicted, Jerri suffered buyer's remorse with her choice, particularly when Coach was voted out. Still, here she stands in the final five with a strong argument about why she should win. While others can point out various ways they may have carried Jerri further in the game, the undeniable truth is that three of the final five players are there because Jerri chose Parvati's alliance over Boston Rob's. To her credit, she learned from past mistakes, dialed down the drama, remained low-key, and has positioned herself to win the game without alienating any of the other players. In a season where a lot of great players disappointed, Jerri has been the most pleasant surprise.

Evil Loser Russell: We thought this little troll would be eliminated almost immediately, because, well, people would get to know him. And yes, that almost happened. Had Tyson been able to follow the simplest of instructions, an entirely different game would have unfolded this season. Think of this as the Lost: Alternate Universe version of Survivor, where Boston Rob and Sandra have been in control instead of Parvati and ELR. Yes, the producers of the game propped him up a bit by making the hidden Immunity Idols readily available once more. Viewers of the show see him as a bigger threat and give him more respect than the actual players seem to. The actual players seem to see him as more of a Randy type, a creepy dude who is socially inept and kind of a jerk. The one thing we cannot take away from ELR is his indomitable will. He wants to win Survivor more than any other player we've ever seen. Since everyone remaining in the game as well as on the jury hates him, a lot would have to happen for that to even be a possibility. He's just not good at the social aspect of the game at all.

Colby: He also played this season.

"He wants to micromanage the whole tribe, and unfortunately, I'm not the kind of person you can micromanage." --Sandra, discussing Evil Loser Russell

We spent the last couple of days debating the various permutations for the last couple of votes. What we eventually settled upon was the Colby would be the next person eliminated unless one of two things happens. The obvious one is that he reclaims some of his glory from Season 2 and wins immunity. The other is that ELR comes to grips with the fact that he's highly unlikely to win this game and goes crazy. The last time this happened, Danielle was eliminated. This time, we'd be surprised if the remaining players chose to let his irrational behavior slide. Evil Loser Russell clearly does not recognize this, as he starts throwing a tantrum the moment they return from Tribal Council. He makes one of the worst arguments in Survivor history when he accuses Sandra of lying to him about possessing the Immunity Idol. As she later states, this is a comical assertion from someone who would have been voted off 25 days ago had he not played a hidden Immunity Idol. If ELR is to make the final Tribal Council tonight, he needs to get a grip on his emotions immediately, something he has never demonstrated an ability to do in his two seasons.

Remember when we talked about ELR and Parvati filing for Survivor divorce? Well, now she's acting like a Survivor ex-wife, as she needles him incessantly about his stupid Immunity Idol comments. All of Evil Loser Russell's enemies sense that he is low man on the totem pole, at least among those that have a pulse. For Colby's part (seriously, Colby is still here. Remember Reid?), he gets a little smile out of the whole exchange. Not only does he see a rift between the Villains giving him potential longer life in the game, but he also hates ELR and is enjoying his comeuppance. Evil Loser Russell has accomplished the impossible. He's made someone on the tribe less popular to Colby than Jerri. Of course, he is still just about popular enough to run for Congress.

All kidding aside, when we hear how ELR evaluates the game play of others, we see the downside of self-obsession. His scorecard is wrong. He's certain that if he goes to the final with Jerri and Sandra, that he would win because he's the only one who has played the game. Good luck with that.

Probst sighting! Today's Immunity Challenge has the Survivors balancing a stack of dishes until there is only one person left whose pile has not fallen. All contestants perform very admirably despite heat, wind and obvious exhaustion. The first person out is Sandra, followed soon by Jerri. Colby, Parvati and ELR all get their stacks rather high before Evil Loser Russell's, who seemed shaky all along, drops his dishes. The final two are Colby and Parvati and it's a fine showdown. The wind blows and threatens to tip Colby's stack, but he regains control. Finally, when Probst instructs them to put a large bowl on the stack, Colby just can't hold on any more. Parvati wins immunity again. She is guaranteed a spot in the final four and proves that she is one of the best to ever play the game.

Thus, it's time to play It's Anyone But Colby. He gives a valiant goodbye speech to his peers, and says he's done playing the game and accepts that he'll be voted out this evening. Then, we go to confessional, where he says that he's never given up on anything in his life...and pauses in silence for about 30 seconds, because it's clear that whatever he says next is tough for him. Choking up a bit, Colby says that he then made his final play...

...which was to approach ELR and make a case that if they vote out Sandra at Tribal Council, that he, Evil Loser Russell and Jerri have the best chance of beating Parvati for Immunity and thereby eliminating her next. It's actually a pretty solid argument, because ELR knows full well and good that he can't beat Parvati in the final. Obviously, Colby hates himself for doing it this way, but he also wants to win. Will his deal with the devil pay off?

And the answer is no. The reality is that it was important to the Villains that all the Heroes be eliminated before them. Everyone took the theme to heart. Colby is voted out, and there are no Heroes left standing.

"The challenges were something that I used to be good at. I guess I'm just an old, dusty veteran. My third time in, just not destined to win this game. --Colby

Now we come to the Fast Forward portion of the show, where the final remaining contestants take a little trip and honor the Survivors who have "fallen" before them. Ho-hum.

That just means we get to see Probst-y that much sooner for the final Immunity Challenge. During Tribal Council, Colby opened Parvati's eyes to the fact that her tribemates view her as the biggest threat to win the million dollars. She knows she must win. If she can pull it off, the chances are very, very good that she takes home another million bucks.

The final challenge is a maze that they must race through blindfolded to grab four necklaces before going to the final post, where Immunity lies. There are four contestants left...okay, three plus Sandra. And this one plays out exactly that way. ELR, Jerri and Parvati are all at the finish post blindly grabbing for the Immunity Necklace. Jerri has the best strategy as she follows a rope to get to the pole where the necklace hangs, but ELR has a slight lead when they get to the post and manages to just grab immunity from her hands. Parvati is also only inches away and in fact seems to try to steal the necklace as Evil Loser Russell tries to put it around his neck.

It's time to play It's Anyone But Parvati, right? We mean, anyone knows that if Parvati goes to the final, Parvati wins, right? Well, no, apparently. Evil Loser Russell approaches Sandra and tells her she has no chance of beating him. He also approaches Parvati and says she can't beat him either. He has apparently determined that if he puts Jerri on the jury, that will be a guaranteed vote for him. We're not sure where he thinks he's going to get any other votes, but hey. Russell Math is obviously different than David & Kim math. Alternately, Evil Loser Russell is letting "Little Russell" do the thinking for him, because Jerri is in fact sent to the jury. Our final three are Parvati, Sandra and Evil Loser Russell. This promises to be a stellar Tribal Council.

The morning after the vote is historically boring filler. This episode, like the rest of the season, is full of surprises. The first one occurs when ELR tries to get Parvati to play the "It's Just You And I...Ha Ha Ha We're So Much Better Than Sandra" game. This doesn't work out very well for him since she likes Sandra better. She tells him that she would vote for Sandra. He is confused, because the game was supposed to work with him saying, "I would have voted for you, Parvati," while she says, "I would have voted for you, Russell." Parvati is not very good at this game. The game of Survivor, on the other hand, she's plenty good at.

Sandra has spent the body of the season waiting for the opportunity to eliminate Evil Loser Russell. Ever since Tyson blew it for everyone, she has personalized the game more than during her first victory at Pearl Islands. He's just that dislikable a human being. The game of Survivor is about to come full circle for him. While Russell is off doing man stuff that girls shouldn't worry their pretty little heads about. Sandra notices she left his hat behind. Remember at the start of Survivor Samoa last year when Russell decided to burn everyone's socks to prove what a bad guy he is? Sandra has a hat, an open flame and a bad attitude toward ELR. That's right. The hat goes up in smoke. A priceless moment occurs when he comes back and informs the others that he isn't going to leave until he finds his hat. We hope that maybe they'll point out it's in the fire in the possibility that he might jump in the flames himself, but they remain quiet, and he arrives at Tribal Council hatless.

The players make their opening statements, with Sandra correctly pointing out that she had no allies at the merge and that she also never won an Immunity Challenge. She had to work harder to Survive than the others in the primary Villains' alliance. ELR takes the odd tactic of ripping out the jury member's hearts and showing them to them, then throwing the hearts on the ground and kicking sand on them. Effectively, he rubs it in their faces that he eliminated them and because he's so much better than they are, they should vote for him. Honestly, we'd have given him a million dollars ourselves if he'd said, " me."

Finally, Parvati makes her case, and it's as strong as you might expect. Her argument is priceless, although probably alienating to Coach. She regurgitates his dragon metaphor, stating that instead of slaying the dragon (Russell), she made him her pet. Although the editing in this episode makes us believe Sandra will win, that little quote is so funny that it feels like a victory speech. Candice and Colby crack up, while ELR boggles. We honestly do not know why people think this guy is a savvy player. Parvati has him nailed to a T.

Now, the jury has their opportunity to ask questions. Colby tells ELR that he is delusional with his evaluation that luck played no part in his making the final. Hey, Colby did something right this season. He then presses Parvati to explain what she did strategically to make it to the final vote while simultaneously acknowledging her exceptional performance in challenges. Parvati does exactly what we said she should in our most recent recap. She reminds the jury of the moment when she possessed two Immunity Idols while Amanda told her to protect herself. Rather than demonstrating self-preservation, her gambit was to protect Jerri and Sandra instead. This also reminds Jerri that she should be grateful enough to reward Parvati with a vote while also diminishing Sandra. Parvati is *very* good at the game of Survivor. Sandra is not addressed by Colby, meaning that she either has his vote or has no chance of getting it.

Coach's question is...nonexistent. He just wants to finger wag, on the off chance the players hadn't noticed his righteous indignation during his animated sequences as a member of the jury (not literally, Coach, so don't be thinking Pixar's gonna be calling soon on that How to Train Your Dragon Slayer pitch). Sandra is completely dismissed as a coattail rider, while Parvati is lauded for her strong challenge play. Coach states that "as a Christian man," he has come to the final Tribal Council with no preconceived notions regarding his vote. We're putting him down for Jerri. We figure one of the producers can scratch it out and write down one of the other names after the fact.

Amanda asks only one question. She queries Sandra on why her gameplay was better than that of her two competitors. Sandra is honest about the fact that she plotted and plotted against Russell but could never get rid of him. She even points out that she approached all of the Heroes at various points, trying to get them to eliminate him. This is a dangerous strategy. Sandra is acknowledging that she didn't outplay Russell to the point that she could get him voted out. It is smart, however, in that she's letting a number of people know that they could be sitting beside her if they'd only listened to her. Amanda was either setting Sandra up with a hanging curve ball to hit it out of the park or she was giving her enough rope to hang herself. David thinks she missed with her answer, while Kim believes this is the kind of brutal honesty we've come to expect from her and was enough to plant the seeds that ELR was a bad dude who they could have beaten if they'd played a better game themselves.

Courtney, who is voting for Sandra, congratulates Sandra, the person Courtney is voting for. She also mumbles something about Parvati being good, too. The important thing is that she's voting for Sandra. We also think they might be moving to Vermont together and buying a pair of poodles.

Reminder: Courtney is voting for Sandra.

JT gets up and figures he may as well start with...the letter. This leads to some very weird discussion about whose bed Evil Loser Russell will be sleeping in, his or JT's, and we just get uncomfortable. JT, it's never going to happen! For her part, Sandra points out that if she had known that JT was planning to give ELR the hidden Immunity Idol, she would have tossed it back JT's way and given him the straight story. Parvati tries to chime in and say, "Me too!" but everyone recognizes the score on this one. We think this point goes to Sandra, but there's a possibility it goes to Parvati.

Danielle, who is voting for Parvati, congratulates Parvati, the person Danielle is voting for. Well, she doesn't actually say this, but we know it's true. She also takes a few moments to tell Russell she hates him and thinks he is stupid. Russell assures her the feeling is mutual. This is exactly why neither one of them will win Survivor this season. The important thing is that she's voting for Parvati.

Reminder: Danielle is voting for Parvati.

Jerri starts with ELR, the person most likely to receive her vote. She asks him what happened to lead him to change from voting off Parvati to voting off her instead. He says that it's because if he'd been sitting beside her, she would win. Parvati and Sandra both raise their hands at this point to speak up. This actually happens. The women fight each other to get to tell the real story. Parvati tells Jerri that ELR decided to vote her out because he was certain he had her vote if he put Jerri on the jury. Jerri is nonplussed by this turn of events, and Evil Loser Russell doesn't help his cause any when he acknowledges them. Jerri then addresses Sandra and wonders why Sandra didn't have her back, but doesn't really give her a chance to talk.

We're braced for Candice to do some finger wagging. As the treacherous Hero, her elimination probably hurts as much as any of them, save for perhaps JT. She does not ask questions, although her comments indicate that Sandra is getting her vote. She offers a blistering assessment of ELR in how his lies go beyond the game and damn him as a person. (Candice, you can join Colby in the "Hey, I Got One Right Club".) She then tells Parvati that she was under Russell's thumb - the Tina Turner to his Ike. Candice hoped that Parvati would get out of the abusive relationship, but it never happened. Parvati smirks dismissively at this, but Candice says she just can't support that sort of alliance.

Rupert gets up and, well, we're conflicted. We mentioned this a couple of times in recent recaps. Rupert had made a big deal out of the fact that ELR is a bad human being. After doing so, he made an alliance with Evil Loser Russell in order to aid his own self-preservation. This is an understandable albeit hypocritical move. What he does next is great television and gives us a shiver of satisfaction when he addresses Russell. He berates Evil Loser Russell to the point that ELR looks at Probst as if begging for help. If Evil Loser Russell were an MMA fighter he'd be asking for the ref to stop the fight. We've seen Amanda Kimmel have a couple of the worst Tribal Councils ever, but what is happening to ELR throws under those instances. He's not even being given a chance to defend himself by several of these players. The entire jury has looked at him and said, "You suck. Go die." On a more positive note, Rupert tells Sandra how much he regrets not listening to her earlier in the game and thanks her on behalf of all the Heroes. Finally, he beats on Parvati for teaming with Russell, which bothers us since he was perfectly willing to do exactly the same thing when placed in a similar situation. He makes it better, though, by telling Parvati that she was a very worthy competitor and deserves to be in the final three.

We are of the opinion at this moment that Sandra is about to win the best and most competitive season of Survivor ever. We are also of the opinion that Parvati would have been just as deserving a champion, but is being punished for her choice of allies. We also believe that as hard as this is for us to wrap our heads around, we like ELR more than the jury does.

Probst reads the votes, and the final result is that all of the Heroes plus Courtney vote for Sandra, while Coach, Danielle and Jerri vote for Parvati. Sandra becomes the first two-time winner ever and stakes her claim as the best player in the history of the show. We do not see it as an irrefutable claim, as an argument could be made that Parvati was every bit as good and could have beaten her if she hadn't had the stink of Russell on her. Evil Loser Russell gets nothing. You lose! Good day, sir!

Well, that's not entirely true. ELR does get to keep the nickname we bestowed upon him.

After the first All-Stars, we had said it was a good experiment that shouldn't be repeated. And yet, this season of Survivor wasn't just great by Survivor standards. It wasn't just great by reality TV standards. It was just fabulous television. Thanks to this stellar season, we will be back to recap next season. Have a great summer, everyone!