Survivor: Redemption Island
You Own My Vote
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
February 24, 2011

That's right, people. Be careful what you wish for.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Redemption Island (Revenge of the Pink Underwear). Previously on Survivor: we had one of, if not THE, best first episodes and first Tribal Councils ever. And despite expecting this to be the Russell and Rob Show, it went in a completely different direction. We met Phillip - although I doubt that's his real name. You see, Phillip used to be a federal agent, which means his word is beyond reproach, he already knows what you're thinking, he's already 12 steps ahead of you AND he is SEXAY in a pair of fuchsia briefs.

Somewhere in the first episode, Rob had groupies, Russell started another "dumb girl" alliance, and Kristina found an idol with no clue, told people, targeted Rob and watched her plan blow up in her face as Phillip blabbed to Tribal Council about everything. Oh yeah, and someone named Francesca or Francesqua or Francenstein... Ah, screw it, someone named Fran got sent to Redemption Island.

Previews for tonight show that the new Russell is the same as the old Russell as he whips out the "you're either with me or against me" line on self-proclaimed redneck Ralph. Phillip seems to be using a spear to catch a crab and we get our first introduction to Redemption Island as Francesca arrives.

Before we get to the episode, however, we're bringing back the Power Rankings from last season. Now, it's early on and half the people never even spoken to the camera, so these rankings will get more precise as the season goes on.

Boston Rob - 5-1 While I really don't think Rob will be allowed to stay in this game to the end, I have to list him at the top right now. He literally has a fan club out there. Right now, he's controlling six votes. He looked Kristina right in her eye and told her to "give me the idol and you stay." He is in perfect form and looks to be poised for a deep run in the game.

Andrea/Ashley/Natalie/Grant/Matt - 10-1 I have to list Rob's Groupies as one ranking right now. They will do whatever Rob says right now, but eventually, someone will wise up and decide to target their idol. When they do, the winner could very well come out of this group.

Ralph - 15-1 Ralph's a good ole boy. He's a hard worker and I think he's smarter than people will give him credit for. We don't know a whole lot about the Zapatera tribe, but for now, I'll list him (along with Mike) as the top dog(s) in his tribe...mainly because I like him and want him to stay.

Mike - 15-1 Mike's an Iraqi war vet, so the conditions won't phase him. He also seems to be a pretty smart guy. One of the first things out of his mouth was that Russell has to go. He's rallying the troops and may just emerge as the leader of a powerful alliance on his tribe. His weakness will be that he'll be seen as a physical threat and may pay the price for that.

Phillip - 20-1 Phillip definitely has "the crazy". He also may just have earned the respect of Rob after that amazing Tribal performance. While Rob didn't need his help, exposing a plan to get rid of Rob in front of everyone may just have earned Phillip some points with the Robfather. AND, he does bring the crazy, so he may just be the guy you want to be sitting next to at the end.

Kristina - 25-1 Kristina's only positive is that she still has the idol. With Rob leading the way, this tribe could go on an immunity run. And every time they don't vote, she gets to hold that idol a little longer and watch tribal dynamics change.

Steve/Sarita/David/Julie/Krista - 50-1 Um...who?

Russell/Stephanie - 75-1 Russell's days are numbered. Everyone is gunning for him and he brings nothing to the table as far as camp life or challenges go. He's not a joy to have around camp and he can't be trusted. I'm not totally convinced he won't be the first of his tribe to go. Stephanie has thrown in with him...which will make her target #2. Only a Redemption Island duel run will get one of these 2 to the merge.

Francesca - 1 million-1 She's still in the game, sorta. She showed me nothing that tells me she has what it takes to win a duel. I would expect her to add "first person out of Survivor: Redemption Island" to her other first, "First person sent to Redemption Island."

And now, on with the show...

The episode begins with Francesca arriving at Redemption Island. She is very concerned about the conditions at RI. As she goes through the basket of materials, all she wants is to find a flint in there. She finds some and gets to work on the fire making. She tells us that she might actually prefer RI to being back at camp with Phillip. I can honestly see her point here.

Speaking of back at camp...Ometepe returns from Tribal and Rob tells everyone that was one of the wildest Tribals he's ever seen. Kristina is feeling good about having kept the idol. I guess when everything goes horribly wrong, you have to enjoy your small victory where you can. Phillip asks to take Rob aside for a chat. This should be good. "Until I go to Redemption, you own my vote." Rob tells us that Phillip is quite the piece of work. He's not sure if he's delusional or what. As he says, "Let this be a lesson to ya, government jobs? Stressful." Rob rallies his troops and confirms that his alliance of six will run it to the end. He's very glad that he has an alliance that understands how to vote (hear that, Tyson?).

As we come back from break, shhhhhhhh, be vewy vewy quiet. Phiwwip's hunting cwabs. With a spear. In his drawers. As the rest of the tribe watches and gives the Steve Irwin commentary, Phillip tells us that he is very proud and when Francesca maligned his character, he was very upset. As he tells us about his service to his country, he does tear up and I have to loopy as the guy seems, he does seem incredibly sincere about this topic. And finally, Phillip the hunter hits pay dirt as he smacks his side winding foe with a rock. Oh, there will be crab cakes tonight!!

Our first visit to Zapatera sees Ralph showing why they call him Rooster. And the new and improved Russell tells us how stupid Ralph is and that his alliance now consists of Stephanie and Krista. "Dumb girl" alliance indeed. He pulls them aside and tells them that after the next challenge, they should expect to find an idol clue in the reward so they need to find it. He plans to search for the idol without a clue, but he wants them all to be prepared when the challenge is over. So, off he goes to find the idol. Having had the opportunity to see him play twice, the rest of the tribe is just sitting there watching him look for the idol. Well, all of the tribe save Ralph. He's running around collecting rocks. I'm sure there's a method to his madness, but for now, he's just collecting rocks. In one of the most amazing sequences I've seen on Survivor, as Russell diligently searches for the idol, Ralph's quest for rocks leads him right to a hollowed out log and inside? Oh yeah, there's the idol! Are you frickin' kidding me? Who's hiding these idols now, Helen Keller? If a guy picking up rocks can stumble on your idol, you're NOT hiding it well enough. Either way though, that whole sequence was a thing of beauty. I wonder if it'll take getting his torch snuffed to make Russell realize that this season is not going well for him.

We come back from break to the Love Connection. Matt and Andrea (two of Rob's groupies) seem to be getting along quite well. Unfortunately, the Robfather is always watching. He tells us that they're getting a little too close for him. If you have a strong pair, you can really go far in this game, as he showed in All-Stars with Amber. So he runs to Natalie and asks her what she thinks. They share the feeling that that couple is dangerous. Rob feels like Natalie is a good partner in this game, but he worries that he'll have to carry her all the way through. They discuss their options. Phillip or Andrea needs to go the next time they lose. Natalie agrees and then tells us how much she trusts Rob. You can actually see the little hearts in her eyes as she talks about him.

Probst sighting! Today's challenge involves swimming to a platform, climbing a ladder and then jumping off with a stick to break a tile holding a key. There are five keys. Three of those keys will open locks on a box. Inside that box is a ball. Once open, one player will use that ball to break a series of five tiles. First tribe to break all five tiles wins immunity AND reward. Today we're playing for fishing gear. Zapatera sits David out and we're ready to roll.

Grant and Steve are first and Grant almost dives the entire length of the pool. He opens a huge lead or Ometepe. Ometepe is just killing it in this challenge. They're far enough ahead that I have the time to think, "Is that the same pool Fabio peed in last season? And did they change the water?" Oddly enough, as I was contemplating the water condition, Zapatera has caught up and actually taken the lead. Ralph is in charge of tossing the ball for Zapatera, Phillip for Ometepe. They each break a tile for a 1-1 tie. Ralph then hits three in a row for a 4-1 lead. Then he goes cold. Ha actually hits the fifth tile two times, but no break. Meanwhile, Phillip has broken three more tiles to tie it up 4-4. And with one last toss, Ralph breaks the fifth tile and Zapatera wins again. As they celebrate, Matt goes over to them and shakes their hand. You know, it's the sportsmanlike thing to do. But Rob doesn't see it that way. He thinks it's despicable after getting their ass kicked twice in a row. And as Zapatera heads back to camp, Russell quickly grabs the basket of fishing gear.

As Zapatera gets back to camp, Russell quickly finds the clue for the hidden idol in his basket. Ralph notices it and tells the rest of the tribe. He goes off with Stephanie and Krista to read the clue. Mike is pissed that Russell took the clue and didn't share with the rest of the tribe. Really? Have you never watched the show before? Oh yeah, probably not. Anyway, as they continue to get water, Ralph calls out Russell by asking if there was a clue in the basket. Or course, he lies and says there wasn't anything in there. He tells Ralph that he doesn't have a clue and that he doesn't like how Ralph is coming at him. This is a very interesting exchange. Ralph is all about how Russell should have shared the clue with the tribe and how he has to be trustworthy. Meanwhile, Ralph HAS the idol and hasn't shared that info with anyone. Now, he'd be an idiot to show anyone the idol (right, Kristina?) but that doesn't stop him from calling Russell out. As Ralph leaves, Russell gets a chuckle out of Ralph's comment that he knows how to play this game. Um, Russell, you need to get over yourself here, because ole boy does know a little something about playing this game and right now, he's got a leg up on you. And that clue you just fought so desperately to keep a secret isn't worth the scrap of paper it's printed on.

Just a quick note here and this is being added on Thursday morning after watching the entire show. In speaking with David Mumpower about this exchange between Ralph and Russell, he suggested that maybe Ralph actually thinks this clue is to ANOTHER hidden immunity idol. Here's the exact quote from Ralph, "He's got it, but it's all right. I've already got one, so I didn't need it. I'll play this game. I'll show you how smart I can be. Right on." It really DOES sound like he thinks there is a second idol out there. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it really is a hilarious possibility. Okay, back to the recap.

We take another jaunt to Redemption Island as Francesca gets her luxury item (a journal). She is still in the dark about what will happen on RI. When will the next player show up? What will the duel be? How long will they live together before the duel? And please oh please, don't let the next person be Phillip.

As Ometepe returns from the challenge, Phillip wants to call everyone together to speak to them like he did after the last challenge. As Rob calls it, the pre-Tribal Council. Phillip tells them all that they performed "gallantryly." If only he could have been as gallantryly-ish as they were. Rob steps up and tells Phillip that they win as a team and lose as a team. Rob tells us that Phillip did blow the challenge, but Matt shaking their hands after the challenge is really eating at him.

Kristina pulls out her idol and lets us know that she has every intention to play it tonight. She asks Phillip if he's worried for tonight. He says that he's not, and that Redemption doesn't sound all that bad. He seems to feel that he can win there.

Rob gathers his core four alliance of Natalie, Grant and Ashley and discusses whether or not to vote out Matt or Andrea. He tells the group that he didn't like the handshake and Grant agrees. So they decide that the four of them will vote for Matt. They'll tell Andrea and Matt that they're splitting the vote again, to cover the idol. Then the four votes for Matt should be enough. Rob thinks Matt is playing a very hard game and he's playing a little too hard for Day 5. He tells us that he didn't want to play the game like this, but Matt's playing the game of Survivor. "He's playing textbook. But he's playing with ME." Good lord, do you suppose it's possible that Rob and Russell could be ANY more full of themselves? At least in Rob's case, he has the numbers and the setup to be able to feel that way. But even so, dude, get over yourself, too.

Rob gets his alliance of six together (including Matt and Ashley) and they discuss the vote split. The girls will vote for Kristina and the guys will vote for Phillip. Of course, Rob has no intention to keep with that plan. He tells us that Kristina better play her idol. If they can split up Matt and Andrea AND flush the idol, it'll be a home run.

Phillip comes to Rob to see what to do. Ron and Matt discuss how Phillip has no idea what to do. It's really hard to tell right now who loves Rob more. I'm thinking it's a three-way tie between Natalie, Matt and Rob. After some more glowing praise from Matt, Rob takes Phillip for a walk. He tells Phillip that no matter who goes home, it won't be him. He tells Phillip that he can't go off crazy during Tribal. He also tells him that he has to act like he's going home, as a result of his poor challenge performance. Rob tells him that right before it's time to vote, he'll put his right hand on the shoulder of who he wants Phillip to vote for. Phillip agrees. Rob is using this as a test to see what kind of loyalty Phillip has and whether or not he can actually do what he's supposed to do.

Right off the bat at Tribal, Jeff asks Kristina about not playing the idol last time. She says that she just had a feeling that she was safe last Tribal. This Tribal, not so much and she already knows whether or not she'll play the idol tonight. Jeff asks Phillip whether or not the challenge brought out the animal in him. He goes off on some sort of gorilla, lion, United States, family story that is just another notch in his crazy belt. He does finish up by saying that it was his fault they lost and he would understand if he pays the price for the loss. He asks Matt about Phillip saying he deserves to go, but he's one of the stronger guys. Matt says it's tough to think about voting someone out because of one mistake. Jeff asks Phillip about all the work he's done to get where he is and how it feels to be on the cusp of leaving the game. Phillip says that when he gets to Redemption Island, he will see his nemesis. He's ready to take care of business on RI. As Jeff speaks before sending them off to vote, Rob quickly puts his hand on Kristina's shoulder, signaling Phillip how to vote. And with that, it's time to vote.

We see Matt's vote for Phillip, Phillip's vote for Kristina and Kristina's vote for Phillip. We hear Rob say that he hopes the person doesn't hold it against him, but we don't actually see the vote. As Jeff asks about having an idol, Kristina plays her idol. And now it's time for the votes. The first and second votes are for Kristina and don't count. The next two votes are for Phillip. And then come the four votes for Matt. The expressions during the reading of the votes are fantastic. All is going according to plan until that first Matt vote comes up. The second and third votes come up and Andrea looks to be in a state of complete shock. Matt is literally like, "Whoa." And Andrea is now completely lost as her own alliance turned against her. Jeff snuffs the torch and sends Matt off to RI.

And we're left with some final words from Matt as he walks to Redemption Island. He sets his torch up and we hear Francesca sounding surprised when she learns who has joined her.

Next time on Survivor: Andrea is pissed and is on the warpath against Rob. Zapatera will learn what happens when you cross Russell. Stephanie is talking about the "biggest blindside EVER." And while it's not hyped in the promo, next week should give us the first Redemption Island duel of the season. Now THAT I'm looking forward to. Until next week, my friends, take care.