Survivor: Redemption Island
Don't You Work For Me?
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
March 10, 2011

Bye, ELR. Bet we never have to see you again.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Redemption Island. This could potentially be a huge week for Survivor as last week saw Russell Hantz voted out of the game for the first time in his three seasons. It actually saw his tribe throw a challenge (a Jim Van Nest no-no) to do it as well. Other stuff happened, too, but other than Matt outlasting Francesca in the first RI duel and Rob finding a clue for the hidden idol, none of it amounted to much when compared to Russell's ouster.

Previews for tonight suggest that Ometepe is getting more and more annoyed with Phillip. And we have another RI duel tonight, which could send Russell home for good. The promos have promised an EXPLOSIVE episode let's do some Power Rankings and then get right to it.

Not much changes at the top of the chart as getting rid of Russell really didn't affect too many people.

Rob - 4-1 Rob is still in charge of his tribe. He has a clue to the idol and no one knows he has it. Also, he now has confidence and momentum after winning his first challenge of the season, regardless of the taint that surrounded the win.

Natalie/Ashley/Grant - 8-1 I'll continue to keep Rob's alliance-mates together here as last week did nothing to establish a pecking order for them.

Ralph - 10-1 Ralph stays put this week as his plan to lose a challenge and dump Russell worked for him. He did, however, get himself one vote away from elimination, which suggests to me that so far, Ralph is getting lucky. He has an idol, but we don't know yet if he's smart enough to know how to use it.

Mike/Steve/Sarita/David/Julie - 15-1 I'll put the rest of Ralph's alliance up a spot this week. While Mike and David seem to be setting themselves apart from the rest of the group, they haven't done enough for me to give them their own spot. Not to mention, they all went with the "throw the challenge" plan, so this is as good as I get with them right now.

Andrea/Kristina - 20-1 Rob brought Andrea back into the mix and Kristina has shown she can find an idol with no clue. I really have very little to go on with these two right now as promos seem to be focusing so much on Phillip.

Phillip - 30-1 This is based solely on previews. They seem to be suggesting that he really starts getting on people's nerves. That could be enough for Rob to cut him loose should Ometepe lose tonight.

Krista - 50-1 Krista was the third in Russell's alliance. Stephanie was WAY more vocal, so Krista may be the one with a chance to get back in the good graces of her tribe. I'd say she has her work cut out for her, but she has been very unassuming thus far and might find a way back in.

Stephanie - 100-1 Stephanie is definitely the next to go when Zapatera hits Tribal. She opened her mouth too much and said too many stupid things to be forgiven. Her tireless defense of Russell sealed her fate. If Zapatera loses, she'll hit RI tonight.

Matt - 250-1 As I said last week, Matt is a threat to stay at RI for a long time. He can beat Russell. And Stephanie, Krista, Kristina, Phillip and Andrea (the most likely group of folks to be voted out next) pose no real threat to him. Could they beat him? Sure, but I'd give Matt odds over all of them. Tonight is the ultimate good vs. evil battle on Survivor and call me an optimist, I think good wins out.

Russell - 1 million-1 I think Russell has the slightest of chances to beat Matt tonight, but I don't think it'll happen. Matt is incredibly focused, while Russell feels entitled. I would expect Russell to try to throw Matt off his game by being his normal obnoxious self. Matt seems too grounded right now for anything to throw off his game. So my bet is Russell will receive more airtime at the reunion than any second boot EVER.

So the episode begins with Russell coming into Redemption Island. Russell tells Matt about his tribe throwing the challenge to get rid of him. Matt is feeling pretty good to be blindsided by Rob and bunking with Russell. Russell tells us how he plans to beat everyone that comes to RI and get his revenge.

After the credits, we join Ometepe as they try to sleep. Of course, Phillip is up sweeping the dirt with a tree branch...which leads to a discussion about his pink tighty whiteys. Rob's pretty grossed out about the whole thing. Meanwhile, Phillip tells us that no one understands him and that this is a huge disadvantage for him. I'd tell you more of what he said if it made even a small bit of sense.

We join Stephanie and Krista feeling awfully alone on the Zapatera tribe. They really have no plan at this point with Russell gone. So with everything going smoothly with his six person alliance, Ralph decides this is a good time to tell someone that he has the hidden idol. So he handpicks EVERYONE IN HIS ALLIANCE to tell. That's right...he just shared that info with sic people, three or four of whom will NEED to vote him out if they want a shot at the million. His thinking on this is that now that they know, they'll want to keep him around. Huh?? You just painted a huge target on your furry back!

At Ometepe, Phillip takes a break from annoying people for a minute to go get Tree Mail. That break is short-lived as he comes back to camp and reads the clue in an obnoxious voice that only Phillip could come up with. Further, he gets tripped up a bit over the word "Rochambeau." Anyone who doesn't know what that is...Google search "Rochambeau South Park". Long story short, pick two people to go to RI for the duel. Phillip quickly volunteers to go and asks Kristina to go with him. Phillip wants to go because, with his special agent background, he wants to gather intel. At Zapatera, someone named Sarita and Ralph will go watch the show.

At RI, Russell sums up what we already know. This duel is the ultimate good vs. evil. He tells us that in the real world, he would definitely be rooting for Matt. And in comes Jeff. Today's duel is a simple domino setup. Each person will need to line up a long line of dominoes over an up and down track. All around the track are ropes that, if touched, will knock the dominoes down. Once their row is set up, they push the first one and if they're set up right, they'll knock a ball down a track to break a tile. They're playing for their Survivor lives here. Matt is the first one to finish his lineup. He hits the first one and it gets about halfway through before there is too big of a break, causing the dominoes to stop. He has to start all over again. Russell has the opportunity now. He lines everything up and knocks down his first domino and again about halfway through, his line stops as well. Both guys are working fast now and Matt is the next one to give it a go. This time, his setup is solid and goes all the way through, releasing the ball and breaking the tile. Matt has stayed alive yet again and at the same time, ends the reign of the greatest villain in Survivor history.

In a complete WTF moment, Russell actually breaks down into tears. What!?!?! I really don't know what to say here. The worst villain in the history of the game, hell, in the history of reality TV...crying like a bitch? Come on, man, you HAVE to be kidding me. After pulling it together, he reminds us exactly who he is. With Jeff asking him about the tears, he begins to tear into his tribe. He talks about how they threw a challenge just to get rid of him because he's "Russell". He says they're not even worried about Rob and his team and numbers. As he complains about having to do everything for his tribe, Ralph interrupts to say that Russell wouldn't show the tribe the hidden idol clue. And then goes on to say that he already found the idol in 15 seconds. Russell picks right up on that and tells him to show him the idol. he then looks at Phillip and Kristina and says, "There ya go guys, he has the idol."

Ralph tries to suggest that he faked Russell out. Phillip uses his keen sense of deception detection (a skill honed to near pinpoint accuracy through years of government training) to see through Ralph's lie and knows that Ralph has the idol. Russell doesn't stop there. He tells Phil and Kristina that Sarita is in charge and that Steve and Mike are an alliance. We probably shouldn't be surprised...but Russell did his best to go out with a blaze of glory. We'll just have to see how that "intel" is use by Philip and Kristina. With his final words, Russell says he'll never play the game again and he wishes Matt the best.

While Phillip and Kristina are away, the rest of the Ometepe tribe is having a blast with them gone. However, Rob's thinking about an immunity idol. He comes up with a game to play on the everyone heads out to play Rob's game. Right as they're to start, Rob fakes having to use the bathroom and runs back to camp. He's searching around every tree. He suggests that there's like 40 trees and on the 38th tree, he finally looks up and what do you know? There's an idol up there! Way to go Zapatera, not only did you give Rob momentum and luxury also gave him an idol. Can't wait for him to use it to sink your challenge throwing alliance.

We join Zapatera as Sarita and Ralph come back. Sarita is just glowing over the results of the duel. As everyone celebrates Russell's departure, Stephanie and Krista are forced to listen to them all celebrate. David notices it and he says he understands it. They're all dancing on his grave. And here we go again with discussion of whether or not to throw a challenge. Stephanie and Krista try to make Mike understand that giving up numbers on purpose is never a good thing. But enough of that stupidity, let's get back to Phillip.

Phillip suggests to Kristina that they not share any of Russell's intel with the rest of the tribe. He says he's not going to give Rob names until he takes them to the merge. He tells us that he's gonna try to get Kristina a better place in the game in return for his info. He takes Rob and Grant aside to tell his story. He does leave out the names and asks if Rob can do something for Kristina. In Rob's words, "I'm like, hey, dumbass, aren't you in my alliance? Don't you work for me? Now you're telling me who I should grant favors to?" And naturally, Rob tells him that sure, he'll help Kristina. And Phillip spills all the beans. And what have we here? A Grant confessional? Sweet. He has gotten totally on the "get rid of Phillip" train.

We come back from break to Zapatera getting Tree Mail announcing a reward/immunity challenge. Julie tells us how important it is to win this challenge after throwing the last one.

Probst sighting! And we've hit the "shameless promotion" challenge. As always, I will refuse to name the sponsor in the recap as I'm not seeing a check for my promotion. The tribes will have to use several tools to get through an obstacle course. Winners get a barbecue and immunity. Zapatera sits out Krista in this challenge.

Starting out, it's Rob against Ralph using a crowbar. Ralph is first back after getting the shovel. Rob is right behind. Grant quickly catches up with Julie digging up the hatchet. Ralph and Rob do the next leg, which is chopping through a log to cut a rope. Ralph is pretty quick through it and takes a big lead on Rob. Steve and Mike untie the saws and begin cutting out the planks. Phillip and Grant catch up a bit, but never really catch up to Steve and Mike. Once all the planks are cut out, Stephanie and Sarita head out to put the puzzle planks together. Grant and Phillip finally get through them all and Rob and Kristina are on the course with the puzzle. Rob makes up huge time on the puzzle planks, but it's too little, too late and Ralph drives in the three nails and Zapatera wins immunity yet again. As Ralph gets up on the table to do his rooster thing, I'm reminded of how frustrating this show can be.

I'm gonna skip over the Zapatera barbecue and get right to the strategizing over at Ometepe. As they get back to camp, Phillip feels the need to give a pep talk to everyone. No one really wants to hear it. Rob tells us that the entire tribe pretty much wants him gone. Ashley tells us how bad she wants him to go. Kristina is hoping the annoyance with Phillip will give her three more days. She decides to plant a seed with the girls asking about the idol clue. Natalie is a little concerned that Kristina doesn't seem to be scrambling too much.

As they talk about it, Rob suggests that maybe Kristina has the idol. He has determined that Kristina is a bigger threat to him than Phillip. He organizes his alliance to split the vote again, just in case Kristina has the idol again. The next thing we see might be the very beginning of a crack on Rob's alliance. Ashley and Grant are not 100% on-board with the Kristina vote. They feel that Phillip is much more deserving of going home. Grant makes a plea to Rob and Rob shuts it down, saying that Kristina is a better player. All Rob wants is for all his people to get in line and do as they're told. Rob tells Phillip to vote Kristina, which triggers Phillip to think Rob has gone back on his word to help her. Let's head to Tribal.

Jeff starts with Kristina and asks her if she's feeling vulnerable again. She says that she has been on the wrong side of the numbers from the beginning. Jeff brings up second chances and everyone's playing nice when talking about Kristina. Rob finally says that Kristina was not really a part of the tribe for the first several days and the question now is whether or not it's too late. When asked what she thinks the tribe should do, she says they should do what it takes to make the tribe stronger. She goes on to suggest that Phillip's disruptiveness helps make the tribe weaker. Jeff has to ask Phillip about this and he claims to be a "doer" and those who don't do much tend to not like him telling him about that. Kristina says she does every bit as much as Phillip. This leads Phillip in yet another recap of his life resume. One thing we learn here is that Phillip earned the second highest medal that you can get during peacetime while doing field sanitation. Let's just get to the vote, shall we?

We see Phillip's vote for Kristina, telling her that her time has run out. We then see Kristina's vote for Phillip saying that he's a pain in the neck and she really hopes it's him and not her. The only question here is whether or not Grant and Ashley "did what they were told" and carried on with Rob's split vote. The votes alternate between Phillip and Kristina until only one vote remains. And the 4th person voted to Redemption Island is Kristina. With Phillip's vote, that means that everyone played their part and stuck with Rob's plan.

In talking with David Mumpower, we were discussing this vote and Grant's refusal to come out from behind Rob's shadow. I mentioned that Grant was, surprisingly to me, a wide receiver in the NFL. David suggested that mentality could be an explanation for how Grant is playing the game. He's used to following the lead of the quarterback, going along with all the plays he calls. Rob is his Survivor QB and he's playing the role of the WR. If he wants to win this game, though, he better have a little bit of Terrell Owens in him, otherwise, his QB will lead him straight to Redemption Island.

Next time on Survivor: Phillip is getting even MORE on everyone's nerves. Of course, that leads Rob to thinking that maybe Phillip needs to stay. At Zapatera, Russell's girls decide to cause some mayhem in their tribe and tribe unity crumbles. Jeff doesn't mention it, but Matt will try to make it three in a row on Redemption Island.

I feel like I should have more to say about Russell exiting the game this early, but in all honesty, he's been given so much airtime over his three season and so much space in our recaps, I really don't have anything left to say. He fought hard tonight; he just lost to a more prepared and better player. He showed Matt nothing but class and sportsmanship and was able to take some parting shots before he left, as you would expect.

That all being said, the game does go on. And speaking of the game going on, word came down today that Survivor has been picked up for a 23rd and 24th season, and Jeff Probst has renewed his contract to stay on as host. So, looks like we have a couple more seasons left to enjoy. Until next week, take care!