Survivor: Redemption Island
We Hate Our Tribe
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
March 16, 2011

She's mumbling under her breath about how much she hates Phillip.

Hello, good people, and welcome once again to BOP's recap of Survivor: Redemption Island. Last time on Survivor, Rob found an idol, Ralph told everyone about HIS idol, Phillip is getting crazier (if you can believe that) and Kristina finally ran out of luck and was sent packing to Redemption Island. Oh yeah...and Russell lost the RI duel to Matt and was sent home, for good.

This week's previews suggest that the Ometepe Tribe has reached the end of their ropes with Phillip. Of course, Rob knows how helpful that could be and could be looking to keep Phillip around for a while. Over at Zapatera, we're promised that Russell's girls (Stephanie and Krista) learned something from the villain and will be wreaking havoc on their tribe. Also, Matt will go for a third RI duel win in a row.

Before we get to the new episode, let's update the Power Rankings:

Rob - 4-1 Nothing has happened to drop Rob in the rankings. On top of running the show on his tribe, he now has an idol that no one knows about. He's definitely in this for the long haul...he'd just better hope his tribe can pull off an immunity win soon, or all his power (and his idol) won't mean much of anything.

Grant - 8-1 I'm finally separating Grant from the rest of the Rob alliance. He actually had a confessional last week and he seems to not agree with everything that Rob is doing. At some point, Rob will have to be taken down and I'm starting to get the feeling that Grant's fingerprints may be on the handle of that knife in Rob's back.

Ralph - 10-1 This may be the last week Ralph is ranked this high. He still has an idol, but now EVERYone in the game knows it, including the Ometepe tribe. He's also gotten so cocky, he's starting to turn into Russell Jr. That's not going to sit well with people...but if his tribe keeps winning, he's in no danger of going home. He does strike me as a huge target come merge-time. And it wouldn't shock me at all to see him go home when Rob finally has to play his idol.

Mike/Steve/Sarita/David/Julie - 15-1 We have spent so little time with the Zapatera tribe, I still can't think of a reason to separate any of these people. Eventually they'll have to make moves, but as it is right now, they just keep winning challenges and hating on Russell. Maybe this week we'll spend some time there and see if one of these folks can separate themselves.

Phillip - 20-1 Phillip moves up a bit this week, because it's starting to look like he could be dragged through this entire game because he'll be good to sit next to at the final Tribal Council. This week will go a long way to determining what kind of stay Phillip can have in this game. if Rob gets his way, Phillip could be around to make us giggle for many more weeks.

Natalie/Ashley/Andrea - 30-1 I lump Andrea back in here as it looks like she's gotten over the Matt boot. None of these girls has shown me anything to suggest they're playing the game, aside from letting Rob make all the decisions. The scary thing is, if they ever get a clue and decide to band together, they could take over the Ometepe tribe and possibly get far in this game. As it is now, they're too passive and they'll eventually get eaten up out there.

Krista - 50-1 Krista sits above Stephanie, only because Stephanie is the most vocal of the 2. The only chance Krista has is if the suggested havoc they wreak this week divides the core alliance 3-3 and allows her to be a swing vote. If it doesn't, I'd say she survives the next Zapatera vote...but she'll be gone if they vote again.

Matt - 100-1 Yes, that's right. I've moved Matt up PAST someone who's still in the original game. Matt has won two duels in a row now and has proven to be a picture of grace under pressure. He seems so singularly focused on getting back into this game that I'm starting to think that he'll beat ANYone that shows up at RI. Kristina is up next and should provide little challenge to him. I'd expect to see Stephanie and Krista on RI soon, which should give Matt a couple more good chances to advance.

Stephanie - 250-1 I put Stephanie below Matt because I expect to see her voted out this week (if Zapatera loses immunity, of course). Which means, Matt will send her home in next week's RI duel. She threw her lot in with Russell from day one and it will prove to be her undoing as now that Russell is gone, she is the most unlikable person on the tribe and will be targeted to pay for her alliance with him.

Kristina - 1 million-1 Kristina had the potential to put together a good game. She found an idol without a clue and she was playing hard from day one. her only mistake was not trying to make a deal with Rob right off the bat. He doesn't say it to everyone like Russell does, but you're either with him or against him. Kristina chose "against him" on the second day of the game and this week should be her final hurrah. I expect Matt to win this duel easily and boost his confidence even more.

We begin tonight's episode at the Ometepe tribe after Tribal Council. They arrive in the pouring rain to find nice dry blankets underneath their tarp. (Nice going gave them that tarp.) Phillip is a little bummed to find himself on the outside of the alliance. The next morning, the discussion turns to how annoying Phillip is. Rob tells us that everyone is sick of Phillip and that he gets on everyone's nerves, including his. Of course, as long as Phillip is taking the heat, Rob isn't getting noticed, so maybe Phillip should stay.

We come back from the credits to the Zapatera tribe. It's just one big happy family minus Krista and Stephanie. As they dine on fish, Steve thinks maybe they should try to bring the girls back into their alliance. Shortly after dinner, Tree Mail arrives and Stephanie and Krista are chosen to witness the next RI duel. As they head out to the arena, Stephanie decides she is going to let Ometepe know that they're ready to flip at the merge.

And who is at the arena for Ometepe? Rob and Grant. Are you frickin' kidding me? Half of his own tribe has thrown themselves at him. He found the immunity idol and now he's gonna have part of the Zapatera tribe throwing themselves at him. Could Rob be in a better position right now? Oh yeah, and we do have a duel to get to. Each person has to complete one of the patented Survivor cube puzzles. It's a three foot by three foot cube and the pieces appear to be pretty heavy. Matt gets right to it only to find that he's wrong and has to start all over. Kristina has a similar issue and has to begin again.

As Jeff points out that Rob is one of today's observers, Matt decides to ask Rob why he voted him out as he still doesn't understand. When prodded by Jeff, Rob only says that it takes more than one person to vote someone out. "You know that, Jeff." Maybe it's talking to Rob, maybe it's not getting an answer, but whatever it is, the light bulb goes on for Matt and he quickly solves the puzzle and sends Kristina out of the game. Naturally, Jeff has to ask about the back and forth between Rob and Matt. What comes out of that is Stephanie gets her chance to let everyone know that she and Krista are free agents. "I think yellow might look good on me." As Kristina drops her buff in the fire and everyone is heading back to their camps, Rob tells the girls to hang in there.

When we come back from break, we get to see what's going on at Ometepe with Rob and Grant gone. The way it seems is that Phillip and Andrea are doing all of the work, while Ashley and Natalie do nothing. Phillip laments that he can't seem to get in good with the girls. Then he goes on to compare them to crabs. I just don't get why they're not interested in hanging out with him. We finally see Phillip break through with Andrea. He suggests that he didn't care for Matt being voted out. After a lot of back and forth, what we basically learn is that if Matt ever manages to get back into the game, he will likely have a two-person alliance waiting for him, if they can hang on.

Stephanie and Krista are bummed to return back to camp. They decide to tell everything that happened except the whole "Rob, Rob he's our man" incident. Stephanie's plan is to just keep winning challenges until the merge where she can throw in with Rob and Co.

We get some extended time at Zapatera. They're feeling pretty good about themselves right now and are all about how it must be horrible at the other camp. Krista feels that the main alliance isn't really playing the game and they're just sitting around talking about how awesome they are. Julie even tells us how she feels like the tribe is a little full of themselves. She's also concerned about the karma of throwing a challenge. I find it interesting that she'll tell us about bad karma when a few scenes ago she was also talking about how Stephanie and Krista mean nothing in the game at this point and they're not worrying about them at all. Sure, up 6-2, it feels like a slam dunk. But never ever forget that someone is at the bottom of that six-person alliance and could be looking to upgrade their positioning.

Probst sighting! Today's challenge is a blindfolded challenge. One person will be a caller and navigate the rest of the tribe through a maze to collect four bags of scrabble tiles. Once all four bags are collected, the caller will turn into the puzzle-figure-outer guy. Winner gets immunity as well as a big fat basket of donuts and some canisters of coffee with all the trimmings. Sarita speaks up and says that Stephanie should be the caller/puzzle person. David feels a bit slighted at that, as he is clearly smarter than everyone else. Ever. I don't think it's even a question who will call/puzzle for Ometepe.

So it's Stephanie vs Rob. The challenge starts off pretty even, with Stephanie starting to get the edge a bit. What follows is a bunch of yelling and a bunch of people not knowing what they're doing. The only thing of interest is Ralph being completely lost out there and Stephanie telling him to stop talking so she can direct someone else. When all is said and done, Rob gets all of his tiles to the puzzle station first. As he opens the bags, though, one tile falls off the back of the table and he doesn't see it. As he's untying his bags, Stephanie also gets to the puzzle table. Somehow, she manages to open all her bags before Rob does. Midway through, Rob finally figures out he's missing a tile and finds it on the ground.

As Rob starts to get ahead of Stephanie, you can hear the Zapatera tribe bitching that David should have done the puzzle. All I can say is that if they all wanted David, how the hell did Stephanie get talked into doing it? I'm no Stephanie fan - in fact, quite the opposite - but you all WANTED her there and now you're gonna start all the "Dave should have been in there" crap. To coin a phrase Steve should know, the most popular guy on the team is the backup QB. Oh yeah, and Rob finishes the puzzle first, giving Ometepe their first legitimate challenge win this season.

We come back from break to the Ometepe tribe enjoying their sweet reward. Amazing what a win and some donuts can do for tribe morale. Of course, we can count on Phillip to bring the creepy as he offers a donut for a massage. As everyone eats, Grant opens a jar of coffee and he sees a clue inside. Problem is, so does Rob. So, all of a sudden, we have a Stockton to Malone pick and roll going on to get the clue away from the rest of the tribe. Once they get away, Grant gives the clue to Rob to go hide and he goes back to the feast. Now that Rob is alone, he decides to take the new clue and switch it out with the old crappy clue. Once he and Grant get back together, he shows Grant the vague clue and they decide to bury it together.

I'm sorry, but this is amazing. If you ever wondered why they keep bringing Rob back, the scene last week when Rob found the idol was a pretty solid clip. But this week's cloak and dagger with Grant, over a clue to an idol that, oh by the way, Rob already Rob's Survivor Oscar clip. He even tells us that this was all a waste of time but, "'s fun for me. I have to entertain myself out here somehow."

As we go back to Zapatera, we are treated to some phenomenal footage of a couple of sea turtles burying their eggs in the sand. I always seem to mention this at some point during a Survivor season, but the camera work they do on this show is top notch and every year they end up with some of the most fantastic nature shots I've ever seen. I know this is a teeny tiny bit of the show, but I really feel this is one of the things that sets Survivor apart from the rest of the reality junk that's all over TV. Okay, enough kissing up to the Survivor people (seriously though, Jeff...I'm ready to be on the me).

We join the power alliance talking about losing the challenge. Steve is saying that David is the puzzle guy, hands down. Yeah, Steve? Where were you when Sarita decided to anoint Stephanie. This leads toward a nice little argument between David and Sarita about who should do puzzles and who works well under pressure. This conversation ends with David saying that no one else will do any puzzle ever for the rest of the show. Yeah, everything's super duper with the main alliance. We join Julie and Sarita discussing who they like more, Stephanie or Krista. They agree that Krista is the one they like least. Sarita tells us that if it were up to her, David would be going home tonight.

We then see Krista and Stephanie working to stay in the game. Oh wait a minute, no they're not. They're sitting in the shelter playing the "woe is us" game while doing absolutely nothing to try to keep them in this game. Aside from the fact that what they're doing is completely useless, Stephanie decides she wants to slam on Steve. Okay, that's fine. He seems to be a bit of a tool-bag, so I can be down with that. Except she says, "Steve's not a good athlete." *spittake* That's right Stephanie. He's not a very good athlete. He's just a former NFL football player. And come on, they let ANYone in that league, right JaMarcus Russell? Seriously, though, if you want to slag a guy, I say go for it, but don't say something that stupid in a situation where there's a camera and microphone to record it.

I know this recap is already long enough, but I have to add a little something here. When you're the minority alliance, sitting on your ass and bitching about your predicament is no way to stay in the game. You get up and you watch and you listen. See who's talking to who and, more importantly, who's NOT talking to who. You listen and you sneak and maybe you're in the right place at the right time and you hear Sarita and Dave arguing. Then you go to Sarita and say, "Yeah, Dave's a douchebag...I think we should all vote for him." I mean, this is your life in the game and these two idiots are content to just sit there and accept their fate. You know, hitching your wagon to Russell is a pretty dumb move, but not nearly as dumb as not even trying to save your own ass. Okay, back to the show.

The rest of the show is essentially a big game of "Krista or Stephanie." They head to Tribal and the conversation pretty much remains the same. Krista goes on and on about how the alliance isn't really playing the game. Sarita toots their horn by bragging about dumping Russell, so they must be playing the game. In all honesty, this whole Tribal is a pretty big bore. Krista finally has something to say, but it's too little too late. Stephanie actually takes a step back and plays the "I hope they recognize what I bring to the game" card. The highlight of the Tribal is Krista and Mike arguing about strategy, when neither of them would know a strategic move if Rob smacked them in the face with it. Krista tries to "out" some sub-alliances within the main alliance, but I don't think anyone on Zapatera is as impressed with it as Jeff was. And with that, there's only two questions. Krista or Stephanie? And who will they vote for?

When Jeff tallies up the votes, the first two are for Steve and the rest are for Krista. And in a mild upset, Krista passed Stephanie in the "annoying chick I can't stand to have in the game anymore" meter. So this leaves Stephanie to fend for herself and the rest of the Zapatera tribe feeling pretty comfortable with their place in the game.

Next time on Survivor: Matt's winning streak in in trouble and the Ometepe girls have a little "spa day," which pisses off Phillip. So, if nothing else, I fully expect a good five minutes or so of Phillip crazy and that's always fun. Also, don't let the previews fool you. Matt ain't going anywhere!

Quickie programming note: generally around this time of year, Survivor takes a couple weeks off to make room for the NCAA March Madness Men's basketball tournament. But don't forget, Survivor's on Wednesdays now, so it will be on next week at its regular time. So, until next week, take care everyone.