Survivor: Redemption Island
It Don't Take A Smart One
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
March 31, 2011

But Russell promised we'd win! And if you can't trust Russell, then who?

Hello, good people! Here we are, together again for another amazing episode of Survivor: The Phil and Rob Island. When last we were together, Rob's Ometepe tribe was on a nice little winning streak, Phillip is sick of lazy chicks AND he seems to be having trust issues with The Mentalist and the Assassin (aka Rob and Grant), Matt is a Redemption Island stud (you should SEE his collection of Bibles) and the last of Russell's alliance, Stephanie, took the walk of shame to Redemption Island. Also in this episode, David made a huge plea to stay as a solo entry in the BOP Power Rankings by trying to take our Sarita.

Teased in promos and commercials, David seems to have replaced the Russell alliance as public enemy #1 at Team Purple. And Phillip has had enough of Rob and looks to be making a move to oust the Robfather. Yeah Phil, good luck with that. Let's get to this week's Rankings.

Rob - 3-1
There's no reason to make a change at the top. After last week's episode, the tribes are even in numbers. When you mix in the fact that both Matt and Stephanie have vowed to come back and join Rob's alliance, he actually has the numbers advantage right now - and a hidden idol that no one else knows about. At this point, it will take a move of idiotic proportions (like screwing up a split vote - right, Tyson?) to derail Rob.

Grant - 6-1
Grant is still Rob's main man as evidenced by the fact that they are still conspiring to find the hidden idol that is no longer hidden. Also, Grant stepped up huge in the challenge and has made it pretty well known that he's a force to be reckoned with in challenges. Sure, everyone saw it and he'll have a huge target on his back come merge-time...but will anyone be able to actually beat him?

Ralph - 10-1
I don't think much of Ralph as a player, but he is in the core alliance on Zapatera and he does still hold an idol. Granted, everyone knows about it, but it does guarantee him life in the game. Supposing he's smart enough to know when to play it. Also, he can't seriously think he's spelling people's names right, can he? I mean come're not even frickin' close, Ralph.

Natalie/Andrea - 12-1
Despite almost leaving the Ometepe alliance, I think Andrea is right back in it. And if not, she's got a side deal with Phillip to kinda hedge her bets. Natalie, however, is a clear #3 with Ron and Grant. I could easily see her being the "you did nothing but ride Rob's coattails" final three player. As more people go home, I'm sure these girls will begin to separate themselves and get their own Power Ranking slot. Until then though, they stick together.

Julie/Steve/Mike - 20-1
These three are Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Marine, in that order. Julie's the only one of the three that has shown the propensity for rational thought...yet she keeps holding serve with the rest of the alliance. The scary thing is that their absolute blind loyalty - with no regard for actual game play - could actually work out for them if they get a couple breaks before the merge.

Ashley - 30-1
I took Ashley away from the other Ometepe hotties because she really seemed to be the focus of Phillip's tirade last week. She was also the mouthy one who felt the need to spout back at him. In all honesty, Phillip wasn't wrong. He shouldn't have to come to her with an engraved invitation to collect wood. She should just get up and do it. With three young girls on the tribe, Rob has his pick of non-working, coattail riders. Ashley's attitude could be enough to put her right after Phil on the "gotta go" list.

Sarita - 40-1
Easily the weakest player left in the game, if Zapatera loses tonight, we'll see how important loyalty, trust and a vote are. The Zaps are in the middle of an epic meltdown and keeping the weak Sarita over the strong and smart David would be a huge blunder. And yes, I think it's a blunder this tribe will make. Sarita is a guaranteed vote - and Steve/Mike/Ralph/Julie have no desire to get rid of that vote just yet.

David - 50-1
I like David and I think he brings a lot to the game. But I think he really screwed up last week. Is Sarita the weak link in the tribe? Hands down. But was Stephanie that much stronger? Would it be an upgrade to replace Ryan Leaf with JaMarcus Russell? Maybe, but not enough to risk my coaching career. And that's what David did last week. He went all in on what was only a mild upgrade in performance. The only thing to save him if Zapatera votes tonight is that Sarita is considerably weaker than he is...though the alliance hasn't shown that they really care about strength and winning. They just care about loyalty...and getting rid of Russell.

Phillip - 100-1
After the explosions last week and the suggestion that Phillip may be targeting Rob, Phil's days are numbered. If Ometepe loses tonight, I see no other option for them but to send The Specialist to Redemption Island for a little re-con.

Matt - 250-1
While I still don't have him last on the list, I have a bad feeling for Matt this week. He's gone on an amazing run to be sure. But he hasn't run across anything like the spunky little ball of rage that is Stephanie. I'm still listing him first because after all, to be the man, you gotta beat the man. But I wouldn't be shocked to see Matt have to burn his buff tonight.

Stephanie - 1 million-1
Common sense tells me, Stephanie's going home tonight. But Survivor sense tells me, she may just stay. The Survivor editors have made it quite well known that Stephanie plans to join Rob at the merge. I keep thinking to myself, why would they focus on that, if Rob and Stephanie never make it to the same tribe?

We begin this week at Zapatera as the tribe comes back from Tribal. Steve speaks up and hopes that the tribe can put their differences aside and become a team again. Wow, is this guy delusional! Sarita, after hearing how she is the weak link on the tribe and does very little around camp, comes out of Tribal learning one thing, David is a backstabbing snake. What? The more this season goes on, the more I don't like Zapatera. David is the only one speaking with any kind of sense.

We come back from break to Redemption Island. Apparently, Stephanie has been talking for about 18 hours straight and even Matt can't stand it anymore. We see Tree Mail at Ometepe and Phillip declares himself going to the duel. Rob chimes in that he wants to go also. He tells us that Phillip is not allowed to go without a chaperone. Suffice it to say, Rob and Phillip no longer like each other.

Rob & Phillip and Dave & Ralph show up to watch the duel between Matt and Stephanie. Today's matchup is just a game of memory. Each round, they'll flip over two symbols. If they match, they get a point. First player to five wins. Right off the bat, Matt goes out and flips over a match. Stephanie then does the same. So without any knowledge of anything, both players buck the odds and score a point in the first round. After going back and forth, Matt does turn over his fifth match and sends Stephanie home for good. When the challenge ends, Stephanie begins to talk. She tells Ralph that Sarita has to be the one to go. She tells Rob that the Zapatera tribe is coming for him, just like they did Russell. As we head to break, Rob tells us that he is 100% certain that when the tribes merge, Phillip will flip on him and will target him.

Before coming back to camp, Phillip asks Rob what he wants to share from the duel. Rob refuses to lie to them. He wants to tell everything, as he has from the beginning. He does see this as an opportunity to throw Phillip farther under the bus. After telling them everything, Phillip finally walks away and Rob tells them all how Phillip didn't want to share everything with them. He tells them that he's positive that when the tribes merge, Phillip will flip. Rob tells us that when the time comes and it's time for Phillip to go, he plans to tell him to his face that he's gone. He says he'll "Front-side him."

Over at Zapatera, the tribe grills David and Ralph about what Stephanie did. David says it was pretty much what you would have expected. Ralph tells them that they shouldn't count on Matt joining up with them, he's with his old tribe. Ralph then tells his alliance that he thinks David is ready to flip. He tells us the same thing. We come back to the tribe and David is suggesting that after the big storm, this is the good time to fish. No one agrees with him and despite his insistence, no one actually goes fishing. Sarita, for example, just sits around and tells us what a douchebag David is. The rest of the tribe is pretty well done with David. Ralph tells us that while David is very smart, he's not trustworthy and he needs to go.

We come back from the last break to the Ometepe tribe cooking and eating rice. They're all there except Rob. Apparently, Rob likes the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot, so the girls are saving it for him. Seeing that they're doing this, Phillip decides that HE'D like a scoop of the crispy rice. Of course, they tell him no. This sets Phillip off about how they all cater to Rob all the time. It's all "RobRobRobRobRobRobRob" or something like that. By this time, the rest of the tribe just ignores Phillip. Phil tells us about the injustice, "How asinine is that?" Um,'s just about as asinine as you bitching about the crispy rice. When Rob comes back, he gets his crispy rice and the recap of Phillip's latest tantrum. And with Phillip declaring to us that there's a division in the tribe, we head off to the immunity/reward challenge.

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge appears to be a very physical obstacle course. All of the players on both tribes will have to compete. They'll clear an obstacle, then retrieve a bag of balls. Once the tribe has all three bags and finished the last obstacle, they have to shoot their six balls into a very tall and very small basket. First tribe to sink all six wins immunity and a picnic lunch.

The tribes are even at the first bag of balls. Sarita has trouble, while Rob speeds through it and opens a huge lead. Phillip has trouble on the next obstacle, which allows Zapatera to catch back up. With Dave working on the second bag of balls, he passes up Rob and Zapatera now opens up a lead. Phillip slows them down on the next obstacle but Dave has trouble with the third bag and Ometepe cuts into the Zapatera lead. As the tribes bust through the brick walls, Zapatera still holds a small lead as we get to the shooting portion of the challenge. Sarita really slows down Zapatera as she can't get a bag untied. Grant sinks two balls quick to grab a lead. Zapatera finally gets something going and all of a sudden it's 5-3. Then Grant takes over and sinks three unanswered shots and Ometepe wins again. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Grant made all six baskets for Ometepe. Um, guys, we might want to start looking at Grant as a threat. Just sayin'. As the helicopter flies in to pick them up, Phillip leaves us with these words of wisdom, "Some tribes advance boldly. Weak tribes grow agitated. But superior tribes, like ours, WE. FIND. A. WAY. TO. WIN. And we did."

We come back from break to join Ometepe on their reward. As they arrive, Rob tells us that in his four trips on Survivor, he's never done anything like landing on top of an active volcano. Yep, the picnic is atop an active volcano. As everyone gets giddy about the cookies, candy and crackers in the picnic basket. Rob is thinking of Hidden Idol clues. Phillip is reveling in feeling like part of the tribe again. Rob notices a jar of long tubular cookies. He has someone hand him the jar and as he gets a cookie, he finds the idol clue rolled up to look like one. "But it really doesn't even matter what it says cause I already have the idol." And he takes the clue and throws it right into the volcano. I can't help but think, as entertaining as this is, at some point, Grant's gonna learn that he's been lying to him all along and things are gonna get ugly for Rob. Sometime soon, I'm thinking he needs to let Grant in on the secret...or it could be his demise.

Speaking of demise...we check in with Zapatera. It's time to play, "It's anyone but David!" Mike is pretty bummed about getting ready to be down in numbers. Sarita gathers the troops, minus David. She's pumping them up to keep her over David. She can do anything he can do...except, you know, be useful in challenges and around camp. She has to get Ralph separately and he is fully on her side. In a contrasting style, David does next to nothing to endear himself to the tribe. He just goes about his daily business with no scrambling. Mike tells us that Sarita really held the tribe back today, while David was the reason they caught up and almost won the challenge. As the guys get together, Steve and Mike tell Ralph that they think they have to keep David, even though they don't like or trust him. They love Sarita, but she's killing the tribe in challenges.

As they head to Tribal Council, I can't help but think that this decision isn't as hard as they're making it. Sure, David went against the alliance and voted for Sarita, but he didn't do it with malice, he did it in an effort to keep the tribe as strong as possible. I think if you vote Sarita tonight, David comes right back into the fold and he's a solid member of your tribe. They're very concerned about him flipping on them, but he's a smart guy and he knows that flipping would just put him on the bottom rung of a new alliance.

First question out of the gate at Tribal, "What has happened to Zapatera?" As Ralph starts to make his excuse for the loss, David and Jeff interrupt with Jeff saying, "Excuses are for..." David finishes, "Losers." Jeff goes to Julie about the decision to throw a challenge to get rid of Russell. She says that she was afraid of the karma of that move, but she still feels like they're the stronger tribe. Jeff suggests that strength may not be an issue, that cohesion may be. David agrees and mentions that when they see the other tribe, they all seem to be friends and actually like each other. Jeff then asks Ralph about the need for a cohesive unit. "Well, first Jeff, I don't know what cohesive means." Jeff tries to give Ralph an analogy and Ralph says he'd prefer the people that don't get along and work harder. Steve chimes in that he disagrees. Any coach would rather have a team that gets along.

Jeff asks David if his support of Krista and Stephanie makes him more nervous. Of course it does, but he said he gave his word to Stephanie and he wasn't going to back off it. Sarita talks about how David is just not trustworthy and how she would never have written his name down. David maintains through Sarita's babbling that anything he did was to make the tribe stronger. Jeff asks Sarita if she's gunning for David and as she fumbles for a response, David interrupts and says, "Of course she is." Now that it's narrowed down to Sarita or David, let's vote.

First, we see Sarita's vote for David, then David's vote for Sarita. No shock there. First vote, Sarita. Second vote David. Third vote David. And much to her shock and dismay...Sarita collects the rest and is sent to Redemption Island. She was so shocked that she hadn't brought any of her stuff with her. And with that, another victim is sent into Matt's realm. Will he EVER have a real challenge on Redemption Island? As for Zapatera, it's nice to see that they finally did the right thing. But will it be enough to stop the momentum that Ometepe has built up?

Next time on Survivor: Matt apparently has a cut on his foot and the editors want to make us think that could hinder him. And Jeff makes two huge announcements, "The winner of today's duel will go back into the game" and "We are merged." So Rob, buckle up, because the ride's about to get bumpy for you, my friend. Until next week, take care.