Survivor: Redemption Island
A Mystery Package
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
April 28, 2011

Screw you, Phillip.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Redemption Island, where I'll always let you share my rice container, as long as you don't call me a racist! Last time on Survivor, Phillip went to plaid. The Ometepes found a hole in their rice bucket that allowed water and maggots into their rice. And after segregating the entire camp post-merge, they had the nerve to ask the Zapateras, specifically Steve, if they could combine the rice into one container. As he has absolutely no power in this game whatsoever and is only biding his time until he's voted out, Steve had nothing to lose and told them, basically, not a chance in hell. Phillip went crazy, Steve called him crazy and then Phillip cried "racism." After Rob won immunity, Jeff held a counseling session at Tribal Council that resulted in little more than Julie being voted out. Oh yeah, and a House of Cards tr-uel on Redemption Island proved to be too much for "puzzle master" David as he was sent to Ponderosa as the first member of our jury.

Previews and promos for tonight suggest that all the time on RI is finally going to break Matt (though I fully expect him to kick ass in the duel), Andrea could be in trouble, Phillip has a great day (let's hope it's because he finds his shorts), they might FINALLY target Rob, and Jeff hands the players a mystery package to be opened at Tribal Council. Should be another fantastic episode. For those of you expecting to see the Power Rankings here....we decided to start posting them prior to the episode. So, if you haven't seen them...stop reading and go check them out here.

Okay, now that you're back, let's get to this week's episode. We start at the Murlonio camp right after Tribal. As an aside, am I the only one who says the tribe name in a Cornholio accent? I can't be, can I? As the tribe puts up their torches, Steve approaches Phillip and offers his hand telling Phillip that he really didn't mean anything racist by the "crazy" comment and that he wants to bury the hatchet. Phillip accepts his hand and agrees. He tells us that it didn't feel "genuous" and self-serving. If Phillip has his way, Steve will go next. Steve tells us that he's surprised that Phillip didn't reach out to him, but he just hopes it's all buried. Phillip admits to his tribe that he was nervous, to which Rob tells us, "Phillip's not going anywhere, Phillip's under my protection. As long as he keeps up his stupid antics, he'll be coming with me all the way to the finals."

The next morning on Murlonio (Need TP for my bunghole...please tell me I'm not alone), Philip has apparently spoken to his great great grandfather and has been told where his shorts are. So, with his grandfather's words in him mind, he starts turning over rocks and digging. On the second rock, he finds his shorts. Julie should have never messed with the undercover specialist. Then he butchers a Nicholson quote and celebrates throughout camp. You know that Rob's zombies were pleased that he'll finally cover up his pink drawers. Steve keeps telling Ralph that he hopes the Ometepes will finally cut him loose. Phillip is just looking forward to going to the Redepmtion Island duel to show off his shorts to Julie.

Over on Redemption Island, Matt has reached an all time low. He tells us that he is done with this game. He says that the Lord has been carrying him this far and he's pretty much ready to be done. Mike and Julie seem a bit concerned for him as all he can talk about is going home. And with that, it's time for a...

Probst Sighting! As they walk in, Phillip points out his shorts, Julie grins and that's about it. Jeff asks Matt where he's at with all this time on Redemption Island. He says that he is at peace with everything. If he goes back into the game, he's fine with that. If he goes home, he's fine with that. He admits that he's ready to go home, but he's going to do his best and see what God's will is. This week's duel is Survivor Shuffleboard. Each player has three pucks that they need to get around a couple obstacles and land in the end zone. First two to get all three pucks in the end zone stay in the game, loser goes home.

First round, Matt and Julie come up short while Mike scores the first point. Second round, Mike gets his second point, Julie scores a point and Matt comes up empty. Third round, Matt scores, the other two miss. Meanwhile, Andrea is feeling uncomfortable with the way Matt's looking at her. While she's talking, Matt scores a second point and Mike and Julie miss again. Fifth round, Matt lands his third puck and stays in the game. The look on Rob's face is priceless. It says, "You have got to be effing kidding me." To finish off the fifth round, Mike misses and Julie lands a puck in the end zone, but she knocks off her other one. The sixth round is when Mike ends the misery and scores his third point. Julie is done. She tells us that she came out there because her house is in foreclosure and she was trying to make a better life for her girls. She's not upset, though, because she has earned so much more from people like Matt. She drops her buff in the fire and heads off to Ponderosa as the second member of our jury. As they head out, Andrea tells us she hopes Matt gets to come back into the game, although she doesn't expect him to talk to or trust her again. Why would he?

When we come back to the island, Andrea is telling the rest of the girls how bad she feels about Matt. As she rambles on, Rob is taking it all in. Andrea tells us that she feels like she had a big role in breaking Matt's spirit. Next we see Grant and Rob walking on the beach discussing when would be a good time to get her out of the game. They actually bounce around the idea of getting rid of her next. Grant tells us that timing is everything on these votes and it may just come down to immunity. Which means...

Probst sighting #2! Today's challenge is a good ol' fashioned log roll. We all know the rules, let's just talk about the reward that goes along with this challenge. The winner gets a big fat chocolate cake and a huge pitcher of milk. We draw for match-ups and get started.

First up is a huge one. Grant vs Rob. Grant's athleticism and balance prove to be too much for Rob as Grant moves on to the semis. Next up is Andrea against Ashley. Apparently all of that pageant training was worth it as Ashley takes out Andrea rather easily. Our next match is Ralph vs Steve. Jeff asks Steve if he's ever done this before and Steve comes back with, "I'm in a league." Hey, that's not fair...they're biased against Ral..oh wait a second. I get it now. That tricky Steve. This was a short one as Ralph dispatches Steve quickly for his spot in the semis. The final match is Phillip vs. Natalie and Phillip takes her out just as quickly.

The first semi is Grant vs Ashley. This one takes longer than I expected, but the outcome was as I expected. Grant moves on to the finals. The next match is Ralph against Phillip. They go back and forth for a minute, but the farmer is just too much for Phil and Ralph moves on to the finals against Grant. Having almost slipped up in the last match, Grant removes his shoes for this one. He means it! After what has to be the longest log roll match in Survivor history, Grant's NFL skills prove to be too much for Ralph and Grant wins immunity AND chocolate cake. Of course, that's a huge cake. He probably better have someone join him. Naturally, he chooses the Robfather. When given a second choice, Grant starts thinking strategy and grabs Andrea. He tells us that since he and Rob are thinking of cutting her off, it's a good idea to choose her and make her feel more comfortable. Oh, but there's more! The much ballyhooed twist. Jeff tosses his package at Steve...I mean, Jeff tosses Steve a package and asks him to bring it to Tribal tonight, but do not open it prior. And he means it! After this, Grant and Co are given two minutes to dig into their cake, sans utensils. With chocolate all over their faces, time is up and it's time to head back to camp.

Not only is it time to play, "It's anyone but Ralph or Steve", it's also time to be reminded of the fantastic nature photography that Survivor has come to be known for. We come back to an incredible aerial shot of a pod of whales breaching the service and diving back down, which is simply an incredible image to see. I can't even imagine seeing it live. Anyway, we get back to camp and all the discussion is about the mystery package. Steve seems to think it feels like a deck of cards. Some of the discussion turns to a twist that could have a second person voted out at the same Tribal. What follows is a cool conversation between Ralph and Steve. Neither Steve nor anyone in the audience has any idea what Ralph just said. I think it was something along the lines of, "we never should have thrown that challenge." should have been!

Next up is Steve completely dogging it and talking about how weak he is and how he doesn't have anything left. Rob tells us that it's enough for Ralph to have to go next. With all the possibilities of the twist, Rob goes on to say that he feels like he needs to hedge his bets in case someone else gets immunity or they have to vote two people out. He's still contemplating Andrea as a potential second vote. Rob approaches Ashley and Natalie and discusses dumping Andrea as the potential second vote...after Ralph, of course. The girls are on board with that as they're nervous about the potential of Matt coming back.

Finally seeing the girls alone, Steve tells them that he and Ralph are voting for Rob and if the three girls were to jump with them, Rob could go home and the game could totally change. He tells them that Ron seems dead set on taking Nimrod (Phillip) to the finals with him. This is only told to Ashley and Natalie. Andrea is nowhere around this part of the conversation. Given this interesting offer and information, Ashley and Natalie do what any good coattail rider would do, they run right to Rob to tell him what happened. As he's done in four appearances on this show (this is also one of Russell's moves), if someone decides they want to make a move against Rob, that's the kind of person who HAS to go.

As we arrive at Tribal Council, Jeff starts tonight by talking to Rob. He asks if there will be another Zap voted out tonight. Rob says that's how it should be unless something else comes up. Jeff asks Andrea when it's time to make a move against the Ometepe tribe. She feels pretty strongly that they'll stick together until all the Zaps are gone. They've worked real hard to get to this point. Ralph tells Jeff that he figures it's his time to go tonight. Steve agrees. He suggests that Ralph is better in challenges and has more energy. Jeff points out that it's a decent strategy to pretend like he has nothing left in the tank, just to stick around through one more vote. Rob agrees. Grant chimes in that his lackadasical answer doesn't mean Steve has quit. He played in the NFL, he's no quitter. Phillip agrees that he feels like Steve could jump up and win an immunity challenge. Given one last chance to plead his case, Steve reminds the girls that back in the day, Rob made a promise to a guy that if he saved his girlfriend, he'd help him out later and then cut his throat. He says that it'll get brutal once he and Ralph are gone and now is probably the last chance to do something about it.

I have to admit, he's 100% right. NOW is the time to make a move. There are eight people in the game. If the three girls team up with Steve and Ralph and dump Rob, they now have the power. They could next take out Grant and Phillip and they'll have a 3-2 advantage over Steve and Ralph. Sure, other things could happen to ruin that idea, but for the first time in 30 some-odd days, Steve has finally said something that sorta resembles a strategy. Good for him! This is bantered about a bit and Jeff finally asks Rob about it and as always, Rob answers Jeff without actually saying anything. It's amazing how much nothing Rob can say at Tribal no matter how much he actually speaks. And now, it's time to vote. We see Ralph's vote for Rob as Steve makes a final plea to the girls. As they're voting, I can't help but notice that there's still 15 minutes left in this episode. There's more to come. Someone else is getting voted out. I just know it. Let's tally the votes. First two votes are for Rob and the next six are for Ralph, sending him to join Mike and Matt on Redemption Island.

Jeff then gets to the twist. Steve opens up the package and it is a deck of cards. One of them is to be read. They will now have an immunity challenge and an immediate vote. And if you weren't sure that Rob was playing one of the greatest games of Survivor ever, he's already planned for this potential outcome. Now all that matters is who wins immunity and whether or not he's decided on Steve or Andrea as the boot this time. Either way, he is so in tune with this game, it's almost laughable. He's so far ahead of everyone else out there, it's embarrassing. Of course, he has played the game four times...he damn well should have learned how to play it by now.

The second immunity challenge is a simple (but not so simple) memory challenge. Jeff will show a series of cards with different objects on them. The players will need to remember the order and reproduce that order. You miss one object, you're out of the challenge. I'm not going to go through the full order of objects. I'll just say that he shows seven of them. First round, everyone gets it right. Second round, everyone still gets it right. Third round, everyone is right again. Fourth round, we lose Phillip and Natalie. Fifth round, we lose Grant and Andrea. Sixth round, only Rob has kept up, giving him individual immunity for this vote. With no discussion at all, they go straight to the vote. We only see two votes this time. Andrea votes for Steve and Steve votes for Grant. The only question here is whether Ometepe finishes what they started, or do they take out one of their own first? The best way to say it is, "The Pagonging is complete." Steve goes home by a 6-1 margin and Ometepe has done what few tribes have ever done. They came into the merge and one by one annihilated the other tribe. It's crazy that the events of this game were set into motion with one horrible decision on Zapatera's part. Somewhere, Russell is giggling his ass off. And deservedly so. I say it all the time, never, Never, NEVER throw a challenge to vote someone off.

Next time on Survivor: Ometepe celebrates, for a minute. We hear Rob talking about how someone has to go to Redemption Island and they promise a challenge that takes it out of everyone. The preview finishes up with Rob saying, "32 days of hard work gone, just like that." We see Ralph getting to Redemption Island and he's telling us that if any of the Zaps make the final three, they'll probably win the whole thing. As he's talking with Mike and Matt, Steve surprises the heck out them by showing up shortly after Ralph.

So with six people left, now is a hard time to make a move. With an immunity idol in his pocket, that no one knows about, it's a real bad time to try to make a move against Rob. I can only think that Rob should still call the shots for the next vote. Once they get to five...that will be the time that a threesome could take control and send Rob to Redemption Island. If they don't wise up, though, Rob will win this game. Please be sure to keep your eyes out for the Power Rankings next Wednesday during the day! Until next week, take care!