Survivor: Redemption Island
Too Close For Comfort
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
May 12, 2011

I was born a Furry. I had no choice in the matter.

Hello good people and welcome back to BOP's Survivor: Redemption Island recap! When last we hung out, the Zapateras were all sent to Redemption Island or Ponderosa. This means the Ometepes finally had to turn on one of their own. Despite a weak attempt by producers to make us think Phillip might get his walking papers, the only obvious boot was Andrea. And when Rob gutted out an immunity win on one of the rougher challenges ever, Andrea was, indeed, sent out of the main game. Previews suggest that Ashley is the next on the chopping block...but wait! Phillip looks like he's gonna go all on them.

We begin this episode with Ashley celebrating the blindsiding of Andrea. Honestly, she's been a bitch from day one and the way she is acting now just solidifies that. Natalie is feeling in a weird spot as she is pretty well linked to Rob, but Ashley keeps saying that the 2 of them will go to the end. Rob asks Natalie what Ashley is talking to her about. He warns Natalie that Ashley is sneaky and he hasn't really trusted her since Day 1. He tells us that it looks like Ashley might have to be the next to go. He's had control of this game from the beginning and he just needs to maintain it. Cue the theme...

We come back from break to see Andrea's arrival on Redemption Island. Matt is not thrilled to see her. He was the most hurt by her and he's not feeling good about her. She starts right off fishing for a compliment from Matt suggesting that he hates her and was giving her dirty looks. And I love this answer from Matt, "I don't give you dirty looks, I just don't know why you're giving me big puppy dog eyes like you feel bad for me." Damn right. You tell the bitch, Matt!!

Andrea does not like that answer and goes off on him for being wishy washy with Rob and throwing her under the bus. He sarcastically apologizes for ruining her Survivor game and gets ready for bed. So Andrea asks if there is room on the bed for 4 people (which there is), but Ralph tells her no. He tells us that because of what the Ometepes did back in the game, she can sleep on the ground. He feels like she can go through what he had to go through. And to add insult to injury, he tells her that she was like toilet paper to Rob, he wiped his ass with her and now he's done. Yeah...stay classy, Ralph.

Thank God we have a Probst sighting! It is Redemption Island duel time. Before the duel begins, Jeff asks Andrea how it feels to be there. She gets all teary eyed because everyone "up there" lied to my face. She feels betrayed and it's just awful! I absolutely HATE this part of the game. Lying to someone's face and betraying them would have been just fine with Andrea, if they'd done it to Phillip. Or Ashley. Or Grant. But they did it to here! *sob* And how could they do it? And Oh My God, it's horrible! Just frickin' stop it. It's part of the game. It's a part of the game that you were completely comfortable with yesterday when you didn't think it was your name being written down. I just can't stand that nonsense. But I digress...

Today's duel is one of those maze things that they have to move a handle through. Once they get the handle out, they will use it to smash a tile. Under that tile is a bag of puzzle pieces that they will use to make a puzzle. First 3 to complete their puzzle stay in the game. Last person goes to the jury. This does not look like an easy puzzle either. As I see it, I can't help but think that Ralph is in trouble.

As the challenge begins, Ralph jumps out to a big lead on the maze. Andrea is having trouble, while Matt is calm as he can possibly be. Mike is the next one finished with his maze and begins working on his puzzle. Next is Matt and then a minute or so later, Andrea gets her puzzle pieces. Despite the crazy head start on the puzzle, Ralph finds himself trailing on the puzzle. And for the 3rd (or maybe 4th) duel in a row, Mike is the first one finished with this challenge and stays in the game. And within seconds, both Matt and Andrea finish their puzzle. So it's sayonara to Ralph.

Hey Ralph, how's that Survivor karma taste, buddy? The island doesn't like people being ignorant for the sake of being ignorant. (Just ask Russell about that.) It doesn't like tribes throwing challenges. It did not like what you pulled with Andrea last night and it took its revenge. (Sorry...had a John Locke moment there.)

Before moving on, I just have to say that the complete calm that Matt shows during these duels is a lesson that any future Survivor player should take in. He never panics. He never rushes. He keeps his cool and focuses on the task at hand, and it's gotten him through eleventy-three duels now. Oh, and Mike...this marine doesn't look like he can be beat. Things are gonna get interesting on Redemption Island real soon. As everyone heads back to camp, Rob tells us that he has more heart than anyone out there, but he is done with Redemption Island and wants to end as soon as possible so he can get back to the real game.

We come back from the commercials to a crocodile apparently attacking a duck. I'm sure this symbolizes something, but I'm a little too disturbed to think about what it could be. They are discussing cooking the rice and Ashley says they don't have enough to last past Day 36. Phillip chimes in that they have to consider that their tribe is going to keep getting smaller, so they have to think about that when rationing. Rob tells us that the Zapateras ate too much rice while they were there, so the portions are getting smaller. Ashley's complaints about the rice get Rob and Grant talking about how Ashley has to go. They are worried about the duo of Ashley and Natalie. As Rob and Grant are planning the demise of everyone on the island, Ashley must have pulled Phillip's string, because he is getting fired up.

He says that they have to eat something and that Grant specifically needs to eat, because they need him to be strong if Mike comes back into the game. Ashley sarcastically says that she'll give up her rice then. Phillip counters telling her that wasn't the point. The point is that, as smaller people, she and Natalie don't need as many calories as someone of Grant's size and that they should think about that. In a normal world, this would probably be the end of the conversation. But in a world where Phillip has to have the last word, and Ashley has to be right...this explodes.

To Phillip's credit, he tried to walk away. But as Ashley continues on about not eating because she's a girl, he has to come back to defend what he said. Again, to Phillip's credit, all he said was Grant needs more calories per day then the girls do. And he's not wrong. What gets me here and I think it's what has bothered me from the beginning with Ashley, is she is just straight up ignorant to people. The way she brushes her hand at someone as if to dismiss them.

The way every disagreement with her degenerates into an insult slinging contest. What ends up happening is Phillip starts attacking her on why she only argues with him and never with Rob...even though they can be saying the same thing. He says it's because she wants something from Rob. I think he's right again here. I think if Rob had come up to her and suggested that Grant get a bigger portion because the tribe needs his strength to beat Mike (or Matt or whoever), not only would she have agreed, she'd have gotten up immediately and starting cooking Grant's rice. Now, maybe Phillip has earned this kind of treatment. I could see an argument for that. I'm just so anti-Ashley right now, I can't even describe it!

As Ashley walks away screaming "Psycho!!!” Rob tells us that Phillip is crazy. "Not n-word crazy. Just crazy." He goes on, "Ashley and Natalie are getting too close for comfort. The best thing for me to do is split the two of them up. So instead of picking on one of them, he picks on both of them. Instead of driving those to apart, he drives them closer together. Phillip, stop making so much work for me." LOVE it!

The next thing we see is Rob talking to Natalie about getting rid of Ashley. If she talks about anything except getting rid of Phillip, he wants Natalie to come to him. He tells Natalie that Grant is skeptical of Ashley and she will probably have to be the next vote. Ashley tells us that she and Natalie go back to the beginning of the game. She's worried that Natalie is leaning too hard on Rob and that she is way smarter than that. She wants to make a big move and get rid of a strong competitor.

Ashley goes to Rob and suggests that Grant might be the smart move. He says it's something to consider, but they should sleep on it and see how it goes tomorrow. He tells us that Ashley has to go and no discussion of Grant will change that. Next up we see Rob telling Grant what her plan is. They talk about how they have to win the rest of the way to insure they can boot whoever they want. Grant tells us that Ashley is a dark person and she's ridden coat tails long enough. He'll be happy to send her ass to Redemption.

We come back from break and Stealth R Us is off to get the Tree Mail. Grant tells us that he's shocked to think that Stealth R Us could make it to the end. Rob tells us about Ashley wanting to get rid of Grant. He tells us Ashley has had a free ride for 35 days and that's about to end. The mail about the challenge tells them nothing. Ashley tells us that she might need to win immunity today. But she has Natalie to tell her when something's coming. Natalie and Rob have another talk where he says that Ashley has to go. He doesn't like what she's doing to her and that no matter what happens, he has her back. As they're talking, Ashley shows up and Rob instantly starts talking about some kind of caramel sauce cake. He tells us that he sees more and more of Ashley influencing Natalie and he doesn't like it. "After 35 days of having this pain in my ass, I'm finally gonna get some relief tonight."

Probst Sighting!! Today's immunity challenge is an interesting one. They will use large fishhooks to retrieve bags with fish bones puzzle pieces in them. They will then use those fish bones to complete a fishbone puzzle. And, they'll do it with one hand tied behind their back. Also, there is a reward. The winner will have a 3 course meal delivered to them at camp. Worth playing for? Or course it is.

Once the challenge gets going, it's easier to explain. The fishhooks are similar to the game (and I'm going to date myself here) A Barrel Full of Monkeys. You know, where you have to use one hand and link the monkeys’ arms together to make as long a chain as possible? Well, they're doing it with hooks. They have to link a couple hooks, then hook their bag of pieces. Then open the bag with one hand and put the bones on a hanging fish skeleton. There are 3 sets of pieces and each string of hooks will get longer as they go. As usual, Grant jumps out to a lead, with Rob, Phillip and Ashley right behind. As usual, Natalie falls out of this challenge pretty quickly. Grant finishes the first section first, followed by Phillip and Rob. Phillip, Rob and Ashley now pass up Grant with their second bag of pieces. Ashley is first to finish the second section. Then Grant and Phillip move on with Rob falling behind. Natalie is still messing with the first section.

As Ashley gets her 3rd set of pieces, Jeff tells Natalie that she may as well just sit down and watch. Rob is now catching up as is Phillip. Grant has fallen off the pace. As Rob tries desperately to catch up, Ashley completes her puzzle and wins immunity. Shit! Oh yeah, and she gets to choose someone else to get room service with her. She picks, um...Natalie! Ultimately, who cares? With Ashley winning immunity, it looks like Grant is in some trouble, and I hate that.

As the tribe arrives back at camp, Rob is just messed up. Natalie and Ashley are celebrating. And Rob is just crushed. He even speaks to Grant in his confessional, "Grant, when you watch this, you're gonna realize I never wanted to do it this way, bud...even though it does break my heart, bud, I have to vote your ass off tonight." Rob and the girls talk about voting our Grant. Rob tells us that he's sick of doing the dirty work, because everyone else is too stupid to do it. He tells Phillip that he will work things out with Grant. And he lays it out to us that he has to explain everything to Phillip, and then confirm with everyone that Grant is the vote. Then go buddy up to Grant and pretend it's someone else. "It's a lot of work. It's exhausting."

Next we see him talking to Grant about voting for Natalie. Grant wants Natalie to go as he feels they HAVE to split up the girls. Grant feels that Phillip is on board and busting up this couple is definitely the way to go. Grant tells us that he looked Rob in the eye and shook his hand and knows that Rob is with him. Natalie is the vote. As Grant and Rob are solidifying their plan, a couple waiters show up with a meal for Ashley and Natalie. Pizza, nachos, shakes...more than they could possibly eat. And this has me wondering...why not share it with everyone? Would they get in trouble? I mean, if you're Natalie and you're trying to convince Rob that you're with him and not Ashley, wouldn't you offer the Robfather some food? I have to say, I'm beginning to wonder if Natalie IS with Rob or not. Hmmmm....

After watching them eat for a while, we see the aftermath, which is both girls feeling sick. Heh heh. Listening to them moan, Rob tells them to eat a lot. And looks at Grant, "I hope you frickin' choke on it." He is a constant source of entertainment, that's for sure. He tells us that he is REALLY not liking how close Ashley and Natalie are getting. Ashley is telling Natalie that they need to hook up with the person from Redemption Island. She hopes that the person comes back tomorrow; otherwise Rob will want to split them up. Natalie looks completely weird during this conversation. Hmmm...maybe she IS still with Rob.

Natalie does not like the position that she's in right now. Rob asks her what's going on with Ashley. She tells Rob that Ashley wants it to be the 2 of them. Rob continues to plant the seed in Natalie that he's got her back and Ashley has to go soon. And as if he heard their conversation, Rob is concerned that the girls may join up with the Redemption Island person and decide they don't need him anymore. So he feels like it may be more advantageous to break up the girls right now while he has the chance. He feels pretty good about tonight as he will decide who goes home. He says (and I know...this is a Rob quote-fest this week...get over it), "One man should not have this much power in this game. Thankfully, I'm not an ordinary man." Ya gotta love the guy.

We begin Tribal Council with Jeff asking Ashley about having immunity 35 days into the game. She says that she feels like she really needed to win this one. Grant feels like he needed immunity pretty bad as he's a threat at challenges. Rob feels vulnerable and the only thing he has going for him is that Grant is a bigger threat than him. He asked Ashley if there was a reaction to her choosing Natalie to give the food to. She says that it's no secret that she and Natalie are so close. Phillip says that they all knew she would share the reward with Natalie. Jeff then asks a very pivotal question, "So Natalie, then it's probably a natural assumption that you and Ashley would vote together as well?" She admits that the guys may want to split them up because of that.

Grant says that he comes in with a solid group of people and he hopes that their word is their bond. Jeff asks Rob what gets him through this. He says his wife and daughter. He talks about her sacrificing so he can keep playing this game. He feels like he's so close to the end, but so far away. Grant says that his soon to be wife is what gets him through at this point. As the big guy gets choked up, I'm even more pissed to think that Ashley will stay tonight and Grant is likely to go home. I'm really annoyed!

And with that, it's time to vote. We see Grant's vote for Natalie and Ashley's vote for Grant. She says he is too strong a competitor and too big of a threat. I'll go listen as Jeff reads the votes. First vote, Natalie. Second and third vote Grant. 15th person voted out of Survivor: Redemption Island - Grant. With a quick, "See you guys real soon." Grant is gone to Redemption.

A couple things go through my mind here. First is that I hate to see Grant go. He's played a very solid under the radar game. He's excelled in challenges and he's been right there with Rob making decisions. He hasn't lied to anyone and he has always been nice to everyone. I sincerely hope that he's the one that makes it back from Redemption. That being said, I can't wait to see the reactions AT Redemption when they see Grant come walking in, knowing full well that he's likely to kick their ass in any challenge put forward. He is the LAST person I'd want to hear walk into my Redemption Island camp.

Next time on Survivor: Someone wins! That's right; the finale is this Sunday, May 15th at 7pm. It's a 2-hour finale, followed by 15 minutes of Russell, 15 minutes of Phillip, 20 minutes of Rob and 5-7 minutes of everyone else. Oh yeah, and a promo for next season. Seriously though, the previews suggest that the Redemption Island person may come back after the next duel. Which makes sense. In a situation where you could potentially have 2 alliances of 2 people, throwing a swing vote in the middle of everything could be VERY interesting. I just wonder if Grant would be willing to rejoin Stealth R Us if he's the one to return. If nothing else, we only have 4 days to wait. Be sure to check out my Survivor Finale Power Rankings this weekend and then tune in early next week for the final recaps of the Redemption Island season. Till then...take care!