If you missed last week’s episode of Survivor, check out a recap here.
This week’s installment of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains begins with the Villains returning from their first Tribal Council. Under a full moon (when is it nota full moon in reality TV?), Coach loses his mind upon reaching camp. He confides in Tyson that he just doesn’t know if he can continue in the game. See, he’s a very sensitive guy, although he hides that sensitivity behind machismo, and he didn’t take kindly to Sandra’s attacks on his leadership and commitment to the tribe. Coach is the man, and he will not compromise what he is about for anyone, let alone Sandra. He devolves into a blubbering mess and all Tyson can do to soothe Coach’s wounded pride is to hug him. Tyson asks Coach if he wants Tyson’s help. When Coach says yes, Tyson tells him, even though Coach doesn’t want to hear it, that Coach has to make an effort to get along better with the tribe. No more fantastical stories that no one believes. No more wearing feathers in his hair to Tribal. No more tai chi (or “Coach Chi” as the Dragon Slayer calls it) in front of everyone. Despite another complaint that he just might leave the game tonight, Coach agrees to stay and buck up.
The next morning, Coach confides that the reason he was so upset is because the game doesn’t deserve his nobility. Coach is a legend, like Last of the Mohicans or King Arthur; he and the game deserve proper respect, and so far, he hasn’t received what he is due. Essentially, Coach thinks he’s better than everyone else. This attitude is belied, however, by the way Coach throws himself at Boston Rob. Coach wants to bond with perhaps the most notorious player in Survivor history. Coach tells Rob that he is on the outside of everyone else in the tribe, and he wants to be an integral part of it (Coach just wants to be loved!) Rob insists that Coach is not on the outs, but to make sure Coach needs to align himself with, and most importantly, trustRob. Coach hurriedly agrees, and the two hug it out. Notice what Rob has done here. Rob is clearly a target for most of the players in the game because everyone knows they can’t trust him. However, Rob found the one person who so desperately wants to be appreciated that he is willing to actually align himself with Rob. Combined with the seeds of dissent Rob sows later against Russell, Rob finds himself in a position he probably never thought he could be this season: un-targeted (at least for a few weeks). Just brilliant work by Rob. After Rob leaves, Coach quotes Confucius (of course, he does!), and does some Coach Chi, complete with blurry Enter the Dragon arm circles.
At the Heroes camp any revelry exhibited after their first Immunity Challenge win gets left on the cutting room floor in favor of the first Blatant Product Placement of the season. This BPP comes in the form of an island Sears catalog. The teams will be competing in a Reward Challenge today, and each tribe gets to select three items from the catalog as their prize. The Heroes select fishing tackle, a fishing pole (seems like these should have been one item), and a kitchen set replete with spices, cutlery, etc. The Villains select a tarp, tools (saw, axe, etc. Heck, their machete has gone missing!), and twine. It is not mentioned which season the challenge is from, but I’. pretty sure it was Survivor: Fiji, because I remember Yau-Man competing in it. Anyway, going head-to-head, a player form each team slides down a slippery surface and has to grab a numbered ball called out by Jeff. Once they have their ball, the player must shoot it into a basket. First team to four wins reward. Parvati sits out, and the challenge begins. First up, Coach and Tom. The two slide down, grab their appropriate colored ball, and attempt a few shots before Coach is victorious.
Side bar for a rant. After Jeff calls it for Coach, and he is seen walking back to his tribe, allof the other players are shown with the slippery goop all over them (I think my wife fainted when she saw James’ physique glistening). Also, it appeared that a number of the stanchions had already had their balls removed (man, that sounded dirty). Now, it’s not a big secret that we don’t usually see the whole challenge. Especially when contestants go through multiple iterations of challenge, like this one, or the digging-up-bags-and-running-to-your-mat-even-without-a-top-on-Sugar challenge from this season’s first episode, more than the required rounds are played. I mean, from a TV standpoint, I understand why, and there are laws about how game shows need to be fair (and Survivorreally is just a game show), but I don’t get this. Especially when they can’t hide it during editing. I mean, did they each get to practice first, and that’s why they were all already goopy? Or did the producers just not use all of the rounds to “fix” the drama. Like that first challenge, we never actually see Jeff make the call of what the score is after each round — it’s always a voiceover. Now, I’m not delusional to think everything in reality TV is, well, real, but this type of editing just makes everything feel fishy. OK, rant over. Back to the challenge.
The teams go back and forth in the following fashion: Russell over Cirie, Candice over Courtney, Jerri over Amanda, James over Sandra (in the most uneven match-up of the challenge. I think James scored before Sandra even got her ball), Rupert over Danielle, and for the win, Tyson over Colby. The Villains win! The Villains take their BPP goods and return to camp. Back on their beach, Russell and Rob go through their winnings. Russell pulls out what looks like a large knife in its sheath, though Rob, the construction worker, immediately points out that it is a hand saw. Russell tries to pull out the saw, but it is tough going. When he finally does, a scroll falls out, in front of the whole tribe. Russell knows what it is, but Rob opens and reads it to the whole tribe. It is a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Since they all know about it, the tribe wonders what they should do with it once it is found. Sandra suggests throwing it in the ocean; if someone were to keep it, that person would immediately be voted for at the next Tribal Council so it will be played. The group decides that no one will look for it (yeah, right), but as the men move to fix up their shelter, Russell sneaks off to look for the idol. Rob sees him go, and sends Sandra off to spy on him. Russell tries to elude her, but he is unsuccessful in doing so. Further, he is unsuccessful in finding the idol. All he has accomplished is winning the ire of Rob, Sandra and the rest of the tribe. Rob sums it up this way, “Russell is like a hobbit on crack. We need to get rid of him.”
At the Heroes camp, the losers make some coffee. As they are pouring out some coffee beans, they find their own scroll hidden in the jar. The clue is read aloud (as multiple people saw the scroll), and unlike the Villains, the race is on to find the idol. Tom, Amanda and James all end up digging in the same place, with wily Tom noticing some freshly moved dirt. He digs up the idol and casually shoves it into his sock. He thinks he has duped his tribe-mates, but Amanda saw his move, and quickly tells the rest of the tribe. Even thought Tom is in the minority alliance in their tribe, the idol gives him power, so they’ll have to get Tom to play the idol immediately if they go to Tribal Council. Of course, the Heroes won’t have to worry about Tribal if they can win the…
Immunity Challenge. Jeff explains that this season they are revisiting classic challenges from past seasons. This challenge has the distinction of being the only one that was never completed. Regular Survivor viewers will recognize the challenge as the one from last season’s Survivor: Samoa where Russell Swan passed out unconscious on the puzzle maze and was removed from the game. One player is placed in an atlasphere, and gives directions to two blindfolded teammates, who roll him down a course. At the end of the course, the caller guides four blindfolded teammates situated around a puzzle maze in moving a ball through a maze and into a hole. Courtney, Sandra and Cirie sit out. Tom and Rob get in the spheres. James and Russell push Tom, and Coach and Tyson push Rob. The Heroes take an early lead, but lose that lead when they get stuck behind a tree. The Villains are the first to start the maze, but the Heroes quickly make up ground. Both callers expertly move the ball through the maze, with the Villains having the first attempt at getting the ball in the hole. They miss! This gives the Heroes a shot, but their ball rims out. On their second attempt, the Villains score. Villains win Immunity!
Back at the vanquished Heroes camp, Tom moves to make sure he and Colby are safe; he’s looking for any crack in the majority alliance he can find. Cirie confides to the audience that she needs to get rid of Tom and Colby as soon as possible. Her game requires the strong players gone. Conferring with Cirie, Candice suggests splitting their six votes 3-and-3 for Tom and Colby. That way, if Tom plays the immunity idol, Colby will have the second highest votes, and will be eliminated. If Tom doesn’t they can always vote Tom out on the revote. JT, however, is not so sure about this plan. As he has mentioned, his only chance of winning the game, as a former winner, is to be up against a former winner in the finals. That means he needs to keep Tom, Parvati and/or Sandra around. Further, he wants to keep the tribe strong for challenges, and feels he can trust Tom and Colby to be straight shooters. JT’s target is Candice, as she plays a great social game and doesn’t contribute much to challenges. Tom, leaving no stone unturned, pitches to Amanda and JT, that if he can guarantee his safety, he will give them the immunity idol. James joins the party and says that he is sick of losing and just wants the strongest tribe — the implication being that he wants to take Tom up on the offer. Speaking with Cirie in private, Amanda says she is intrigued by Tom’s offer; perhaps it is time to get rid of Candice. Cirie responds that Tom and Colby wanted Amanda out, and voted for her at their last Tribal Council. JT approaches Tom and tells him that Cirie is in charge. Maybe they should all vote for Cirie instead of Candice. Believing that JT will side with Colby and him, and stab his alliance in the back, Tom says, “Tomorrow we make apologies. Tonight we make out move.” The question going into Tribal is, though, with whom will JT side?
At Tribal Council, Jeff, wondering why the Heroes just can’t seem to win, asks whether it is smart to vote out great performers just because that person is on the wrong side of the numbers. Rupert chimes in that he wants to play the game with integrity and keep his word to his alliance, even if that may cause him to vote “wrong.” Upon hearing this, Jeff is apoplectic. “The game is Outwit, Outplay, Outlast!” Players need to make the moves that help them win, not just slavishly hold true to alliances. “That attitude is why you’re here!” Jeff exclaims. When Jeff asks James for his take, James says that he doesn’t like to play the social scrambling aspect of the game, and thinks it’s unnecessary. Colby points out that if you’re the one on the block, you need to scramble and play a social game. It should be pointed out that this “argument” was actually conducted on a normal speaking level. Seems James has calmed down…finally. Jeff has heard enough, and it’s time to vote. JT goes last, and is shown writing only a “C.” Colby? Candice? Cirie? (I love when they edit this way.) Jeff gathers the votes, and upon his return, Tom stands to play the idol — his votes will be thrown out. The three votes for Tom are revealed first and are thrown out. Then two alternating votes each for Colby and Cirie. The whole time, JT has an uneasy look on his face. To whom did he lie? “The fourth person voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains…Cirie!” JT flipped on his alliance, and went with Tom and Colby. Cirie’s torch is extinguished, and she walks into the Blue Light of Death. Jeff mentions that this was the season’s first blind side, and sends the Heroes back to camp. The game is officially on.
Next time on…Survivor!
The preview shows Coach leading his tribe in some Coach Chi, Rob declaring that it is time to hunt Russell, Candice contemplating aligning with Tom, and a medic being called into a challenge. The challenge appears to be the one from Survivor: Samoawhere Ben was thrown out of the challenge for his vicious leg sweep on Russell Swan (man, that guy had it rough!).
Odds to Win
I’m glad to see that my first set of odds weren’t immediately blown out of the water by one of my favorites being voted out. Cirie was in the bottom half of the table. She was just too darn good at the social aspects of the game, and too unhelpful in challenges to be kept around. The Heroes need challenge wins desperately before they hit the merge. JT has seen that he needs Tom if he hopes to win this game again, and has clearly made this choice. How did this episode effect the odds? Let’s see. Remember, this is not a prediction of who will be voted out next, but rather a player’s chances at winning the game.
Tyson: 3-1. Still the favorite. Great physical player, and as is clearly seen from his lack of screen time, is being less annoying and cocky to his tribe-mates this season.
Coach: 5-1. I think, despite his oddity, has made a good move in aligning himself with Rob for the time being. Hopefully with his tantrum out of his system, he won’t pose any “annoying guy” threat to the tribe. There are other targets on the radar at the Villains camp that are important to eliminate than Coach right now.
Danielle: 6-1. Still flying under the radar, although her breasts almost caught plenty of attention during the reward challenge. Seriously, that’s the bikini you brought with you?
Candice: 12-1. With JT switching sides, Candice becomes the swing vote, and the weakest player physically. I think Amanda, James and Rupert are more willing to cut Candice then Tom, Colby and JT who can use her to get rid of Amanda. If she switches to Tom’s side, she could stay for a while. But she’s no longer under the radar, is she?
Colby:15-1. Finds himself in a much better position with Cirie gone. He can win individual immunity (if he can get to the merge), but is not a huge physical threat that he’ll be voted out right after the merge. Plus, I bet Jerri would align herself with him again once the tribes merge.
Rob: 20-1. The biggest mover this week. Rob’s problem was always going to be that no one would trust him. It seems that Coach does now, and as long as Russell is around, he will have a target he can mobilize the rest of the tribe to go after. Never underestimate Boston Rob.
Jerri: 25-1. Like Tyson, little screen time is probably best for Jerri. That means she’s not stirring up trouble or being annoying. Plus, she seems to have that partnership with Coach, so things look pretty good for Jerri.
Amanda: 30-1. Amanda drops a few spots because she lost a big alliance member in Cirie. She’s so skilled at the social aspect of the game though, that if she can keep Candice with her, James and Rupert and make it to the merge, she may be able to run over a number of the Villains.
Courtney: 35-1. Still floating, but wily enough to make her vote count. She should stick around for a while, as long as a stiff breeze doesn’t snap her in two. I mean, seriously. Did you see how skinny she is during the Reward Challenge?
Tom: 40-1. Huge move for the former winner in securing the hidden immunity idol and JT’s loyalty. It will still be hard for a former winner to triumph again, but he’s at least not on the wrong side of the Heroes tribe, especially if he can secure Candice.
Sandra: 50-1. Still kind of under the radar, but forming an alliance with Rob. Her situation could be worse, right?
James: 60-1. James falls because of JT’s switch. If Candice does too, and Amanda is voted out, James stands no chance once the merge happens. He’s by far the biggest physical threat in the game — prime suspect to be voted out first after the merge.
JT: 75-1. It seems to be a smart move to align himself with Tom, as he needs former winners with him in the final, but he stabbed the other alliance in the back. If Candice doesn’t flip, or Amanda and James make it to the merge, they’ll be gunning for JT.
Parvati: 2501-1. Although she didn’t factor into this week’s episode, she’s still high on the players’ hit list. She can’t be trusted and she’s a former winner, so she’s not going to win.
Russell: 500-1. The last place a player wants to be is in the cross-hairs of Boston Rob. Russell is playing hard, but unlike in Samoa, people are noticing. Further, he’s playing right into Parvati’s hands, where she’ll cut his throat. Lastly, his attitude at the Samoafinale (that of severe anger and depression), has led many to believe that he didn’t make it to the end of Heroes vs. Villains, and that Samoa was his best shot.
Rupert: 1,000,000,000-1. Unless he goes up against Parvati, and Parvati had killed another contestant, the two-time fan favorite is not walking away with the $1million.
OK, that’s the way I see the game shaping up after this week’s episode. What did you all think? Is Candice going to join Tom’s side? Was JT smart in flipping to get out Cirie? What is going on with Coach’s breakdown? Think my odds are way off? Please leave your thoughts, theories and questions in the Comments section below. See you next week, and be sure to check out TVOvermind.com for all of your TV needs.
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