Recap – Survivor 20.09 “Survivor History”

Did you miss last week’s slaying of the Dragon Slayer? Check out a recap here.

This week’s installment of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, “Survivor History,” begins, once again, at the Villains camp. Sandra feels pretty high on herself because she was able to manipulate Russell into voting out Coach by telling the gap-toothed wonder that Coach was out to get him. Jerri, on the other hand, had no idea Coach was about to get the boot. With no true alliance to cling to, she asks Danielle and then Russell if she’s the next go go. Both assure her she is not. Russell’s insistence actually borders on sincerity! He confides to the camera that Courtney and Sandra are next on his hit list. The tribe receives a rather lengthy Tree Mail describing a Reward Challenge last played in Survivor: Tocantins. When both tribes arrive, and the Heroes see that Coach was voted out, Rupert once again voices the “obvious”: that there is a women’s alliance picking off all the men in the Villains tribe. Russell can only smile.

The Reward Challenge. The tribes have been asked to rank their players from strongest to weakest. Each tribe member will then be pitted against the similarly designated person from the other tribe. All players will then stand on footholds between two walls for as long as they can. After ten minutes, the contestants will move to smaller footholds. After another ten minutes, they will move to the final and thinnest (about a quarter-inch thick) footholds. Whomever outlasts their individual opponent will win a point for his or her team. First tribe to three points wins. Want to know what they’re playing for? A feast provided by (Blatant Product Placement) Outback Steakhouse. The “stakes” (get it? stakes = steaks! Yeah, I know.) couldn’t be higher at this point in the game. As the tribes were told about the challenge prior to their arrival at the challenge site, the Villains chose Russell to sit out, figuring it is easier for the lighter women with smaller feet to stay on the footholds. This would prove to be a wise decision. Jeff starts the challenge and during the first ten minutes makes some small talk, noting that Amanda is the first player in Survivor history to play the game for 100 days. While the congratulations go on, JT mouths to Russell, “Hang in there,” thinking, erroneously, that Russell will be the next one gone because of the non-existent women’s alliance. Russell confides that he couldn’t be happier that the “Russell Seed” has been planted, and is taking root in the minds of the Heroes. All of the contestants make it to the final footholds, but then they begin to struggle. First it is Colby, who succumbs, giving Jerri and the Villains their first point. Although Parvati starts hurting and shifting her weight, Rupert is the next one out. Sandra decides to stay up an extra minute, but the Villains have their second point. Amanda, the heaviest person left, seems to be slipping, and eventually she, too, falls. Villains win Reward! As the teams depart, they shake hands, with JT telling Russell, “Hang in there buddy.”

The Villains go to another location for the (BPP) Outback Steakhouse feast. They chow down on some great-looking steaks and baked potatoes. As they gather around the table, Parvati unfolds her napkin and discovers a scroll. Sensing what it is, she deftly hides it under the table without anyone noticing. With Courtney and Jerri mocking Rupert for his insistence that there is a women’s alliance in the Villains camp, Parvati excuses herself from the table and makes her way out of the (BPP) Outback Steakhouse hut. Danielle follows after her, and Parvatishows her the scroll, confiding later to the camera that she wants Danielle to feel safest with Parvati, and trust her over Russell. As Parvati really has no place to hide the scroll to bring it back to camp, Danielle offers to make use of her ridiculously-sized breasts and slides the scroll in the crevasse that is her cleavage (hey, I only describe what they do. No judgments here).

Back at Heroes camp, JT devises what will likely become the most idiotic plan in Survivor history. Yes, it was teased after last week’s episode, but to see how JT actually formed the plan is high comedy. As he is relying on The Merge occurring after one more elimination, he wants to make sure Russell is safe. JT figures that if they can somehow save Russell, he will eagerly flip to their side post-Merge. So, he is going to pass off the Heroes’ Immunity Idol to Russell at the Immunity Challenge so he can play it and knock out Parvati. For some reason, no one laughs directly in JT’s face, but Amanda and Candice worry about the plan later by themselves. Yes, it may have the upside of denying JT the use of the idol, but why should they give such power to someone they absolutely don’t know (Remember, no one saw Russell’s season, although one would think the reason he is on the Villains tribe would be a clue to how he played!). Regardless of their concerns, they go along with the plan.

Haivng returned from the (BPP) Outback Steakhouse, Parvati and Danielle take the opportunity of being alone to go search for the Hidden Immunity Idol. Although it looks like Russell may be about to find them (really, that was likely just B-roll of Russell walking somewhere, anywhere), the girls find the idol rather quickly. Parvati confides that she isn’t going to tell Russell about the idol right now because she needs to be able to hold some kind of power over him. “Russell may think he’s the King of Survivor, but I’m the Queen of Survivor.” Back with the Heroes, JT takes to fashioning a letter to Russell, instructing him on the reasons behind the Heroes’ generous gift, and how exactly he should use it. JT, forced to read the letter aloud like he’s reading 19th Century correspondence between a Civil War general and his wife, describes how Russell should fake resignation at his imminent dismissal, but then play the idol and vote Parvati out. When he completes the “love letter,” Colby notes, “This is Survivor history.” (It sure is, but positive or negative history?) With the plan set, the tribes make their way to…

…the Immunity Challenge. Each tribe will begin on a platform out in the water. One at a time, each tribe member will grab a bag of puzzle pieces attached to a rope. They must negotiate the bag over and around obstacles, and get the bag to a platform on the beach. Once they have all five bags on the beach, they have to put the pieces together to build a totem pole. First team to finish the pole wins Immunity. Sandra will sit out for the Villains. With JT nodding to Russell, Jeff shouts, “Survivors ready….GO!” Rupert and Jerri are first in the water, with Jerri taking a slight lead. Rupert steps on the gas, and pushes into the lead. He beats Jerri to the beach with a small lead. JT is next in the water, and he quickly opens up a huge lead against Danielle. Really, from here on out, it is impossible for the Villains to catch the Heroes, especially with Amanda taking on Parvati, and Candice getting two-thirds of the way through the course before Courtney even makes it into the water. Colby and Russell are left on the platforms. With attention on the people in the water, Colby asks Russell if he’s going home. “Uh huh,” Russell assents. Colby then quickly tells Russell to go to JT after the challenge; JT has something for Russell. They have a plan for Russell to outlast the obvious women’s alliance. (Russell’s acting here was superb. He showed no signs of lying or distrust. Well done, Mr. Hantz). Russell says that he’d shake Colby’s hand if he could, and then Colby is off into the water. Russell follows, and actually seems to close the gap a bit, but he curiously gets hung up halfway through the obstacles. The Heroes deftly put the totem pole together (where was that puzzle ability the first half of the season?!) before Russell even makes it to the beach. Heroes win Immunity! As the tribes shake hands, Russell moves to JT. They quickly man-embrace, and JT slyly passes off the idol/letter package in a move that would make spies jealous.

Back at his camp, Russell is incredulous when he opens the package and sees an immunity idol. “You don’t hand your enemy an idol,” Russell bewilderedly remarks, “especially when he’s Russell Hantz!” With the Heroes gloating over their supposed brilliance back at their camp, Russell shares his gift with Parvati. She can hardly control her laughter at the situation and the stupidity of the Heroes. “JT just gave Russell his heart. Now Russell is going to stab a knife into it.” Meanwhile, Courtney and Sandra discuss their probable ouster at Tribal Council that night. “This is what we get for being mean,” Sandra notes to her stick-like partner. Back with the rest of his alliance, Russell confirms that they’re going to vote for Courtney. Parvatithen ends up in a conversation with Courtney, who pledges her fidelity to Parvati if they vote out Sandra instead. Parvati is intrigued by the possibility, figuring that Courtney is less likely to flip than Sandra is. She gathers with Russell, Danielle and Jerri, to whom Russell shares his idol sent from the Heroes. They all laugh and make fun of the Heroes, but then begin the debate of Courtney vs. Sandra. Russell believes Courtney is much more likely to flip to the Heroes, but Parvati insists she can keep Courtney in check. Their conversation is left without resolution as the Villains make their way to…

… Tribal Council. Jeff asks Sandra whether she trusts the people in her tribe. Sandra deftly notes that she’s watched the entire series, and knows that whomever Jeff asks about trust isthe one likely on the chopping block (kudos to the producers for actually showing this bit of meta-commentary. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t want to show the contestants’ awareness of how the show is edited and manipulated, so they deserve credit for airing Sandra’s comment). Jeff then turns to Courtney, asking her if she figures it is Sandra or her going home. Courtney simply answers in the affirmative. When Jeff asks why, Danielle points out that the two women simply aren’t in the dominant alliance. Adding that Sandra always just did whatever Rob told her to do. Sandra fires back that Danielle acts the same way vis a vis Parvati (Sandra really is rather quick and sharp). Jeff asks Parvati what is particularly untrustworthy about Courtney. Parvatideftly evades the question by pointing out that the vote is not about whether Courtney is trustworthy, but simply numbers and alliances. Jeff asks Jerri about the loss of Coach (who is sitting in a kimono over Jury Land), and she notes that she no longer has an alliance. Further, she was never asked to be in an alliance. Courtney calls her on this assertion, pointing out that Jerri was with Rob’s alliance and even voted against Parvati, but Jerri was lucky she flipped sides early — Courtney clearly was too late. It’s time to vote. The Villains do, and Jeff gathers the ballots. The first vote is for Jerri. The suspense lies in who Russell’s alliance picked to vote out. The next vote is for Courtney. Two more votes for Courtney, until the final Vote. “The tenth person voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains and the second member of the Jury…Courtney!” With Coach sitting indian style and meditating(?!?) , Courtney has her torch snuffed. With a playful, “Good luck!” she marches off into the Blue Light of Death. Jeff notes that the tribes are now even at five apiece, and that tomorrow, Parvati will also reach the 100 day mark. The Villains head back to camp.

Next time on…Survivor!

The Villains are seen carrying their possessions to the long-awaited Merge. Russell swears he is solidly with JT and Rupert, but Rupert and Sandra talk about what may actually be happening with Russell and the former Villains. I think Sandra, being the likeliest to flip as she is on the outs with Russell’s crew, will enlighten the Heroes to the non-existence of the “women’s alliance.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they move to blindside Russell, but will King Hantz catch wind of their plan? Further, will JT quickly flip from his tribe to join Russell? What if he hears about Russell’s actual strength and his alliance? Besides feeling like a complete moron for his plan, will JT get wise and do damage control? Further, will the long-feared alliance between Amanda and Parvati come to fruition? I think Parvati will definitely keep her girl safe from Russell for the time being, especially with other, stronger targets to aim for (namely, Rupert, JT and Colby). However this all plays out, next week’s episode should be fantastic.

Odds to Win

It was nice to see one of my long shots actually go home instead of one of my favorites. I honestly can’t figure how JT’s plan will effect the game, because if he and the Heroes catch wise, they can possibly manipulate Russell right into a blindside and oust him quickly. Now that Sandra has made it to The Merge, her chances have to improve because she can join the Heroes against Russell, but if JT flips to the remaining Villains, it is still five on five. Let’s see how the odds stack up now.

Danielle: 4-1. Danielle is still in a great position. She’s protected by Russell, plus she has solidified a pact with Parvati that would hopefully oust Russell before the finals. If it comes down to her and Parvati, I think the Jury would rather give her the million dollars instead of to a former winner.

Amanda: 9-1. JT’s idiotic plan aside, Amanda is sitting pretty. The tribes go into The Merge even, and she will likely have the protection of Parvati. She is still physically stronger than most of the remaining competitors, and definitely mentally stronger tan everyone save, maybe, Russell.

Candice: 12-1.Candice would likely be protected by Amanda (and by extension Parvati) too, at least for a while. She has quietly gone off the radar, and will be one of Russell’s last targets if she keeps a low profile. She is, however, still a very strong competitor, rivaling Amanda for physical and mental strength.

Jerri: 25-1. Although she lost Coach last week, and supposedly is aligned with Russell, I can see Jerri flipping to the Heroes and seeking Colby’s protection in a heartbeat. She’s a veteran, and can see the danger of staying with Russell too long. Plus, if she were to make it into a good Finals match-up, I think she’d be a sentimental favorite. She definitely already has one vote.

Russell:40-1. I can’t believe I’m moving Russell this high, but he has fallen into an amazing situation. He. Was. Given. An. Immunity. Idol. By. His. Opponents! If he can really pull JT over to his side, there’s no telling how far he can go. Yes, he has to watch out for Parvati and a possible blindside, but if he can survive the first post-Merge vote, watch out for Mr. Hantz.

Colby: 55-1. I knock Colby down because 1) he went along with that idiotic plan, but more importantly 2) he is going to be Russell’s first target. He’s a strong physical competitor who is another sentimental favorite to win. These are two qualities for which Russell has no time.

Sandra:75-1. Of the former winners, Sandra has the best chance of winning. She will immediately flip to the Heroes, and as we saw in the preview, will run right to Rupert. If she can survive a couple weeks, her quick mind might be able to manipulate her into the finals.

Parvati: 76-1.I still can’t see how she wins a Final Tribal Council vote, but if she weren’t a former winner, she would likely be the favorite. She has Russell’s protection, a solid alliance with Danielle, an awaiting alliance with Amanda, and an immunity idol. Maybe I’m wrong about the “former winner” thing because if I am, Parvati might just win again.

Rupert: 100-1. With JT royally screwing up the game for himself, and Sandra making a bee-line right for him, Rupert actually gets to move up the rankings. He may be a prime target for Russell as a strong competitor, and he’s unlikely to win many Final Tribal Council votes, but at least he’s not as dumb as JT.

JT:Eleventy-Billion-1. Dumbest move in Survivor history.

OK, that’s what I’ve got for this week. What did you think of the episode? Was this truly the stupidest move the game has ever seen? Or am I just not seeing the brilliance? What do you expect to come out of The Merge next week? Will the Heroes get hip to Russell’s machinations and be able oust him? Will Amanda and Parvati reform the Micronesia alliance? What do you think of my current odds? Drop your questions, comments and theories below. Please be sure to check out TVOverMind for all of your television needs. I will see you next Friday with a recap of The Merge. Until then, I’m off to get a (BPP) Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion.

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