Survivor: Redemption Island 22.09 “The Buddy System” Recap

If you missed last week’s twisty episode of Survivor: Redemption Island, check out my recap here.

The episode begins on Redemption Island. Matt congratulates himself on being most naive person to play Survivor. He can’t believe he was blindsided twice by the same people. “It’s like a big practical joke,” he says. Of course, this is all just God’s plan, so he thanks the Lord for the opportunity to come back to RI.

Murlonio, Day 22. David says voting out Matt was a great play by “them,” but Mike corrects him: it was Rob who maneuvered Matt out of the game. David likens Ron to the Godfather, and says that they need to take Rob out on the fishing boat. Mike compliments Rob to his face on Matt’s ouster. Julie laments what happened to Matt, saying voting him out right after he returned to the game was cold-blooded. Do they have no feeling for the kid? She laments that there is no breaking Ometepe’s shield of loyalty to Rob. Ralph tries to when he works on Ashley by asking her if he’s on the “chop block.” Ashley won’t give up any of Ometepe’s plans. Ralph replies that he’d vote for them in the Final Three and not Rob if they helped him stay in the game, but he is only met with his own aggravation that they won’t give up any information.

Rob tells his troops that they need to use the buddy system: no one should talk to anyone from Zapatera by themselves. Rob confesses that voting off Matt brought Ometepe together. He wants to keep an “us vs. them” mentality amongst his alliance. He wants his group to hate Zapatera, and moreover, wants them to be arrogant about it. Not that he will act that way though. He needs to be likeable to win the money. Natalie tells Rob about Ashley and Ralph’s conversation and that Ashley wouldn’t tell Rob about it herself. Rob confides that he’s going to vote out Ashley now because she has to tell him everything. He may get an opportunity after the…

…Immunity Challenge! Phillip enters with a headdress consisting of one sole feather. Jeff asks if he had a collision with a bird. No, but he did have a meditation. Phillip was meditating and asked for a sign. The feather appeared out of nowhere. When he picked it up, he had a vision that everything looks good for the former Ometepe tribe members. Jeff laughs and explains the Challenge. Each player will dig down into the sand to retrieve club and then use that club to smash a tile. The first six players to do that advance to the next round. Those six then must submerge their heads in a water trough, grab water in their mouth, climb under the trough and spit the water into a tube until it reaches the line. The first three to reach the line advance to teh final round where they must solve a puzzle. First to solve the puzzle wins Immunity. The players draw for spots and get ready to start the Challenge. “Survivors ready…go!”

Grant and Rob make short work of the sand pit, and smash through their tiles with such force Jeff gets hit by the pieces. Ralph, Mike, David and Julie move on, too. In the second leg, Grant and Rob continue their dominance. Julie misses her tube. Grant and Rob are moving fast, but Rob doesn’t seem to be taking large enough gulps of water, allowing Mike and David to catch up. Grant is through, with Mike and David joining him. The three start on the puzzle, which is a smaller version of the same puzzle in the season’s first challenge. Grant and Mike make short work of the puzzle, while self-proclaimed puzzle master David can’t seem to figure it out at all. Mike and Grant maneuver their final pieces, but it is Grant who wins Immunity!

In slow-motion, the players head back to camp. Mike says it is going to be one of Zapatera tonight unless there is a miracle. He notices that the tribe flagpole has moved. Thinking there might be a Hidden Immunity Idol underneath it, he and David start digging. They want to woo some Ometepe members over, but Rob has them on lockdown. Rob notices the guys digging, so he and Phillip run to join them. Rob and Phillip continue digging with shovels, much to the delight of David and Mike who had found nothing. Rob confesses that he can’t shake his HII paranoia, as that was how he was ousted last time he played. He believes another HII could be in play at this point. Mike relishes the fun he is having playing with “these clowns.” Rob brings Ometepe together to get ideas for how they will vote. Who will have best chance to beat Matt at RI? Rob says the one time to gamble and make a move is at…

…Tribal Council #1. Jeff asks Phillip about the omen he received with his feather that Ometepe would win. It happened! Phillip isn’t surprised as his grandfather was full Cherokee (of course he was!). Mike says being down in numbers is not a fun situation. Jeff asks Julie if she thinks about who is at the bottom of the Ometepe alliance. She admits she does, but it is David that says it is Phillip who is on the bottom. “I like being on the bottom,” Phillip replies without a hint of irony. He likes being on the bottom because he can look up at everything from there. Phillip runs his mouth about how he is close to his family, but here, he has a new family he can trust. Julie responds that Matt thought they were his family, too. David hopes a feather might come for his side soon. Phillip responds that he needs to keep his mouth shut and be tough to get a feather. David calls Phillip out for acting like a lunatic, who in return, calls David the bottom of a cesspool(?!?). Jeff asks David if he knows how the vote is going to go down. David answers that he has a pretty good idea it will be one of Zapatera.

It’s time to vote. Steve votes for Phillip, calling him an odd duck. Jeff collects the ballots. The first five votes are for Phillip. It appears whomever’s name is the next spoken will be the one leaving. The Sixth Vote is for Mike, as are the next four. With the tally five to five, Jeff reads the final vote. “The ninth person voted out of Survivor: Redemption Island…Mike!” Mike brings his torch to be snuffed, and marches off into the Blue Light of Death toward RI. Jeff tells the remaining players that it is clear the former Zapatera is on the wrong side of numbers so they need to dig deep and change their fortunes.

Night 22 at Murlonio, after Tribal Council. Rob calls Phillip a soldier and tells him that Phillip is at the top of Rob’s list. Rob confides that over the last couple days he has learned that Phillip is a loyal soldier. Rob is thinking about the Jury vote, so he wants Natalie and Phillip in the Final Three.

The next morning, Phillip confesses that he knows everyone wants to be next to someone like him (i.e. flippin’ crazy) in the Final Three. He knows he needs to make something happen, but that time is not yet. Ralph, however, wants to make a move. David warns him to not do something stupid. Ralph tells Phillip that once The Merge happens, it’s a one on one game. Does Phillip want to win, or does he want Rob to win a million bucks? Phillip doesn’t want to talk about strategy, but Ralph wants to talk about the game, not his home life. David says it’s no fun when they don’t want to play the game. Will the former Ometepe members play the game at the next…

…Immunity Challenge (#2). The first thing everyone notices are the cheeseburgers! For this Challenge, the players will hang from a bar as long as they can. After twenty minutes, they will only be allowed to use their legs to hang. Jeff asks each player to choose a white rock and a black rock. If they put forward the black rock, it means that person wants to play for Immunity. If he or she puts forward the white rock, it means that player will enjoy cheeseburgers and french fries. The players hold out their hands and reveal their rocks at the same time. Phillip and Steve are the only ones eating. They sit down at the table while the others climb the bars to their positions. “Survivors ready…Go.”

Rob, almost immediately, loses his hat (the same hat, by the way, that he has worn all four seasons. Can you imagine how gross that thing is by now?). He struggles to get comfortable, and eventually falls. Phillip taunts David while chowing down, but David says he has no problem with Phillip. For his part, Phillip says he has a lot of problems with David. Twenty minutes pass, so the players must use their legs only. David and Ralph choose to hang by one leg only, while the girls all use their flexibility to reach up and grab their feet. Julie drops, and Grant and Ralph follow closely behind. David is the last Zapatera, up against Natalie, Ashley and Andrea. Jeff tellst them that they must fight through the pain. David’s leg literally starts turning blue, and he falls out. The girls negotiate a winner amongst them, and Ashley and Natalie drop. Andrea wins Individual Immunity! Before sending them back to camp, Jeff announces that the next person voted out will meet Matt and Mike in a Duel on RI.

Day 24. Back at Murlonio’s camp. Rob doesn’t like losing because he doesn’t want Zapatera gaining any momentum. Fortunately, an Ompetepe won the Challenge. Ralph checks the fishing net, and has caught about fifty fish! Rob says they’re dead so they can’t be eaten, but Julie thinks Rob just doesn’t want his people to take anything from Zapatera. Rob is running his alliance like an army. The Zapatera folks invite the Ometepes to share the fish, but they just look on blankly as, literally, Rob has forbid them from having any. Grant, finally showing some backbone, tastes some fish. He confesses he is his own man; this isn’t a dictatorship. Maybe Rob wants to keep them weak. David notes that Rob showed his power with the Matt situation, and now with the fish. It’s obvious: you can’t cross Rob, especially at…

…Tribal Council #2. Jeff asks Phillip if he has had any other meditations. Phillip replies by regaling the group with his explanation of the members of “Stealth R Us.” He is the Specialist, there to instill inceptions into Zapatera. He then explains all the roles, but they are too convoluted and ridiculous to try to recount here. Jeff wonders if Phillip’s tribemates care he ate? Phillip says that they don’t. Jeff wonders why Steve ate when he is clearly in the minority alliance. Steve replies that he was hungry and decided to just hope for the best. Has Zapatera tried to find cracks in Stealth R Us? Phillip mentions Rob’s buddy system. Julie says Rob is running a cult. When asked about the numerical disadvantage they find themselves in, David says the numbers are virtually insurmountable. Perhaps RI is a better way to advance in the game at this point.

With that, it’s time to vote. They do, and Jeff collects the votes. The first four votes are for Rob (though David hoped his would count for four votes). Vote Five is for David, as are the next four. Jeff reads the final ballot. “The tenth person voted out of Survivor: Redemption Island…David!” “And then there were three,” whispers Ashley to Natalie. As David makes his way into the Blue Light of Death, Jeff notes that the remaining Zapatera members need to find a way to crack the Stealth R Us organization.

Next Time On…Survivor!

Phillip take issue with Steve, and demands the latter stop calling him crazy. “White folks like making a black man seem crazy when he says something they don’t want to hear.” Oh jeez.

So, it appears some of my predictions were actually true. There was a double elimination this week, and there will be a three-way Duel next week that will eliminate two players. By my calculation, there will have to be one more double elimination between now and the finale to get the number to the proper place. What I find most intriguing, however, was something that Jeff said not on the show, but during his “virtual living room” live Tweet session last night (follow @jeffprobst during both the East Coast and West Coast airings of the show to follow along. He reveals a lot of cool tidbits.)

During the live Tweet, Jeff mentioned that there is still a lot left to be seen on Redemption Island. There is the three-way Duel next week, but his implication is that RI will continue past then. Could we see another double elimination next week, followed by another three-way Duel? That would require three Immunity Challenges and two Tribal Councils next week, and I don’t think they have time for that. Perhaps there will be the Duel, then one Challenge and Tribal Council, but they eliminate two players during that Tribal Council, leaving a second three-way Duel the next week. That seems too convoluted, too. Either way, it seems RI will be around after next week’s Duel. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

One other thing. Jeff also mentioned on the live Tweet that next week’s tribal Council is going to be epic. Read that how you will.

Odds to Win

Alright, I’m not completely buying Phillip’s implication that he is purposefully acting crazy to be taken to the Final Three, but I have a good feeling it is actually going to work. If a crazy/unliked person makes it this far in the game, it becomes almost a fait accompli that the person makes it to the Final. I know Phillip believes he can win this way, but I don’t see anyone odious that would make voting for Phillip a possibility. Sorry Phillip, but you are a Final Vote black hole. Let’s see how the Odds stack up this week:

Andrea: 4-1. Well look who’s made her way back up to the top of the Odds Board! Making a triumphant return to her pre-season spot as my favorite to win, Andrea has managed to survive her partnership with Matt twice, won an Individual Immunity, and managed to keep herself off of Rob’s radar. With Ashley and Grant catching Rob’s eye as possible traitors, could it be that he has forgotten about Andrea? Only time will tell, but things are looking really great for her.

Grant: 5-1. I still think Grant is smart enough to try to eliminate Rob before Rob eliminates him (by joining Andrea maybe?), but he has to do it soon. It’s clear Grant will always be in the hunt for Individual Immunities (as long as they don’t require him to hang upside down anymore. That’s a tough Challenge for the heaviest person out there), so he is certainly a threat to pull a Fabio and make a Challenge run. He also may have been a bit too bold in taking some of the fish. I think next week will be pivotal for Grant as Rob does have the numbers now to take out one of his own before wiping out Zapatera. Then again, if Grant catches wind of such a plan, he can perhaps rally the Zapateras to blindside Rob.

Rob: 9-1. I can’t believe I have Rob in third place. There is no reason he should win because there is no way he should be allowed to make it to the Final Three. But look at how he has played. Granted, this is his fourth opportunity — if he hasn’t learned anything by now, he deserves to lose, but Rob is playing the perfect game. Look at how his alliance reacted to the offering of food. They looked like they were struck with Stockholm Syndrome. Rob admits he is nervous about another HII being out there, but will his utter domination lead to so much pride that he will be blindsided?

Natalie: 15-1. Natalie is going to make it to the end, isn’t she? Sigh. I will admit she has been smart by staying glued to Rob’s side and even tattling on her best friend, Ashley. I would just hate for her to end up like her namesake from Survivor: Samoa and actually win the game. Please God. I know Matt thinks you care about Survivor, so if you do, please do not let Natalie win. Please!

Mike: 20-1. Can Mike win the upcoming Duel? Absolutely. Can he win a second Duel if need be? You bet. Will he have a chance of reentering the game and pulling some people to him to turn against Rob? Less likely. Would he be very dangerous if Rob was gone by the time he made it back into the game? Certainly. If he somehow makes it to the end would he be a virtual lock to win (as he would have had to win, likely, two Duels (one against Matt, the Duel King), a couple Individual Immunities, and maneuver an alliance to turn on itself)? Definitely.

Ashley: 29-1. See the entry for Natalie above, just take out the part about being smart. If one find oneself in that kind of an alliance with Rob, you tell him everything the other alliance says. Everything. What benefit was it to Ashley to keep her conversation with Ralph secret, especially as she had no intention of siding with Ralph?

Julie: 37-1. I say it again. FLOATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ralph: 46-1. He has to be the next Zapatera to go, right? Rob knows Steve is hurting and is no threat. Ralph, I believe, is not long for this game, especially as he has shown no prowess in Challenges.

David: 67-1. This was inevitable. David was on the wrong side of the numbers, and way too strategic for his own good, causing Rob to want to eliminate him as soon as Mike, the bigger threat, was gone. Could David beat Matt and Mike in the Duel? Possibly, but it better not be a puzzle Duel. Dude sucks at those.

Matt: 80-1. It seems Matt has actually learned from his mistake of trusting someone who already stabbed you in the back a second time. He could absolutely win the manage a Duel, and the next one. The RI Arena is his home. If he does, he better hope he defeated Rob in one of those Duels, because if Rob is still in the game when Matt returns, guess who is going to be Public Enemy Number One.

Steve: 374-1. Steve has given up. He has admitted as much. He wanted to go home, but Rob kept him in the game. He’s virtually no threat to win a Challenge, when he chooses to participate in them. Steve would be in last place if it wasn’t for…

Phillip: 375-1. OK, let’s give Phillip the benefit of the doubt that he is actually just playing crazy as a strategy. I still don’t see how this earns him a victory. What combination of other players would lead a Jury to give him a winning vote? Maybe Julie and Ashley? But what are the chances that those two make it to the end, too? Minimal at best. I just still don’t see how Phillip gets to a victory.

That’s what I have for this week’s Survivor: Redemption Island. What did you think of the episode? Are you jazzed about the three-way Duel? Are you glad RI is still a part of the game? Can you see anyone, anywhere manufacturing the ouster of Rob? Please leave your comments below. I’ll be back next week with a recap of what sounds like an awesome episode. Until then, I’m off to have my own meditation.

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