Survivor: Redemption Island – Episode 5 Review

Russell is officially out of the game, and he’s left behind two sulky, moody, brokenhearted little girls. Yes, this week on Survivor we saw Stephanie and Krista sit around moping like a couple of moody teenagers who were forced to go on a family camping trip rather than an awesome party. They made little attempt to reconcile themselves with the rest of their tribe, and they certainly didn’t own up to any mistakes they might have made that led to their unfortunate positions.

And wouldn’t you know it, this week the two girls got to go on a field trip! The spirit of Russell Hantz smiled on them, because they got to go to Redemption Island to watch Kristina and Matt’s duel.

It’s like a sock-hop, but with a duel!

I’m so glad the producers decided to let tribe members attend the duels as spectators, because the social component of the duels has become the most interesting. I mean, really, I wasn’t that invested in who won this duel – I guess I’m kind of rooting for Matt, but I wouldn’t exactly be crushed if he lost. What’s really fascinating, though, are the social dynamics of the duels.

Last week we saw Russell manipulate Ralph into practically showing the other tribe his immunity idol, and he spilled some serious information. This week, we saw Matt try and hold a conversation with Rob while trying to win the challenge, and we saw the self-proclaimed “Russell’s girls” (stop self-identifying like that, girls, it’s gross) practically beg Probst to send them over to Ometepe. Drama? I think so.

Does he have Adonis DNA or something?

Matt won the duel again, establishing a pretty intimidating record for himself. The way he keeps winning and winning is sure to psych out future opponents. Will be ever be dethroned as King of Redemption Island, or will he make it back into the game to seek out revenge on Rob?

Do you think Matt made the right call by questioning Rob on his elimination? He’s a smart kid, so he knows Rob orchestrated it. And I get why he’s confused – he was obviously thrilled to be playing WITH Rob, and then the dude cut his throat. But I’m not sure he accomplished anything.

If Matt keeps winning, Rob needs to vote out Andrea. I don’t want him to – my mom has Andrea in the office pool. But strategically speaking, if I’m Rob, I don’t want the guy I blindsided for no obvious reason to reenter the game and team up with his devoted girlfriend. If I’m Rob, I want crazy, wacky, easily manipulated, puts the target on the back of his own pink panties Phillip to stick around instead.

Social Skills and Minority Alliances

Too close for comfort?

Speaking of Phillip and his loose-fitting hot pink undies, boy is he getting on everyone’s nerves! Ashley and Natalie in particular can’t stand him, but he did manage to get Andrea to warm up to him a little. She’s annoyed with how little work everyone else is doing, and Phillip used that to get to her – either intentionally or through blind genius. But at this point, whatever Phillip may think, they’re not in a great position to blindside Rob. Grant, Ashley and Natalie all seem quite loyal to him, and even if they did manage to sway enough people to vote him out, they’d have to blindside him. They don’t know it, but he has the idol. He’ll be a tough guy to get out.

Luckily, Andrea knows enough about the game to not immediately buddy up with Phillip because he complimented her strong work ethic. She knows it’s important to socialize and act like one of the girls, even if she doesn’t feel that way.

Meanwhile over at Zapatera, Stephanie and Krista are still on the outs with their tribe – because they’ve put themselves there! Those girls are frustratingly arrogant and dumb. They aligned with Russell to early and too obviously, and it was a bad move. The tribe didn’t want him around, they didn’t have the numbers, and it immediately alienated them from the group. But instead of trying to win their way in, they just sit around and complain about how stupid everyone else is! Um, girls? From where I’m sitting, it looks like they’re doing quite well. Those six people are in the dominant alliance on the dominant tribe. They could lose two more challenges, cut you two loose, and still do really well come the merge. They could win every single challenge, let you guys jump ship at the merge, and still probably do pretty well.

Let’s say the tribes merge when there are ten people left in the game. If Zapatera went in with the eight people they have right now, that would mean Ometepe only had two people left. That means two people jumping ship won’t make much of a difference. And the chances are good that Zapatera would lose at least one challenge before the merge – so buh-bye Stephanie or Krista. Now you have one person willing to jump ship. The fact is, Zapatera doesn’t need Stephanie or Krista to take out Ometepe. If they keep winning, they’ll have the numbers with or without them. If they lose a lot, they’ll vote them out.

Now that’s Redemption

Considering the only challenge Ometepe had won so far was a thrown one, I was really hoping they’d pull out a win this week. And thanks to some classic Survivor foreshadowing, I was pretty sure they would. The reward/immunity challenge this week was one of my favorites – one person calls out directions to the rest of their blindfolded tribe so they can retrieve items. I love this because it puts a large amount of responsibility on one person, which makes for some serious drama on the losing side.

In this case, there was an added layer – the players would be retrieving puzzle pieces, and the caller would be the sole person to solve the word puzzle. So not only did the caller have to have a loud voice and know how to give good directions, but he/she had to be good at puzzles too. Boston Rob was an obvious choice for this, but Zapatera’s choice of Stephanie was a little surprising.

Rob managed to get all his players back with the bags of puzzle pieces first (do you think having Grant retrieve three of the four bags was a strategy or a coincidence?) but Stephanie caught up by opening her bags at lightning speed. Despite the fact that Rob dropped a piece of the puzzle on the ground when he opened the bags, he found it and solved the puzzle first. Ometepe wins!

Even while Rob and Stephanie were working on the puzzle, there was dissidence within Zapatera over who should have been in that role. Some people, especially David himself, had thought David should do it. Steve went so far as to mutter “She’s not smart enough for this.” Maybe he was right, but I thought their reasoning – that David is a lawyer and therefore good at puzzles – was weak. If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t judge someone based on their profession. There have been perfectly stupid doctors and lawyers on these shows over the years. And Boston Rob is probably the best puzzle solver in Survivor history, and he used to work in construction.

Coffee & Clues

Like taking candy from babies…

I really wish Survivor producers would come up with a new way to deliver hidden immunity idol clues, because putting them in with the reward has gotten way too predictable. As soon as Ometepe returned to camp with their coffee and pastries Grant and Rob had spied the clue. Although I have to say, what followed was some very artful Survivoring.

Grant and Rob tag-teamed it to make sure they got the clue out of the coffee jar without anyone noticing. There was a lot of sniffing the coffee to make sure this happened. But Rob was even sneakier – as he and Grant were playing the rest of the tribe, he played Grant. He got Grant to return the coffee to camp while he snuck off and replaced the clue that had been in the coffee jar, which would be a second clue, with the original clue he’d found in the lawn chair. Brilliant. Just completely brilliant.

Grant and Rob ran through the woods together like a couple of schoolgirls – seriously, they might as well have just held hands, too – and then Rob showed Grant the virtually uncrackable clue. Grant bought it, and why wouldn’t he? It was the real clue. The best line of the night was when Rob said “But it’s fun for me. I have to entertain myself out here somehow.” I may not have wanted Rob to come out and play a fourth time, but damn, that guy is funny.

Six to be You

Smile, though you heart is aching?

With Tribal Council looming, Stephanie and Krista still did very little to try and save their butts. Don’t get me wrong – it was obvious one of them was going home. But I would have been doing everything possible to make sure it was her and not me. Instead, they sat around and whined about how stupid everyone else is.

I can’t say enough about how much these girls annoy me. They whine and whine about how lovey-dovey the tribe of six is, and how no one is really playing the game, and how that’s not how Survivor works. Come ON. That is exactly how Survivor is played! These people have formed strong relationships within themselves in order to progress farther in the game. They don’t need to turn on each other yet because they have y’all. They can get through the Tribal Council they were about to go to, and then another one, before they have to start eating themselves. And if they make it to the merge with the six in tact, they can pick off Ometepe one by one before they start turning on one another. It’s called a long term plan.

It’s one thing to point out cracks within the majority alliance. Stephanie made a good move in pointing out that David seems to be on the bottom there. But that means nothing if you aren’t also trying to woo that person to side with you.

She’s no Natalie White, that’s for sure

On TV, it seems like Stephanie is the more annoying of the two girls, and the more threatening. She’s outspoken and better in challenges than Krista. But thought otherwise and Krista/Krasta/Crysta was voted out. (You know “Krasta” just had to be Ralph.)

With her one ally gone to Redemption Island, it will be hard for Stephanie to make it very far. They’ve stirred the pot a little with David, who I’ve thought seems like an arrogant jerk from his pre-game interviews alone, but I don’t know if they will be enough.

What did you think of the episode? Is Boston Rob is a fantastic position, or is he in danger of becoming too cocky? Does Stephanie have a prayer? Who do you think will win next week’s duel?