Survivor: Redemption Island – Episode 6 Review

Another good episode, right? Survivor has always been a show that heats up as it moves long – in fact, you’ll find that with most competition style reality shows – and as we’re approaching the merge I’m starting to really get into Survivor: Redemption Island.

Take, for example, the Redemption Island twist itself. It could have gone so horribly wrong, but instead it’s made this game interesting and unpredictable. Who will return? When? If Matt returns, will he try and get back together with Rob or will he side with the folks from Zapatera? If Ometepe goes to Tribal Council again, should they vote out Crazy Phillip or should Rob cut Andrea loose in case she teams up with Matt when he reenters the game? The twist has given us a lot to think about.

Watching Zapatera self-destruct has also been great. Coming into the game, they were at a distinct physical advantage. They had five men to Ometepe’s four, and they had Julie, who’s bigger and stronger than all the women on Ometepe’s tribe combined. Then Rob made the questionable decision to vote out Matt, and Zapatera was even more physically dominant. But they’ve started to falter – they threw a challenge to vote out Russell, and then actually lost a couple. This week? Ometepe wiped the floor with them. Now they’re tied, 6-6.

All along, I said Rob was golden up until the merge. But it was looking like he’d go into the merge in the minority alliance, so his fate would rest in whether they could flip anyone from Zapatera. But now he could actually go into the merge in a majority alliance – unless Phillip gets to him first. Do you think that’s possible? Sure, Andrea might flip. And Matt, obviously, if he reenters the game. But unless Phillip waits until the merge and gets a bunch of Zapatera people to help him out, Rob’s looking pretty secure. Grant, Ashley and Natalie all seem pretty loyal to him and he’s also got a Hidden Immunity Idol that no one knows about. I like Rob and I want to see him go far, so I’m kind of hoping that Ometepe can get Phillip out before he has the chance to cause any damage – or that Stephanie wins those remaining Redemption Island duels and teams up with Rob (and my girl, Ashley) when she rejoins the tribes.

Now, let’s talk details of what went down last night.

Jesus freaks out in the street, handing tickets out for God

Krista, the moody accomplice of Russell and outcast of the Zapatera tribe, arrived at Redemption Island to spend a little quality time with her new opponent, Matt. Matt is so righteous and heroic, there’s no way he could connect with someone so sullen and evil, right? Wrong! Apparently Krista is a closeted bible pounder, meaning that she is officially Natalie White’s long lost twin. I mean, come on! They look alike. They both teamed up with Russell. They both love Jesus. All Krista needed was a social game (seriously, ANY social move at all) and she would be a total Survivor doppelganger. 

Since Matt is also way religious, the two bonded instantly over Krista’s luxury item – a pretty red-bound bible. Matt was feeling lost without a spiritual community to, like, discuss god with and stuff, so he relished having another god fearin’ Christian around. I mean, really? Really? It’s been, like, two weeks! You can’t go two weeks without talking to another person about Jesus?

Matching WWJD bracelets or not, Matt and Krista still had to battle it out to stay in the game. For the duel, they each had to throw ropes with hooks attached to drag three bags back. Then they had to use a ball from in the bags to complete a table maze – you know, the kind that Russell Swan almost died on top of. For a while there, it looked like Krista had it. But her ball fell into a hole as she neared the end, and Matt once again grabbed victory. Is this kid unbeatable?

Before she left, Krista gave Matt her bible, and Andrea gave them both the look of a girl who’d throw her Vodka-Cran in your face, should she have been in a bar. Whoopsies! The evidence of Matt’s connection with another hot blond caused Andrea to question everything she knew about the guy.

There are two ways to look at this development.

  1. Andrea is being smart. Seeing that Matt had made a connection with Krista made her realize that a lot of time had passed, and she could no longer trust Matt. After all, she barely knows the guy! He could reenter the game with a plan totally different than hers, which involves voting out Rob and then sharing a kiss under a tree covered in tarantulas, which seem to be EVERYWHERE in Nicaragua. 
  2. Andrea is jealous.

I’ll let you decide which of these two options seems most likely.

A pain in the tooth, a pain in the ass

Meanwhile, both camps were experiencing serious cases of OMG You Totally Annoy Me.

At Zapatera, Sarita was sitting around complaining of tooth pain. Apparently she was brushing her teeth with a dirty stick and some bacteria got stuck in a cavity, or the hole she gouged into her gums, or something. At least, that was the diagnosis gave her. Oh dears. Here’s the thing – you don’t want to be that girl. You don’t want to be the one whining about aches and pains and asking if something that looks perfectly normal is just a teensy bit swollen, because that gives people a reason to vote you out.

Sarita’s biggest mistake this week was being unaware of her tribemates’ perceptions of her. They think she’s a snooty “uptown girl” princess, and they think she sucks at challenges. Had she been aware of this she could have tried to combat it, and ways to do that do not include complaining about a toothache and sitting out of the challenge.

What did happen was that she gave Stephanie a chance to try and worm her way into the tribe she’d never really been a part of. She chatted with David about how much Sarita sucks – good move on her part, since Sarita wounded his fragile, yet massive ego last week when she said he lacked the ability to focus. Next she delivered an insincere apology to Steve, both for voting for him at Tribal Council and for being a snotty little brat when he asked her about it. She told him she’d really wanted to vote for Sarita, who she perceives to be the weakest person on the tribe rather than Steve, a seemingly physically fit ex-NFL player. Steve accepted her apology because he likes to see the best in people, which is one of the worst possible qualities for a Survivor player.

This Stephanie girl is really a piece of work. Yeah, she put in a little more effort this week to connect with a few of her tribemates and convince them not to vote her out. But it was a halfhearted effort at best. Mostly she just seemed to lunge around in the shelter and complain about how she’d never learned how to suck up to people she hates in school. School? Have you ever had a JOB? That’s all about sucking up to people you hate! I’ve been working since I was a teenager. Spend a little time working in retail and you’ll know all about sucking up to people you hate. Managers, coworkers, customers. Most of them totally suck. But you’re getting paid, so you grin and bear it. And guess what? Survivor pays pretty damn well, so paste that smile on and suck it up, princess.

A Hairy Situation

Over at Ometepe, Phillip had had enough of Natalie and Ashley’s laziness. It was pretty bad (and gross, too) – as everyone else worked, they laid on the beach and literally plucked out each other’s body hair.

In this situation, pretty much everyone other than Boston Rob was wrong. Let’s run through it.

Ashley said “If you can make yourself more comfortable, why not?” and also mentioned at one point that she’d already worked hard her whole life, you know, on her college basketball team and in beauty pageants. Um, really? I could not hate my Survivor office pool choice any more than I do right now. Dude! You’re on Survivor, not vacation. If you want to “make yourself more comfortable”, go to a spa. If you want to win a million dollars, help out around camp. Force people to respect you so that they vote for you in the end. You can primp in Ponderosa. As for Natalie, she’s just as bad as Ashley only quieter.

But you know what? Phillip was wrong, too. Yeah, it’s crazy frustrating to work really hard and watch other people do absolutely nothing. But you’re on Survivor, so you bite your tongue. If a large portion of your tribe is lazy, it can behoove you to be a little lazy too. Andrea gets it – she works at camp, but also makes sure she spends a little time braiding hair with the other girls and being social. You know, building relationships. By exploding at everyone and lecturing them like an overbearing father figure, all Phillip did was further alienate himself.

Rob could not have been more right in pulling Phillip aside to tell him to cool it. This is a guy who knows Survivor. He knows that the lazier they are, the better. They’re doing a great job of making sure no one will vote for them, so when Rob sits next to them in the finals people have to vote for him. So let them sit around and do nothing while everyone else works hard – because if they’re happy, the alliance is happy.

Let’s play ball!

The reward/immunity challenge this week was a good one – one team member would launch a ball into the air with a giant slingshot while they others would try and catch it using hand held nets. It’s a great combination of skill and physical contact.

Grant totally owned this challenge. It was almost as if he were a professional athlete! But seriously, though – he creamed Mike the Marine. It was so pathetic that Mike resorted to grabbing onto Grant’s shirt and ripping it. What are you, a seven year-old girl? If I were Grant, I would have ripped Mike’s shirt off too – after the challenge was over. Grant caught four of the five balls for Ometepe (B. Rob caught the other, in a delightfully graceful one-handed move) and they shut out Zapatera, five-zip.

For the reward, Ometepe got to enjoy a picnic lunch under a statue of Jesus (man, this episode was Jesus-ey). The food looked great, but everyone (and by everyone I mean Rob and Grant) was more concerned with spotting the HII clue. Rob saw it, but didn’t think he could grab it without everyone noticing. So instead he waited, and let Grant do the dirty work. That would have been great, except that the boys went to “check out the view” (which was pretty amazing) and open the clue. Phillip spotted them and instantly went into Pretending to be a Federal Agent mode. Also, did you know he nicknamed their alliance “Stealth ‘R’ Us”? Man, this is a guy who’s been watching way too much 24.

Phillip was furious that his alliance buddies had been acting all stealthy without him, and declared “Hell will hath no fury like a lion or a gorilla when he thinks it has been provoked.” Wow, catchy! Can I get that on a T-shirt? Then Phillip weirdly promised to sic the United States on Rob and Grant for betraying him. Meanwhile, Rob was bummed that Phillip had spotted them, saying “It was a little bit like Grant and I were back at school and got busted by the principal.”

Weak Sauce

As Zapatera headed to Tribal Council, it was unclear if it would be Stephanie or Sarita going home. Or going to Redemption Island, I guess. Man, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Stephanie had clearly convinced David that Sarita needed to go, but that was easy since Sarita had bruised his ego a few days earlier. The question was, had she convinced everyone else? Everyone seemed to agree that Stephanie was stronger in challenges, but they all trusted Sarita more. The funny thing was, no one seemed to want to acknowledge that the tribe’s problems in challenges run much deeper than Sarita being weak. She sat out of the most recent challenge, and Ometepe killed them. So clearly, voting out Sarita wouldn’t do them a ton of favors. Why take the risk on keeping around Stephanie for so little gain?

It looked like Ometepe agreed, because everyone except David (and Stephanie, obvs.) voted for Stephanie. Oh, and Ralph voted for some chick named Stifinie. (I’m going to feel really bad if it turns out that Ralph hasn’t been the one misspelling every name.) I think it was the right move. Like I said, Sarita clearly isn’t the reason they’re losing challenges. And it’s not like Stephanie is some challenge powerhouse. It would be a pretty safe bet that she’d flip come the merge, and that’s not a risk worth taking.

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Stephanie will be able to topple Matt in the duel next week? She’s a determined little firecracker, so I can see it happening. What do you think of David’s argument – is strength in challenges more important than trust?