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Survivor: "Their Red-Headed Stepchild"

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Welcome back to Redemption Island! Carrie is apparently under siege by tornadoes, so I’ll be filling in tonight. Voted out last week, Krista is the latest arrival on Matt Island, and she and her genial host are quick to bond over their mutual religiosity. In fact, Krista’s luxury item turns out to be a pink-bound Bible, which makes me flash back to the very first season of Survivor, in which crusty old Rudy proclaimed that the only reason he’d bring a Bible to a deserted island would be to use it for toilet paper. They don’t make Survivors like Rudy anymore.


Anyway, Krista and Matt head off to the arena to find out which one of them God likes least. The duel entails using a grappling hook to retrieve three bags, each containing a ball, one of which must be successfully guided through a tilty table-maze. Krista gets an early lead, but as we all probably suspected, Matt is still God’s favorite, and he lives to fight another day. Seeing that God isn’t really on her side after all, Krista gives Matt her Bible to take back to his little hut to read while he squats in his own filth and awaits his next opponent. Wouldn’t it be funny if Matt won every duel except the last one? God would have some ‘splaining to do!

At Zapatera, the editors have their work cut out for themselves in trying to convince us it isn’t a 100% certainty that Stephanie will be voted out next. Steve is upset that Stephanie cast a vote for him at the last tribal council, which is ridiculous, because she had to vote for someone, and everyone else is in an alliance with Steve. She should have just said, “So which of your alliance-mates would you have preferred me to vote for, dumbass?” But her position is precarious enough, I guess. Meanwhile, Sarita has gouged the inside of her mouth while swabbing her teeth with a stick and is worried about getting infected. Ralph the Rooster thinks it was silly of her to try to brush her teeth in the first place, but he doesn’t seem to be a guy who worries overly about personal hygiene anyway.

At Ometepe, Ashley and Natalie are having a spa day, which involves Natalie trimming some hairs under Ashley’s arm. What is with all the armpit drama this season? Just another part of the Russell Hantz legacy, I suppose. Special Agent? Phil is having none of this, and after repeatedly telling them to help him collect wood for the fire, he blows a gasket. He has a point, in that Ashley and Natalie are completely useless, but the girls rightly point out that Phil never uses the same barking, condescending tone when he’s talking to Grant and Boston Rob. Because he’s playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else in the game is playing Duck, Duck, Goose, Rob realizes its to his advantage that the girls be seen as useless and lazy and that Special Agent? Phil be seen as a koo-koo crazypants, so he somehow manages to smooth things over while keeping the underlying conflicts in play.

Challenge time! Two tribe members will use a slingshot to flip balls down the beach, where their teammates will try to catch them in netted baskets. It’s a classic that’s usually good for someone ending up with a bloody nose or dislocated armpit (damn, now I’m doing it, too), but disappointingly, this iteration is largely injury-free.  Mike does manage to rip Grant’s shirt completely to shreds (which may be fuel for some juicy fanfic on your less-reputable Survivor sites), but the challenge is no contest. Ometepe prevails in a blowout, and Zapatera is going back to Tribal Council.


Although David lobbies for Stephanie to stay over Sarita, on the grounds that winning challenges is more important than perceived loyalty at this stage of the game, this is one of those foregone conclusion episodes. When you hear Mike saying something like, “I’m not totally opposed to keeping her around,” you know there’s not a whole lot of momentum for the idea of switching things up. Stephanie’s early loyalty to Russell and her general abrasiveness to the rest of the tribe are too much to overcome, especially since she hasn’t exactly shown herself to be a force in the challenges despite her willingness to stick her neck out. David stands by her, but it is Stephanie who will become Matt’s latest sacrifice to his God on Redemption Island.

Stray observations:

  • Special Agent? Phil continues to bring the crazy in a fun way. He’s a lot like Coach from Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains, in that they both seem to be starring in movies in their own minds. But while Coach was the dragonslaying hero of a sword-and-sandals epic, Phil appears to be in an ‘80s action movie from Cannon Films, starring himself, Rob, and Grant as “the Specialist, the Mentalist and the Assassin.” He’s bringing the lion AND the gorilla, baby!
  • Poor Andrea left the Redemption Island arena wondering where she stood with island boyfriend Matt after he and Krista bonded over the Bible.
  • Boston Rob “had to play Arafat in a peace process.” I’m not sure that’s the exact analogy he was looking for, but it’s true that Rob has evolved from an intolerant hothead trying to blow everything up in his first season to the master diplomat of today.
  • But why are you reading any of this when you could be reading Jeff Probst’s live tweets? East coast and west coast time! He can’t stop tweeting!

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