Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Survivor Recap: Double Elimination

Double eliminations are rarely a good thing in Survivor. They are implemented because moron producers want 20 contestants to play for 16 episodes, meaning there must be one episode where two people go home. Sometimes one gets voted out and the other leaves because of an injury. But tonight, the Heroes voted out Big James while the Villains said goodbye to Tyson. Though the villains won reward and got to eat hot dogs and watch the Heroes tribal council, neither team won this week, but that doesn't mean it was a bad episode. In fact, it was probably the best of the season, and for two reasons.

Last season, villainous Russell gave us at least 5 or 6 all-time Survivor moments, but one of them was the perfect execution of a hidden immunity idol. His alliance was down 8-4 in the numbers, and it looked like Russell and his mates would be voted out one by one. The majority decided it was Russell's turn to go since he was such a hard player and intense schemer (they were right). They also figured that he couldn't possibly have a hidden immunity idol because he just played one the week before. What they didn't count on was Russell finding his second hidden idol (once again without any clues). When they hit tribal council, Russell shocks everyone before the vote by playing another idol ("I'm not finished playin' yet..... keep hope alive."). The 8 votes for Russell are negated, and the 4 votes are enough to send home someone from the majority. Through other various tricks and deals, Russell's alliance of 4 went on to oust the other 7 castaways in succession, completing one of the greatest comebacks ever.

Why is that piece of history important? Firstly, because none of the returning All-Stars from this season got to watch Survivor: Samoa on TV because they were filming this season at the time, so none of them got to see how great a player Russell is. Secondly, because it shows you how to perfectly play the hidden immunity idol. Some idiots find it and assume they are protected (Big James in Survivor: China got voted out with two hidden idols in his pockets because he was too dumb to play them). Russell knows when to tell people that he has it, when to leverage it's power to gather allies, and ultimately when to play it.

Last week, Russell broke from the tribe rules by searching (and finding) the idol yet again!!! That landed him in the minority...again, but it didn't take long for him to recruit people to his cause. He confided in Parvati and Danielle that he had it and they were going to run the show with it (very important move... you'll see). In tonight's episode, the Villains had to vote someone out, and Boston Rob and his alliance of 6 was looking to take down Russell. Their plan: 3 votes for Russell and 3 votes for Parvati. If Russell played the idol, Parvati would go home. If he gave away the idol, he would go home. The plan makes sense, but they make a huuuuuuuuge mistake in underestimating Russell's brains. He lies to Tyson and says he'll vote for Parvati because there's no way he can keep her safe (technically true at the time). Tyson, not wanting a tie-breaker between Russel and Parvati, is going to switch his vote without telling anyone (bonehead...) to Parvati to ensure that she leaves because he thinks she's more of a threat than Russell (we now have the majority voting 4-2 for Parvati).

Are you still with me? Finally, at tribal council, Russell stuns the world again by giving his idol to Parvati, who promptly plays it. The votes end up 4 for Parvati, 3 for Tyson, and 2 for Russell. Parvati's 4 are negated, and the 3 votes (see how important is was for Russell to grab 2 allies?) for Tyson are enough. Danielle summed it up perfectly when she happily shrugged "What the hell just happened?" If you're a student of the game like I am, you really appreciate how Russell played this one, politically and strategically. The dude certainly knows how to play the idol...

The heroes continue to blunder every single week. They think 10 steps ahead of the game, and that's why Boston Rob keeps leading the villains to victory every week. The tribe continues to shift back and forth between the two major alliances, so each week they still have a fractured, unhappy tribe. In the beginning, there were two groups: Tom, Stephanie, and Colby vs. Cirie, Amanda, James, JT, Rupert, and Candice. In the past 5 weeks, they voted off Stephenie (Team A), then Cirie (Team B), then Tom (A), and now James (B). In an even dumber move, they got rid of Tom, their best player, because he was on the wrong side of the alliance, and decided to keep James and his severely sprained knee (he can't even walk!!!!). So do you think they'd get rid of Colby tonight and continue along those lines?!?! NO!!!!! Now they decide that James' knee injury is too much, and they voted him out. There is no plan, no unity, and no chemistry. It's no wonder the villains continue to whoop them each week.

What we've learned tonight: It takes a lot of balls to give up guaranteed safety in the game to someone else, but Russell is a Survivor genius. If he takes down the big bad Godfather, Boston Rob, whether he wins or not, he's automatically the greatest player in history. I doubt any of you are Survivor fans, and that's a shame, because this season is shaping up to be one of the best...

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