Recap – Survivor 20.05 “Knights of the Round Table”

In case you missed the season’s first blindside last week, read a recap here.

As is becoming a bit of a habit with the Heroes tribe, this week’s episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villainsbegins with the Heroes returning to their beach with one fewer member. Although considers JT a “hero” for flipping on his previous alliance, JT knows that he has to do some damage control. Under the ever present reality TV full moon, JT explains to Rupert that he ousted Cirie for the benefit of the tribe. The Heroes need the strongest people possible to try to win some Immunity Challenges and get their numbers back to even before the Merge. Rupert is pretty unreceptive, “pissed off” in fact. So JT moves on to Amanda, and swears he won’t turn on her, James and Rupert again. Unsurprisingly, Amanda believes JT about as far as she can throw him. “Game on!” she confides.

Things are a little bit more harmonious on Villains Beach, where Coach is leading the whole tribe (sansRussell) in some “Dragon Slayer Chi.” Russell doesn’t have time for any “meditation crap.” He’s got bigger fish to fry, and hidden immunity idols to find. As his mates align their chakras, Russell searches for the idol in what may be the most ridiculously large hole ever dug. Russell has clearly thrown subtly to the wind, but he is successful in uncovering his Precious. The idol is his, and for Russell, everything in the game changes; Rob is no longer in control of the tribe or the game.

Off to the Reward Challenge. Like last week’s Atlasphere challenge, this week’s Reward Challenge (also from last season’s Survivor: Samoa) made history: it was the first challenge to have Jeff kick somebody out. In a walled in arena, each team places three people in a pit between two raised platforms, which each have a basket attached to the front. Three more players from each team (the “shooters”) man the opposing platforms. Three rugby balls are placed in the center of the pit. On Jeff’s “Go!,” the players in the pit attempt to secure the balls and throw them to their teammates on the platforms. Once the shooters have a ball, they throw the ball across the arena into the opposing team’s basket for a point. First to two points wins. Although the players in the pit have virtual free reign in securing the balls, in Samoa, Ben viciously kicked Russell Swan’s legs out form underneath him, and Jeff pulled him from the game. (By the way, I’m really surprised Jeff didn’t mention this challenge’s history, especially as it just happened last season.) Would something similar happen here? Want to know what they’re playing for? A trip to a watering hole and a chocolate feast. Chocolate bars, chocolate milk, chocolate cake, all for the winners of the challenge. To give them a (literal) taste of the prize, Jeff offers each tribe a bite of chocolate. The Heroes, however, are uninterested. Like National Hockey League captains refusing to touch the conference championship trophy because they don’t want to jinx winning the Stanley Cup, the Heroes refuse to take the chocolate bits. Although Courtney is “watching her weight,” she gladly offers to take the Heroes’ share. When Jeff asks the Heroes why they don’t want any chocolate, Colby responds that they’re ready to win a challenge. “Let’s go!” he orders. “I’ll go when I’m ready, brutha,” Jeff retorts. This exchange is funny because along with Sandra and Parvati, Colby sits out of the challenge. For Reward, Survivors ready…Go!

The Heroes, with the long arms of James in the pit, quickly grab all three balls and take off-the-mark shots. When James jumps to grab a rebound, he comes down awkwardly and is unable to get up. Jeff quickly stops the challange and brings in the medical team. Although he’s in no pain, James, with a probably ligamaent strain, is unable to walk. He is pulled from the Challenge. Inexplicably, Colby is not allowed to replace him, so the Heroes are now down in the Challenge five people to six. The challenge resumes, and, down a player or not, the Heroes take the lead on a great shot by Amanda. The teams switch sides of the arena, and the shooters are exchanged for the players in the pit. The battle in the pit is fierce with JT first taking out Rob, and then tackling Coach hard. Tyson gets one of the balls, shoots and scores! The game is tied 1-1. Sides and players are switched again. Rupert grabs a hold of Jerri and swings her, face first, into a pole. He immediately apologizes, saying that was not his intention, but she’s having none of it. Play resumes with JT deftly defending his own basket by throwing his ball into an oncoming Villains shot. JT shoots and Rob plays the same defense. In what was clearly editing magic, Jerri, now a shooter, grabs a ball, shoots….and scores! Villains win Reward! The tribes leave, except James, who must be tended to by Medical again. The medical team checks out his knee, and decides to wrap it up. They need to see if he can walk on it, otherwise, he will have to leave the game.

At the very cool looking tidal pool, the Villains enjoy their reward. There are enough various chocolate products there to literally make a person sick, to which Jerri can attest. With some of his tribe bathing in the water, Rob guarantees to Sandra and his followers that Russell has secured the idol. The only thing to do is vote for him at the next opportunity to either get him out, or get rid of the idol. Now with Rob’s faction in the pool, Russell tells Parvati that he has the idol. Parvati says it should be easy to get Coach on their side as the Dragon Slayer will do whatever Russell says. So Russell goes to Coach and tells him about the idol. At first, Coach seems unreceptive to Russell’s plan to oust Rob at the next opportunity, but when Russell offers to give Coach the idol should he be in danger, Coach’s sense of honor and trust kicks in. Since Russell trusts Coach, Coach’s honor will not allow him to betray that trust. Coach goes so far as to get down on one knee before Russell so “The King” can knight the noble Dragon Slayer. Man, Russell is playing Coach like a fiddle.

Back at the Heroes’ camp, Amanda is uspet that James, for his second season in a row, may have to leave the game due to injury. Amanda cries while explaining that she is like James’ little sister whom he protects fiercely. Tom, on the other hand, is not upset in the slightest. If James has to leave, that’s great because it gives Tom a better shot. If James doesn’t leave, he’s the obvious target for votes because he won’t be able to help the tribe physically. With victorious music playing underneath, Amanda spies her big brother in the distance. She runs to James, who has a full-on leg brace wrapped around his leg. James hobbles, slowly, back into camp and tells the group that he’s not in any pain, so he’s allowed to stay in the game. He clearly has a target on his back though, which Candice voices when she confides that if the Heroes lose the Immunity Challenge, she’s voting for James.

Time for the Immunity Challenge. Coach is glad James is still there because he’s a follower of the “to be the best, you need to beat the best ” school of thought. The Immunity Challenge is a classic from the Survivor: All-Stars season. The challenge is another physical/puzzle game. Each team has ten large Tetris-like pieces strewn about a field. Three pairs of teammates are blindfolded, and one person is the “caller.” The caller guides the pairs through the field to collect the pieces and bring them back to the team’s mat. Once all the pieces are back, the blindfolds are removed and a large cube must be constructed out if the pieces. Tyson and Danielle sit out for the Villains. Jerri and James are the callers. Survivors ready….Go! The Villains take an early five to three pieces lead, but James, despite Jeff’s concern that he isn’t well-suited for caller duty, leads his tribe back to take a nine-eight piece lead. The Villains tie it up with nine pieces each, but they get lost trying to find the tenth piece. The Heroes grab theirs, and hurry back to their mat. “Heroes – blindfolds off and start solving the puzzle!” Jeff shouts. With the Villains literally lost in the weeds trying to find the tenth piece, the Heroes quickly get half of their cube built before the Villains can start theirs. When the Villains finally do begin, “Puzzle Master” Rob takes over. They quickly catch up to the Heroes who, once again start bickering with each other(although James, now hoarse from guiding his tribe to gather the pieces, is not very involved). The Villains take the lead, and with a stomp on top of the cube by Rob, “Villains win Immunity!” For the fourth time in five Immunity Challenges, the Heroes go back to camp to prepare for Tribal Council.

At camp, the Heroes begin to strategize. James insists the loss is Tom’s fault for trying to take over leadership of the puzzle after they had been solving it well. According to the gravedigger, he’s better injured than Tom is healthy. Tom and Colby, unsurprisingly, want James gone because he is a liabilty in the challenges (and his ouster would, obviously, be better for their alliance). Rupert wants Tom gone, but Candice thinks that is a dumb and risky move as James can’t walk. After she opposes him, Rupert is thinking maybe they should get rid of Candice as she’s the weakest player, physically, in the tribe. JT talks it over with Candice, and figures they should vote for James. Then JT assures Rupert that he’s voting for Tom. JT is clearly running around to see what’s the best deal he can make, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Colby confides that JT is playing whatever hand he is dealt that day. He is showing no loyalty, and all that can do is bite him in the ass later in the game.

Off to Tribal Council. Jeff starts immediately on James’ leg, stating that his niece could beat James in a race. James replies that he could still beat Jeff in a race, even with the leg braceon. When Jeff notes that, once again, the Heroes had a lead after the physical part of the challenge, but lost once they hit the puzzle, James offers that it was Tom and Candice’s fault because they went their own separate ways during the puzzle (by the way, does anyone remember James being this talkative in his prior seasons? I mean, he was always good for a quip, but he’s the downright star of the season, at least in the Heroes camp). Jeff asks Tom is James should go home because of his condition. Tom says he should, and the only reason he might be kept is because people are trying to stay loyal to alliances, instead of voting what’s best for the tribe. JT, still trying to play the nice guy in the middle, says it’s not right to point fingers at anybody for challenge losses; they all lose togetheras a team. James gets the last word when he insists that if his tribe believes Tom is better for the tribe than he is, even with the injury, then vote James out. He’ll have no hard feelings, summing up by stating, “We’re cool.” It’s time to vote. They do (with Tom telling the camera during his vote for James, “James. All mass, no class.”), and Jeff gathers the votes. Two votes for Tom, two votes for James. Fifth vote is for Tom, so the sixth vote will determine whether JT and Candice flipped or not. “The fifth person voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains…Tom! Five to two, Tom brings his torch to Jeff to be snuffed. With a “stay safe everybody,” Tom walks off into the Blue Light of Death. The Heroes, who have to get it together or are doomed in this game, head back to camp.

Next time on…Survivor…in two weeks….on Wednesday!

Yes, that’s right. Next week begins the annual spring tradition of Survivor getting booted for a week, then moved to Wednesday for a couple weeks during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. As my alma mater didn’t make it to the Big Dance this year, this annoys me more than usual. Anyway, when the show does return, Rob is clearly out for Russell. Russell, however, has other plans now that he has the idol. In what may be the best rivalry since Richard and Sue, the two Villains face off against each other, with Rob saying, “Watch your back.” “Same for you,” Russell replies.

Odds to Win

So far, so good. Another one of my non-favorites was booted, so everything looks pretty good. There was really no chance for Tom, as a former winner, to win again. I’m not sure JT made the right move though. As we’ve discussed, JT needs to be up against a former winner if he has any prayer of winning again. I think this move is going to cost him dearly. Between JT’s decision, James’ injury, and the consistent losing of the Heroes tribe, there is some movement in the table this week. Again, this is not a prediction of who will be voted out next, just how likely the players are to win the game.

Tyson: 3-1. Still the favorite. No reason to remove him from the top.

Danielle: 6-1. Was Danielle even shownon this episode? I seriously don’t remember seeing her except when she sat out the Immunity Challenge. This is the definition of flying under the radar.

Coach: 7-1. I have to move him down a spot because I’m not sure siding with Russell is going to be the best move. Even if Russell gains the upper hand over Rob, Coach literally bowed to Russell and vowed to never betray him. You know the relationship the Dragon Slayer has with his honor, so will he be able to stab Russell in the back when he needs to?

Jerri: 12-1. I liked Jerri showing a little toughness when she got face-planted by Rupert. She’s clearly being less annoying than previous seasons, and has Coach to protect her.

Courtney: 25-1. She’s a combination of Danielle and Jerri. Completely under the radar, but not being annoying. Plus, she knows how to use her vote strategically. Look for her to glom on to whomever emerges from the Rob-Russell war.

Rob: 30-1. With every Heroes tribe member that leaves, Rob gets stronger, but I’m concerned that since he never played in a game with hidden immunity idols, he might not know how to take on Russell.

Amanda: 40-1. She was able to keep James in the game, which was vital to her survival. The Heroes are in dire straits, but if she can make it to the Merge, she could be very valuable to whomever is in the Villains minority.

Sandra: 50-1. With JT playing the part of Mr. Wishy-Washy, Sandra becomes the former winner with the best chance. She’s hanging on tight to Rob’s coattails, but could she become a casualty in the Rob-Russell showdown?

Candice: 65-1. She came back to the majority side in the Heroes camp, but she’s shifty, not very strong in challenges, and at the bottom of the totem pole.

James: 75-1. The injury is heart-breaking, but could it actually be a blessing? Assuming the next challenge is an “eating weird stuff” challenge or something not terribly physical, he will survive, and partially hobbled, won’t be seen as a major threat come the Merge.

JT: 150-1. Made a dumb move in getting rid of Tom, because he needs as many former winners along with him as possible. Also has the distinction of being the most untrustworthy person on his tribe. Not good times.

Colby: 175-1. He’s the last one left of his alliance. If the Heroes lose again, and he can’t convince people to get rid of Candice, he’s gone.

Parvati: 200-1. I lower her odds a little bit in case Russell is victorious against Rob. She’s still the most reviled former winner there, so her chance at another $1,000,000 check is remote.

Russell: 500-1. Has Russell bitten off more than he can chew taking on Rob? Will Coach figure out that Russell has no honor whatsoever? I fear Russell has overplayed his hand in taking on the Bostonian, and I still feel his attitude at the Samoa finale speaks volumes.

Rupert: 1,000,000-1. I lowered Rupert’s odds by a factor of 100 just because he apologized to Jerri for slamming her face into a wooden post.

OK, that’s it folks. What did you think about the episode? Did JT make the right move in siding with Amanda and James? Is Russell foolish for so brazenly taking on Boston Rob? Where the hell were half the other cast-members? Do you see the odds differently? Please drop your comments and questions below. I’ll see you in two weeks for the next episode. Be sure to check out TVOvermind.comfor all of your TV needs. Until next time, I’m off to find some blue starfish.

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