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The episode begins on Night 24 at Redemption Island. Matt prays for victory in the Duel, but only if God wants it. He’s broken down, but getting in the mindset for more time on RI. David wants to “make noise” at the Duel and show he’s going to be in the game for a while. Matt says they have no idea what is going on, if there will be a three-way Duel, or how many of them will be going home. What if this is the last Duel or now there are only three-way Duels?
The next morning at Murlonio, Steve is happy David was voted out instead of him. Steve’s whole attitude has changed, and he wants to be there. His alliance, however, is now down six to three. Steve would like to infiltrate Ometepe and pull someone out of that alliance, but Steve doesn’t know who to target. Steve can’t figure Phillip out. How is someone that strange? Steve notes that Rob has his alliance on a tight leash. His whole hope for survival is based on how irritated the rest of Ometepe is with Phillip.
Speaking of Phillip, he climbs what I now call Confession Rock (after the place where Matt stupidly told Rob he was planning on blindsiding him), and begins meditating with (supposedly) Native American chants. He likes meditating because it allows him to accept nature for what it is. He has a premonition that his relationship with Rob has come to a “Full Circle of Trust.” Phillip is still trying to win the game though — he just knows he won’t turn on Rob. Julie, back at camp, says Zapatera has an abundance of food, so they’re happy (the former tribes have kept their rice reserves separate from each other). Phillip, assuming all of the rice is communal, begins to flip out to his alliance because he counted Julie having seven and a half spoonfuls of rice. Phillip decides he is going to steal rice from Zapatera, and does.
Steve and Julie get Tree Mail, which tells them all to head to the RI Arena for a Duel. The Duel is a replay of the final Immunity Challenge from Survivor: Gabon. Each player will have 150 wooden tiles with which to construct an eight foot tall house of cards. The first two people to reach the eight foot mark will stay on RI. The last place finisher will go home. With that, Jeff starts the Duel. Mike does very well and is the first to reach the six foot mark. Matt drops some tiles at five feet, but quickly recovers. Mike is the first to use the ladder, but David and Matt catch up. Mike adds a last tile, but is still short with his tower wavering. David and Matt both get on their ladders. Mike’s hands are shaking almost uncontrollably. He builds up one more level and adds a final standing tile. He backs away and the tower stands. Mike is through. Matt adds two final tiles, and backs away. His tower stands. Matt and Mike stay alive! Jeff informs David that he is the first member of the Jury. David places his buff in the fire and departs. Rob confesses that he sent Mike and David to RI to beat Matt, and David failed. He knows RI will still play a major part in this game because if Matt makes it to the end, he wins it all.
Back at Murlonio, Ometepe goes to make some rice, but find maggots inside. They dump the rice out on a blanket to pick the maggots out. Phillip wants to put their good rice in Zapatera’s can, but Steve says no. Phillip can’t believe people behave like that. Phillip then attacks Steve about the rice situation. He announces that the first time Steve isn’t watching their can, Phillip is going to take it. Phillip says he is a reasonable person, but Steve says he’s a lunatic. Phillip then agrees with Steve about his lunacy!
Phillip then says that he is being treated this way because he is black, though race was never discussed until that moment. Grant, hearing the fight, is stone cold shocked that Phillip plays the race card. Steve, too, is incredulous. Remember, Phillip warns, he is a Chief of Counter Intelligence — if you start it, Phillip will finish it. Phillip continues to rant, saying every time he brings up something with Zapatera, someone calls him crazy. That’s what happens with some white folks: when a black man brings up something they don’t want to hear, they call the black guy crazy. This, according to Phillip, is like calling him the N-Word. Phillip says he’s never been to jail, he’s never been arrested, so there is no reason he should be called the N-Word (which no one has, except himself).
Steve confesses that Phillip is just nuts. “He doesn’t have a chip, but a log on his shoulder.” Continuing, Steve says Phillip is a pain in the ass, and a little scary, so everyone would be a little better if Phillip was gone. Rob confides that once Zapatera is eliminated, the old Phillip will be back again, but for now, he can’t understand what Phillip is doing. Somehow, he made a fight about white rice racial. Clearly, Phillip is Public Enemy Number One; Rob just needs to figure out who is Public Enemy Number Two, so he can bring that person to the Final Three with him and Phillip. That is if Rob can get there himself. What would be helpful in accomplishing that goal would be winning the…
…Immunity Challenge. For this Challenge, the players will build a multistage puzzle wheel. First, they must spin around holding onto a puzzle wheel to release it, and bring it to a table with some puzzle pieces. The first six players to complete the first puzzle advance to the second round. There, they will encounter a larger, and more difficult, second puzzle. The first to complete the second puzzle wins Immunity. “Survivors ready….go!”
Steve and Rob quickly spin around their wheel and release it. Andrea, Grant, Ralph and Julie quickly follow. Ashley, dizzy, decks in her attempt to make it to the puzzle pieces table. Natalie and Phillip bring up the rear. Rob quickly assembles the puzzle and moves on. Julie and Ralph solve the puzzle next, as do Andrea, Steve and Grant. Jeff begins the second round, and Andrea does a nice job jumping out to the lead. Rob quickly storms back, followed closely by Steve. Jeff notes that the pieces will fit together easily when placed in the correct spot, but Rob starts trying to bang them together. “Easy brother,” Jeff warns Rob. Steve and Rob race to the finish, but it is Rob who completes the puzzle literally one second before Steve. Rob wins Immunity!
On Day 27. the tribe eats rice. Julie has never eaten so much rice in her life. She says they need just two Ometepe votes to get Phillip out. Further, Ometepe can spare a player, so maybe they can get the votes if Phillip becomes too much of a pariah. To push Phillip’s hysteria along, Julie steals and buries his clothes so Phillip has to hang out in his pink underwear. Later, Phillip inquires as to the whereabouts of his swim trunks. Ashley confesses that everyone in camp is over Phillip. Phillip begins, as Steve puts it, to make an ass out of himself. Phillip goes off, saying if he doesn’t get his trunks back, it will be a crazy…
…Tribal Council. Jeff brings in David as the first jury member. Seeing Phillip’s get-up (the underwear, feather headdress and nothing else), Jeff asks him is he has had another meditation. Phillip has had another meditaion, but explains that someone in the tribe thought it would be cute to steal his clothes. He looks at Steve, leading Jeff to asks if Phillip’s accusation is based on his federal agent work. Phillip relays the confrontation over the rice. Steve tells Jeff that Zapatera hasn’t had to ration their rice as much because more of their former tribe members are gone.
Steve then mentions the racial aspect of the rice argument. Julie says that Phillip threatened them, and that Phillip brought up the N-Word. Jeff asks Phillip if that is true and he replies, “Absolutely.” Jeff continues, asking Phillip that in his mind, when Steve calls him “crazy,” he really means the N-Word. Jeff notes the ugly history surrounding the word so such an accusation is quite serious. Phillip asks Jeff if he knows what it is like to be a woman. Jeff replies in the negative. So, Phillip continues, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a black man either. Phillip knows racism when he sees it. Jeff responds, asking how Phillip knows what Steve is thinking or meaning? Phillip then tells a story about being with his dad at a grocery when he was a kid, and the grocer asking, “How can I help you, boy?” Phillip explains how his father was denigrated and demeaned with such a phrasing. The grocer wasn’t flat out calling his father the N-Word, but that was the underlying meaning.
Jeff can see Steve is shocked to be accused a racist. Steve says he played in the NFL, and never saw black and white in the locker room. Jeff then asks Phillip if there is a difference between saying someone is making a “crazy” argument versus someone saying, “You’re crazy!” Phillip says there is a difference. Jeff repeats the whole rice/race story, and concludes that he understands where Phillip is coming from, but no one knows Steve’s background, so it is almost impossible to know what he meant by calling Phillip crazy.
Jeff asks Rob how he votes in this environment. Phillip and Steve are grown men that say and feel how they want, Rob replies. He can’t imagine, however, that this argument doesn’t factor in. Natalie feels for Steve because she doesn’t feel he’s racist. Julie finally admits to stealing Phillip’s shorts. Jeff says this was all a great therapy season. Jeff again points out that Steve is clearly uncomfortable being called a racist. Steve replies that he just hopes some of Ometepe has had enough of Phillip. Jeff asks Phillip if he is voted out now, would it be because of race? “No,” Phillip responds, “It would be because the tribe has spoken.” Jeff notes that they are all together in the game now because eliminated players will be part of the Jury.
With that, it is time to vote. Steve and Julie vote for Phillip. Phillip votes for Julie. Jeff collects the votes and reads them off. The first three are for Phillip. Votes Four through Six are for Julie. Vote Seven is for Julie as well. Jeff reads Vote Eight: “The eleventh person voted out of Survivor: Redemption Island…Julie!” “I guess you’ll never find your shorts,” Julie half-cackles as she gathers her belongings. Jeff snuffs her torch, and Julie heads off into the Blue Light of Death. Jeff says that tonight’s Tribal Council is indicative of how the game will go from there on out. Everything they say will determine who wins the million dollars.
Next Time On…Survivor!
Phillip has his greatest day yet. Andrea could be in danger. Matt plumbs the deepest depths of soul as he weepily confesses that God has been carrying him.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, there have been very few times that race has become a direct bone of contention between players on Survivor. Yes, there was Survivor: Cook Islands where the players were separated into tribes based on race, but race never became an actual issue between two players. So, it was quite interesting to see Phillip and Steve go at it about race in this episode. It was clear, from at least what we were shown (and you can damn well bet if Steve said something racial we would have seen it) that Steve said nothing objectionable to Phillip. Phillip, obviously, blew things up, most likely way out of proportion, but as Jeff said during Tribal Council, we really don’t know Phillip’s background to know if he was actually offended and interpreting Steve’s words as racist. Yes, Phillip has received the “kooky” edit this whole season, but I am not willing to write the whole thing off as Phillip just being a coo-coo bird. It was all very interesting to watch.
As far as the rest of the episode’s goings on, well, there wasn’t that much. Ometepe is solid as a rock, so it looks like they will just eliminate Steve and Ralph, and then move on from there. Matt clearly has some competition from Mike over at RI, though I think they will both easily take down Julie. For someone with so much potential, Julie allowed herself to get comfortable in an alliance and let others make decisions for her. Why Ometepe chose to eliminate her over the two guys is anyone’s guess, but Rob must have felt she was most likely to win Individual Immunity Challenges, so she had to go. At this point, I don’t see how Rob doesn’t make it to the Final Three unless someone on Ometepe grows a backbone and makes a big move against him. I know the “Next time on Survivor” implies Andrea will be in danger, but I can almost guarantee she won’t be going home, based on the Laws of Reality TV Promotion.
One last item, Jeff mentioned in his “virtual living room” on Twitter (@jeffprobst) that next week’s Tribal Council has a “big twist.” Interesting…..
UPDATE: Jeff says in this Q&A with Entertainment Weekly‘s Dalton Ross that the final episode of the season, to air Sunday, May 15th, will have eight people still vying for the Survivor: Redemption Island crown. This is insane to me. Quickly thinking, there will be the normal five regular players left, and three people on RI. There will be a three-way, double elimination Duel that will send the winner back into the game. Then there would have to be three Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils to get the number down to the Final Three. Crazy. Unless they decide on a Final Four for the Final Tribal Council. I hated when they went to a Final Three from a Final Two, so a Final Four will make me lose my mind. So very interesting. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Odds to Win
Did this week’s events have a big effect on the Odds to Win? Let’s find out:
Andrea: 4-1. Though the preview for the next episode supposes Andrea will be in danger next week, I just can’t see her being eliminated yet. Rob doesn’t have to keep her around if he feels she might flip, but she’s played pretty smart the last few weeks, so I think she is still safe. I keep her as the favorite because if anyone will make a move against Rob, it will be Andrea. If she can pull that move off, and get to the Final Three, she will have to be the winner.
Grant: 7-1 (tie). I have Grant in a tie with Rob because it really comes down to whether Grant can get to Rob before Rob gets to him. Like Andrea, I don’t see Rob targeting Grant yet, but you can bet once Zapatera is gone, his first goal will be to eliminate the one player who can beat him in Challenges. For Grant to survive, he needs to grab Andrea, Ralph and Steve and move against Rob immediately. If he doesn’t, I’m afraid Rob will get him first.
Rob: 7-1 (tie). Another week goes by and Rob is still around. Granted, this week he won Immunity, so he couldn’t go, but there wasn’t even a moment we were shown that demonstrated anyone‘s willingness to try to blindside him. I’ve explained above the scenarios that could take Rob down, but he has such a grip on his alliance that I’m not sure anyone would even think about maneuvering against him. Rob is already playing the best game of Survivor ever (which he should as this is his fourth time playing!!), but part of me thinks he is going to mess up. His pride will get him. There have been too many times that the Survivor producers have shown us Rob worrying about the Hidden Immunity Idol and not playing it correctly that it could be a massive piece of foreshadowing. The only question that remains is whether I’d be happier to see Rob actually dominate so much he actually wins the game, or whether I’d rather seem him blindsided and see his utter devastaion.
Natalie: 13-1. Another week goes by and Natalie is still around. Seriously, did she do anything this week besides say she doesn’t think Steve is a racist? By default, she is in this position. I really have nothing more to say about her if and until she gets her lips off Rob’s rear end.
Ashley: 20-1. God, Ashley gets on my last nerve. Everything that comes out of her mouth just grates on my brain. Yet, do you see her not making it to the final five? Me either, unfortunately.
Ralph: 43-1. I’m keeping Ralph here because there is the possibility that he gets kept around in favor of eliminating some Ometepe members because he is really no threat in Challenges. Like none whatsoever. Has Ralph even come close to winning a Challenge? So, maybe he sticks around, gets used as a vote to blindside Rob, and ends up in the Final Three with two undeserving players. In such a scenario, he could play the “my tribe was decimated but I’m still here” card and perhaps win a 4-3-2 vote.
Mike: 68-1. Mike survived his first Duel, which is obviously good. Unless the RI winner comes back into the game in time for the Final Immunity Challenge, or just straight into the Final Three, I don’t see how that player can win the game. As soon as they are eligible to be voted out again, I have to imagine whomever is at that Tribal Council will do so. Would you want to go into the Final Tribal Council sitting next to someone who won a bunch of Duels out on RI? I know I wouldn’t, especially when half the Jury will be Zapatera members.
Matt: 74-1. Matt stayed alive, but clearly has some competition from Mike. How could he not? Matt is utterly wasted by this point. He has been alone for half of his time in the game, living under more meager conditions than everyone else. He feels defeated and empty. I am very much rooting for his continued RI success because it would be an amazing story, but I think his tank is flashing a big, bright “E.” Will his faith be enough to get him through more Duels? I guess we’ll find out next week.
Steve: 83-1. I was pleasantly surprised to see Steve buck up after not being eliminated at the last Tribal Council, and it appears his confrontation with Phillip has put a little more spring in his step, but I have to imagine he is next on Rob’s hit list. Can he get Andrea and Grant to flip on Rob?
Phillip: 107-1. I said a lot about Phillip above, so there is no need to rehash it. I will say this, though. We are getting perilously close to sympathy votes for Phillip in the Final Tribal Council. I know it may not seem that way, but watch. If he makes it to the end, and has a sane, rational final appeal to the Jury, Phillip might just win this game.
Julie: Eleventy-billion-1. FLOATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More importantly, can you see Julie winning multiple RI Duels? Me neither.
Alright folks, that’s this week’s Survivor: Redemption Island. What did you think of the episode? Was Phillip completely off his rocker, or could you see his point of view? Do you fear for Matt’s mental health at this point? Will Mike run the Duel table? Can anyone get up enough gumption to take on Rob? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to watch Divorce Court.