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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: "It Don't Take A Smart One"

Illustration for article titled Survivor: "It Don't Take A Smart One"

We’re halfway through this season of Survivor, and by now, it’s pretty easy to guess what is going to happen every week: Phillip is going to be crazy and delusional, Zapatera is going to push down on the self-destruct button just a little bit harder, and Rob is going to be funny and charming while pulling off a gameplay move with ridiculous ease. Each iteration of the series seems to find itself in a bit of a rut at one point or another when one tribe picks up some momentum, and Redemption Island is currently right in the midst of one big Ometepe beatdown. Luckily, the producers have assembled an interesting enough batch of characters to make even the episodes with more predictable trajectories a lot of fun to watch.

Kicking off the predictability this week is Matt over on Redemption Island, who remains undefeated in these duels after defeating Stephanie in a Memory-inspired challenge. If Matt manages to make it back into the game, everyone needs to be very keenly aware of his presence. He’s good at challenges, seems extremely likable, gets along with everyone, and apparently has God on his side as well. He might just be unstoppable. In what is becoming a tradition for the Redemption Island bootees, Stephanie decides to air a bit of Zapatera dirty laundry on her way out the door, calling out Sarita as being a weaker tribe member than Dave and telling Rob to watch out for her former tribe, as he will be their first target after the merge.

Over at Ometepe, it’s still Rob and his gaggle of reverent admirers vs. Phillip the psycho gorilla-lion, which is perhaps one of the more entertaining (if lopsided) battles of mental wits in the past few seasons. Phillip and Rob attend the Redemption Island duel together, and Phillip suggests they not tell their fellow tribemates what transpired. Rob then tells his alliance-mates everything and uses Phillip’s reluctance as ammunition to prove Phillip’s ultimate untrustworthiness. Ah, Phillip. Never give Rob an inch, because he will turn it into a mile. Luckily for Phil, Ometepe continues its streak of immunity challenge wins (at a purely physical challenge, no less!) and takes home the idol and a reward.

The reward was a breathtaking visit to an active volcano, and by breathtaking, I mean terrifying. My knees were weak just watching it on television, let alone actually being three inches from the edge. While eating the traditional feast, Rob yet again manages to find the immunity idol clue (this time cleverly disguised as one of those cigar-shaped Italian cookies) and take it without anyone noticing. Here’s my main question: WHY is no one in the tribe questioning the dearth of immunity idol clues? They’ve won three out of the last four challenges. They should be expecting a clue. Sitting back and coasting on Rob’s coattails is definitely going to come back to haunt a few people.

Zapatera, meanwhile, hates David and the tribe members want us to know all about it. David is a turncoat; David has no survival skills; David is dumb for wanting to fish; David turned the federal surplus into a deficit. The only person not hating David is David, who is too busy hating Sarita to worry about himself. It’s good times at the Zapatera camp! After Sarita’s immunity challenge performance isn’t deemed to be up to the lofty standards Steve and Mike have set, a few rumblings begin to form about perhaps voting Sarita off instead of David, so the team can potentially win a challenge again. But they hate David! Don’t they?

When Zapatera got to Tribal, Jeff immediately pounced on the fractures within the tribe, and Sarita and David went after each other out in the open. Tribals have been quite contentious this year, so I can only imagine how it will be during jury questioning. Just when it seems Zapatera is going to be predictable and vote out tribe pariah David, however, things take a turn for the less expected, and Sarita is booted. She is in visible shock, and I would like to say I was surprised as well, but Zapatera has always been a team fueled by testosterone, so it isn’t mind-blowing to think they would keep  someone they perceive to be a better physical competitor. Also, Sarita was kind of annoying, too.

One thing that frequently bothers me about Survivor is how the producers are so intent on having “shocking” eliminations that they don’t show us any of the scheming that leads to those decisions, which I think would sometimes be more interesting than the shock itself. Still, it was a pleasant episode if not the most surprising.

Next week: Merge! Woo!

Stray observations:

  • Burning the buffs really does suck. I think they should give them a prop buff to burn. No one likes to burn memories, even if they smell like a dead hobo.
  • Rob throwing the immunity idol clue in the volcano was GOLD. He is having a good time this season.
  • “He’s dangerous, because of his stupidity. He’s probably the most unaware person I’ve ever met in my entire life.” And this man has met Coach.
  • “I’ll frontside him.”
  • “Don’t get too confident.”