Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: "The Buddy System"

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In a previous lifetime, I did a bit of Big Brother recapping. (OK, a lot of Big Brother recapping. It’s on a ridiculous three times a week!) Each year, I would look forward to the pinnacle of the season: the double elimination episode, which was all killer no filler, and generally one of the most entertaining episodes of the season. Seeing as tonight’s Survivor also boasted a double elimination of its very own, I was excited to see what fireworks the episode would bring. Perhaps my expectations were raised a bit, however, because this was kind of a snoozer. A snoozer with some highly entertaining moments, yes, but a snoozer nonetheless.


The banality really isn’t the show’s fault. There’s only so much you can do to create any sort of suspense with the type of stranglehold Rob has on the game right now. It’s now reached a whole new level, with him dictating not only the Ometepe team members' strategy but also their diet, who they associate with, and whether or not they go to the bathroom alone. It’s as if they’re grade school foster kids and he’s their new daddy whom they need to please or else be forced to return to the group home. It would be frightening if it wasn’t so darned amusing, although the charm of Rob does lessen each time he makes a smirking confessional comment about how he has this game all locked up. All we ask for is a tiny bit of self-deprecation to go along with the braggadocio, Rob.

To take some of the sting out of the very predictable narrative of Ometepe, Grant wins immunity, Zapatera Mike goes home; Ometepe Andrea wins immunity, Zapatera Dave goes home, the producers were kind enough to pack the episode full of the now patented Phillip Crazy. His new insanity du jour is a homemade headdress adorned with a solitary feather, which has some sort of spiritual meaning. Or something. I’m not sure exactly what, because when Phillip talks I have a hard time pretending to listen. Also gold was his explanation of Ometepe as Stealth ‘R Us, complete with Inception references and the knowledge that Phillip has probably watched one too many episodes of Leverage. (The best nickname has to be for Grant, as “The Destroyer of Aspirations/The Assassin.” One name just isn’t enough for Grant!)

Overall, this double elimination was necessary to deal with the second Redemption Island twist, but ultimately, the episode didn’t deliver much in the way of intrigue. Still, it gives us things to consider for the future. As I mentioned in the comments last week, I find it hard to see a scenario where Rob wins the game. This week only strengthens that belief for me: He’s far too powerful, and he knows it. The more powerful Rob becomes, the more paranoid he gets, and the more he needs things to go his way. In the first All-Stars season, Amber was the perfect foil for this nervous energy and talked him out of a lot of silly moves. Here, he doesn’t have this sounding board and only acts on his own (sometimes capricious) impulses, impulses that could be ultimately detrimental to his game.

The funny thing is, all it would take was for one small fraction of the Ometepe gang to realize that the time to switch is most likely now. If three Ometepe joined the other side, they could easily take down Rob before having to cannibalize themselves. The question is, does anyone there have the support (and the stones) to pull it off? Only time will tell, but even though I am highly enjoying the narrative of Rob the game master, it would be much more exciting to see him work with a wrench or two thrown into his works.

Stray observations:

  • Potentially interesting developments for the future: Rob plans on taking Natalie and Phillip to the finals. Phillip sagely recognizes his exact position in the game. Sometimes, the crazy might be brilliance, guys.
  • How was hanging by one leg in the second immunity challenge any type of sound strategy? Ralph, we can expect this from, but David should be smarter than that. Or so he claims.
  • With Matt, Mike, AND David all at Redemption Island right now, are they going to have a challenge where two of the three are eliminated next week?
  • What happened to the credits? They’re pretty. I miss them.
  • Mariano crime syndicate. Heh.
  • Rob, Rob, Rob, Rob. Please count as four votes.
  • “First and foremost I would like to congratulate myself on being the most naïve person to ever play the game of Survivor.”
  • “It’s my game. I’m in charge.”
  • “Phillip, did you have a collision with a hawk?”
  • “It’s not even a tribe, it’s a cult.”