Boston Rob and Russell Hantz announce new reality showsNow that Boston Rob Mariano is sitting on well over $2.5 million from reality show winnings between him and his wife, Amber, it is time to settle down and raise his children, right?  Wrong!   Fresh off the heels of the Survivor Redemption Island finale, Boston Rob announced he will take part in a new show on The History Channel called Around The World In 80 Days.

According to The Examiner, the show will work like this:

“I’m on a plane tonight going to Los Angeles and I start production in the morning on a new show that I’m doing,” says Mariano. “It’s called ‘Around the World in 80 Ways,’ it’s adrenaline-style TV, which is perfect for me. I love adventure, so I’m excited to be working on something new and making the transition from reality show contestant to host.”

“The basic premise of the show is me and a co-host are going to travel around the world, from point A to point B, but you can never repeat any of the forms of transportation,” he continues. “If you use a commercial airline once, you can’t use it again. You need to take a fighter jet or a blimp or a hot air balloon. Within that context, we’re going to try to use transportation that is indigenous to the area. If we’re in the desert, we’ll ride camels.”

Sounds… hmmm…  pretty boring actually.  Think “The Amazing Race” without the rewards, challenges, and unique personalities between the different teams.   I’ll be shocked if this finishes the season, but we’ll find out soon as it’s set to air sometime this fall/winter.

Not to be outdone by Rob’s reality show branch off, Russell announced he will have his own show in the near future.    This is going to be a ripoff of the countless house flipping shows with the biggest difference being Russell will be in charge of the flips.   He’ll buy and flip houses in the Houston area to bring the economy back on it’s feet all by himself!   From the same article as above:

“There are tons of reality TV stars sitting on their couches and twiddling their thumbs because they haven’t created anything else. I expect to be one of the biggest house flippers in Houston and I am here to bring Houston’s economy back on its feet.”

Very nice of you, Russell.   You’re going to bring the economy back in Houston one run-down then band-aided and overpriced house at a time.   Regardless, I am a sucker for watching house flipping shows.  We used to have Flip This House set on DVR so we could make fun of Ginger Alexander always carrying around her dog.

ginger alexander flip this houseBy the way, for those who remember her, it turns out she married the owner of her company, Richard David, in 2009

Back to Russell. The show will be called Flipped and it will air on A&E at some point.  There is no set date on the premiere.   I guess now Rob and Russell can compete over ratings.

Boston Rob, Natalie and Phillip in the final threeSurvivor Redemption Island drew to a close last night, and unless you were living under a rock and somehow avoided the spoilers all around the web, Rob Mariano was the last man standing in this oddly entertaining season of Survivor.

Set in Nicaragua yet again, the show introduced two new twists to the game.  The first was the introduction of Redemption Island, a place those who get voted out must go where they will get shots at re-entering the game as they had to duel the next person voted out, and so on.  The next twist was what came off the helicopter after both teams met on the beach thinking they were starting the game as is.  Off of one helicopter was one of the most popular Survivor contestants ever to play the game in Boston Rob Mariano, and the second helicopter revealed one of the biggest “villains” in the games history, Russell Hantz.   Both players were set to re-join the game and given yet another chance to win it all (third time for Russell, fourth for Rob).

This resulted in initial strategies of the players quickly being changed on the fly with Ometepe basically clinging to Rob’s leadership skills, and six of Zapatera banding together to eliminate the common enemy in Russell, as they all knew how dangerous of a player he could be.   The Zapatera six even went as far as throwing a challenge in order to eliminate him when they had the numbers before he was able to sway 1-2 more players into his alliance.  A risky move at the time which clearly killed the momentum they had over Ometepe despite removing not only Russell, but his two sidekicks (Stephanie and Krista).

That was essentially the biggest shock (and move) of the game until the merge when formally eliminated Matt was able to return from Redemption Island to re-join both tribes and try to find his place in the game.    The second big move of the game came the very next vote when Rob’s alliance of six banded together and quickly sent Matt back to Redemption Island before he could even unpack his bags.

Once that move happened, Boston Rob systematically eliminated any traces of Zapatera from the game in one of the best played games in the 22 seasons of the show – even admitted so by Jeff Probst at the reunion show.  He had his six under complete lock-down which made for a dull yet highly fascinating show to watch this entire season.  How one man could control five other players with one million dollars on the line like he did is truly a feat that will be forever remembered by those who follow the game.

Not to keep praising Boston Rob, but his game was so dominating, both players he took to the final three with him (Natalie and Phillip) spent their initial plea to the jury essentially crediting Rob for being there in the first place. One jury member (David) did not even question the players, but instead he went to his lawyer roots and addressed the jury like he was back in a court room and pleaded for Rob to win it all.

Phillip Sheppard was able to pick up a vote from Ralph for whatever reason, although possibly to put him in second place and give him the estimated $100k second place prize.   In addition to winning the grand prize of $1,000,000, Rob Mariano was also voted fan favorite in a close vote over Matt, making his total prize money $1,100,000 for the season.

Winning Survivor Redemption Island was not all smooth sailing for Rob Mariano, here are some key moments in the game which helped shape the victory:

  • Kristina’s Over-Aggressiveness – Early on in the game, Kristina was very aggressive in trying to find the hidden immunity idol, as well as form some type of alliance to eliminate the threat she saw in Rob.   This allowed Rob to take some heat off of himself and make Kristina appear to be the target, which also helped Rob mold his initial alliance.
  • Zapatera Throwing The Challenge – While players like Mike have defended the move to this day on his facebook page, throwing the challenge was a clear momentum shifter in the game after Ometepe had already lost two immunity challenges in a row to a much more fit Zapatera tribe.   The move not only gave confidence to Ometepe, but it effectively alienated both Stephanie and Krista from the tribe.
  • Andrea and Matt staying with Rob after the merge – This was likely the biggest difference in the second half of the game.  After the merge, it was essentially five on five with both Andrea and Matt as the huge swing votes in the game.   Had they remained together and went to Zapatera, it would have been Rob’s tribe that was systemically eliminated from the game.   Being able to convince Andrea and Matt to stay with him basically wrote Rob the check for one million dollars right there.
  • Rob’s “Cult-Like” control over his tribe post-merge – One Matt was re-eliminated, Rob made sure there would be no fraternizing with the enemy and forced his alliance to use the “buddy system” until they had numbers well in their favor knowing that it just took 1-2 of his members flipping to make the rest of the game very difficult.
  • Rob Finding The Immunity Idol – While the idol did not directly save Rob at tribal council, during the reunion show it was discovered that both Ashley and Natalie knew he had it which greatly influenced their decision to vote Andrea out of the final five (why they didn’t team up to get Phillip is beyond me).   Also, knowing he had possession of the remaining idol made voting much easier as his tribe didn’t need to split any votes which usually causes the occasional blindside at tribal.
  • Andrea talking with Natalie and Ashley

    Andrea tried real hard to flip the girls to her side

  • The Andrea Vote At The End – While I was watching the show, I was honestly shocked Natalie and Ashley did not align with Andrea to vote out the remaining guys (Rob then Phillip) to earn a final 3 spot.  Like mentioned above, it was later explained they knew Rob had the idol, yet the girls chose to vote out Andrea instead of Phillip and taking their chances in the final challenge.  Both Ashley and Andrea were very heavy competitors, and likely had a chance to beat Rob in the maze challenge.

Boston Rob Wins Survivor Redemption IslandAgain, the fact that Rob had all that going against him, yet still had control over his tribe really proved that he was a men against boys and it was an almost unfair advantage to put someone like him against a bunch of rookies.    Despite that, they are going to follow the same exact model next season in Survivor: South Pacific where not only will two former cast members will face off against rookies, but Redemption Island will also return.  That will likely air in the fall, but I will keep you updated on any announcements related to the show as I hear them, so stay tuned!

Thank you for reading my articles this season on Survivor: Redemption Island.  Be sure to follow us through facebook, rss, or twitter to get the latest reality show news and updates on Big Brother 13, Survivor: South Pacific and any other reality show coming out!

The rest of the photos will be added to our facebook page, so look there!!

Survivor: Redemption Island has been running for nearly 3 months now, and so far this season has been extremely straightforward with little to no shocking moments, which is unusual for a Survivor season.  With only one episode remaining, which airs this Sunday, that is very unlikely to change and this season may go down as one of the least exciting seasons in recent memory, which is saying a lot considering Survivor: Nicaragua was largely regarded a dull season in itself.

During last night’s episode, the remaining five cast members were began by rejoicing over what they claimed was a huge blindside, when in reality it was the most likely choice and the only person who didn’t see that was the person voted out, Andrea.   Regardless, it was time to watch her join the others at Redemption Island to talk about how she couldn’t believe she was betrayed by people she trusted, all the while Matt giving her a look like he was trying really hard to hold in his laughter.   For those just catching up on the show late, Matt strongly trusted Andrea, and still did when he returned from Redemption Island only to be voted out again, this time with her vote playing a huge role in that.

It was time to see which one of the four castaways will be joining the jury as they entered the four person challenge which so far has usually been anything but a challenge.   That trend continued last night as all four had to simply guide a peg through a maze, break a tile (of course), and finally put a puzzle together.  The last one to finish would be sent to the jury and their time in the game official would be over.    Ralph got a huge lead and began working on the puzzle first, but the actual placement of the pieces appeared to be too great of a challenge for him to overcome, and he was officially eliminated from the game becoming the fourth member of the jury.

Back in the actual games, it was business as usual for the tribe.   Natalie and Ashley were doing some strange things with each other from licking each others fingers to sniffing armpits, while Phillip tried his best to simultaneously earn his way into the final three by being the most hated player and make people hate him so much there is no way they’d ever vote for him.   He decided to yell at the girls about the rice consumption, stating they should save the food not for him, but for Grant which may have been a Survivor first.  I don’t think I can ever recall a player fighting with another over the amount of food a third party is receiving.

While all that drama was unfolding, Boston Rob took the time to chat with the cameras of course, and let them know what his plan was this week.   This time it was a very simple plan, vote out Ashley if she didn’t win immunity, which based on the shows history, foreshadowed Ashley as the favorite to win or nearly win immunity that week.   To the (lack of) challenge they went, and players were told they had to run out, hook a bag of puzzle piece fish bones and put it together using just one hand.   Not an easy challenge, but certainly not the hardest we’ve seen this late in the game when we are used to players doing extreme endurance challenges for hours to prevent being eliminated.

Like the foreshadowing showed, Ashley came out of the challenge victorious, and was allowed to pick one player from the tribe to enjoy a dinner reward with.  Naturally, Natalie was the one selected further cementing their extremely strong bond that has somehow slipped until the second to last episode of the season.

Because this season has essentially been Rob’s game to lose, it was time for him to make the decision on who is going to go, and who will stay.. a mighty impressive feat for a player in the remaining 5 without wearing the immunity necklace.   He now had to choose between a person you definitely want in the finals with  you (Phillip), your most loyal ally who is also sharing an alliance and close friendship with a strategist (Natalie), or his closest ally who has done little strategically but has dominated challenges likely earning him some votes (Grant).

This move will likely be the difference between earning Rob a shot at a million dollars or yet another second place finish as by voting Grant he risks a very strong possibility of Ashley finally getting in the head of Natalie to team up with whoever returns from Redemption Island to not even allow Rob to the finals.    By voting Natalie, he likely loses her vote and the vote of Ashley should she enter the jury, and also has to face a real strong competitor (or two) in the final immunity challenge.

After deliberating on it for some time, Rob told his crew to vote like they intended and a huge fan favorite – Grant – was voted out of the game and sent to Redemption Island where he’ll likely have just one challenge before returning to the game next week, but he’ll have to do it against some very serious competition in a challenge that was likely designed for a 3rd grade field day project.

This likely could be the season Boston Rob finally wins the top prize of Survivor, and by all means he’s certainly earned it up until this point, but the decision to keep Natalie over Grant will likely be the deciding factor on that.  We’ll have to tune in Sunday to find out.

Images of this will be on our facebook page later in the day!

Survivor cast members see their familiesNote: The rest of the images from this set are on our facebook fan page here

Towards the end of every season on Survivor, there is always the episode where family comes in and they find a way to mention the cell phone sponsor about 20 times throughout the process, and that was essentially the episode last night in a nutshell.

Both the regular tribe and the redemption island crew were each handed a phone to watch videos of their families, then it told them to go watch the four person duel (which doesn’t make much sense, btw).  I was originally expecting two people to get the boot this challenge, but instead it was the winner go to see their family member, loser went home, and the other two were safe.  The challenge consisted of breaking tiles (of course!), which Mike won and Steve lost making him officially eliminated from the game and on the Jury.

Then came the tough part.. Mike was given three choices as the winner.  He could either spend time with his mother, let Ralph and Matt spend time with their family, or pass it off for the remaining six active members.  Surprisingly, he chose to give the remaining six a chance to see their family, solidifying his role as a genuine good guy in the game.  He didn’t have to do that, as Ralph pointed out by the end of the game, most of the jury will be Zapatera members and will likely vote for their tribe if one makes it to the final three.  As a side note, that annoys me because he is probably right.  A guy like Ralph can talk a huge game early on then do basically nothing once Russell was voted out, coast through the game, then redemption island after being voted out of the game, yet still have a chance to win.   If anyone from redemption island deserves to win, it’s Matt, and that pains me to say it because he’s terribly annoying.  You just can’t deny him winning week after week to stay in the game, and not burning any bridges in the process.

With that out of the way, the remaining six went back to their tribe with their families, and that brings up yet another point.. why was their chance to see their family members left in the hands of a redemption island member?   Those are the guys who are on the brink of being eliminated from the game, yet they hold power over those still in it?  The only reasoning I can think of is that it puts weight to the ‘be careful who you vote out’ theory, but that reason still doesn’t convince me it was the right thing to do.   Even Jeff said he thought there was a less than 0% chance of Mike choosing the remaining six, so he expected them to be punished for remaining in the game?  Not real fair there.

Survivor large staircase

That's A Lot Of Steps

On to the challenge which actually looked like a brutal one for once.  According to Jeff, it was 110 degrees out, and each contestant basically had to run up and down a large set of stairs numerous times putting a board into each slot, assuming it fits.  If it doesn’t, you need to get a new board and try again.  Sounds simple, but in the heat, that can get exhausting very quickly.   Rob was able to pull off the victory, then nearly passed out at the top, though with him you never can tell how much of that was for show.  Remember last time he was on the show, he passed out in the woods randomly?  Regardless, it worked, and he got the sympathy from the rest of his tribe, to the point of Ashley on her knees shaving him like he was the Godfather.

Godfather Rob

And now the moment we’ve been waiting for, to see how this once united tribe would feast on each other now that nobody was left to vote out.  It was going to be a knockout blood bath with back stabs left and right, blindsides like you read about, and completely shocking moments.  Oh wait, that didn’t happen.   Rob simply decided it was Andrea’s turn to go, and despite some last minute second guessing about Phillip, that’s exactly what happened.   Andrea was a bit shocked by it, but she should have saw it coming a mile away.    She has always been right near the bottom of that ‘totem pole’ near Phillip, yet there was absolutely no reason for her to remain in the game.  Phillip at least has the ‘hated’ thing going for him, but Andrea was always super nice to everyone on both tribes which made her the most expendable.

Who will go next week?  This is a tougher one to predict, but if the tribe doesn’t work to blindside Rob, I think the order will be Grant then Ashley, and whoever comes back from redemption island will be pegged off as soon as they get back.  However, I am beginning to wonder if this whole redemption island thing may be a ticket into the final 3, and if that is the case, that will probably ruin the season for me.   One tribe systematically destroyed another tribe, and they get to be rewarded by facing one of those people in the final 3 with a jury full of angry people?  We will see where it goes though.

you can't handle the truthI’d like to start out by saying, if you’re going to quote one of the most popular lines in movie history, at least get it right!  Phillip Sheppard was back in crazy form last night making sure he had plenty of gigs lined up on other reality shows when he leaves Survivor, this time he was all pumped because he found his shorts after he heard a voice from his grandfather or someone like that (*cough* producer) tell him they were under a rock.

I mean come on, do we really believe he had some vision which brought him directly to the area his shorts were buried, and he found them under the 2nd rock?    That’s a little too far fetched for me, especially when the alternative is watching Phillip walking around in his panties which probably resulted in many lost lunches for the Survivor crew.   While there is a fine line between entertaining and gross, it’s clear Phillip crossed that line and even the people in charge knew that.

Anyway, back to the movie quote, which bothered me as someone who is a mild film nerd.  I decided to “Phillipize” other classic quotes for him that he can use in future reality shows:

When someone really annoys himfrankly my dear I don't give a damn“Frankly, my dear, I don’t really care about the problem you seem to be having”

 

When someone asks him a question but he wasn’t sure it was directed to himAre you talking to me?“Excuse me, could you tell me if you were talking to me with that question, please?”


When he allies with someone on his team/tribe
You're My Boy, Blue“You are a good friend to me, would you like a nickname?

 

When he has to make an emergency escape from a Predator
get to the choppa, do it now!“Gooo! Please go to the helicopter so we can leave this area, and make haste!”

Some runners up:
“Let’s not start fellating one another quite yet, we still have a goal to accomplish”
“I’m going to make an offer to him that he could refuse, but I hope he doesn’t”
“I love the smell of a camp fire in the morning!”
“Say hello to my friend who happens to be of short stature”

 

matt crying over being in the game

I hate competing for a million dollars

Wow, ok was going off a bit there.    Anyway, aside from Phillip being crazy, we got to hear more whining from Matt on redemption island.   Seriously, either leave the game or play it, none of this crying about wanting to go home but then dominating everyone you compete against in duel’s.  That’s some Rulan (from The Biggest Loser) type of shit, hovering on the edge of elimination the entire game but then finally pretending you’re leaving because you’re “all done with the game”.    It’s nothing but an attention grab so people will talk about you in a few seasons as the guy who walked away from the game with his head held high.    I don’t like quitters like NaOnka or Kelly Purple, but I also don’t like the “woe is me” type either.   Like we’re supposed to feel bad you have a beach to yourself, likely get easy food you’re probably not rationing, and you’re still in the running for one million dollars despite being voted out twice?    I am rooting against Matt every week because of that.. there, I said it.

 

What else went on in the game?  Nothing really out of the ordinary.  Steve took the high road and apologized to Phillip for racist remarks he didn’t even make, and then make some real strong final efforts to stay in the game by making an argument to Natalie and Ashley why they should vote out Rob.   Steve’s definitely a good guy, and not just because he has a great name!

In more not surprising news, Grant won immunity, Rob is still dominating the game and Ralph really needs to wear a shirt.   When he jumps in water it looks like someone threw a wet blanket over his shoulders.  I think I’d rather look at Phillips pink panties…  hmmm.. I take that back.

In a small attempt to either shake up the game, or speed it up, Jeff handed the tribe a package only to be opened at immunity.  Rob sniffed this right out as some cheap gimmick to throw them off guard and vote someone else out, so he made sure he had contingency plans unless something super major happened.

Steve trying to make a play for ashley and natalie

It didn’t.

The first vote went as planned (despite Jeff chirping in and trying to sway votes) and off went gorilla boy back to his natural habitat in the wild.    The package was opened, and it was a simple member game for another immunity challenge.  Nothing major, if Steve won, Andrea was set to go home.  Steve, however, didn’t win so it was his turn to meet Ralph in the forest and head to Mike and crybaby Matt at redemption island.

Next week is when things should start to change as there is nobody left from Zapatera to pick off (how is that for karma, btw), and it’s time to feed on themselves.   While I truly respect Rob as a player, I’m hoping Grant pulls this out and wins it all.  That’s another super nice guy who has been  nothing but loyal to his tribe since day 1. On top of that, he’s been the one carrying everyone through challenges, probably single-handedly giving Rob and crew the numbers they needed in key moments of the game.

One thing though, how many people are they going to have on redemption island?  My guess is next week it’s more of a 2 vs 2 challenge with both losers getting sent home.   Then possibly a 3 way duel the week after, with the winner finally returning to the game.

Sorry I haven’t updated the blog in awhile, I can’t believe it’s already mid April and there are no April posts yet, I am a major slacker.   I have been watching Survivor the entire season, but just too busy to take notes and recap it, so I’ll do a few thoughts on the last few weeks.

It’s been a very interesting season, but not so much for the entertainment purposes.  Frankly, that aspect has been super dull and predictable, mostly because of the amazing clamp Boston Rob has on his tribe.   That’s the fascinating part because I’ve never seen one person have such control over so many other players for so long in this game.    Most people think they can go in this game and dominate because they’ve watched it a few seasons (see: Ralph early on), but to watch someone like Rob who is on his 4th attempt actually go against a bunch of newbies is really interesting to watch, and it shows just how tough the game actually is.

Both he and Russell had major targets on their backs heading into the season, but not only has Rob somehow found a way to avoid that, but he used it to his advantage quickly gaining the respect and adoration by some in his tribe like Ashley and Natalie.    He then used his Charisma to lure in just about everyone but Francesca and Kristina, both whom were promptly kicked out of the game.   Honestly, that’s not the impressive part, that’s Survivor 101 in Rob’s guide to playing the game.

What I wasn’t expecting was his post-merge game play which has been phenomenal, and it will be a sad day when it comes back to bite him before he gets a chance to go to the final 3 (which I assume will happen because, well it still is Boston Rob).   Let’s take a look at Rob’s post-merge game play:

  • With numbers not in his favor, he somehow wins back the guy he booted from the game in a blind side move which had him fuming.
  • He then turns his entire tribe against Matt – again – including Andrea who became snuggle buddies with Matt during the few days he was not on Redemption Island.
  • This move shows his tribe he means business which they blindly follow and become even more loyal to him
  • He is able to make sure nobody can be flipped by forcing everyone to use the ‘buddy system’, and even makes his tribe go hungry instead of accepting the olive branch Zapatera held out.
  • Rob then takes a page out of the past few seasons and makes sure he is going to have a “Russell” with him in the final 3, keeping Phillip around who is hated by both tribes at this point.
  • In addition to all that, he has stepped up his challenges and is winning that way too.

Phillip is making Ashley nuts

This week showed that no matter how annoying Phillip is getting to these players, they are still not even questioning him being in the game over Zapatera members.   How long can Rob keep Phillip in the game before Ashley and Natalie end up drowning themselves in the ocean just to get away from him is going to be a big question in future episodes. However,  as long as there are Zapatera members left, he still should be able to convince his alliance that keeping Phillip is somehow a good thing for everyone.

Seeing as there has been absolutely no surprises in the outcome of the game since Matt was booted in the first vote post-merge, the editors have had to really fill the time with arguments over rice & race wars, and other ridiculous things we probably wouldn’t see on other seasons.   This is probably driving those editors absolutely crazing trying to put together an hour long show when nothing really happens from day to day except for people hiding shorts, or meditating on rocks with feathers in their heads.   That is why these boring episodes have been really fascinating for me to watch, simply because rarely do  things go exactly the way a player wants, and for so long.

The future is not all rosy for Boston Rob, however.   He is in a fantastic position to win it all, but that is due to the trust and respect he has earned from his alliance so far in the game.   Hypothetically if the plan continues, he’ll have at least one more tribal council in which the loser of Steve or Ralph in the immunity challenge will be heading home.  After that, Rob’s chance for a million dollars will strongly be decided on how he handles the inevitable split up of the ‘final six’.

First, he has his hidden immunity necklace which nobody knows about, and should he play that one week, that will absolutely destroy the trust he earned from his alliance.   He will likely be able to smooth things over with Natalie and Ashley because they have hearts in their eyes whenever he talks, but the other three probably won’t be as forgiving.

Secondly, it will then be time to walk on eggshells as “stealth-R-us’ will be forced to vote for each other.  This will cause some major rifts in the tribe if not done properly, and it’s usually when the low man on the totem pole realizes there is nobody left to vote for, and starts scrambling to break things up.   At least 50% of stealth-r-us will be sitting in the jury, and either they’ve just accepted defeat and are happy with the consolation cash prizes of finishing so late in the game, or they’re all going to realize it and things will hit the fan.

I’ve said it before and have been wrong so far, but this situation has the chance to get very interesting and make the rest of the season very entertaining to watch.

On a side note, I am really loving watching Zapatera still being picked off one by one.   I hated how they threw the challenge to get Russell out, so it is very fun watching that come back to bite them in the end game.

How do you see the final few weeks going?

First I’m going to say, if you DVR Survivor and have a few cast members as friends on Facebook, avoid visiting the site until you’ve watched the episode.   I loaded up Facebook this morning to check my usual stream of copy/pasted inspirational messages, complaints about whatever weather people are having in their party of the country, and of course Ashley Underwood accepting the friends request of pretty much everyone on Facebook except me.   Why such hatred, Ashley?  We have no problems with you at TRJ!  My comments about being a beauty pageant winner from Maine were all in fun, will you ever forgive me??

Sorry, I got side-tracked a bit there.  Anyway, between all the status messages, I also got a spoiler of who was eliminated between Stephanie and Matt.  No problem, I knew I was going to find that out 10 minutes into the episode anyway, but I was shocked how it happened.    For the third time this season, the Survivor crew put together a challenge that was basically an over-sized puzzle I used to get as a stocking stuffer as a kid.   First the picture scramble thing (with the one slot open for movement), then the puzzle moving a ball around a maze without letting it fall into a hole, and last night a giant game of memory.  Seriously?   Not only was it s kids puzzle, but it was an easy kids puzzle with only like 10 pairs to match up.  About 4 moves in, Matt was already solving based on process of elimination.

Needless to say, Wonder Boy easily defeated Stephanie who was sent packing with the comfort knowing there was essentially 0 challenge in the duel that took away her chances at a million dollars.   Next week, my guess is that the puzzle will be an over-sized sudoku game with 75% of the board already filled in, and they simply have to throw bean bags on open slots then pick a number from 1-3 which would solve that square.   Boom, sounds like a Survivor: Redemption Island quality challenge right there, make it happen.

Speaking of next week, it appears the winner will be re-joining the game, and the Redemption Island portion will be complete.  This will cap off the new twist to the show this season which was supposed to make voting people out different (It didn’t), and add to the excitement by having an entertaining one-on-one duel to remain in the game (it wasn’t).  Instead, we got to witness awkward conversations and/or prayer sessions between the evicted players in the 5 total minutes of airtime they got all season outside of their “puzzle battles”.   Then we got to watch Matt dominate puzzles that were clearly designed for the weak players who were likely to be eliminated early, and not a guy like Matt.

On to the non boring part of the show, which was the great rice debate of the Ometepe tribe.   If clipping armpit hair and Phillip bitching about not getting the crunchy rice was the best the editors could come up with for that tribe, there must have been countless hours of mind numbing boring footage of the girls laying on the beach and the guys playing catch or something.   No wonder they do All-Star seasons, because people actually try to play the game, not use the time as a vacation.

Over on the Zapatera tribe, the get-along-gang was unsure what to do with itself now that they rid themselves of Russell and his two followers.    They got what they wanted, and now it was time to have the tribe start really thinking ahead about the final 4, and the super secret sub-alliance comes out and lays a slap down on people.  Wait, that didn’t happen either, it was basically Sarita vs David bickering back and forth until the challenge.

The challenge was almost identical to the one last year where players had to go through an obstacle course that had the brick walls in it teams had to crash through.  Remember Kelly Purple breaking through last season for the pizza?

Kelly Shinn is hungry!Well insert the Redemption Island players into this picture and you have this years challenge.  It makes me wonder if the seasons were shot simultaneously in Nicaragua, and those challenges were set up back to back.  I don’t think so though, I remember last year featured a lot of rain, which hasn’t really been there this year.

Anyway, Phillip slowed down his tribe quite a bit during the challenge, Sarita slowed hers down, but both tribes managed to end up neck and neck of course, and it all relied on the basketball skills of each team.  Let’s just say, Grant was pretty much the only player on either tribe with any skill as he sunk I think every ball for Omatepe giving them immunity and the volcano picnic Fabio and crew had last year.  The difference being there was no volcano sledding this time.  Too bad.

Team overconfident-and-willing-to-throw-challenges (long nickname) head back to camp after losing yet another, and for the first time in the game actually had fewer numbers than Team Rob.  That’s good to see, sometimes it’s fun watching karma slap somebody in the face.  Say what you’d like about Russell, but they deserve it after simply throwing a challenge.  You never do that in almost any game/sport, unless you’re competing against your child, but even then sometimes you need to slap them with some reality that life isn’t always about winning!  Yea, I’m ruthless!  I’ll dominate the shit out of some kid on Xbox!

It came down to picking someone who was useless but trust-worthy (Sarita) to someone who was mostly useless and willing to flip at merge (David).     After much non-strategizing or full agreement, the tribe went to tribal council and voted out Sarita, choosing the less trust-worthy player.  This move could work in their favor though, as it basically guarantees Matt’s return to the game, and it’s very unlikely he’s siding with Rob again, so they may have just luckily swapped a weak player for a strong one at a key time in the game.

I don’t think they thought of that, or thought of much at this point.   Once their big plan of voting out Russell was complete, they’ve pretty much just stuck to the course headed for the iceberg.  They’re clearly not even all on the same page as they couldn’t even get their votes straightened out.

With the merge coming next week, and Rob’s position still not very secure, it should be interesting to see who flips, who stays loyal, and if a 3rd rogue alliance forms between the outcasts such as Phillip, Matt, David and Andrea.   So far the first half has been very weak, despite a strong start to the season, but the second half has the potential to be pretty entertaining with the tribes merging.   Vacation time is over, kiddos.. time to play Survivor!

I don’t know what was more disgusting this week, watching Natalie clip Ashley’s armpit hair, or the entire time Matt and Krista were on screen together  *puke*.  The first part of the episode was the two of the exiles bonding, praying, and chatting.   This was an extremely boring part of the show and making me hate the idea of redemption island even though I like the concept.  Maybe next time, they should try not to vote out someone so boring like Matt early on.   It’s no wonder the non-challenge portion of that segment gets so little airtime, and what little they do show is too much.

The weekly duel was a very easy challenge where both players to had hook three bags using a grappling hook, then open the correct bag containing the ball which is used in one of those mazes you got as a kid.  Trying to steer the ball through a maze without letting it drop into a hole, only on a larger scale.  Krista had a lead on Matt, but despite taking her bible to the island as a luxury item, God clearly liked Matt better and forced her ball to fall through a hole letting him win.   Like those before her, it was a quick one and done stay at redemption island for Krista.

On a side note, at the end, Krista gave Matt her bible because they’re now super best friends, which filled Andrea’s eyes with a jealous rage.  I mean she’s known the guy a week and got all worked up because he made a friend while in exile?   Run far away Matt.

While Andrea wasn’t in a rage-fest over Matt, she was back on the Ometepe side lounging with the other girls Natalie and Ashley, clipping each others armpit and leg hairs and treating the game like it’s a nice vacation.  This of course pissed off the Gorilla, or is it the Lion in Phillip because he’s the one doing all the work around camp.    When he confronted the girls, he targeted Ashley especially and went off on her about collecting wood.    Rob them stepped in and diffused the situation, and all was calm again back in the “Resort of Rob”.

While all this exciting stuff was going on, back on Zapatera, we get to see the fallout from the “wild” tribal council the night before, when Stephanie tried hard to out people and stir some things up before the vote.  This pretty much resulted in Steve crying because he had 2 votes, and still not really understanding the game of Survivor.    Last week he wanted to bring the girls into his alliance making the entire tribe an alliance, and this week he didn’t realize that someone had to receive votes aside Krista.. unless of  course he thought Krista was going to vote for herself, which wouldn’t really shock me.

There was also a little drama because Sarita had a toothache and was telling anyone who would listen about it, which started to rub people the wrong way, David especially.    He is clearly getting sick of Sarita, and considering he’s the smartest person on that tribe, he may have actually started to realize that 6 person alliances crumble sooner than later, especially when there are no more whipping people outside of it.   David got together with Stephanie and basically told her he was on her side and she should kiss ass, and push for a Sarita vote, which was refreshing to see someone thinking ahead more than one week.

Stephanie did just that, and even swallowed her pride and apologized to Steve for playing the game, saying she’d rather have voted Sarita (then why didn’t you?).   Her method was to play the “I’m stronger than her” card, but the reality of the situation was put out there by Steve, which is that neither are very strong, but only one is loyal.   Trying to play the strong card on a team with an ex-Marine, ex-NFL player, and a lumberjack red neck is not an easy challenge.  Here is an idea, how about the 6 person alliance nobody ever talks about?   You had David, all it took was convincing two other people that rolling with 6 is a horrible idea, and a tight 4 had a better shot.

When challenge time came, you’d think Stephanie’s efforts would pay off when Sarita voluntarily sat out without giving it a second thought.   It was an easy challenge too, one player from each tribe used a large slingshot, and shot balls into pairs of players from opposing sides.   Catch the ball, win a point, score 5 and win.  Simple concept, and it turned out to be a simple victory for Ometepe as Grant dominated Mike and caught most of the balls that came his way.

Any decent player would have easily spun the numbers combined with Sarita’s whining and her willingness to sit out of challenges into votes against her, but the “best efforts” by defense attorney David (please never represent me if those are your best efforts) and Stephanie were for nothing except to likely put David on the chopping block next.   Stephanie was voted out, and David couldn’t convince the get-along-gang to split up at all.

Hmm, maybe they are the tight 4 person alliance (minus Sarita) that I mentioned above, and the editors just made it seem like they’re one large happy group.  If that’s the case, Julie, Mike, Steve and Ralph are doing a great job not only masking that from David and Sarita, but also the cameras.   That can be a real threat at the merge if they’re really tight, and not just really dumb.   Only time will tell.

On the bright side, it is still fun to see the team that threw the challenges lose legitimately now, making what was once a comfortable lead completely evaporate.   Just goes to show you, throwing challenges is a bad idea.

I like my new method of blogging Survivor, waiting until Thursday morning to watch it, then blog right after.   Doing it on Wednesday night I’d have to worry about those west coasters reading spoilers and complaining, but now I can say what I want without worry of spoiling it!  I’m going to make up a 12 hour window after a show airs for someone to watch it before you’re allowed to post spoilers without a huge warning.  Why 12 hours?  Because it sounds cool.

I’d like to first make a comment about the title, Sarita said.    Obviously dead ducks can’t just sit on a lake, they’re dead!   But it made me wonder, do they still at least float?  And according to the random people answering questions at UK Yahoo, yes.. yes they do float, at least for a while.   The source being Pat T, and he’s yet to steer me wrong!  I mean the guy’s got a 50% “best answer” rating at Yahoo answers from 245 questions, that’s pretty amazing.

Why am I going off on random stuff before actually talking about the show?  Well, it was a pretty bland episode and I guess I’m just filling words.   Although to be fair I did crack up in real life seeing Phillip walk around in his “pink panties” and hearing Rob comment about them.   The Phillip / Rob scenes usually make the entire episodes.. in fact, I propose a spin-off sitcom featuring the pair.   In the sluggish economy, the Government had to lay off some “super agents”, with Phillip being one of them.   He moves into Rob’s studio apartment (who is living there because Amber threw him out due to her jealousies of all the girls from Survivor falling in love with him), and the pair have to share a bed together with Phillip wearing his pink panties every night.

The pair create a private detective firm and go around solving weird random cases, like trying to find out whether or not ducks actually float on water after they die.   I’ll watch it!  Set it up “USA Network”, you guys are known for the quirky crime solving shows!  (I want royalties though)  The name will play homage to The Pink Panther, and it’ll be called “The Pink Panties”.

Ok, back to the show..  I guess.   Even though I’d rather write about the new show I just created!

Here is the basic rundown for what’s going on in the game  (note: when I do bullet points, it’s a sign I’m too lazy to create a well written article trying to tie everything together)

  • Matt is rocking the shit out of his Redemption Area In The Jungle challenges (I can’t really call it an island – since it isn’t).    The guy is questioning Rob in the middle of putting together a puzzle and still dominates Kristina.
  • Because of that, Rob has to seriously consider getting Andrea out of the game before she comes back to bite him if/when Matt re-enters.  I don’t know when it’ll happen, but it really can’t be much longer.    My guess is merge, which should be happening in what, 3-4 more episodes tops?
  • Steve sounds like a moron when he talks.   His goal early on was to try and bring Stephanie and Krista into their 6 person alliance to form an 8 person alliance.   Hey buddy, that’s the whole tribe.   Who are you allying against if the whole tribe is together?  The ghost of Russell?  Are you going to keep trying to vote him out even though he’s on his way back home by now?  Maybe you should throw another competition, vote yourself out and make sure he’s really not hiding in Redemption Area In The Jungle.
  • I absolutely LOVE the plan of Stephanie and Krista flipping when tribes merge to cling on to Rob’s coattails.   This strategy works extremely well when you do absolutely nothing to stay in the game until merge.   Or were they using Brenda Lowe’s strategy of not begging to stay in the game in hopes people will randomly have a change of heart?  That’s clearly the winning strat!
  • The rest of the episode consisted of David crying because he didn’t get to solve the puzzle.  Ashley, Andrea and Natalie having a Cinemax moment under the waterfall.  Rob finding a clue to an idol he already has, and one of the most predictable votes we have seen this season, despite Jeff’s little attempt to cause drama by pulling the name “Steve” with the first two votes.   I’m sure there wasn’t any editing involved in that one!

Wake me when people actually start playing the game.    This had potential to be a great season, but it’s quickly becoming a snore fest.

I can’t even think of any talking points to get comments stirring this episode.    Should the coin landed on heads and they voted Stephanie out instead of Krista?    Does anyone care if David actually did the puzzle?

One good talking point is, what do you think should happen on Rob’s tribe?    He may not see it, but the walls are slowly closing in on him right now.  If his tribe wins out, he’ll have the numbers post-merge, but then he’ll have angry Andrea, Phillip and possibly Matt flipping to whoever is left on the other tribe.   If they lose and he gets rid of his threats, he’s going to go into the merge with an alliance of 4 vs 6. …  I almost wonder if that’s his best chance because that alliance of 6 is probably more vulnerable than winning back Andrea, Matt or Phillip (if Matt comes back).

What do you think Rob should do to stay in this game?  What’s his best course of action?

I wasn’t going to post a Survivor blog this week.  Why?  Truthfully I am getting a bit burnt out on blogging and needed a little break.  I’m not sure people even read the stuff considering my posts usually get no comments.   Taking screen-shots is also very time consuming, and it usually winds up with me watching the episode like 3-4x which leads to quick burnout there.   I decided to skip the screen-shots this post to see how it goes, but maybe later in the week I’ll run through and snag some shots if I get any requests for anything specific.  I know there were a lot of bikini shots out there for the guy viewers / readers, so I’m sure people will be expecting some sort of eye candy this post.

Considering  I didn’t plan on blogging about it, I didn’t watch it with my trusty notepad this week, so it’s very likely I will miss a lot of stuff to talk about.  I do know one thing I want to talk about, is the immunity idol and how it possession of it forces the holder to lose any brain power they have.    It seems the longer someone holds it, the more they forget how to play the game and just say / do dumb things, as Ralph proved to us this week.  To be fair, I’m not really sure the guy had much brain power to begin with though.

I never really understood the reasoning behind revealing to more than your closest ally that you have the idol.  I’ve seen it numerous times over the years, and the only time it has ever worked out has been Russell, but that was only due in large part to a) Smart people want to sit next to him in the finals anyway and b) A bit of luck at times.    Ralph randomly deciding he has to show the entire tribe that he has a huge position of strength was mind boggling to say the least.    He had a good spot on his tribe as the hard working redneck who will carry the tribe through some tough physical challenges, but then decides that wasn’t good enough, he needed to put a target on his back.

The best part of the episode was during the Redemption Island duel between Matt and Russell, as most know by now, it was won by Matt.   Russell had his breakdown which we’ve all seen before, but he explains he’s mostly upset he was beaten by a bunch of dummies.  Ralph then instantly proves his point by letting him – and the other tribe know – that he’s not dumb because he found the idol first.   Well played Russell, if you’re going to go home, may as well take a few with you.     By the way, he said he’s never playing again, and under the same situation I’d agree with him, but I have a hard time believing he wouldn’t come back in a second for another All-Stars run.

The rest of the episode was fairly weak, especially during the challenge which almost made me want to shut it off right there when it was basically sponsored by Sears.   The only thing missing from the challenge was for them to spell out the word “SEARS” with the wooden planks before running up.   I hate sponsored challenges and product placement, and I’m going to hate it in a few weeks when they have the movie themed one which the reward is going to pre-screen another awful movie (more like punishment).   I still have visions of Benry forcing his laughter trying to watch Gulliver’s Travels.

(btw, you know a movie is bad when you screen it to a few people who haven’t had any entertainment for weeks, and they need to force laughter)

Not surprisingly, the male dominated team won the physical challenge on the backs of Ralph and Mike who killed their parts of it.  Grant made some good pushes to keep his tribe in, but the advantage Ralph and Mike gave were just too much for Rob’s team to overcome, so yet again it was time for tribal council.

In a not-so-surprising move, the decision was going to be a toss-up between Kristina the player, and Phillip the nutjob.  They had to decide if they wanted to be annoyed for another few days while getting out the potential threat, or cut Phillip loose before they lost their mind.   They choose getting rid of Kristina (Rob’s biggest threat) first and deal with Phillip for another few days… and they didn’t even have to throw a challenge to do so.

Was getting rid of Kristina the right move?    If you were Rob, would you rather risk having her flip a few people and blind-side you for the sake of camp harmony?   Honestly this would have been a tough decision to make for me, Rob still doesn’t have the numbers considering Andrea is still scorned and easily flippable.   What are your thoughts on who should have gone home?   Let’s see if I can actually get some replies this week!