Recap: 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' - 'Going Down in Flames'
After the Merge, both sides are unsure of who to trust, leading to a wacky Tribal Council
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Pre-credit sequence. Poor Courtney, voted out last week and barely mentioned in the pre-credit recap. Will anybody even notice she's gone? Heck, the episode doesn't even start with the Villains. Instead, the Heroes are sitting around the fire on Day 25 praying for a Merge. With all the momentum they've gained in recent weeks, you'd think they'd be confident, but all five Heroes are miserable. Amanda and Rupert go out for Tree-Mail and receive a locked chest warning them that company will be arriving soon with a key. Meanwhile, over at their camp, the Villains have discovered a key and a note. I wonder what the key is to! Sandra does a crazy little Merge Dance. Russell knows that he has to begin by going to JT to explain what happened at the previous Tribal Council. They concoct some elaborate story about multiple Idols being played and a strategy to get JT out. Weighted down with Idols, Russell and his alliance march off to Heroes camp vowing to send the Good Guys down in flames. But did Sandra overhear their nefarious plan? We'll see!
Full recap of Thursday's (April 22) Merge-tastic "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" after the break...
Hell hath no fury like a Parvati scorned. Parvati is cocky. She thinks that she and Russell are the King and Queen, but she has her secret, specifically the Idol she found last week. The Villains arrive at Heroes camp and JT notices that Parvati is still there. That concerns him. For about two seconds. But then he sees that the Bandy-Legged Little Troll there and he makes the Double Immunity Idol all on his own. Stupidity, thy name is JT. Hugs are exchanged, new buffs are acquired and a feast begins. They appear to have a whole pig and piles and vegetables. Jerri suggests that they call the team "All Villains," which outrages Rupert. The early conversations range between boring and disgusting. Parvati, though, isn't happy with how unhappy people are to see her. She knows that she's going to be targeted. Parvati also doesn't understand why everybody thinks she's stupid. "They don't know it yet, but they're about to be picked off one by one," Parvati promises.
Two versions of the truth. Finally, Russell gets quiet time with JT and Rupert. Russell has an elaborate and complicated story explaining how things came to pass at the previous Tribal Council. He swears on his kids that he's allied with the Heroes. "He's a good-old country boy," says JT, who trusts Russell explicitly, tossing out and then disregarding the notion that Russell could possibly be leading a female alliance. "Hook, line and sinker," Russell says, "They're buying everything I'm selling them." But Sandra decides to throw a wrench into the machinery and she approaches Rupert and announces that she's the last of her alliance. "Russell's the kingpin and Parvati's the second-in-command," she tells Rupert. To his credit, Rupert actually believes Sandra. "Boy," Rupert sighs, "This is where the game gets crazy."
Banana Etiquette, Part II. The Villains are immediately impressed with how much food the Heroes have and they've decided to have five or six square meals a day. Rupert explains the rules: You can eat as many coconuts as you want, but don't mess with the bananas or papayas. Silly Parvati doesn't know about Banana Etiquette. She should ask James about it next time she sees him. Fueled by a paranoia so strong it's making him sweat, Rupert takes the Heroes off into the woods and he explains to them what Russell did and how Russell is playing them. JT refuses to believe it. Even Amanda refuses to believe. Rupert proposes a plan of changing up their first vote as a test of Russell's devotion. "There's a reason that I've been doing Rupert's strategical play for him so far," JT says. Wow. JT is really lobbying to get his picture appended to the definition of "dumbass hubris" in all future dictionaries. Again, he admits to the possibility that Russell might be lying and that he could be the next one out and again JT denies that it could be a viable possibility.
An alliance *and* a bikini calendar. Amanda and Parvati wander into the jungle. Amanda regretfully tells Parvati that she has no power and that Parvati has a target on her back. Amanda tells her Micronesia that the only alternative would be to get Sandra out instead. She also promises to tell Parvati how everybody's voting. After this proffer of potential honesty, Parvati admits to Amanda that she has an Idol. To the camera, Amanda shows a little more intellect and says that she's only telling Parvati so much, because she doesn't want to go to the Finals with her again. They spend several minutes ascertaining the other's trust and they close with a secret handshake, specifically an exploding fist-bump. Couldn't they have settled their alliance by making out or something? Just a suggestion.
Is anybody surprised Danielle knows how to work the pole? It seems "Yin Yang" was what the merged tribe chose as their name. Their first Immunity Challenge is pure endurance. The players have to cling onto a notched pole and not fall down. Colby bails first, followed quickly by Sandra. Russell goes out and then Rupert goes sliding down. Amanda hopps down. In an amusing moment, JT slides down the pole and catches himself and then climbs back. But it's false bravado. He goes out next, leaving Candice trying to hold out against Danielle, Parvati and Jerri. Parvati sports a one-handed posture that's both sexy *and* practical. After 90 minutes, Jerri goes out. Candice is about to go out, but Jeff Probst is having none of it. He stops her and asks her why she's quitting, but he can't stop the last Hero from bailing. Danielle reaches an agreement of some sort with Parvati, allowing Danielle to win Immunity. Rupert sees Parvati's move and suspects it's a sign that she already has an Idol. I've gotta say: Rupert had been stupid, physically weak and awfully embarrassing this season, but suddenly tonight he's offering a reminder of the Rupert of old.
Little Green Men. There are two whales in the water and two emaciated women leading the Yin Yang tribe back to camp. Even JT thought that Parvati's choice to step down was sketchy. They're planning a reverse to vote out Sandra, though Colby says he'd vote Jerri out as well. Sandra isn't sure, however, if she blew it by warning Rupert about Russell, who she knows she's stuck with. For his part, Russell is prepared to give Parvati an Idol for the second time in the game. "Oh you..." Parvati giggles. That gives Parvati two Idols. "I have two little green men protecting me," Parvati cackles, admitting that she may, in fact, be the strongest player in the game. Later, on the beach, Amanda laments to Parvati that she doesn't know how she can stay true to her tribe and to Parvati, warning her that playing her Idol might be a good idea. Amanda, however, says that she isn't sure how the vote is going, which Parvati isn't believing. "My head hurts," Amanda says, figuring out the possibilities. Parvati leaves for Tribal Council unsure of what comes next.
Tribal Council. Courtney has, as promised, gotten all prettied up for her first Jury appearance. Rupert begins by raising Banana Etiquette. His problem is with eating ripe bananas. Danielle's having none of it. When she wants a banana, she's gonna eat a banana, darnit. "There's two separate tribes... the game is on," Russell says, admitting that tonight's vote will dictate the rest of the game. JT's feeling hurt that nobody talked to him, feeling like his name is getting written down. Jerri, though, says that it was JT who put up a wall. Parvati says she feels like a leper to which Jeff replies, "Is that just used to the fact that you're used to getting attention all of the time in life?" Everybody admits that Idols are important, especially the Villains, who recall Tyson's game-changing blunder.
The vote. Russell writes JT's name down, "You seem like a real cool guy, but it was a real dumb move giving me the Idol," Russell tells him. Parvati also writes JT's name and blows him a kiss. Danielle writes JT's name down, while Amanda, Candice and Rupert write Jerri's name down. So this all comes down to whether or not Parvati plays the Idol and exposes everything? Jeff asks if an Idol is going to be played. Everybody turns to Parvati and Parvati hands one Idol to Sandra... and hands another Idol to JERRI. I have no idea who made the call, but that was flipping brilliant. JT and Rupert have no idea what to do. They're astounded. On one hand, Russell has been exposed, but it doesn't even matter. The votes: Jerri. Jerri. Jerri. Jerri. Jerri. JT. JT. JT. And JT is out of the game. "You have some explaining to do," Russell tells Parvati. "In a game full of crazy moves, that was one of the craziest," Jeff says. JT is properly chastened. "I feel like a total idiot right now. It's pretty terrible to be voted out by your own Idol." He adds that you can never trust women.
Bottom Line: OK. So that was interesting. In fact, that was insanely interesting. And I genuinely have no idea if what Parvati did was completely brilliant or brilliantly stupid. Probably the answer is, "Brilliant," right? Parvati entered with two Idols and left with Zero. That's not so good. She exposed Russell to the Heroes, but that was inevitable and she did it in a way that kept the Villain majority. That's brilliant. She made a move nobody in their right minds could have protected and effectively gave Immunity to three of her female Villain colleagues at once. That's BRILLIANT. But she also did it in a way that left *Russell* feeling blindsided, which isn't so brilliant. So maybe it wasn't brilliant? Because we all know that there's nothing Russell hates more than being made to look like a fool. So if Parvati had warned Russell beforehand, would that have made her move more brilliant or less brilliant? Seriously, readers... I'm having a hard time deciding. I do know that what Parvati did tonight was awesome television. Also, as a side question, is it better that we didn't see or hear anything about Parvati's plan beforehand? She couldn't really have decided to do that on the spot, could she?
Sound off... Brilliant? Idiotic? Brilliantly idiotic? Idiotically brilliant?