It's not that I'm going to miss Coach, but I'm certainly going to miss Coach and Boston Rob and James and Big Tom. Whether we give Russell full credit or not, he's now become the dominant personality in a game that initially had many dominant personalities. What began as an All-Star season has become "Survivor
: Russell, Part II." There's a rat back at the Villains camp. Is that rat Sandra? Sandra's certainly feeling cocky about orchestrating Coach's departure. Jerri feels personally blindsided, but Danielle reassures her that she's safe. Russell is Russell-y, which means "smug and cocky," both because Coach was gunning for him (he wasn't) and because he now finds himself surrounded by women, five to be exact. Of those women, Coach maintains he trusts three, excluding Courtney and Sandra, who he promises will be next out. If it came to that, the smart play would be for the five female Villains to form an actual women's alliance and vote Russell out before a merge, right? Or is something about to monkey with the overall dynamic?
Pain is weakness leaving the body. We're sticking with the Villains. It's Day 22 and Tree-Mail tells them to expect endurance and a test for their pain threshold. It's the excruciating wall-clinging challenge from Tocantins. Coach will be relieved to have missed this. The clue tells them to organize the team from strongest to weakest, but the Villains know that strength in this particular challenge doesn't mean the same as it might in other competitions. They decide that the Heroes will be done in by their egos. Smash cut to... Ego, thy name is Rupert. He's insisting he's the strongest available. JT, though, knows that women do best in this challenge. Rupert's transition from gregarious pirate to full-on buffoon is slightly tragic.
Hang in there. Did we know that Coach was the first member of The Jury? That's what Jeff Probst tells us. The Heroes are more convinced than ever that a Women's Alliance is controlling the Villainy. Want to know what they're playing for? The winning tribe gets a feast from Outback Steakhouse. LORD. When "Survivor" sells out, it doesn't sell out gracefully. Jeff promised there will be so much food they won't be able to eat it. The matchups are interesting. It's Danielle and Candice. Amanda and Courtney. Parvati and JT. Colby and Jerri. And Sandra and Rupert as the two weakest. Today is the 100th day for Amanda on "Survivor," the first contestant to ever celebrate 100 days in the game. Yay, Amanda. Sandra tells a long story about how much she loves Outback Steakhouse. Meanwhile, JT mouthes "Hang in there" to Russell, who gives him a bow of respect. Russell is overjoyed that his Russell Seed has taken root. They're perched on a quarter-inch foothold, but nobody has gone out yet. Colby goes out first, giving Jerri the first win for the Villains. Rupert, with his broken toe and girth, goes out next, with Sandra mocking him as she makes it 2-0. Amanda hits the ground and the Villains win reward. The winning streak is over for the Heroes and Sandra is talking much trash.
"Survivor" whores for Outback Steakhouse for five minutes. An Outback Steakhouse has been set up in the wilderness, complete with Anglo bartenders. In no time, Sandra is hammered. She tells us several times how much she loves Outback and how much her military husband loves Outback. Parvati sits down at her plate, picks up a napkin and a clue is inside her napkin. She stuffs it in her underwear before anybody sees. Everybody cackles over the Heroes' stupidity regarding the Women's Alliance, specifically Rupert's gruff pirate stupidity. Jerri thinks it's funny that nobody knows Russell's in charge. They dine on steak and shrimp and salad and potatoes and celebrate the greatness of Outback. Parvati stands up and announces her intention to pee. Danielle, naturally, follows and Parvati and learns her secret. Then, finally, Danielle's fake boobs become useful, as she hides the clue in her cleavage.
JT is a moron. JT has eaten at least a thousand steaks in his time, so he's not sweating it over steaks. JT lives off steak, but that's not what he's here for. He's here to make a plan. That plan? JT's sure they're about to merge. He's sure that Russell knows he's going next. He's going to parlay with Russell at the next Immunity Challenge, give him the Idol and have him turn around and vote Parvati out next. To the camera, but apparently not to the tribe, Amanda points out how stupid the idea is, that they don't know what's happening with the Villains. Candice, though, sees more advantage in getting the Idol out of JT's hands.
The Queen of Wishful Thinking. Back at Villains camp, Russell is staring at a rainbow, pensively. Meanwhile, Parvati and Danielle are on the hunt. Parvati says they're like "quiet little mice" in their quest. What they aren't, however, is subtle little mice. Or smart little mice. They wander off with a shove and nobody thinks to stand guard. They find the Idol, but Russell is already on the prowl. Parvati reckons they have control of the game and decides to keep Russell out of the loop for a while. She wants to see Russell squirm. "He's not the King of Survivor. I'm the Queen. And usually the King does what the Queen says anyways, so I'm cool," Parvati giggles.
Dear Russell. How are you? I am fine... JT is penning a love letter to Russell. JT has fine handwriting and scribbles in cursive. In the shelter, they describe this as "'Survivor' history." How right they are. I'm almost rooting for the Heroes to lose so that JT's plan falls flat. But that wouldn't be good drama. So, "Go Heroes! Make JT into the Game's Biggest Idiot!"
The Gift. Immunity Challenge time. It's the usual assortment of swimming and running and obstacles and puzzle-making. Rupert gets the Heroes out to a lead, as the overall weakness of the Villains becomes a problem. It's just Colby and Russell on platforms waiting. Colby makes the deal with Russell, who agrees that Parvati is running the show. "I wish I could shake your hand... I'll do it later," Russell says. The Heroes pull off to a big lead, leaving Russell smirking on the platform. Surely Russell should throw the last part of this challenge? He tries his hardest, with lightning flashing in the background. The Heroes complete their puzzle and win Immunity. In a brief hugging exchange, JT makes one of the dumbest moves in "Survivor" history, a move so dumb even Russell couldn't have foreseen it. "Now, I don't even have to find Idols. People are actually giving me Idols," Russell observes.
All Hail the King of Fools. "Damn, we did it," JT announces proudly. He adds, "Serves the damn Villains right." Rupert crows, "Russell is probably having trouble containing himself right now." Smash cut to... Parvati and Russell reading JT's letter out-loud and mocking every word. Russell laughs that JT just handed him a million dollars. Parvati's a bit put out that everybody's assuming she's the Black Widow. Parvati's reading of JT's embarrassing note is hilarious. "JT gave Russell his heart today and Russell is just going to stab it a million times over... and give it to me and I'm going to eat it," Parvati cackles. Off to the side, Sandra and Courtney are a bit grumpy. They're facing inevitable elimination, but neither of them knows who's out first. The power players agree it's Courtney. For her part, Courtney's argument is that if they keep her around, Amanda would be more likely to join her post-merge. Parvati's intrigued and vows to see what she can do, but she doesn't want to make her point too aggressively. Meanwhile, it's been several minutes since anybody made fun of JT. With that in mind, Russell is showing Jerri and Danielle the new Idol. Hi-larious! They seem to be leaning more toward Sandra as Tribal Council approaches.
Tribal Council. Coach arrives for his jury seating in a kimono. Courtney and Sandra both know they're going, but there's some debate about who, exactly, is more trustworthy (or less trustworthy, really). Danielle points out that Sandra likes to stir the pot up. Danielle's resentment is about being left out of Boston Rob's alliance. Poor Danielle. She's feeling so left out. How pathetic is this? Danielle's got power and she's whining about Sandra's trustworthiness. Apparently this season came down to Boston Rob's Girls and Russell's Girls. How pathetic are these Villain women? Yikes. Why are we having fights about an alliance that doesn't exist anymore? VOTE!
The Vote. Are we not going to see a single vote? Apparently not. Well, I guess Jeff's going to tally the votes for us... Jerri. Courtney. Courtney. Courtney. And that's it for Courtney. So much for Sandra's lack of trustworthiness being an issue. "Good luck, bitches, I'll see you later," Courtney says. The Tribes are now even. And the next day, Parvati will join Amanda in the 100 Day Club. In her departure speech, Courtney is amusingly pleasant, saying that there's nobody she intensely hates and that she looks forward to getting prettied up for the jury.
Bottom Line: I get why JT was dumb enough to give the Idol to Russell. I get why Rupert was stupid enough to give the Idol to Russell. Heck, I even understand Candice's logic, which was flawed but at least semi-rational. But how could Amanda be silent? And is Colby even on the show anymore? Did the Heroes just forget that they were playing against a team called the Villains? But here's the interesting thing: This is 100 percent Russell taking advantage of being an unknown quantity. Because if JT and the Heroes had been able to watch Russell's season, there isn't a chance on Earth they'd have given him an Idol, right? So that's a tiny bit unfair. Everybody knows everybody's game, but Russell's a mystery to the Heroes, who aren't smart enough to have guessed that he's a Villain for a reason. Sigh. So stupid. Meanwhile, I always enjoyed Courtney's snark, but there were too many personalities for her to get enough screentime this season.
Post-script: Been thinking about this for an hour since the show ended. The big winner on tonight's "Survivor," other than Russell, seems to be Stephen Fishbach [leaving aside the question of whether or not he's still dating Courtney]. There were still people -- I'm referring to me -- who gave JT a lot of credit for orchestrating strategic moves in addition to physical dominance in the Tocantins season. I'd say tonight JT practically handed the "Brains of Tocantins" crown to Stephen. JT, of course, still has the million bucks from Tocantins, which Stephen does not.
Anybody gonna miss Courtney? Anything to talk about other than JT and his blunder?