Posted: April 29, 2011, by Jeff Pitman
To the extent that the show managed to cram five obvious boots into a mere three episodes, we guess this was a somewhat welcome space filler. To be honest, though: next time? Feel free to just shove them all in a web-only episode. Nobody will miss anything. Either that or ditch the ridiculous Redemption Island concept, that gets more and more grating with each passing episode.
As mentioned above, this was a filler episode. Two boots, both of them obvious. A completely drama-free hour, right? Not if this week's Trolly recipient has a say in it. That recipient? The show itself - crew, producers, editors. Possibly even Jeff Probst. It's like they said "Okay... yeah, this episode sucks. But hey, lookit over here! Shiny strategies (that won't be used)! Thrilling (and totally unscripted) escapades! Andrea covered in chocolate cake!"
First, there was the saga of Phillip's buried shorts. Yes, yes. It was the height of genuousness that Special Agent Sheppard, who had never even come close to finding a hidden idol when it was just sitting right there in a tree, could somehow magically dream up the location of his shorts, tell a producer about this dream in an interview, then pick two rocks at random, and find his shorts under the second one. Not only that, but he did so in the only hour or two of daylight they had before the duel, allowing him to show off his spectacular shorts-finding skills to Evil Julie, who hid them, and was about to get sent to the jury. Wow, talk about luck! Or Buddhist visitations, or whatever the whole great-great-grandpa thing is supposed to be. We're sure not one person affiliated with the show, from the producer conducting the interview to the camera operators who just happened to capture both burial and recovery, could possibly have intervened here, to "create some reality." Not at all.
But wait, there's more! If you order now, you'll also get rampant and extraneous paranoia that Andrea (the blonde one who talked to Matt in the two minutes he was at Ometepe camp) is a dangerous player and needs to be neutralized. She's good at puzzles! (Meaning she could solve that four-piece one from last week first IC round in less than 10 minutes.) She's friendly to Zapateras! (She half-heartedly tried to talk Phillip down from his Steve-is-racist rant for a few seconds, then gave up.) She wears Natalie's dress to tribal council! (Okay, that came later, but don't think they won't hold that against her.) She's first alphabetically! (They've totally got her on that one.) This whole narrative filled up a good chunk of the episode, and created a useful decoy vote during both tribal councils. Grand total of votes received by Andrea in those two tribal councils? Zero.
All in all, an impressive piece of obfuscation by editing, which even went the extra mile of tossing in extra confessionals for her, not to mention a heartwarming sidebar about her almost feeling a teensy bit bad about screwing over Matt, although it could just be gas from the spoiled rice. But still, awww. Anyway, well done, Survivor crew/producers/editors. We know you're there. No need to bellow "look at me!" quite so vociferously. Perhaps this Trolly award will help.
One of the few pleasures of the Zapatera Death March's slow, dismal parade across the past three episodes was the inclusion of extra footage that revealed the Zapateras were actually kind of cool, and/or funny, even though they were largely ignored pre-merge in favor of Rob, Russell, Phillip, and their various shenanigans.
Mike got to snicker at Omtepe's frantic flagpole excavation/ phantom idol-finding project, tossing in "Zapatera could really use that." David got to be a smart-ass with his quad-Rob vote. Julie got to mock Phillip, then hide his shorts. Steve... well, we won't mention Steve's additional airtime. Let's just pretend he was dead. But still: Where was Ralph's bonus boot footage? And if it's the thrice-repeated/once-subtitled "none telling" bit, we wuz robbed! Okay, sure, technically the whole season has been Robbed. And any remaining empty patches have been Phil-ed. But come on, people: Ralph can crow like a rooster! Surely he had something else to contribute, right?
Just a few weeks ago (at the merge), we were concerned that Natalie was drawing too much attention to herself by winning immunity. But clearly, she's learned her lesson there. Now she's out in first rounds of multi-stage challenges, and Jeff Probst is even having a giggle at her performance in puzzle challenges. ("Ha ha, Natalie, this is hard, huh? Sorry, Natalie, you need to hold your card up so that I can see the picture. No, no, that's your canteen. I want to see the card you've picked.") If there were any doubts about Natalie's ability to fade into the safe, Boston Rob-protected background now, they may now officially be put to rest. Although Phillip is giving her quite a run for last-place finishes. Watch out, Natalie!
We don't want to alarm you (we were a little shocked ourselves at the time, but we've since moved past it), but there appears to be someone else besides Boston Rob left in the game, and that person appears to know something about strategy. He also appears to be the guy who wins most of the challenges. That's right: Grant! We're really not sure what to make of this. Who knew he even talked?
Oh, but he does. First, Grant recognized that Andrea's lingering pangs of self-doubt and remorse for Matt might create problems if he comes back from Redemption Island and re-enters the game. (Seriously, is there any question that he will?) Then Grant discussed this with Boston Rob, who agreed... and didn't even follow that up with "Grant's stahting to get too smaht. Guess I've gotta cut his throat now." What's more, Grant didn't make the mistake of telling this plan to Phillip (or, for that matter, Andrea... good choice!) which meant that it might even work.
But wait, it got better: The second he won his reward/immunity, Grant heard "cake gobbling" and his thoughts naturally turned to Rob. But soon after, Grant's cooler head prevailed, and he decided to include Andrea in that reward, to provide the illusion she was still in their good graces. And to smear cake on her face, apparently. We're not really sure what that was about. And it all went for naught, of course, because there were still two Zapateras to get rid of first. But hey, at least Grant tried!