To be honest, with Phillip almost sounding sane the entire episode, and Ralph rendered speechless by blindfolding (surely just a coincidence that the Subtitle Writers Union Local 282 was in a weeklong strike, in solidarity with their Wisconsin brethren), there was really very little trollishness going on this week.
Not that this is necessarily a good thing, of course. If you're going to take a slot away from an actual Survivor fan as step one on your quest for an illustrious career as a non-speaking extra in TV (possibly also radio) commercials, the least you can do in exchange is not be boring while you're on the show (we're looking at you, most of remaining Ometepe tribe). But luckily, Rob stepped into the orange tribe entertainment vacuum, perhaps after snorting some ground coffee.
It wasn't the most egregious episode of trollishness ever, but Rob's admission that he switched out the new hidden idol clue for the previous (read: mostly useless) one - purely because he was bored and wanted to amuse himself - comes pretty close. (To be fair, most sane people would be bored and looking for ways to amuse themselves when stuck with that lot, but what else do we have to work with here?) And he did go the extra mile, polishing it up with chuckles about hustling. No mocking references to his tribe as Pee-Wee leaguers, though, even though that would technically be completely accurate. (That black mark went to David, who appears to have been turned to the Dark Side by a departing Russell Hantz). All in all, a mixed bag, but we'll give the award to Rob. He'd probably find it and replace it with a fake one if we didn't.
And this ICU! award goes to Natalie, voted out this week after being almost completely unseen and unheard for the first five episodes. Oh wait, no. We're being told her name was Krista? Are you sure? Wasn't she voted out last week? This is all so confusing!
Okay, we think we've got this straight now. The person who was voted out wasn't Natalie White from Samoa, who aligned with Russell. It was a completely different Southern blonde pharmaceutical sales rep, who also aligned with Russell... apparently named Krista. Which would be obvious if she'd say, uttered a peep before this episode. But it's okay, because despite her edit, she was chirpily eulogized by Jeff Probst (in his weekly tribal council tirade against the evildoers who cruelly voted out a Friend of Russell) as the one who "didn't go quietly." Keep speaking truth to power, Brother Probst! Although as executive producer, you're also the power.
We'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that our awards provide a valuable service. Not only is it great to be named the ICU! winner, but the recipient now has a five-episode streak of being given a confessional in the following episode. We mention this now, because it's not too late for interested parties (you know who you are) to send us a bribe (see contact link at left... hey, you gotta hustle if you want to make a dollar, everybody knows that). True, your money might be better spent bribing the Survivor editorial staff. Also possibly true, this streak may come to a crashing end next week, since Krista will now be on Redemption Island. In theory, Krista could win her duel, gaining valuable speaking time. In reality, however, if Krista had been destined to slay God-talking Matt's chances at returning to the game, we'd probably have heard her mention duels or Redemption Island several times by now. Instead, we've had weeks of Andrea hoping and pining, Rob fretting, and Phillip plotting to add Matt to his still below-critical-numbers fiefdom. Not to mention that we haven't heard Krista mention much of anything.
Honorable mention goes to actual Natalie (on Ometepe, the dark-haired girl who doesn't talk to Phillip, or, apparently, anyone else), who, in a transparently desperate attempt to justify Jeff Probst's blog-based protestations that she's a great contestant, contributed: a few anti-Phillip grimaces, some armpit hairscaping, and a bikini shower scene. One of which was from a scene from next week. All accompanied by approximately zero words. Well done!
We should also probably come up with some sort of posthumous Lifetime Achievement ICU! award for Kristina, who was finally eliminated from the game in Episode 5, even though the show apparently forgot to mention her again after Episode 1. Sure, Russell got hours of personal time, close-up sobbing, extra interviews, give-and-take with Probst, arguing with tribemates, and a high school marching band serenading his offstage trek after his duel loss. But Kristina? Whoa, hold on there, let's not get crazy! We can't be blowing valuable frames on that when we're already scrambling to fit in Rob, Probst, Matt, Probst, Stephanie, and Probst talking (not to mention extended bikini shower scenes). Better to let her slip silently away, since we just found some extra footage of Phillip hunting crabs in his underwear from a previous episode. That never gets old!
Since this is a new(-ish) award, let us be perfectly clear: it's not necessary to actually sit out of a challenge to win a Sitty. Rather you just need to not really do much of anything in one. And we can find no finer example of sitting out here than Steve and Julie from Zapatera, who spent pretty much the entire challenge grousing about how those kids from their tribe who were actually doing the challenge were doing it all wrong, and kids these days, blah blah blah.
Which is about what you'd expect the two 50+-ers on your tribe to do, when they're not busy filling out AARP forms, expressing concern about those sinister-looking teenagers on Ometepe, massaging their bunions, or lecturing the tribe about how, in their day, Survivor had a final two, and everyone liked it. Old people! But while that may be the reason they were sitting out, it was a bit odd that they chose to do so, since they had just spent the pre-challenge camp segment lecturing us on tribe strength, tribe unity, and so on.
But Julie deserves special mention, since she went the extra mile in talking (pre-challenge) about how Zapatera really needed a win to get some momentum, and to make up for throwing a challenge. (Two episodes ago, after which they of course won, thereby establishing that momentum... again: those crazy old people!)
Based on what we've seen so far, it seems unlikely anybody will wrest away the (freshly renamed) Slitty from Rob's professional grasp anytime soon, unless that Andrea-Phillip plotting actually comes to fruition. (Sidenote: Ha!) While it's refreshing to see Phillip recognize that Kristina's departure means he ought to look around for another potential alliancemate, and that he then sought out the lowest person in the Ometepe pecking order (Andrea), it would have been a bit more helpful if Phillip and Andrea had recognized their mutual disinterest in being bossed around by Rob before Kristina was booted, since they're now down 4-2. Pfft, amateurs.
Because Boston Rob is really just toying with the rest of his tribe at this point. Still, as amusing as it was to watch his elaborate "quick, let's look at then hide that important hidden idol clue!" routine with Grant unfold*, it might've been even better if he'd been a bit more proactive with his original clue, and re-hidden it in the folding chair after he found the idol. It's not like someone would just look at the clue and magically determine someone had already found the idol. Better yet, let the entire tribe find it somewhere, and make the hunt public. Then whoever found the (still useless) second clue would have to decide whether to make it public, and any hint of hoarding the clue could be used against them, if Rob needed an excuse to boot someone other than Phillip.
But whatever, we're sure Rob can always turn to Phillip's valuable crab-hunting skills and post-challenge pep talks as valid reasons to keep him around.
*After which it was re-folded and buried.
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