Posted: April 1, 2011, by Jeff Pitman
Not two seconds into the show and (almost) FULL-SCREEN. Russell. Hantz. And then more. And then the whole "Zapatera threw a challenge" monologue again. Along with Stephanie, still admonishing Ralph & Zapatera for daring to vote against her hero.
So look, Survivor: we haven't had a dream in a long time. See the life we've had would make a good man turn bad. So for once in our lives, let us, let us, let us... let us get what we want this time: An episode entirely devoid of Russell Hantz visuals, audio, or repeated mentions by other contestants. (Not to mention the host!) Is that really so strange? We promise we won't get confused and kill a horse.
Now, you might think we'd mention Phillip here this week, for slipping into full Coach-channeling, samurai-talking mode. But no. He is human and he needs to be loved. Just like anybody else does.
No, this week's Trolly award goes whole-heartedly (not sixteenth-heartedly, as you'll see later) to "Boston" Rob Mariano. Rob ran the trolling table this week, from inventing a word that makes no sense for, uh, "comedic" effect (that would be "front-siding"), to casually and so-completely-spontaneously-it's-a-miracle-the-cameras-were-there-to-capture-the-moment tossing a hidden immunity idol clue into the rock pile several hundred feet above an active volcano. Of course, some poor intern probably had to immediately retrieve said clue, seeing as it was in the shot for the next person's confessional from the exact same spot, but hey that's reality TV. As real as it gets.
This is starting to get rather stale. Luckily the merge is coming, because the prospect of even one more episode of "Fourth-time player Rob knows how to play (finally)," "Everyone hates Phillip, and that pisses Phillip off" and "Those crazy Zapateras who threw a challenge to oust Russell now bicker amongst themselves" is enough to make someone want to throw an immunity idol clue into a volcano, or something.
We're not sure why there isn't room for other story lines. You'd think, based on his far below half-hearted clap for Matt's duel win (quarter-hearted? sixteenth-hearted?), we might get something about Rob's fear that Matt will pop back up in camp in a few days, bellowing "I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger!" Or, for that matter, ICU! winner Andrea's thoughts on Matt's impending resurrection. Or maybe a little insight into who this Julie person at Zapatera is, or whom Mike is aligned with, beyond Freedom, Truth, Justice and The American Way.
But no, nothing. Just Phillip angry about rice, and Ashley/Natalie making faces back at him. And the Zapateras listing the various perceived faults of the two people who'll receive votes at the end of the show. And a bunch of time wasted on someone at Redemption Island who won't be seen again after this episode. And that's that. Good thing we have recycled challenges to keep us... reading Jeff Probst's live tweets.
When your claim to fame is being a nurse/ beauty queen/ college- and European pro basketball player, you'd think the one challenge that draws on one of those skill sets would be your opportunity to single-handedly drive your tribe to an easy victory (as in the one where ex-NFL wide receiver Grant got to catch a lot of balls). But not so, apparently, if you're Ashley.
Maybe she'll later get a challenge where the task is sneering at Phillip, but apparently shooting balls into hoops isn't Ashley's strong suit. So for capitalizing on her past experience for a grand total of zero shots made, Ashley wins this week's Sitty. Well played.
We give the Cirie Fields Smiling Backstabber Award to David Murphy this week, mainly because we find it funny to think that David has ever smiled.
When David knocked Russell Hantz's gameplay in Episode 1, saying that it was "no mystery" why Russell had never won before, because "he's too aggressive, and he wants to get blood on his hands," we were impressed. David was supposed to be a super-intelligent guy who'd never seen the show before being recruited, and here he was talking like a superfan. But Sarita pointed it out herself: He's turned to the Dark Side.
If Russell Hantz is Emperor Palpatine, somehow worming his way into every episode, even if just by hologram, David is clearly Anakin Skywalker, now in full descent into Darth Vader mode. Where David was once a Jedi in training -- watching his words, fitting in with the Zapatera Six, slaying Sith Lords and their apprentices -- now he's just an outspoken belligerent. Essentially just Russell Hantz with fewer dropped terminal Gs, and fewer still alliance-mates. With an odd, Hayden Christensen-esque perma-scowl, David sits, stewing: constantly running the numbers, which turns to hate, which turns to suffering.
It's enough to make a red-bearded guy like Ralph yell out, "You were the chosen one!" Except, being Ralph, it would sound more like "Yowlts deh chozenen!" Maybe we should stop here. Before Lucas decides to sue. Although we could probably get David to defend us. After all, we've given him this prestigious award, right?
The actual Slitty should probably go to Boston Rob, but all he did was make his tribe hate Phillip (which they already did), make them love him, Rob, more (as if this was possible) and then make sure they didn't find a hidden idol clue (which, I mean... come on). So, nah: Slitty goes ironically to Darth Litigious. We just can't wait to find out which of the other contestants' father he is.