- Duel results: "Chimney Sweep," Matt wins final pre-merge duel, beats Sarita. Matt temporarily returns to the game.
- Immunity challenge: "Rollerballs," Natalie hangs on to them the longest.
- Hidden immunity idols: 1 left in Rob's pocket, after Ralph pointlessly plays his for Mike.
- Voted out: Matt (again), 6-5-1 over Grant and Steve, respectively.
There was redemption, there was merging, there was a lot of balls. Then everything got bolloxed up, resulting in some potential re-redemption. The end?
There was a time when we questioned whether Phillip was sincere in his oddness, or just slathering it up with extra-actory embellishment for the purposes of camera time. This week, those questions were laid to rest. Maybe Coach himself called it, in his People interview. Maybe it was the editors, moving beyond the Coachian trope of faux lightning strikes to gussy up a Phillip monologue with time-lapse shenanigans, "Elapsed time: 22 minutes," and a Follow-the-Star seal of approval. Maybe it was Phillip himself (in next week's preview), somehow managing to attach Coach's eagle feather affectation to his bald head. Phillip is now, like Coach before him, fully immersed in the Trolling. The Trolly award is, essentially, his to lose.
Preach on, sky warrior. Preach on.
But all hope is not lost, others may still step to the fore and wrest the Trolly award away from Phillip's iron grasp. There's always Boston Rob, who may resort to casual Trollery, since he really doesn't have much left with which to amuse himself, now that he has a solid group of acolytes, a hidden idol, and no real competition (we guess there's always self-immolation, which is usually how Rob ends his game). And let's not forget the formerly promising Ralph, although now that his idol's gone, he's really just a boot waiting to happen.
Meh, screw it. Phillip totally has this award wrapped up for as many of the remaining six episodes as he appears in.
We think we've finally figured out which of the voiceless Ometepe women is which: Ashley is the one who never gets confessionals, except to grouse about Phillip's... general ickiness. Natalie is the one who never gets confessionals, but makes faces about Phillip's general ickiness. And Grant is the one who got a confessional this week (!), and has the dreads and beard.
Here's Natalie. Don't worry, that's Rob's subtitle.
But Natalie also has a second, previously hidden talent: silent, giggly faces at Rob's general awesomeness. We know, it's a tough role to play, having to be both disgusted one minute, then gushingly amazed the next. But that's why Natalie keeps getting shown, even if it's a non-speaking part. Someone has to be the mute Greek chorus. Usually that's a role taken by the fauna (crabs scuttling away when Matt talks to Rob, howler monkeys looking away in disinterest as Phillip embarks upon a speech). But clearly, Natalie has stepped up her game.
Ashley (left). Fear not, that's Matt's subtitle.
Sadly, this high-stepping also means that Natalie has disqualified herself from this week's ICU! award. Sorry, if you're going to revolve around the guy who gets 50% of the camera time, in an orbit closer than Mercury's, that'll happen. And since Grant had a confessional (to be honest, we've already forgotten what it was about, but it still counts), that means this week's ICU! awardee must be the equally confessionally challenged Ashley. Well done!
If you're still wondering who Ashley is: We know she likes Matt's Bible, hates Phillip, doesn't feel like her Christianity requires her to love her soggy Zapatera neighbors quite as much as herself, and is almost as poor at manipulating balls as Julie. That's a lot of info to cram into eight episodes, so it was good thinking on the editors' parts to pace themselves.
It takes a special kind of skill to win immunity by not moving at all. The kind of skill that this award's namesake, Courtney Yates, demonstrated in abundance when she won immunity in Survivor: China, by not moving whilst astride some giant dragon thing. So we really can't imagine awarding this week's Sitty prize to anyone but Natalie. She really did a spectacular job of manipulating balls while not perceptibly moving. Standing ovation, everyone!
The Sitty winner, et al., inaction
Now, you could make the case that she went a little overboard by not making any moves whatsoever for the entire season (beyond the requisite giggles and snuggling up with Rob). This game, after all, respects big moves. But can't the biggest move really be the one you don't make? Ometepe had a 6-5-(1?) advantage at the merge, and their collective move was to ignore the entire Zapatera tribe, and not do anything to integrate with them (even Phillip!). Natalie was just the least moving-est of them. But that's the kind of inaction that wins prizes here.
To be honest, we weren't really aware that God was a contestant this season. Certainly didn't appear on the initial Redemption Island cast lists, although to be fair, neither did Rob and Russell. Normally, God's a little too silent, transparent, and all-knowing to attract the attention of casting people. Apparently Survivor casting saw something in God that we didn't! But anyway, if you need any further proof, some military-looking guy slipped us a note (transcribed below). If it's written down somewhere, it must be true, right?
God did get the opening shot of the episode.
"1. And lo, on the nineteenth day, the Lord did say to Matthew: 'Go forth and outlast her. ("Her" being that harlot Sarita, who hast visited upon her tribe a plague of woeful editing and host-borne imprecations, all because she didst question my wisdom in repeatedly giving you people Russell Hantz. It's not like he's boils, you ingrates! That's Rupert.)'
"2. 'For I hath bestowed on thee many great gifts, including good looks, a long string of easily beatable opponents, and a cut foot. Thou shalt not question my wisdom now, for I hath also provided unto thee a Survivor medical team, who shall bandage thine foot, creating a useful pad upon which to rest thine weight, shouldst thou have to... say... stand on 1/8th-inch pieces of wood for 20 minutes or so. Just throwing that out there.'
"3. 'So get back out there and play this game better than thou didst the first time around. Oh Me almighty, thou didst suck mightily back then. But shouldst thou prevail today, thou wilt be truly Redeemed, and thou shouldst use thine larger head to play henceforth, all right? Do not let thineself be distracted by blonde-headed temptresses, or talk of balls. Thou must strike down the wayward tribe that worshipeth false idols, or at least worships the guy in the Sox hat who's hoarding one. You know, the ones who shamed thee, and who are now threatening my most favorite stepchild, Phillip.'
Oh, for the love of Me. You didn't.
"4. And it came to pass that Matthew was indeed redeemed. And lo, an angel of the Lord did appear unto Matthew in the form of a producer, and did say: 'Thou must seek out the soldier in black, with the name of the Archangel who commandeth the Armies of God, carrying the word of the Lord that is colored the same as Phillip's underwear. He shall read to thee from the book of, oh... I dunno... Matthew. Heed his words, because... seriously dude, we can't make this any more obvious for you.'"
You've gotta admit, that was a pretty cool strategy God cooked up. But God's real coup de grâce, and the move that won God this week's smiling backstabber ("Slitty") award, came when, for no apparent reason, s/he decided that Matt was just too flighty, or paranoid, or unable to filter anything he says (kind of like Phillip, except not in any way interesting) to put any faith in. At that point, God just decided to throw Matt back to the wolves, or gorillas, or lions, or whatever. (Crabs?) Always a bit hard to tell what God's exact plans are, what with the silence and invisibilty, and all. But that's why SEG cast him/her, right? Pure reality gold, or neverending fishes, or wine/water. Or something.
- Gordon Holmes at fancast.com: "Round-Trip Redemption?"
- Drusilla Moorhouse at E! Online: "What God Giveth, Rob Taketh Away"
- Jeff Probst at JeffProbst.com
- Jeff Probst/Dalton Ross at EW.com (Q&A)
- Dalton Ross at EW.com: "Oh My God!"
- Jill Mader at CouchtimeWithJill.com: "Rob is Great, Rob is Good"
- Andy Dehnart at RealityBlurred.com: "Matt rejoins Survivor, and his stupidity sends him back to Redemption Island. Oh, God!"
- Stephen Fishbach at People.com: "Merge Time!"
- SuperJude at xXSuperJudeXx's SuperBlog™ "Episode 8 Thoughts"
- Colette Lala at Bitchy Survivor Blog: "Grab Your Balls"