Though the title of this week’s episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, “Getting the Best of Me,” is a nod to Boston Rob and his comment while recovering from passing out, it should really have been titled “Boston Rob Dominates” because that’s what everyone’s new favorite castaway did this week.
If you’re a fan of these reviews, you know that while there are a number of contestants I’m rooting for this season, none provides me with more entertainment than Boston Rob. While he’s clearly been a villain throughout his Survivor (and even Amazing Race) reign, his sequence of events this week has surely endeared him not only to his tribe, but to the viewing public.
Certainly a number of us watching this week were very concerned at the prospect of losing one of Survivor’s most entertaining personalities when Boston Rob collapsed in the jungle and implored Jerry to “get help.” What followed was a very odd scene (CBS loved the extreme close ups of Rob’s face) with Rob being checked out by medics and a disorienting conversation between Rob and Jeff Probst.
Despite being clearly out of it, Rob had a moment of clarity (and oratorical brilliance): “When I finally came to, I had a moment of clarity – Stop trying to be the good guy because I’m trying to be so good, I’m physically made myself sick. Just do what everybody wants you to do and be the villain.” This was good news for a few of the Villain tribe mates, but for everyone else a clear-thinking ruthless Boston Rob is dangerous.
Rob’s importance to his Villain tribe was demonstrated again when he orchestrated another come from behind win in the immunity challenge by dominating the puzzle portion and efficiently organizing his teammates to execute his plan.Typically in Survivor, dominating and standing out is a dangerous style of play that often results in early elimination. However, Rob managed to rise to the top of the heap by emulating his original Survivor: Marquesas/Godfather strategy. His Heroes opponents speak of him reverently and clearly fear him.
His Villain tribe mates understand his importance to their continued victories in challenges and survival at camp. Though Rob was unable to organize his tribe mates to build an effective shelter, he went out and won one, courtesy of the tarp provided as a bonus for winning immunity.
Boston Rob’s sequence of events this week was the worst thing that could have happened to Russell. The star villain of Survivor: Samoa, the self-proclaimed “King of Samoa” (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains is being shot in Samoa) now finds himself stuck in an impossible position. Russell knows that both he and Boston Rob cannot be the alpha dog of the tribe and neither can likely achieve success while the other is in the game.
However, the Godfather, Boston Rob, is utterly untouchable now. Even before he won the challenge, the female Villains were commenting about how Rob was the only useful male they got and that they’d be doomed if he left the game.
Russell’s style is aggressive, but his only chance of survival is to take advantage of the other survivors' relative ignorance of his playing style (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains was shot in the middle of the airing of Survivor: Samoa) and be patient. It’s going to take a lot of self control for Russell to wait until the individual portion of the game to go after Rob, but it is his only move. If the Villains lose an immunity challenge and Russell tries to target Boston Rob, the backlash from the women will only put Russell’s head on the chopping block.
The other masterstroke of Boston Rob’s influence on this episode was the incredible in-fighting his dominance of the immunity/reward challenge caused with the Heroes. Heading into the challenge, the Heroes knew they needed to adopt a more clear approach to solving the puzzle, “one voice” as James coined it so frequently. Despite JT's best efforts, he could not keep Stephanie on board with the one voice message while Boston Rob used any means necessary (in this case bullying his tribe mates) to keep his tribe in line.
Typically, heading into the pre-merge tribal councils, there’s the for-the-benefit-of-the-tribe choice and the eliminate-the-threat-to-win-the-game choice. Often when tribes make the threat choice, it back fires and they lose more challenges. Give the Heroes credit, there was very little consideration towards eliminating a threat to win the game. Everyone was focused on improving the tribe.
However, the Heroes struggled with how do to do that, and rightly so. How does getting rid of Stephanie over Amanda, or vice versa, help the tribe win challenges?
I’d love to know Candice and Cirie’s rationale for going with JT, Amanda, James and Rupert and getting rid of Stephanie. We could certainly speculate that Cirie’s relationships with Amanda on previous Survivors influenced her decision, but she claims that’s not a factor this time around. Either way, this week’s vote has created an interesting pair in Candice and Cirie and it will be interesting to see if they can last and impact the game.
We’re only two episodes into Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains but already there is so much to ponder:
- Does the removal of Stephanie unify the Heroes?
- Can the Heroes figure out their puzzle difficulties?
- How will Candice and Cirie handle being #5 and #6 in an alliance with JT, James, Amanda and Rupert?
- Will Russell be able to keep his playing style dormant while Boston Rob is seemingly untouchable?
- Can anyone stop the Godfather, Boston Rob?