Survivor Review: A Tribe Divided

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During his opening monologue, Jeff Probst asked “how will losing Rob’s leadership and challenge dominance impact the Villain tribe?”  The votes are in and the verdict reads: horribly.

If last week’s episode was the clash of the titans, this week’s episode was survival of the weakest.  Voting out Boston Rob was a disaster for the Villains, a move that Coach and Jerri seemed to recognize immediately and they were the ones who could have prevented it! 

Russell predicted that eliminating Boston Rob would bring the tribe together, but look at these quotes and decide if that’s happened:

Coach: I hate playing the game with these people.
Sandra: I can’t stand Jerri.  I hate Coach.  I hate Danielle.  I hate Russell even more.
Coach: We’re literally starving out here.
Coach: The Villains are in the crapper.  I don’t think we’ll win another challenge.
Jerri: I miss [Boston Rob] already. 

Russell Contemplates

The lack of cohesion manifested itself in numerous ways during the episode.  Upon receiving tree mail inviting them to the week’s reward challenge, the tribe foolishly surmised that it was a merge and deconstructed their entire camp to bring with them.  After Probst made them look foolish for doing so by saying they were not merging, Jerri commented that if Boston Rob were around, he never would have let that happen.

Perhaps the most important thing Boston Rob would have prevented happened next.  Forced to sit out two people for the challenge, the tribe could not make up their mind about who to have sit.  After Jeff demanded an answer, Coach decided that the tribe really needed to win the reward (a feast) and had Sandra and Courtney sit.

This is beyond stupid for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, now those two have to compete in the immunity challenge and despite Coach’s opinion, that’s far more important than the reward challenge.  Boston Rob certainly would have thought that entire process through and maintained order within the Villains tribe.

What else is obvious about having Sandra and Courtney compete in the challenge makes it all the more stunning that the Villains need to have Boston Rob around to figure it out – the challenge was bowling!  Could there possibly be a less physical challenge?  Of all the challenges in the game so far, this was the most obvious one to have your weakest players participate in.  Beyond that, Parvati and Danielle were terrible at it – what a horrible decision.

If Russell believed his prediction that the tribe would unify after Boston Rob’s ouster, it certainly was not based on a belief of he being the one to unify the tribe.  Although she was part of the Boston Rob removal plan, to her credit Danielle lobbied to remove Courtney first.  Once again, she tried to get Courtney voted out, but was met with fierce opposition from the brain-washed Russell who was determined to get rid of Coach.

Coach Looks Tired

When Danielle mentioned that removing Coach would only make it even more difficult for them to win a challenge, Russell’s response was that they’re losing challenges with Coach, what’s the difference.  Really, Russell, that’s your approach to immunity challenges?  Give up, accept defeat and just worry about keeping any perceived threats off of your own back?

One of the things I was most impressed about with Russell and Villains before the last few weeks was Russell’s willingness and insistence on winning the immunity challenges despite his deep seeded desire to get rid of Boston Rob.  To me, it seemed as if he recognized that no one going home from the Villains was better than Boston Rob going home. 

With Boston Rob gone, that Russell has vanished.  It certainly is a game of outwit, outplay and outlast…as an individual, but it seems as if Russell is too cocky about his own ability to manipulate people to worry about the numbers.  If the tribes do no merge nest week and the Villains lose again, the tribes will be even at five to five and Russell will have two enemies on his own tribe – Courtney and Sandra.

Even if that is the case, Russell’s saving grace is the naivety of the Heroes.  Perhaps it is a case of not having all of the information (no one is familiar with Russell and who could have predicted how Tyson went home), but when was the last time a single- gender alliance worked, more or less existed (Survivor: Vanuatu and Survivor: Micronesia, both spearheaded by Ami)?  They really couldn’t figure out that Boston Rob lost a power struggle to Russell?

The Alleged All-Female Alliance

Coach’s removal only makes it seem even more like all-female alliance.  However, his reliance on such a perception is false security.  Sandra and Courtney won’t spill the beans once the tribes merge and tell the Heroes how everything went down?  It will become very obvious, very quickly who’s running that tribe and how he’s running it.

For those curious how the vote was 4-3, Russell voted for Courtney, but Danielle voted for Coach, here’s my take: Russell knew the tribe was voting 5-2 for Coach and figured his vote wasn’t needed.  He suspected Coach might end up on the jury, so he voted for Courtney and signed it so that Coach saw it.  This way Coach can’t come back at him with a “you voted me off” speech if Russell gets to the finals.  Pretty slick. 

It has been a very dynamic season of Survivor with the perceived favorite changing constantly.  Three weeks ago, Boston Rob looked unstoppable.  Last week, it looked like Russell’s game to lose.  Then Sandra shows up and manipulates him with astonishing ease and now it seems like anyone’s game.  What else is on our minds now that the jury has been started?

  1. Coach predicts that the Villains will not win another challenge.  Is he right?
  2. Will Sandra and Courtney bolt to the Heroes if there’s a merge?
  3. Has Sandra discovered the crack in Russell's armor by playing to his fear of people talking behind his back?
  4. Will JTs attempt to find the immunity idol come back to haunt him?
  5. Can Sandra work her magic and keep her and Courtney alive until a merge?

Expectations Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (1 Vote)
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Survivor Season 20 Episode 8 Quotes

Big time Boston Rob, the super all-star. He ain't nothing on me.


I knew I picked the right guy"

Parvati (to Russell)