PUPPET MASTERED: Marisa’s Strings Cut
“The Puppet Master” Survivor: Samoa kicks off as 20 castaways are split into two tribes and told to elect a leader without having talked to each other, and one man is bound and determined to destroy the game and rule over the ruins.
The 2 tribes rowed in in 4 boats and were told to elect a leader. Foa Foa (yellow) elected Mick and Galu (purple) elected Russell S. Each leader then selected 1 tribemate based on attributes given by Jeff: the best swimmer (Fao Fao: Jaison; Galu: John), the strongest (Fao Fao: Russell H.; Galu: Erik), the most agile (Fao Fao: Marisa; Galu: Yasmin), and the smartest (Fao Fao: Elizabeth; Galu: “Shambo”). The teams then competed in a reward challenge – the swimmer swam out to retrieve a key which the strongest used to unlock two very large and heavy steps which they had to carry to a balance beam, where the most agile crossed while winding a key through a rope maze. The smartest then used that key to unlock puzzle pieces and put a puzzle together. John earned early criticism for slow swimming and Shambo worried she wasn’t “book smart” enough to participate, but she did well and was barely edged out by Elizabeth.
Upon visiting camp for the first time, Galu started planning their shelter under Russell S.’s direction. Shambo initially praised Russell’s leadership skills, but changed her mind after John the rocket scientist was allowed too much input into planning camp, then led the entire tribe on a relaxing dip in the pool without accomplishing anything.
Over at Fao Fao, Russell H. was wasting no time living up to the “greatest villain” moniker bestowed upon him by Jeff before the show started. He started by ridiculing the “dumb girls” in the tribe then setting up a secret alliance with each, as well as the “old lady” Betsy. Then at night in the shelter, he started telling a story where he lost a dog while living as a firefighter in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, revealing to the camera that he was actually a multimillionaire oil tycoon who couldn’t care less about the prize money. He then got up and dumped out the water in everyone’s canteen, reasoning that if he could control their misery he could control how they think.
And it worked. Ben and Marissa started fighting, and Jaison started complaining that he couldn’t find his socks – which Russell had thrown in the fire the night before after emptying the canteens – and it was making him uncomfortable.
The Immunity Challenge consisted of 6 members of each tribe climbing over 3 large triangular structures with 3 pieces of rope, then connecting the ropes to pull a heavy box containing a series of puzzle pieces which, when assembled by a team of the remaining 4 tribe members, spelled out a phrase. The race was even, which tribes improvising by building human ladders and pulling each other up, but Galu ran away with the puzzle, winning immunity.
At Fao Fao camp, Mike pushed to get rid of the weakest physical link in the tribe, which Mike claimed was Ashley. But then Marisa confronted Russell H. about his sneaking around and talking to other people privately, saying it made her “weary.” Russell fumbled through a defense that claimed just because he was talking doesn’t mean he was planning an alliance, then went to everyone else in the tribe and said Marisa threatened him and needed to go. Betsy listened to him but then said privately that “woman’s intuition” didn’t allow her to trust him.
At Tribal Council, Betsy, when asked, said Ashley was the weakest physical link in the tribe, which surprised Ashley because she exercised regularly and was fit. When Marisa was asked the same question, she avoided answering by saying there was different levels of weakness, which irked Ben and caused him to lash out, telling her she needed to step up. Marisa was then voted out with 7 votes, next to Ashley’s 3.
- Obviously Russell H. stole the show by packing in more lying, backstabbing, and talking behind people’s backs in one episode than most villains can get into a whole season. And while it’s entertaining, he’s so reckless with it that it’s a matter of time before he’s caught and tossed. His attempts to hide his secret alliances are almost non-existent, and sabotaging his tribe by burning their clothes and dumping out their water is going to hurt challenge performances, leading to a Pagonging when the merge comes.
- Betsy is wise to Russell’s ways, but unless she can put a case together against him with more of an argument than “woman’s intuition” she can count on a fate similar to Marisa’s.
- Elizabeth performed well in the challenge, but her rallying against racial stereotypes has already made her as irritating as Peih-Gee (China).
- Other than Russell H., the cast is pretty bland. Mick and Russell S. have shown zero personality, “Shambo” has personality but is annoying, and the “dumb girls” are completely vapid. CBS had better hope Russell wins the entire thing, because once he’s gone it looks like they’ve got nothing.
- “Afro-Americans aren’t known to be swimmers.” - Mike, after Mick chose Jaison to be the tribe swimmer in the first challenge
- “I’ve shot and killed about everything you can in Missouri, and probably a few you can’t.” - Ben
- “This is a dog eat dog game and we’re all wearing Milkbone underwear.” - Mike, at Tribal Council