ZAPATERA ZAPPED: Stephanie Stymied, Sarita Silenced
“It Don’t Take A Smart One” — Bad karma continues for Zapatera, as Stephanie is eliminated at Redemption Island by Matt, who wins his fifth straight Redemption Island challenge. Worse still, the core 6 alliance is forced to cannibalize itself after blowing a lead in the Immunity/Reward Challenge. At Ometepe, Phil reaches new levels of disgust regarding Rob’s elevated position in the tribe…but the challenge victory somehow seems to make everything right.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! “Rob, Rob, Rob!” Self-proclaimed “redheaded stepchild” Phillip petulantly complains about the favor shown to his tribe’s leader, especially at mealtimes. Apparently Kristina wasn’t exaggerating when she told me the tribe had to crisp the rice according to Rob’s specifications. Special Agent Samurai Sheppard (poor Coach is now but a footnote in the annals of Survivor crazy) may not agree (nor Amber, in the matter of underwear sharing), but Rob deserves some reward for his leadership of Ometepe—not to mention his full-time job as chaperone and babysitter of the former federal agent (who has completely snapped, crackled and popped). Phillip never would have enjoyed his momentary non-shunning at the volcano if Rob hadn’t ensured their victory by hauling him through the challenge’s obstacle course like Joel and Chet in Micronesia.
Overcoming Obstacles: While Matt saved his skin in a concentration-style duel at Redemption Island, David earned redemption of his own in one of Survivor’s most grueling and entertaining tribal challenges to date. (Props to challenge master John Kirhoffer and his team for pulling out all the stops on this course.) Zapatera lost, but Sarita’s sorry—one might even say “egregious” (unless one’s name is Ralph)—performance contrasted with David’s skill, ensuring that she would receive more votes at Tribal Council. Zapatera probably will be more “cohesive” now, especially since they’re outnumbered going into the merge.
Zapatera, meanwhile, hates David and the tribe members want us to know all about it. David is a turncoat; David has no survival skills; David is dumb for wanting to fish; David turned the federal surplus into a deficit. The only person not hating David is David, who is too busy hating Sarita to worry about himself. It’s good times at the Zapatera camp! After Sarita’s immunity challenge performance isn’t deemed to be up to the lofty standards Steve and Mike have set, a few rumblings begin to form about perhaps voting Sarita off instead of David, so the team can potentially win a challenge again. But they hate David! Don’t they?
Silly Philly is upset over the perception that Rob is controlling him and so references his good pal, 17th century samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi, author of The Book of Five Rings — which is kind of like Lord of the Rings in that both involve lots of swordplay, have the word “Rings” in the title, and are worshipped by big-time nerds. “Nobody’s controlling me!” Phillip pronounces, which is immediately followed by the former federal agent (?) acquiescing to Rob’s command that he keep his shirt on for their visit to the duel. “He’s dangerous because of his stupidity,” notes Rob. “He’s probably the most unaware person I’ve ever met in my entire life.” This statement undoubtedly causes lightbulbs to magically appear above the heads of producers and invariably sets plans in motion for a Phillip-vs.-Coach battle in season 24 — Survivor: Unintentionally Absurd Island. (You know it’s coming, people.)
David and Ralph are the witnesses from Zapatera as Matt and Stephanie enter the arena. It’s a good ol’-fashioned memory challenge with players needing to match up five pairs of symbols to win. God appears to once again be on Matt’s side, as Matt immediately picks two skulls his first time. But Stephanie’s master (Satan? Russell?) also has a little action riding on the outcome as she responds with two crocodiles on her first turn. With all of the tribe witnesses rooting against their former members, Matt eventually wins 5-3. Stephanie’s defeat is followed by predictable anti-Zapatera smack-talking, with the loser imploring Ralph to ditch Sarita and keep David because he is “the only guy that can do puzzles. Are you ready to take on that responsibility?”
“If I got to do it, I will,” says Ralph. And you’ll do a great job of it, too, man! Especially on the word puzzles. As long as the word “cohesive” isn’t part of it. Or “outlast.” Or “Survivor.” Or “the.” “Or “it.” But if “cockadoodledooooooooooo” is anywhere on there, my boy Ralph is all over it! Phillip then starts talking about something called the Bushido code and how Matt is “truly a samurai warrior,” further cementing his link to Coach and the certainty of Survivor: Unintentionally Absurd Island.
On the way back from the duel, Phillip asks Rob how much they should tell the rest of the tribe about what they witnessed, in effect setting himself up, in that Rob will now go and inform everyone else in the tribe how shady Phillip is. (It’s not shady, Rob. It’s stealth! Stealth R Us, baby! Code of the samurai!) Rob is clearly setting Phillip up to be the next guy to go. “If we lose, there won’t be any blindside. I’ll go right up to Phillip and when he asks me who to vote for I’ll say, ‘You know what, Phillip — you’re going home.’ I’ll frontside him.”
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