There have been far worse seasons of Survivor, but probably few as disappointing as Redemption Island. I say this because this latest iteration of the reality stalwart started off with such a bang, it was hard to imagine it ever settling into the doldrums. However, that’s exactly what has happened. What should have been one of the greatest seasons of all time has turned into a rather rote one, with players content to merely go with the flow rather than actually step up their game. The one exception, of course, is Boston Rob, who has played a masterful and cunning social, athletic, and strategic game. It’s an amazing thing to behold, especially since this is the FOURTH time he’s been stranded on Probst Island. Obviously that gives Rob an experiential advantage, but on the other hand, it should also give him a target the size of Fenway park. Luckily for him, he’s got a bunch of idiots on his team. In fact, everyone this season has been an idiot, with the exception of Rob, and dare I say Russell.
Russell accused his former teammates of not playing the game, a statement that seemed like bitter parting words as he left the game. After all, how could he say that the tribe wasn’t being strategic when they were simultaneously excising the most dangerous member of their crew? But truth be told, after Russell left, the tribe sat complacently on its laurels, even as the numbers dwindled, and they faced rough odds at the merge. I don’t think it was a mistake to get rid of Russell, but everything else sure was.
To wit, after the merge, it looked like things might get freaky when Zapatera almost lured over Matt to their side. But he had a crisis of conscience and wavered, an act that got him sent back to Redemption Island. Idiot #1.
At that point, Zapatera was down in numbers, but rather than trying to maneuver a way into the Ometepe alliance, they merely sat there, hoping that Phillip would annoy everyone enough to be voted off. Guess what? That didn’t work either. Idiots #2, 3, 4, 5.
It also helped that Rob had managed to get his tribe to follow his every move. These Ometepes were drinking the Kool-Aid — to the point where Phillip announced that he would be perfectly happy to be sixth on the totem pole. Idiot #6.
Also benefitting Rob are his two deputies: Ashley and Natalie — two vapid girls who’ve spent the entire season following Rob around like two lost ducklings. Their blind devotion is horrific, only because I can easily imagine the way such behavior colors their regular lives. Even better is that both girls seem to think Rob is taking them to the end. They, along with Grant, seem to be playing for a spot next to Rob — a miserable strategy and a plan that should have been aborted weeks ago as it was the same mindset that did in everyone on Survivor: All Stars a few years ago. No one seems to realize that you should never let another person control your fate in the game. But everyone has blind devotion to Rob. It’s hilarious and terrible. Even Rob himself has said that if these morons just talk to each other, they’d realize that something was fishy, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Idiots #7, 8, 9.
And then we have Andrea, the first victim of the post-Zapatera purging. Why she ever thought she’d be safe is beyond me. Didn’t she remember Rob taking out her closest ally? It was shocking that none of the Ometepe Six seemed to realize that at some point, they would be on the losing side of the numbers. I thought of all the Ometepe, Andrea would see the writing on the wall and join the Zapatera to advance her game. But she didn’t. Oh well. Idiot #10
Of course, there’s a chance a Zapatera could get back into the game, depending on what happens with Redemption Island. I sure hope it isn’t Mike, who gave up a chance for him and his fellow Redemption Islanders to spend time with their families so that the remaining Zapateras could see their kin instead. Why would he do this? Jury votes? Did he not realize that this callous group wouldn’t give two craps about this gesture? Did he really think that if he got back in the game, they would spare him because he let them see their families? Let me tell you something: two hours after the relatives left, I guarantee that all the good will was already forgotten about.
And that sort of sums up why this season has slowed down so much. There’s too much negotiation with the power players. The worst strategy a failing team could have is to make an offer to the power players. Tell someone from the other team that they have a spot in the top three? Bad idea. There’s no way to back up the claim, and chances are that person will go and tell everyone else, further undermining your strategy. Give the people in power a gift? Great. It’ll get you nowhere.
The only way to shake things up is to convince someone (often in a sneaky way) that there are bigger threats out there. The fact is that during this second half of Redemption Island no one has tried to be sneaky, and the show has suffered. We only have two episodes left. Here’s to hoping things get shaken up soon…
“That was a pretty fun Tribal Council. We voted off Ralph and Steve. Now it’s just the six of us, and I’m totally in the clear. Why would I have to worry? These people have only betrayed me like once or twice TOPS.”
“I hope I hear from AMBAH. She bettah not have scratched my DVD of The Town.”
“Hey guys, isn’t it great when we all sit here like we’re in a dirty version of a J. Crew catalogue?”
“Hey Matt. Just wanted to say hi and tell America that we have really, really good genes.”
Ralph: “I hope my wife comes out. She’s hairier than I am!”
“Hmmm… I could either see my family and let Matt and Ralph see their families, which would be awfully nice given what they’ve been through — especially Matt…. OR I could give it up for no good reason. Yeah, I’m gonna do that!”
“It’s been great out here. I act crazy, and then when someone calls me crazy, I just call them a racist. Great fun!”
“Hey honey, be sure to not trust anyone. You gotta play with your head.”
“Ugh, Dad, you are so embarrassing. I’m, like, basically in the top three.”
“Oh man. I’m tired. Can you guys help me win this Immunity?”
“Sure thing, Rob!”
“We’re on top of it!”
“Anything for you, Rob!”
“Here’s the thing: I totally have a deal with Rob to go to the end, and I’m sure no one else has that deal WHATSOEVER; so I’m feeling pretty good!”
“Wow. You are all idiots.”
“Well… maybe I’ll come back from Redemption Island… and then Rob will take me to the end!!”
What did you think about the latest episode? What do you think about the way the season has gone? Rooting for Rob to go all the way or to get taken down?