We sincerely apologize for the absence of Redemption Island recaps the last month; Gawker.TV ceased publishing weekly recaps and our day job has been monopolizing our time. But, with the finale airing tonight night, we felt it was our responsibility (and our pleasure) to give some thoughts on what’s transpired since our last recap and what is still to come.
Before we delve into the eliminations, duels, blindsides and bonehead moves of the past month, it’s come to our attention that we’ve been going easy on Matt and his love of Jesus. So, to right that wrong, we’re going to go ahead and dedicate the first part this post to Matt and his savior.
“Are you there, God? It’s me, Matt. Why have you abandoned me?”
“Because, Matt, I don’t care about reality television. I’m the almighty creator, and I have infinitely more important things to do than interfere with or preordain some reality show competition. And if I were to get involved with any of these shows, it wouldn’t be Survivor, hands down it’d be Top Chef, because a) I fancy myself as a bit of a foodie and b) have you seen the rack on Padma? One of my finest creations.”
“Oh, so that one set of footprints. That wasn’t you carrying me on your back?”
“Nope, no way. All you, buddy.”
Read on: Some more Matt bashing, why Boston Rob does and doesn’t deserve to win, and our FINAL prediction…
This is it, guys! Merge time! And the end of Redemption Island!
Which would have totally been a surprise if they didn’t already tell us this in the preview for this week’s episode. And they didn’t just tease the game changer, but pretty much announced it. Which is kind of regrettable, as it took away a potential surprise in the midst of a run of pretty mundane episodes.
Also pretty regrettable – to us at least – is that the producers chose to coincide the merge with the reentry of the Redemption Island ultimate warrior back into the game. That’s too neat, too obvious, and we reckoned it would be too much all at once. Wouldn’t have it been more enjoyable, more entertaining if the Redemption Island duels continued while the remaining players vied for Individual Immunity? In short, in crass terms, our concern was that combining these two moves would pretty much be the equivalent of the show shooting it’s load. Would that be the case? We should see.
Keep reading: The Christian, The Sheppard, and The Last Supper
So this week we entered the post-Russell Hantz era. And for those of you who complained that Russell was a sneaky, nefarious player who only made it to the finals because he had no chance to win, and that his dominance was a product of editing, and that he was a bore and boorish, well, do you miss him now? Because, say what you want about the guy, there’s no denying that he made things interesting. Which is perhaps something you can’t say about last night’s Survivor
Keep reading: Phillips say the darndest things. Plus: Tetris! Rubix Cubes! A giant maze!
Two weeks ago on Top Chef they pulled the old bait and switch and you get a car and you get a car and you get a car and you’re all going to the Bahamas! So last week it was off to the tropical islands to get cookin’.
But before they can get to the Quickfire, everyone is just blown away by Richard’s beard.
More: To what lengths will Antonia go to win? Sabotage?
Imagine waking up in a beautiful seaside location, the crashing waves slowly lulling you out of your slumber, the faraway echoes of exotic birds gently coaxing you out of dreamland, a warm, refreshing breeze serving as nature’s alarm clock. And then imagine waking up after nine hungry days in a hot, humid, bug-infested jungle and the first thing you see is Phillip’s nasty, tattered, ill-fitting, sun-faded red underwear. Because that’s exactly the waking nightmare for the members of the Ometepe tribe as we begin this week’s Survivor: Redemption Island. Any momentum they had after defeating Zapatera last week is immediately erased by the actual sight of Phillip’s junk escaping from his delicates, forcing the Survivor editing team to employ their best blurring skills. But, to Phillip’s credit, he seems entirely comfortable just flapping in the wind. And completely oblivious. But since we’re watching this from the safety of our couch (and, thankfully, with the strategically placed blurs intact) we’re not complaining, because, besides Russell, Phillip is the most entertaining player on the show.
Simply put, it’s put up or shut up time for Russell.
Over the last couple years we’ve become ardent devotees to the concept of “Occam’s Razor,” the tenet that the “simplest explanation is most likely the correct one.” There’s a similar paradigm that works itself into any season of Survivor, but focuses less on the simplest explanation and more on the theory that players will make their moves based on the belief that the other competitors will make the correct, smartest decisions. Unfortunately, as the show as often proved, playing that way does not always lead to the best results. And we saw an example of this again last night.
But more on that later. First, (as teased last week) Matt arrives on Redemption Island and Francesca is shocked (shocked!) it wasn’t Phillip who was voted out by the Ometepe tribe earlier in the night. He had no allies, posed no threat, and basically begged for mercy, so why would Ometepe (and its leader, Boston Rob) want to keep him around? Oh, yeah, for those very reasons. Phillip may be a loose cannon, intolerable, and borderline bipolar, but right now, as Rob says, he’s a loyal solider. Plus, he’s endlessly entertaining. Back at Ometepe camp Rob breaks down the alliance, explicitly telling Phil that he’s the fifth person on a five-person alliance and Phil is basically responds “Cool! Just happy to be here! Thanks, Rob!” And then they seal Phil’s blind allegiance with a first bump, which in the three federal agencies that Phil used to serve in is tantamount to swearing on one’s parents’ graves.
More: Our first Inferno-The Furnace-The Gauntlet-The Meatgrinder Duel. Followed by puss-filled rashes, water torture, dumb strategy and dumb luck. The Probst man cometh, does the bell finally ring for Russell?
We started this week’s episode of Survivor: Redemption Island with our first glimpse of, well, Redemption Island. After being voted at the first Tribal Council, Francesca arrived at her new home and quickly found a signpost describing life on the island, “Welcome to Redemption Island: No Smoking, No Yelling, No Swearing; Daily Menu: Breakfast – Rice; Lunch – Rice, Dinner – Rice.” Francesca can’t find a flint, so she’s worried about freezing during night, but really she’s just happy to be away from Former Federal Agent (?) Phillip.
Read on: Phillip remains an emotional, delusion wreck, but we get a glimpse of his primal side. Plus: Ralph defines dumb luck, carnival games return, and Boston Rob contemplates the chess board. Also, crabs!
This season we’ll be taking our ‘Survivor’ recapping talents to Gawker TV. However, we’re going to also offer expanded, “Director’s Cut” recaps on this blog. So here we go. Day One.
The challenge for Survivor: Redemption Island is going to be keeping us interested in anyone not named Boston Rob or Russell Hantz. Our fear going into the premiere was that the presence of these veterans would overshadow the new Survivors. However, for one episode at least, we got just enough Boston Rob and Russell while also introducing some intriguing new cast members. We’re not entirely convinced that there are any personalities that can match up to the two masterminds, but judging from an explosive, unbelievable, train wreck of a first Tribal Council, we’re in for a season of crackpots and fireworks.
But, before we get there: helicopters! And Probst just enjoying the feel of the cool Nicaragua air hitting his face.
Read on: Phillip announces he’s former federal agent (?), Kristina makes a move too early, Russell and Rob play it cool, and the most insane first Tribal Council ever. Plus, our first A-B-C phrase of the season…