Okay. I've seen a lot of Survivor episodes over the years and this one has to be among my top three favorites of all time. The strategy discussions were intriguing and the end result turned out to be very surprising. This is why I still continue to watch Survivor after twenty seasons. There has always been something about this show that is fresh and groundbreaking. Just when you think you've seen it all, something else appears and catches you off guard. All-Star seasons, such as this one, play up that newness and unpredictability to a "t" even though all of the contestants here have played before. You never quite know what you're going to get on Survivor and this latest installment proves it. Last time, Courtney was sent home by the Villains. The sides are even now with five heroes on one side and five villains on the other. Which tribe will have to go to tribal council this week? Or is the merge finally coming into view? Will both tribes finally be combined into one? Let's get on with this review and find out.
The episode begins with the Heroes waking up at their beach. All five of them look tired and completely exhausted. They're all getting sick and tired of being around each other 24/7 and they hope that the merge comes soon to that they can see some fresh new faces in camp. Amanda and Rupert head off to pick up the tree mail for the day and they come across a big box with a note on it. The note says "Do not open this box until you have the key. Make room at your camp...company will be arriving soon." Amanda and Rupert both have a look of excitement on their faces because they both suspect that the merging of the two tribes is imminent. Meanwhile, the Villains also receive an interesting bit of information at their tree mail box. After Parvati and Danielle head off to check the mail, they both come back with a key and a map to the Heroes camp. The Villains cheer in excitement because they realize that the merge is finally here. Later, we skip to a scene where Russell and his alliance (Parvati, Danielle and Jerri) are sitting near the beach together talking in private. The four of them are deciding on what to tell J.T. about Parvati still being in the game (remember, the Heroes believe that there is an all female alliance on the Villains tribe. Also, J.T. gave Russell his idol and a note which told Russell to play the idol and use his vote to take out Parvati. Now Russell and his crew must make up a story to J.T. and the rest of the Heroes explaining why the Heroes' plan to take out Parvati did not go as expected.). Russell decides to come up with a story about how both Russell and Parvati both played immunity idols at the same time which resulted in them both being immune and voting Courtney out as a last resort. The extremely interesting thing about Russell's story is that he believes that he's making up the notion of Parvati having and using the idol in order to fool the Heroes. What Russell doesn't realize is that Parvati DOES have a real idol and hasn't told him about it yet (again, this is why I love Survivor. Layers upon layers of strategy. It just doesn't get any better than that. :-) ). Later, we hear Russell comment that he has the only real idol and that he's in control of the game. He's determined to pick off the remaining Heroes one by one. This scene goes back to a point that I made in my review for last week's Survivor episode. Russell thinks he's running the game, but Parvati is the one who is actually in control. She is calling the shots and making the plays while Russell only believes he's in charge. Parvati found a hidden idol last week and will keep it a secret from Russell until the time is right. This right here shows that Parvati is a fierce competitor who will use Russell for as long as she needs to until she's done with him. A lot of people underestimate Parvati because she appears to be a little girl, but she is by far one of the most hardcore gamers this show will ever see. As this episode continues, it will become apparent that Parvati is a top strategist who will do what it takes to stay alive in this game.
Later on, we see the Villains arrive at the Heroes camp with all of their gear and equipment. J.T. is pleased to see that Russell has survived the last tribal council, but he is puzzled as to why Parvati is still in the game. Either way, J.T. seems to be in a pretty happy mood for now. The Villains use their key to open up the Heroes box and they find some fruit along with ten new black buffs. The merge has finally arrived and everyone starts cheering. The Heroes and the Villains are no more. They are now all one tribe fighting individually to stay afloat in this game. As our ten merged contestants start digging in and eating the fruit that was in the box, we see that Parvati is off by herself and not interacting with anyone. Later, Danielle approaches Parvati and asks her what's wrong. Parvati says that she doesn't feel included in the new merged tribe. She then says that no one (especially the Heroes) will talk with her because of the enormous threat she poses. Danielle tries to make Parvati feel better by telling her that they (meaning the Villains) will get rid of the Heroes one by one. Parvati seems to feel a little better after this exchange. However, Parvati's hopes are dashed when her former alliance mate from the past, Amanda, tells her that the Heroes are gunning to get her out next. Parvati then tells Amanda that she has an immunity idol. Amanda gets excited and tells Parvati that she will try to get the Heroes to vote Sandra out at the next tribal council if she can. Parvati then asks Amanda if she will keep her informed as to what the Heroes will do voting wise before tribal council and Amanda promises to do so. But privately, Amanda says that aligning herself with Parvati is dangerous because she could win the game again and she wants to take her out as soon as possible because of this. The relationship between Amanda and Parvati is a very interesting one to analyze. Back on Survivor Fans vs. Favorites (2008), Amanda and Parvati were in the same alliance and got themselves all the way to the final two that season. Parvati then did the impossible by beating Amanda in the final jury vote and winning the game due to Parvati's excellent social skills. Amanda does not want a repeat of what happened a few years ago, so I can understand her desire to see Parvati leave the game. However, it does surprise me that Amanda seems to be against Parvati here since it seemed almost certain that these two would join forces after the merge. Either way, these two and how they relate to one another is something to keep an eye on. Parvati is in deep trouble here and the question is will her friend Amanda help bail her out or leave her high and dry? Either way, I'm looking forward to how these two will deal with this situation.
Meanwhile, Russell is buttering himself up to the Heroes by feeding them a rich and juicy supply of deception. J.T. and Rupert ask Russell about how Parvati was able to survive at the last Villain tribal council. Russell responds with his prepared lie about how both he and Parvati played their idols at the same time forcing the tribe to vote Courtney off and not them. Russell then tells both J.T. and Rupert that he is with them 100% and that he will help them vote Parvati off at the next tribal council. J.T. completely believes Russell's lie and he even goes so far as to say that Russell "is a good old country boy". Uuummm....not quite, J.T.. Off in the distance, Sandra pulls Rupert aside and tells him briefly that Russell is lying to him and the entire Heroes tribe. She mentions that there has never been a woman's alliance on the Villains tribe and that Russell is actually the one running the show. Rupert believes what Sandra has just told him and says in his confessional "This is where the game gets crazy". Truer words were never spoken, Rupert. lol. Afterwards, Rupert has a private conversation with the other Heroes in the forest and tries to convince them that they can't trust Russell. The others dismiss this and suspect that Sandra is the one trying to pull a fast one on them, not Russell. J.T. even mentions in his confessional that he has to do all the strategic play for Rupert because of how dumb he is, lol. You know, I can't blame J.T. for saying that. If Rupert came up to me and told me that Russell was the one in charge, I wouldn't believe it either because Rupert has never been known for being a great strategist. Granted, Rupert has done well in his past seasons, but that's mainly due to him being good at challenges and aligning himself with the right people. Strategy has never been his forte, so I would immediately doubt Rupert's suspicions if he approached me with them. However, this is the one time where Rupert's gut feeling is exactly right. His relationship with Sandra plays into this as well. Rupert and Sandra were alliance buddies back on their original season, so Rupert knows he can trust her. Sandra knows this as well and that's why she chose to tell him and no one else on the Heroes tribe. Sandra could very well destroy the Villains from the inside out and with Rupert's help, she could be successful at it. But this all depends on whether or not the other Heroes will believe Rupert's story. All I have to say is Rupert needs to step it up here. He needs to get his strategy skills down pat if he wants to get Russell out of the game. He definitely is not smart enough to do this by himself, but with Sandra on his side, there is the possibility that some damage could be done to our resident "hobbit on crack". We'll see.
Next up is the immunity challenge. Jeff asks Russell what the merged tribe name is and he responds by saying it's "Yin Yang" which is a combination of good and evil (very fitting name for this group, I might add). Jeff then goes on to say that tribal immunity is no more (because there's only one tribe now instead of two) and individual immunity is what the contestants will be fighting for from here on out. For this individual immunity challenge, all ten participants must hang on to a pole (one for each contestant) for as long as they can. As soon as someone falls off of the pole, that person will be eliminated. The last person to remain perched on their pole will win immunity and be safe from tribal council. This challenge was done previously in both Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Tocantins (again, another Tocantins challenge. The producers must love that season for some strange reason, lol) and now it will be performed for a third time. When the challenge begins, Colby and Sandra fall off of their poles almost immediately. As time goes on, other contestants begin to slip off. After an hour and thirty five minutes, Parvati and Danielle are the only two contestants left on their poles. The two of them begin to talk and come to an agreement that Parvati should step off and hand the victory to Danielle since Parvati already has an idol and is safe anyway. Parvati steps down and Danielle becomes the winner of the first post-merge individual immunity challenge. Jeff puts the immunity necklace around Danielle's neck making her safe from being voted off at the next tribal council. The other tribe members, however, are not safe and one of them will be going tonight. Who will it be?
Back at camp, discussion mounts as to who should be the next to leave the game. The Heroes are concerned with how quickly Parvati quit the immunity challenge when it was only her and Danielle left in that game. This leads the Heroes to suspect that Parvati has a hidden immunity idol since that would be the only reason why she would quit that challenge so easily. Also, Amanda has most likely told the Heroes at this point that Parvati told her that she has an idol. These two things lead the Heroes to suspect that Parvati has an idol and may play it at tonight's tribal council in order to save herself. But believing this means that Russell is lying to them about Parvati having played an idol at the previous tribal council. So to cover all of their bases, the Heroes come up with a complex plan. They decide that the Heroes will tell Russell (and Parvati) that they're voting off Parvati when in reality, they will vote off Jerri. This way, the Heroes can keep their numbers strong while at the same time test Russell's loyalty to see if he is truly with the Heroes or not. Also, Sandra will be safe too with this plan in the event that Sandra's story about Russell being the kingpin of the Villain tribe is true. By voting Jerri off, the Heroes can accomplish several things all at one time. It's a pretty good plan actually. Sandra wants to join the Heroes, but given how distrustful they are with her, she is stuck with Russell for now whether she likes it or not. Knowing that the Villain tribe is five strong and also knowing that Sandra is not in a position to betray the Villains, Russell decides to give his idol to Parvati in order to keep her safe and allow the Villains to vote off whichever Hero they want to later tonight. Parvati is ecstatic when Russell gives her his idol. Now Parvati has not one, but TWO idols in her possession. Russell doesn't know this however and if he did, he most likely would've never given her his immunity idol in the first place. Parvati is in a heavy duty power position with two idols now and she knows it. Later, Amanda and Parvati speak again in private. Parvati asks Amanda if the Heroes are still going to vote her out tonight. Amanda tells her yes and that she should play her idol to protect herself. Parvati then asks Amanda two more times if the Heroes are really going to vote her out. Amanda then becomes wishy washy and complains that her head hurts. From this exchange, Parvati immediately realizes that Amanda is lying to her. Parvati now knows that the Heroes are simply trying to flush out her idol by saying that they'll vote for her when in reality, their votes will be to oust someone else (Jerri). Parvati is quick on her feet though and pretends as if she believes what Amanda is telling her. Amanda thinks that she's pulled a fast one on her old buddy, but this is not the case. Amanda has never been a great strategist in all three of her seasons and this incident proves it. Parvati saw right through her and got to the truth immediately. Amanda's failure at deceiving Parvati may have serious repercussions at the upcoming tribal council. How will this all play out? Let's get to the vote and see what happens.
We get to the tribal council and things begin to heat up. Rupert complains about the Villains eating too much food at camp and Parvati tells Jeff that none of the Heroes at camp pay attention to her. Russell correctly says that even though they are a merged tribe now, the division between the Heroes and the Villains is still as strong as ever and each side will do whatever they can to take the other side out. After a little more discussion, we get to the vote. Before the votes are read, Jeff asks the tribe if there is anyone who would like to play a hidden immunity idol. Parvati immediately reaches into her bag and pulls out an idol. But instead of standing up and handing it to Jeff, she does the unthinkable and hands the idol to Sandra!!! Oh, but she's not done yet. Parvati has one more trick up her sleeve. You know that other idol that Parvati has? Well, guess what? She reaches into her bag and pulls it out. Now everyone is floored at the fact that Parvati had two idols in her possession. You can see the shock on everyone's face when that second idol came out of her bag. But Parvati does not plan on using this idol to save herself. Oh no. Instead, Parvati once again does the unthinkable and hands her second idol to......JERRI!!!!!!! I was stunned the moment this happened. I've never seen a play like this before on Survivor ever! As I was watching this live, I started cheering loudly because I knew how brilliant this play was. Parvati has covered all her bases here by making sure that a Hero will be leaving the game tonight. Parvati knows that the Heroes won't vote out Russell because they believe that he's aligned with them. She also knows that the Heroes can't vote out Danielle because she has individual immunity. And on top of all of this, Parvati also knows that the Heroes won't vote her out because Amanda failed at trying to convince Parvati that she was the target for tonight's vote. That means that the only two options that the Heroes have left to choose from are Sandra and Jerri. Rather than giving out only one idol and take a 50/50 chance of making the right choice, she cemented the Heroes doom by giving BOTH Sandra and Jerri idols meaning that no matter which way they go, their votes will not count and a Hero will leave the game. It's an utterly brilliant move on a lot of levels and this moment right here makes this episode one of my all time favorites. You just can't beat great strategic play like this. It's simply awesome!!!! Anyway, on with the tribal council. Sandra and Jerri give Jeff their idols, which means that both of them are safe tonight and any votes cast against them will not count. All of the Heroes cast their votes for Jerri and all of those votes do not count. Now it's the Villains turn to get rid of any Hero they want and they choose to take out........J.T.!!!!! The Villains cast all five of their votes for him and J.T. becomes the 11th person voted out of Survivor Heroes vs. Villains. He is also the third member of the jury. That's what you get for handing over your idol to the enemy, J.T.. Never trust a Villain. lol.
Overall, I believe that J.T. played a pretty good game. He was always the person that could make bold moves without making himself a target in the process. That's one of the appeals about him. He's so likable and has that next door neighbor look that anything he does is automatically forgiven. Early on this season, J.T. betrayed people right and left while still surviving every single Hero tribal council he went to. He had this similar strategy in his previous season and that's what helped get him the million last time around. This time, J.T. fell short because he gave an enemy (Russell) his hidden immunity idol. J.T. thought he could trust Russell to take out Parvati, but he had no idea that Russell was working with Parvati to take him out. A lot of people have criticized J.T. for handing his idol to Russell, but I completely understand why he did it. It's just as I said in my review last week, this move would have been genius and it would have given J.T. and the Heroes a MAJOR advantage had J.T. been correct. But he wasn't and he was sent packing. Did the tribe make the right call in voting J.T. out? I would say yes for the most part. The Villains needed to target the strongest member on the Heroes tribe if they wanted to have any chance of surviving here and I'm pretty sure that J.T. is that person. Rupert is pretty weak due to his broken toe and Colby just simply hasn't performed as well as he has in the past (although I wouldn't have blamed the Villains if they chose to boot Colby before J.T.. The big texan is a strong player too and it's better to get him out sooner than later). Amanda is a strong competitor too, but she's not the strongest. Candice is by far the weakest hero, so there's no point in voting her out first. J.T. had to be the first post-merge boot if the Villains want to have any chance of being successful and they followed through very well. J.T. will be missed, but he did a good job here and you can't blame him for trying to play the game to the fullest even if all of his assumptions were dead wrong. J.T. went out with class and I respect that a lot. Another Hero bites the dust, but this good old "country boy" will not be forgotten.
I've said it before and I will reiterate it one more time. I have to applaud Parvati for such a brilliant move in this episode. It truly was masterful and gutsy on a lot of levels. However, this move does have its downsides. Parvati is without an idol now and if Sandra flips over to the Heroes side, they'll have enough votes to take her out of the game. If Parvati leaves next week, then her power play in this episode will be all for nothing. As long as the Heroes don't regain control next episode, then Parvati should be safe for the long haul. But if Sandra flips, then Parvati's time could be coming to an end very quickly. This move will either be the best thing that ever happened to Parvati or her downfall. Which will it be? Well, we'll have to see as the second half of this game gets underway. But regardless of what happens in the future, this move will be very hard to top. Parvati has just proven to everyone why she is one of the best Survivor contestants to ever play this game. Period.
This ends my review of one of the all-time great Survivor episodes. I'm very much looking forward to next week. Till then.
Survivor usually tends to get predictable around this point in the game but if tonight's episode is any prediction towards the future of the show, we are in for one hell of a finale. The morning following Tribal Council, both tribes were wanting the merge as the Heroes just wanted something different while the Villains, well Russell, wanted to start playing with different people. With the first sign of Tree mail, all got their wish. As the Villains packed up their camp and headed towards their new … more
I'm a 29 year oldwhoenjoys reviewing certainreality tv shows and scifi programming. I also post reviews on other topics every now and then as well. I enjoy being here on Lunch and interacting with … more
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