“I didn’t even see what happened. I was watching Treasure Island.” –Colby
“Jumping Ship” established its premise early: Led by Rupert, the Heroes would try to sway Sandra to their side; Russell would counter by trying to get Candice to come over to the dark side. The vote would almost solely be determined by their respective yet intertwined decisions. Both seemed receptive to the offers of the one-time opposition. Sandra still wanted Russell gone while Candice appeared persuaded by Russell’s not-quite promise to take her to the top three.
Things got more interesting after the Reward Challenge, which split the nine into three teams of three to play “Survivor Shuffle,” a form of shuffleboard. In relatively unsuspenseful fashion, Colby snuck within Russell’s puck on the game’s final turn to win it for the Blue team, which also included Danielle and Amanda. The prize had to be one of the most incongruous Survivor awards ever: a trip to author Robert Louis Stevenson’s house (now a museum) that would include a tour, a viewing of the theatrical version of Treasure Island, and a night in a bed. Danielle and Amanda instantly began thinking about the possibility of a hidden immunity idol, completely ignoring ALL the fascinating aspects of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, which housed original copies of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, AND Treasure Island! As someone who has marveled at the L. Ron Hubbard House in DC, I was really put off by their lack of interest.
As the three of them lounged on a single bed—one of the funniest images of the season was seeing Colby relaxing between two girls focused entirely on outsmarting the other not for his attention, but for a clue to the hidden idol—Danielle discovered a clue hidden in a basket of popcorn. She snuck the clue out and dropped it on the ground and under the bed next to her, seemingly without notice. Amanda, however, spotted her strange behavior and moved to the other side of the bed to see what was going on. She then found the clue under the bed and stole it, causing Danielle to throw a fit about how unsportsmanlike it was for Amanda to steal her clue and us to see the first indoor catfight in Survivor history. It was disappointing to say the least, with Danielle whining and Amanda (yet again) providing a poor defense for her behavior. At last, Danielle appealed to Colby, who first pleaded ignorance before determining that the clue belonged to Danielle. Amanda handed the clue back, and all was resolved.
All in all, it was a very strange sequence of events, starting with Amanda’s uncanny ability to notice when other people find the hidden idol or a clue to the hidden idol. This was the third time this season she had pulled that off. Second, it was an interesting debate about whether the clue really belonged to Danielle or not. Sure, she found it, but it’s not even like Amanda took it out of her pocket (or her ample bosom); she just took it from Danielle’s poor hiding place. It’s Survivor! The tagline is “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay”! Not “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay Unless That Entails ‘Stealing’ Something That Isn’t Really the Other Person’s Property”! Third, what was Colby thinking? He doesn’t even seem interested in playing anymore. How did he get this far? He actually just wanted to lie down and watch Treasure Island! And why did he rule against his own alliance? Why make a stand on Danielle’s side?
Further, this would have been a great opportunity for the three to try to form a secret alliance! They get together and decide they’re going to be the Final Three. This week and next, they vote according to plan with Rupert or Candice going home before pulling the immunity idol to save Colby/Amanda the following week (Danielle doesn’t even need to “turn” that week; she can vote with the other Villains for Colby or Amanda, telling them who they’re voting for, and then C/A can pull the idol and vote Russell off). At that point, it becomes three against three, and Jerri or Sandra could totally be flipped against Parvati. This obviously makes sense from Colby and Amanda’s perspective; it’s less clear for Danielle, who has as good a chance winning a final against Russell and Parvati as she does against Amanda and Colby. So, Amanda should have held the idol hostage and at least proposed a secret alliance.*
*Even if this doesn’t make the most sense for Danielle, you’re telling me this wouldn’t be worth it for the blindside of Russell in three weeks?
When they returned to camp, Danielle exaggerated how she got the idol back—claiming she wrestled it away from Amanda instead of whining to Colby like a kid to his mom—to Russell and Parvati. The three went to look for the idol, then, with Russell finding it while no one else was looking.* He pocketed the idol and kept it secret from his allies—no doubt as retribution for Parvati’s secret idol last week.** Russell showed it to Candice as proof of his trust in her, and she seems to buy in completely. He tells her he’ll take her to the Final Three, without of course providing any specifics. When alliance leaders make promises like this, how come the first question out of the promisee isn’t, “Okay, how?” Why didn’t Candice immediately ask, “Who’s the third? And what’s the order of elimination?” Put Russell in a corner and see how serious he is about this Final Three crap!
*Not even Amanda!
**At the same time, Parvati and Danielle had to know he had it, right? I mean, after he left the search and they couldn’t come up with it? They’re not that dumb.
The camera switched back to the other possible ship-jumper in Sandra, who was telling Colby everything that went down at the Villains’ tribe. In the process, Sandra made it very clear that she’s totally on the Heroes’ side; she recognized she’s definitely fifth in the Villains’ pecking order, and that she can’t be any worse on the Heroes’ hierarchy.
The Immunity Challenge brought back the old house of cards, which produced, in my opinion, the single most stunning immunity winner in Survivor history (three seasons ago, the final four was Sugar, Matty, Bob, and Suzie—with Suzie clearly on the outs. She had yet to contribute to any challenge all season before shockingly winning the most important immunity in the game and punching her ticket to the finals. Once there, she earned an even more improbable four votes, only losing by one to the most likable Survivor ever in Bob). Each player is given 150 tiles to build a “house of cards” ten feet tall. Unlike last time, the challenge doesn’t seem to last that long, as Jerri and Russell get their towers to eight feet fairly quickly without any collapses. At nine-and-a-half feet, Russell ran out of tiles, and Jerri was able to beat him by seconds. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise for Jerri to win; she is the Suzie of this season. It was the first immunity Jerri ever won in three different seasons, and afterward she proclaimed she was “swimming in yay!”
With the immunity going to a peripheral player, the decision came down to Sandra and Candice. Whereas Sandra’s flip to the Heroes seemed intelligent, Candice’s flirtation with the Villains was less justifiable. She would move from being in the top four of her alliance to being no better than fourth in the other, and with Sandra on board, she had the numbers. Of course, Candice has always been available to the highest bidder; she didn’t align herself with anyone early on the Heroes side, floating with JT between alliances. In “Jumping Ship,” she told Russell of Sandra’s flip and the Heroes’ plan to vote him out, which led Russell to confront Sandra about betraying him, which she denied. The Heroes then figured Russell would convince Danielle to give him the hidden idol (which he already had anyway), so they decided to vote for Parvati. But before committing to the Heroes’ side, Sandra sat down with Candice to figure out which side she was on. If Candice was flipping, Sandra didn’t want to flip for no reason.
Heading into Tribal, Colby told the entire Heroes’ tribe, “If this thing doesn’t work, it’s Candice’s fault.” At Tribal, when speaking about why and when a player should flip, Russell ran down the various strengths of his alliance’s constituents, leaving out Sandra. When pressed, he said, “Sandra, she’s just there with us.” (Vote of confidence!) After the vote, fearing his own safety, Russell did indeed play his hidden idol, while the first four votes split between Amanda and Parvati. Russell was worried he played the idol for the wrong person, but it turned out that BOTH Candice and Sandra voted for Amanda, allowing Jeff to extinguish her torch for the first time in her three seasons. Candice had bought fully in to Russell’s scheme, fulfilling JT’s early-season fears that she could never be trusted.* Goes to show you what UNC alums do, though, am I right? After Tribal, Parvati turned to Russell and told him he wasted his idol, finishing it off with a condescending roll of her eyes.**
*JT read some things so well in this game–just not Russell.
**During Tribal, I continued to be wildly amused by Courtney’s reaction shots. She’s easily the best juror ever. I can’t wait for her questions during the finals. My crush on Courtney is getting embarrassing at this point.
THIRD ESTATE: Colby, Rupert, Jerri, and Sandra
SECOND ESTATE: Candice and Russell
FIRST ESTATE: Parvati
THE KING: Danielle
We’ll start with the Third Estate, which houses the four people who face pretty long odds at making the Final Three (I don’t think I can say it’s “impossible” for anyone to make the finals, but it would be very surprising to see any of these three). Colby and Rupert are firmly on the short side of the numbers now (6-2), and a flip from Sandra seems unlikely with those odds. Jerri and Sandra’s best chance is to survive a Parvati-Russell collapse. Even then, it’s hard to see Sandra moving ahead of Jerri or even Candice.
Russell drops all the way down to the Second Estate with Candice because I fully expect to see a Parvati-Russell collapse very soon. It’s clear the two aren’t on the same page right now; they’re both alpha dogs, and they don’t like sharing leadership. Parvati has a better chance of surviving such a divorce because she’s closer with Danielle and Sandra than Russell, who only has his newly established connection with Candice.
That leaves Danielle at the top through no machinations of her own. When Russell and Parvati go down in flames, she’ll be left alone and seems the likeliest of the women to win a late-game immunity challenge. I still think she’s the favorite to claim the million.