Survivor 22 – Redemption Island: The Red Headed Stepchild

I gotta admit, this episode was somewhat boring. Less boring than most episodes of the previous season, but still quite disappointing after the firework that the beginning of the season was (and I hope that it means that the second half will be intense too)

Redemption Island

I generally like the Redemption Island twist so far, especially the part where the “audience” can communicate with the duelists and the other team, but as Dalton Ross pointed out this week, it also takes out the most intense part of the viewing experience, the one that made Survivor such a interesting and popular show. The fact that when you’re voted out, that’s it, you’re done. With Redemption Island, a blindside, an idol SNAFU or similar events are not as intense, think of James Clement in China if he had been sent to Redemption Island, his blindside wouldn’t have been so memorable. Just one example among many (Boston Rob and Tyson in Heroes Vs Villains, comes to mind too).

– Krista Klumpp is gone: I think she was a more interesting person that what was shown. Does it matter? No. In two weeks we will have forgotten about her. Actually maybe even earlier than that, I had doubts about her name when typing it two lines ago.
– Matt Elrod lives another day: He’s on a roll. Right now, I see him re-entering the game if this happens soon (i.e. around merge time). Right now, unless a terrible stroke of bad luck, he should win everything. Redemption Arena feels like home, while the other contestant must feel impressed to arrive there, and those sorts of things. Now, I sorta worry about him once he’ll be back in the game. He’s been kept out of the loop for too long – sure each new contestant gives him some info, but they’re one-sided not always reliable info, and it will be hard for him to survive then. For example, he still hopes to get back with Ometepe, while his best bet would be on the contrary to align himself with Zapatera, things like that will hurt him. Sure he will most likely be a swing vote when he reenters the game, but he could also be voted out again as soon as the vote after.

Ometepe

Don’t you love a dysfunctional tribe? I do. Although this time around it’s not as interesting because it means Boston Rob has a free pass until the merge and maybe much longer.
– Andrea Boehlke: She is in a very strange position as everybody seems to like her in the tribe, but she’s also alone in that tribe. She’s friends with the other girls, but not allied to them. Same thing goes with Rob and Grant. And Phillip? Well, when your last resort is Phillip, it’s more or less synonym of doomed. I don’t know why she got paranoid about Matt at Redemption Arena? Did she really like him and did she get really jealous of Krista? Or was it just because this game makes people paranoid? Krista is out of the game for good, if there’s one person Andrea doesn’t need to worry about this is her. When and if Matt re-enters the game, they could both be a powerful item if they make big moves and play smart, so being paranoid about Matt is the last thing she should do right now. I still have this strange vibe about Andrea though (from the editing that is), on the one hand, she really seems like she’s next to go from Ometepe, but on the other hand, he really seems that she’s getting some sort of “underdog winner” edit. Time will tell.
– Ashley Underwood: Not only she’s useless, but she’s also an idiot. I thought Stephanie was the least likable person this season, I think I was wrong, it just could be Ashley. Her overall attitude about everything makes me want to slap her even more that I want to slap Stephanie at times. At least Stephanie has a personality, and a brain, Ashley seems devoid of both. Please somebody vote her out.
– Grant Mattos: He understand what’s going on around him much better than I first gave him credit for (see CBS’s “secret scenes” they’re always very informative), for example, even if agreed with Phillip when he had a fight with the girls, he knew that the best thing was to keep his mouth shut, useless fights always putting you down a few notches down the pecking order in your tribe (David and Sarita should take notes). Yet, he’s still delusional above the true nature of his relationship with Rob. Rob is not his friend and Rob is not on his side. Grant is just a shield and a vote for Rob, and he’d better realize it soon. I’m sure Rob’s final three plans don’t involve Grant.
On a side note, it’s not Ometepe that beat Zapatera in the challenge, it’s Grant alone. But when you used to catch balls for a living, you’re bound to singlehandedly kick the other team’s ass in a ball catching challenge. Usually, I always think that extremely physical guys like Grant are in trouble when comes the merge (although, less and less these days), this time around, it could help him. That won’t necessarily make him a target as Mike, Rob and maybe even Steve and Ralph to a certain extent, not mentioning Matt if he comes back, are on the same boat, but he could win just enough individual immunities to make it far enough to secure a spot in the final three. And if he makes it to the end, he could just win the whole thing. Ironically, his biggest obstacle is his biggest ally, aka Boston Rob.
– Natalie Tenerelli: Ok, she’s a kid. Maybe she’s sweet in real life. Here, she isn’t, and to top it all, she’s found the worst possible “role model”, “bad influence older friend” out there in Ashley. What makes them safe right now is that Rob needs them for the numbers, but when merge comes, that’s all they’ll be: numbers, until they’re not needed anymore. The problem is that they will also make terrible jury members who will base their votes on emotion or other random feeling that shouldn’t be a part of the final vote and way too often is when the jury is made of clueless people that ended up there somehow because they originally were part of the right alliance.
– Former Federal Agent Phillip Sheppard: I’m still not sure if he’s as crazy as he seems or if there’s a lot of pretend to be crazy in this (see his interaction with Probst at the beginning of the challenge). But can you act crazy and be sane for 15 days 24/7? Including in solo interviews?
Apart from that, he’s finally realizing that he’s not as allied to Rob and Grant as he thought. But is he in the situation where he can make a big move to change his position in the tribe? I don’t think so. All he can hope for is to make it to the merge, and then be the loose cannon that sends lots of wrenches into a lot of people’s plans. Still, he has no chance whatsoever to win this game.
– Boston Rob Mariano: Sure Rob plays a great game this season, maybe his best game ever. But he said it himself, they’re amateurs. He really has no competition at all. So sure he plays a great game, but who wouldn’t against beginners when it’s your fourth time around? That being said, if he maneuvers the first days of the merge properly, he is in a position to make it to the end, if he maneuvers properly. I could see Andrea and/or Phillip join Zapatera to vote him out as soon as the merge happens at this point.

Zapatera

I think this is the beginning of the end for Zapatera. They had three obvious votes (and even the third one was not as obvious), now what? If they lose another challenge, next tribal council could be brutal as they’ll be down in numbers and disunited. On the other hand, if they won it they could take the upper hand as I don’t see anybody from them betraying the group, at least not in the early stage of the merge (when it’s down to about 8 players on the other hand, some people will make big moves).
– David Murphy: He may have made a big mistake this week. Yes, he was right -to a certain extent – in wanting to keep Stephanie over Sarita. What he didn’t know was that Stephanie was ready to jump ship to Ometepe. Yet, I don’t understand why he voted for Sarita. Did he really think that everybody would vote against her too? In this case, that means he’s on the outs with his alliance, and that’s not good for him. Or did he know that Stephanie was a goner, but he threw his vote at Sarita as a warning to her: if you don’t change your behavior, you’re next? I think the latter, but we never know.
– Julie Wolfe: I like her more and more, and she seems to be in a better position everyday. A few weeks ago, she seemed to be the 6th member of the alliance, now it seems that she’s most likely part of the lead unit with Mike and Steve. However, is she strategic enough for the individual game when the merge comes? Not sure.
– Mike Chiesl: Not much about Mike this week. He’s in a safe position, nobody will come after him before the merge, losing the challenge against Grant may even play in his favor as he won’t seem as threatening to Ometepe. He seems friends with everybody at Zapatera. He seems safe to go far. I just have doubts on his strategic game too. If he’s lucky, if everything goes according to plan, he could just cruise to the end, but I’m not sure that he could react strategically enough to an unexpected turn of events. We’ll see.
– Ralph Kiser: Still not much of him this week. Is it because time was needed for drama elsewhere, or is it because he realized that he should be a little more under the radar after messing up big time against Russell the other day? Time will tell. I still see him being safe for a while, I don’t see anybody targeting him anytime soon (of course, some people in his tribe may spill the beans about his idol, and then Rob will want to flush it, but that’s a lot of “ifs”)
– Sarita White: I’m so disappointed in her (and another example on how the editing really characterizes the people as much as what they actually do and say out there). A few weeks ago she was the sweet, fun person everybody seemed to want to have around, last week she was the leader of the alliance (or at least seemed to be) and now she’s the drama queen princess who doesn’t “adapt” to living in the wild, who’s weak and who is at the bottom of her tribe… Confusing… But giving what people said today, I doubt she’ll last much longer.
– Stephanie Valencia sent to Redemption Island: I almost hated her less this week. I guess being alone made her a less bigger mouth. David tried to help her, she tried to sorta make amends, but she had made her bed long time ago, there was no coming back from that. I seriously doubt she’ll beat Matt in any challenge either.
– Steve Wright: I don’t think he plays the game that well. Yes it’s upsetting to have votes against you, but seriously, there was no reason to take it personally there. I don’t want to be mean to Steve, but I think he’s slowly realizing that he’s not a bad-ass former Raider lineman anymore but just an old guy. It must hurt for the ego. Will this influence his game? Maybe. Yet, I think that proves that he’s not strategic enough to not take things personally, and that will be a problem down the line.
Speculations for the merge: I think I’m sticking with my prediction from last week for the merge:

-Zapatera: Sarita, David, Mike, Steve, Ralph, Julie
-Ometepe: Rob, Grant, Natalie, Phillip
-Matt

Next person voted out: 
The preview didn’t really show us anything (some images may even be from past episodes), I wonder what that means. Will they actually merge next week? Or is there a twist coming (like a reshuffling of the tribes) ? One or two weeks before the merge, that would be odd, although if the merge happens with 10 people, that would be the moment to do it.

Ometepe: Andrea is still on the hot seat. I don’t know why Rob says that if they lose he’s in trouble. Unless Phillip outs him and Grant about the idol clues. Yet, I don’t see Ashley and Natalie having the backbones to go against him. Actually if Phillip does that, it could backfire against him and save Andrea.

-Zapatera: David or Sarita (depending on my interrogations about David above). I think Sarita will be out before David though.

What are your thought? Do you agree? Do not hesitate to comment.

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