Brett appears but Monica and Dave leave; Dave made Russell puke, says Shambo “clouded by fear, mental and emotional illness”

Two people went home in what essentially amounted to two back-to-back half-hour episodes of Survivor that had a hint of excitement but mostly just moved us toward the penultimate episode and the finale by dumping two former members of Galu.

Dave Ball went home thanks to Shambo’s vision-from-god vendetta toward him, and Monica was voted out next after trying to save herself with a pretty smart but Russell-angering move. That’s when the episode really started getting good, because she rattled Russell so much that he stood up at the start of the second Tribal and put on the hidden immunity idol necklace. How amazing would it have been for Russell to be voted out while sitting with the hidden immunity idol around his neck? Instead, Monica went home.

However, Russell is clearly well-known as the master strategist, and also known is his status as a multimillionaire, which prompted Monica to threaten him with contaminating the jury: “I’m voting based on need. Who needs the money,” she said. Still, despite the teasing, everyone stuck with Russell, and despite CBS’ best attempt to make the episode seem potentially exciting, Russell’s moves last night weren’t big at all, they were predictable.

There was one big surprise: The editors took off Brett’s invisibility cloak and let him speak. When he did, he pointed out what a threat Russell was, and in return, Russell pointed out what a threat Brett is. But Brett won immunity at the second reward challenge, saving him for at least one more week and causing him to basically disappear instantly once again. As I tweeted last night, the best inadvertent metaphor of the night came from Jeff Probst, who said, “Brett, gutter ball.”

Dave Ball went home simply because Shambo wanted him out, and she told us, “If Dave is not voted off tonight, I think Russ and I are going to be having a chat.”

I just asked Dave why Shambo had it out for him, and he said “I didn’t watch that episode” and “can’t comment on the whole vision thing.” But Dave said that, throughout the game, “I’m trying to be sincere with her almost exclusively, but she didn’t want to deal with it.” He added, “I was snapping at Laura and Kelly, people who I love, because I was working so hard at being nice at Shambo.”

But that didn’t work, Dave said, because “Shambo’s world is clouded by fear, mental and emotional illness, so she’s conflicted in myriad ways. My tack with her was to help bring clarity and help. It turns out that some people in the midst of mental and emotional illness and pain, they like it there and they want to stay there. They like their illusion. I represented a force of change with her that she didn’t welcome. She liked being mentally ill and sad and co-dependent.”

Dave calls his time on the show “an infinitely more rich experience than I could have imagined.” He says his initial game theory strategy “didn’t take into account the human factor, which is far more rich,” so he abandoned that.

As to the editing, Dave told me, “there were several funny moments” that got left out, and added, “if I make the camera guys laugh, I’m doing a good job.” He also said, “I wish they had shown Russell throw up” during the Schmergen Brawl challenge. “I hit him so hard, and then we cycled out of the pit and he was puking everywhere.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.