Heroes become villains as James rips Stephenie, Rob falls ill but rallies his tribe

What a weird but good episode of Survivor Heroes vs. Villains: the shift of heroes becoming villains has already begun, Tom Westman stands up to a strangely belligerent and reputation-destroying James, and Boston Rob has a medical crisis that warrants bottled water from medical but recovers fast enough to single-handedly hold a massive wooden cube on his back.

Stephenie LaGrossa was the second Hero to be voted out, and the reason everyone decided to vote with the still isn’t quite clear, because all we heard was James berating her after the challenge, which the Heroes lost once again because they were disorganized when it came to putting together the puzzle. (Once again, we had a Survivor episode with a combined reward/immunity challenge, which is annoying.)

Back at camp, James said, “shut the fuck up and listen to the guy who’s done the challenge,” referring to their plan to let JT lead. “I ain’t never lost this much in my life,” James ranted, which led to Tom venting in his confessional interview, “I’d love to tell him what a winner is and what a loser is, and where he fits into that equation.”

Tom spoke up at Tribal, where James went on a spectacular rampage against Stephenie while everyone else sat by, turning her previous success against her by saying “she’s nullified her whole tribe” in Palau, when she outlasted everyone else. Colby first outed himself as her ally and defended her, and also told Probst that he was surprised at the “shift from that team menality to self-preservation [came] so early.” And then Tom said, “make it three,” and told James he was “bullying people.”

But they weren’t able to convince anyone to vote with them (for Amanda), so on her way out of Tribal, Stephenie told everyone, “Next time ya’ll lose a challenge, a little less cursing off your tribe might help.” She meant it as a dig against James because he used the term “ya’ll” to refer to her earlier, and James said, “Keep your mouth shut.” Tom Westman looked like he was going to get up and walk away, but he instead said, “Come on.”

All of this leaves some wreckage in its wake: James’ reputation seems tarnished, at least among viewers, and perhaps among his fellow Heroes. Colby and Tom are the minority alliance in the tribe, and will go next unless they figure something out soon (and that’s distressing, because I like both of them, and it’d suck to lose the non-Micronesia people so fast). The Villains may have a suckier camp, but they have the momentum–and now, a tarp. And although he declared, “I am king Russell from Samoa,” Russell is now officially not the focus of an episode of Survivor. Finally.

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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.