Survivor’s Heroes keep lame James and keep being lame

In the space of one episode on Survivor Heroes vs. Villains, the Heroes have gone from an amazing blindside to yet another amazingly dumb decision. Between their stupidity at Tribal Council and their streak of losses, they’re starting to look like so many tribes to come before them, except as previous players, you’d think they’d suck less. But you’d be wrong.

They kept James around, despite the fact that he can barely walk and is an increasingly antagonistic bastard. (Does anyone still like him the way they liked him in China?) Instead, they voted out Tom Westman. Now, as a previous winner, a likable guy, and someone who isn’t a part of the dominant alliance, I get why they wouldn’t keep him around. But the choice was Tom, an able-bodied, capable person, or James, who can barely walk!, and they kept James, thereby ensuring that they’ll continue to suck at challenges even more.

The challenges tonight were a replay of Schmergen Brawl from last season; since this season was filmed in Samoa, too, they just left up the structure and returned to it. Its brutality as a challenge led to James’ knee injury, and to Rupert slamming Jerri Manthey’s face into a post for no discernible reason at all. (“Wow, stop!” Probst yelled, and Rupert said, “I did not mean to do that. You okay?” Jerri, who remarkably wasn’t even bleeding, said, “Whatever, dude, whatever.”) I’m sure that’ll make Rupert a hero to Jerri-haters, but her resilience impressed me and his action did not.

That challenge was for reward–a feast of chocolate by a swimming hole–and the single best moment in the episode was when Jeff Probst gave each tribe a sample of chocolate, and the Heroes refused it (whatever). Probst was baffled, and asked Colby why he was acting as if “this is annoying or somehow insulting,” and Colby cut Probst off and said, “Don’t need it. Let’s go.” Probst, having had his Emmy-winning hosting interrupted by someone who was famous in 2001, snapped, “I got the message, brother. We’ll go when I’m ready.” Ooh!

By the way, in Jeff Probst’s still impossibly pointless EW column (my analysis/tirade about it seems to have had no effect, unsurprisingly), he insists, “Don’t go reading too much into it. I was merely holding my ground as host, nothing more. I would have had the same response to anybody who attempted to tell me what to do.” I’m not sure who’d be reading more into it since last week people were accusing Probst of playing favorites with Colby.

In the immunity challenge, a blindfolded search for puzzle pieces, the Heroes again had a big lead–and blew it at the puzzle stage. James was able to participate because he could sit and call directions, but by the end he was so hoarse even I couldn’t hear his directions clearly. At least he did a good job of steering two teammates and their massive puzzle piece into Russell.

Meanwhile, at the Villains camp, Coach led everyone in “Dragon Slayer chi” (world, feel free to end right now) except Russell, who burrowed around in the dirt like a hobbit and, of course, found the fuckin’ immunity idol. Everyone assumes he has it, though, and Rob suggested they’ll vote for him. But Parvati, perhaps acting on the information she got before the game started, pointed out that Russell is “a great ally for me” and plotted to get rid of Rob.

Because Russell likes to take his idol out of his pants and show people–he even took it out and dangled it in front of us during an interview–he showed Coach, which, to give Russell credit, was a genius move, because as Coach said, “it’s almost impossible for me to betray that trust.” Coach was so moved he kneeled in front of Russell and took Russell’s idol into his mouth. Actually, he said, “I honor you for trusting me,” and wanted Russell to knight him. (You cannot make this shit up.) Of course, that made Russell’s idol rock-hard, and he said, “as the king that I am, I knight the Dragon Slayer.” Again, world, feel free to end now.

I appreciated that moment for what it was, but since Russell is doing the same shit he did all last season, I’m tired of it and want something new. Ditto for the game, which has the potential to get boring fast. Seasons with one tribe dominating are inevitably weak, and while I’ve given up hope that the Heroes will pull themselves together, perhaps we’ll get a merge or a twist soon. Or perhaps we’ll just sit and wait for the game to begin when the Villains go after each other.

We won’t find out for two weeks, when the show moves to Wednesday night, before returning to Thursdays April 1. Maybe in that time the Heroes will come to their senses. Or not.

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