Survivor twist just allows Ometepe to rapidly finish off Zapatera

For the second time in three episodes, Survivor had two Tribal Councils and sent two people to Redemption Island. Unlike the episode that condensed two episodes into one, this episode disguised the second Tribal Council as a twist.

Basically, it was a nice way for the Ometepe tribe’s alliance to finish off the Zapatera tribe, as they first voted off Ralf, and then Steve. They learned of this twist from a note concealed in a wrapped package, which caused a minor amount of paranoia but nothing really dramatic. Before the second vote, there was a quick immunity challenge at Tribal Council; they had to memorize a sequence of images, and Rob was able to recall the most and won.

At the end of the episode, Jeff Probst told the tribe that while it was good news the tribe had vanquished its enemy, there was “bad news: nowhere left to hide.” That is clearly what the second vote was about: fast-forwarding to finally force something interesting to happen, though of course even during this string of obvious votes, crazy stuff has happened.

Ralphe almost won immunity from the first vote, nearly beating Grant in a log rolling challenge that took place in the pee pool, of course. Grant also won a ridiculous reward: a massive cake to eat with his bare hands in two minutes.

He got to choose two people to join him, and Relph tried his best to partake in that reward, begging Grant to choose him by saying, “Man, I’d [hug/hump/something] your neck if you let me eat some of it. I’m not a gay person, but I don’t know what else to do.” Instead, Grant picked Rob and Andrea, who had chocolate smeared all over her face which the editors cut to precisely when we heard that her alliance might vote her out. But all she had to worry about was looking pretty on TV, because that was never going to happen.

Back at camp, Phillip uncovered his swim trunks, using a vision from his Indian grandfather who helped him find them. The editors had more fun with this, playing a heavenly chorus over footage of him digging up his shorts and saying, “Am I good or what, baby?” I’ll throw out the inevitable conspiracy theory: The producers told him where to dig. I kind of doubt that happened, but it is nearly miraculous that Phillip was able to find his pants.

After misquoting A Few Good Men (“Son, you can’t stand the truth!” “You can’t take the truth!”), Phillip came back to camp and declared, “It’s frutile!” He meant futile, but it’s only futile to try to understand him sometimes, like when he told us that he didn’t think Steve’s apology was “totally genuous.”

Meanwhile, at Redemption Island, Matt had his previewed breakdown, saying “I’m out here wasting away” but adding that God “wants me to be here,” then crying. The editors mocked him with a heavenly chorus soundtrack. At the actual challenge, he told Jeff, “I think I’m ready to go home.”

But God is good at shuffleboard, so Matt stuck around, as did Mike. Jeff Probst basically mocked Matt, too; when Matt was doing poorly at first, he said, “God is not talking to Matt,” and after the challenge, when Matt had won, Probst said, “Matt, are you frustrated with your God right now?”

With the addition of Steve and Rolph, Redemption Island now has four occupants, which essentially makes it a second tribe, although one that only exists to send one of its members back into the game. That’ll happen in the finale, which Jeff Probst has said will begin with eight people able to win the prize, presumably four on Redemption Island (one of whom will re-enter the game in those final days) and four left in the tribe. Two episodes to go before that happens, though.

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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.