Rob Mariano called tonight’s vote on Survivor Redemption Island the “biggest vote we’ve had so far.” But really, it was just another inevitable vote. Survivor has tried hard to make these episodes seem dramatic, but there’s been very little surprise for weeks and weeks.
A considerable amount of the episode’s first half was spent on Rob explaining why Ashley would be the next to go–she is the more strategic half of the Ashley/Natalie pair, and as Rob explained, “a couple is very powerful in this game. … If they trust and believe in each other, it’s a very powerful thing.”
But then Ashley won immunity, and that plan went out the door. But Rob had his plan B, Grant, because Rob is still the only person actually playing. Everyone else is letting Rob carry them until Rob votes them out, and it’s amazing how that keeps happening. He really does deserve to win at this point, if he can navigate any final threat to his rule.
Rob is making decisions based upon who is the biggest threat, and that made Grant the next most logical choice to send to Redemption Island. “Even though it does break my heart, bud, I have to vote your ass out tonight,” he said to Grant in a confessional interview, anticipating the time when Grant would be watching the show on TV. The most interesting part to me was that Probst didn’t read all the votes, so Grant could just attribute the backstab to Phillip, thus keeping Grant on Rob’s side, should he re-enter the game.
As to Phillip, Rob is carrying Phillip along because Phillip is reviled, and is really the Russell of this season, at least in terms of strategy, because he thinks he’s going to convince everyone to vote for him after he gets to the end, but instead he’s just a pawn to help someone else win. Phillip started another fight tonight with the women, arguing that they only need 1700 calories a day to survive, compared to the 3600 the men need, and then acting childish by jumping up in the shelter to annoy them. Rob said, “he’s pathetic. He’s crazy. Not the N-word crazy, just crazy.” But that is final two or final three gold for Rob, because he knows no one will vote for Phillip, even if Phillip pulls of his face and reveals himself to be Jesus.
At the duel–which is now a four-person challenge–Ralph finished a maze first, but struggled with the puzzle, and was sent to the jury. First, Andrea had a meltdown. At Redemption, Ralph made her sleep on the ground (“payback,” he said, for the way her tribe treated his) and faced with her new reality, Andrea cried before the duel, saying it was “shocking and humbling” to be voted out because she “really trusted people.” But as Ralph said, “Rob was using you like toilet paper. He wiped his ass with you.”
About the only variable left in the game is what will happen when someone does re-join the game. Assuming the four people left in the game just want to get rid of whoever comes back, the biggest threats are Mike and Matt, because they are dominating in duel challenges, and thus the could win individual immunity.
With eight people going into the two-hour finale on Sunday, the preview only said that three of the Redemption Island inhabitants would fall. My educated guess is that the first challenge of the finale will be the final duel, and that person will enter, making it a final five, typical of finale episodes. Then we’ll have two more challenges and Tribal Councils, leading to a final three.
The episode will be followed by the usual reunion, at which Jeff Probst has promised Phillip will present evidence that he actually is a secret agent, and during which we’ll find out where the show will go for its next season. Since Survivor’s season 23 location is very familiar to us, the big question is what they’ll call the new season, and if it will contain a twist or just another geographic description. Survivor Upolu, maybe?