April 13, 2011 at 10:34 PM ET
By Andy Dehnart, TODAY.com contributor
In one hour -- less than 45 minutes, really -- "Survivor" burned through content that would normally fill two episodes. That's because the old Ometepe tribe is picking off members of the Zapatera tribe one by one, and there was little drama or suspense about either vote at the two Tribal Councils. First Mike left, then David: two smart, strategic players, two obvious choices. There was no hope for them, despite David's voting strategy: He wrote Rob's name four times on the vote and added, "Please count this as four Robs." Host Jeff Probst, buzzkill, refused.
Despite having merged, the former Ometepe members are sticking together and staying loyal to their cult leader, Rob Mariano, who has fed them so much Kool-Aid they didn't even eat fish the other tribe members caught. Their alliance, as we learned from a hilarious Phillip speech at the second Tribal Council, is called "Stealth 'R' Us." It reminded me of the old Toys 'R' Us commercial song, which could describe this alliance: "I don't want to grow up / I don't want to play the game / I just want to follow Rob blindly and hand him $1 million."
David complained, "When nobody's willing to play the game, it's not a lot of fun." As a viewer, I share David's frustration because it's much more fun when things change up, but I completely understand the other tribe's desire to stick together. It's just smart: It gets you farther in the game without having to do anything.
I'm not sure how much of this is smart strategy and how much is actually Rob's influence, but the editors certainly had fun with Rob as mob boss. As he told viewers, "It's my game. I'm in charge." He explained that he was trying to maintain an "us versus them" mentality because "I want my group to hate Zapatera." Also smart, though it seems like a cult, as Zapatera members tried to point out.
While it seems difficult to penetrate such a tight, frictionless alliance, Mike and David did land on something when they searched briefly for an idol because they thought producers had moved the tribe's flag while they were away for a challenge. Rob noticed this from far away and sent his tribe running, and they got shovels and dug while Mike and David basically mocked them, because they'd already dug sufficiently to realize nothing was there.
This paranoia, combined with Rob's insistence that his tribe suck it up and not eat the dead fish Ralph caught, is easy to point out, and the only way Zapatera is going to crack that tribe is to take down their leader. Chipping away at his credibility would be a good place to start, and they seemed to miss two opportunities to do that. Julie tried a little at Tribal, following Ometepe's insistence that they're a big happy family. "Matt thought you guys were his family, too," she pointed out.
Keep reading at realityblurred.comto find out why there wasn't a duel, and what Probst has teased for next week.