Pop Culture

Back-to-back blindsides in surprising ‘Survivor’

"Survivor" gave us two episodes in one and sent home a Hero and a Villain from the merged tribe in two back-to-back blindsides with a ton of strategy packed in-between.

First, instead of a reward challenge, the remaining players learned that they were playing for immunity. But they didn't care and/or still wanted a reward, so in less than a minute, two of them quit for cookies and milk. Soon, everyone had given up, tempted by food, leaving just Parvati and Rupert to battle for immunity.

The challenge involved holding their hands above their heads while standing on awkward perches. Moving would pull down a bucket of colored water that was chained to their hand. Parvati had played a version of this game in Micronesia and lasted six hours then. But this time, she only had to outlast Rupert, who slipped and fell.

But he may as well have won immunity. Although the Villains' alliance was targeting him, he managed to stay in the game by outplaying and out-thinking Russell.

At the challenge, host Jeff Probst read a clue to a hidden immunity idol so everyone could hear it. Sandra ended up finding it but she didn't tell anyone, and Rupert put a rock in his pocket to pretend he found it. That seems ridiculous but it worked, as Russell insisted that Rupert had the idol because "I know exactly how they look, and I know how exactly they look in a pocket."

That fake idol led Russell to convince his tribe to split their votes in case Rupert played the idol. But Colby figured out that was going to happen, and he and Rupert decided to vote with the threesome voting for Candice. It worked, and Candice — the Hero who flipped to the Villains' side last week to help them vote out Amanda — joined Amanda on the jury.

And that was just half the episode.

In the second half, the remaining seven played for immunity again, and this time, Russell won. Convinced that Rupert didn't have an idol, the Villain alliance planned to vote out Rupert, who was saved this time not by a rock in his pocket, but by drama.

Russell let his insecurity get the best of him and started freaking out that Parvati and Danielle — two members of his alliance — were too close to each other, and thus would leave Russell behind. So he told each of them that the other wanted to turn on her. Parvati immediately told Russell she'd confront Danielle, and that's when Russell freaked out because he realized his plan would crumble. So he threatened his own ally: "If you do that, you're out of this game. I promise you."

Despite the scary threats from the scary little man, Danielle and Parvati compared notes and realized Russell was playing them.

But Russell managed to rescue himself from his own stupidity.

He told Colby and Rupert to vote for Danielle. He also told Jerri to do the same and threatened her by saying if she didn't vote a certain way, she'd be out next.

At Tribal Council No. 2, all of this came out and Danielle started crying after confronting Russell about his lying, which he denied repeatedly. But then Danielle told Russell, "I'm closer to Parvati than you think," which really got the troll mad, so he rattled the bridge and whispered to Jerri to vote for Danielle.

Jerri did, as did Russell, sending Danielle to the jury.

After all that, we're left with one thing: Despite being dominant, the Villains' alliance is fracturing, and the two remaining Heroes — Colby and Rupert — seem to be able to sit back and watch it fall apart ... and maybe even join up with Russell. That's kind of amazing, considering that Rupert began this episode by trying to expose Russell: "You've already proven yourself to be a disgusting, terrible human being to swear on your kids' life," Rupert said. And Russell countered with a logical argument: "I don't give a f--- about you."

Since the preview shows Russell abandoning the Villains and forming a final-three alliance with Rupert and Colby, it looks like Russell may care about Rupert after all.

is a writer, TV critic and editor of reality blurred. Follow him on and .

TOP