Surviving Samoa, Episode 9: “Am I That Damn Good?”by David Bloomberg -- 11/13/2009
Last week, Erik’s world turned upside down when he went from wanting to eliminate Foa Foa to going along with a plan to oust Monica to suddenly being the target himself – all in the space of just a few minutes! This week, we’ve been promised that Russell could be in trouble and that there will be a plan that leads to a dramatic Tribal Council. Does this mean our villain is done for? Personally, I doubt it, but you never know. Let’s find out together!
It’s interesting – host Jeff Probst gives a lot of credit to Natalie for Erik’s ouster in his recap of events. I didn’t quite see it that way, but I wonder if this is foreshadowing of what’s to come…
Anyway, we return to the action at Aiga camp as the tribe is returning from Tribal Council. Russell tells us he had a strong feeling he would be the target and didn’t think twice about playing the idol. Now he’s really worried because he thinks he’s out next – he needs a miracle! Wait? Is that a whinny I hear in the background? Is a big white horse going to run up and save him? No, sorry, that was Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I. Never mind.
The women (except Shambo) discuss the events that just took place and Laura tells us playing the idol was the dumbest move he could have made. No, not playing the idol if you’re the target is the dumbest move you can make. She says things could not have happened any better – they got rid of Erik and exposed who will go next. “Russell is going to be gone next.”
OK, this will now be one of two types of episodes. Either we will be led in one direction only to have a surprise change at the end, or we will be led towards Russell’s ouster in such an obvious way that we can all just sit back and laugh. I don’t know which it is just yet.
The following day, Natalie finds a mouse or rat while out on a walk. She takes the big stick she’s holding and clubs it… then apologizes to the now-dead animal. She brings her prize back to camp for dinner. Jaison smiles as he tells us how shocked they all were when this Southern belle came back in her itty-bitty bikini with the dead rat, which Natalie says, “tastes like chicken.” Of course it does. Jaison continues that he is very proud of her.
Russell tells us he hopes a new immunity idol gets put into play, because if it does, he’s going to find it. Normally, I’d scoff at such a statement, but he’s already shown he can do it, so I’m not going to argue with him! Oh, wait, he thinks it’s in Galu’s camp and he’ll find it today. Um, nope – that one left with Erik. Sorry!
Treemail! It must have to do with Monty Python, because it begins, “And now for something completely different.” Plus, it says, “You’ll work together with a bunch of nuts.” Could be! Eh, probably not – the reward looks like a feast rather than a holy grail.
The tribe arrives at the challenge and Probst greets them. He explains the challenge: They will divide into two teams of five (one will be randomly excluded). On go, they will race, two at a time, into a field to collect a series of poles threaded with white and black coconuts. Once they’ve retrieved the poles, they will arrange them in six rows so the white coconuts form a four-digit number. Each team’s number is different, so no peeking! Once they find the number, a blindfolded player must then find the same number on a series of number wheels using only their sense of touch. First team to do so wins reward – a trip to a one-of-a-kind natural rock slide plus a picnic lunch.
The teams are Jaison, Laura, Brett, Russell, and Mick (yellow) vs. Shambo, Kelly, Dave, John, and Monica (purple). Natalie sits out. Ah, but wait – she gets to choose one team to support and shares the same fate as that team. At first glance, I would say yellow looks stronger, but then you have to consider that all three Foa Foa members playing are on that team, so they probably have no chance. Natalie picks the yellow team anyway.
And they’re off! Brett and Mick start off against John and Kelly. The latter are in the lead (of course, they’re both Galu!). Dave and Shambo head out vs. Russell and Jaison. The latter surprisingly take over the lead. Yellow keeps the lead as Mick and Brett go through the knots quickly and return, but John and Kelly essentially tie it up. Shambo then blows it by lagging far behind Dave in her return to the course.
Yellow starts working on figuring out the number. Purple is behind and not helped by Shambo continuing to klutz around, dropping one of the poles. But as both teams try to figure out their numbers, purple – led by Dave – figures out their number first: 4673. Dave yells it to Monica, who is their blindfolded number-feeler.
Yellow is still trying to figure it out. They have it – 7346. Laura starts feeling her way around the numbers. Monica thinks she has it and tries to verify, leading to an odd camera shot of her butt jiggling around (I’m not complaining, mind you, I just think it’s an odd camera angle). Nope, she’s wrong. But wait! She fixes it and gets it right. Purple wins reward! Of course they did – they’re all Galu.
Time for the Galu minus Laura and Brett to head to their reward. Down the rock waterslide they go (we know Mika from The Amazing Race never would do this!) and into a natural pool. John tells us how great and relaxing everything is as we see various players having fun. Monica tells us her family is from Puerto Rico and this reminds her of that.
Time for lunch! Fried chicken, sandwiches, donuts, fruit, and chocolate brownies are among the items on the menu. But wait, there’s more! They receive a clue saying they didn’t come for food, they came to compete. Then it gives them a clue:
The real prize is information,Yes, the clue used the incorrect “it’s” instead of the proper “its” – that’s not me making a mistake! Hey, Mark Burnett, if you want an editor, give me a call! Sheesh.
Dave suggests they share the info with all the former Galu members. They all seem to agree. John says he’s now feeling more comfortable with the idea of knocking off all the Foa Foans first (you’d better be, after you saw how quickly things turned against Erik yesterday!). Kelly wonders aloud who they should target first – Russell? Shambo says no and Kelly looks completely confused. Shambo admits he’s strategic, but adds, “He sucks at challenges.” Well, yeah, but you could say that about all the Foa Foans!
Kelly continues to look confused and tells us Russell is one of the most conniving players in the game (no, really?) and needs to go. Kelly and Monica reemphasize that the clue cannot be shared with anybody on Foa Foa, especially Russell. Kelly continues to look sideways at Shambo with a total air of mistrust. She voices over to us that if she had to pick anybody likely to flip to Foa Foa, it would definitely be Shambo. But even if she flips, they still have a majority anyway.
Back at Aiga camp, Russell says he doesn’t care about the reward, he’s here to win the game. So he’s going to find the hidden immunity idol, which we now know actually exists! Oh, and this time he isn’t going to tell anybody.
So he starts looking around, turning over rocks, looking up trees, you name it. He figures it has to be near some sort of landmark – treemail, water, or the bridge. And indeed he’s right! It’s under the bridge! No freaking way! He excitedly tells the camera that he just found the second hidden immunity idol without a clue. Un-freaking-believable. He says, “This might be worth one million dollars!” Well, at least now we know what kind of episode this is – it isn’t one where we watch and laugh along as Russell is about to be voted off.
We get several quotes from Russell: “Am I that damn good?” “This is just unprecedented.” “I missed fried chicken and brownies for the second hidden immunity idol. Sounds like a good exchange to me.”
The following day, with everybody back together at camp, Russell goes on a walk with Shambo and says he wants to share something with her – the idol. D’oh! What happened to not showing anybody?! He addresses that, telling us Foa Foa only has four people and they need help. He feels he can trust her more than anybody.
She cannot believe it and starts laughing before planting a kiss on his cheek. “You lucky bastard!” Shambo tells us she has been pretty much aligned with Foa Foa for a couple weeks. Um… so that’s why you voted for Jaison at Tribal Council? Anyway, she trusts Russell and he says he trusts her too. He tells her he wants to make sure it’s his name being written down by Galu this time and she says that plan is already in motion. Then the Foa Foans will vote Laura and she will be sent packing – if she wins immunity, then they’ll go against one of her posse, probably Kelly.
Time to find out just who will win immunity – and only one person will get it today. Probst welcomes them to the beach and describes the challenge: They will use a grappling hook to retrieve two bags, each containing a puzzle peg. The first three to do so move on to the second round, where they have to place one of the pegs (they look like pieces from the game Perfection) in the appropriate spot on a board. Each time they correctly place a peg, a new one drops down for them. First person to place all their pegs wins.
And they’re off! Shambo is the first to snag a bag, followed by Mick, Kelly, and Brett. Mick has his second bag and moves on. Natalie gets her first bag but loses it. Monica gets her hook stuck on the material dividing the lanes of each player. Jaison gets his first bag, as does Laura. Russell does too.
Shambo gets her second bag and moves on. Only one more can join them. Russell snags his bag, as does Laura. It’s a race to pull it in and Russell loses his at the last second. Laura moves on! I think I see where this is going.
Shambo, Mick, and Laura begin the second round by untying their bags and getting the pegs out. Probst explains that one peg will fit and one will not. Mick is the first to get his pegs out, followed by Shambo. She gets the first piece in and then the second before Mick gets his first and before Laura even has hers out of the bag! Mick gets his first and Laura starts working the board.
Shambo is rocking the board as Mick does likewise. Laura gets her first piece and then quickly her second and third. She is on the comeback trail! Boom, boom, boom – Laura makes up lost time and pulls ahead. There is now no doubt in my mind that Laura will win this challenge… and indeed she does!
As they are sent back to camp, Laura voices over that the Galu will clearly vote out the Foa Foans, starting with Russell. She thinks Natalie will join the Galu in that vote to show that she’s in with them, so “tonight, Russell’s going home.” Wanna bet?
Aiga returns from the challenge and Shambo tells us the challenge sucked because Laura won and they can’t vote her off. Plan B is to vote off Kelly because “Monica is no threat whatsoever.”
Russell continues to go against his plan by telling Jaison he found the new idol. He fills Jaison in on the plan. Jaison knows if Galu gets wind of the plan, they’ll change their vote to somebody else on Foa Foa, so they need to make sure it’s Russell. He tells Natalie and Mick about the idol and that they need to make sure all the attention is focused on him. Russell joins them and re-summarizes the plan.
Mick tells us how astounded he is at Russell finding the idol. But more importantly, they hope to put a dent in the condescending attitude the Galus have for the Foa Foans.
But wait! There is some intelligence coming from a very unlikely place – Monica! She wonders if they should plan for the possibility that one of them has another idol. Dave says, “We can’t worry about that,” but John says if he were on Foa Foa, he would assume there was another idol and would have looked for it. Dave insists Russell probably doesn’t even suspect it exists.
Dave says the votes need to be Russell and then Natalie, or vice versa. The women want Russell gone first (of course, because they think they may be able to bring Natalie to their side). Just as Dave mentions Natalie, Russell walks by on the beach and overhears her name. Uh oh. He talks to Jaison and now they’re confused. He tells us, “I don’t want to be the dumbass that gets voted out with the idol in his pocket. And I don’t want to be the dumbass that uses the idol again and nobody votes my name!”
Laura tells us Galu is tight, except they don’t trust Shambo. But they need to vote out the Foa Foans first.
Now it’s time for the big, dramatic Tribal Council! Aiga arrives and Erik walks in as the first juror, holding out his necklace in a way that only those who watched the Ponderosa video (or, even better, read Dirk’s recap of it) would understand – it’s to show he’s Galu all the way.
Probst begins his questioning with Dave, asking about the vote against Erik last time – was that a sign that old tribal lines are gone and this is now an individual game? Dave says no – the tribe was weakened from within by Erik’s presence, causing Erik to look angry and punch at the air (because he’s not allowed to say anything) and it was a strengthening of their tribal unity.
Kelly says there was an ugliness in the tribe, a snake causing trouble, and it all came back to Erik.
What is it like for Natalie at camp, as part of the minority in the majority’s campsite? She says the Galu are still trying to make them feel welcome and all one tribe. Probst interrupts and asks how they could possibly make her feel like they’re all one tribe and she says they’ve welcomed her into their shelter. Probst interrupts again, incredulously noting, “you’re not all still one!” She says that’s true, but they’re not being mean to them or anything like that. Probst seems to accept that answer.
What does it say to the Foa Foans that the Galu were willing to get rid of one of their own? Jaison says the Galu are very tight-lipped, so it’s hard to figure out if there is a crack. Maybe there’s another Erik who just hasn’t been exposed yet – he’s holding out hope.
What is the state of the game from Shambo’s perspective? She says it feels like the original Galu is pretty comfortable and Foa Foa is holding on. Mick says their only chance is that somebody on Galu will see past tribal lines and make a big move.
Does Russell spend most of the day observing the Galu and trying to figure out where there might be a crack? He says he did, but now they’re just hoping somebody comes to them and wants to make a move. “But they seem to be pretty tight.”
Monica says she thinks the Foa Foans see how tight the Galus are. If they want to try to find a crack, she respects that, but she doesn’t think they’re trying that hard.
How do the Galus figure out who goes next? Dave says you look at who is the most dangerous, with several criteria – physical ability, mental toughness, strategic acumen. They try to come to a consensus so all of them feel heard.
With that, it’s time to vote. We are treated to ominous drum-based background music (which is loud enough to take the foreground) as the players cast their votes, but we don’t see a single one of them.
Probst tallies the votes, but before he can read them, Russell once again stands up to play the immunity idol. Dave’s mouth just drops wide open. Ha! Monica looks at Dave like, “holy crap.” Erik celebrates in the jury box. Russell turns to the Galu and says, “I ain’t finished playin’ just yet.” Dave mouths, “Wow.”
Probst reads the votes:
Probst notes that since the merge there have been two Tribal Councils, two blindsides, and two hidden immunity idols played. Once again, the Foa Foans have survived the vote. The question is whether this vote changed the game or just delayed the inevitable. Oh, and now the hidden immunity idol will go back into the game once again – so you know Russell will be looking for it, as probably will just about everybody else!
In her final words, Kelly says she definitely wasn’t expecting to go home tonight. Everything was working out perfectly. She hopes Galu gets rid of Russell – how many immunity idols can there be?! He’s “just a little, sneaky man” and she knows he’s next to go. But she’s totally shocked.
I agree with Dave that this was a “wow” moment, but it wasn’t as dramatic a Tribal Council as it was played up to be (of course, such moments on reality TV rarely are as big a deal as the previews and ads suggest – it’s the nature of the beast). I mean, we barely got to know Kelly! So it’s not as big a shock as if, say, Laura or Dave or somebody like that left.
Plus, I don’t really understand Laura’s comment about Russell “stirred up a whole lot of hell.” The Galus still have a majority, because she doesn't know Shambo could be on the Foa Foa side (and Shambo wisely voted with the other Galus so as not to break her cover). If the idol is not found again, this vote would appear to have just, as Probst said, delayed the inevitable. We’ll see next week if that is indeed the case.
Speaking of next week, there is a showdown between Russell and Laura, as Russell does indeed go idol-hunting and tells us he’s ten times smarter than she could ever be. Others do indeed go looking as well, and everybody is keeping an eye on each other. It’s a scavenger hunt for all the marbles!
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