Special mention goes out to Russell Hantz, who despite being eliminated completely from the game two full episodes ago, still managed to get a confessional in, during the "Previously on... Survivor" bit at the start. Naturally, his confessional was about: Russell Hantz. And we'd seen it before, but that's also true of 50% of his confessionals in Samoa.
But among active players, the only real standout here was our friendly (unless you're an Ometepe woman) Special Agent?, Phillip. Even Boston Rob largely kept his head down for the bulk of the episode, although that's probably because he's getting bored/starved at this point. But Phillip? Let's run through the qualifying criteria: Talking about himself in third person? Check. Giving himself multiple nicknames? Yup (the one in the title, also "The Specialist"). "There's something wrong with this game!" Absolutamente!
True, a lot of Phillip's screen time this episode was somewhat deserved: Natalie and Ashley really don't seem to do much of anything around camp, even after being asked/told to. And they did spend the entire previous episode making faces at Phillip, and talking about how much they (or at least Ashley) hate him. He earned his titular contribution.
But then came Agent Sheppard's enforcement of the no-clue zone with Rob and Grant. Phillip's initial interactions with the two after catching them seemed fairly underplayed. But the subsequent confessional? Either pure delusion or pure acting. Maybe a 50-50 mix of both. We're still not sold on Phillip's schtick being real, but if future explanations of his place in the game require interpretive dances representing future ass kicking, we're definitely for it.
We would like to take a moment here -- everyone bow your heads, please -- to give thanks. To us. While God was a big part of this episode, we have our own miracle to report: a five-episode streak of ICU! winners being given confessionals in the subsequent episode. We went out on a limb picking just-voted-out Krista last week, but she came through with more screen time than she'd had in the entire series preceding her boot: three confessionals, including a post-duel one!
Following Krista's own logic, this series of events was obviously God's will. It therefore follows that, since we called it ahead of time... we must be God. While we'll still happily accept Krista's check, or perhaps an autographed Bible, or at least some free pharmaceutical samples, we must now pause to consider this immense power we now appear to possess, unless logic has failed us somewhere. Which seems unlikely, since we are, after all, God.
Were we a vengeful God, we might give this week's ICU! to Russell Hantz, just to force him into next week's "Previously on... Survivor" segment, to wreak intense pain and suffering upon all of you mere mortals. Trust us, you had it coming. Luckily for you, however, we're merely vaguely pissy and/or cantankerous. Sure, we could wish a confessional on one of the many women routinely excluded from speaking on camera - Natalie (She's 19, you know! Although she did get valuable armpit hair-plucking time, and a discussion of her headache) or Sarita (who was the decoy boot the entire episode, which got her some silent face time for her dental problems, which was made up by cutting to shots of everyone else in the tribe as soon as she started speaking during her own sole confessional).
But we won't do that. Next week, America, you're getting a Ralph confessional. We may even take away the subtitles, just to toy with you. Unless there is no God. Have faith.
When it comes time to have a challenge, Zapatera normally has a race to the bench, with Sarita, David and Steve all fighting to ride the pine. As this week's ultimate victor (a Zapatera loss is really like a win here, because they got to get rid of Stephanie), Sarita is also the winner of this week's Sitty prize. She did a lot of sitting, not just during challenges, but also in camp. All while bravely nursing a self-inflicted gumshot wound. Truly a Herculean effort. Well done.
Jeff Probst has repeatedly lectured anyone who'll listen (as have Survivor's editors) that Zapatera was absolutely foolish to intentionally throw a challenge in the episode in which they booted Russell, because it gave Ometepe a chance to gain momentum. Never mind that Zapatera curb-stomped that momentum's head during the next episode, in which Ometepe had to attend tribal council to boot Kristina. To hear Probst tell it, that never happened, and it's been a long, inescapable, downward spiral for Zapatera ever since dear, sweet Russell was sent packing. Okay, we get it.
Since those of us who actually watch the show clearly have no head for strategy, we're forced to award this week's award for strategic brilliance to: David Murphy. In the last episode, David took offense at (1) Sarita not letting him do a puzzle, and (2) Sarita suggesting he freaks out under pressure. David responded by calmly voting out one of the two potential people who might join him in an anti-Sarita move, Krista. In this week's episode, David overtly burned his bridges with his former alliance-mate Sarita, from openly campaigning for her ouster in camp, to cross-examining her every statement at tribal council. Then, after strategically aiming every ball he shot in the immunity challenge at Grant, the Ometepe tribe's former NFL wide receiver, David led a brilliant charge at ousting Sarita, resulting in a 2-5 loss at tribal, and the elimination of his sole ally, Stephanie. Genius!
Sure, he didn't make any friends, nor did he slit any enemy throats, but clearly, David shouldn't just win this week's Slitty for strategic competence, he should also be considered for some sort of lifetime achievement award. Not only is he (as Probst says every time he mentions David) one of the smartest people they've had on the show, but one of the most brilliant strategists, ever.
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