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'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains': It's good to be bad

98305_D03414 If I learned anything from Thursday night's episode of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains," it's that I'd rather live with a bunch of heroes, but I'd rather go into war with villains. It's no coincidence that JT and Cirie and Tom and Rupert have the better camp life. Everybody works hard, nobody complains and as a result there's a leak-free shelter and good spirits.

Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom... I mean the villains' camp, they have gone through five different shelter constructions, all of which leak. With the exception of Boston Rob (more on him later), nobody works hard and everybody whines and is self-involved. At one point, Jerri says they're going to "spiral down into a pit of negativity." Speak the truth, sister. I'd rather watch the complete series of "According to Jim" than live in the jungle with Coach and Randy and Tyson.

There's no question who I'd rather go into battle with, though. Once again, the villains kicked major butt in the immunity challenge for one simple reason: They have a very smart dictator and they're willing to take orders. This, my friends, is why the Army is not a democracy.

The first half of this episode was essentially the Boston Rob show. After complaining about how lazy his fellow villains are around camp, he walked out in a huff and then collapsed like a jungle diva. Once he was revived by the medical team, who pronounced in their sultry Australian accents that there was nothing wrong with him beyond a short-term flu, Rob gave us the clip that would surely be used at the Oscars if reality shows were eligible and he were a good actor: "I feel like ['Survivor' is] getting the best of me. And I love and respect it too much... to not play."

By the immunity challenge -- which was, without explanation, combined with the reward challenge -- Rob was back in good shape. The heroes took an early lead in the first half of the challenge, which involved pushing heavy boxes, for a simple reason: They all worked hard. And then the villains caught up and won the second half of the challenge, which involved solving a puzzle with those boxes. Why? Because Rob took control and they all followed his directions.

JT was allegedly in charge of the heroes, but due to some combination of his not being as smart as Rob and his team not following orders, they completely fell apart. Which should sound familiar, because that's almost exactly what happened last week when the heroes took an early lead in the physical part of the final challenge and then lost the puzzle-solving portion and thus immunity.

It's after they lost that things got really interesting. Or is that insane? Sweet, kind, modest James lost his cool, and possibly his mind, yelling at Stephenie and blaming her for their loss. We never saw any evidence that she in particular caused confusion in the challenge, but James became convinced that past was prologue for Stephenie because she was the sole survivor from the disastrous Ulong tribe on Palau. James seems to think she carries a curse, instead of being talented enough to claw her way out of disaster.

Of course, Rupert -- who's not nearly as nice this time around as on his last two seasons -- was complaining about Stephenie early on, so either she has been annoying people in ways we haven't seen or they see her as a threat. Her only allies, it turned out, were Tom and Colby, who were also on the outs among the Heroes. With Rupert, James, JT and Amanda allied on the other side, that left Cirie and Candice in the power position. And for whatever reason, they decided to go with the plurality.

Or maybe they just didn't want to irk James. The formerly even-tempered, musclebound gravedigger went ballistic in tribal council, once again blaming Stephenie for all the tribe's problems because of her evil gypsy's curse. And when she was voted out and, after keeping her mouth shut all episode, gave some sarcastic advice to her hapless former teammates, James couldn't even be gracious in victory: "Shut your mouth," he yelled as she walked away with her extinguished torch. Way to be classy.

"I had no idea it would shift from a team mentality to self-preservation this early," Colby commented aptly. But that's what you get with a bunch of experienced all-stars thinking 10 steps down the road, I suppose. I don't know about you guys, but I'm thinking I'd rather endure life with the villains and win than enjoy life with the heroes and participate in what's starting to be an epic implosion.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: James Clement and Candice Woodcock. Credit: Robert Voets/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Comments () | Archives (11)

Listen closely to the sound track and you will learn why James was so hard on Steph. I am sure she did not intend to-but you can hear her undermining JTs instructions prompting Rupert and James to speak up. You must listen closely as Jeff is narrating so unless you are close to your television speaker you miss the team dialogue.

The only part of the article I've read so far is the "jungle diva" comment, regarding Rob. Sad.

Now, I am the first to agree that the younger women of today are trying to turn men into females - and some have been successful with the whole 'metrosexual' revolution - and shame on them. But, I must stand in defense of Boston Rob - who I think is a total man, and some could learn a lesson from him. Rob's very smart, kind and a loving gentleman and the fact that he broke down only shows he's human. I find it sad when society tries to destroy those who show this side of themselves.

Back to the show - wow. Poor Rob. I really felt for him. I know he needed his wife more than ever at that point, and I'm sure her heart broke to see him suffer. Glad he's ok.

What happened to JAMES!!!??? OMG! What a Mr. Hyde! His demeanor seems to have completely changed since he first appeared on Survivor. Combine his anger with his brute strength - and you've got a recipe for disaster AND a woman beater. Scary. I can NEVER tolerate a man who verbally attacks a woman the way he did Stephanie. He targeted and bullied her even AFTER she was voted off, and he had to to have the last word. - what a wuss. The "spooky" crap he was spewing about how Stephanie outlasted her teammates was really ignorant. Uh, James - somebody has to be last - DUH, moron! I lost ALL respect for him last night.
Thankfully gentlemen Colby and Tom stood up to him to defend her. I like Stephanie the best out of all the females - she's a gutsy gal and I have nothing but respect for her. Even Probst looked at James with disgust as if to be thinking "what an a-hole". James needs to go.

Where does Rupert get off with his "good guy" persona of himself??? He is placed on the "heroes" team and suddenly he pictures himself wearing a white hat? Funny, cause I remember him stealing all the shoes belonging to opposite team in Pearl Islands, then excused his behavior by playing the part of a dastardly pirate . Wow. So far - he is useless needs to go home.

JT is great - he's a force to be reckoned with. People make their first mistake when they underestimate him. Smart and a physical threat.

Good to see the villains win again! Overall - the heroes seem to be imploding. Though James SHOULD be helping them to win - in reality he's the negative force he accused Stephanie to be. They should have kept her and cleared camp of his butt. What a downer he's become.

This one episode I HAVE to comment. James was seriously lost in a whirlwind of his own mind! Not being able to hold a proper conversation and respect a teammate is seriously doubting his ability to communicate and Shows how much substance there is to his character. In agreement with the writer, Stephenie was seen in previous seasons to work and cleverly maneuvere her way to be the last man standing which boils down to pure wits and strategy. It was indeed a pretty blunt and petulant reasoning and argument that James held up and boke into excessive grumbles which wasn't even related to the question Jeff posed. At it's best, I'm so proud and in admiration that steph held her cool and controlled her emotions when it was almost possible to visualize the fumes coming out of her ears with the inane sputes from James thrown directly at her. Loved the sarcasm at the end only once again with a rude comment from James tells us he is nothing more than an empty shell beneath that strong exterior.

Hmm, lets see, first of all Stephanie totally disregarded the whole "one voice" agreement that all team members agreed to at the beginning of the challenge. Good for James for having enough about him to say something. The reason Cirie and Candace went with voting out Stephanie?? Tom sealed the deal with the "make it 3 statement". I am sure that made them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Survivor, it's the ultimate game, outwit, outlast, outplay. It's the way I live life. Whatever it takes.

I didn't like the way James completely lost it on last night's episode and went on, and on, and on. Of course, editing probably played a part in making it seem he talked trash non-stop about Stephanie after the challenge. I have always found Stephanie annoying, so I didn't care whether she went or Amanda. But I didn't care for James screaming at her to "shut up!" after the challenge, or once again telling her to "shut your mouth!" when she was voted off. He can be voted off any time as far as I'm concerned.

Was Rob faking just a bit? I swear, I saw Jeff's lips quiver in humor at his bad acting! I don't care, because he's a villain who can back up his smack talk. Also, in the midst of the challenge, as they begin the second part of putting the blocks together, he orders his team to do something, and I think he bumps into or hits one of his female teammates. He turns to her, smiles and says "sorry." So he's a dictator with better manners than supposed hero James.

I got the same woman beater vibe from James too. That dude I dumb as a stump though. He is a grave digger for god's sake! He's like a muscular version of Bubba from Forrest Gump. Shrimp soup, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp gumbo..... LMAO

Whatever Mary Anne - I'm tired of hearing lame excuse for people's bad behavior. You listen to it - over and over again...play it backwards too - maybe there's a hidden message.


Hypothetically speaking - even if Stephanie WAS the cause of their loss - she still didn't deserve to be the focus of a witch hunt.

It matters not - James won't win anyways.

Well Eve, Stephenie wasn't a saint either. What did they say about people throwing stones from glass houses?

I love how everyone is bashing James now. I must admit hearing him say the same story over an over about how she was the last one left was annoying, but you have to understand where he's coming from. James is undisputed "Muscle" of the hero team, he was voted off with two idols in his pocket. James mind frame is "I must win!" he's played the nice guy card two times already an it didn't get him a million bucks, so why can't he get a lil nasty? Let's see how many of us would keep are cool if two times in a row we had a huge lead an to F it up in the end. I bet it really really hurts. i'm sure much more on survivor then in real world situations because of environment , an lack of food. An as far as survivor fight go it was mild. he didn't curse, didn't call her a bitch, didn't talk about her race or sex. He just preached how she needed to go! an someone had the nerve to say women beater...shame on u!

For everyone with a negative comment agains't James, I disagree with you.

He wasn't classy, but why must one be in a game of survivor?

Plain and simple, he got the job done by voting what may have been the greatest threat regardless if he lost it or not.

A SAINT??? Who is calling Stephanie a saint? None of them are.

I've watched every minute of Stephanie's games...to vote her off because she's a threat at this stage in the game is ridiculous. Even Colby realizes that. This mentality is EXACTLY how teams fail. The weakest link right now is Rupert and they're completely blind to it. HE couldn't even build a fire with FLINT!

Whatever Voodoo James is trippin' on is asinine. Yea, poor James he caused his own demise and now he's angry at the world. BooHoo. Everyone else can maintain their composer...is James 'special' now? MORE EXCUSES. Bla Bla Bla. Excuses are for losers.

I saw something in James that men will never understand. I'm done with this BS and conversation of him has taken more of my time then it deserves.


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