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'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains': Without Rob, the villains crumble

April 9, 2010 |  8:44 am

Other than losing both challenges, sniping, infighting and bad-mouthing each other at tribal council, how was this episode for you, villains?

Coach I don't recall ever seeing a tribe give up so utterly and completely as the villains did this episode. It wasn't in the midst of the immunity challenge or after losing a tight reward challenge. It was as soon as they got back from the last tribal council.

Coach and Jeri were immediately talking about how they regretted voting with Russell's alliance to get rid of Rob. For those who saw Russell play last season, it was a complete "duh" moment. But it also reflects that neither one of them have the guts to win "Survivor," a game in which having faith in your judgments and making bold moves is crucial. They were just too timid, we saw right away, to do what they knew was right.

It immediately became clear that most of the villains made the wrong move allying with Russell to get rid of Rob. Without the one person in their tribe who's an actual leader, they folded like a "Top Chef" contestant in a dessert challenge. Rob, for instance, would not have let a hungry Coach make the idiotic decision of sitting out Sandra and Courtney in the reward challenge, thus forcing them to play in the immunity challenge, just for the prospect of some pizza.

After the villains lost that reward, the game turned truly pathetic for them. Anyone who had just tuned in would have thought they had lost the immunity challenge as they got to talking about who should be voted out next. They weren't even considering the prospect that they could win immunity. Gee, do you think voting out Rob was a bad idea for all of you except Russell?

The only good news all episode for the villains is that while the heroes have become better competitors and a more tightly knit group, they're still not all that smart. Perhaps because they can't conceive of how devious and irrational Russell can be, the only answer they can come up with as to why Rob was voted out is that an all-female alliance has taken over the villains. They don't just think this is possible; they're sure of it. JT even whispered to Russell to hang on, indicating that he wants an alliance post-merge. I want to be generous to JT's judgment since he didn't see Russell like we all did last season, but wow, is that going to end up biting him in the butt.

Almost as stupid as JT's decision to go find the hidden immunity idol himself after the team all said they would search together. Sure enough, Amanda and Candice both find him with the idol, so he has to come clean. The end result is just like if the heroes had searched for the idol together, but now some people think JT is "dangerous," as Candice says.

In the short run, however, it's the villains whose stupidity has gotten the better of them. With Rob gone, they have only two players who even put in a real effort at the immunity challenge: Coach and Russell. The female villains are pretty pathetic, competitively speaking, and the heroes easily win.

Sandra, at least, is very smart. Though she admits she hates pretty much everyone in her tribe, she decides the person she really can't stand and wants to get rid of is Coach. Rather than lead a charge against him, she correctly surmises that Russell will take care of things if he's convinced Coach is planning to vote against him.

"Russell is the kind of person where if he thinks someone is gunning for him, he takes him out," she

Weirdly, this plan works -- and doesn't. After believing Sandra's false claim, Russell convinces three other people to also vote against Coach: Danielle, Courtney and Parvati. But then Russell changes his mind, thanks to an argument by Danielle, and ends up voting with the minority to get rid of Courtney.

Now, instead of being in control as he always brags he is, Russell has voted with the minority against somebody still around. Good thing for him that there are apparently some not-too-bright heroes eagerly awaiting the chance to adopt him.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Benjamin "Coach" Wade. Credit: Robert Voets/CBS Broadcasting