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'Survivor' recap: Sense and sensibility

March 31, 2011 | 11:48 am

99483_DD13483 Those “Survivor” producers still know how to get you. I could go on about (as I sometimes do) about how obviously reality shows can be and are edited, but when they get it right, things seem presented as they happened. And last night’s episode of “Survivor” benefited from players taking no-holds-barred stands (over rice even) and a not-exactly-unexpected-yet-surprising turn of events.

It started with Zapatera right after the tribe returned from voting out Stephanie, and David decided he’s not going to play nice with Sarita and act like he didn’t just vote for her to leave. In the morning over on Redemption Island, we see Stephanie talking Matt’s ears off over peanut butter-covered snickerdoodle cookies and more. Maybe her strategy for knocking off the four-time RI duel victor is to annoy and tire him out?

Before the duel, Phillip tells his fellow Ometepe tribe members that he wants to see the duel, and Rob goes to act as chaperon. In addition, Ralph and David are Zapatera’s spectators for what turns out to be a memory game for the duel. Somehow, both Matt and Stephanie flip matching tiles over in the first round, and it’s an exciting duel before Matt wins yet again.

Before having to burn her buff, Stephanie tells Ralph she knows he doesn’t trust David, but he still would be much better off getting rid of Sarita before him. She also advised Rob to watch out for everyone left in the Zapatera tribe. Then Phillip went on some Bushido samurai tangent trying to compliment Matt, who could only laugh. Of course, the comedy didn't end there.

Phillip continued to be shown as a court jester throughout the hour. He foolishly asked Rob what they should and shouldn’t tell the others about the duel, which Rob used against him later, and then he had a fit over some crispy rice that the tribe deemed all for Rob. Granted, I’d find the situation incredibly irritating myself when everyone seems to like the crispy rice, and everyone else had some, but it’s yet another strike against Phillip here. But if anything, the scene should’ve been illuminating to the Ometepe tribe as to how much they’re kowtowing to Mr. Boston Rob.

Similarly, the Zapatera tribe members need to try a different path than the one they’ve held steadfast to since the beginning. It’s done them very little since throwing a challenge to get rid of their own “Survivor” veteran, yet now that they’re down to the core six they always wanted, they’re still going for loyalty and trust when they need to worry about winning a freakin’ challenge. It didn’t look that way before the challenge, as everyone complained about Dave annoying them. He’s the new outsider, and after returning from the duel, Ralph told everyone he thinks Dave would flip immediately in a merge.

Cut to the amazing challenge filled with tough obstacles and a thrilling finish. Like it’s been all season, the lead went back and forth. At once Ometepe trailed thanks to Phillip in the ropes and/or netting, then Sarita held Zapatera back with ... untying things? Screaming “help me!” is not a good look on “Survivor,” ma’am. Still, Ometepe won after West Hollywood's own Grant Mattos got the last of their six balls into a net, and along with immunity they got a picnic on top of an active volcano, likely the same one from the “Nicaragua” season.

The show was interrupted once again for the Boston Rob comedy hour, during which we continued to see him take shots at his fellow tribe members with regards to the hidden immunity idol clues. I mean, he already has it, so I guess either way he’d be sitting back laughing, whether he watched them look endlessly for nothing or, as was shown; he threw the clue into the volcano.

It was back to business as Zapatera headed to tribal. All signs pointed to more silly loyalty talk (guess no one told them the definition of “insanity”), even though some did debate keeping David for his strength. The prevote discussion at tribal even looked the same as last week, being that people seemed to think logically but not make logical decisions. But then, host Jeff Probst read the votes, and Sarita was sent to Redemption Island by a 3-2 vote.

Oh, Sarita? Your face is on the phone. Soccer practice is over, and you need to pick it up. Like David said, never get too confident, or else... crunch. Was poor Ralph as shocked as she was, or was he just sticking to his loyalty guns? Good episode, huh? I predict  next week’s show will be awesome and disappointing, in some way. What if Matt got all this way only to lose right before the merge when, as we saw in the promo, the last person standing on Redemption Island returns to the game?


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-- Anthony Williams / anthonyw_ent

Photos: David Murphy, an attorney from West Hollywood, as a member of the Zapatera tribe on "Survivor: Redemption Island." Credit: CBS