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'Survivor' recap: Amateur hour

March 10, 2011 | 11:31 am

99483_DD12163 Son of a biscuit-eating bulldog, that was some hour of television there, huh “Survivor” fans? Even if you haven’t been watching the show forever, just the mix of history and pure sport was awesome.

But, as always, the beginning. Matt is surprised to have Russell wake him up in his shelter at Redemption Island, although he knew he was coming sooner or later. As they lay there, Matt tells Russell he was one of his favorites to watch on the show.

“Blindsided by Rob, bunking with Russell,” Matt says out loud. To which Russell says, “That’s kind of cool.”

Don’t get it twisted, Russell’s scheming and hating all the while. In his confessional footage, he talks about beating everyone in his way and telling his tribe mates who arrive after he beats Matt to “sleep in the mud, fool.” One step at a time, sir.

Back on the island, Ometepe’s getting bothered by Phillip’s droopy, pink undies. Mostly because now there’s also Phillip drooping out of them, giving us lots of wonderful reaction shots of disgust and contempt from the others.

At Zapatera’s camp, Stephanie and Krista almost resemble Scar’s hyenas while wallowing in disgust at the “goobers” in their tribe, having lost their dear Russell. But Ralph is sitting on top of the world, and decides to tell everyone but Stephanie and Krista that he’s got a hidden immunity idol.

Different from last week, when the spectators at the RI duel were drawn from a bag, Ometepe’s Phillip and Kristina and Zapatera’s Ralph and Sarita volunteer/want to go and do. The others don’t know what they’re missing. Russell and Matt have to basically play dominoes and break a tile at the end (of course). Matt almost had it first, then Russell, but it’s rookie Matt that sends Russell home for good.

Russell has an emotional moment as Jeff Probst sums up the situation at hand, pulling his hat down over his eyes, but he’s back in fine form very quickly dissing his tribe on his way out. He calls himself a professional quarterback having to make every play with pee-wee coaches on his team. This baits Ralph’s ego. The farmer says they’ve done great, mentions Russell not showing them the clue to the hidden immunity idol and then says he’s already found the idol.

Yes, Ralph says he had a hidden immunity idol in front of members of the other tribe with which he soon hopes to merge. But that’s not all! Russell capitalizes on the moment and tells Ralph to show him the idol, and Ralph goes digging in his bag with everyone watching until Sarita’s whispers warning him not to finally hit him. Then he tries to call it all a big bluff, getting laughs from just about everyone.

Not to be shown up in the crazy arena, Phillip talks up his federal agent self and says Ralph is for sure lying. No duh, Sydney Bristow. Leave it to Russell to cause such a scene before his first early exit from the game, which he says he’ll never play again. Um, OK. Who believes that?

There was another 40 minutes after all that which were sort of the exact opposite of Russell failing -– Boston Rob succeeding. While Phillip and Kristina were at RI, Rob gets his tribe to take a beach day, all so he could lie about having bowel issues and run back to look for the hidden immunity idol for a bit. And whaddya know, he finds it.

Phillip tries to leverage he and Kristina’s RI-Russell info over Rob, but that goes nowhere. Over at Zapatera’s camp, nothing is held back in telling the “Russell’s gone” story, which leads to some awkwardness between Russell’s girls and the others.

I could go on and on about the product placement in the immunity and reward challenge, but then I wouldn’t have as much space to talk about the awesomeness of the challenge. It was tough. The tribes had to break open chests, dig, cut ropes, saw planks and more using Craftsman tools. Clap it up for the producers there, and for Zapatera winning another close one in the end. Ometepe should now know for sure that Zapatera lost last week on purpose, as the tribe pulled no punches in winning immunity and a barbecue basket.

So Ometepe’s headed back to tribal council, and Phillip’s unaware of just how much he’s annoying his tribe mates. Still, Rob tells everyone to vote out Kristina.

Kristina thought she’d sit back and let Phillip dig his own grave, but maybe if she’d been the first to tell Rob the truth about what happened at the Matt-Russell duel, she could’ve earned one of those second chances Probst was talking about before she was voted out.

What say you guys after that doozy of an episode? Are you elated to see Russell go or surprised you’re going to miss him? Come back later for my interview with the man himself.


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-- Anthony Williams

Photo: Russell, left, and Matt on Redemption Island. Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS