Friday, February 26, 2010

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, "That Girl Is Like a Virus": I have a dream

A review of last night's "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" coming up just as soon as I hide your machete...

Well, that was much more fun than last week, I thought.

Obviously, some of that came from watching the Heroes completely own the Villains at the sumo challenge from Palau. (This makes sense, of course, since the Heroes dramatically out-muscle and out-tough the Villains, and it was a completely solo contest; their downfall in previous challenges came whenever they had to think and/or work as a group.) Tom once again was the man, Colby got to beat Boston Rob after Rob took him to school in another wrestling-type challenge in All-Stars, people got muddy but no one got seriously injured, and a good time was had by all (on one side at least).

But what made the episode click was how much time we spent in each camp, and how much of that was spent on strategery rather than people yelling at each other. Ordinarily, episodes with only one challenge tend to fall flat, but the extra time saved this week gave us a lot of good stuff from both camps, including a very necessary extended stay at the Villains camp to see how alliances are forming and fracturing. (Since the first two episodes were dominated by the Heroes' bickering, some people like Randy had barely spoken at all, and some people like Tyson and Courtney have still barely done or said anything.) We got strategy, we got cattiness (Jerri and Parvati hating on each other, Jerri primarily because Parvati won the million bucks playing the game Jerri thought she was playing in Australia) and we got a touch of craziness (Coach quoting Martin Luther King on the way to Tribal).

I'm disappointed that Parvati seems to be taking her alliance with Russell seriously, since it was implied in the first episode that she was just playing along to calm his crazy ass down. But I did like that everyone at Tribal Council laughed off the missing machete, suggesting that Russell's latest "brilliant" scheme to destabilize things came for naught, even though he's wisely latched onto the most socially powerful person on his team.

And it's because Parvati is apparently so charming in person, and because she's friends with the leaders of the dominant alliance on the other team, that the Villains made a serious, serious error in not voting her out last night. Boston Rob should be smarter than that, especially given his talking head at the start of the show about the dangers of letting couples stay together. Still a lot of season left, but it's very easy to imagine a circumstance where the final six are Parvati, Russell, Danielle, Cirie, Amanda and one of the guys from their alliance. Opportunities to vote out power players don't come around that often, and it's not like Parvati is so great at challenges or at camp that they would have been weakening the tribe by sending her home.

This ep has me convinced to stick with the season a bit longer, but it's going to require some time-juggling issues, since it'll be up against both the NBC comedies and, for the next two weeks, an "American Idol" results show. So it may be one of those things I don't get to until much later in the day on Friday, or even on a weekend. We'll see how it goes.

What did everybody else think?

45 comments:

Hollywoodaholic said...

Perhaps the missing machete caused no waves, but Russell's threat to secretly steal Boston Rob's baseball cap should cause a total hissy fit. Worth staying tuned for.

Joe Reid said...

This episode really underlined the fact that the Heroes really have SO many more Big Strong Muscle Strong Strong guys. It makes sense, given the Heroes/Villains divide. Strong dudes have the luxury of playing the "hero" because everybody wants that guy on their team. The physically less strong have to resort to evil strategy.

Plus, Jeff Probst likes Big Strong Guys, and this season has shown that if Jeff has a crush on you (James) that makes you a hero (James).

Alan Sepinwall said...

Absolutely, Joe, though Boston Rob showed in All-Stars that you can simultaneously play a "hero" game (dominating in group and individual challenges) and a "villain" game (forging multiple, conflicting alliances, lying to people).

Dan said...

I think we're starting to see Russell get exposed now that he's up against an entire cast of large-personality, strategic players. He was able to strong-arm or hard-sell just about every single player in Samoa, but that type of game won't work with these players. And he can't possibly be lucky enough to find every single hidden immunity idol without a clue again (I'm still not convinced that he wasn't tipped off by the producers at least once or twice).

Besides, other than doing a couple of annoying things like hiding the machete, we haven't seen ANYthing from him this season. His "wreaking havoc" strategy seems to have been reduced to riding Parvati's coattails... and coincidentally isn't that the reason he trashed Natalie after she won in Samoa?

Mike said...

This episode to me really crystalizes that Parvati might be the best woman to ever play this game, if not for a few guys,(Brian, Richard, Todd and Tom) I'd say maybe the best anyone ever to play this game.
Every logical reason you could think of led to Parvati needing to go tonight... and she got exactly zero votes. I was in shock at how good she is at making the group make a terrible decision for everyone but her and Russell.
Connections with the other tribe that she would most definitely exploit to win the game? Check. Not a particularly strong physical player to help in challenges? Check. Already shown the ability to stab multiple people in the back in Micronesia? Check. Incredibly dangerous social player that everyone knew was an incredibly dangerous social player? Judging by the fact that she got 0 votes tonight after she was referred to as "the queen," a "virus," something Jerri "wants to bottle up for her real life" and multiple people acknowledging openly that everyone does what she says... Check.
My personal favorite was Coach confessing that anyone who falls for Parvati's charm has no brain cells left and then proceeding to fall for her charm 5 minutes later. She is definitely a master. There have been many people who have been better looking than Parv that have played the game, but no one can use it she can.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There have been many people who have been better looking than Parv that have played the game, but no one can use it she can.

And yet she tried and failed to use it in the Cook Islands, Mike. Now, obviously players can get better (Boston Rob was pretty lame in Marquesas, too), but it's also a matter of circumstance as anything else.

And I think that, just like with the Sugar vote in episode one, this became one of those things where people wanted to take out a threat and instead wimped out and went for the easy boot (a guy with no allies who's not useful in challenges) rather than make enemies in the first vote. And once it became clear that the majority was voting for Randy, even the Jerri and Coach types felt there was no point in making themselves outcasts by throwing a vote Parvati's way.

And Parvati would have gotten a vote had Randy not decided bizarrely to "send a message" with a Rob vote.

Parvati's an incredibly dangerous player, no doubt, and they're all idiots not to have gotten rid of her when there were both numbers and good arguments to do so. But I don't know that there was magic involved so much as too many people like Sandra who didn't want to rock the boat this early.

Sonia said...

It's funny...for a couple of the matches in the immunity challenge, I looke dat my daughter and said "so and so from the Villains is gonna kill so and so from the Heroes". I was convinced Boston Rob would win (I remember what he did to Colby in All Stars)...he's a smart scrappy guy (hate him, but he's good TV). I thought Tyson would have given JT more trouble (loved that he kissed him...LOL...OMG, that was so funny). I even thought Russell would have beaten Tom -- he has a much lower center of gravity after all. I just didn't think it was a foregone conclusion that the Heroes would SO dominate that challenge.

And I have a question...why did they play all 8 matches, once the Heores won 5, wouldn't they just stop?

Robin said...

A few things:

I'm fascinated that Sandra continues to openly play her game of "I'll go along with whatever you want" successfully. You almost never want that type of player in an alliance, as their loyalty is nill.

I am continuing to notice James' inane (insane?) outbursts. I understand getting hyped up at the challenge, but was the aftermath really necessary?

I'm really interested to see how Rob reacts next week to his name being put down.

Sonia said...

It's funny...for a couple of the matches in the immunity challenge, I looke dat my daughter and said "so and so from the Villains is gonna kill so and so from the Heroes". I was convinced Boston Rob would win (I remember what he did to Colby in All Stars)...he's a smart scrappy guy (hate him, but he's good TV). I thought Tyson would have given JT more trouble (loved that he kissed him...LOL...OMG, that was so funny). I even thought Russell would have beaten Tom -- he has a much lower center of gravity after all. I just didn't think it was a foregone conclusion that the Heroes would SO dominate that challenge.

And I have a question...why did they play all 8 matches, once the Heores won 5, wouldn't they just stop?

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

"And I have a question...why did they play all 8 matches, once the Heores won 5, wouldn't they just stop?"

Because it was the first team to 8 points. The Heroes threw a shutout. You could have conceivably had a total of 17 rounds.

Sonia said...

Ah...thx Michelangelo -- I must have missed that part.

Mr Whirly said...

Russell wants to play "Hide the Machete" with Parvati.

Mike said...

Fair point about Cook Islands, but that whole situation was a bit bizarre, I mean never has a tribe had people mutiny on them, so the bond established by that was pretty unbreakable, and if it wasn't for Yul(who was a pretty great player in his own right) making sure to interject himself in the hot tub scene to keep Ozzy from turning, he might have actually turned. In addition, let's not forget the bottle twist which was pretty ridiculous, and in my opinion, an effort to make sure not to end up with a final three of all white people in the diversity season, which might have been awkward for CBS.
I'm not trying to be an apologist, she certainly wasn't as good then as she is now, and circumstances conspired in her favor in Micronesia rather than against her in Cook Islands, so really it evens out. This season is kind of the tiebreaker to see how good she really is, but if she does make it to the end having a target on her back from day one like she does, it will be pretty impressive, and I think she might. This episode definitely had a "we should have gotten her when we got the chance" feel to it. You're probably right that they figured they could procrastinate on making the decision for now with Randy being a pretty reasonable vote to not rock the boat, but it still just seems crazy not to vote her out there when she gets more and more dangerous as the game goes on whereas Randy is no threat to anyone. Rob not trying to get her out is what surprises me the most, because there is no question in my mind that Season 8 Rob would have immediately recognized the threat and got her out. I guess he figures he still has Sandra, Coach, Jerri, Courtney on his side so he can get her later, but he better not wait to long if he wants to win this one.

Ernst said...

Plus, Jeff Probst likes Big Strong Guys, and this season has shown that if Jeff has a crush on you (James) that makes you a hero (James).

That may be true to some degree, but has anyone read Jeff's blog over at EW.com? He's not blind to James' "roid rage" and has expressed negative feelings regarding James and his behavior this seaon. He may like the strong ones, but not when they are total idiots.

Robin said...

@Ernst. True. He likes the big, strong guys to act like Colby or Tom --he seems to really buy into the "hero" mystique. But when they fail to meet that expectation (see: Osten), he gets REALLY bitter about it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mike, also keep in mind that in Micronesia, Parvati had several strokes of good fortune, most notably that Jonathan got med-evac'ed when he was in a position to team with Eliza and the remaining Fans in a strong alliance that would have given her the boot. And on top of that, the Fans were all complete imbeciles, so she didn't have to work very hard to get rid of them. And she went to the finals against the worst jury performer in the history of the show.

Adam said...

Russell best not mess with Rob's hat. This was a phenomenal episode.

Re All Stars, Alan, only Colby and Ethan were demonstrably better physical threats than Rob, and neither made it to the merge. Rob had a starting tribe with himself, Amber, Rob C, Big Tom, Sue and Alicia, so they needed him to be the physical guy in the challenges.

Adi said...

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I thought that was a pretty weak episode. The focus on the villains camp all episode was a dead give-away that they were going to Tribal Council, and it was painfully obvious that the editing switched up the timing of Russell's machete hide. Didn't you notice how, when it was brought up at Tribal Council, that people said it had been missing for only that day? In that one swoop the show destroyed its own continuity. In general, I felt like this episode was all over the place, not fully fleshing out any of the many storylines it jumped among.

andythesaint said...

Parvarti is the bigger threat to win the game, but it's still early, and thus a time to try to keep the tribe strong. As spelled out in the episode, Randy's absence in challenges may force the Heroes tribe to sit one of their guys in challenges that are designed to be guy vs guy (or at the very least, let the Villains double up faster with a guy like Rob or Tyson). Whereas keeping Randy will always lead to situations where he's competing against someone far stronger than he (as is every man on the Heroes tribe). Parvarti might not be a big asset in challenges, but she can hold her own against Amanda or Candace (and outpace Cirie in anything involving athleticism/speed/swimming).

Given the disparity in strength between the two tribes (tribes are usually constructed in a way in which demonstrable strength is split up, except in the two gender-split seasons, where challenges weren't constructed around strength. But since in Probst's mind strong = hero, the imbalance is significant), you have to figure that the Villains will make another Tribal before a merge, but maybe without Randy, they'll be able to stave it off a bit longer. The big danger is if there's a tribal switch before a merge. Although, given that they haven't even given each tribe a name, I'm not sure they'll be doing that this season, given that it would mean the potential of guys like Tom and Colby being called Heroes, or Parvarti and Russell being called Villains (also, they haven't done a mix-up since Micronesia).

So while Parvarti definitely needs to go, there were gameplay reasons to get rid of Randy. As for Randy himself, he needed to do more to pledge his allegiance to someone in the tribe. Because he was still playing for himself, even when he was clearly on the outs, he was too much of unknown variable. He needed to latch on to one of the power players (like Rob) and pledge loyalty. From what we saw, he did nothing, making him a complete non-asset (both physically, competitively, around camp, and strategically).

Mike said...

Mike, also keep in mind that in Micronesia, Parvati had several strokes of good fortune, most notably that Jonathan got med-evac'ed when he was in a position to team with Eliza and the remaining Fans in a strong alliance that would have given her the boot. And on top of that, the Fans were all complete imbeciles, so she didn't have to work very hard to get rid of them. And she went to the finals against the worst jury performer in the history of the show.

You're absolutely right, and I said that in my last post actually. My point was that she got unlucky in Cooks and lucky in Micronesia, so this season is kind of the tiebreaker. Also, it's not entirely fair to call them ALL imbeciles, Natalie Bolton did pretty well, and her manipulative talents are the reason most of the blindsides worked. Plus who can forget her delightfully evil confessionals.

srpad said...

Alan,

You had linked to an article last season that basically outlined how lame a player Russell actually is and since reading that, it completely shattered my perception of him (insert glass breaking sound a la HIMYM here). His scheming seems less Mastermind and more floundering to me now. And he seems to totally have a crush on Jaws...er I mean Parvati.

Kirchhoff said...

I love Cranky Randy. Probably because of all the people who have played Survivor, his personality is closest to my own. Sad to see him go so early, if only for comedy relief, the guy has a zero chance of ever winning.

Parvati's charms must not translate on camera. I just ... don't get it.

The biggest shocker for me this season is that Coach is growing on me. The guy is a doofus, as he made crystal clear in his first season, but the second time around I actually find myself rooting for the guy. When he drops the Dragonslayer bullshit, he seems like a pretty likeable and canny fellow. I loved the scene where Rob teased Coach as he was telling his silly story, and Coach took it right in stride and kept on going. And he has Parvati's number.

Hopefully, it's time once and for all for Cirie to win this thing. The only weakness in her game is not being able to win the final challenge, because her opponents always know if she ever made it to the final 2/3 she would dominate the final TC.

srpad said...

The post above me reminded me how I wanted to add how much of a joke Coach is. You have to love how he insists Parvati's charms have absolutely no effect on him as he proceeds to describe those charms in excruciatingly perv-y detail.

I love how the creators seem to be in on the joke that is Coach (see the musical cue on him from this episode) and it is amusing that he seems to hate Propst as much as Jeff hates him.

Anonymous said...

James slamming his bag in Randy's face after the challenge was way over the line. I was surprised Jeff let that go. James is one of the dumbest players ever and has no business being on the Heroes team.

bgt said...

I can't get to YouTube right now to find the link, but there was an "insider" video posted last night that showed that the Villains all believed Randy was responsible for the machete. Someone even confronted Randy over it and he said he wouldn't dignify that accusation with a response.

The best part was terrible actor Russel sitting there with his not-so-sly grin while the group talked about the missing machete. The consensus seemed to be that Randy threw it in the ocean b/c he knew he was going.

Anonymous said...

I would be shocked and disappointed if Boston Rob let Russell pull one over on him. Though I was shocked Rob didn't get Parvati voted out last night. They could have used the guy they voted out last night as an extra vote. Now, the votes may be harder to come by.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Russell did blame the missing machete on Randy. Interesting we didn't see that on the show? Not really since that it implied a sure thing boot - Randy. Survivor editing is always all about what we don't see.

It appeared to be either Randy or Parv but it really wasn't. It was never Parvati. But how much fun is it for the audience if the obvious is, well, obvious? The Parv-Russell pre-show alliance is solid and now includes Danielle. Is does not include Jerri, LOL. It does include Courtney-Sandra-Boston Rob, for now.

If Villians return to TC soon, look for Jerri, Coach or Tyson on the outside.

Ernst said...

A couple things.

First of all, if you got voted off during your season with an immunity idol in your pocket, I do not think you deserve to be invited back for an "all-star" season.

Second, the last time they did an all-star season there seemed to be an emphasis on getting rid of those who had previously won the million dollars first. This time around, no one has mentioned it once, and there are several previous season winners who aren't even on the radar right now!

amysusanne said...

Not sure why Randy got shunned by the other tribe (other than just because he's so unpleasant and on the outside), but it seemed like a nice bit of karma based on the way he treated Sugar, Crystal, Kenny, etc., especially when it came to his treatment of the latter two at Ponderosa. He never really let that game end. I was disappointed with the Villians for not sending Parvati home because it was really the right thing to do, but I was still glad to see Randy go over her.

And Colby's starting to look a lot like Dane Cook. Maybe that's why I've grown to dislike him.

Sandra said...

Ernst, actually JT mentioned to Tom that since both are winners, they are targets, so it has been mentioned. Although maybe not by anyone targeting them!

I clearly got a "winner's edit" vibe for Parvati last night. Either that or she's one of the next boots!

Tim said...

Can we mention Coach's ludicrous MLK quote about how he was gonna defend Randy? That's already one of my favorite Survivor quotes of all-time.

http://npinopunintended.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/survivor-survival-guide-that-girl-is-like-a-virus/

KB said...

The villains kept Parvati because they tend see the game in terms of opportunities. Parvati, while certainly a major threat, also represents a tremendous opportunity due to her connections on the Hero tribe. Make an alliance with her and you may gain several more allies after the merge. Thats a dangerous strategy, but there will be no easy paths to the end this season. Its big risk / big reward move and I'm not surprised that Boston Rob and others are willing to take the gamble.

I'm curious about all the Candace/Cirie/JT stuff we saw last night. Thats got to be leading somewhere. I hope it blows up in JT's face. Winning seems to have turned him into a jerk. He's not the nice guy we got to know in Brazil.

Robin said...

I think my favorite moment of the entire episode was Jerri's line at TC: "No, I've been in the worst shelter in the history of Survivor, and this isn't it." Hah! Who knew I'd ever like Jerri?

word verification: exprusf. Is this what Coach does: exprusf's himself?

Pei said...

I thought Rob's insight on watching who sleeps with whom to know what's really going on was genious. Maybe that's come up before, but new to me.

I also don't get Parvati's charm...she has a tramp stamp, afterall (might as well be a target).

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think my favorite moment of the entire episode was Jerri's line at TC: "No, I've been in the worst shelter in the history of Survivor, and this isn't it." Hah!

That was a very nice moment, and yet another reminder that Rupert has had plenty of non-Heroic moments in the past.

amysusanne said...

I'm not sure I really see that JT's that much different from last time. This time he just doesn't have Stephen with him and his one true partner. Everything else seems right on the money. He lied a lot last time, planting seeds of doubt in people, and he double crossed people last time. I was amused that after tribal he went to Tom the same way he often went to Coach and immediately smoothed things over. Tom isn't as stupid as Coach is, of course, but by the time of his talking head he was pretty much on board Team JT. I suspect that JT will make merge and then be cut pretty early by the Parvatis and Robs, but I'm hoping that's not the case.

tribalism said...

Once again we got to see Russell act super defencively when people approach him with anything but sycophantic platitudes. He didn’t address what Coach and Rob were saying about his close ties to Parvati—he simply attacked those players on a personal level in his confessional. The way he behaved last season (alienating a lot of people with his arrogant behaviour as he made his way to the Final Three) tells me that he does not possess a lot of self-realization when it comes to how people perceive him. This stands in pretty stark contrast to alliance-mate Parvati. Maybe they will balance each other out, but I think both of them are on everyone’s radar and I can’t see those two making it into the merge. Hey, Russ, how did sock-burning and canteen-dumping work out for you last season? Little-to-no impact on your tribe? At least this time, burying the machete gave people the giggles at Tribal Council. Russell is at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the others. He would have left to film the Heroes vs. Villains season while Samoa was still airing on television. He didn’t have the benefit of watching all of his moves—and fellow contestants’ reactions to his behaviour—play out on TV. This guy does not have a lot of self-awareness in the first place, so being able to watch himself on camera would have been a great asset for him.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts about this episode on my blog where I go into detail about who else is failing to compensate for past mistakes as well as who may be compensating a little bit too much. Click my username for the link.

forg/jecoup said...

Now I'm sure Russel will make it to the final 2/3, anyone that would take him will easily win since he is just the same old arrogant self which would totally annoy the jury. He may be a good strategist at times but a total failure in the social game unlike Parvati a master of both. Great to see Tom owning Russel this time. Too bad for Tom he is clearly in the chopping block, he is good at physical challenges but they have James and JT to make up for that. If the could win the next challenges it would be great but seeing their blunder for the 1st two challenges how the heroes are total failures with teamwork I doubt they will dominate unless it will be purely physical challenges. If only Cerie/Candicce joined Tom's alliance, I would love to see Rupert and company go first. But Cerie made the right decision though since Tom wanted to get her out first plus James/Rupert are way to easy to manipulate than Tom/Colby

dez said...

They should have taken out Parvati when they had the chance. OTOH, I won't miss Randy one bit. Wish it was Coach first instead, though. I can't abide that tool and his tooly pronouncements.

Question Mark said...

If nothing else, Russell earned himself a gig throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game this summer.

Russell is at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the others. He would have left to film the Heroes vs. Villains season while Samoa was still airing on television. He didn’t have the benefit of watching all of his moves—and fellow contestants’ reactions to his behaviour—play out on TV. This guy does not have a lot of self-awareness in the first place, so being able to watch himself on camera would have been a great asset for him.

You could argue that his season not airing at the time of filming gives him an advantage. The other players know how everyone has played the game in the past except for Russell...he's a total stranger to them. Had they seen his first season, they would've immediately voted him off since his old tactics (trying to form another 'dumb girl alliance' and sabotaging the camp) would've been known.

Narrim said...

It's also a bit of a disadvantage. CBS released a Russell confessional on Youtube called 'Back to Back Seasons.'

"But dude when I was walkin' to the challenge I was thinking, 'Man, I'm feelin' the same way I do now as I did in Day 39', like, that weak." - Russell

Anonymous said...

I too wish that Natalie from the old Fans tribe would have been put on this years Villains tribe. That girl came across as the ultimate bitch in Fans vs. favorites. I can't believe they did not bring her back.
On another note, before this season ever started, I considered James to be the dumbest player in Survivor history. Nothing this season so far has changed my mind.

survivormuch said...

I can't help but agree that Parvati is the real queen of Survivor. She's dangerous. She can easily form an alliance from the other tribe. She may be lazy in camp. YET NO ONE DARED TO WRITE HER NAME at the tribal council. that's wow! I mean if they cannot afford to vote out Parvati now, when will they afford it? When all of them is under her spell already, well may be except Jerri and Sandra? Cannot wait for the catfight between Parvati and Jerri next week... Cheering for the Queen Bee Parvati!!!

Michael said...

My only thought as the episode wrapped up this week was--has Russell already hidden Boston Rob's hat?

I noticed that BR seems to be missing the hat since Russell talked abut hiding it. And it's rare that we see BR go long without his beloved Red Sox hat.

Jayme said...

OK, so everyone's mentioning Russell's previous play in the Samoa, so that's safe game to discuss, right? Based on the final episode of Samoa, I have to assume that Russell doesn't win. There's no other reason for him to try to buy the title of "Sole Survivor" if he had already won in Heroes/Villains.

PS, I loved the apparent look that Probst gave Russell during the talk about the missing machete. I have to believe, though, that this was edited in, and not actually live.