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August 21, 2014

'Survivor: Redemption Island' Season 22, Episode 7 Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 31st 2011 7:30AM
Ometepe, 'Survivor: Redemption Island'['Survivor: Redemption Island' - 'It Don't Take a Smart One']

While we may not have known it going into this week's episode, it turned out to be one of the most pivotal of the season. No, they haven't merged yet, but the tribal dynamics are so firmly established now, it's more important than ever to know where everyone stands for when that day does come.

I've found myself wondering how different this season might have played out if Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz hadn't been involved. Ometepe has become the "Boston Rob" show, while Zapatera was so quickly anti-Russell that their hatred of having him among them extended to anyone he was building relationships with.



In both cases, the new players were so focused on the all-stars among them, they barely took the time to figure out what dynamics worked best among themselves. And here we are, seven episodes in, and they still don't seem to have figured it out.

The teasers for next week's episode changed everything as far as how the events of this week are looked at. What we now know about next week is that both tribes appear to be at Redemption Arena in their entireties, the winner of the next Duel returns to the game, and the merge is upon us.

This week was about trust and tribal unity. And on both tribes, there is one sore thumb sticking out from the group. Ometepe continues to be driven crazy by the possibly crazy-for-real Phillip, while Zapatera continued their mistrust of David. The big question was if David would have to pay the price for voting with Stephanie last week against Sarita.

See, Stephanie was allied with Russell, which by association makes David allied with Russell, and they're still hating on anything to do with the guy even after he's been gone so long. Or at least mistrusting by association. Stephanie's argument that Sarita was weaker in challenges fell on deaf ears last week.

Then they went to a Challenge this week where Stephanie's words came back very directly to haunt them. At the first ball release, Sarita struggled notably. That Zapatera closed the gap, took a lead and nearly won that challenge makes it pretty clear that they would have probably taken it without Sarita in that position.

And it's a consistency she's shown in past challenges. Thus, when Zapatera lost that challenge and was sent to Tribal Council, it seemed pretty obvious who should go home if strength matters. Now that Zapatera was going to go down to five people -- to Ometepe's six -- they needed to be as strong a unit as possible.

The tribe was once again stuck between a need for loyalty and a need for strength, but loyalty led to three out of four losses. Knowing now that the merge is upon us, it might have finally been the time to go for loyalty. When they needed to vote strength, they didn't. Now, when they needed loyalty, they voted for strength.

Going into the merge usually leads to tribal unity. Thus, having the numbers when you get there is always advantageous. That way you simply pick off the other team and then turn on yourselves. Vote strong early, loyal later.

Zapatera may have collapsed after they threw a challenge to get rid of Russell, but they still have a chance of going into the merge technically equal. Matt again won at Redemption Arena, meaning it's Ometepe Matt vs. Zapatera Sarita next week. If Matt wins, Ometepe goes up 7-5 against Zapatera, while Sarita winning would make them merging at six each.

But would Sarita return to her tribe and be loyal to them after they clearly blindsided her at this elimination? Would Matt get back in line with Rob even though he was clearly hurt and confused by his early ouster? And who among the existing tribes might flip and make the whole thing interesting?

David, 'Survivor: Redemption Island'ZAPATERA PRE-MERGE

Sarita vs. David became a dominant feature of the tribe in recent weeks. "I want to punch him in the face," she said of him this week, and some of her tribemates weren't far behind her.

Julie, Mike, Steve and Ralph seem to be a very tight foursome, as we've seen no real divisions or in-fighting among them. They need to hang on to David going into a merge, or try to poach someone from the other side to bolster their numbers. If Sarita comes back into the game, it's going to be hard to convince her to come back, but some sweet-talking might do it.

More likely, though, is that Matt will return as she sucks in challenges and he's proven very impressive. If Zapatera wants him, hey're going to have to work their magic quickly as Rob is very good at the social game and Matt may still have that eagerness to please someone he's admired so much over the years.

That leaves David as a legitimate wild card contender for flipping to the other side. It's risky to flip, though, as they almost never penetrate existing tribal alliances. Usually, they get picked off once the rest of their tribe is gone, but David's a smart guy. He may find a way to break up that alliance.

Rob's best competition in cleverness and savvy, if David can get into the heads of the other Ometepe people, he might be what they need to get rid of Rob before he makes a run for the finale.

OMETEPE PRE-MERGE

What came to my attention this week over the rice incident is that Rob is basically playing Russell's game, and yet it's working for him because suddenly everyone is thinking of him as a "Hero." But Rob was on the "Villains" side for a reason in "Heroes vs. Villains." He's always played a dirty game, he just puts a much nicer social game on top of it.

Now, he's simply messing around in the heads of Grant and Phillip, while he has his three young girls all wrapped up under his wing. The only difference in strategy here is that Russell usually limited himself to two girls.

Phillip & Boston Rob, 'Survivor: Redemption Island'If it comes out that Rob has had the Immunity Idol this whole time, then he may lose Grant by his side. Phillip he's already lost because Phillip has turned out to be a blend of intelligent and crazy. Usually, the crazy overshadows his brains, but they're in there, and he's seen Rob for what he is.

If Grant realizes Rob has just been stringing him along all this time, it could spell trouble. What Rob needs to do is strategically reveal that he has the Idol, while pretending that he just found it. Reveal it to his inner alliance, which could also include Matt and Phillip.

It's his "ace in the hole" to pull his tribemates closer to him once the merge comes, because there is still that chance of a backlash against him. He's played the game three times, so now that he's gotten us to the merge, do we still need him?

PREDICTIONS:

---Rob reveals the existence of his Idol to build a voting block that won't try to pick him off first.

--Matt returns, and is courted by both sides. Rob will pull him in with the Idol reveal and some story about how either he didn't want him out, or they believed he could fight his way back.

--Phillip tries to work secretly with Zapatera to get rid of Rob. Zapatera will be for it, to help even the numbers a bit more and have a fighting chance. Either Phillip will flip at this point, or he will sabotage himself by getting caught, being crazy or driving everyone else crazy so they just get rid of him.

--David tries to cozy up to Rob in an intellectual alliance, and Rob wants to take advantage of it to pick off strong Zapatera players.

--Matt wins first Individual Immunity post-merge. Because that would just be fun. Even better would be for him to keep on winning right into the finale. Colby and Ozzy who?

How do you think it will play out?

'Survivor: Redemption Island' airs Wednesdays, 8PM ET on CBS.

[Follow Jason on Twitter.]

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Joyce Nicodemus

Crazy Phillip will have a field day after the merge. The secret agent man will probably pee his pants in joy.

March 31 2011 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joyce Nicodemus's comment
General Kenobi

Imagine all the new people he can tell about being a special agent...

April 01 2011 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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