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Rob tweeted this pic of himself with Ashley, Andrea, Natalie and Phillip. Rob labeled this "Ometepe," but where's Grant? Is this a hint of some kind?

By Gina Carbone
opus619@gmail.com

“Survivor: Redemption Island” had so much potential.

I thought it started strong, with a cast that looked like they might actually play the game instead of voting out anyone who considered adopting a “strategy.” (Yep, I’m dissing you, “Survivor: Nicaragua”!)

But right around the time Boston Rob took control of his cult, and Ometepe began demolishing Zapatera, the game started to lose steam. (It also started turning into “The Religious Season.”)

Another Rob twitpic from the finale.

Now there’s almost no way for Season 22 to redeem itself. If Rob wins, the whole season will feel like How CBS Got Rob To Win Survivor After Four Attempts, with the other fools cast just for the purpose of helping him.

But if he doesn’t win, there’s no one else who would be a satisfying victory. Maybe maybe maybe Grant Mattos, because he was Rob’s right-hand man. But even Grant was a drone. And Matt Elrod is sweet, but he’s a terrible “Survivor” player. Mike Chiesl wasn’t shown in the game enough. Phillip Sheppard may or may not be playing up his craziness, but he accused Steve Wright of being a racist for calling him “crazy,” and he certainly shouldn’t win after that. Even Russell Hantz probably wouldn’t do that to win … probably.

I still have my money on either Andrea Boehlke or Ashley Underwood. I’m wondering if the Ometepe photo that Rob tweeted (above), showing some kind of Ashley dark hair makeover, is indicative of her win. Only a girl would think that, but now I’m wondering…She’s also tweeting up a storm for people to not miss the finale tonight. Am I reading too much into it? Or is she the new Jud “Fabio” Birza?

*UPDATE* Nope! Neither one won! The spoilers this season were all over the place. One said Ashley aligned with Rob and outlasted him. *END UPDATE*

Anyway, I’ll be live blogging the finale from 8 to 10 p.m. tonight Eastern time, plus the reunion from 10 to 11.

Look at Matt's hair! The Jesus length is gone!

These 8 folks are still in it to win it going into the finale:

* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student  (On Redemption Island)
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student  (On Redemption Island)
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor  (On Redemption Island)
* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine (On Redemption Island)

While you wait, check out my archive of “Survivor” recaps and “spoilers,” although I don’t really trust the few spoilers they’d had for this season. (Update: The spoilers sucked! Congrats to CBS for keeping the Rob win a secret. Nicely done. I hate you, but nicely done.)

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****** LIVE BLOG STARTS! ******

8 p.m.: Recap of everything up to this point. How one year ago Rob challenged Russell at the “Heroes vs. Villains” finale. Review of who is left. They make a special point to say Ashley is a nurse and lately has been a threat in challenges. Lots on Matt at God’s island. Good vs. Evil when Matt took on Russell, etc. Blindsiding Matt twice to send him to RI. Mike and Matt on winning streak at RI. Grant trusted Rob wholeheartedly. Is it fair that Rob is playing his best game, on his fourth attempt, and he could beat someone who is just playing for the first time? Rob got his ass kicked the first time he played. Can Phillip make a play for a win by convincing everyone he was faking craziness to be the villain. NO! You shouldn’t be able to call someone a racist and call yourself the “n-word” and then get rewarded a million dollars.

Final duel on Redemption Island.

8:11 p.m.: Grant heads to Redemption Island. “Somebody wasn’t being honest.” He’s not sure if it was Rob or Phillip, but he’s “A-OK” with it. Grant is the person Andrea least wanted to see there, since she’s now surrounded by major challenge winners. Also hotties! Lucky girl. Rob says “it stings a little bit” to lose Grant, because he was a friend. “I got a heart in there somewhere.” Rob says Grant is the only person who could be “redeemed” that Rob might want to vote out again. He wants to get rid of Ashley. Bad. She’s got to go, he says. He has a feeling about her. Premonition?

8:14 p.m.: At Redemption Island. Matt is happy now and at peace on his island. They have their final duel. They have to “dig deep.” One person will go back in the game. Mike will actually miss RI after 14 days out there. He even calls it “Purgatory.” They all pray. This is God’s favorite season of “Survivor.” Matt has only been in the actual game for 7 days?! If he wins, God gets the glory. So God is going to win “Survivor.” It’s kind of a balancing challenge. You have to keep your foot on a platform with a vase on the end. Go Andrea!

Andrea wins! Everyone else heads to the jury.

Grant is out first. Then MATT IS OUT. God did not want Matt to win. God wants Matt to vote in a winner!

It’s Mike vs. Andrea. GO ANDREA, GO! I KNEW IT! At least one of the spoilers was right!

8:22 p.m.: The duel is over and one at a time, Jeff Probst has Grant, Matt and Mike take off their buffs and head to Ponderosa, aka the jury spot.

8:24 p.m.: Rob declares that Ashley has played the game the best. (SINCE WHEN?) So unless she wins immunity (cue foreshadowing!), she will be voted out next.

Seriously, though. Just because Ashley won immunity last week, the only time she needed to, how is that playing better than everyone else? She hasn’t done anything else all season.

Immunity challenge. They have to get across a balance beam and bring several bags over to put together a bunch of numbers in order.

8:28 p.m.: Andrea said it was “awkward” to come back into camp. No one was that happy to see her. She’ll try anything to stay around, though, otherwise she feels like she’ll be the next one to go. Andrea tells Ashley that Ralph said he would vote for Phillip. Not true. She’s planting “seeds,” aka “lies.” Ashley wants them to vote off Phillip and Natalie says “yeah.” As if she knows. Ashley tells Natalie “You can’t trust Rob so much.” FINALLY. Rob tells Phillip that Ashley thinks she’s the mastermind. Rob is worried about three girls together. “Ashley drives me nuts.” He doesn’t like to see “someone corrupt my soldier,” aka Natalie. Pot meet kettle. Rob should worry that he only has Phillip to talk to. That’s a bad sign.

8:31 p.m.: Immunity challenge. Balance beam and numbers puzzle. Is Ashley going to be the new Fabio? She’s in the lead in this challenge. Phillip fell way behind. It was down to Ashley way in the lead, then Andrea and Rob. ASHLEY WINS IMMUNITY! Second in a row. So she has her spot in the final four. Uh-oh. Is my girl Andrea toast?

8:37 p.m.: Is it too late for Rob to use his hidden idol? If so, get rid of him! That’s what Andrea wants. She wants the girls to see this as an opportunity. If she tells that to Natalie, won’t Nat just tell Rob?

8:41 p.m.: Ashley is so excited she won, even if she wishes this were tomorrow’s win going into the finale. Rob says Andrea is going next. Rob says Andrea has worked hard at camp and she has friends on the other side, so it’s a “no brainer” to get rid of her.

This is the last time Rob can use his idol, but he says he doesn’t need to use it. FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

Ashley talks to Natalie saying, if it’s Andrea now, don’t make it her (Ashley) next. Nat promises 100 percent that she will vote Phillip next, not Ashley. Nice move, Ashley…

So Phillip goes into special agent mode and tells Rob. Right in front of Andrea. That Nat and Ashley were talking. So Rob takes Phillip for a walk.

Final five at Tribal Council.

8:44 p.m. While Phillip is chewing Rob’s ear off about the obvious, Andrea makes her pitch to the girls that she wouldn’t want to be up against Rob in the finals. “It makes a lot more sense to get rid of one of them,” Andrea says of Rob and Phillip. Natalie finally realizes that going up against Rob, she probably wouldn’t win. DUH! Ashley and Nat talk about how it could be the top three girls in the finals. Rob says he doesn’t need the idol — as long as he has Natalie — and he could take it home as a souvenir. He loves to gamble. “God I’m sick!”

8:47 p.m. First Tribal Council. Phillip babbles. Andrea makes a big pitch for the women to finally make a move in this game. Ashley says who wouldn’t want to take out Boston Rob.

Jeff makes his this is the last time you can use the hidden idol speech.

Rob does use his idol! His mother always told him better be safe than sorry. So he made it. Damn it.

Andrea voted out! She didn’t win. And the girls helped to vote her out. No attempt at a big move. Alas. Final four: Rob, Ashley, Natalie, Phillip.

Remember the maze at the end of "Heroes vs. Villains"?

Andrea should’ve shut her mouth at Trial Council about voting out Rob. Maybe that’s what prompted him to play the idol.

8:57 p.m.: Phillip said he didn’t know Rob had an idol but he suspected it. He said Rob played that brilliantly. Just hand him the money now, you morons.

9 p.m. We’re already at the second and final immunity challenge! It’s a giant maze challenge involving puzzle pieces. They love puzzle challenges and Rob. Remember all the easy challenges last season that Fabio won? Balancing coins in a sword? Please. Natalie is useless at these challenges but Jeff calls her a “good sport” as if she’s a slow 4-year-old girl. What’s sad is, she’s a lock for the finals.

ROB WINS! Rob made the final three. So … he wins, right? Or is he following in his own “All Stars” footsteps? Is he Rob 1.0/aka Russell 1.0?

Seriously, though. Is it fair to let him perfect his game four times and have him play on an "equal" playing field against newbies — especially when many of the newbies seem recruited instead of the "Survivor" fans who fight season after season to play? It's like a pro baseball player taking on the Little League.

Rob cries and tells the camera Amber inspired him. Whatever happens now, he’s OK with it. Even if he doesn’t win.

9:11 p.m.: Rob wants to make sure Phillip and Ashley both feel comfortable, like they won’t be voted out. But in order to blindside Ashley, he needs Natalie’s help.

Oh my God. What if the final three are Rob, Phillip and Natalie? Is there a way anyone could NOT vote for Rob? I’m ant-Rob winning at this point — even though nothing else makes sense — but at this point only Ashley is worth voting for. Even though she was a lazy bathing beauty, she still won challenges, played a good social game and didn’t tick people off.

Go Ashley!

9:16 p.m. Natalie is torn on what to do. She didn’t expect to make a friend, but she did. (Funny. Everyone made fun of Nat & Ash for sunbathing all day and tweezing each other’s arm hair, but it turned out to be a good strategy.)

9:17 p.m.: Tribal Council. Rob says ultimately you want to sit next to people you think you can beat. But he’s been here before and it didn’t work out. (Except he found love and married the winner.) Natalie sounds like a 2-year-old. Phillip says “Rob knows I was the specialist.” Lord. Why is Jeff having everyone make their pitches to Rob as if he’s the only one with a vote? Natalie is the real swing vote, not Rob. We know what Rob will do.

Here's the final 3. And here's my vomit.

Jeff, please stop pimping Rob. Please. Please. Please!

Ashley knows she has a better shot to win than Phillip and Nat.

Who is voted out? Ashley. Damn it! Does Nat think she has a shot at winning?

DEAR GOD, COULD PHILLIP WIN?

I’m disgusted. But I have to hand it to Rob — sitting next to Natalie and Phillip is the best possible position anyone could hope for in this game. Ideal. If he doesn’t win, it’s time to kill the jury.

9:27 p.m.: There’s still more pimping of Phillip and his feather. And his dead great-great-whatever-grandfather. I refuse to forget about how he treated Steve for calling him “crazy.” He’s not an adorable eccentric. He’s an ass.

9:28 p.m.: The feast. Natalie is 19. Does she really stand for her generation? I feel sorry for her generation, if that’s true. Even Fabio did more last season, at age 21. She could win? Good Lord! She did NOTHING. NOTHING. At least Natalie White on “Samoa” killed a rat and helped convince the other tribe to vote out Erik. Huge move. She also made tons of friends, whereas this Natalie irritated her own tribe for sitting around with Ashley. Not the same.

9:32 p.m.: Final Tribal Council. Phillip is wearing his effing feather! Is he going to try to convince everyone that he ISN’T crazy in that get-up?

The jury, as observed from the vantage point of the final 3. I think I hate this season, no matter how this is now resolved.

Natalie admits that her strength in the game was her social skills. She stuck with Boston Rob. She was loyal. She would be the youngest winner if they vote for her. Ugh.

Phillip said when Boston Rob came into the game, he had to change his strategy. Phillip thanks Rob, saying he wouldn’t be there without him. Phillip says he implemented the concept of “stealth.”

This is embarrassing.

Phillip said Rob’s real name is “The Mastermind” and Phillip’s own goal was to carry out the plans. He also spoke about his loyalty to Rob.

ARE THESE PEOPLE BEING PAID TO PROMOTE ROB MARIANO?

Rob has spent one-third of his life playing Survivor. 117 days or something? He makes a politician’s speech. It’s not up to him, it’s up to them, he says. At least he didn’t pledge loyalty to himself, the way the others did.

Love the crashing thunder and lightning. And by “love” I mean “eye roll.”

• Andrea told Phillip “You are weird.” She said they have seen a plethora of Phillips. Who is the real Phillip Sheppard? He can’t answer it. He must be working for Rob. Andrea told Natalie she has an almost borderline creepy relationship with Rob. What is it about Rob and the allure of riding coattails? Natalie’s answer is making me physically ill. Andrea doesn’t even ask Rob anything.

• Ashley said she’s sick of hearing Phillip’s voice so she won’t ask him anything. He’s acting like a child. Even younger than Natalie. Oh Phillip has no shot. Ashley knocks Phillip and he calls her a whiny child. Ashley tells Natalie they shared everything. Except Natalie didn’t tell her she would be going home. Ashley said obviously Rob deceived a lot of people and that’s sad because she put him on a pedestal. She doesn’t know who he is and after this she’s not sure she wants to know.

Wow, this Tribal is ugly and sad. No one deserves to win.

• Grant tells Nat he also had an alliance with Rob. He wants to know more about Nat’s deal with Rob. Nat says Rob came to her in the beginning and she felt like she could trust him. Rob said Natalie came up to him and said “Tell me what to do.” He said if she did what he said, he would take her to the end. They both gush over Grant and how he was such a big threat.

• Ralph says Natalie can’t do anything without keeping an eye on Rob. Nat didn’t realize everyone thought she was “creepy” toward Rob. She was afraid to make a decision without him, Ralph says. Nat said she wanted her tribe to know she was loyal, ’cause she saw what happened to Matt. Ralph was disappointed that Phillip didn’t have a whole chicken on his head. Ralph asked Phillip if he liked him. (Talk about creepy!) Phillip said yeah, basically.

• Matt called Rob duplicitous and a liar. Where is the line? How can he keep himself together after so much time out there? Rob said the line is gone once he gets back into real life. But in Survivor, he feels it’s necessary to act like this. Rob admits that everyone on Ometepe thought he was taking him to the end. That strategy ALWAYS backfires, though!

• Julie says the final three should be very humble because none of them played a respectable game. Oh yeah! Nat did win the first immunity challenge. Julie wonders if their parents would be proud of the way they played the game. Julie said if Nat were her daughter, she would be ashamed to see her be a servant to Rob the way she is. Phillip has a 16-year-old son? Poor child. Phillip repeats “The hell with you!” to Julie. Julie says Rob is sitting next to the little girl and the guy no one likes or respects.

Phillip is a cartoon.

Julie tells Rob to teach his daughters to grow up to be strong women and not let anyone treat them the way he treated Natalie.

NICE.

Rob whispers to Nat not to worry, they’ll be all smiles later.

I absolutely love "Survivor" but this ending is killing me. I feel so, so, so used.

• Mike asks for what they’ll take with them after this experience. Natalie has never camped before and this experience has given her confidence. Really? Confidence that you can follow a man’s instructions? Rob said he learned that he needs to stop playing games. (But he’s going to go on another reality TV show! So he’s NOT going to stay home and take care of his wife and kids.) Phillip learned that he can stand on his own and be by himself. “I am a beacon in the Sheppard family.”

I’m sick.

• Steve commends Natalie for however she played the game. Vomit. He also takes his hat off to Rob. Lots of ass-kissing. But Steve tells Phillip “I’m sorry for you.” “I think you’re a pretty shameful, sorry man.” There’s no way Phillip is winning.

• David says “And now for something completely different.” He doesn’t talk to the final three. He talks to the jury. He says there’s only one logical decision here. It has to be Rob. “He controlled all of you.” It was “a little ruthless, but brilliant.” He gushes over how two guys came into this game, one said he was the best to ever play this game (Russell) and the other (Rob) just played the best strategic game anyone has ever seen.

Is it coincidence that David got to make that speech as the last speech?

I may not even be able to watch the reunion. Sorry, this isn’t fair. It’s a slaughter. Or it should be, since there’s no second option. And it’s the kind of slaughter Rob could never have managed on “Survivor: Marquesas,” where he was the seventh voted out. You know who was the seventh voted out on “Redemption Island”? Sarita.

10 p.m.: The vote.

David votes for Rob.

Final 3 live in New York.

Ralph votes for Phillip????

That’s all we see.

10:02 p.m.: LIVE SHOW & REUNION

1st vote: Rob

2nd vote: Phillip

3rd vote: Rob

4th vote: Rob

5th vote: Rob

The winner of “Survivor: Redemption Island”: Rob

The reunion so far has been all about Rob. Gushing about Rob. Rob is so brilliant. I actually wanted Rob to win in the end — he was the only logical choice and he DID play a brilliant game — but this is sickening.

Grant is not happy with Rob. That might explain why he wasn’t in the pics. I love Grant. He thinks saying “it’s a game” is a cop out. So Rob lost a friend. But he gained a million bucks. And another reality TV show. On The History Channel, which has “Survivor” vet Colby Donaldson as the host of “Top Shot.” Do CBS and History have a deal?

Jeff gushes over his boyfriend, saying Rob just played about as perfect a game as you can. Sure. He had four shots. Let Parvati Shallow play a fourth time and show them all how it’s done. Let Sandra Diaz-Twine win a third time.

Russell looks pissed!

Andrea and Matt live in different parts of the country and aren’t dating. Mike was shown in his Marine uniform. More Phillip pimping to come.

Jeff talks to Russell about how he cried on the show. He congratulates Rob on playing “an excellent game.” They shake hands. Russell blows off Jeff’s question and says he should be asking the Zapateras, do they regret throwing the challenge? (Say no!) Russell takes on Steve. Poor Steve!

Jeff is now obsessed with Phillip and mistakenly calls Russell “Phillip” before correcting himself. How does Coach feel about this?

Russell is now thinking of going back on his word. He said he wouldn’t do “Survivor” again. Why is Jeff even asking him? He gave spoilers on the past two seasons. “Just keep my number,” he says. So he’ll be back. I don’t know that I will.

Phillip, I don’t love you. He claims he wasn’t going to trade his integrity for a million dollars. I like that the camera cut to Steve. Phillip called himself the n-word and accused Steve of racism, remember?

Phillip then apologizes to Steve, saying “the specialist” never makes mistakes, but he made one in this game. So Phillip did one thing right in this game.

Sprint Player of the Season: It came down to Boston Rob vs. Matt. They took 70-something percent of the vote. It was a 40 to 36 percent vote. The winner of the $100,000 cash prize: Rob Mariano.

God, did you really plan this?

David Murphy is now dating Carolina Eastwood, who was voted out first from “Survivor: Tocantins.” Oh Lord. He goes over to her in the audience and proposes, ala Rob and Amber’s “All Stars” proposal. Carolina: “Survivor loves blindsiding me!” She eventually says yes. He probably should’ve warned her. Did she drop the f-bomb?

Season 23 coming up, “Survivor: South Pacific”: Redemption Island is back next season. Sigh. 16 castaways will be abandoned in the South Pacific. Two more former players will return. Matt will probably be there, right? Phillip? Parvati? Rupert? Coach? I don’t think I can do it.

Catch up on my archive of “Survivor” recaps and other stories.

Andrea, I want it to be you. Unless it's Matt/God. Or Grant/Greek God. Or Rob/Mafia God. But it won't be Rob.

Listen, I’m just spitballing here. The spoilers for “Survivor: Redemption Island” have been sketchy at best. But out of everyone left I’m thinking Andrea Boehlke, 21, of Random Lake, Wisconsin is the best bet to win this puppy.

***UPDATE***

Nope! Read my finale blog now: East Coast live blog of ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’ finale Sunday, May 15Rob won after all!

*** END UPDATE ***

Boston Rob should win, since he’s dominating the season like a cult leader. But that’s nearly impossible. He does have a hidden idol and the blind loyalty of his tribe, but thankfully only Ashley Underwood and Natalie Tenerelli seem foolish enough to stick with him to the end. And maybe even they aren’t stupid enough to want to sit next to him at the final Tribal Council.

I’m pretty sure Grant Mattos — more like a Greek god every day — crazy Phillip Sheppard and Matt Elrod’s ex-bestie Andrea were just waiting for the Zapateras to go before they turned on Rob. He’s too much of an Obvious Threat in capital letters. The Ometepes needed him to this point, but no longer.

Some of the spoilers have already been wrong, but some of them feel right. In his Survivor Sucks thread, Blackwhale wrote “Natalie Tenerelli fans will be happy to know she’s one of the last two girls standing.” However, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere — probably from Missyae — that she does not win. Blackwhale also wrote “Forgot to mention, Natalie Tenerelli and Ashley Underwood work very well together!” and “Ashley aligns with Rob and then outlasts him.”

Here’s the clincher for my Andrea argument: “Two people are ‘redeemed’ and I believe one is male one is female. One at around the merge and the other at the finale, as you all know from call sheets.”

We saw sweet Matt redeemed around the merge (then sent right back into his Christ complex on Redemption Island) and if a woman is redeemed at the end, I’m thinking it will be Andrea. If not Andrea, then Ashley.

When Missyae gave an early look at this year’s cast, he wrote:

Andrea Boehlke –  “Love this player. Smart, strong, social, got it all. A serious threat.”
Ashley Underwood – “The Total Package, another serious threat.”

I’m starting to think this will come down to Natalie, Ashley and Andrea with Andrea winning. Last night on “A Mystery Package,” Rob originally planned to vote Andrea to Redemption Island because she was getting too close to the Zapateras. That tells me that she would have their votes at the end, over the other two girls, who are essentially proving themselves useless at everything except sunbathing and worshipping Rob.

Now that the former Ometepes have no choice but to eat ther own, chances are they will start with either Andrea or Rob. Since Rob has an idol, I’m thinking it will be Andrea, with Andrea beating Matt, Rob and everyone else when it comes to being redeemed.

That’s what I hope happens, anyway.


Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

Someone slip some Valium into the crispy rice and give Phillip a scoop.

Anyone who doesn’t think Phillip is crazy is crazy.

Phillip Sheppard has been hijacking “Survivor: Redemption Island” for a while now and it started out as funny in a Coach 2.0 way. But because he’s been given so much leeway by his tribe (who roll their eyes at him behind his back) and the producers just love exploiting him for drama, he’s now shifted from being the amusing rice police to the slandering race police.

I appreciate that at the start of the episode, “Rice Wars,” (should’ve been “Race Wars”) they featured a flashback of first outcast Francesca Hogi calling fellow African-American Phillip “crazy.” That’s important because being called “crazy” by white Steve became a focal point of the episode.

Phillip went off about the rice again, although this time he didn’t target “the crispy” in his wild but entertaining way. He has been going out of his way to emphasize the divisions that still exist between the old Zapatera and Ometepe tribes (forgetting that his old tribemates were all against him not too long ago and they only want to keep him because he’ll get zero votes in the end).

But when Ometepe’s rice was about to spoil, the surviving Zapateras decided not to help them by allowing the Omes to use their rice jars. I wouldn’t allow them to use the jars, either. Boston Rob’s mafia has gone out of their way to ostracize the Zaps. They owe the Ometepe folks nothing.

Steve probably wishes they had sent him to Redemption Island instead of David ... and Julie. Thats the safest place at this point.

Phillip went on and on to Steve and Julie about how it wasn’t logical to not let Ometepe use their rice jar. He got very Phillip about it, which is to say he started rambling and getting heated. Steve called him a “lunatic” and Phillip initially agreed as he walked away. Then he returned and said anytime someone of his color makes an argument to someone like Steve, the Steves of the world come back and call the Phillips “Crazy.” It would be a point worth looking into if Phillip hadn’t been crazy to everyone FROM DAY ONE.

Tonight he called himself “chief of counter intelligence,” in addition to being a federal agent. He also called himself the n-word and told the cameras “I’m like a lot of black men, we’re prepared to self-destruct at any moment.”

But it’s perfectly fine for him to say that?

I can’t speak for any black men, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be lumped into the same category as Phillip. And, buddy, please don’t speak for women when it comes to making analogies between understanding racism and understanding when a man makes an inappropriate pass at a woman.

As Steve said of Phillip: “It’s not a chip, it’s a log on his shoulder.” Steve also said he played football with the L.A. Raiders where 1/5 of the team was white. “There’s no line of black and white in my heart.”

I miss the part of “Survivor” where they actually play “Survivor” out there instead of therapy. I’m done with Phillip.

Matt and Mike won the Redemption Island three-way, making David the first jury member. I thought David would go farther in the game.

Rob won immunity in the series of puzzles (he’s always been good at puzzles) and Julie was sent to Redemption Island. Julie also hid Phillip’s shorts. Messing with people’s clothes is always nasty, but I’ve been following Jeff Probst’s tweets and it’s pretty clear he’ll do anything to defend Phillip. He tweeted it was “downright cold blooded” to bury the shorts, but Jeff worships Russell Hantz, who pulled that move with Jaison’s socks back when they were still on the same tribe in “Samoa.”

I feel sorry for Matt, whose faith seems to be tested out there. I thought I was tired of Matt’s talk about how God is his co-pilot or whatnot, but I’ll take that over Phillip’s ranting any day. Religion is sensitive but race is even more sensitive and there’s no way to “win” an argument when you’re just talking about people’s feelings. Phillip clearly felt affronted by Steve using the c-word in particular.

I feel most sorry for Steve, because everyone out there has called Phillip crazy at least once, or at least thought it. Except maybe Matt. Matt has spent the game away from everyone else, which — it turns out — was God’s true blessing.

***

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

These people are playing the game:

Ometepe Tribe

* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano
* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney— 1st sent to Redemption Island
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student — 2nd sent to Redemption Island, first to be “redeemed,” 8th sent to Redemption Island
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student — 4th sent to Redemption Island

Zapatera Tribe

* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz — 3rd sent to Redemption Island
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep. — 5th sent to Redemption Island
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress — 6th sent to Redemption Island
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer — 7th sent to Redemption Island, aka “Matt’s Island”
* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine — 9th sent to Redemption Island
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney — 10th sent to Redemption Island, 1st Jury Member
*
Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter — 11th sent to Redemption Island

More TMI from Phillip: "I enjoy being on the bottom." Hey now!

I lack a feather — and therefore the courage, determination and knowledge of when to hold my tongue — so I’m going to go ahead and agree with David’s assessment of Phillip: “You sound like a lunatic.”

Oh, David. I wish your Rob vote had counted four times. ‘Cause now things are downright boring. Ometepe Cult vs. Zapatera Zzzzs. Phillip’s crazy babbling and Rob’s mafia plotting have taken over “Survivor” and sucked all the air out of the island. No one else is on the show, it seems, including the people who actually win the challenges and get voted to Matt’s Island.

Make a move, Grant. Make a move.

There were two Tribal Councils on “The Buddy System” episode of “Survivor: Redemption Island.”

My great-great grandfather was not a full-blooded Cherokee and he did not come to me in a meditation with a spoiler on what would happen, but it was pretty clear that Mike would be the first one heading to Redemption Island to face Matt/Jesus.

It was the Ometepe Six against the Zapatera five and nobody flipped after the first challenge, which Gorgeous Grungy Grant won over David and Mike.

The Mariano Crime Syndicate put out a hit on Mike, the guy they considered their biggest physical threat and also the guy with the best chance to take out Matt/Jesus, who is like the landlord of Redemption Island. He should just charge rent whenever anyone stops by.

The second challenge was an immunity or food challenge and Phillip and Steve immediately decided to eat burgers instead of hang on a pole. (Burgers > a scoop of the crispy brown rice?) Rob was the first one out of the challenge, which was a total waste since he got no immunity and no food. Andrea won immunity, but only because Ashley and Natalie decided they could just give up. Their objective was just to beat David and they did it.

The Robfather said the second Tribal Council vote was down to strategic David vs. T-Rex Steve, who apparently wants to go home. (Why haven’t we heard about this yet? Too much time spent on Phillip and Stealth R Us?) David ended up going to Redemption Island, too. So now it’s a hoppin’ joint!

The Robfather has decided Phillip is a loyal soldier, and after Natalie tattled on her buddy Ashley’s “I’d vote for you over Rob” conversation with Ralph, Rob decided Phillip and Natalie would go with him to the final three. The ego. The arrogance. Someone needs to check it.

Phillip, bless him, isn’t a complete drone. He’s “a smart guy and a complex person” (or at least one of the two) and he claims he’s preparing to make a move on Rob. It’s just a matter of when.

Rob wants to run “his” tribe like an Army. He controls their diet, including fish. But Grant is hungry. I’d like him to be hungrier for a big move in this game, but I think I’m going to have to wait.

Rob made “his” tribe use “the buddy system” (hence the ep title) and they are not allowed to talk to anyone else alone. “It’s cult-like” is right. David gets it. They have The Fear in them because of the Matt decision — if you waver in loyalty, he’ll take you out in a boat and kill you.

Julie also gets it. Matt is a good guy, a nice person who thought Ometepe was his home but they cut his throat like it was nothing. They are an island mafia and it would be impressive if Rob weren’t the only one appearing to make any moves. If anyone else gets to the end, how can we even decide who to vote for? Would any of the Zaps even vote for Rob? Even though he isn’t blindsiding them, he’s controlling everyone in a way that seems to be ticking them off. Only David and Mike seem truly impressed. Ralph has decided he would vote for Ashley over Rob. Did he mean it? COULD anyone mean it?

I understand wanting to wipe out Zapatera, but think of the jury. Wouldn’t they love and appreciate a Rob blindside? If Grant made a move like that, let’s say, wouldn’t the jury appreciate that more than blind loyalty, even when it comes to eating habits? No one can respect that in the end.

It’s hard to know who is winning — or even in — this game, other than Rob. But one thing is clear: Jeff Probst and the producers/editors love Phillip a little too much. Other people are on the island, too, you know!

*

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

These people are playing the game:

Ometepe Tribe

* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano
* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney— 1st sent to Redemption Island
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student — 2nd sent to Redemption Island, first to be “redeemed,” 8th sent to Redemption Island
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student — 4th sent to Redemption Island

Zapatera Tribe

* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz — 3rd sent to Redemption Island
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep. — 5th sent to Redemption Island
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress — 6th sent to Redemption Island
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer — 7th sent to Redemption Island, aka “Matt’s Island”
* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine — 9th sent to Redemption Island
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney — 10th sent to Redemption Island

This is not the scoop of crispy you're looking for.

“The crispy.”

I love it. From now on, everything I want but can’t get in life will be referred to as “the crispy.”

On “Survivor: Redemption Island” episode 7, “It Don’t Take A Smart One,” God + Matt Elrod gave shrill chatterbox Stephanie Valencia the permanent boot. Now God + Matt will take on weak Sarita White.

What do you think, six for six for God + Matt? Will he get to go back in the game?

Sarita vs. Matt. Is there any doubt at all?

I really don’t care what Zapatera does and at this point it seems like the editors don’t care either.

The Zaps lost the rainy, muddy, disgusting reward and immunity challenge and had to go to Tribal Council, but who cares? Without Russell Hantz and his beyotches, not even Ralph Kiser can make them interesting.

And David Murphy is not as smart as he thinks, since he put himself in the position of backing two annoying girls who were clearly going to leave early. How was that a strong strategy? He should take his own advice to Sarita and “Don’t get too confident.”

It doesn’t sound like he has an alliance going into next week … but, then again, next week is the merge so he can sell himself as a free agent. OK, the jury is still out on David. The rest of the tribe didn’t know the merge was coming. If they did, they probably would’ve kept loyal Sarita. I think they should’ve kept her either way. Loyalty trumps strength. Foa Foa foursome.

By the way, that was a good challenge for once. It’s still not on par with the water challenges of the old days, but it was a refreshingly demanding challenge.

And you know who rocked it? My boy Grant Mattos. He’s the challenge king. And he gets hotter by the day. And he’s smart to let the leadership role of the tribe fall to Boston Rob while the annoying person role clearly goes to Phillip Sheppard. More on Phillip in just a second.

For the reward, Ometepe got to fly to an active volcano, which was very “Bachelorette” Season 6 of them. (Poor Matt deserves to go on stuff like this.) While everyone was stuffing their faces, Rob dipped his hand into the jar of those cylindrical cookies and found another idol clue. (I would’ve accidentally eaten it.) I was just wondering how many freaking idols are on the island when he threw the thing (litter bug!) into the volcano because he already found the idol. How does he know there’s only one?

Hot and not. Although, this is not the best shot of Grant.

But the really interesting dynamic on Ometepe is not Rob’s constant Robfather domination, the uselessness of the pageant twins or even the hotness of Grant. It’s Phillip.

Phillip was not allowed to have any of the popular crispy brown rice because it’s Boston Rob’s favorite. Phillip took extreme offense to this, ranting at the two useless girls plus cool Andrea and hot Grant that they all got scoops of crispy rice, so he should too.

He’s a 52-year-old man and the senior member of the tribe. (Does that come with special benefits and a pay raise?) But they shouldn’t make a mountain out of a mole hill about it. Because that’s his job!

Phillip and his chaperone, Rob, observed the Redemption Island challenge and Phillip called Matt a true samurai warrior, which cuts dangerously close to Coach 1.0 territory. Can they go on “The Amazing Race” together?

By the way, Jeff Probst said there’d be alcohol on the reward. Did Phillip imbibe? The possibility of a drunk Phillip just opens so many doors.

Phillip said the girls are sharing Rob’s underwear. (Does Amber know/care?) Phillip is done with Rob. He wants Rob out. Rob knows this and he must know a merge is coming. (And it looks like it’s coming next week!) Should Ometepe have thrown a challenge to get rid of Phillip? I know some people think Zapatera throwing their own challenge was a bad idea, but they had to get rid of Krista and Stephanie before they switched sides, so I thought it was smart.

Right now I’m on Team Matt. And Team Grant, with a side order of Team Andrea. And, hell, Team Phillip. He’s amusing. And he feels left out. If Ometepe just included him, they wouldn’t have this problem.

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

These people are playing the game:

Ometepe Tribe

* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano
* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney— 1st sent to Redemption Island
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student — 2nd sent to Redemption Island
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student — 4th sent to Redemption Island

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz — 3rd sent to Redemption Island
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep. — 5th sent to Redemption Island
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress — 6th sent to Redemption Island
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer — 7th sent to Redemption Island, aka “Matt’s Island”

Smells like teen suckage. He really is just Soul Patrol Part II, anyway. Am I alone on that? Can you really picture his voice on the radio, any more than Taylor Hicks?

I’m not even slightly surprised that Casey Abrams was on the bottom. It’s Megan’s fault. Megan, if you recall, is the “friend” in the audience that Casey pointed out on Wednesday’s “American Idol” season 10 top 11 performance show.

Ever since Jennifer Lopez dubbed Casey “sexy,” girls have screamed for him.  They don’t want to think that the cuddly teddy bear is already taken. That takes a shine off fast. It’s like Andrea looking at Matt in a whole new light after he bonded with fellow prayer warrior Krista on “Survivor: Redemption Island”. (See recap below)

Other reasons he was at the bottom: He performed first and sometimes the early singers are forgotten by the end of the night. Also, after he performed he was grossly overpraised. Casual fans probably figured he was safe and they didn’t need to vote for him. People who don’t have clear favorites (like me) probably weren’t so impressed by that performance that they would jump to the phone/web.

I think Casey is cute and funny, but the growl got old for me last week. I like the talent this season, but I don’t have a strong favorite anymore. I’m voting performance-by-performance. Last night I voted for Jacob and Pia. It was the first (and possibly the only) time I voted for Jacob but I’ve voted for Pia several times. I like her.

Anyway, the judges saved Casey. Which means we still have a top 11. And all 11 will go on tour. What a Disney special. Two people go home next week. Such melodrama.

Interesting week. I have a lot of catching up to do, so I’m combing my “American Idol,” “Survivor” and “Top Model” recaps.

***

American Idol Season 10 (stream of consciousness asides)

Is it just me, or was the Marc Anthony opening extremely awkward? Did the “American Idol” top 11 want a thing to do with him? Was he just bored? That whole relationship is weird. Jennifer Lopez and Marc, I mean. But J.Lo and Steven Tyler is coming off as weird to me, too. Steven seems to turn his back to her sometimes and Jennifer openly leans into Randy Jackson. It’s like two against one.

By the way, happy birthday, Steven! He really is the most adorable thing to happen to this show since the Davids of Season 7.

Unnecessary side note: I still have my old, pink “About Me” diary from when I was in grade school where I wrote “Hulk Hogan” as the strongest person I knew. I didn’t quite get that it was supposed to be someone I knew in person.

Is Ryan Seacrest a slightly good actor or did Hulk actually hit him a little bit there? Did those people know they were going to get Julianne Hough-close to Ryan when he crashed into their row?

Stevie Wonder rocks. And I noticed Jennifer had her arm around Steven when Stevie sang for the b-day boy. Is she jealous of his attention? I’ve heard that, but who knows.

Catch up on my “American Idol” stories here.

They deserve the pink undies as punishment for being lazy. (CBS pic)

Survivor: Redemption Island

Who was it that ripped Grant Mattos’s shirt off during the immunity challenge on “Their Red-headed Step Child”? Was that David Murphy or Mike Chiesl? Whoever it was, THANK YOU.

I’ve been praying to the Survivor gods for more shots of hot Grant. And, as we know now, God has a vested interest in the outcome of the show. He’s Team Matt Elrod and Team Ometepe. Matt now has a pink Bible, courtesy of The Other Blonde, Krista Klumpp, but no girl wants to see her crush bonding with another (similar) woman, so Matt may have lost the very important support of Andrea Boehlke — aka the only girl on Ometepe who is not completely useless. (I miss you, Kristina Kell.) Matt has turned out to be more Brett Clouser than Jud “Fabio” Birza and it looks like Krista was briefly Matt’s Natalie White.

Anyway, I’m disappointed in my boy David. He was my pre-season pick to be named fan favorite. But what was that nonsense about defending Stephanie Valencia over Sarita White? Even if he didn’t know Sarita had the support of her loyal allies, didn’t he hear shrill Stephanie’s pro-Russell Hantz screeches earlier in the season? Doesn’t he know that it’s better to enter a merge with fewer numbers as long as they stick together, rather than a large group with some people ready to be bought by the other side? How do you think Russell got to the end on “Samoa”? That Foa Foa Foursome was far from a majority.

I hate to support Boston Rob any more than he’s already been supported, but right now — other than Matt — he’s the only player really making a mark. He even pulled a fast one on my new faux boyfriend (I don’t care that he’s married) Grant, switching out the idol clues last week. Rob is also right when it comes to letting Natalie Tenerelli and Ashley Underwood dig their own finale graves.

However, how pissed is Rob going to be if/when Rob gets booted before the two useless girls? That was Phillip Sheppard’s point and —  I hope these words never pass through my keyboard again — he’s right. I’m growing fond of our resident Coach 2.0. Is it inevitable that Phillip and Coach 1.0 will be brought back together and put on the same tribe?

At this point, I’m in the market for someone to support. I guess it’s Matt for now, but I might be Team Andrea, just to support a girl who feels illogically hurt and betrayed by a guy. Who hasn’t been there?

Catch up on my “Survivor” recaps and spoilers (such as they are) here in this archive.

I am currently Team Brittani, but ask me again next week. From left: Hannah, Molly, Dalya, Jaclyn, Brittani, Alexandria, Monique, Kasia and Mikaela (CW pic)

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 16

Am I nuts or is Alexandria Everett not really THAT annoying?

Maybe I’ve just been watching too much “Survivor” and “Project Runway.” And I haven’t really been watching enough ANTM this cycle to really weigh in, but at this point Alexandria just seems like one of those girls who sounds more abrasive than she means to. She’s my Sharon Stone out there.

But I think I’ve switched allegiances from the machete cheekbones of Mikaela Schipani to the cute bob of Brittani Kline. I also like Monique Weingart and I wonder who she reminds me of. Someone. And as sweet as she may be, I CAN’T STAND Jaclyn Poole’s voice. I can’t get past it. I think Kasia Pilewicz is already overrated. And Hannah Jones. Hannah is not making a dent at all for me.

The just-eliminated Dalya Morrow said it’s going to come down to bad-weave Molly and Brittani in the end. Agree?

Catch up on my ANTM stories in this archive.

Sorry, Jeff. I know you wanted your boyfriend to stay longer.

Bwahahaha! Bwahahahahahaha!

He had two chances and he blew both of them. And then he cried. Tee hee.

Russell Hantz is gone. Permanently. He said this is his last time playing “Survivor.” And thank heaven for it.

Matt Elrod (Fabio 2.0) beat him in the (lame) Redemption Island domino challenge. Was he really crying or did he pull a Michelle Money? By the way, I LOVED the soft princess music they had for him while he sobbed.

Jeff Probst wondered if he was crying out of embarrassment or what?

I do wish Redemption Island itself were a little cooler.

Russell: “I respect this game too much to go out this way.” Then he started insulting his tribe for throwing the challenge to get rid of him. He called himself the a “professional quarterback” with pee wee players on his team. Right.

Then Ralph Kiser — one of the challenge witnesses — did some weird fake-out with his idol, telling Russell he found it within 15 seconds of the game. He started to show it to Russell, then backed off on Sarita White’s advisement.

Then Phillip “Special Agent” Sheppard weighed in, because no moment is complete without his input. He said he could tell that Ralph had an idol. It’s his job to tell when people are lying. (And to sweep the floor at the crack of dawn. And to be the season’s resident crazy person/Coach 2.0.)

Russell decided he could still play in the game via Phillip and his pink tighty whities. So he played spoiler king (something he’s familiar with) and spilled all of his tribe’s secrets. Bitter much?

So now Stephanie Valencia and Krista Klumpp are permanently stuck with “the goobers.” The storm is coming for them. Especially Stephanie.

Holy crap Grant is hot. Please show more of him.

And Russell, like Francesca before him, is rooting for sweet Matt to win. Rooting from afar, of course. As Russell said before the Redemption Island challenge, “If this was the real world I’d be rooting for Matt.” Just like with Brett Clouser on “Samoa.” Matt is the new prayer warrior.

Matt is in a good position right now. So is Boston Rob Mariano, after finding that idol. He, at least, has learned something from his past seasons.

I wish Kristina Kell had been given more time in the game — strong, strategic women are hard to come by — but “Survivor: Redemption Island” without Phillip would be so much less amusing.

Loving this season so far…

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

These people are playing the game:

Ometepe Tribe

* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney— 1st sent to Redemption Island, 1st permanently eliminated
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student — 2nd sent to Redemption Island
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student — 4th sent to Redemption Island
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep.
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz — 3rd sent to Redemption Island, 2nd permanently eliminated

I like having another Fabio to stare at, but this one needs to stop showing off his undies. Who does he think he is, Chase?

Rob Mariano seems like he’s back in The Robfather role on “Survivor: Redemption Island,” but I don’t know… He and Russell Hantz are back to playing their 1.0 games and the whole “Redemption Island” thing seems to be getting lost in the shuffle.

I get Rob wanting to prevent another Rob + Amber, but was it smart to vote out Matt Elrod on Episode 2, just because:

1. He flirted with Andrea Boehlke
2. He — gasp! — showed good sportsmanship after his tribe, Ometepe, lost the reward/immunity challenge
3. He’s the biggest male threat in his alliance?

I vote no.

Because Matt is now going to meet Francesca Hogi on Redemption Island. It’s possible that Francesca will beat Matt, but it’s also possible that Matt is truly another Fabio clone and will dominate in whatever challenge they throw at him.

*
Pause for a brief spoiler break:

The very limited and probably wrong spoilers out there have said that Matt is part of a core alliance that does well. There were even mutterings that he might make the final 3. Wrong? Right? Who knows. They also said Matt and Natalie Tenerelli had a flirtation, when it looks like (so far) it’s really Matt and Andrea.

End spoiler break!

*

Now what? I love how big you're playing, Kristina, but now you have no idol and no allies.

I feel like the Matt decision may come back to haunt Rob. He should’ve voted out Phillip Sheppard, who said the episode’s title to Rob: “You Own My Vote.”

So use it, Rob. Send former-federal-agent-and-current-lion Phillip to Redemption Island to do what he wants to do — face his “nemesis,” Francesca/Francesqua. (Maybe he should just call her Fran.)

Or (wild idea) vote out a weak player so your tribe might actually start winning a few challenges.

Meanwhile, Russell Hantz has turned into the clown of his own season. He’s back to collecting pretty young things, telling anyone who’ll listen that he’s Russell Hantz. He’s that good!

But while he’s playing Russell 1.0, his nemesis — the exceptionally hairy Ralph Kiser — has become Russell 2.0, the kinder softer version the real Russell should’ve tried to be.

Ralph now has an idol. He found it without a clue while … uh … looking for rocks? Russell has an idol clue. Does he have the clue to the idol that was already found? How many idols are out there?

And why isn’t Redemption Island its own cool little island in the middle of nowhere? Why does it look like any other beach?

Right now only about a handful of players have gotten any real camera time — Rob, Russell, Ralph, the power-playing Kristina Kell, crazy Phillip, Russell’s #1 gal, Stephanie Valencia, and Rob’s #1 gal, Natalie. Mike Chiesl may have some potential, but it’s quiet potential right now. That’s probably for the best.

Considering how Rob & Russell are so patronizing to the girls they believe they’ll have to carry to the end, I am rooting for Kristina at this point. I’m also rooting for Matt to beat Francesca, but only to show Rob that he’s not as in control of this game as he thinks.

But most of the people on the show have not said more than two words, so I have no idea who I’ll be rooting for by the end. Has Julie Wolfe even said one word? How about my boy David Murphy? Move the cameras off Rob for a second, please!

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this archive.

These people are still around:

Ometepe Tribe

* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney— 1st sent to Redemption Island
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student — 2nd sent to Redemption Island
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep.
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz

I never thought "Francesca" was a hard name to pronounce, but apparently it's impossible.

“Survivor: Redemption Island” Episode 1: “You’re Looking at the New Leader of Your Tribe” (Phillip thinks it’s him!)

***

Han Solo: “Keep your distance, though, Chewie, but don’t look like you’re trying to keeping your distance.”
[Chewie barks a question]
Han Solo: “I don’t know. Fly casual.”

***

If we’ve learned anything from recent seasons of “Survivor” it’s the need to fly casual. Lay low. Go ahead and strategize. Go ahead and find immunity idols. Go ahead and play hard like Kristina Kell, just don’t be as obvious about it as Kristina Kell. (Who is Yve + Alina from “Survivor: Nicaragua.”)

However, brava to her for making a big move on the very first episode of “Survivor: Redemption Island.” After “Nicaragua” I am starved for big moves. But make them SMART big moves. Pissing off Boston Rob Mariano on the first day? Not smart.

Also not smart: Making an alliance with Phillip “Pipe That” Sheppard and his motor mouth. How many sisters does he have? Seven? How have they let him get away with this “Did I mention I’m a former federal agent” and “You need to pipe that” and “We’re done talking” and “hyper state of arousal” and “excuse me!” horseshite for so long?

Ometepe, minus Rob.

Boston Rob — hero-worshipped right off the bat, as if “All-Stars” never happened — saw through Kristina right away and knew she was looking for the idol. (While everyone else was socializing and building camp.) He played it down. She should’ve tried to make an alliance out of it, but instead she panicked and decided to go against him.

Rob used her decision to go against him to go against her — calling her out at Tribal Council and making a big move in front of the impressionable young’uns. He won.

Rob proves if you get a second chance, you don’t waste it. You change or at least convince people you’ve changed. He will do well.

And he’s right: He’s playing with amateurs. Francesca Hogi should’ve kept her mouth shut at Tribal Council and Phillip’s “crazy outburst” saved Natalie Tenerelli’s fate and sealed Francesca’s.

Poor Francesca is now gone … but she’s gone to Redemption Island. We still don’t know how that will play out.

I feel sorry for Kristina, but what can you do…

While Rob was being casual, just making friends with the worshipping young’uns, Russell Hantz made a speech about changing and then went right back to his routine of trying to organize a “dumbass girls” alliance.

Immunity winners Zapatera, minus Russell.

LOVED his patronizing exchange with Stephanie Valencia, asking her — like a teacher, leading a student — who he took to the end the first time on “Samoa.” Natalie! The second time, on “Heroes vs. Villains”? Parvati!

He thinks she’s stupid enough to go with the “i” name theme. He makes his pitch. She goes for it, or at least says yes, which is the correct response even if you don’t mean it. (She is not living up to her namesake. The Real Stephanie, from “Palau,” would’ve told Russell off.)

And, point of order, Parvati owned the Russell/Parv alliance. She is not a “cute little girl.” She’s the best player this game has ever seen.

David Murphy (my pre-season favorite) and Mike Chiesl want Russell gone. Good idea. You can’t bank on having him take you to the end. He does breed paranoia and he can’t be trusted to stick with people. (He tried to get rid of Parvati and he ousted her BFF, Danielle, in a blindside. He’s also obnoxious and emotionally exhausting.)

Rob is on Ometepe, which has more women than men. He’s good with girls. Very good. Ashley Underwood even said losing the immunity challenge made her feel like she let her “leader” down. Phillip believes he’s good with girls, too, and then he pissed off his alliance mate, Kristina, and their co-conspirator, Francesca. (It’s worth noting, though, that Fabio clone Matt Elrod is probably even better with girls, without having to try.)

Rob said he was going to try to vote off Francesca (or whatever Phillip called her, with his dry mouth), because Fran said right off the bat that Rob was sneaky and she didn’t want him around. But Kristina’s obvious moves prompted Rob to change his mind. And by his mind, I mean everyone’s mind. Ometepe is now The Borg. And Phillip, Kristina and Francesca are on the outs.

So far Russell isn't doing much. Even though Rob's team lost the immunity challenge, he's still in charge.

Right now, even with his tribe down one player, Rob is running the game.

Who will go to Redemption Island next week, if Ometepe loses again? Phillip or Kristina? As annoying as Phillip is, he’s not as dangerous as Kristina. She (over)played her hand too soon. But she does still have that idol…

Side note: Enough with the “Redemption Island” “What if?” videos — like Shambo. Really? Shambo? We get the point of coming back.

These people are still around:

Ometepe Tribe

* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep.
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz

***

Catch up on my “Survivor” stories and spoilers in this nifty archive.

Here's the Ometepe Tribe, before Rob Mariano joins in.

By Gina Carbone
opus619@gmail.com

If the headline didn’t make it clear, I know nothing. Not that I ever did, but my nothing has sunk to new lows.

I love spoilers, but “Survivor: Redemption Island” is extra tricky because of the recent hullabaloo between Missyae, Russell Hantz and CBS. Everyone is on egg shells, Missyae is no longer spoiling in Survivor Sucks and “boot list” is apparently a four-letter word.

But I’ve been trying to piece together random asides from Blackwhale on Survivor Sucks, Missyae on Survivor Skills and photos posted on TrueDorkTimes, as well as Sucks. (*Update* I also added spoilers from RealityTVSpoilers.net)

Keep an eye on Natalie and Matt.

Long story short: Things will probably go well for a “core” Ometepe alliance, which likely includes Natalie Tenerelli (who supposedly dated Ben Henry, aka Benry from “Survivor: Nicaragua”) and Matt Elrod (who looks like Fabio from “Nicaragua”) and probably Ashley Underwood. And maybe Andrea Boehlke.

Natalie and Matt may hook up, too. Showmance? Yes? No? (That’s what they said, but it sounds like “they” may have confused Natalie and Andrea. Andrea and Matt seem to be the couple of the season.)

***

April 28 UPDATE: I think Andrea Boehlke is going to win. If not, I think it’s Ashley Underwood. Here’s why.

May 15 finale UPDATE: Nope! These spoilers suck! Read my full live finale blog! Boston Rob won. Ugh.

***

Anyway, here are the pieces I’ve found and you can put them together (or discount them completely) yourselves:

***

Ometepe Tribe

* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student
* Francesca Hogi, 36, Washington D.C.; attorney
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano

Here's Zapatera, before Russell joins the fun.

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep.
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz
***

Missyae’s look at this year’s cast:

Andrea Boehlke – -  Love this player. Smart, strong, social, got it all. A serious threat
Ashley Underwood – The Total Package, another serious threat
Francesa Hogi – - – Why do they always cast black females and edit them mouthy? No chance to win
Grant Mattos – - -  I really like this guy, he could be dangerous
Kristina Kell – - – - One of my favorites but shes too much like me, wide open, early alliance wont save her
Matt Elrod – - – - – Might be too nice, if its between him and another alliance member, he would be in trouble?
Natalie Tenerelli – - Of course all the talk is about her because of dating Benry, did she talk? I dunno, but he did
Phillip Sheppard – - Dude, wrong strategy, wow
Rob Mariano – - – - Cant win the title but will win fan favorite. Great alliance, great player, simply put, The Man!!!

David Murphy – - – Booksmart, will that translate to Game smart?? Maybe he outsmarts himself
Julie Wolfe – - – - Wrong, wrong, wrong
Kristina Klumpp – - The Natalie look alike wont win but might surprise some people with a move
Mike Chiesl – - – - Tough guy, strong, smart, definite threat
Ralph Kiser – - – - Definitely has some youtube moments but will not win, he dont take no crap
Sarita White – - – Silent Assasin
Stephanie Valencia – Not very smart and in way over her head
Steve Wright – - – Good guy
Russell Hantz – - Should have never changed your game style, no final 3 for you anymore, toast

***

Blackwhale: 22 Leagues Under the Sea forum on Survivor Sucks:

(Click the link for a lot more; I’m just adding a few of his notes)

Matt, Ashley and Natalie may have actually hung out pretty recently.

Matt Elrod is also a part of the core Ometepe alliance, which if you haven’t yet figured out, does very well.

Two people are “redeemed” and I believe one is male one is female. One at around the merge and the other at the finale, as you all know from call sheets.

Natalie Tenerelli fans will be happy to know she’s one of the last two girls standing.

Forgot to mention, Natalie Tenerelli and Ashley Underwood work very well together!

Rob Mariano outlasts Russell Hantz.

Ashley aligns with Rob and then outlasts him.

Stephanie Valencia = Marisa Calihan? That may be so. Not quite sure if its Ometepe or Zapatera that goes to tribal council first, but when Zapatera goes, look for Stephanie to go quick. She and Russell clash.

Seems like a lot of people here don’t like David too much, but sorry to say he does fairly well for himself. I hear he is linked in with the Krista/Russell alliance. He’s a pretty good player. I think Krista’s the only one who doesn’t turn against Russell though. Just like Ashley outlasts her ally Rob, I am pretty sure Krista does better than Russell.

***

*NEW* (click link below for updates)

RealityTVSpoilers.net’s spoilers:

Castaways voted out for good:
-Francesca Hogi

Castaways sent to Redemption Island early:
-Matt Elrod
-Russell Hantz
-Stephanie Valencia
-Phillip Sheppard
-Kristina Kell

Castaways who may or may not make merge:
-Ralph “Rooster” Kiser
-Julie Wolfe
-Steve Wright
-Krista Klumpp
-Grant Mattos

Castaways who make the merge:
-Mike Chiesl
-Sarita White
-David Murphy
-Boston Rob (probably comes in 5th or 6th)
-Andrea Boehlke (could be in the Final 3)
-Ashley Underwood (could be in the Final 3)
-Natalie Tenerelli (could be in the Final 3)

***

Catch up on my past “Survivor” stories (and future recaps) in this nifty archive.

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