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Survivor: Redemption Island — The Fight To Stay Alive

March 02, 2011 07:58 PM by Ryan Haidet

Survivor: Redemption Island delivered the first official elimination tonight as Francesca and Matt squared off in the first duel of the season.  But that was just the beginning.  There was so much scheming and strategy that led up to yet another crazy Tribal Council that culminated with a three-way tie vote.  Who lost the duel and who was voted out in the nail-biting tie-breaker with a ticket to Redemption Island?  Read on to find out more!

Ready To Duel

The episode began as Matt arrived at Redemption Island in the middle of the night following his elimination from the Ometepe tribe.  “I feel sick to my stomach right now,” Matt said of his elimination.

It was a much different vibe back at camp where Boston Rob was excited with the way Tribal Council went down.  He got what he wanted as Matt was blindsided and the hidden Immunity Idol was flushed out when Kristina played it at the vote.  The next task — work on Andrea, Matt’s ally, to gain her trust back.

One Stays, One Goes

On day 6 at Redemption Island, Francesca and Matt received a message that instructed them to follow a path to the island’s arena for the first duel.  Meanwhile, each tribe also received treemail, but the message was different.  Both were told to randomly choose stones from a bag to decide which two members would visit Redemption Island as witnesses of the duel.  David and Steve were chosen for Zapatera with Andrea and Ashley selected for Ometepe.

Once everybody settled in at the arena, host Jeff Probst explained the rules.  Matt was ready to rumble saying it was “do or die.”  Francesca said she wishes Matt the best in life, but she was there to win.  Their duel was a challenge we had seen in seasons before.  Both players were behind a makeshift prison where they had to tie sticks together to reach through the bars as a tool for collecting a series of keys.  The first player to collect them all and unlock their door would stay alive on Redemption Island.  Francesca had a huge lead, but Matt gained on her in the final moments and won the competition.  With that, Francesca was officially eliminated from the competition.  Probst told her to toss her orange buff in the fire as she left the game for good.

Planning To Target Russell

Andrea and Ashley returned to camp and told everybody how upset Matt was acting at Redemption Island.  Moments later, Boston Rob pulled Andrea to the side and apologized for the way in which Matt was blindsided.  But in his apology, he proceeded to tell her that the decision wasn’t his alone.  But Andrea wasn’t sure she could trust him, and was brought to tears as she talked about the situation in a confessional.

At Zapatera, David and Steve returned and lied to Russell about the results to the duel.  They told him that Francesca won the competition and Matt was sent packing.  What a dumb move.  Why bother lying about something so miniscule that is no big secret since any other contestant can learn the truth by witnessing a future duel or getting voted off and being forced to go there?  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Back at Zapatera, Russell’s hunt for the hidden Immunity Idol continued, but he couldn’t find it — and never will.  That’s because Ralph stumbled upon it by accident in last week’s episode.

On the other side of camp, Ralph, Steve and Mike were considering a plan to purposely lose the Immunity challenge so they could vote off Russell.  They were tired of his lazy, untrustworthy ways and wanted him gone.

Puzzling Decision

Apparently the contestants aren’t the only element this season that has been granted an opportunity to return to the game.  Tonight’s combined Immunity/Reward challenge was one we saw during last season on Survivor: Nicaragua in which the contestants are attached to a large wheel.  That wheel then spins around as one contestant is forced upside down into a pool of water.  Then they had to collect water in their mouth and spit it into a tube.

There was also a puzzle involved in the challenge, but in all honesty, this contest didn’t even matter because Zapatera purposely lost.  David, who has the highest IQ in Survivor history, acted like he couldn’t piece the puzzle together.  Instead he stared at it moronically as Boston Rob led Ometepe to their first victory.  Russell was pissed about the loss and said in confessional, “I’m dealing with a bunch of bitches!”

Tribal Council Tie Vote

Going into Tribal Council, Russell knew he was in big trouble.  Trying to save his skin, Stephanie asked Julie to vote along with them because they hold the hidden Immunity Idol.  Liar.  “He will take us to the top,” Stephanie told Julie.  Julie was a bit worried about the situation, but Russell promised he had her back if she delivered in his favor.  He told her they needed to vote for Ralph.

Tribal lines were the focus of discussion at Zapatera’s first Tribal Council as Russell vowed he was playing hard to win challenges this season.  Russell accused the tribe of purposely losing the challenge when Mike openly said they needed to trim some fat from the group.  But Stephanie wasn’t having any of their garbage.  She vigorously spoke in Russell’s defense saying his previous experiences could help take them deeper into the game.  The divisions were so heavy that Probst predicted they would be in trouble once the merge eventually arrives.

When the votes were tallied, it was a three-way tie between Russell, Ralph and Stephanie.  To break the tie, a re-vote was immediately held as the trio watched the other six tribe members cast their ballots again.  This time it was decisive.  Although Ralph received one vote, Russell Hantz was voted out for the first time in his Survivor career.  “I’ll be back, and be ready!” Russell exclaimed as his torch was snuffed.  Echoing Russell’s emotions, his ally Stephanie looked over at her tribemates and warned, “Storm’s a coming.”

The episode title should have given this outcome away.  “Keep Hope Alive.”  That’s the same phrase tattooed on Russell’s arm (see below), and something he often writes while signing autographs.

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Images courtesy of CBS.

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