April 06, 2011 07:10 PM by Ryan Haidet
I have covered Survivor for a long time. I’ve seen each episode of every season multiple times. Just when I thought I had seen it all, tonight’s episode of Survivor: Redemption Island truly delivered an awesome combination of events. I may catch some flack for this, but I’m ranking this episode as one of the best ever — easily within the top five. I truly can’t summarize my feelings about what I just watched other than saying, “Wow!” Simply amazing stuff. What happened that has me so excited? Read on to find out!
The Duel To Win
The episode opened as Sarita arrived on Redemption Island where she compared Matt’s shelter to something out of the “Swiss Family Robinson.” Throughout their overnight discussions, Sarita told Matt everything she could about the Zapatera tribe.
The next day, Matt was worried about the upcoming duel because of a cut on his foot. He was fearful the injury would hinder his performance — especially if the challenge was one featuring endurance. It was.
When Matt and Sarita arrived at Redemption Island arena, they were greeted by host Jeff Probst and every member from each tribe as they as on the sidelines to witness the duel. This is when Probst revealed that the winner would return to the game. The challenge was a repeat from previous seasons — including Fiji and Tocantins — where Matt and Sarita had to stand on small pegs between two walls in their bare feet. Every 15 minutes, they stepped down to a smaller peg.
They both easily completed the first two footholds, but the final one proved to be much more difficult. Matt and Sarita adjusted their bare feet multiple times as cramping set in from standing on the pegs Probst said were around 1/8 of an inch. Although Zapatera was cheering Sarita on, she couldn’t hang on any longer and dropped out of the challenge first. With that, Matt was victorious once again.
After Sarita dropped her buff into the fire and walked away from the game for good, Probst officially welcomed Matt back into the game. He told him to drop his orange Ometepe buff and tossed him a fresh black one. Probst then passed out black buffs to the rest of the players announcing that the merge had arrived. He also revealed that Redemption Island will continue immediately with the next player voted off. Moments later, the group shared hugs and left for their new beach.
Murlonio Is Born
As the new tribe enjoyed the traditional merge feast, Boston Rob suggested the tribal name of Murlonio. He told them all it had the meaning of “From the sea; united.” Nobody protested the idea, and Murlonio was born. But just like Erik Reichenbach did on Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites, the suggested tribal name had no real meaning. Boston Rob said in confessional that Murlonio is basically an inside joke between he and his wife — and Survivor: All-Stars winner — Amber.
As the tribe worked together to build a new shelter, Mike felt like this was the point in the game for him to make a big move with Matt in the center of it all. As the two of them went for a walk, Mike proposed an alliance to Matt while also saying he had access to a hidden Immunity Idol if he ever needed it.
As the darkness of night settled in, so did a storm. The former Ometepe members cuddled together underneath the tarp as the Zapatera folks were stuck in the leaky, unfinished shelter. Later that night, Matt told Andrea his grand scheme. He said it would be a great idea to make Ometepe comfortable by taking Steve out of Zapatera at the next Tribal Council. They would go after Phillip at the next vote before setting their target on Boston Rob. “This game respects big moves,” Matt told her. Andrea was concerned about jumping on board with Matt’s plan, but said it was something she would consider.
The Christian Coalition
On day 21 at Murlonio, Matt was talking about his religious beliefs once again as Mike read from the Bible that Krista had left behind after she lost the duel on Redemption Island. Boston Rob was worried about the potential alliance between Matt and Mike based on their similar interest in religion. In a confessional, Boston Rob declared that he has nothing against religion whatsoever. It’s the budding bond — which he labled the “Christian Coalition” — that he was most concerned about.
The first individual Immunity challenge of the season was a cool, new concept. Each player stood on a round log while balancing a series of balls on a flat disc in one hand. The last person left standing on the log without dropping a ball would claim victory. Julie was first out after just a few minutes. Ashley was out next. Then David. As the rounds continued and more balls were added to their wooden discs, the final two players in the challenge were Mike and Natalie. Mike had virtually no movement throughout the entire challenge. In fact, he was doing so well that Probst said it almost seemed as if the balls were glued to his disc. That was until a fly landed on one of Mike’s balls. Moments later, Mike lost his footing and fell off the log, which brought Natalie to victory.
When the Murlonio tribe returned to camp, Mike was concerned he was now the target for elimination because he performed solidly in the challenge. Just in case he was at risk for elimination, Mike asked Ralph if he would be willing to give him the hidden Immunity Idol if the situation presented itself. Ralph said yes.
Meanwhile, Boston Rob and Matt spent some time together sitting on a rock near the beach. This is where Matt vowed to continue honoring his God by being true to his word with the former members of Ometepe. But in making his promise, Matt also told Boston Rob the entire plan that had been concocted to target him for elimination. In confessional, Boston Rob said Matt was very untrustworthy and stupid to openly admit he was involved in a potential plan to vote him off. Boston Rob was out for blood against Matt again. He wanted to send the Redemption Island resident back to the shelter he knows so well. As Tribal Council loomed, Boston Rob put his plan into motion talking with the former Ometepe tribe members about taking Matt out next.
Mike was still worried for his own safety, so he wrote Matt and note and secretly handed it off as they were working on the new shelter. The letter said, “Matt vote for Grant and I’ll take you to the final three.” After showing the note to Andrea, Matt said in confessional, “Here I am at the crossroads between keeping my word and breaking my word.”
When talking about the new dynamic as a merged tribe at Tribal Council, David discussed how their is still an obvious division based on their sleeping arrangements when Ometepe hogged the tarp in the rain. Ashley said that they had every right to the tarp since they won it. But David argued that they only won that challenge because Zapatera intentionally lost it to get rid of Russell. This is where more crazy talk from Phillip came in as he discussed Zapatera. Matt soon became the central focus of Tribal Council where he said that it was much easier living on Redemption Island without all of the extra people. Before the vote, Ralph made the argument to Matt that Ometepe sold him out once before and they probably will again at some point in the game.
After the votes were made, Ralph stood and played the hidden Immunity Idol for Mike. But it didn’t matter because there wasn’t a single vote made against Mike. The first five votes fell against Grant. The next one was for Steve. But the bottom fell out as the next six votes were turned — each of them with Matt’s name. By the second vote with his name on it, Matt was shocked he was being blindsided once again by the same people. “Matt, once again the tribe has spoken,” Probst said. “You know the drill.” Julie said, “Oh my God, that poor kid.” As Matt made his way down the steps toward Redemption Island for the second time, he mumbled, “What the hell guys?”
Incredible. David declared that the move was genius. Seriously one of the best Survivor episodes in the show’s 22 seasons. This beats anything we saw last season! I can’t wait for next week! Can Matt survive another round of duels on Redemption Island to return to the game for a second time? Wouldn’t that be an amazing story if he was able to come back and win the entire game? Do you think it’s possible?
Images courtesy of CBS.
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