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Survivor Recap: Flirting Trumps Fishing As the Ultimate Survival Skill

If loving evil flirt-monster Parvati is wrong, then nobody on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains wants to be right. The player known for serial schmoozing has everyone talking about her (and her glorious eyelashes and swiveling hips) like she's Bettie Page. She has a "pretty smile and a nice wiggle," laments Randy. Russell curls up beside her at night like a puppy, engaging in some behavior that clashes with his bio on the official show site ("Russell is married with four children"). Her tribe calls her lazy and stupid. They fear her crafty ways. Then she outmaneuvers them all at tribal council and swings the entire group's vote to hardworking but unfriendly Randy. What's not to love?

Randy seems to be in trouble early — when in Survivor history has someone brought back food and had to beg people to eat it? — but then again, so does Coach, who bores the Villains with his bedtime tall tales. In fact, for the first 25 minutes of last night's episode, all anybody does is talk. We can imagine "Everybody's mouths want to talk" James doesn't love all the chatter. And there are some pointed observations:

Parvati on Coach: "He is demented."
Parvati on Russell: "He's kind of a lunatic."
Russell on Coach: "Everybody knows Coach is a big joke."
Parvati on Jerri: "She's just a bitter old cougar."
Jerri on Parvati: "Parvati is like a virus."

The combined reward/immunity challenge doesn't arrive until halfway through the episode, after Russell pulls one of his nutjob stunts and buries the machete to screw with the tribe dynamic. (The move seems more desperate than savvy, and if he does manage to swipe Boston Rob's hat, Russell may wind up buried beneath Fenway Park.) But it's a tight race between the Samoa mastermind and Coach in the megalomania department:

Russell: "Nobody knows who they're messing with here. It's Russell Hantz! Give me a break!"
Coach: "There's nobody out here that's honorable … except for me."

It isn't easy being cheesy. With all the blabbing, it's fun to finally watch the Heroes wipe the muddy floor with the Villains at the challenge from Palau (a sumo-style battle to push competitors off a platform using only a cushioned pad). After losing the past two competitions, the Heroes go on a rampage, winning all eight matchups. Notable moments: Tyson kisses J.T. on the cheek to prove he's an unpredictable weirdo; Coach launches his victory roar before realizing he didn't score owing to a technicality, then gives Probst the finger; James celebrates his victory by hurling his cushion at a squashed Randy, lying in the mud ("I told you you're on the wrong team, James," taunts Parvati). The Heroes' reward: luxury items, coffee, and rice — though how much of a reward is coffee in the jungle for a bunch of folks with no food in their stomachs and no toilet paper?

The Villains are so busy bitching about Parvati's powers, we don't see much of the Heroes this week, save for a scene of J.T. working his game by lying and telling Cirie her ally Candice doesn't trust her. In the Villains' camp, the righteous Coach rails against Parvarti's SexyBack approach (watch one of his many, many rants below) and goes on a tangent about Martin Luther King Jr. that would give Al Sharpton pause — it ends by equating King's "dream" with his own desire that "Randy's going to wake up in this camp tomorrow."

Randy's not so much a villain as a misanthrope (remember, he hates everyone on the planet but his beloved dog), and he doesn't have a single ally in either tribe. When he gets every vote he tosses his buff in the fire — less villainous than sullen — and stalks off into the night. Next week: Coach cries!

Other Recaps:
EW's Dalton Ross cannot stop talking about the feathered earring Coach wears to tribal council. It is indeed eerily Seagal.
E!'s Drusilla Moorhouse gushes about Tyson's acid tongue and fears the game will suffer when and if he joins Randy on the losers' bench. He certainly is a feisty one.
The L.A. Times' Amy Kaufman gags at the Parvati-Russell cuddle fest (right there with you, Amy!) and even tweeted at Parv to ask what's what. Her response? "You do what you gotta do when you're a gamer ;) you'd do it too. i know you would."

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS