We’re just two episodes into Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains and one thing is very clear: There are a lot fewer good guys on the island than there are Heroes. In fact, the Heroes are turning into a tribe of dicks! (Literally and figuratively — they’ve already voted off two women.) Before last night’s episode aired, the Survivorverse was aflutter with ousted Sugar’s Twitter claim: “J.T. slept with me pregame and told me we’d stick together.” Troubling news for feminism and anyone (like me) who prefers to think the Survivors have no off-screen lives. J.T. did sinisterly announce, “I’m going to form alliances with anyone I can,” so it’s clear he’s not planning to play nicely even though he won a million bucks being the sweet Southerner the first time around.
Maybe it’s the Heroes’ lame losing streak, or the fact that it’s nearly impossible to play an entirely clean game (Yul did it in Cook Islands and returning Hero Tom came close in Palau), or the threat of ten conniving Villains on the other beach, but the righteous crew aren’t giving us much to root for just yet. They’re just poorly imitating their rivals’ bad behavior (What Would the Villains Do?). As for those scrappy Villain underdogs, they’re kinda endearing!
After a ton of footage of the Villains being lazy — inept, but not evil — and failing to build a solid shelter, it’s abundantly clear that Boston Rob is the strongest player in the tribe. In a moment that’s striking for its prescience or retroactive editing, Courtney even proclaims, “I hope he doesn’t drop dead in the next few days ‘cause we’ll all die.” Because, of course, just moments later Rob passes out in the jungle and medics revive him. And in his teary, semiconscious state, Boston Rob wins our hearts anew: “I feel like it’s getting the best of me,” he croaks at Jeff Probst in a scene straight from Saving Private Ryan. “And I love and respect it too much to not play. I want to win this game.” His epiphany is even better: Trying to be a good guy is making him physically ill and he needs to just be a villain and get on with it. Know thyself and thy fierce accent, Rob.
Rob recovers in time for the immunity/reward challenge, which plays out nearly identically to last week’s come-from-behind win: The Heroes leap out to an early lead in the physical leg, rolling giant crates to their mat, but the Villains overtake them in the puzzle portion, assembling the crates into a staircase that spells out the tribe’s name. Before the challenge, the Heroes all agree “one voice” will provide direction for the puzzle. But J.T. (who did this same challenge on Tocantins) seems bewildered, many voices join the mix, and Stephenie is somewhat unfairly named the culprit. Rupert provides zero assistance from the sidelines, where he nurses his broken toe and barks orders like he’s front row at a drag show. James starts bellowing at his teammates as the Villains celebrate their victory and his irritating monologue doesn’t end there.
James falls in love with the sound of his own voice repeating what he perceives to be the freakin’ smartest theory ever — Stephenie must be poison because she outlasted her tribemates on previous seasons — and says it again. And again. And … again. Tom, Colby, and Stephenie try to woo Cirie and Candice into their alliance, but the lure of J.T., James, Rupert, and Amanda proves too strong. Why? No clue. Cirie even admits at tribal council that Amanda burned her on Micronesia. The two swing-vote ladies couldn’t have been too proud to be aligned with a guy who has to have the last word after the tribe has spoken (see assholey video below), but there it is. Next week: James really goes nuts!