Parvati and Russell have been ruling Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains for so long, it’s hard to remember there are other players. Colby? He’s been worthless: no heart, no skills, no fun. Jerri? Slinking around the shadows, trying to stick with the winning squad. Rupert? Clinging to the idea that he’s one of the good guys. And then there’s Sandra, who’s been playing a delightfully nasty little game all on her own. She’s betrayed the Villains, double-crossed the Heroes, and found an immunity idol she’s kept between herself and her boobs. Last night Sandra was so confusingly awesome and deliciously confrontational, she’s fast becoming one of our eleventh-hour favorites.
Not only is Sandra a great Survivor, but she’s an excellent reality-TV personality — an open book who loves to talk shit, have a good cry, and make people furious. And she’s always human: When the players’ loved ones join them in Samoa for a reward challenge, Sandra gets teary explaining why her uncle Fernando’s appearance means so much to her in light of her mom’s death (he seems to mean even more to her than Outback Steakhouse).
And the more attention Sandra gets, the more Russell seethes. As we’ve seen time and time again, Russell’s ego is about 10 percent bigger than his game. His desire to squash anyone who challenges his authority clouds his chess master–like ability to visualize his future moves. For weeks, Sandra’s seemingly been gunning for him — she pranced right over to the Heroes after the merge and let them know he was the Villains’ evil patriarch. And ladies have always made Russell uneasy on the show. Last season he built a “dumbass girl alliance” with the intent to betray them all, and has virulent words for the women this week when they all go off on the reward without him: “These girls are a bunch of unappreciative little bitches.” If the key to reality TV is being evil without becoming totally unrelatable, Russell is toeing a dangerous line — with us, and the all-important jury.
The reward challenge involves tossing water at the family members until a bucket is filled; Jerri wins, while Colby has a hissy fit (he never would have yelled at his mother that way) and Russell’s wife spits into the bucket to add liquid (this truly is a match made in heaven). Jerri picks Parvati and Sandra to come along to enjoy the prize, hanging out with their loved ones while natural blowholes spit plumes of water into the air. Russell is infuriated he’s not invited, which was in truth a miscalculation for Jerri: Keep your enemies closer, pal. But on the bright side, it gives Parvati the chance to solidify an all-girl alliance (she sure loves those!). Back at camp, Russell ostensibly flips, teaming with Rupert and Colby to form a competing all-beard alliance. But Russell’s logic is flawed — he’s convinced he can score a swing vote from Jerri, who’s already slipped away. Beyond her distaste for being bullied, Jerri has it in for one of Russell’s new alliance mates, Rupert, who obnoxiously proves his cluelessness by keeping the tribe awake all night chopping wood.
The next day, Colby once again proves his ineptitude at challenges (this week it was balancing poles on the backs of the players’ hands), dropping out after a mere fifteen seconds. This guy should get shipped back to America and stripped of his big floppy hat for sucking so damn hard. Parvati prevails, leaving Russell with a dilemma: His all-guy alliance was kind of predicated on booting his partner in crime, Parv. So he tells the girls he’s putting down Rupert’s name, as he’s so obviously the strongest of the two Heroes left. It seems like the vote will be pretty straightforward … but then there’s Sandra (cue jaunty Maude theme).
Sandra can’t help herself from reintroducing the idea of booting Russell to big-mouth Rupert, who’ll do anything to keep his ass in the game. The big beardo blabs to Russell, who flips out and practically turns the camp upside down with his cocky threats. “The entire camp has turned into Crazytown,” marvels Jerri in an amusing confessional (watch the chaos unfold below in one of the oddest scenes of the season). Sandra taunts Russell, responding to his “you’re either with me or against me” with a calm, cool, seemingly unironic, “I’m against you, Russell.” Things get so bizarre, Russell accuses the ladies of “being on something.”
At tribal council, brilliant Parvati amuses us once again (“I’m a hero on the inside”), and Sandra pulls the hidden immunity idol out of her bra (you really can’t make this stuff up). She didn’t need the protection, though: Russell, Parvati, Jerri, and Sandra all vote for Rupert, who gives Russell one long, nasty stare good-bye.
The players have to get themselves through a handful more eliminations before it’s jury time. Coach, Courtney, J.T., Amanda, Candice, Danielle, and Rupert currently sit on the final voting body — that’s three villains who were burned by Russell and four Heroes who have good reason to loathe him, too. Sandra is poor at challenges, which is a big demerit to her case, but should she go up against Jerri, Colby, or Russell, she could take it all. But everyone’s biggest obstacle is the lady who deserves the cash once again: Parvati.
Sunday night: the last eliminations and ultimate jury vote revealed at the live finale!
Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross explains what Rupert’s death stare at Russell meant at tribal: “I really should be mad at myself instead, but it is a hell of a lot of easier to be mad at you so I am going to stare at you for approximately three more seconds and then I am going to go make sure I have plenty of clean tie-dye shirts for the final Tribal Councils.”
The Huffington Post’s Tallulah Morehead translates what Colby was really shouting at his brother at the challenge: “Mom always liked you best!”
E!’s Drusilla Moorhouse is grossed out by Rupert’s slobbery reunion with his wife, but grateful they didn’t subject us to “another NSFW grindfest à la their All-Stars reunion.”