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Destined for Annihilation

For the first time in all the years I've watched this show, on tonight's episode of Survivor: Philippines, I suddenly realized I couldn't wait for this season's reunion show. I don't know what's going to happen to all the alliances down the line, but the shifting alliance on the Tandang tribe has taken more twists and turns in ten days than you ordinarily see in a whole season.

First, RC found the clue to the hidden Immunity Idol and immediately shared it with her friend Abi. Then Abi, in a wave of unaccountable paranoia, warned RC not to betray her. In Abi's mind, that warning somehow became a certainty that RC was going to turn on her. I guess that's what this kind of paranoia means, that you look at a friend and see an enemy. So Abi turned to Pete and told him about the clue and her suspicions regarding RC.

Pete isn't one to stew in his own juices and make up scenarios where people might turn on each other. He's the action guy. In order to "create a little chaos," he took the clue from where Abi had hidden it and stuck it in RC's bag, in a way that it would be easily spotted. Sure enough, Abi found it and called out RC in front of everyone, then decided she wouldn't talk to her or listen to any explanations.

All the while, Pete was snickering in the background, pleased with himself for turning people against each other. I just can't wait for the reunion show, when we see how Abi has reacted since learning what Pete did. Of course, there are 29 days and a lot more twists and turns between now and then, and there's no telling what might happen, or what might come out. RC is everyone's target now, but Abi is the kind of person it gets to be easy to vote off, when the opportunity arises.

Meanwhile, at Kalabaw, Jeff and Jonathan have created a strong man's alliance, mostly because they're the two oldest and can't really relate to the four younger members. You can't win with an alliance of two, though, so without much effort they managed to bring Carter in. The three guys going off together and talking didn't go unnoticed by the three women. The rift in the tribe showed at the Immunity Challenge. They performed pitifully and were kept alive only by the incompetence of Matsing, who lost for the fourth straight time.

Matsing started with three against six for each of the other tribes, and by the end it was going to be two. It looked a little like the end game, when there are only three people left and everybody tells everybody else something different. If Malcolm and Denise hadn't suspected that Russell had the hidden Idol, they might have saved him the blindside and just told him he was going, but they couldn't risk it. So each of them lobbied for Russell to vote for the other, and they did it so well that they confused themselves. If they could give Russell such good reasons for voting out their ally, why wouldn't they just do it?

By the time the last three Matsing members got to Tribal Council, it's likely none of them felt completely safe, and no one totally trusted anyone else. Jeff asked each of them why they should stay, and why the others should go, and they all had good arguments. Russell has experience, Malcolm is younger than Russell and stronger than Denise, and Denise is competitive and has social skills. Any combination of the two could probably go forward just as easily as any other combination. (Which is to say that nobody from this tribe is going very far past the merge, no matter what they do.)

In the end, Malcolm and Denise stuck together and got rid of Russell, who for some reason didn't see it coming. It probably didn't fit into his concept that he's not allowed to fail at anything. After the latest challenge loss, he started speaking in tongues and ranting at the heavens. Early on Malcolm had him pegged for his total lack of self-awareness, and he showed it every time he gave one of his lunatic speeches.

However, my favorite part of the episode was earlier, when Russell showed us exactly how self-aware he can be. He was desperate to find the Idol, and he knew it was somewhere under his nose, because that was the wording in the clue. He even offered stage directions for his search, telling us he expected the cameras to show him "walking right past it," and that they would have "a flash on the screen" illuminating the Idol when his back was turned. He made it so easy on the production crew; they must have been sorry to lose him.

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