Survivor

Stephen's Survivor Strategy Blog: Rob's Got 'Tiger Blood'

03/03/2011 at 10:15 AM EST

Survivor: Redemption Island - Recap and Results, Russell Hatch and Rob Mariano
Stephen Fishbach, left, and Rob Mariano
Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov(2)
"The worst condition in which a belligerent can be placed is that of being completely disarmed." – Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Has there even been a tribe so completely under the spell of one warlock? Boston Rob is riding the Survivor tsunami on a mercury surfboard. He makes Hatch, Hantz, Heidik, and Kwon look like droopy-eyed armless children.

This episode, Rob locks Phillip into his alliance, finds the clue to the hidden immunity idol, and brings a pouting Andrea back into the fold. For handling Ometepe like a man with tiger blood, Rob wins his third straight Fishy award.

Rob's sheen isn't just due to his Adonis DNA. He's simply more focused than anybody else. "Tomorrow morning, when I get up, I need to get Andrea feeling okay," he says. He's still flushed from tribal council, but he's already firing like an F-18.



Similarly, while Kristina digs haphazardly in the dirt for the immunity idol, Rob solves the problem with his brain. He searches through every item the tribe won with its reward. When he at last finds the clue beneath Phillip's buns (always the last place you look!), he decides not to tell anybody. "Because I want the idol," he says. "For me."

Ometepe better wise up. Right now, Rob's dealing with fools and trolls. He's dealing with soft targets, and it's just strafing runs in his underwear.

Winning, anyone?

Redemption Island

Am I alone in thinking the Redemption Island duel was a snoozer? This is the first RI challenge ever. It was hyped with images of warriors and gladiatorial combat. Instead, we got "sticks and rope and locks."

The only challenge was whose pole was longer and stronger. When Matt's pole proved long enough, Francesca was eliminated.

Russell's Tribe

The best thing that Redemption Island brought us was Steve's grand scheme to deceive Russell by telling him that Matt, not Francesca, lost the duel.

Let me just say – I like Steve. We share both a name and over-developed, rippling musculature. But this has to be one of the lamest plots ever concocted in Survivor history. You gain absolutely nothing, and you come off looking like a petty liar.

Lucky for Steve, Russell has bigger problems. He needs to find the immunity idol fast. He knows from the clue that it's at the nexus of something alive and something not-alive.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to know what the word "alive" means. "The beach is definitely alive," he says. "Everything out here's alive. The trees, the running water."

Stephanie's plan to pretend like they have the idol fizzles. It only convinces Zapatera to eject Russell before he stirs up real trouble, so they throw the challenge.

At Tribal Council, you can see Jeff bristling at Russell's impending ouster. "We're early in the game and you guys are so divided that you're in trouble come a merge," Jeff lectures. "Big prediction from me but I think I'm right."

Sandra, JT, Natalie, and Parvati might disagree. In almost every recent season, the tribe that eliminated its weak links early pulled out a victory. Zapatera's six strong looks like one of the most functional alliances ever. We'll see how long that lasts without lighting rod Russell .

So for the first time ever, Ressell gets his torch smuffed. He entered the season with his tribe plotting to take him out before they'd even shaken hands. It's a testament to his Survivor mastery that he once again built a loyal alliance and nabbed the idol clue. Had Ralph not literally stumbled onto the idol, he might have been able to run the game again.

I just hope the next few challenges at Redemption Island are sock burning and Hantz family trivia.

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