Survivor: Heroes vs Villains – Episode 9

Russell pulls one over on the Heroes.

Survivor: Heroes vs. VillainsBlog: Episode 9

10th Elimination: Courtney

Last week, I said that I was calling shenanigans if we didn’t have a merge in Episode 9.  We didn’t. 

While it’s true that what did go down in place of the merge will probably end up being fairly interesting, I still say there’s something screwy going on behind the scenes this season.  Between some of the challenge choices, the convenient appearance of idols, and the delayed timing of a merge which brought things to a 5-5 tie, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the game is being tinkered with. I’m sure that every season, some spontaneous decisions are made to keep the game interesting.  In Fiji, I have no doubt that the switch up of the rich and poor tribes was specifically made to prevent things becoming lopsided.  Last season, I bet the producers had fun hiding idol after idol, just to see how many Russell could actually find.

However, this season, it all just seems “too” convenient, especially given the Heroes vs. Villains premise.  In any given season, I doubt the producers care who wins.  Male/Female, Black/White/Asian, Weak/Strong, Red Tribe/Blue Tribe – none of that is going to ultimately affect the bottom line. But this season is different. For the first time ever, the Survivors were given a pre-assigned “value”.  There are the minority of people like myself who truly appreciate the Villians, but overwhelmingly, I’m sure that most people watching this season are rooting heavily for the Heroes to overcome.  Having an all-Villain final five or six isn’t giving the people what they want, and about two episodes ago, that was exactly where this game was heading. 

Let’s go back to Episode 3, where the Heroes, already down 8-10 in numbers, desperately needed a victory in the immunity challenge.  What do we get?  A sumo wrestling contest that the Villains had NO shot of winning. 

At one point, the Heroes were down 5-8.  Then Boston Rob got taken out and I assume the producers saw their opportunity.  The weakened Villains were ripe to lose challenge after challenge, and if the merge could be held off long enough, the Heroes would be all but guaranteed to tie things up.  They did.

Then there’s the issue of the hidden immunity idol.  There have now been a ridiculous four idols pre-merge, and I would not be shocked to see even more pop up before everything is said and done.  Remember, the Survivor Manifesto states that when you’re back is up against the wall, the best thing you can do is create chaos.  Well, idols equal chaos.  (See Cirie getting blindsided and the Tyson fiasco if you need examples)  The best thing you can do to help the underdogs, other than prolonging the merge, is to be generous with the idols.  So far, nine episodes in, we’ve seen both of those things go down.  Look, these things could have easily all been pre-ordained before the show started, but it all just seems a bit too convenient for the Heroes, who have been set up for a miraculous comeback. 

Too bad they blew it by giving Russell the idol. There are some things the producers just can’t plan for!

The Merge:

There’s going to be an interesting dynamic next week with the merge.  You essentially have 5 Heroes, 4 Villains with 2 idols, and then Sandra.  I can’t even begin to predict how this will turn out!  As much as I feel a bit cheated with the aforementioned “tinkering”, I can’t deny the fact that this is without a doubt the most intriguing Final 10 we’ve ever seen in 20 seasons. 

Will the Heroes, locked into a false belief that there’s an all-woman alliance, foolishly trust Russell whom they’ve already given an idol to? 

Who will Sandra ultimately side with?  The Heroes appear to be a very tight five, giving her a sixth place finish, but there’s always the fact that the Hero women don’t trust JT.  On the flip side, if she stays with the Villains, it could be a final five and she could wiggle her way in when people start becoming wary of Russell and Parvati.  She’s clearly the swing vote. 

In the previews, it appears that Sandra goes to Rupert to try and out Russell as the leader of the Villains.  Will they listen to her, or blow it off as a strategic lie by the all-woman alliance? 

Let’s say that they believe Sandra and the Heroes sneak-attack Russell.  Nobody other than Danielle knows about Parvati’s idol.  Will she be able to turn the tables?

If the Heroes side with Russell, he’ll ultimately take out one of the stronger Heroes – possibly JT.  Does that leave a wide-open gap for Sandra to make things 5-4 in favor of the Heroes?  It’s possible that they could still get duped by Russell and have the numbers. 

Right now, things are so even numbers-wise.  When you factor in the two idols, and Sandra as the wild card, there’s just too many possibilities to even begin to guess how this will turn out!


That being said, here are the five Survivors I’m picking as having the best and worst shot at the Million:

The Worst Chances:

Jeri – Overall has played a pretty weak game.  I can’t see her having much to convince the jury with.  If she wins, it will be by default in a situation where everyone is just bitter against somebody like Russell or Parvati.

JT – Completely untrustworthy.  He’s going to get burned if he makes it to the final tribal council.

Sandra – She’s going to have a tough time as she’ll be on the “outs” with whatever alliance she ends up joining

Parvati – Hard to put her in this category as she has a hidden idol that’s truly hidden.  It all comes down to the fact that people generally resent her and that he’s already won.  I have a tough time seeing her win over a jury.

Russell – It pains me to put him here, but I have the sinking feeling that the Heroes are gonna sniff him out and blindside him this week before he plays the idol.  The bottom line is that EVERYONE is going to be gunning for Russell down the stretch and I’m not so sure he’s going to be able to keep dodging the bullets.

The Best Chances:

Colby – I hate to even say this, because the Colby is the most over-rated player in Survivor history.  Between handing Tina the million in Australia, and stinking it up in All-Stars and this season, he’s proven that he just doesn’t deserve to win this game.  Unfortunately, if the Heroes do take control, there’s a pretty good shot of him making it to the end.  If Amanda and Candice end up turning on JT, that leaves the two of them, Rupert, and Colby in the final four.  In that situation, Colby could very well end up making it to the end.  I have to hope that Amanda realizes that she’s got a much better chance sitting across from JT at the end than Colby and votes accordingly, otherwise, the one player who I absolutely did not want to see win may end up with the million.  This would be worse than when Dumb Aras won during Exile Island!

Rupert – Again, it really hinges on the Heroes taking control, which I think they will.  Amanda and Candice have to take somebody to the final three.  Rupert’s a much safer bet than Colby.

Candice – She’s sneaky enough to get herself to the end no matter which way this one goes.  Rest assured that if the Villains do take control, she could very well be the last hero to go and find herself in a swing-vote situation.  If the Heroes make a run, expect her to be there in the end as well.

Danielle – In a final three with Parvati and Russell, Danielle may be the one who would make the jury cringe the least if she walked away with the money.  She’s also in an alliance with two idols, and going to be flying way under the radar while Parvati and Russell take all the fire.  Needless to say, she’s positioned herself very nicely.

Amanda – If the heroes do manage to turn the tide, the odds are that Amanda, Candice, and of the Hero men will end up in the final three.  As of this past episode, Amanda became the first player in Survivor history to make it 100 days.  What Jeff Probst failed to mention is that she made it 100 days without EVER being voted off.  That’s just a ridiculous feat.  If Amanda can make it to the final, she’ll have 117 days under her belt and a rock-solid case for why she finally deserves to walk away with $1,000,000. 

The Battle for the Best Survivor Ever:

Right now, the case for the best Survivor ever boils down to Amanda, Parvati, Russell, and JT.  Depending on how these three perform down the stretch, one of them could make the argument obsolete.

JT – He’s already won the game once.  I doubt he’ll win again, but if he can at least make it to a second final, that strengthens his case.  By far, he’s the most complete package out of the four in terms of the mental, social, and physical aspects of the game.

Parvati – She made it far in Cook Islands.  She won Micronesia.  Like JT, another final performance would put her in a class by herself.  Unlike JT, I could actually see her winning, which would seal the deal.

Russell – Nobody has ever played the game like Russell.  If he can sit in a final for a second-straight season, it would be hard to argue against him.  Amanda and Parvati may have similar resume’s, but can’t hold a candle to Russell’s complete dominance.  If he wins this thing, he has the title in the bag.

Amanda – Amanda right now is in Dan Marino territory.  Dan Marino is arguably the greatest quarterback ever, but nobody will bring up his name because he never won a Super Bowl.  If Amanda can put up a win this season, she becomes Joe Montana.

There’s a lot on the line this season, and there’s just no way to tell what we’re in store for!  Survivor 20 may just end up being the most exciting of them all!

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.