Survivor recap: Strategy or Stupidity?

Zapatera throws a challenge to try to get rid of Russell. But does the target have one more trick up his sleeve?
Ep. 03 | Aired Mar 2, 2011

SNUFFED Even though Russell's torch was extinguished, he's not out of the game…yet

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Russell is too busy trying to find the hidden Immunity Idol to worry about who had won at Redemption, and when he can't find it, Stephanie has the idea to make a fake one and then carry it around in a bag constantly so people will think she's protecting the idol. Not a bad play, although it only works if they can bring one more person over to their side. And as if Russell didn't have enough problems, now, according to Mike, "Russell has got some funk going on with his armpits." It seems Mr. Hantz shaved his pits before the season began and now has a nasty rash under both arms. Take a number, ladies!

By now Steve has decided that punking Russell on the Redemption Island thing is not quite enough. He wants him out. Pronto. He brings up the idea of throwing the challenge to Ralph and Mike, and then to David and Julie. Only Julie seems hesitant, realizing that a two-person advantage (soon to be only one) is no advantage at all. The whole thing makes me so mad I want to force them to sit through a lecture on the importance of numbers, followed by a marathon screening of the David Krumholtz series Numb3rs, followed by another lecture on how annoying it is when TV networks substitute actual numbers for letters in the titles of their shows. Steve says they'll decide whether to throw the challenge when they get there by giving a thumbs-up if the fix is in, but this entire plan gets two thumbs down from me.

Before we get to the challenge, I'd like to pause for the cause and say a few words for the untimely demise of what had become a Survivor institution. With the introduction of the Redemption Island duel, we are no longer being treated to reward-only challenges. Instead, we are getting immunity/reward combos. I have no problem with that per se, but in losing the reward challenges, we have also lost one of our classic Probstisms. You know it. You love it. And if you're like me, you already miss it. Say it with me out loud, people: "Wanna know what you're playing for?" Granted, it wasn't the catchiest of catchphrases. And it was always a loaded question anyway because of course they want to know what they're playing for! Why are you even asking? But for some reason I always looked forward to it. And what now? "The tribe has spoken" has even lost a little of its oomph now that an epilogue about being able to get back in the game has been added to that catchphrase. So what are we left with? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE "Come on in, guys!" Especially because Probst often makes a point of looking at the ground when he says it, as if he doesn't really care whether they come on in or not, but "Wanna know what you're playing for?" had a special place in my heart, right next to the old days when we actually had a final two (which everyone knows is vastly superior to and more dramatic than a final three). So long, "Wanna know what you're playing for?" You will be sorely missed. If this were a fallen-comrades montage, I would laugh and reminisce with my three buddies about you and all the crazy times we shared over slow-motion replays before throwing a piece of wood with your name on it into a huge fire on a mountain peak that would be gloriously captured by lots of scenic helicopter shots.

NEXT: Boston Rob finds an Immunity Idol clue in an unlikely place

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