Survivor: Who Do You Think Will Win Next Week's 'Redemption Island' Showdown?

All good things must come to an end — even on Survivor: Redemption Island. And indeed, on Wednesday night’s episode, the delicious streak of wild, wicked, blindside-heavy Tribal Councils flamed out with the two most straightforward eliminations of the season. Still, as the six former Ometepe tribe members meticulously picked off ex-Zapateras Mike, then David, in predictable, back-to-back fashion, they also set up what could turn out to be a fascinating showdown next week at Redemption Island Arena. Will it be a three-man bout for survival among Redemption Island’s unbeaten gladiator Matt, physical powerhouse Mike (who has a penchant for runner-up finishes), and strategy-minded David? And if so, which one is most likely to prevail? Before we get to this week’s poll, let’s recount a few highlights:

* Matt’s episode-opening quote made me chuckle: “I’d like to congratulate myself on being the most naïve person ever to play the game of Survivor.” Still, it was an unintentional zinger in his subsequent chat with the man upstairs — during which he looked heavenward and made peace with the Almighty “using my stupidity for your glory” — that had me guffawing with laughter.

* Rob’s game-playing is some next-level s***! Demanding that his tribemates pair up — buddy-system style — so that none of them can be the “straggling impala,” and get picked off by opportunistic Zapatera members looking to split the vote? Smart. Instilling so much fear in them that they refuse delicious proteins and rat each other out at the drop of a coconut? Absolutely genius. (Did Grant possibly seal his fate by nibbling on that rigor-mortis-y fish?) I loved Rob’s confessional after Natalie told him how Ashley failed to report Ralph’s backroom maneuver: “You have to tell me everything. It’s my game. I’m in charge.” Arrogant? Undoubtedly. But the guy is in such total control of the proceedings right now, who can really blame him? I don’t know when or if Rob’s buddies Grant or Andrea plan to make a power play, or if they’d be happy with a potential sixth-place finish, but it seems like the first Ometepe to suggest mutiny will probably be the first one Rob orders terminated. Quite the conundrum, no?

* I also loved how Rob encouraged his alliance mates to show total arrogance and a total unwillingness to connect with the Zapateras — going so far as to set up separate shelters and eating times — the better for the veteran player to pick up his rival tribemates’ jury votes at the end of the game. The way Phillip (“there’s nothing to talk about”) and Andrea (“talk about your farm”) brutally spurned Ralph and David’s half-hearted attempts to discuss strategy made for riveting television. Aren’t these other cats aware that Ralph and/or David could hold their fate in their hands in a few short weeks?

* For the first time this season, I’m starting to think Phillip’s craziness is at least half strategy. His preposterous stories and conspiracy theories –i.e. He didn’t have a collision with a bird, but rather meditated his headdress feather into existence — are sublimely daft, and mark him as the one guy everyone wants to stand next to in a jury scenario. What surprised me was hearing “the specialist” acknowledge this as an actual thought-out plan to get ahead in the game. Could his mispronunciations — this week’s favorites were “otempo” and “atempe” — be less-than-accidental, too? Some of it’s genuine cray-cray, right?

* I’m really enjoying this season’s mix of immunity challenges. The episode’s initial showdown was a three-pronged leg that tested speed, knot-busting agility, ability to carry water in one’s mouth, and then aptitude at solving a puzzle. Grant’s narrow victory over Mike had to sting the latter player — especially because his runner-up finish marked him as his alliance’s most threatening member, and therefore its most logical victim. The second immunity challenge — a good old-fashioned “hang from a beam” endurance test was beautifully cruel. Poor David hung in there for 45 minutes before surrendering to the three women of Ometepe. I was also intrigued by Andrea convincing Ashley and Natalie to let her have the immunity necklace, which I think gives her a slight psychological/momentum edge going forward. Anyone else agree?

* I’m not sure the Zapateras were wise to take such a confrontational approach to pointing out Phillip’s low-man status on Ometepe, but his response was truly stunning. “I enjoy being on the bottom. If that’s where I am, it’s a nice place to be: You can look up and see what’s going on”

* Quiet Julie had a couple of priceless zingers during Tribal. Responding to Phillip’s contention of a blood-like bond among the former Ometepes, she made an excellent observation: “Matt thought you guys were his family, too.” Oh snap! And at the second vote, she ponted out what no one in Rob’s alliance has seemed willing to acknowledge: “Rob has complete control. It’s not even a tribe, it’s a cult.” Still, will Julie’s boldness pay dividends when the Ometepe six start to turn on each other and need a swing vote, or will it backfire if Rob targets her for elimination before Ralph and Steve?

* Best chyron/visual sequence of the week:
Elapsed time: 20 minutes
Elapsed burgers: 5
Followed by a shot of Steve burping.
If that’s not an Emmy-worthy bit of editing, I don’t know what is.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Which players are you predicting will make it to the finals? And who do you think is most likely to triumph next week at Redemption Island Arena? Take our poll below, then hit the comments to share your reasoning. And for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Rupert says:

    Greatest reality show ending ever…Rob takes Phil to the final vote, thinking nobody is going to vote for him, Phil stands up, reveals that his behavior during the entire season has been an act and proceeds to pull back the curtain on every move and strategy that Rob and whoever else may be left standing plotted out the entire season. He announces he was never a special agent at all, rather an out of work actor who now does some community playhouse stuff. He apologizes to anyone he may have offended and explains it was all an act in an effort to win the game! Unanimous winner!

    • John Berggren says:

      While this would indeed be some fun television, I doubt it would result in a unanimous win. It might be a stretch for a win too. What’s worse than annoying the hell of your tribemates? Doing it intentionally…

    • susela says:

      That would be fun! It would be even better than Fabio turning out to have an entire brain after all.

    • shaunna says:

      brilliant idea for ending!

  2. sneakin says:

    It’s Rob’s world right now and everybody’s a subject. Including Jeff Probst if you ask me. How come he didn’t acknowledge either one of Julie’s “zingers”? That would certainly open up a line of questioning, but he just let it go. Just something to make you go hmmmmm…

    • John Berggren says:

      2 things to keep in mind:
      1) Typically Tribal Council is significantly edited for time. He may or may not have followed on her commentary – if he did, they’d only include it if the follow up was better than the initial comment.
      2) Jeff has been doing this for 10 years and tends to poke only when he feels there is something else worth stirring.

      • Snsetblaze says:

        If by chance Jeff did follow up, it should have been put in no matter whether it was interesting or not just so Jeff did not seem to favor Rob (which he clearly does).

    • shaunna says:

      I do not think it would have been fair for Jeff to do this because rob’s tribemates had no awareness of it by looks on their faces, and that would have changed the direction of the game too much,

      Jeff ususually comments at tribal counsel when the opposing tribe usually already has some suspision and awareness of thing Jeff brings up and he just throws it in their faces.

  3. sneakin says:

    And I certainly wouldn’t dicount Matt. He seems to have the big man on his side on Redemption Island, if not in the main game. :)

  4. Sabrina says:

    It is coming very close to the point where Rob is going to have to use the Zapatera people to pick off his own alliance. If he wants the jury votes (trust me he wants it more than he wants Amber to regain her pre-pregnancy body)then he is going to have to get rid of his biggest rivals, Grant & Andrea without them knowing he orchestrated their demise. Tricky business when dealing with the savvier people on the Zapatera tribe who have shown they will out just about any plans at tribal council. And have you ever seen people more horrible at this than the Zapatera tribe? They broke just about every “rule” for how to adjust after the merge. It was laughable.

  5. AlistairCrane says:

    I LOVE that Rob’s tribe is sticking together and picking off the other tribe. Please, I hope they make it to the final six! I think they will, and at that point the RI player will return to the game as the swing vote. The question is, will they backdoor him or will half of Rob’s tribe align with him?

  6. jef says:

    The problem is that Rob will probably come in second place, but not win again, unless his teammates wise up earlier. And I’m really tired of all of Phillip’s screen time and speeches.

  7. elr says:

    I voted for Matt as the winner at Redemption Island, but only because of the success he has had in the past, so much depends on what type of challenge it is. It may not even be a three-way competetion but Matt vs. Mike, then the winner will square off against Dave. I like Rob’s total domination of the game and hope he wins the million. This kind of reminds me of Brian’s domination of his tribe (Thailand) and how none of them went to each other to over throw him.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Yes, he has played a lot like Brian but I think Brian may have played better socially because Brian did not outright ostracize the other side (althought he jury was much smaller in that day). There was no question that Brian was going to get to the end and that he was going to win. It did make for overall boring season with the most memorable character being Shii-Ann. He played nearly a perfect game but it was still an early season of Survivor and the game evolved. However, Rob may be making a mistake by outright ostracising the others … who knows if the jury will be bitter or respect strategy? We also don’t know how many will actually be on the jury yet. If Matt does come back, he might have a shot — as while he has not outwitted anyone, he would have played the physical part and the social part (he was friendly to both sides). Plus if he wins final immunity, there is no way he would take Rob. But I’m wondering if Matt might be the swing vote to give Rob the million or not.

  8. John Berggren says:

    On an intellectual level, I’d rather see David continue. On a visual level, I’d rather see Mike continue.
    It’s time to Martyr Matt.

  9. HH says:

    It was sad that Matt got sent back to redemption Island. And I didnt appreciate the editing of his prayer to make him look childish and naïve. I’m sure lots of people on survivor pray a lot, but the editors have decided to pick on matts religion. I know a lot of people who pray exactly like he does on a day to day basis. But that isn’t reason to laugh at him.

  10. Sean says:

    My Random Thoughts:

    – To start this episode, Matt found his way back to Redemption Island, and congratulated himself on being “the most naïve person to ever play the game of Survivor.” Somewhere, Erik Reichenbach dropped his ice cream scoop, jumped up in the air and screamed “YESSSS!” Not so fast, Erik…you handing over that necklace to Natalie and then getting voted out still keeps you heavily on the top of the “Most Naïve” list.

    – Natalie has said nothing for weeks, and now the first thing we really hear from her, is her telling Rob that Ralph was in Ashley’s ear and that Ashley wasn’t planning on sharing that info with him. From silence to snitch in 15 seconds flat, and we don’t know if she actually said that or not. I sure hope that Natalie was just making it up, because that will make her about 100 times more interesting.

    – Mike was voted out, despite Ralph’s stellar spelling continuing (Philite?), and Steve’s reassuring pat on the back (seriously, does this guy do anything?) in a very anti-climactic Tribal Council, but let me ask you this: with Rob’s paranoia so prevalent, how funny would it have been when Probst asked if anyone wanted to play an Idol, if someone from Zapatera stood up and said “I do, Jeff”, just to see the look on Rob’s face before saying “Just kidding!”

    After you’re done here, I hope you’ll check out the rest of my recap at

  11. Love Rob says:

    I don’t care much about this show, but Boston Rob is awesome! He always manages (even now as Mercurio) to concoct a scheme that will keep him on top. Love that guy even though I found him and Amber annoying on the Amazing Race. If you like tactical maneuvers, puzzles and quick thinking, you have to like Boston Rob!

  12. lacey says:

    I am so sick of Matt! God did not send you on a reality show nor is he concerned about you staying on the show. God has bigger problems than to worry about whether or not you win a reality show competition!

    • del says:

      Wow….while it’s sad that you don’t feel God’s presence in *your* daily life, it’s totally cool that Matt feels His presence in *his*. I love the fact that Matt has drawn strength from his faith, and let’s face it…..*something* is fueling his Redemption Island time!

      • Eli says:

        Yes… Luck, Skill, Stamina, Determination, Natural Ability. That’s whats keeping him in the game.

        Go back to your fairytale books lady

  13. Chmarin says:

    One of the worst season in Survivor history.

    Boring, predictable and dull. They should just rename it The Boston Rob Show.

  14. ang says:

    i’m starting to find this season getting very boring very fast. i want to see some strategy and backstabbing really soon. the million dollars isn’t decided between six people its between three. someone needs to wisen up and turned on their team before they are out. rob has to be telling everyone that he is taking them to the final three, haven’t they figured this out yet? and hell if i would let someone tell me not to eat when i’m hungry, this is getting ridiculous. i am a rob fan, but these people need to use their brains and vote him out. i don’t think anyone will give him the million unless it was only between rob and phillip. phillip is insane. i want to watch another season with him and coach on the same team.

  15. Tracy says:

    Matt will win at RI – he is destined to get back into the game again, only to either be voted out of the game, or sent back to RI AGAIN! It’s his DESTINY!

  16. Michael says:

    Hard to claim it’s one of the worst seasons in Survivor history – it’s my favourite since FvF! I’m glad they skipped through this elimination so we can get closer to when “Stealth R Us” finally have to break up.