I know this is going to sound a little blasphemous (perhaps even unforgivable), but I let out a loud, enthusiastic whoop and clapped my hands like Paula Abdul looking at a shiny object during the “fish-skeleton puzzle” immunity challenge on Wednesday night’s edition of Survivor: Redemption Island. And much to my shock, I found that I was rooting for Ashley, the shallow, lazy, and sometimes overtly cruel former beauty queen who spent the first 35 days of her Survivor experience braided into the fabric of Boston Rob’s coattails.
Do I want Ashley to make it to the finale and collect the $1 million prize? Absolutely not. But the last several weeks of Survivor have been so utterly predictable — with the members of the former Ometepe tribe systematically picking off every player from Zapatera, and then targeting the outer circle of the Ometepe Six, that I was hoping for something — anything, really — to add an element of surprise to the proceedings. And a win by Rob’s next intended victim, Ashley, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Now mind you, I’m not saying there isn’t something fascinating about watching Rob thoroughly dominate the game while also shoring up his chances at the final jury vote. Notice the way he carefully crafts every sentence that comes out of his mouth, runs the internal numbers about every move he makes in the game. The way he first broke the news to Natalie that they planned to send her BFF back home was a tremendous example of deflecting the blame: “Grant is very skeptical of Ashley’s actions. Grant wants Ashley out,” he whispered. Grant’s idea? Strategist, please!
But when Ashley finished her grappling hooks/puzzle-building exercise first, and had the immunity necklace around her throat, Rob had a choice to make: Betray his buddy Grant over “innocent” Natalie, or cut Natalie loose and break up her strong bond with Ashley. I’d have chosen the latter, but either way presented risks in the short- and long-term. “Grant, when you watch this, you’re gonna realize I never wanted to do it this way, bud,” said Rob, prior to giving him an unwelcome sendoff. And just like that, we’ve got a setup for Sunday’s finale that just got a little spicier.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Did Rob make the right move in choosing to betray Grant, not Natalie? What did you think of Phillip getting in Natalie and Ashley’s faces? (I tend to agree with Rob: “He’s crazy. Not the N-word crazy, he’s just crazy!”) Which Redemption Island castaway — Mike, Grant, Matt, or Andrea — do you think is most likely to make a return to the game? And how awesome were Jeff Probst’s taunts during the maze-puzzle challenge? I particularly enjoyed, “You lose this challenge, your shot at the money is over! You become a member of the jury. THAT BLOWS!”
Sound off on all these topics down in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!