I know that Survivor is 10 years old and all, but here's a quick primer for those still unfamiliar with how the game works:
1. If a player says, "I swear on the life of my [insert beloved relative here], I won't vote you off," it usually means, "I will vote you off, and would you like to buy some of my magic beans?"
2. When competing as a team, voting off the physically and mentally strongest member is probably, like, not the smartest move.
3. Don't trust a guy with a missing tooth who bears a strong resemblance to the Travelocity gnome.
Tragically, those Survivor villains "formerly a dominating force" failed to pay attention to these simple rules. As a result, "Boston" Rob got ousted in the April 1 episode. No joke.
(Before I continue, I should add that there is a fourth lesson: If one tribe only gets six minutes of screen time before the immunity challenge, assume that they win said challenge without breaking a sweat in the 100-degree weather. Keep up the good work, Colby! It's not too late for Superman to take off the girdle!)
Anyhoo, in the clash of the Villains titans, Russell check-mated Rob. (Mixing metaphors is fun!) Translation: The Survivor: All-Stars and, yes, Amazing Race mastermind got outsmarted by the newbie Texas oilman.
Rob once again played an A-level physical and strategic game. And he delivered on-camera zingers like, "I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night." Ba-dum! But even savvy veterans are capable of making bad judgment calls.
In this case, he aligned with the wrong players. Namely, skeletal Survivor: China alum Courtney, who can barely bench-press a ball-point pen; and Survivor: Pearl Islands winner Sandra, a self-admitted follower who lacks charm and inflatable breasts.
Rob was so tight with his girls, he somehow managed to alienate the other people in his alliance, Coach and Jerri. Coach. He who tells stories about being a warrior yet recently wept in Tyson's arms after someone wrote his name down at Tribal Council. Jerri. She who got rebuffed by Colby in 2001's Australian Outback and cried when she got booed during the live finale for Survivor: All Stars three years later. For all his smarts, Rob should have known that these two models of insecurity would fall prey to Russell's tall tales of trust and honor and go with him.
A smart move in the short run, but come on. If either Coach or Jerri manage to outlast Russell, I'll do ... well, I won't do anything. But it won't happen. Making nice with the Heroes is their only hope.
So Rob is done. Now he can go back to wife Amber and their newborn baby. And the two of them can count their CBS-funded winnings. No pity for Rob.
That said, this show just got infinitely less compelling. Who wants to see a final tribal council with Danielle, Parvati and (gulp) Amanda? Or watch Sandra talk strategy? Russell might have legit reasons to vote out the brash Boston native, but the fans are the ones who really lost.
-- By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com