Survivor: Better Than Lost?

Entertainment May. 7, 2010 AT 11:18AM
Survivor: Better Than Lost? Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

So The Amazing Race is a fun for the whole family. Loads of adventure coupled with an exotic taste of international flavor. But there will be something seriously amiss if, come Emmy time, that golden CBS stalwart once again bests Survivor for Outstanding Reality Series.

In fact, I'm going to say something that's practically sacrilege in the TV world: This stellar season has been even more unpredictable and tension-filled than Lost.

I give you the May 6 episode, your honor. It was already set up for action and drama, what with two immunity challenges, one hidden immunity idol at play and two tribal councils. That said, not only did Heroes' Rupert and Colby have a target on their backs, they might as well have had "kick me" signs too.

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To recap: They were the only Heroes members left, outnumbered five to two. Their tribe mate Candice turned into Benedict Arnold. Plus, they stink at challenges, stink even more at strategizing and don’t possess a hidden immunity idol. Rupert first, then Colby. Done.

Did I mention the season's unpredictability? Up first: the fun endurance immunity challenge. I realize that it's easy to criticize from the comforts of my NYC living room, but what were these people thinking by bowing out so early? Is a plate of stale cookies really worth losing the chance at $1 million? Since when do Candice and Danielle eat carbs, anyway? More credit to Parvati for literally hanging in there.

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But wait, there’s more. Probst reveals that there’s another hidden immunity idol at play.

(One aside: Too many idols this season. Share the wealth and give some to Ryan Seacrest's TV show.) Anyhoo, Sandra finds it and keeps it to herself; Rupert, in rare proactive mode, stuffs a rock into his shorts to give the impression that he has it. The plan works, as the suspicious villains decide to split the votes. Bye-bye Candice. I'm not sure how looking good in a bikini and flip-flopping your alliance makes you heroic, but you managed to get farther than Amanda and Tom.

Ok, Rupert and Colby might have slipped by once, but come on. No way they’d both make it past another tribal council. Sure enough, Colby came in dead last in the second immunity challenge. (Second aside: There's something truly disillusioning about watching Colby getting his cowboy butt kicked in these challenges. Think Michael Jordan's run with the Washington Wizards.) Rupert also loses, a bit more valiantly. Still one of them had to go.

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Then Evil Russell decided to get creative. Actually, that's giving him to much credit. Evil Russell let his ego get in the way of a safe, surefire vote. Ultra-paranoid about Parvati and Danielle's friendship, he decided to play them against each other in hopes of breaking their alliance. I admit this wasn't the dumbest move -- but there was no reason to play this hand when two rivals remained in the game. What’s more, Evil Russell keeps forgetting that even if he does make it to the finals, his betrayed jury members will never reward this kind of double-talking behavior.

Then he makes his biggest mistake yet: He convinces Rupert, Colby and Jerri to vote for…Danielle! Even with all his arrogance, the guy has outright admitted that Parvati has outwitted him. Yet in a choice between the savvy former champion and a wobbly follower, he chooses the follower! He had the chance to get rid of his biggest competition, and he blew it. She clearly has some sort of power over him. If I were Evil Russell's wife, I'd be mildly concerned.

Not that Danielle's Elisabeth Hasselbeck-like babbling and crying at Tribal Council did her any favors. Nor did the smug “Parvati and I are closer than you think” line. At that point, it was inevitable that the Survivor: Exile Island also-ran was a goner. But no crying from yours truly. Danielle was another disappointment this season; She didn't even have the guts to get in on a crazy girl-fight with Amanda last week in Robert Louis Stevenson's abode. Bye-bye Danielle.

Up next week? Looks like Evil Russell -- now on the outs with Jerri, Sandra and Parvati -- will align with still-standing Rupert and Colby. But mark my words: This season will not end well for Evil Russell. And to quote a dead-pan jury member Courtney at Tribal Council, boo hoo.

By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com

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