'Survivor: Samoa' Recap: The "Stupid" Ladies vs The Puppet Master
I think you can pretty much tell how I'll kick off Survivor: Samoa.  Twenty castaways, thirty-nine days, and a hell lot of politics.  Or sheer evil.  I dunno.

Things start the moment they arrive to shore.  The two tribes--Foa Foa in yellow, and Galu in purple--have to choose tribal chiefs based on first impressions.  The yellows give it to Russell, "the better-looking Lennox Lewis", who's dead worried about being the first target.  The purples give it to Mick, who seems successful in letting his being a surgeon come across.

And quickly, they have to choose four tribe members who are good at swimming, the strongest, the most agile, or the smartest.  First impressions again, yep.  Respective, Foa Foa chooses Jaison (because he's black), Russell (the evil incarnate, mind you), Marisa and Liz.  Galu picks John, Erik, Yasmin and "smart in the ways of life" Shambo.

Reward challenge number one is simple.  Swimmer grabs off shore; strong man unlocks big logs and carries it to a balance beam; agile man toes through the beam while letting a key through; and smart man solves the puzzle.  The reward's pretty simple, too: flint.  Foa Foa moves pretty quickly, thanks to Jaison's experience with water polo, and John not being so good--rocket scientists have to suck at something, right?  Galu also had a hard time when Erik struggled with the logs, but Shambo catches up, works on the puzzle, and finishes it--but only after Liz finished it.

Foa Foa moves into their camp, and everybody gets down to work, most of all small Russell, who starts striking alliances with Ashley, Natalie and Marisa--the "dumbass girl lines".  And Betsy, too, but because he's planning to keep that alliance for long.  She accepts the alliance, but doesn't trust him.  Good.

Russell continued playing his game, telling this ridiculous story about him being a farmer at New Orleans, trying to save his dog and home (to no avail) at the onslaught of Katrina.  Ridiculous, because we know better--he heads an oil rig in Houston, and everything is a freaking lie.  Ashley bites anyway, because she loves animals.  Once everybody's asleep, he drinks up all the water and burns Jaison's sock, planning to "show people how easy it is to win this game."  His plan works anyway, when everybody starts getting cranky, and with him bearing the look of tranquility, well, he gets some plus points.  Still, ridiculous.

Over at Galu, they start talking about making shelter.  Black Russell (I'm trying to differentiate here!)  rallies everyone to work on their shelter, but the guys descend into planning chaos, and everyone ends up swimming.  "This is not the Marine Corps," Shambo said, not pretty happy with the leadership.  And that's all the screen time they get.

The immunity challenge has everyone in tow: six go through an obstacle course, and use ropes to pull a puzzle to the remaining four, who have to solve it.  The immunity idol, of course, looks a bit scary.  Skulls, yep.  Things start pretty quickly, with Galu keeping a pretty good lead throughout the course and the puzzle.  Shambo took the lead quite nicely, setting down the rules, and eventually winning immunity for the tribe.  Spontaneous cheer: "Galu is in the house!"

Back at camp, small Russell starts fluttering around, talking to everybody, when Marisa says he should keep himself low-key, or risk looking like he's playing the game too early.  But that's what he's doing, right?  Feeling threatened, Russell tells everyone to vote for Marisa, and it seems he's getting their sympathies pretty quickly.  The tribe's "stupid", he says, which is why they're following his lead.  Betsy won't budge, though, feeling that Russell's not doing the right thing.  "Woman's intuition," she says.

Tribal council pretty much goes that way, and apart from Ashley being called out as the weakest physically (and her defense, that she's "cardioized"), Russell states his case against Marisa.  I don't like the way this is going.  I like her!  She defends herself, saying she's just concerned for Russell's survival in the game--but obviously their alliance is going nowhere.

The tribe eventually votes Marisa out, but barely, with two tied tallys between her and Ashley.  She eventually admits that trusting Russell was a mistake.  And, for a moment, I believe the small guy: she is dumb.  Or unlucky.  Or both.

Next week, a challenge goes awry, and small Russell does the Marisa on someone.  Is this how the game will go in the coming weeks?

- Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of CBS)