Yes, Survivor this week happened on a Wednesday rather than the usual Thursday. I sure hope you didn’t miss it. If you did, then you missed out on a pretty unusual episode. It was a race to the finish, with two eliminations, one classic move, and lots of food.

Tangled up: This week’s challenge was ripped off the Tocantins playbook: each castaway, attached to a rope that’s tied to an obstacle course, has to slip and dive his way through the end and win. Each tribe will do the challenge separately. Everybody competes individually. It’s a double elimination: there will be two Tribal Councils, and whoever wins the challenge gets individual immunity.

For good measure, those two winners face off in the end; the ultimate winner gets their tribe a chance to watch the other tribe’s Tribal Council, complete with hotdogs and softdrinks.

The Heroes go first, and immediately you know that it’ll be a bad day for James. He’s still got a bad leg, after all. But hey, he’s still doing the course pretty quickly, actually overtaking Colby, who got stuck midway through! Still his efforts weren’t enough, and Candice won immunity.

It was a much tighter battle on the Villains’ side, with a five-way lead at one point. But it was Rob who proved his mettle, barely winning against Russell and Tyson, also known as he who won the past challenge. The final showdown, with a bigger obstacle course, was also a close call for Rob: nonetheless he won despite Candice closely tailing him.

Superman in a fat suit: James’ injury obviously makes him a target for elimination, but things got more complicated thanks to Colby. “James, with the brace and all, managed to beat me,” he said, before telling the tribe to keep it easy for the rest of the afternoon, because he knows he’s going home.

The announcement actually produces the opposite reaction. Rupert, Amanda and JT mull whether they should stick with their alliances and kick Colby, or consider their ability to win challenges and kick James. For some reason, the conversation descends to James’ eating habits–apparently he grabs three bananas before challenges and two after.

James is more flustered by Colby’s announcement. He tries giving him a pep talk, but conceding he’s “given up” on the game, he decided to prove that he can still contribute to the tribe. I guess it’s a wrong move, challenging JT to a foot race. He obviously lost, never mind the injury. Still, he picked up a couple of lessons from Amanda, about how important bananas are to the tribe. His old stance: “but everybody eats bananas!” His new stance: “JT, do you want a banana?”

Russell flirts with the target: It’s not any peaceful on the Villains tribe, though. Tensions are brewing between Russell and Rob, thanks to his supposed possession of the hidden immunity idol. “If you really don’t have that idol, you need to get it,” Rob tells him later, very well believing that he has it. “You better play with me than against me.” Of course, Russell isn’t sold on the idea.

Rob’s individual immunity win gave him much leverage to orchestrate their vote. His plan: eliminate Parvati, but make Russell think he’s going home, so they can flush out his idol. They’ll split the votes between the two, for good measure. It’s something Tyson isn’t very comfortable about–because really, who will Russell and his gang vote for? He doesn’t want a second vote. He doesn’t want to go.

Perfect timing: Russell gets to Tyson and tells him that he plans to vote Parvati out. “I have to play for myself,” he said. Tyson sees an opening for him to flip his vote–after all, he wants to get rid of Parvati early on. But, as we’ve seen in the past few months, Russell is definitely up to something.

A bold, bold move: The villains went to Tribal Council first, and talk quickly went to Russell and his purported possession of the idol. “We all know who has it,” Sandra went. “Russell, if you don’t have it and you didn’t find it, you best look for it.” Their plan becomes clear: they want Russell out because of the idol, and they want Parvati out because of her connections with the Heroes tribe. Or, Rob wants Russell out because he feels terribly insecure with the mere existence of hidden immunity.

The plan goes well: Parvati gets four votes, and with the remaining five votes split between Russell and Tyson, she’s going home. Catch is, she isn’t going home.

Before the votes are read, Russell stands up and hints that he’ll play his hidden immunity… only to do a U-turn and give the idol to Parvati. Totally dramatic. That, my friends, is what you call a classic move/

With those four votes moot, it’s a toss-up between Tyson and Russell. In the end, Russell only gets two votes–thank Rob and Sandra–and Tyson’s decision to flip his vote cost him the game. “I have nobody to blame but myself,” he said, “but I still think I’m awesome.”

“Oh my god, there’s bread up there!” The new Villains tribe gets to smack the Heroes by watching their Tribal Council while eating hotdogs. It’s funny seeing Rupert staring at them take a bit out of the sandwiches. When the reds left before the vote, Amanda proved she was really hungry. “There’s bread up there!” she said.

This Tribal Council was much easier to handle. The pre-vote chat went towards Colby giving up in the game early, and James’ game-threatening injury. But Colby’s initial plan–to leak as little info as possible to the Villains–seems to have worked, especially when James floats his newly-learned lessons. “They told me today there’s such a thing as banana etiquette!” he said, to the entertainment of the Villains.

Turns out that would be his last hurrah, as the tribe decided to give Colby yet another chance and voted James out. The alliance is broken and he seems pretty pissed–although he acknowledges his bad luck with injuries. Jeff hopes that the vote will unify the tribe. My question: will it?

So yes, it’s an unusual episode. Or at least it felt like it when I watched it. Next week, we’re back to our regular Thursday slot, and with Rob still training his sights against Russell. Let’s see if that works.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Henrik Batallones

Staff Writer, BuddyTV