Survivor: Redemption Island gets crazy and weird tonight as the show deals with the issue of race, albeit in the most ludicrous way possible. Phillip loses his marbles more than ever in an epic race war blown way out of proportion by a fight over rice. However, in the end, I can’t help but love Jeff Probst, who does his best to solve the race issue at tribal council. And not just the race issue in the episode, but the race issue in the world.
NOTE: I will be calling Phillip crazy a lot in this recap, but it does NOT mean that I’m secretly calling him the “N” word using coded language. As Julie says, “It has nothing to do with the color of your skin, Phil. You are one crazy dude.”
The Three-Way Duel
Matt, Mike and David are confused by the fact that all three will participate in the duel, and I’m confused when Jeff Probst reveals that in the duel (building an 8-foot-high house of cards from wooden tiles), the first two to finish will stay and only one person will go to the jury.
After a tense battle, Mike and Matt stay alive (but Mike actually beats Matt, for the first time ever in a duel) and David is gone for good.
The Rice and Race War
The centerpiece of this episode is a fight that will certainly go down in Survivor history. As I see it, there are five simple parts to this scene.
Part 1: Your Rice Is My Rice
There are two rice tins, one from Zapatera and one from Ometepe. The Zapaterans are eating all the rice they can since they’re gone anyway and don’t want to share, which is within their right. Except Phillip disagrees, so when they leave, he steals some rice from Zapatera.
Part 2: Your Rice Tin is My Rice Tin
Later, Ometepe finds maggots in their rice, so they separate it on a blanket, but then have nowhere to put it. Phillip wants to put it in the Zapatera tin and mix it all together, but the Zapaterans are understandably unhappy with the idea that the tribe voting them out one-by-one now wants to eat their rice.
Part 3: The Race Card
And the debate should be over, but Phillip raises his voice, acts crazy as usual and then he plays the race card.
Oh yes, Phillip claims that Steve is calling him crazy because he’s black. Steve, the former NFL player (so I’m guessing he’s had a few black friends). But Phillip ups the ante, claiming that black men have short tempers and that’s why so many of them shoot people. Seriously, that’s not me, he said it. And the things Phillip says are SOOOO much more racist than Steve.
Part 4: Comedy Interlude
The racial issue makes things tense, but it’s briefly interrupted when Phillip challenges Steve to mano-a-mano combat, which would be a mistake because Phillip is a “Wing Chung Kung Fu expert.” I think it’s the opposite of Wang Chung Kung Fu, because with Phillip, nobody has fun tonight.
Part 5: Dropping the “N” Bomb
To close things out for good measure, Phillip starts dropping the “N” bomb left and right. Even his own tribe is looking at him like “What the H?” Phillip is being totally irrational and acting crazier than I thought possible. Thus ends the five-part saga of the Epic Rice Race War. For now.
The Immunity Challenge
It’s a puzzle, which means Boston Rob should have an edge. And he does, winning individual immunity.
Phillip starts blaming Steve for stealing his pants (which Julie did) and then the race issues comes up, and Jeff Probst does his best to navigate this very touchy subject around the truly crazy Phillip like Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker. Steve defends himself by saying that he played in the NFL where 80 percent of the players were black, and that there’s no distinction between black and white in his heart. Jeff gets everyone to agree that there was a lot of pressure and it got blown out of proportion.
Then Julie is voted out, 6-3. That’s right, even with Phillip’s race-baiting tirade, his tribe stuck with him. I know it’s a good strategy to keep such a hated figure around, but there has to be a limit to the amount of crazy you’ll allow, and Phillip certainly surpassed it tonight.
If anyone out there wants to try and defend Phillip as anything other than a highly unstable lunatic, feel free in the comments section below.
(Image courtesy of CBS)