I don't write much about CBS' Survivor series, but I occasionally chime in on the finales, as I did a year and a half ago to blast Russell Hantz' utter lack of class and to cheer on Jud "Fabio" Birza's unexpected victory this past December.
However, last night's episode on Survivor: Redemption Island caused me to jump up aghast at the TV when I saw Matt Elrod, having regained entry to the game after masterfully winning six challenges in a row, throw it all away with an incredible blunder.
Okay, I wasn't thrilled about his penchant to pontificate about religion, but the guy generally seemed amiable and smart, and he was adept at physical challenges. I felt he'd gotten a raw deal when the so-called Boston Rob Mariano engineered his early departure from the Ometepe Tribe, but was delighted as he beat the odds to stay in the game. In particular, during his second challenge, this time with the notorious Russell, who'd himself been blindsided at last and sent to the purgatory island. I was nervous about whether Matt could win the psychological game against the master of deception, because while Matt was younger and stronger I remembered how Russell had outlasted the younger and similarly dexterous Brett Clouser in the final immunity challenge in Samoa.
Back in the game, it appeared Matt was going to play well, as he was approached by Mike Chiesl of the Zapatera Tribe with a plan to pick off the members of the tribe that had originally voted Matt off. It seemed clever, legitimate and perfectly moral -- even by Survivor standards -- and to make it work perfectly Matt would enlist his friend Andrea Boehlke.
And then, for some God forsaken reason, and I use God in its fullest context, Matt decided to come clean to Boston Rob -- the person who'd orchestrated the vote that sent him to Redemption Island -- and tell him of his flirtation with the other tribe, but that apparently God wouldn't want him to do that. Apart from the fact that it sent Boston Rob into a paranoid frenzy, I stared at the TV screen wondering -- even if I bought into Matt's religious beliefs -- why God would want him to stick with the team that booted him off? Why God would consider it disloyal of him to switch sides? And if God was the great puppet master, wasn't it he/she who put the idea into Boston Rob's head? And wasn't it God who gave Matt the fortitude to win six challenges in a row and perhaps wreak biblical vengeance on Boston Rob in the manner wrought in the Old Testament?
So, it wasn't logical at all, and it was also very telling of Boston Rob that he is such a smarmy, self-righteous soul, who, instead of appreciating Matt's honesty -- having come to him with a confession of what he might have done -- and rewarding this as an act of loyalty and solidarity, he decided that the mere act of thinking of going against him was the height of arrogance and he decided then and there to get rid of Matt.
I mean the guy just got back after making a heroic effort that even Boston Rob should have appreciated, so couldn't he give Matt a pass for a couple of weeks? There were plenty of others he could have set his sights on, in particular Mike and Steve Wright on Zapatera, and let poor Matt rest for a half second. But no, he couldn't, because Boston Rob is not at all charming, as he thinks he is. He's handsome, but he's a sadist!
Mike kept trying to convince Matt, and Andrea now started to wonder about her ties with Matt, who was now rivaling Phillip Sheppard in the amount of confidential information he just had to reveal. She felt, Matt's telling Boston Rob that both he and Andrea were thinking of getting in cahoots with the other tribe, that she was being thrown under the bus. And, though she's not the brainiest player, she was absolutely right.
But even then there were further signs -- and Matt seemed to see them as related in his confessionals -- with Boston Rob going off with others to engage in conversation. It appeared Matt might realize what was going on and blindside the blindsider Boston Rob, but no, it was not to be. So, he voted for Steve, while the rest of Zapatera voted for Grant Mattos, and everyone on Ometepe, including Andrea, voted for Matt. If Matt had just voted for Grant it would have been a tie and he would have had a chance to beat Grant in a run-off contest. Or if Zapatera had had a clue, Ralph Kiser would have given his immunity idol to Matt instead of to Mike.
I was sickened (or as sickened as one can be realizing it's just a silly show) by the stupidity of Matt's performance and wondered how he had survived those six Redemption Island challenges, and for what? It was like he was two different people and the one who emerged is the real Matt, and not one for whom I can root. Oddly, he's still not out of the game, as he has merely been exiled to Redemption Island again (though we haven't been told what will happen and how long it will go on until someone returns to the game). However, this time I believe Matt deserves to go home. Immediately, so he is not even eligible to serve on the jury. And it's a damned shame.
Michael Russnow's website is ramproductionsinternational.com