'Survivor: Redemption Island': Russell Hantz, Matt Elrod face off, Phillip continues to weird everyone out

russell-hantz-matt-elrod-survivor.jpgThere is a lot happening on the latest episode of "Survivor: Redemption Island," including some unexpected emotion from Russell and some totally expected weirdness from Phillip.

Redemption Island

Russell arrives to find Matt there, who is totally surprised. Russell is hopping mad about his tribe throwing the challenge. When it comes to the duel, Ome sends Phillip/Kristina and Zap sends Ralph/Sarita.

Russel says if this were real life, he'd be rooting for Matt because Matt is a good guy. But it's "Survivor" and he wants to win. The duel is block-stacking on a platform so they will fall like dominoes and release a ball. There are trip wires attacked to the platform - if you hit them, the platform will wobble and your blocks will fall, so it's pretty delicate.

Matt thinks he's got it and he sets his blocks off, but he's short in one spot. Russell does the same thing, so they are racing to restack. But Matt pulls it out! Wow, color me stunned. I can't believe Russell is out of the game this early.

After the challenge, Russell starts crying. I think that's legit. Russell is devious and kind of a turd, but you can tell he loves "Survivor" and was really disappointed he couldn't pull off a win. Having to leave so early must just kill him.

Russell then loses some of my good will by bitching about his teammates throwing the challenge, calling them peewee leaguers to his professional quarterback. Um, I'm not totally on board with throwing a challenge when you don't have the numbers on the other tribe pre-merge, but I think the tribe recognized what a threat Russell and his two chickies were, so they took him out. It was a smart move in many regards.

Ralph pipes up that he thinks they did great by getting rid of Russell and that he found the Idol in 15 seconds (shut up, Ralph!). So Russell tells him to show him the Idol. Ralph is totally going to do it (again, SHUT UP, Ralph), but Sarita whispers, "Don't do it" and he then lamely says he faked Russell out.

Ralph then says he lied, but Phillip says he makes his living discerning whether people are lying (oh. my. god.) and that Ralph is now lying about lying and that he has an Idol. Russell sells his tribemates out by saying Sarita is in charge and Mike and Steve are a team as well. This is bonkers.

But the Deus Ex Probst does not whip out some contrivance to keep Russell in the game, so he is gone. He throws his buff in the fire and says he has nothing else to prove and he gives Matt props, which is sporting of him.

Ometepe

Phillip is driving everybody bug-crap, particularly his droppy drawers showing of all his lil' Phillip parts. He can at least read a room enough to know nobody really likes him and that "Survivor" is a social game.

While Phillip/Kristina are gone at the duel, Rob initiates Beach Day, where they all go lie in the sun. But Rob says he has to make a bowel movement and then RUNS back to camp to look for the Hidden Idol. He is madly searching every tree and finally finds the Idol in a tree.

When Phillip/Kristina return, Phillip thinks he can use the "intel" from the duel to help save Kristina. She is skeptical and is going to sit back and let him dig his own grave. Phillip tells the tribe as whole that Russell went home, but then dangles all the "intel" in front of Rob and Grant, asking them to help Kristina. Rob is privately like, "Uh, dude. You're in my alliance." But Rob says sure and Phillip spills the beans about Sarita being in charge, Ralph having an Idol, etc. God, he is stupid. After he leaves, Grant and Rob say Phillip has to go. Yes! Like a week ago.

Zapatera

Russell's harem girls are pretty annoyed that Russell is gone and since they are now alone, they decide the best solution is to lie in the sun and complain about it. Ralph decides that while Krista and Stephanie are busy with their tanning, he should tell his whole tribe about the Hidden Idol he found. They are excited. I have to say, I really enjoy this alliance. I think Steve, Mike, David, Sarita, Julie and Ralph are smart (hey, even Ralph. He plays up the hillbilly thing a bit.) and I think it would be fun to watch them mow down everyone in their way, then have to turn on each other.

When Ralph/Sarita get back, everybody is shocked Russell was voted out and Krista/Stephanie think they made the wrong move by throwing the challenge, but if I were them, I'd keep quiet. You have to know you're next, ladies. I'd keep my head down and throw the other girl under the bus, if I were one of them.

The Craftsman Challenge Brought to You by Sears

This challenge brought to you by Craftsman tools. Good lord. This isn't quiiite as bad at that "Gulliver's Travels" challenge last season, but it's pretty bad. It's a tool time obstacle course, with the tribes pretty close, but Zap in a lead due to Ralph, Julie, Steve and Mike being total World's Strongest Man awesome lumberjacks.

Stephanie and Sarita make it a lot closer because they can't get their planks put in place that fast, but Stephanie pulls out the knot-untying portion and Ralph then blasts the hammering portion. Seriously, do these tribes seem physically mismatched to anyone else? I'm fairly certainly Zap would be 4-4 if they hadn't thrown the challenge last week.

Post-Challenge

Zap wins a BBQ set and immediately makes a feast, it looks delicious. This tribe seem really cohesive and yes, winning helps that, but they've seemed more cohesive all along.

Pre-Tribal

Phillip calls another meeting to give a pep talk and Kristina looks like she could actually stab him if he got close enough to her. Rob says the malice towards Phillip is palpable. I think his annoying nature combined with his lack of physicality (he really wussed out on the sawing portion of that challenge) will get him booted. Kristina needs to be playing that up.

But Rob sees her as a huge threat because she's smart and sneaky, so he convinces his alliance to throw three votes on Kris and two on Phil. But Grant and Ashley work on Rob about how they can deal with Kris, but Phillip is ruining the tribe. Rob needs to read a room - Phillip makes the girls uncomfortable and they want him out a lot more than Kristina. Kris may be smarter, but he has total numbers to get rid of her.

Phillip finds out Rob wnats to vote Kristina and he claims Rob is not a man of his word, which - mmmkay, your stupid deal with the duel information doesn't really count, Phil. But he says he's going to be ready to make the moves he needs to make at Tribal. I'm sure everyone is quivering in fear.

Tribal Council

Rob says that Kristina has not been a part of the tribe for the first week and he doesn't know if she can get back in. Kristina says the tribe should get the weakest link out and she says the weakest link is Phillip because he's disruptive and makes people uncomfortable.

Phillip then goes off on some tangent about his life that I'm sure is a lovely story, but really has nothing to do with anything right now. Kristina takes her chance to plead her case and basically says she's a valuable member of the tribe, moreso than Phillip.

I think Kristina makes a better case, plus she's not a creepy weirdo, but I think she's going home.

During the vote, we see Kris and Phil for each other. The votes are read: Phillip, Kristina, Phillip, Kristina, Phillip, Kristina and ... Kristina. Bummer.

I think Ome made a mistake. Phillip is not only disruptive and makes everyone uncomfortable, but he is weak at challenges. Bringing Kristina into the alliance would be the smarter move, I think. But she is also probably likely to flip to the older person alliance at Zap when they merge, so maybe it was the best choice.

Questions for Russell? Leave 'em in the comments.
Photo/Video credit: CBS