This blog post contains Survivor spoilers.
By far this was one of the best episodes I've watched. The twist in this episode was that both tribes would go to tribal council to vote players off and the challenge was only for food and the ability to watch the other tribe at tribal council. Boston Rob won individual immunity for the Villains and Candice won individual immunity for the Heroes. Boston Rob faced off against Candice and won for the Villains food and the right to watch the Heroes at tribal council.
The Heroes finally did what they obviously needed to do, which is vote off James. In the Villains tribal council, something very shocking happened.
Russell has the hidden immunity idol (HID) and pretty much everyone knew it. Russell is in an alliance with Parvati and maybe Danielle. These three are in the minority (3 vs 7). To flush the HID out, a simple plan to split the vote is required. Rob, Tyson, and Sandra vote for Russell; Courtney, Couch, and Jerri vote for Parvati. It was expected that Parvati, Russell, and Danielle vote for Tyson. If Russell plays the idol, there is tie between Tyson and Parvati (three votes each) and there is a revote. In the revote, those who voted initially for Russell switch their votes to Parvati and she goes. If Russel does not play the idol, there is a tie among Tyson, Parvati, and Russell and then those who voted for Parvati initially could vote for Russell in the second vote to get him out. What I don't understand (and this is because I am not exactly sure of the rules of Survivor) is whether Russell can play the HID in the revote.
In practice, the voting did not go according to plan. Russell lied and told Tyson that he would vote for Parvati and for some weird reason Tyson thought it would be a good idea to switch his vote from Russel to Parvati. This may be because he was worried about being the one voted against. Tyson, Parvati, and Russell were the ones on the chopping block, so Tyson may have felt like it was a good idea to attack Parvati to protect himself after he learned (wrongly) that Russell was going to vote for her. (Go to Ousted Villain calls his vote flip the dumbest move in Survivor history to see Tyson's explanation for why he switched votes.) In tribal council, Russell actually gave the immunity idol to Parvati and spoke to coach about how he was a player of honor and integrity. The four votes against Parvati were neutralized, Russel received two votes, but Tyson received three votes. Tyson went home.
Even though this was a very risky move that actually paid off. Russell's alliance is still in the minority (3 vs 5). But it is difficult to know whether Boston Rob's alliance will hold up. When Tyson left, he did not reveal to anyone that he was the one who screwed up and voted for Parvati. Rob may assume that Sandra, who was meant to vote for Russell, was the one who screwed up, and he may not trust her. He might think that Sandra was in the alliance with Russell and voted for Parvati maybe because she knew that Russell would give the HID to Parvati. Then there is Coach. In tribal council, Russell revealed that he and Coach had a discussion about the importance of honor and integrity and Russell illustrated these qualities by sacrificing his own HID. This then might put pressure on Coach to move to Russell's alliance. It may even make Rob nervous about whether Coach is with him or not.
Going forward, if the Rob vs Russell conflict intensifies, it will be interesting to see what happens post-merge. Will Rob and Russell unite to vote off the Heroes one-by-one (assuming the Heroes remain down in numbers compared to the Villains) or will either Russell and his alliance align with the Heroes to take down Rob's alliance? It will be interesting to see.