Notes on last night's telecast, after the jump.
Update: Here's the teaser for next week's episode: "When the castaways discover that two people will be sent packing in a rare double elimination, everyone scrambles to save their own skin, and one castaway surprises everyone and risks it all at Tribal Council, on SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS, airing on a special night, Wednesday, March 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network."
At this point it appears very likely that a villain is going to win "Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains," and if I had to pick one now it would be Boston Rob. Of course, that choice may just be because he is locked in mortal combat with Batso Crazy Russell (who after all has an immunity idol again -- although it keeps looking as if there's a note with idol which makes me wonder if there's some twist attached to it -- and Rob makes clear that his previous "Survivor" experiences did not involve the idol). Still, Rob has been smart, he has the team working really well on puzzles and -- never thought I would say this -- I like him. And I know in saying this that I have probably assured that he is going home next week.
But the larger point I want to make is not only that the villains clearly have the upper hand in the competition, but many of the heroes are revealing themselves as quite awful. Russell, crazy as he is, nailed it in the first episode when he said that now the heroes have turned into villains. Tom, who first time around was great at building a team, is now part of a bunch of people who cannot work together; it's the Beatles making the White Album. Tom, now gone, also clearly lost it during tribal, making the kind of comments about James that can turn people against you on the spot. James, meanwhile, has now succeeded in getting rid of two smart competitors -- Tom and Stephenie -- by poisoning the well; the guy can barely walk, and he's still in the game because he is playing on everyone else's suspicions and hostility. JT has maneuvered himself into a place where no one will believe him. It's madness.
What it also is, is hard to watch. Oh, there's still some fun in Coach's delusions -- including being knighted by Russell -- and Russell makes for fascinating TV even though I cringe at him, and a lot of what we're seeing now could be setting up some really epic conflict after the merge when the villains have to turn on each other. But I see no way to stop the steamroller they've got going now, and that's saddening. The title of this season drips with ever more irony.