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''Survivor'': The Curse Reversed?

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 13, 2005

It has been increasingly easy to believe that Stephenie really does have one of those little clouds over her head, especially given the way the reward challenge went in tonight's episode. It was a wipeout so thorough, it was like her cumulative experience from ''Survivor'' rolled into a single challenge. She didn't even get a chance to show her grit and rally her tribe -- the sharp stone was in someone else's hand.

But when immunity came around, and her motley crew managed to win (and to demonstrate the sort of teamwork so necessary for success at this point in the game), it was at once a pleasure and disappointment. A pleasure because Stephenie was at least momentarily uncursed -- not unlike the Red Sox in 2004. A disappointment because she is once again just another player, not someone whose terrible fortune provided a dramatic thread that ''Survivor'' badly needs right now.

Again, she's like the Red Sox. Their tragic currents made them a thing apart, with each loss an addition to their Sisyphean burden. When they were eliminated this year, it wasn't such a big deal because they had a championship in recent memory. I said awhile back that Stephenie felt more like a typical player this year, and only a string of unimaginable losses could change that; a win like tonight's just keeps her in the ordinary pool.

Anyway, she managed to avoid another tribal council. So it fell to that other fractured, blended tribe to pick a victim -- and Blake was bid adieu. Editing made it unsurprising, with repeated sequences of his foolish babble, and the vote wasn't as close as the pre-council discussion hinted. Of course, that's the way this disappointing season (which included another tepid challenge tonight) has gone. Even when it seems that things might get interesting, they don't prove to be.

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