Survivor: Philippines Ep. 25.4 “Create a Little Chaos”: An exciting immunity challenge sends Russell to the edge

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Survivor: Philippines Review, Season 25, Episode 4
“Create a Little Chaos”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

Russell Swan is a very competitive guy. He claims to strive for excellence in everything that he does. When he loses a challenge, it must be part of God’s plan, not because of the superior performance of his opponents. This approach makes sense for a 13-year-old, but it seems pretty silly for a guy who’s been on this Earth for 45 years. After this week’s immunity challenge, he smashes a bottle of rice and can’t understand why he’s being put through so much turmoil. After mistakenly calling Jeff Probst “Lord”, Russell calms down but doesn’t step away from his simplistic view on athletic competitions. It’s an uncomfortable moment for everyone involved, but it also provides fascinating insights about his approach. Even with the drama, it’s more interesting to see a passionate response from a player. This fire isn’t enough to save Russell in the end, and the Matsing tribe is down to its two most capable members. Will they suffer the fate of Ulong, or will a tribal shakeup change their status? Answers will almost certainly arrive next week.

“Create a Little Chaos” begins with the Matsing tribe huddled in their shelter while a storm rages outside. Welcome back, rain! Things just can’t get any worse for Denise, Malcolm, and Russell. Their fire goes out, and the torrential downpours aren’t ready to subside. Their chances seem better in a three-on-three contest, but they could be too weary to compete. The other tribes should be thrilled with their success thus far, but that isn’t happening at Tandang. Abi-Maria continues her quest to be the most annoying contestant in Survivor history. She refuses to even interact with RC, who naively wants to resolve some perceived error. The immunity idol clue mysteriously appears at camp, and Abi immediately jumps on her former ally. Pete has used a Hantz-like ploy and plants the clue to stir everyone up, and that plan comes to fruition. No one believes RC’s pleas, and the older tribe members just roll their eyes and get out of the way. Pete’s plan succeeds, but it might not be a wise idea. Abi’s volatility may eventually turn everyone against her, and there’s always a chance she’ll throw him under the bus if she’s threatened.

Pete made no impression during the first two episodes, but he’s now taking center stage on Tandang. Survivor has drawn plenty of arrogant players, but few have been as proud of themselves as Pete. He’s giddy in his confessionals while describing his brilliant plans. He seems less irritating when compared to Abi, but that’s not saying much. Following Russell Hantz’s path might be good to get far in the game, but Pete should remember that people hated Russell. This approach is not going to lead to success in the final Tribal Council. RC is intelligent, but it isn’t clear if she’s ready to take charge. There are opportunities for her to regain her edge and turn the tables, but she’s being outplayed by Pete. It’s interesting to note that Lisa and Artis may have the strongest positions in this tribe. Barring a tribal swap, they will ultimately decide whether the RC/Skupin or Abi/Pete pairs will move forward.

Over at the Kalabaw tribe, a miracle occurs. Both Carter and Dawson get confessions! When he speaks, it’s clear why there’s been so little screen time. He seems like a nice guy with little to say. When Jeff and Penner ask him to join their alliance, it takes nothing to convince him. There’s an interesting switch towards a “men vs. women” conflict on this tribe. Penner appeared to be the odd man out, but Jeff looks committed to the new alliance. The problem is that the three girls recognize the change and may be ready to work together. Their conversation isn’t convincing that they’re truly aligned, however. Dana does most of the talking, and Katie and Dawson’s expressions indicate they’re not thrilled with the idea. It’s still tough to get a read on this trio and whether they’re really playing the game. Kalabaw has received the least screen time, and it won’t be clear what’s happening until they go to Tribal Council.

Opening with a stunning overhead shot, the immunity challenge is refreshing because it doesn’t end with a puzzle. It’s a physical contest that involves balancing heavy pots of rice while stepping over wooden planks and crawling through the mud. After the pots are placed, the final task involves smashing them with a wrecking ball. Matsing gains the early lead but is overtaken by Tandang before the pots are placed. They’re still in second when Malcolm gets to the wrecking ball, and the result is a tense battle to hit the last pot. It’s a thrilling finish as Jeff tries to surpass Malcolm and create more heartbreak. Both have several chances to break the last pot, and the end result is another loss for Matsing. This is a surprisingly exciting showdown for this early point of the season.

It’s sad to see the pain in Denise and Malcolm as they head for another Tribal Council. Russell is the obvious choice, but the editors raise doubts after Denise finds him searching for the immunity idol. Denise and Malcolm wisely decide to convince Russell he has a chance to prevent him from playing the idol. The plan works perfectly, and he looks stunned as he exits the stage. Russell seems like an okay guy, but he isn’t built for this competition. There are big questions for next week about Matsing’s future. Sitting out four members of the other tribes in a challenge doesn’t seem feasible. The previews hint that perhaps there will be a different type of surprise next week. Tandang and Kalabaw are due for a shake-up, and the promised events may be enough to bring a dramatic change to the game.

Dan Heaton

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