In a double elimination episode, Marty must decide whether to use his hidden immunity idol or risk going home

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 01:12 AM EST
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S21 E6
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There are many reasons to love country superstar Kenny Rogers. Reason #1: The Hair. And when I talk about Kenny Rogers’ hair, I’m talking about the hair on both his face and the top of his head. I can’t speak to any hair from the shoulders down, and frankly I don’t care to, but that luscious feathered mane (resembling the bastard love child of Santa Claus and Rick Springfield) mixed with that manly beard (resembling Santa Claus’ other bastard love child with The Dukes of Hazzard‘s Uncle Jesse) made the man a full-on fashion icon. Reason #2: Delicious Roasted Chicken. I don’t know where Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants came from, and I don’t know to where exactly they disappeared. Nor do I know why Kenny Rogers associated himself with a fast food chain specializing in chicken in the first place when another white haired/bearded icon (Colonel Sanders) had already clearly cornered the market. Was Rogers hoping people would simply get them confused and walk into a Kenny Rogers Roasters by accident instead? I don’t know and I don’t care. But if there was no Popeyes, Church’s, KFC, or Boston Market within a five-mile radius in the mid-1990s, then I was not above patronizing a Kenny Rogers Roasters. Reason #3: He Sang with Dolly Parton. Yes, the song kind of sucked, but that was about as close to cool as Kenny Rogers ever came. I mean, the guy owned a chain of roasted chicken restaurants for crying out loud! Not a lot of street cred there. Reason #4: These Lyrics from “The Gambler”: “You got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/And know when to run.”

I don’t just love those lyrics — I live them! And yes, that means my life involves a lot of running. And, occasionally, hiding. But those lyrics were the first thing I thought of after watching this latest episode of Survivor. (Okay, second thing. First was how can I not have any beer in the fridge on a Survivor night?!?) We saw a major poker play in tonight’s episode. Marty sitting there with an immunity idol. He thinks the plan is to vote off Jane, but then Brenda starts attacking him at Tribal Council. To use the idol or not to use the idol? That question has bedeviled many a Survivor contestant. (Hi, James!) I thought for sure Marty would use it at that point. But he didn’t panic. He stayed seated as Probst asked if anyone wanted to use a hidden idol. Then the votes revealed a 3-3 tie with him and Kelly B. And you and I and everyone else out there thought the exact same thing: Dude, you are sooooooooo screwed.

The younger tribe members now had Marty at their mercy. He couldn’t use the idol and they could vote as they pleased. Then, something truly shocking happened. More shocking than someone who can’t walk still being in the game. More shocking than the mere existence of something called the Medallion of Power. More shocking than the fact that one of the hottest women of the season, Kelly Purple, has received only a Brett-from-Samoa level of screen time so far.

NEXT: The former Survivor player that Marty strongly resembles.

The younger members of La Flor opted to keep Marty, who was clearly gunning for them, and instead voted out one of their own in Kelly B. Madness! Complete madness! Who do these people think they are, the Galu tribe? You have an opportunity to oust an enemy who is sitting on an immunity idol, and instead you get rid of someone whose vote you already control?

But hand it to Marty. In this case the man with the craziest hair in Survivor history knew when to hold ’em — both his cards and his hidden immunity idol. The deck is still stacked against him, but now he has three more days to try and turn some people, plus he still has the idol, which should give him at least six more days to work his magic. And with Fabio, you never know — that magic could work. Hell, he already convinced the surfer dude that ’70s tennis sensation Guillermo Vilas was a grandmaster at chess, which I suppose makes Jimmy Connors Deep Blue or something. (A little chess humor for you nerds out there.)

When I first met Marty in Nicaragua, the person he reminded me of most was Thailand‘s Brian Heidik. It was clear that Marty was a strong strategic player, but he also felt a little cold, much like the self-proclaimed Mr. Freeze — Heidik. I always thought Marty’s problem would be creating bonds with people, and you could see that happen the second he joined the La Flor tribe. You can tell that Brenda going after him at Tribal Council was as much a personal move as it was strategic. She doesn’t like the guy. But the longer he sticks around, the better for us viewers. Here’s hoping he can shake things up some more and add a little spark to the season.

Some additional observations about the episode:

* Is there anyone who doesn’t want to quit this game? First it was Holly threatening to throw in the towel, then NaOnka was on the verge of giving up, and this week it was Dan’s turn to contemplate quitting. “Looks like rain. Looks like the end of the world. I think I may pack it in,” he told Holly all matter of factly. He later explained that, “I don’t need the money. I got a Range Rover. I got a Ferrari.” Then why are you here to begin with? This is the risk you run when you recruit contestants. Dan was spotted in a bar in Miami by someone in casting and asked to apply for the show. He wasn’t a fan. It wasn’t his lifelong dream to play Survivor. Someone asked him if he wanted to be on TV and he said “Sure. Why not?” Those people are inherently less invested in the process and more likely to want to bolt once they realize what a grind living out in the elements can be. “If you can’t handle the rain, the wind, you should have thought about that before you came,” said Holly. “You signed up for something. Suck it up and finish.” Pot. Kettle. Black.

NEXT: Both tribes go to Tribal, and yet there’s a twist that makes it not terrible.{C}

* Ever notice how they always play pseudo hillbilly idiot music whenever Fabio talks? Do you know why? Because it’s hilarious! Love it.

* I used to kick and scream and yell and bitch when Survivor would have an episode with a team challenge where the winners would also have to go to Tribal and still vote someone off. Hated it. This new process of turning the challenge into an individual immunity is MUCH better. Here’s one idea, though: Next time (or say in season 23, since season 22 is already shot and in the can) make it a challenge where the contestants actually have to battle each other one-on-one in some sort of physical duel, like say, the samurai ring from Heroes vs Villains. Forcing teammates to have to turn on each other and then go back to camp to work/live together could yield some interesting drama.

* As for this challenge itself, I didn’t necessarily love or loathe it. It just felt kind of…weird. Was it just me, or did it look like everyone had a ginormous toilet strapped to their back? It certainly didn’t help that everyone kept sticking their butts out to catch the rings, making it look like they were getting ready to take a dump right on the challenge course. (Where’s a Casa de Charmin when you need one?) The construction of the challenge was odd. The contestants looked like a cross between Ghostbusters and plumbers. Seriously, I half expected freakin’ Slimer to show up at some point. And then we ended with a ring toss between individual immunity winners Holly and Jill, which — while better than bocce or bowling — wasn’t exactly the height of one-on-one dueling. Weird challenge. Not saying it was bad — just weird.

* The Espada vote basically came down to voting off a guy who can’t walk and doesn’t even want to be there (Dan), versus getting rid of someone of more sound mind and body but who could potentially be more of a threat down the line (Yve). Yve made a huge tactical error, however, when she told Alina and NaOnka they should keep her because she had great relationships with the other fogeys now on La Flor, causing me to throw microwave popcorn at the television screen in disgust. That’s your sales pitch? That you’re in a prime position to flip back to your old Espada buddies? The craziest part of all of this is that it was Dan, not Yve, who was closer to Marty. At Espada’s Tribal Council, we repeatedly saw Marty — when he was not stuffing his face with kabobs, that is — motioning positive-vibe hand gestures to Dan, and even blatantly mouthing “Good luck, man” on his way out. Dan is the guy Espada should be worried about flipping back, but here was Yve, grabbing the younger players’ proverbial gun and pointing it directly at her own head instead. POW!

* Speaking of not making any sense, how about Dan claiming at Tribal Council that nothing bothers him? Hmmm, let’s see here. Then what about the rain, the cold, the lack of food, the lack of sleep, your knees…? And there was the man who actually refers to himself as “Mr. Connected” and enjoys bragging about his Ferrari and Range Rover calling Yve arrogant. Again: Pot. Kettle. Black.

NEXT: The side you didn’t see of Kelly B.{C}

* I told Kelly B. before the game started that I thought she was in trouble because of her artificial leg. Not because it would impede her physically, but that other players would be too nervous about the sympathy vote and going against her in the finals. Unfortunately, that — plus ending up on the wrong side of an early tribe division — did her in. We never got to see much of her personality in the show. Mostly it was just NaOnka spouting off about how irrationally irritated she was by the prosthetic limb. But I know from our chat that Kelly is a likable person with an active sense of humor. We just didn’t get to see it much. I don’t have much to say about Yve. She seemed nice enough but didn’t really stand out in my interview with her. Much in the same way she didn’t really stand out on the show.

But you know who is a standout? Jeff Probst! A standout blogger, that is! Check out his take on the double elimination in his latest EW.com column. We’ve also got lots of treats for you in the video player below, including: an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, my pre-game interviews with Kelly and Yve, and the latest edition of the TV Insiders podcast, where we discuss everything from Survivor and Dancing With The Stars to Mad Men and The Good Wife. And then tell us what you think. Did La Flor blow it by getting rid of Kelly instead of Marty? Are you getting sick of everyone threatening to quit? And did you ever eat at a Kenny Rogers Roasters? Hit the message boards and let us know! And for more Survivor news and views, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

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