James blows his top at the challenge. And back at camp. And at Tribal Council. Anger management, anyone?

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 01:31 AM EST
Monty Brinton/CBS

Survivor

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I’m not gonna lie: From start to finish, this was a pretty intense episode of Survivor. I’m not gonna lie: From start to finish, this was a pretty intense episode of Survivor. I’m not gonna lie: From start to finish, this was a pretty intense episode of Survivor. Oh, I’m sorry. Was that too much? I was just taking my lead from James and thought that to successfully get my point across that I needed to repeat myself a million times for no particular reason. You know what I mean… Y’ALL? That’s another thing: I have never seen more scrutiny over the alleged use of a contraction in my entire life. I have some vaguely southern roots and bust out the word “y’all” from time to time, and I’m usually mocked for doing so, but never has the inclusion or omission of such a word caused such a brouhaha.

Now was that a great Tribal Council or what? James dissing Stephenie. Stephenie talking back to James. Colby jumping in and calling James out like he was taking on Jerri Manthey circa 2001. Then Tom jumping in and staring down a man twice his size. And there is nothing — nothing! — I love in the entire Survivor universe more than someone still talking smack even after her torch has been snuffed. Before she took that long lonely walk down the blue-lit corridor of death, Steph turned back to James and said “Some advice. Next time ‘ya’ll’ lose a challenge, a little less cursing off your tribe might help.” To which James offered the somewhat lame comeback of “Keep your mouth shut.” (Something he had been unable to do ever since they lost the challenge, I might add.)

My immediate thoughts upon taking in this whole scene were as follows:

Thought #1: Did I just witness a bona fide bout of Roid Rage?

Thought #2: I bet producers off camera were high-fiving each other like crazy the entire time. And then feeling mildly embarrassed and wondering if they should have fist-bumped instead.

Thought #3: What the hell are Stephenie and Sugar gonna talk about in the sequester house? I’m not sensing a lot of common ground there. I think it begins and ends at the letter S.

Thought #4: Was Colby’s lip quivering when he called James “bro”? And who still uses the word “bro” anyway? (The same people who high five, perhaps?)

Thought #5: Why does Amanda need glasses at Tribal Council? Is that to combat her image as one of the stupidest Tribal Council performers ever?

Thought #6: You know, Amanda doesn’t look bad in glasses.

Thought #7: Then again, Amanda doesn’t look bad without glasses either.

Make no mistake: This was an insanely satisfying Tribal Council. Sure, we’ve seen sniping and shouting at T.C. before, but not from a tribe consisting of the most popular and allegedly likable contestants ever. I haven’t seen Heroes go so downhill so fast since NBC decided to teleport Masi Oka back to 17th century feudal Japan. (Oh, snap!) But it wasn’t just the angst and anger I loved; it was the stakes that were so clearly laid out. The first boot for the Heroes was easy: Everyone wanted Sugar gone. But now it was time to pick sides. It was no longer Heroes vs Villains, but rather Heroes vs Heroes (with the Villains all back sitting around the campfire singing “Kumbaya”), and watching these pristine personalities get down and dirty in the process was a treat. Okay, let’s back it up a bit and take it from the top.

NEXT: Down goes Boston Rob… and a cameraman!

The episode started with both tribes showing signs of dysfunction. Boston Rob was getting fed up with the lack of people stepping up to work on the shelter. ”Again. Again, again, I’m on the buffoon tribe. Again,” he said. Referring to all of Boston Rob’s hard work, ingenuity and know-how, Courtney observed, ”I hope he doesn’t drop dead in the next few days, cause we’ll all die. There’s just no way around it.” And that, my friends, is what they call foreshadowing. After a brief intermission consisting of shirtless Heroes carrying trees and Rupert complaining about Stephenie’s cooking, we were back to the Villains camp, where a cameraman was busy doing his best to recreate a point of view shot of Rob passing out face first in the jungle. Way to commit to the process, point of view reenactment cameraman! Although I do have a feeling Rob’s fall was not quite as dramatic, seeing as how when Jerri found him he was lying down on his back with some sort of strategically placed towel under his head to act as a makeshift pillow. I’m not trying to make light of Rob’s plight at all. He was obviously in very bad shape. However, you do have to admit, it would have been pretty damn funny if Mr. Point-of-View Reenactment Cameraman had shot it in the style of simply sitting down, slowly placing something behind his head, and then lying down on the ground. (And maybe even throwing in a yawn for good measure.) Or maybe it could have been shot all freaky-artsy style like one of Shambo’s visions from God. Hell, if you’re gonna reenact it, why not just go all out and do some network sweeps stunt casting? What about Ben Affleck? He’s from Boston and is no stranger to the Red Sox cap. Have him play Boston Rob for a scene or two. It actually wouldn’t be that far off from his turn in Gigli, and yes, I saw Gigli. Whatever. I don’t care. Just have some fun with it, is what I’m saying.

Boston Rob prides himself on being Mr. Tough Guy, so for him to ask for help shows you how bad he really was. He couldn’t even get a bottle of water to his lips after Probst and medical showed up. Of course, the best part of all was the shot of the host helping a wobbly Rob stand up at the very end. That was a genuinely good-guy move of Probst so I really shouldn’t make fun of the fact that for a brief moment it looked like they were two drunk dudes stumbling in between bars at about 3am — but I think I just did. Leave it to Boston Rob to sum up the situation thusly: ”The doctors checked me out, basically told me I had the flu and maybe a little bit of a case of crybabyitis.”

NEXT: Hugging it out

Speaking of crybabies, let’s go to the immunity challenge! And before we get started, let me just take a minute to remind everyone —ONE VOICE! This challenge may have had the best collection of small moments of any other one I can remember. Just little nuggets of hilarity everywhere you looked. Why, even the notes I took while watching it were hilarious (at one point I typed ”A huge lead for Herpes!” which I can only assume was a typo for ”Heroes,” but a good point nonetheless: It is never a good idea to let Herpes run wild.). Nothing beats watching people get physically pummeled in a challenge (which is just another reason we love Vanuatu & Micronesia‘s Eliza so much) so it was with great delight that I witnessed Parvati taking a shot to the head from a crate and Amanda getting sandwiched by another one (sorry, ladies). But you know what tops good ol’ fashioned physical abuse? A lover’s quarrel! Bizarro showmance candidates Coach and Jerri had their first ever spat while rolling their crate back to the mat. ”C’mon, you gotta push it again,” growled Coach. “I am!” yelled Jerri. Hey, ONE VOICE, PEOPLE! But that wasn’t my favorite part of the challenge. Nor was watching the Villains once again come back from a huge deficit in the physical part of the challenge only to dominate the Heroes (thanks to Boston Rob) in the puzzle portion and win. Nor was it watching the Heroes implode, with Stephenie refusing to follow J.T.’s directions, and James blowing a gasket.

It was amazing — all of it. But it could not top the most uncomfortable celebration hug ever broadcast on network television. I’m speaking, of course, about the tender embrace between the two people who didn’t even participate in the challenge, Courtney and Randy. Now if I told you Randy and Courtney hugged, you’d probably say to yourself: Oh, skeezy Randy must have just been taking the opportunity to cop a feel on a hot young thang. BUT NO! Au contraire, mon frère! I watched this thing like it was the freakin’ Zapruder film, so let me break it down for you. The oddness begins actually with Coach slapping Boston Rob on the ass three times in quick succession, but since I remain a bit disturbed by that curious display let’s just carry on to the hug in question. So the next shot shows Courtney and Randy standing and cheering, and then Courtney — yes, Courtney! — not only initiates the hug, but then gets so lost up in the moment and the arms of her new dreamboat, that she, in perhaps the least Courtney move of her entire life, actually kicks up her left leg up in the air behind her in glee. I could have sworn this was something that only occurred in 1960s movies and parodies of 1960s movies when wives kissed their husbands while handing them their brown bag lunch as they left for work. Either way, it was random, bizarre, and wonderful, so in that sense, I suppose it was the most Courtney thing Courtney could have done.

NEXT: James goes bonkers

But of course, this little nugget of gold was lost amidst the constant berating Stephenie was taking courtesy of James. First off, let’s say this: James was absolutely right in that everyone should have been following — say it with me now — ONE VOICE! But dude, you only need to say it ONE TIME. Instead, James decided to yell at Stephenie during the challenge, after the challenge, back at camp, and then again at Tribal Council. Making matters worse is that fact that he was kind of talking in circles most of the time, uttering some mumbo-jumbo about the fact that she outlasted her entire tribe in Palau, although the way he said it was something along the lines of ”She has been the only person in Survivor history of Boogaloo Shrimp to lose everyone in her tribe where robot kryptonite she is the only one who zigazigha left.”

And it all led up to Tribal Council where James unleashed again, until Stephenie decided she was mad as hell and not gonna take it any more. She got into it with the Incredible Bulk. But she wasn’t alone. Alliance-mates Colby and Tom took James to task for bullying Stephenie. On one hand, good for them for sticking up for their friend and not backing down from the grumpasaurus. On the other, bad for them… from a strategy standpoint, at least. No way pitting themselves against the center of the other alliance is going to help them in the game. So while Tom and Colby no doubt became very popular with viewers last night for their actions, it may have worked against them strategically. They may not have gained from the fracas, we, as viewers, certainly did. This was a top-notch episode all the way through and I actually enjoyed it more than the premiere, which had incredible challenges but some dead spots and a tame Tribal along the way. Probst promised that anyone who watched the first two episodes would be hooked, and I most certainly am. Damn you, Probst, for always being right! I’m sure he’s being right about a lot more stuff over on his EW.com blog.

But I can be right about a few things, too. Like the fact that we have an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode for you below. I’m right about that! And that we also a have a special pep talk that Stephenie recorded before the game to cheer herself up should she get voted off. Which she did. I’m right about that as well! And you can see how right you are when it comes to Survivor by taking our Ultimate Survivor Quiz, with questions and answers delivered by the Heroes and Villains themselves. And, of course, let us know what you thought of the episode. How impressive was Boston Rob coming back after a bout with dehydration to lead his team to another victory? And are you on Team James, Team Stephenie, or Team Anybody But James Or Stephenie? Hit the message boards and let us know. And forSurvivor scoop sent directly to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Make sure to check back Friday afternoon for my exit interview with Stephenie. ONE VOICE!

[Sorry, video not available]

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Survivor

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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