Round three polls open Tuesday, March 31.
The tribes have merged once again, alliances shifted, and the winners of this challenge will have a one-in-eight shot at a million bucks. Or at least a million Jeff-Probst-embossed chocolate coins. After several close battles in Round One, Round Two was generally more clear-cut in its victories. Let’s see where the listener tribe stands. The voting urn, please…
OLD SCHOOL DIVISION
Richard Hatch vs. Tina Wesson
Previous round: Hatch (82%) over Ethan Zohn (18%); Tina (60%) over Jerri Manthey (40%)
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Regardless of which came first, nice guy Ethan laid an egg against OG Richard Hatch, while Tina’s Southern-fried charm pecked away at Jerri’s effort to become Miss Australia. (Sorry, Jerri, you’ll always have Playboy.) Now it’s time to see which original winner will be coming to dinner, and which will get a poultry, er, paltry share of the votes.
Rob Cesternino vs. Brian Heidik
Previous round: Rob C (78%) over Kathy VO’B (22%); Heidik (60%) over Lex Van der Berghe (40%)
Rob may have a podcast, but Brian is the one getting in people’s heads. He schemed his way to a narrow victory over Lex last round, while Rob Cesternino dominated the Marquesan mama Kathy (who sadly did not qualify as Miss Survivor this round). Cesternino may be the reality TV kingpin, but will his victory become its own reality? Or will this be his final episode?
SECOND GENERATION DIVISION
“Boston” Rob Mariano vs. Tom Westman
Previous round: Rob (73%) over Stephenie LaGrossa (27%); Tom (70%) over Jon Dalton (30%)
Disappointing no one except grandmas beyond the grave, Stephanie and Johnny Fairplay were wiped out faster than you can say “Ulong” by their opponents. This next battle will be a duel of dominance. In one corner, we have the guy who set the modern playbook for how to dominate alliances and hypnotize island fraternities. In the other, a macho firefighter who learned to love jewelry by winning a hell of a lot of immunity necklaces. Throw away those calendars that say spring has sprung, it’s time for a real Nor’easter, Survivor style.
Sandra Diaz-Twine vs. Cirie Fields
Previous round: Sandra (84%) over Chris Daugherty (16%); Cirie (83%) over Aras (17%)
This is so not fair to Cirie. In any other match-up, she would win handily for her fantastic gameplay and winning smile. But how can you say no to this?
Both she and Sandra owned their challengers with over 80% of the vote, but only one can prevail.
AGE OF RETURNEES DIVISION
Parvati Shallow vs. Todd Herzog
Previous round: Parvati (86%) over Amanda Kimmel (14%); Todd (60%) over JT Thomas (40%)
Well that’s more like it. Amanda fumbled her final vote like God intended, and the Black Widow spun her way into the next challenge in one of the biggest blowouts this round. (No need to have a catfight over clues this time, ladies.) Speaking of idol clues, JT hand-delivered his own demise once more, this time to Todd Herzog. On the wrong side of a 6-4 split, let this vote be proof as to whether the good ol’ boy with the A+ report card was actually getting his answers from a classmate back in grade 18. I’d make the case for Todd, but he beat Courtney, and she would have made this round more interesting.
Earl Cole vs. Yul Kwon
Previous round: Earl (54%) over Russell Hantz (46%); Yul (71%) over Yau-Man Chan (29%)
There’s a flaw in the game! No, not because Russell lost once again, but because I’m noticing a trend of winners from consecutive seasons battling each other. Nonetheless, this should be a worthy fight. Two super strategists who fought against the odds battling to see which player can be the best thing about this era of Survivor whose name does not sound like economic despair. (That’s one tribe’s job in Fiji. Zing!)
NEW SCHOOL DIVISION
Kim Spradlin vs. Denise Stapley
Previous round: Kim (70%) over Jonathan Penner (30%); Denise (67%) over Tyson Apostol (33%)
Still haven’t seen One World, but I’m hoping this is the round that knocks JV Jesus off her perch. Both are strong, badass women, but only one had to fight through every single Tribal, smile and nod at Abi-Maria’s BS, and cut her biggest ally’s throat to win. Kim just used the Force, or so I’m told. And until JJ Abrams proves us wrong, a vote for the Force is a vote for this guy:
Tony Vlachos vs. Malcom Freburg
Previous round: Tony (60%) over Natalie Anderson (40%); Malcolm (59%) over John Cochran (41%)
Hold up, bro. I can’t choose. Two of the most iconic players from recent years, both dispatched their amazing, racing, burning, braining opponents in close races. As a Cochran type myself, I’m sad to see him go, but Malcolm is one of the most popular players of this decade and the general suckitude of Caramoan seems to have diminished Johnny C’s win. Can Tony reach into his bag of tricks and pull out another improbable win? Or will the golden boy cause Tribal Chaos and pull out his own vote-nullifying trinket? I’d reveal my preference here, but this idol says I can keep it under wraps until the Final Four…
Mark has been watching Survivor since he was a young lad during season one…except for that time he bailed on the show after the first episode of Micronesia during college. (Bright idea, right?) Once he realized his error during season 25, he became obsessed all over again and got back up to speed, though he still hasn’t gotten through more than a couple episodes of Samoa, Nicaragua, or One World. He hopes you will forgive him and follow him on Twitter at @sylvisual.
Top 5, Baby: Cambodia, Cagayan, Heroes vs. Villains, Pearl Islands, and Palau.