— The "Survivor" all-stars have been in Samoa for 18 days, but they are still two separate tribes — and they remained that way after a reward challenge they all thought was actually a tribe merge.
Likewise, the self-declared ruler of the Villains tribe and the entire South Pacific, Russell , was faked out and/or overruled by Sandra, who saved herself and Courtney by lying to Russell and orchestrating Coach's exit.
Coach, however, will get a chance at revenge, as he became the first member of the jury.
The Villains tribe, having lost four straight challenges, headed back to Tribal Council, where Courtney seemed like their obvious target: She is horrible in challenges and even injured her ankle in the dirty immunity challenge that simply involved wallowing in mud and climbing over a fence.
To save herself and Courtney, Sandra decided to play Russell, and it worked — sort of. As she told Courtney, Russell likes to think he's in control, and so Sandra's plan was to "put a bug in his ear that Coach is gunning for him." She did just that and Russell bought the lie. "Russell's so stupid he ate that crap up," Sandra said, adding that "he doesn't know how to play this game."
But as it turned out, Russell actually voted for Courtney. Still, Coach went home, so it's clear Russell is not in control, though he ranted earlier like only he can rant: "I have the power in this game. I send home who I want to send home."
There was some worrying about last week's vote to get rid of Rob.
Jerri told Coach that "voting out Rob was a big mistake," and when Russell suggested voting out Coach — after Sandra planted that idea — the other members of his alliance became frustrated, arguing that would make them even weaker as a tribe.
The odd thing was, those people — particularly Danielle — ended up voting for Coach while Russell voted for Courtney. What? The editing clearly manipulated and left viewers confused.
What's not confusing is how Russell's cockiness has rubbed off on the Villains, and it worked against them at the reward challenge.
Based on the tree-mail clue they received, they were so confident that a merge was coming that they disassembled their shelter and brought their tarp, along with the tools and other supplies they won during various reward challenges.
With beer and pizza waiting, both tribes were sure that they'd arrived at the merge feast. And host Jeff Probst led them on: "You will all have an opportunity to enjoy this feast," he said.
"Before we move any further, let me answer the question on everybody's mind. Everybody, drop your ..."
Of course, everyone expected him to say "buffs," the standard Probst line for tribe merges or switches. But instead he finished with "expectations. We are not merging." The Survivors were crushed and we were amused.
The Villains lost that reward challenge, so the Heroes enjoyed the pizza while the other team reconstructed its camp. But can the Villains reconstruct their tribe before the merge, or will the Heroes pick them off one by one?
The Villains still have a chance, because Hero JT's sexist assumption was that Boston Rob's exit was orchestrated by the women on the Villains tribe. He believes that means he might confide in and trust Russell, who, as we all know, is controlling the tribe, the game, the tides and solar system.