Until this week I’ve been watching the 22nd season of Survivor rather casually. I’d pay attention to the first fifteen minutes or so, just to make sure Matt won the duel, then I’d casually watch, just to ensure Rob was still in control- both these things in tact, I wouldn’t care who was voted out or why. It turns out I may be returning to this system in coming weeks, but last night’s episode had me on the hook as Matt returned to the game and threatened to unseat Rob when the tribes merged.

Here’s the trouble with this matchup: I really really want to root for Matt. I have been rooting for Matt, from the moment he won his first redemption island duel. He’s a great hero- a smart, attractive, impressive young man whose golden hair and unwavering faith, though annoying with too much airtime, make him the perfect force of good on the island (ooh, Jacob reference anyone?) Matt is the very definition of a good guy. And if he’d gone along with his plan (to secretly team up with Mike and Andrea, wait 2 weeks while they collectively eliminated Steve and Phil, then flip on Rob), he’d have officially become as good a strategist as he is a challenge player. That plan was awesome (though much of the credit does go to Mike- my second favourite player in the game, though his opposition of my first favourite is not helpful), the fact that Matt didn’t go for it makes me think he’s a little crazy, but it did solidify is “good” status as he was hopelessly and selflessly loyal to his team.

But the problem with liking the good guy this season is that he’s playing with Rob Mariano, who has not only proved to be a decently good guy himself, when it comes to the game of Survivor he is one of a very small handful of those who are truly great (it’s pretty much just him and Parvati who are tried and true). Sure, Rob could have benefited from Matt’s strangely motivated loyalty, but he had no real way of being sure that it was going to stick. In voting him right back out, Rob solidified his team and earned the respect of David- undoubtedly the first Zapatera who will flip. I think the trick to kicking Matt of redemption island will lie in voting out Grant the greek god of an athlete (who’s one of my picks for the win).

For story purposes I’ll be rooting for Matt to once again remain alive as a symbol of goodness on redemption island. But the mistake this week that stopped him from flipping the game but retained his “goodness” may be unforgivable. As for the great Rob, I’ll always love him. Even if the jury refuses to let him win if he makes it to the end, Rob is running this game, playing this naive group of people who think they’re smart like a fiddle. The moment he named the new tribe after an inside joke he shares with his wife, convincing the others that it’s a Spanish word about the sea, eliminated any doubt that had somehow managed to survive the moment when he threw an idol clue into a volcano.

Matt’s good, in the person sense, but leaving aside the personal, it’s Rob who’s inarguably great.