Thursday, April 01, 2010

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, "I'm Not a Good Villain": Jerri in the middle

Quick spoilers for tonight's "Survivor" coming up just as soon as I enjoy a healthy wrap...

I'm taking the next two weeks off for some family time, and unless things change dramatically between now and then, I'm not sure I'll be returning to this "Survivor" season.

With Boston Rob's exit - at the hands of Coach being wishy-washy and casting a throwaway vote for Courtney that he knew would doom Rob(*) - I fear things are now set up for Russell and Parvati to start running things, not only with the Villains tribe, but with whatever happens post-merge. And though they're both good players - Parvati more than Russell, since he doesn't seem to grasp the "Don't be a jerk to everyone" part of the social game - I find them both to be thoroughly unpleasant people to watch, and I really don't want to see weeks on end of Russell boasting of his awesomeness (using the ouster of Rob as supporting evidence) and Parvati flashing that smug Cheshire grin.

(*) Loved the aftermath of the vote: Rob accepts Jerri's hug, because he gets that it's a game and Jerri did what she thought was best for her, but then snubs Coach (who's a neurotic hypocrite) and says, "You're a little man."

I recognize that "Survivor" is an unpredictable game, and lots of things could change between now and when I'm back from my time off, but if they're in charge, I'm out. Life's too short. I know Russell has his fans, so enjoy him if he goes far again.

What did everybody else think?

93 comments:

Andrew said...

I enjoy watching both Rob and Russell, and it was sad to see him go so early. Coach's vote was pretty wild to see.

I'd like to see Russell win it, but you're right, he plays a very poor social game.

Antonio said...

Rob sealed his own fate, if he had just gotten rid of Courtney for the good of the tribe, he wouldn't have had to rely on the "little man" nature of Coach.

Russell has a Texas-sized ego. But there's a reason Rob was on the Villains tribe and I think his ego got in his way tonight.

Coach had it right, it is not clear what Rob saw in Courtney and going for Russell was his downfall. I'll miss him (and your thoughts on the episodes, Alan,) but this was his fault.

Chris said...

Sorry your man-crush got booted, get over it. I'm not sure why Rob gets such sympathy...he gloated all season about how Russell couldn't play in the "big leagues", and look who is still standing. Russell has played this game beautifully (finding Idols, building key alliances, timing blindsides perfectly) for two seasons now and still gets no respect, even when he is doing it against the best players ever! And all I hear is the 'social game' critique as to why he isn't a great Survivor. I thought this was Survivor, not the Dating Game. Go Russell!

Carrie said...

The reason Rob didn't go for Courtney? Courtney is clearly on his side and Russell was clearly gunning for him. He shouldn't of hidden his agenda in the whole "trying to do what's best for the tribe" nonsense, although I think that's what he thought he had to do to get Coach on his side. Perhaps if he was crystal clear about his motives, things would have worked out differently. But perhaps not. Rob doesn't really have the element of surprise he had in his last All-Stars season.

This show just got a whole lot less interesting for me. I'm not sure how much more of Russell I can take. (I'm with Alan, he's a good player but so unpleasant a person.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry your man-crush got booted, get over it.

Has much less to do with Rob going (though I do like him) than it does with Russell staying and succeeding. I take nothing away from him as a player; he's just an unpleasant d-bag and if him engineering Rob's exit is the start of another run of dominance for the guy, I don't need to see that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It occurs to me, by the way, that even if it wasn't her primary motivation, Jerri just got some measure of revenge for Rob engineering her ouster in All-Stars. (Admittedly, Lex was really the one to blame, as he was stupid enough to listen to Rob, but Rob set her exit in motion.)

TimmyD said...

Yeah, don't get the Boston Rob sycophants. I wish he was still here for the entertainment but he plays the same game as Russell but Russell doesn't hide his evil.

Jim said...

After tonight I predict the Hero's going on a major run. Russell will be a cancer to the tribe like he was a cancer last season to his tribe. Unlike last season where the only chance his tribe had was if they voted as a block because they will most likely have the numbers he is much more expendable this time around.

Olga said...

Everyone talks about what a phenomenal player Russell is but the fact is that his social skills are abysmal. He should have won last year but he was such a douche that people refused to give him the win. Lambasting Courtney and Sandra to their faces just shows how arrogant he is. He won't win this time either - mark my words.

Brendan K said...

Hey everybody. Longtime reader, extremely rare commenter.

I was absolutely enthralled by the first season of Survivor lo those many years ago, and have not watched anything of it since then (for a lot of reasons, mostly being in college and not watching much network TV and missing the craze in its peak years.) Tonight, with the NBC comedies off and having nothing better to do, I watched Survivor.

I know that people are down on the show in this point in the series' run (Probst said it was the TWENTIETH season!? Do they do 3 a year or something?) but I have to say I was surprised by how watchable it was. I mean, there was basically no suspense in this episode. The challenges were over in short order, and it became clear that the alliances formed in however many weeks this season has been on were going to hold along the apparent lines Russell dictated.

Yet still, you just cannot understate how much people seem to be taking what this show does well for granted. The production decisions behind this episode ALMOST had me wondering if Coach was going to flip and side with Rob (maybe my lack of knowing the personalities benefited my viewing experience here- I got that Coach is really wishy-washy and all, but I didn't know him well enough to be SURE of anything) and that was all a testament to the editing and storytelling qualities Survivor has had since year one.

Look, I'm not going to be watching the rest of this season, but maybe I'll tune in for the start of the next original group. I always say I'm going to, and maybe I won't (yet again), but I did get from tonight's episode that even an apparently bad season of this show is better than most reality TV on today, almost all of which was born of the success of this franchise.

It's no Top Chef, but hey, what is these days?

Andrew said...

I'll probably watch the finale to see if Russell cries after losing (to a girl, surely) again. He's going to make it there, he has the key tools to make the finale:

1) Flamboyant scheming
2) Physical weakness so he won't be targeted by his alliance early post-merge like say, Rob would have been.
3) A majority alliance entering the merge, barring a total villain collapse the next two episodes (assuming they merge at 10, if it's 12 this is over).

I suspect the third member of the Axis of Suck (Danielle) wins, just as Alan predicted.

Andy said...

I thought the "little man" comment had something to do with Coach voting for Courtney (you think Rob pays attention to handwriting?) and not just putting Rob's name on a piece of paper. I also think Rob thought Coach was actually going to stick to his guns and vote Russell out.

Also, and I'm not going to be specific about anything in the previews, but it sure seems like this season won't just be a glorified Russell/Parvati victory march. I hope, Alan, that we'll have you back on board when you're back from vacation.

Also: ENJOY YOUR VACATION.

Andrew said...

Rob's very best trait is that he understands it's a game. So when someone makes a move that makes decent game sense (removing a challenge monster right before the merge and getting in an alliance with a hateful troll rather than a charismatic if incredibly cocky dude) he'll respect that. Thus: he hugs Jeri.

When someone refuses to make a move, he won't. Thus: Coach is a little man.

Nicole said...

Russell and Boston Rob are both players who are great at manipulating other players, but ultimately fail at the big picture social game. Neither of them have won the game, because their overt manipulations have pissed off juror members so they don't get the win. Boston Rob should have won All Stars, and Russell should have won Samoa, but they didn't read that the jurors were the type to be petty and not reward game play.

It was inevitable that they would clash while on the same team, and so I really can't say that either player is any better than the other, the exception being if Russell wins this, but I think that he has pissed off too many people already for that to happen. Both Boston Rob and Russell brag about how great they are, and while Boston Rob would keep it more to the confessionals, even so, Jerri knew that she could not trust him and she watched All Stars like the rest of us and knew that Rob was behind her ouster.

I just hope that whoever wins this isn't some no name like Danielle, who has had virtually no screen time.

There are 12 of them left so the merge must happen soon and with the Heroes on a seeming upswing, things could change quickly.

It is too bad that Rob is gone before the jury, because I suspect that he would be one of the few players to give Russell a vote.

Question Mark said...

Now, if Coach and Jerri were actually smart players (which they aren't), they'd join with Sandra and Courtney to vote out one of Parvati/Russell/Danielle at their next vote. But, knowing Coach, he'll gun for Courtney again and Jerri seems to have gone all-in with the PRD group. Boo.

On the bright side, Sandra is still around, and now she has even more reason to be uber-pissed at Russell. Being the target of Sandra's scorn is never good for anyone.

Johanna said...

Alan,

Hope to see you back after your vacation, but completely understand if you drop the show.

Tonight's episode was a downer, for a number of reasons. And, as a former Russell fan (I loved him last season) I can firmly say I *hate* him now. In the past, I was able to forgive his arrogance because he seemed to have the skills to back it up -- now he just seems like an annoying, self-absorbed tool. And he's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. When you couple that with his Parvati alliance (you got it right on the money when you talked about her "Cheshire Cat" grin) the whole team, not to mention the season, becomes gross and unlikeable.

Mike said...

To Russell fans that hate the term 'social game'... The social game has always been an element of what Survivor was initially about and no one started crying about it until the beloved Russell lost to a bed that he made for himself, and was forced to lie in.

I know the fans of Russell, who are more fans of him than the game of Survivor, want to make the social game out to be this trivial thing and say the game is all about strategic maneuvering, and juries shouldn't be bitter, and just reward the 'best strategic player', but you have to understand, there is a reason that this game debuted with the idea that the last 7 people you vote out are the ones voting for you to win a million dollars, because the element of interacting with other people is a crucial part of the idea of this game.

It's not like you can't play Russell's game of backstabbing everyone and not still come out on top... Todd did it in China, Brian did it in Thailand, Richard invented it in Borneo, but you have to either make an amazing speech to the jury like Todd, or take someone even more hated, like Brian did with Clay, with you to the end, rather than an adorable southern belle that says things like "Oh my word." Russell is a great strategic player no doubt, but at the same time, him not realizing that Natalie would smash him in the jury vote is pretty oblivious to how people viewed him relative to her.

Anonymous said...

Parvati and Russell will likely run the rest of the game.

It will be hard for Parvati to win, since she's already won once. Her best shot is to bring Sandra (also a winner) and Russell (a complete ass who's sure to tell people he beat everyone last season).

The same logic applies for Sandra, and Russell. Can you imagine THAT tribal council? Ick.

Danielle's too dangerous for any of them at the finale tribal council. And I can't believe I just wrote that.

Wade Kwon said...

I like Russell, but he'll always play for second place. At least he's entertaining along the way.

The good news for Boston Rob is he'll be on yet another reality show by summer. Maybe "America's Next Top Model"?

Still pulling for J.T., glad to see the Heroes employ a little strategy now that we're, oh, 18 days into the game.

Andrew said...

Todd didn't backstab anyone! He sat there and did stupid things and had Amanda talk him into obvious moves. Amanda! Todd is the Survivor myth I truly don't understand.

His speech sucked too, but that jury was uncommonly stupid.

Anonymous said...

you notice how the only bad thing people have to say about russel is his social skills? you parrots, jesus you have nothing else to stand on, and anyways theres different shades of social gamnes to be played. Last season russel was in an allaiance with basically everybody on his starting tribe and they all trusted him, and the one who didnt went, so obviously russel knew how to SOCIALLY get people to believe him or trust him.

he played shambo and john well on the other tribe as well, and yes his ego was huge but he was still an amazing player.

You notice how russel adjusts his game and rob does not, the only ego strokin we saw russel do was in his talking heads, but boston rob has been an ass saying things like "its better to play with me than against me". russel is so much smarter, self-aware, and observant i dont see how its possible anybody thinks boston rob is better. He had a 6 to majority and yes tyson was the dumb one, but he still had the majority after that and wasnt shrewd are smart enough to hold it togehter.

Alan you make me laugh, you droll over Tom Westman and Boston ROb, 2 players with 2 huge egos but yet russel bothers you,

i agree with the other poster your just a sore loser, you baby,

if this is erased i wont be suprised but it would make you seem even more of a sore loser

Andrew said...

Russell also sucks in challenges. The only thing he's truly good at is playing the producers for camera time.

Mike said...

Whether or not Amanda came up with the moves is irrelevant. For argument's sake, let's say you're right and it was all Amanda's idea, he still participated in said moves, and thus back-stabbed Frosti, James, Denise, and Jean-Robert(and he had a tighter bond with every one of those people, except James, than Amanda), basically everyone on the jury he could have back stabbed, since he had no alliance with Peih-Gee, Jamie, or Erik.

As for his jury speech being bad, I don't buy that, whether it would or wouldn't have sold you is irrelevant, it's about knowing your audience, and he knew Jean-Robert was the type to buy into his blatantly transparent ego-stroking, Frosti, who was BFFs with Courtney and still voted for Todd, would buy into his honest answer about wanting a friendly face on the jury, and Jamie would buy into his honesty about being a gamer because she too was playing the game hard and was a pretty smart player, aside from assuming that a block of wood was an immunity idol.
Whether his speech was good in a vacuum is irrelevant, he didn't need to be Abraham Lincoln and give them the Gettysburg address. He was able to read what people wanted to hear him say, and gave it to them. That is one of the biggest keys to winning the jury and he nailed it better than anyone I've seen. Plus, no crying.
Look at Amber's 'terrible' jury speech in All-Stars. It was terrible in a vacuum, as she basically said Rob deserved to win, and she shouldn't have even been sitting there, but the thing was, arrogant and in some cases ego-maniacal (looking at you, Lex) people like Big Tom, Lex, Alicia and Shii Ann didn't want to hear about how they got outplayed, so she read the room and made a totally insipid speech about luck being her biggest reason for getting to the end, and it was a big reason why she won, because she gave them what they wanted.

Jim Teacher said...

I was a Russell fan last season, but this season, not so much. I agree he sucks at the social game and doesn't comprehend it.

I think the main difference between Boston Rob and Russell is group cohesion, in the short term. Rob could pull these people together, but Russell thrives in toxicity, and will wreck the tribe. That said, I understand Jerri's move, distrusting Rob and, like everybody else, not knowing Russell's game--why not gamble on the unknown?

Sorry you won't be doing these updates, Alan. So it goes.

Jim Teacher said...

Also, to the Russell sycophants, if he was that good, he would have won last season. End of story.

J. Newman Granger said...

Or be erased to make save you a litle of whats remaining of your intelliigence.

Russell was a bully in Samoa. He got played by Mick and Natalie because they knew (and NATALIE SAID THIS ON LIKE DAY 10) that they would have a great shot against Russell in the finals. He coerced people by being an all-around dick and intimidating which is not going to come back in your favor. Read your exit interviews and you'll see John never trusted him. Shambo is Shambo for crying out loud. Hell, Coach even could read his tell this episode and calling him out in his talking head for being full of shit! I understand Russell is great television, well at least last season when the novelty hadn't worn off, but I think all his fans forget that watching him (edited in his favor mind you) and actually being out there with him are two very, very different things.

Rob actually is nice to people and builds relationships and some people earlier put it better in describing his game. Tom? Comparing Tom to Russell is an insult to anyone who has watched this game. Tom built good friendships in his season, was up front with most of the people he voted off, and is very, very well respected by the people who know him. Just because he is from New York and has a commanding voice doesn't give him an ego. At least if he hypothetically had one it would be deserved considering he has won, you know, instead of saying you're the best and then crying at a reunion show.

Look, Im not trying to rally the Hantzophiles, the dude is good, very good at what he does. But he's a one trick pony and he'll end up getting burned in the end by a smarter player in Parvati. The end.

Mike said...

I do like the idea that Russell is so incredibly self-aware. If that is the case then remind me why he thought it was a good decision to take Natalie to the end again? His read was that he would dominate the final jury, but instead he got blasted. He didn't lose by one vote, he got smashed 7-2. If he was as self-aware as you say, he would have been able to read the temperature of the room and would have known that taking a pretty girl with a cute Southern accent would be suicide when he acted like such a condescending jerk to the people he voted out. If you're going to act like Russell did, again, you probably want to go to the end with someone even more reviled, so you can win a lesser of two evils vote(see: Brian, Jenna M, Vecepia, Sandra, Amber, Chris D... basically every winner except Yul and Tina) rather than someone everyone in the tribe liked, because of course the well-liked person will win. Russell fans and Russell himself shouldn't be so shocked that people would choose to give a million dollars to a nice young girl rather than a megalomaniac, given the choice.

Michael said...

Whoever wins in the end is who deserves to win. Russell and Boston Rob are on equal grounds, no matter how cunningly they moved through all forty days to the final tribal council. The best players right now are Sandra, J.T. and Parvati.

Don't get me wrong when I say this, because I am a huge Russell fan, loved his aggressive candidness and his fresh approach to the game in Samoa, but tonight did not prove he is the one who deserves to win, the one who will win, the one who can play the social game better, or that he is the best player there ever was - it only proved that Boston Rob was not.

Boston Rob and Russell have a lot of respect from me, they make great television, they are intuitive and resourceful, but in my mind, Sandra, J.T. and Parvati have more.

Michael said...

Whoever wins in the end is who deserves to win.

There's a different situation every season, but that statement holds true every time. Whoever cannot wrap their head around that, and think either of them should win, that Russell will win at this point, is letting Russell and Rob's high IQ's blind them, and letting Russell and Rob's egos form a part of their own.

KJ said...

Russell is the autistic kid who has memorized the first 40 levels of Ms. Pac Man. Do I want to see him do his thing? Yes. Do I want to hang out with him while he grins inappropriately and mumbles toward the wall? No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Russel has a right to brag finding all the immunity idols that he does. Like him or not, he is the best underdog player in the game.

Darrell said...

My visceral reaction to the show was kind of like Alan's, I was pissed that Russell and Parvati were in charge and upset because a player I like a lot, Rob, was gone.

But I was able to take solace in one thought. Parvati is going to absolutely backstab everyone in her alliance, and since I don't like them, I get to enjoy watching happen what they all should know is going to happen.

Does anyone believe Parvati isn't going to dump Jerri at the first chance she gets? Jerri might not survive the next vote.

Does anyone believe that Parvati would go to the end with Russell? She doesn't want anyone who can dominate in challenges going past the final 7. They all know Parvati's game and they all are about to get destroyed by it. As soon as they get to the merge, she will draw a couple heroes to her side and vote out Russell.

I'm hoping JT or Candace (i can't believe I said that win). But I'm confident that Russell and Parvati won't be in the final 3 together. And I can't wait to see him voted out.

Nicole said...

I actually think that Rob's elimination guarantees Russell in the final two or three, because he is the player everyone hates and anyone who goes up against him is almost guaranteed to win. Parvati must certainly be aware of how everyone on the Villains team feels about him, and it's unlikely anyone on the Hero side can generate as much hatred. We also haven't heard that much from Sandra but she is probably going to try to work some angle now that Rob is gone and with the merge coming soon, she may benefit from the arrival of the Heroes.

Tim said...

Thought this was one of the best episodes in a long time...even if the rest of the season might be a little more boring.

http://ow.ly/1tUv1

Matt S. said...

Sandra, Rob, and JT for the final three.

And of course JT will win out of the 3 of 'em.

I'm just sayin'.

Russ will try to oust Parvati sometime after the merge.

Matt S. said...

damnit that should've said russell not rob.

RUSSELL, Sandra, and JT

I say this because i think Russell and Sandra will spend the entire time trying to oust one another that they'll forget to try and oust JT--and the others will self sabotage---yes including Parvati---if JT is smart he'll team up with Coach or someone and oust her pronto post merge.

Matt S. said...

BTW---I was watching this with my mom tonight and she was audibly (and visibly actually) disgusted that Russell was not the one voted out. She Haaaaates Russell and can't understand why these morons don't band together and vote him out at the beginning. (of course she said that all throughout last season too....given how little some people think of him i gotta semi agree with her there...i mean i like him as a player because he contiually puts his money where his mouth is and more often then not comes out on top---i said more often then not---but my mom is totally right on the money in that if he's soo odious--she can't grasp why the others are so desperate for the mil that they would go through hell in the jungle with him....to which i usually just tell her because last season proved that it works---even if no one here saw all of last season of course.)

By the way---anyone here still watching Flash Foward???

Jennifer J. said...

I just can't stand it, so I have to post. I can't just leave it at talking to the hubby.

I loathe Russell. I think he's a toad. I think he's a troll. He disgusts me. I can barely look at him. Now, thanks to Alan, I'll also go with giant d'bag.

I cannot stand that he's from Texas.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Too bad J Newman Granger had to post a spoiler comment last week (quickly taken down, thanks Alan, just not quick enough for me)... I knew who was going to get the boot all episode. I waited the whole hour hoping it was an incorrect spoiler cause I like Rob, then... dang.

I'm bitter and I'm out too! I quit Survivor. Take that, internet! Please tell me Community is new next week?!

tribalism said...

Every time I convince myself that Coach isn't completely delusional, that he's putting on some sort of act for the benefit of the cameras, he just goes ahead and does something to prove what a warped sense of reality he possesses.

He honestly believes that he was being loyal to both Rob and Russell in this situation by voting out Courtney. Jerri was definitely correct in her assertion that Coach just doesn't comprehend the grand scheme of this game.

If anyone is interested, you can find more of my thoughts about this episode on my blog where I go into detail about how lame Russell's proposal to Jerri and Coach was as well as Rob's fatal error in this whole affair. Click my username for the link.

J. Newman Granger said...

Apologies for the spoiler. I was just pissed bc I wanted it to be wrong.

cbarron1414 said...

Anyone here see the Lost similarities with Boston Rob and Russell playing the roles of Jacob and Smokey? Choose a side and see what happens.

The question is which one is which?

Derek said...

I, too, hesitate to give inordinate credence to the previews of next week's show. However, there were two lines that made me laugh out loud:

JERRI: Everyone in this tribe is an idiot.

COACH: Pray for the merge.

That pretty much sums it up for the prospects of the Villains at this point. You'd think that getting spanked in two straight challenges by the previously hapless Heroes would be enough to make them re-focus. But then they go and do the Heroes an even bigger favor by voting out their best challenge player.

The "little man" moment was classic. When you're in the same tribe as Russell and you are called a little man, that's gotta smart. Because that dude is little enough to get a job wearing a pointy hat and standing in a flowerbed.

Popkin said...

I'm probably going to watch the rest of the season, as I'm a loyal Survivor fan, but I'm praying for a complete Villains collapse because I'm not sure I can stand seeing Russell waltz to the finals again.

I understand he's an incredibly intelligent player, but so much of that is overwhelmed by the fact that's he's a self-aggrandizing tool. If he had an ounce of the capacity Rob has for self-deprecation I think Russell would be really entertaining to watch, but this is a guy who takes both himself and the game as seriously as someone like Coach does. This is a guy who cried when he came in second place. This is a guy who, even if he doesn't win, will most likely feel totally validated because he beat Rob. And that sort of player, no matter how good they are at getting themselves ahead in the game, is not at all fun to watch. It's a pain having to sit through week after week hearing someone talk about how awesome they are.

So, here's hoping for a JT win, because I think he can still be as awesome as he was in Tocantins.

Tyroc said...

If it weren't for Colby still being around, I'd be done watching with the exit of Boston Rob. Colby is no Rob in terms of charisma or entertainment value, but I do like a good comeback.

Go, Captain America!

Kirchhoff said...

"Russell has his fans."

I find that colossally difficult to believe.

I'm with you Alan, I'm going to abandon this season until I see that Russell is gone. A season and a half of that gap-toothed weasel is plenty.

Peter said...

I'm in the same boat as you Alan. Once Rob was voted out I cancelled my season pass for Survivor.

Jill said...

I don't know for sure, but I'm getting a very strong Sandra/Russell/Parvati vibe for F3. Sandra is starting to get that suddenly-there mid-season Danni Boatright edit (only without the niceness) for someone who's been largely invisible the first half that makes me think she lasts longer than one would otherwise figure she would. As for Parv/Russell, I don't know if Russell is thinking with Little Russell in allying with Parvati or if he really thinks she can be another "dumb girl alliance" partner. If Parv manages to parlay an OK body and big white teeth into another million bucks, I may swear off this show forever.

I don't see any of the heroes, not even JT, making it to F3. JT seems a bit lost out there without Stephen Fischbach (which tells me who SHOULD have won Tocantins), NO ONE is going to keep Rupert, and after the basketball challenge, I don't see Russell keeping Colby around long.

The only "Hero" that I can see possibly making it to F3 is Candace, because no one really knows her or remembers her, and she COULD fly under the radar...except that she is good with challenges, so could be an early target.

I've been telling my 83-year-old mother for the last 10 seasons that this isn't a Miss Congeniality contest, but to see the producers falling madly in love with a self-promoting Gollumesque troll like Russell makes me want to stick an icepick in my own forehead just to make the pain of watching him stop.

Magnus Anton Lekay said...

I love Russel's game. I don't think you should have to be nice to win. In fact, he is a better player than most because he isn't nice and still outwits and outlasts (granted, he didn't win the final vote his first go-around).

He is a brilliant competitor and has proven that time and time again. No one has out-played him on any level OTHER THAN in the social game. I do think that if he is given a third chance down the line, that he will play the game differently. I feel his lesson from these two seasons will be that you MUST play a better social game (as ridiculous as I think that is) to win.

Granted, I don't think Russel will last all that long. He seemed way too desperate to win Sole Survivor at the final tribal vote read, last season, and that has made some think he must not have made it all that far this season.

Also, I think the Survivor producers/editors have shown their cards pretty clearly in the last few episodes. Colby is most likely going to win this season. They spent a long time setting him up as the loser only to now play him as the hero. There has to be a reason for that.

Chris said...

I think its funny that everyone criticizes Russell's social game, yet in just a few short days he's gone from an alliance down significantly in numbers to ousting his biggest competition and being up in numbers. And people still want to give him no credit. I don't get it. Unlike everyone's god Rob, Russell didn't sulk around and basically accept going home last week. He came up with a risky plan that would keep his small 3 together and it worked in several ways. It kept his 3 together and showed everyone else that he was willing to put his neck on the line for his alliance. Everyone seemed so sure that Rob wasn't surprised by Tyson leaving, but immediately into the episode we get the confused Rob in confessional wondering what happened. The only time we saw any fight from Rob was at tribal, but he got absolutely destroyed by Russell.

I guess I was just surprised that for such a supposedly great player, Rob made little effort to keep himself around.

So even if Probst, all but admits that last season's final jury vote was a joke, you are still going to hold it against Russell that he didn't win? I'm not saying that you have to like Russell's overconfidence or his personality, but he was clearly the superior player to Natalie, no question. The tagline is outwit, outplay, outlast. Nowhere in there does it say nicest.

Chris said...

Question:

If a previous winner and a non winner are in the final two is it a given that the non winner will get the votes?

It seemed like that was the general strategy in the last all stars, voting out those who made it far in their seasons. But I haven't heard anybody bring that up at all. I guess its probably because so many people on the show actually did make the finals or won.

Russell - Final 3
Rob - Final 2
Courtney - Final 3
Danielle - Final 2
Sandra - won
Parvati - won
Randy - jury
Coach - jury
Tyson - jury
Jerri - ?

JT - won
Amanda - Final 2 twice
Rupert - Jury
Colby - ?
Candice - Jury
Tom - Won
Stephanie - Jury twice
Sugar - Final 3
James - Jury twice?
Cirie - very close to finals twice

So lets say Parvati and Russell make the final 2? Who gets the votes. I know most of you will probably say Parvati still wins because you dislike Russell so much, but I think amongst this group, he might get more respect than last time. At least this group realizes you have to mislead people at some point and don't take it personally when they are voted off.

Alan Sepinwall said...

So even if Probst, all but admits that last season's final jury vote was a joke

Probst isn't the most neutral or reliable observer here. He clearly plays favorites and has little respect for female winners unless they win a bunch of challenges (Danni) and/or are in an all-female alliance where he can't give all the strategic credit to one of his beloved alpha males (Parvati).

Again, Russell is an aggressive player and a gifted manipulator. But he's also an unbearable ass. And you can't take the human factor out of things. The only people who won in spite of being hated by most of the jurros did so by dragging an even more unpopular player to the final 2 (Jenna with Matt in the Amazon, Brian with Clay in Thailand).

At the Survivor 10th anniversary party, a friend I was with actually posed this question to a bunch of "Survivor" alums:

Would you vote for a strategically superior player who was a jerk if the other option was someone you liked more?

In every case, the contestants said no, though they all said they would vote for the superior player if the two finalists were equally obnoxious.

Whether some of you like it or not, not treating other people like dirt is a part of the game. Three of the best players ever - Richard, Brian and Yul - all understood this and adapted in different ways. Richard made sure to provide food for people, and to also not be all that abrasive in interacting with others (after his tree-climbing tantrum on the first day, all of his bad behavior was confined to the confessionals). Brian recognized how much everyone hated Clay and set things up so that Clay would be the last one standing next to him after he'd betrayed everyone else. And Yul tried to build consensus, explained his plans rationally, and was largely open and decent with the minority group once his team gained power. (The one exception was participating in the food-hiding stunt, but that was something everyone in his group had done, so no juror could hold it specifically against him.)

Russell, on the other hand, isn't just a good strategic player, but someone obsessed with making sure everyone around him is aware of his genius at all times. So he boasts, and he puts other people down, and he pretty much guarantees that any vote he might get from the jury would be a begrudging one. I didn't watch Samoa, but if he behaved this way the last time (and everyone here has said that he did), it doesn't surprise me at all that he lost the jury vote in a landslide.

Chris said...

@ Alan

I understand and agree that Russell can be rude, but where I disagree is that just being nice should not be a qualification for winning. You also have to be strong in some other area. Natalie didn't appear to be strong in anything. She simply rode Russell's coattails the entire time and won because of Russell's abrasiveness. I would respect that win more if she was superior in any part of the game. Being nice is not part of the game in my opinion. Yul didn't win just because he was nice. He was a great strategist as well.

Russell was incredibly loyal to his alliance on Samoa, its just that he made such a bad impression with the people he was voting out. If he had taken more of a Todd approach, he probably would have won.

So I definitely realize that Russell's game is not perfect, but its hard to deny him credit when he continually seems to engineer the impossible. He went to the merge in Samoa down in numbers and made the final. Last week he was down in numbers within his own tribe and has now come out victorious in two straight weeks, ousting arguably his biggest competition.

The reason I like Russell so much is that in my opinion, strategizing is the most important part of Survivor and Russell is brilliant at that. He is excellent at working people over to his side. I'm rooting for him so hard this season because I think he was robbed in Samoa, plain and simple, so I'd like to see him go far again. Hopefully he will tone it down this time so that he can get the votes to win. However unlike several people in these comments, including apparently you, I will not pout and quit watching the show if my favorite goes home.

Chalmers said...

When a pro sports team wins a championship, the coach almost invariably writes a book. If I were a team owner or GM, I'd match whatever the publisher offered on the condition that the coach not write a book.

Why? I think if you write a 250-page book talking about how your philosophy is to go for it on fourth down, it might, possibly subsconsciously, affect your fourth-down decision making next season.

After all of that time and effort, along with the praise that comes with success, I think future decisions are based in part to live up to one's reputation and/or stated philosophy.

I think that syndrome hit Boston Rob. He's played enough to see several steps down the road, and is so good at reading people (witness his vivisection of Coach).

He knew things were turning against him and he could have sacrificed Courtney, lasted another three days, and regrouped.

Even on the downside of the numbers, a lot of things could have turned it back around for him: a merge; an injury; an idol; a betrayal casued by a combination of his cajoling and Russell's alienating personality.

But I think he got caught up in being "Boston Rob." He couldn't deal with playing second banana to a guy he considers a rube. The smartest tactic collided with the persona he's built, and he got voted out because of it.

Anonymous said...

This is the beauty of Survivor. Each season has it's own personality. Sometimes the dominant good guy wins, sometimes the submissive female and sometimes the manipulative ones. Each group of players create their own hierarchy. Probst may like the alpha males, but he can't rig it to win. Only the players determine each other's fate.

Robin said...

Chalmers,

I disagree with some of your take on Rob. I agree that he was blind to targeting anyone but Russell (he could've suggested taking out Danielle, who doesn't seem particularly strong at anything either). But targeting someone who is strongly on his side (Courtney) wouldn't do anything for his game, even if they merge next week. I don't believe he could count on any alliance with anyone on the Heroes tribe if they merge, and voting out Courtney would've guaranteed his alliance to be on the losing end for next week if they don't merge.

I think he genuinely believed that he got Coach on his side with the loyalty speech, and that it was his only shot. What he couldn't counter was Coach's inability to be "loyal" to anyone for more than 5 minutes at a time.

And though I'm not pleased with Russell this season, the one I really want gone is Rupert.

Mike said...

In regards to Russell's "lack of a social game", correct me if I'm wrong, but at the time that he's filming the Heroes vs. Villains season, he doesn't know that he's lost the million dollars to Natalie.

While his Samoa season had wrapped, the final vote hadn't been revealed yet.

So, in his mind -- while filming Heroes/Villains -- he is probably thinking he's got the votes from that season wrapped up...so the game he played in Samoa would/should work as well in H. vs. V.

It hasn't entered his mind yet that he even needed to play a better social game.

Chris said...

@ Chalmers and Mike

You both make excellent points. Mike, I've mentioned this several times, but it always seems to get lost in the conversation.

Some people are ready to put an asterisk next to Russell in the off chance he does win, since he has the "advantage" of nobody seeing his season. But really is this anymore of an advantage than the people getting to play for a 3rd time? Or actually seeing the results of your season, so you could change your strategy if your first season wasn't a winner?

This is the same exact thing that happened to Amanda in her back to back seasons. Everybody just called her stupid for a poor final tribal performance, when really she had not seen the result of the first one. In both cases the players assumed that they might as well go with what worked the last time.

I was blown away by the lack of scheming by Rob. Its clear now that he just didn't want it that bad. He made practically zero effort to stick around with his only move, pleading to Coach's honor, already been done bigger and better by Russell. It doesn't matter if Rob would have been down even more after voting for Courtney or Sandra. Knowing how good at challenges he'd been thus far, his best bet was to play for the merge in hopes that his fate would then reside in his own hands each challenge.

But he failed to adapt and instead just accepted his fate, which in my opinion is worse than anything Russell has done.

Aaron Riccio said...

Let's be realistic in a post-merge world:

Unless Colby pulls a Tom, there's no way he makes it to the final three, because he wins the million dollars, hands down.

The two big power players left, JT and Parvarti, are well-served to take Russell or Coach to the final three with them, because they might actually re-win over them, but not each other, because they'll split the vote. The third person to take? Courtney.

Rupert's dead weight. Sandra's going to have make a big move, but her flip to the heroes might put her in sixth place--especially if Amanda goes with Parvarti. Danielle and Candice might very well make it far in a post-merge world.

Jerri/Russell/Parvarti could run this, bringing along the fodder of Coach, Danielle, and Amanda.

Kirchhoff said...

I can see it on the horizon: a final three of Russell, Parvati, and Danielle.

It will be like asking the jury to choose between cholera, scurvy, or dysentery.

Nicole said...

I agree with those who said that Boston Rob seemed to give up in this episode. He could have tried much harder to get Jerri on his side, and his efforts with Coach were half-hearted. Jerri could see that Russell was playing to win (whether that actually happens is another question) whereas Rob was not. The Tyson exit really seemed to have thrown him and he did not recover.

I don't have a favourite in this game, and will be happy for anyone as long as it's not Candace or Danielle who wins, but this is the part of the game that gets really interesting with the upcoming merge, so I hope that those who threatened to quit the show because Rob is out reconsider.

We know that Russell's methods did not win him Samoa, but we see Russell doing the same thing here with some success, and yet blind to the fact that it will probably burn him again. For all the Russell haters - it is more likely that they are setting him up to be the goat as opposed to a coronation.

Jill Mader said...

Russell did a great job in swinging Jerri, but I think she made the wrong move. I detail why in my blog, couchtimewithjill.blogspot.com, but I think she would have had a better chance teaming up with Sandra and Courtney later on than she would with Danielle and Parvati, who hate her. This has been a great season so far though!

Kirchhoff said...

Normally, I believe the producers know who the douchetards are and let them use their own words to hang themselves, but I just don't see that happening this time. Samoa was a sickening Russell-fest, and HvV is turning into the same.

Unfortunately, I don't have a blog to pimp like everyone else here, so you cannot read my further thoughts about this.

Aaron Riccio said...

@Kirchoff--that's a shame, because I'd genuinely like to know why you so dislike Russell . . . and why you perceive Samoa as a Russell-fest. He got a lot of camera time because he kept making the big moves: even when had numbers, he still had to watch his own back, and probably would've been gone if not for winning that excellent final immunity challenge.

Joseph said...

I haven't watched Survivor since the All-Star show, finally tuned in last night based on what I have read here and because I am a bog Boston Rob fan. Needless to say I will be going back to not watching the show. The challenges are the same as always, the contestants continue making stupid decisions (Coach - nice pointless vote), and without Rob there is, for me, no reason to watch.

I agree Rob is similar to Russell in that he is always playing the game, always looking out for himself and trying to win, and I respect both players for that. I don't like Rob and dislike Russell because I think Rob is a better player, or more honest in how he plays. I like Rob more because he is just more likeable. He has a great personality and sense of humor, and I like watching him play the game.

Joseph said...

Editing - I am a "big" Boston Rob fan and will "not" be going back to watching the show.

Too much coffee.

Kirchhoff said...

Well, my friend Aaron Riccio, since you asked...

I don't like Russell because he is arrogant and has a severely inflated perspective of his own abilities. The Samoa storyline was dominated by Russell and his incessant blathering about how wonderful he is, and I cannot believe the producers of the show didn't realize how tiresome that became.

Natalie won Samoa, and it was completely deserved, because she recognized Russell's ego and allowed him to babble on and on and on to the point where she realized if she only kept her mouth shut, she would walk home with the million. And that's exactly what happened. And it's the same strategy that will (probably) give Parvati her second million dollars. He would be sitting in Loser Lodge at this very moment if Tyson wasn't a moron and stuck to Rob's plan.

So no, Russell is not the game master he thinks he is. He will probably make it to the final 3 again, and will most certainly lose. I've seen this movie before and I have no interest in the sequel.

shannon said...

I'm trying to understand if people have this idea that Russell is a mastermind because they are tricked by his talking heads in which he says over and over again that he is brilliant, or if it's just way easier for a lot of people to believe it's a man scheming and not a woman.

If you watch the scene in which Jerri decides to flip, the person who convinces her to flip is Parvarti. Russell doesn't say ANYTHING during the conversation. Not one word, at least not in what we actually see. Danielle also makes a comment about how a strong group of four is the perfect way to go to the end. Russell sits there and looks back and forth between Danielle and Parvarti. However, in the voiceover he talks on and on about he was the genius who brought everyone together, but in the actual scene, he is completely irrelevant to what happens.

This happened almost exactly the same last season, where Natalie convinced someone to switch, but Russell took all the credit for it, even though he wasn't even there when it happened.

Seriously, of all the seasons of Survivor, I find Russell the most odious player ever. He's a complete and utter sexist, his comments about any woman who even minimally appears to have an opinion are horrific. He's crap in most challenges, and yet feels justified in insulting others' performances. (i.e. - he didn't even particpate in the immunity challenge and contributed zero in the reward challenge in yesterday's episode). And even if the stuff he says in his interviews was actually 100% true, no one needs to be that smug. He's just a nasty little man who has had incredible luck resulting from utterly stupid moves, and lazy lazy idol hiding by the Survivor staff.

ezc23 said...

Dear Russell Haters,

Please stop trying to justify to yourselves that Russell is not a great Survivor player. Your constant search to nitpick everything about the man just makes it more laughable that you have such strong feelings about him.

For every sport, there is a player that will come along that brings the whole game to different level and what we perceive as a dominant player. Jordan did it for basketball, Gretzky did it for hockey, Ali for boxing, Tiger for golf, and so on. Russell is that player for Survivor. I think Rob`s reaction at the beginning of the episode sums it up best. He`s played this game 3 times now, and he`s never been as surprised as he was in the Tyson tribal council.

And that`s not the first time someone`s said that about Russell`s moves. Think about some of the game changers he`s accomplished in his 2 seasons so far:

1) Found immunity idol(s) without the help of any clues. (no one even attempted this before).

2) Last season in Samoa, his tribe merged with 4 members, while the other tribe had 7. Almost twice the amount of his tribe, and more than enough to pick them all off. In the end, all 7 of them were voted off before any of his tribe was touched. Can you honestly say that Natalie, Jaison, and Mick were capable of accomplishing this without Russell?

3) Like the NBA going into the 90s, without Jordan it would have been the worst era for the sport ever. The same can be said about the last few seasons of survivor. Russell`s brought more entertainment into these past two seasons than I have seen for a long time on the show. While it`s had its decent share of characters, no one is quite like Russell. Hate him or love him, he makes you talk about him, and more importantly THE SHOW.

4) He`s been targeted more times than anybody else in the past 2 seasons and he`s successfully escaped from every single one of them. Put anybody else in his position last week, would they have managed to get out of it? Rob had a fool proof plan, or so he thought.

5) After Rob`s exit, I think it`s fair to say, he reads people in the game better than anybody else. This was a chess match between two juggernauts and I can admit that Rob is arguably the best overall player there. But it doesn`t mean he is better. As the old saying goes, the best swordsman in the world isn`t afraid of the 2nd best swordsman, he`s afraid of the most unorthodox swordsman. And that`s what Russell was to him and he knew it. Russell was able to read Coach better than Rob and ultimately that`s why Rob lost. And why he was so bitter at coach. He thought he had coach figured out, as a so-call man of honor. Russell`s approach was better than Rob`s because he mentioned voting off Courtney first as a decoy. He also knew that coach ultimately will side with his girl crush (Jerri) more than his man-crush (Rob). Good game Rob, better luck next time.

Finally, just to refute some of the hate I`ve seen about Russell`s social game. The comment about Natalie & Mick being smart to ride him to the end is like saying my cat is smarter than me because she purrs and knows I`ll give her food.

This hate about him not playing a good `social game`and how everyone hates him is wrong. Natalie, mick, jaison never hated russell. Parvarti doesn`t hate russell. He is a bigot and narcissist yes, but I think you are all wrong to assume that he shows it in front of his tribe. Besides, which great player isn`t?? You can go on and on about how he never won (or will win) but I feel that each season there is usually a player that plays the game better than everybody but doesn`t `always` win. Examples are Yau Man in his season, Steve in his season with JT (he was the better player, JT was more the pawn), Cirie in the last Fans vs. Favourite (people forget that she was the one that masterminded voting off the guys, had she won the last challenge, she would have taken parvarti out).

So haters, HATE ON... Hate as much as you want, it can`t change the facts.

Michael said...

ezc23, I feel you, I really do.

However, in reference to your line, you are all wrong to assume that he shows it in front of his tribe, this is not something we're assuming. He was downright cocky in that little discussion with Courtney and Sandra, he was very arrogant when he was discussing his plans with Parvati and Danielle, as well as Mick, Natalie, Shambo and Jaison in Samoa. I think the reason most people are upset by Russell and unhappy with Rob going boils down to Russell's arrogance, as you astutely observed. He is a great player, regardless of whether he wins or not, but it's unenjoyable to watch him because of his general attitude. The difference is that Yau-Man, Stephen and Cirie, and even Boston Rob and Parvati, don't really have that big of an ego.

I think Parvati, J.T., Tom and Sandra have the right to gloat, since they won, but they hardly do and that isn't a source of annoyance for us. Russell, on the other hand, gloats just because he makes it second, and is so bitter because he made it second, and when you put him together with Stephanie, Cirie, Amanda, Boston Rob, Colby, Danielle and Courtney, who are all runners-up that don't complain and are humble, I think it's understandable for people to not want to watch him anymore.

Having said that, I think your points 1) to 4) are pretty on the money. With your 5th point, though, I think Boston Rob reads people better, and maybe even the other Villains do too. I think Parvati and Danielle are smart in their decision to align with him to avoid going against him. I also think that's why Jerri made her decision. I think that's why Coach was afraid to fully commit to Russell's 'side'. And I think Boston Rob read him right, but couldn't convince Jerri and Coach to see it the same way.

JLan said...

To the above comment, Russel does not actually know he lost, this was filmed before the final/ reunion aired.

BlackOrchid said...

On the one hand, this is a great post to help me get over my Rob-loss . . . on the other did you guys HAVE to remind me about Jenna Morasca's win?!?!?

Poor Matt! He's still my favorite contestant, so misunderstood! How can he be equated to CLAY?

Anyway what I wanted to say re: Russell Hantz' social game: It does certainly exist. Russell does the DIRTY WORK of the social game, he does it enthusiastically, and he does it well. Someone like Natalie benefitted from him being able to "be the troll" for her.

He gets out there, he hustles, and yet when Jerri and Coach wanted to pow-wow alone, he knew enough to walk away. Parvati would have just hung around like a fungus.

He's a sharp guy, and I swear to God if that little tramp Parvati rides him like Natalie did I will plotz. At least Natalie seemed like a halfway decent person (maybe less than half). The trouble is RUSSELL didn't know at this time that the Natalie strategy didn't work. And if Sugar is right and Parvati got to watch tapes of his season, she DEFINITELY has an unfair advantage here.

God, I can't believe I actually miss Ceri at this point. Anyway I'm happy to root for Russell Hantz - ESPECIALLY if he gets wise (Jerri advising?) and ditches Parvati/Danielle.

Michael Brand said...

Wow, it's amazing the number of times on this blog people feel free to express their HATE for someone on a teev show.
 
The downfall of humanity started when society lost it's shame regarding expressing hate.
 
Something I never saw mentioned here is the role of the producers in the show. They alone have the power to shape a players public image. The producers make the decisions about what words the contestants say we are allowed to hear. Would you have a different impression of B Rob if the producers allowed us to hear him running at the mouth about "N" words and "F" words? By no means am I insinuating he has said anything offensive, just making the point that we only hear what the producers want us to hear. Unlike big brother which you could watch 24/7 and hear the contestants unedited.

Anonymous said...

Russell's a very good player who could only win a final jury vote against someone who's even more despised here than the likes of Keith, Clay and Matt were in the past; Jerri made the right decision for her and isn't coming across as unlikable at all; Coach has gone from arrogant ass to pathetic wimp; and it's hard right now to see anyone from either side providing an enjoyable end to the season by winning. I hope we get some rooting interests before long.

Darrell said...

I disagree with the people who said that Russell read Coach better than Rob. I think they both had a good handle on who Coach was. I feel some pity for Coach, but like Rob said, he is "a little man." When push came to shove, Coach was unable to sway anyone. He was all alone, force to follow. Coach can see the numbers. When he realized Jerry had gone too Russell, he just followed Jerry. Russell and Parvati's big play was convincing Jerry. Because once they had her, Coach, like his vote, didn't matter.

I may have come off as a Russell hater before, but I don't want to take anything away from his game. He played Tyson and that saved his game. It also cut off Coach from the main alliance and he was left with Jerri do all his thinking for him. It was a great play. And he certainly is the engine driving his alliance, just like in Samoa. But just like in Samoa his gameplay is flawed from the beginning, because he has taken a far more likeable person as his number 2. And on top of that, Parvati is less trustworthy, and likely to backstab Russel in my opinion. You think she is going to care about him saving her? Did she care about that stuff in Micronesia? I think Russell is being setup for a fall.

IMO, the person who made the weirdest decision was Jerry. If she sticks to her original alliance, she could very easily be top 3. If anyone has seen Sandra play before, how hard is it going to be to get her to flip? Sandra would have voted for Boston Rob in a second at the final 5. But with Parvati and Danielle, she is now aligned with 2 people who she doesn't like and who don't like her. Plus with Russell, Danielle and Parvati have the ultimate jury fodder. And she knows that Parvati in particular has allies on the other side. How long before they turn on her and Coach?

Darrell said...

And I think Rob sealed his own fate when he tried to prevent people from looking for the immunity idol. There are too many good players out there to let someone tell them how they are going to play. I think he unnecessarily antagonized Russell. If he played it more low key, maybe they take out Courtney and he gets to hang around to the merge.

Anonymous said...

Russell is a phenomenal player for figuring out how to get to the end. Unfortunately for him, when people get backstabbed they take it personally. People who get hurt directly by him will keep that in their minds when they go to vote and not vote for him just because he came up with a brilliant strategy to get to the final three.

The perfect example of this is Jaison from Samoa. Clearly Russell was the one who determined whether Jaison or Mick would get voted when it was down to the F5. Russell led Jaison to believe that he would be just fine that night leaving Jaison to be blindsided at the voting. Russell assured himself of not getting Jaison's vote that night. If Russell was honest with Jaison telling him that he would be sent home, I think Jaison would have voted for Russell because of the great strategy. Jaison, however, would never vote for Russell with a knife still in his back.

I know that we all want the jury to vote for the best player, but they are real people with real feelings that were hurt when they got voted out. I think the same thing is happening again this season.

david hutchens said...

Antonio. Russell is from Oklahoma. Oklahoma is like New Jersey is to New York for Texas. Thanks though.

Thong said...

Yo, where is my comment detailing some of Russell's greatness.

Travis said...

All this talk about Russell and no one is giving any mention to Colby's comeback?

When they got the clue about another Idol and decided to find it AS A TEAM was a shining moment for that tribe. I'm glad to see Colby rejuvinated after last week.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yo, where is my comment detailing some of Russell's greatness.

It got deleted, not because of anything you said about Russell, but because it (like a number of your other comments that I have also deleted from other posts) crossed a taste line in your discussion of the women on the show.

andythesaint said...

Late comment, but I feel the need to write it somewhere anyway: it's not just that being in this game without anyone else having seen a player's previous season is an advantage, it's that it's an EXTREME advantage for Russell Hantz in particular. It's hard to imagine him having any success if people had seen the way he played in particular. Would Danielle have agreed to an alliance knowing that he'd be in a confessional calling her a part of his "dumb girl alliance"? Would people have been so blase about the idol if they'd seen his idol magnet skills?

Specifically, from this episode, Jerri flipped to Russell's side because of her distrust/past experience with Rob. Thus, Russell had an advantage that Rob didn't, which is the reason why Rob is in Loser's Lounge and Russell isn't. Because I can't imagine anyone who had seen Russell play would ever deem him more trustworthy than Rob (I can see someone judging them to be equally untrustworthy, but Jerri specifically was worried about Rob more than Russell).

Also, if they'd seen him do nothing but lose in Samoa, maybe they could have gotten over the perception that because he's a guy, he's helpful in challenges. Of course, that's a perception that seems to invade every season of SURVIVOR, but it's been one and a half seasons now, and Russell's yet to prove anything (this could've helped sway Coach, who was trying to avoid voting out "strong" players).

In my mind, this has given Russell not just an advantage, but basically gave him his only chance of succeeding. Obviously this is only my opinion, but I think if people had seen him operate, he would've gotten the Johnny Fairplay treatment (fittingly, since he also tried to curry favour in Samoa by lying about something outside the game).

I think the Heroes are in good shape now. The next immunity should go their way, and with the way Russell treated them, it's hard to imagine that Sandra or Courtney (whomever isn't voted off) would flip (particularly since both have friends on the other side). I know we all think that Parvati has an alliance on the other side, and maybe she does, but if you were the Heroes, would you bring over her and her 2-5 alliance mates into your alliance, or simply grab Courtney/Sandra? (Or more specifically, if you were JT, would you go for Amanda's plan, or create one of your own -- he's been splitting up potential alliances all season).

Anonymous said...

I don't think there will be a merge and then which tribe is more messed up? Villains. Russell may regret not having Rob longer.

ezc23 said...

@andythesaint -> It's true that Russell does have an advantage over every other contestant. I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what kind of player he is after talking to him for a little bit.

At the beginning of both seasons, he did the exact same "trick." He went to the good looking girls on his tribe and tried to form an alliance (his so-called "dumb-ass girl's alliance", charming I know). In the last season of Samoa, only one of the girls caught on about him and ended up being voted off first. When he approached Parvarti, it seems that she figured out right away what type of game he was playing and knew he offered the same thing to the other girls.

My point is, I don't think it's as much of an advantage as you are claiming. The challenge argument doesn't work because the entire tribe knew that Rob was their biggest asset in challenges. This was about strategic alignment before the merge. I also don't believe Russell is as "weak" of a challenge person than you think he is. He won the very last challenge to guarantee his position in the final 3 last season. And knowing the type of game he plays, it wouldn't surprise me if he actually half-heartedly tried on challenges so his tribe loses. He lives off confusion and chaos remember? Who else would purposely get rid of his tribe's machete, water supply, and socks? There's been a lot of challenges where if you watch him, it looks like he almost quits a few seconds too early. I don't think he'll win this season, but it's been helluva entertaining watching him again. I was sad to see the epic showdown between Rob and him end. Great TV.

Quick side note - Is it just me or does Amanada and Kate (character from Lost) have some attributes in common? They both make this hurt puppy dog face and it's killing me to watch sometimes. They both tend to make decisions for their benefit but show this pretentious remorse afterwards. They play off the pretty girl who wants the best for everybody gimmick but ultimately wants something for herself. Little harsh on both the fictional Kate and real Amanda I know but I thought I'd share anyway.

Alex said...

I could agree Alan. The most unlikeable people are clearly controlling the game this season and I really cannot continue to watch what I know is going to be the obnoxious combination of Parv/Russ. The only thing more annoying then these two are Parv/Russ fan boys who cannot take even the slightest criticism of their favorite survivors.

Alex said...

*couldn't

Chris said...

You know what's even more annoying? When people come up with every way possible to keep from giving Russell any kind of credit.

I know that Russell's game is not perfect but its not like he got to the finals just because of his unlikeable personality. He was clearly the leader of his alliance in Samoa. He seemed like the only one actively playing to win. His fault was that he was too aggressive and cocky in his pursuit of that. I think he deserved to win regardless, but I definitely think he would have won, if he had just toned it down and played with a little more subtlety.

@J Newman

I get what you are saying about Natalie having a strategy, I just don't agree that it was a winning one, especially up against Russell, who was clearly ahead of everyone in Samoa. If you have two equal strategizers, then fine give it to the likeable one, but I don't think Natalie's game came even close to Russell's. I will always have a problem with someone winning who just lets their partner take the fall, which is exactly what Natalie did in my opinion.

Ian said...

Recall that much of Russell's supposed astounding genius in eventually engineering Rob's ouster hinges pretty heavily on Tyson's equally astounding stupidity.

It'll be a lot of fun watching Coach once again spew his "for the good of the tribe" garbage as he's hiking to the next tribal council.

Alas, I understand Survivor rarely works out that way.

Chris said...

@Ian

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Did Russell's plan hinge on Tyson's stupidity? Yes, definitely. But if Russell makes no effort and simply leaves it alone, then he or Parvati goes home. But by making a subtle play to Tyson, it was enough to shake up their split vote. I think you have to give Russell credit here. I think it was widely known around camp that people wanted Parvati gone, so Russell used that to plant a seed with the bigger alliance.

Couple that with Rob's reaction, cluelessness, and I think its easy to tell who the better strategic player is. That one hit towards Rob essentially knocked Rob out of the game. For whatever reason Rob failed to adapt after Russell's move and basically accepted his own ouster.

The outwit part of survivor is getting people to act in unexpected ways, or to vote against their own interests. This is precisely the area Russell excels in.

J. Newman Granger said...

Read Rob's exit interviews, they are pretty telling and I agree with his take on Russell's "genius" move:

"The fact that he gave up his own immunity to protect her is ridiculous. People see that as a genius move and stuff? There’s nothing genius about it. It’s just stupidity that worked out for him and he got lucky."

Thong said...

I was all for team Galu, so I used to hate Russell. If he got kicked off, it would have been stupid and ridiculous. Instead, Russell giving the idol to Parvati saved himself, Parvati, eliminated an enemy, and crumbled Boston Rob's (who I was very impressed with this season) huge alliance. That, no matter how one personally feels about Russell, is a stroke of genius. He had a target on his back the moment that he went to look for the idol. His alliance was outnumbered by at least 3 votes. What he was able to engineer (and it had to go exactly as planned) is amazing. This was probably Russell's greatest coup, but hardly his only one in Survivor.

The Amanda/Kate comparison is kind of amusing. Kate annoys me most of the time. I don't mind Amanda so much cause her body makes me all hot and bothered. I wonder if she ever hooked up with that James fellow. He looks like a large guy.

I never saw Colby in previous Survivors. He seems cool. I'm glad he's doing better, and I enjoy when he wears his hat. I do recall seeing some of Tom, and I am disappointed he is gone.

Chris said...

@ J Newman

Dude seriously? Once again you are propping of words of wisdom from contestants AT PONDEROSA.

I love that if Russell comes up with a plan and executes, its only luck if it works out.

If Russell is no genius then what does that make Rob? A complete moron?

Check out this interview with Rob:

http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/04/02/survivor-heroes-vs-villains-boston-rob-russell-2/

He still refuses to give the idol play any credit, but at least admits that Russell is still there while he was voted out, meaning he doesn't have much to stand on.

dez said...

When they got the clue about another Idol and decided to find it AS A TEAM was a shining moment for that tribe. I'm glad to see Colby rejuvinated after last week.

Colby was awesome last ep! It was great seeing him triumph for a change this season.

As for Coach, I'm sure in his tiny feeble mind, his vote for Courtney was his way of being loyal to both Rob & Russell because he'd promised them both he would vote for them. I'm not a Rob fan at all, but I still loved his "little man" dig at Coach as he left.