Survivor Review: Russell Regains Control
If someone had told me before last night’s episode that both Rupert and Colby would survive not one, but two tribal councils with immunity, I would have bet anything against it.
In the words of ESPN’s Chris Berman, that’s why they play the game.
Russell foreshadowed the chaos of last night’s dual tribal councils when he said at the first one “unless you’re gonna give all the Villains a million dollars, something has to break” when referring to the former Villains alliance plus Candice. However, I’m certain even Russell did not realize how imminent that scenario was when he said it. And he would be the one to implement the drastic changes!
This season has been Parvati-centric as far as who’s really dictating the pace of the game, but Russell reminded everyone last night that he’s “Russell Hantz!” and reasserted control over the game with some good old fashioned bullying.
Give the little man credit; he knows when to pick his spots. There was no indication in the previous weeks that he had any desire to break up Danielle and Parvati, but the moment he had individual immunity, he went at the former pair like a lion. While I do not think that Russell realizes the women he is playing with now will not be pushed around like the ones he played with on Samoa, trying to break up Danielle and Parvati while he can’t be touched is a good idea.
Let’s face it, for as nasty as Russell was last night, he was right. If he had let Danielle and Parvati continue to run unchecked, they likely would have put him down at some point. Once the Villains get down to their final five, who’s going to be the first one to go home? Russell. Would Parvati, Sandra, Jerri or Danielle side with Russell, even if it made sense for them? No. Even if any of them actually did have a shred of trust left in him, Danielle and Parvati easily would have convinced Sandra or Jerri to vote with them and eliminate Russell.
What was most shocking about Russell’s strategy was the bull-in-a-china-shop approach that he took. And it worked! Amazing. Look at the sequence of events:
Russell tells Danielle that Parvati wants to vote her out
Russell tells Parvati that Danielle wants to vote her out, threatens her if she talks to Danielle
Parvati and Danielle talk to each other, realize what Russell is doing
Parvati and Danielle check in with Sandra and Jerri, each swear they’re voting for Rupert
Russell tells Jerri to vote for Danielle or she’s next
Parvati and Danielle out Russell in tribal council
Russell accuses Danielle of lying about her intentions to vote Parvati out
Danielle vehemently denies the charges, Russell keeps coming at her
Danielle breaks down crying, Russell tells Jerri to vote for Danielle at tribal council
Jerri vote for Danielle, Danielle sent packing
Read those last two events again. Russell was able to convince Jerri at tribal council to change her vote for Danielle and she does! Simply incredible. Russell’s bullying makes Danielle seem weak and unstable enough for Jerri to question voting with her and she changes her vote. Does it get any more school-yard than that?
Perhaps my favorite part was Russell getting caught lying both on the beach and in tribal council and being able to spin it so that he somehow does not look as culpable as he should. He’s testing Danielle’s loyalties? Seriously? Did anyone buy that? Jerri might have, but she’s obviously not the brightest bulb in the drawer. Apparently whoever gets to Jerri last will get her vote.
The flaw in Russell’s plan is his assumption that, with Danielle gone, Parvati will cling to him like static. So often Russell likes to say something along the lines of “who do they think they’re dealing with? I’m Russell Hantz!” In their defense, Russell, they don’t know you. All they know is that you’re a Villain. Russell has no excuse, however. He knows Parvati; he’s seen her play twice. He knows she’s won one of these seasons. What would make him think that she’ll turn into Natalie from Samoa?
The reality is that she won’t and so Russell’s going to have to adjust his game. He has to realize that if he does not win immunity next week, his neck is on the line. Parvati will work the rest of the castaways to eliminate Russell and she shouldn’t have too much difficulty convincing them to do so. Russell’s only hope is to play the numbers card and try to ensure people spots in the final four, final three, whatever he needs to do.
Thus, Colby and Rupert find themselves in an interesting situation – the swing votes. Let’s assume that Parvati and Sandra stick together (don’t forget, Sandra has been plotting her revenge on Russell since Courtney was voted off) and that Russell is able to bully Jerri to his side. Those two groups will be lobbying for Colby and Rupert to vote with them either to eliminate Parvati or eliminate Russell. Either way, this is a win-win for Colby and Rupert. For one, they’ll each still be alive. They also get to eliminate Russell or Parvati, both strong players.
While I’ve been giving a lot of credit for Russell for retaking control of the game, Rupert has to get kudos for faking that he had the idol and having the counter-intelligence allow him to save himself and eliminate Candice. Simply a brilliant idea to fake having the idol. At the same time, it was nice to see Colby show signs of life by recognizing that they’ll split the vote and give him and Rupert and chance to eliminate Candice.
Two things crossed my mind here. First, how did Colby know they’d be splitting the vote between one of them and Candice and not each other? Second, did either of them think about voting for the other? If the votes are split 3-3 between Rupert and Colby but Rupert votes for Colby while Colby votes for Candice, Colby is sent home. Certainly seems like a safer play than voting for Candice.
Imagine how the second tribal council would play out if Rupert did not fake the idol, the votes were not split and Candice was not sent home? Would Russell feel like he’s only sharing control with Parvati, not in control? Would Danielle still be around?
Those are just hypothetical questions on what could have been. Let’s focus on what will be.
- Will Russell’s attempts to bully the women come back to haunt him?
- Is Sandra’s hidden immunity idol the most powerful force in the game right now?
- Who should Colby and Rupert align with?
- Is Russell back in control of the game?
- Who’s the favorite with just six players and two episodes to go?