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Survivor: Samoa – Russell Rustles the Tribe… and Maybe the Gameby Ken Kellam III -- 11/16/2009
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Say what you want about Russell – I certainly have this season. In fact, it was just a week ago I spent most of my column asserting he had overplayed his hand. But with the latest turn of events, not only has he bought himself three more days, he may have turned the entire season upside down. However far he gets from here on out, he has certainly earned it.
Normally, at this stage of the game, I would say whether you “deserve” to still be in it is a moot point; rather, you vote strategically, i.e. to get rid of the strong. But despite seven votes coming his way, Russell has certainly made a strong case that he deserves to still be in the game. For that matter, it can be argued that Kelly deserves to be in more than Monica, but her eviction was a strategic one and being “deserving” had nothing to do with it.
Russell is a different matter. Regardless of where he finishes, the guy has made Survivor history by finding two consecutive idols without any clues. You can argue that he got lucky twice, but the fact is, he made his own luck. He wants to play this game in the worst way (and that’s exactly what he has done at times), and is still in the running for the seven-figure check only through his own persistence and tenacity. His theme song may as well be Don Henley’s “I Will Not Go Quietly.”
Interestingly, enough, the name “Russell” comes from an old French name meaning “Little Red.” That seems appropriate when you consider he’s only about 5’6 and pre-show promos made him out to be the devil incarnate. But let’s face it – the things that have made him so detestable at times are the same things that have made him so interesting to watch; certainly he was one of the more interesting members of the old Foa Foa tribe, if not the most interesting.
It’s also interesting to note that Russell is a homophone for “rustle,” and one definition given by dictionary.com is “To move around, proceed, or work energetically. Rustle around and see what you can find.” He has certainly worked energetically to eliminate those he felt were threats to him since the game started, and two episodes ago, he moved around and proceeded to try and use the idol to his advantage – too much, in fact. But once he lost the idol, he decided to “rustle around and see what he could find,” and voila, one more idol coming right up.
Fortunately, he played this one a little smarter. Instead of trying to broker a deal with the Galus, he only showed it to his original tribemates and Shambo, who for all intents and purposes may as well be an old Foa Foa. This time, he managed to get all the former Galus to send their votes his way, and it paid off: The votes against him did not count, paving the way for the former Foa Foas to decide which ex-Galu they wanted gone.
Ironically, I’ve been waiting all season for Russell to get his, but once it was obvious he wouldn’t be going anywhere, I wasn’t exactly thinking, “Darn, he’s still in it.” Honestly, I try to be Switzerland, i.e. neutral, where he’s concerned, reasoning that as detestable and as loathsome as he can be at times, if he pulls it off he deserves it. And while I may not be president of his fan club, it’s only fair to acknowledge his persistence in finding two straight idols with no clues to go on.
Here’s a question to ponder: Would the game be half as interesting without him? In a way, he’s this season’s “Coach” in the sense that he’s a very polarizing figure who has for better or worse had a huge impact on the game. With that, here’s another question to ponder: If he were indeed gone this week, who would you be rooting for to win, if anyone? Feel free to write and give me your answer to both of these questions, and I’ll announce the results in an upcoming column.
What lies ahead for the rest of the game? Well, the Foa Foas may have a better shot at winning than we realize. Despite her voting with the Galus, Shambo may well be the one to flip at this point, which would make it 5-5, leaving the other Galus to wonder why they ousted Erik.
Let’s take a look at Tribal Council. What was up with Dave and Kelly openly dissing Erik? Did they forget they might eventually need his vote to win the game? Dave is said to have the highest I.Q. of anyone who has ever played the game, but this move certainly didn’t show much intelligence and carried strategic risk with no possible reward. In Kelly’s case it’s now a moot point, but it wasn’t a smart move on her part either.
While we’re on the subject of Tribal Council, what was up with Jeff Probst grilling Natalie about the new tribe all being one? It came across like he was trying to stir up the game even more than Russell has. For her part, I don’t think Natalie actually believed what she was telling him; the girl is far from naïve, but she obviously didn’t want to get on the bad side of the former Galus.
Then came the moment which turned the game upside down. When Russell got up to play the idol, did the reaction of the former Galus remind anyone of the time Amanda played the idol in Fans vs. Favorites? Back then, the looks on the faces of Natalie and Alexis were priceless, similar to Dave’s this time around. The only difference was Russell didn’t announce his possession in a sing-song voice.
The next installment should be interesting, as it’s all but a five-on-five game now, with the former Foa Foas and Shambo taking on the rest of the Galus, and the search for the idol looks to have the entire cast in a mad scramble that could have ramifications for the rest of the game.
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With apologies to Apocalypse Now, Ken was overheard shouting, “I love the smell of immunity in the morning.” He can be reached at YourNextOfKen@aol.com.
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