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Survivor: Who Will Go (to Redemption Island) in Episode 4?by William Hammon -- 03/09/2011
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Well, I guess I can take last week’s episode as a win. I was right in Matt’s victory, but he certainly didn’t make it easy on me. As for Russell, he was one of three potential targets I listed, so I technically was right, but I’d much rather have been wrong.
I make no secret that I’m a Russell fan. He’s my favorite player in recent history, and in my top five of all time. I know he can be a jerk, but what can’t be denied is that he has a unique acumen for this game. Behavior aside, his instincts are almost Jedi-like. He can predict people’s actions before they happen, and pull a preemptive strike to maintain control. Last week was the first time he ever failed in that endeavor.
Unfortunately, it seems that I am of a rare breed, or at least that’s what CBS would have us all believe, since they keep stacking the cast full of emotional players who just want to make friends on a million-dollar camping trip. Even during last week’s show, I was live-tweeting under my podcast account (twitter.com/RealityRant, get on board NOW – shameless plug) and following along with host Jeff Probst’s commentary. Throughout the show he kept posting that he was surprised by all the Russell fans in the Twitterverse. Did we forget so soon that he won two straight audience prizes?
Most of the hardcore fans of Survivor are like me. We studied under the true greats of this game. Names like Hatch, Cesternino, Mariano, Daugherty, Fields, Kwon, and Shallow are akin to the likes of Sun-Tzu and Patton to most of us. With the obvious exceptions of Rupert and Colby, the audience rarely remembers the “nice guys.” We remember the players, and like it or not, Russell can legitimately count himself among the greatest.
Yet season after season we see the very people who forged this game be pushed aside for the likes of models and nice old ladies. As funny and fun-loving as Fabio was last season, does anyone really consider him a “player”? Last season, the only true player to make it to the end was Sash, and he was crucified for it.
It’s become a systemic problem. Imagine if someone like Richard Hatch were to play today for the first time. The cast would be so filled with failed actors who want their chance at fame and people who are just flat-out crazy that he’d be voted out the moment he even mentioned the word “strategy,” maybe even the first one gone.
This season the issue was magnified. Half the cast (at least) are recruits, and nowadays they don’t even bother trying to hide it. They freely admit that they had never seen the show until the producers approached them. When they were cast, they were shown the Heroes vs. Villains season (and for some the Samoa season as well). Is it any surprise that almost half the cast listed Russell as their least favorite player? If the only context they get for true strategy is Russell’s supervillain edit, of course they’ll eschew legitimate game play.
Ironically, the person who sealed Russell’s fate for the time being, Julie, was the only one who listed Russell as her favorite. It’s because of this fact that I actually respect her move in voting Russell out. She’s an admirer of his, and truly respects his game, so she decided to play it herself. She betrayed him before he could betray her. As much as it pains me to have one of my all-time favorites in danger of a pre-jury exit, I have to respect the move.
The other five, on the other hand, can go screw. Not a damn one of them are playing this game the way it’s meant to be played, as evidenced by their vitriol towards Russell.
When Zapatera first made it to camp, Russell told them flat out that he wouldn’t sabotage the camp or burn socks or revert to any of his more destructive tendencies. Doing so, he rightly pointed out, would be idiotic, as they would all know it was him. In essence, it couldn’t serve the same purpose it did the first time out, because the idea was to cause chaos and allow him to control people. If they know it’s him, he can’t accomplish that goal, nor can he remain anonymous, so there’s no point.
How did the tribe take that? Completely the wrong way, of course. The moment they saw him even talking to Stephanie and Krista, they assumed it was “same old Russell,” and decided he was a “cancer” that needed to be excised.
Um, excuse me, when did Russell promise not to strategize and form alliances? That’s what you’re supposed to do to advance in this game. You’re supposed to form bonds, create (and sometimes break) alliances, and occasionally win challenges so that you have an advantage over your opponents. What did Zapatera do? They lambasted him for strategizing, ostracized him for even courting potential allies, then threw a challenge, potentially destroying their tribal advantage, just so they could get rid of him.
And then there’s Ralph. I like the guy. He’s a fun character, and he gets bonus points for actually applying to be on this show. But seriously, dude, what the hell game are you playing? The man lucks into an idol and decides to be just as antagonistic towards Russell as he was to some of his former tribemates in previous seasons. His obsession with ousting Russell was almost Ahab-like. So, fine, Russell’s gone for the moment. Now what?
It’s just another symptom of the disease. No one ever tries to think beyond the immediate moment anymore. A lot of that is due to stunt casting rather than letting the game play out organically with people who know what they’re doing. And CBS wonders why the audience is fleeing to American Idol right now.
Okay, rant over. Like I said, last week counts as a win, just not the win I wanted. There is still hope for my favorite little devil in the porkpie hat thanks to the Redemption Island twist, but who knows how long that will last? Oddly enough, we may be able to answer that question right now.
This week’s episode is one of the most highly publicized in recent memory, and it’s all because of Russell’s impending duel at Redemption Island. In fact, the vast majority of the preview material this week isn’t for the actual game, but for Russell’s duel. They’re either preparing us for Russell’s final fall, or setting us up for a huge turnaround.
So let’s dive right in to it. We start, as always, with the official CBS Press Release:
In an epic duel, Matt and Russell fight for the opportunity to stay alive in the game. Secrets are revealed on Redemption Island and the second duel reduces one castaway to tears when he is eliminated from the game for good.1 2 3 4 Next-->
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