Another great episode this week, here’s another round of my 5 Redemption Island Revelations.
5. Down with Hope – Russell Hantz came into this season with the same gameplan that got him to the finals in his previous two Survivor stints. The difference this time is that Russell was playing the game with people who have seen him play before. It’s a little like if you watched the Sixth Sense a second time, it seems really obvious I don’t believe Russell necessarily needed to change the way he plays the game but he could have put a little effort into hiding that he was executing the exact same strategy for the third time in a row. Russell told his tribe on the first day that they all needed to trust one another but then blatantly formed an alliance of three with the tribe’s two youngest women.
In some ways, Russell did change coming into Redemption Island. Russell sported a new tattoo this season: Keep Hope Alive. Russell also decided this season that he was going to begin “manscaping”. It was unclear whether Russell shaved his body hair for aesthetic purposes or for a Michael Phelps-like desire to swim faster. It remains to be seen if future players will learn from Russell’s bout with hair removal gone wrong – but perhaps a future tattoo will get the message across: Keep Hair Alive.
4. Russell’s Angels – It remains to be seen what the fate of Russell’s alliance mates, Stephanie and Krista will turn out to be. In three seasons of Survivor, Russell never had a more vocal supporter than he had in Stephanie. When the subject of throwing the challenge was brought up at tribal council, Stephanie aggressively came to the defense of Russell. Krista, meanwhile, remained quiet when it came to extolling Russell’s virtues to the group. After Russell was voted out of the tribe, Stephanie warned that a storm was coming. Though I’m not one to question Stephanie’s meteorology credentials, I do predict that Krista will be left in a much better position to weather the coming storm.
3. Throwing Challenges – Even though Russell was the one voted out of the tribe, the decision to throw the challenge still wasn’t right. There was no strategic advantage to getting rid of Russell now rather than waiting until they ultimately lost another challenge. Without an idol, Russell was dead in the water and able to be picked off at any time.
Since season one, the idea of Survivor has always been to cripple the other tribe so badly that your tribe will have a numbers advantage after the merge. After starting this season with consecutive wins, Zapatera has put themselves in a position where they’re one loss away from being even. On top of all this, Zapatera threw away a chance to win the reward included with that challenge. I assume that it hasn’t rained yet, because if it had there was no way those Survivors would not try to win that tarp.
Also, I’m not sure why Ralph’s alliance was splitting up their votes. The game of Survivor has evolved so much over the years, but I think that sometimes the players get too cute with splitting the votes. There may have been some miniscule chance that Russell could have found a second hidden immunity idol somewhere – but the chances were far greater that Russell could have convinced just one player to switch their vote (like he did to Tyson on Heroes vs. Villains). Ralph had the immunity idol but let his team split their vote up anyway and came very close to being voted out and Survivor infamy.
2. Keys to Victory – This week we also got our first Redemption Island duel between Francesca and Matt. Francesca opened up to a big lead in the door unlocking challenge, but ultimately became the first player in Survivor history to be eliminated from Redemption Island. Next week, Russell takes on Matt with elimination on the line. All I know is that I would not want to be a person sharing Redemption Island with Russell given his history of sabotaging his competition. I’m just saying, Matt should not be surprised to wake up to the sight of Russell burning his sneakers in the fire. My one request that I ask is that Boston Rob be allowed to be in attendance for Russell’s duel next week. Do not think for one second that Rob wouldn’t be heckling Russell like he was front row for Yankees / Red Sox.
1. Winning – For the first time this season, it was both a quiet and victorious week for the Ometepe tribe. Federal Agent Phillip barely opened his mouth this week, though his rear end did lead Boston Rob to the first immunity idol clue. Meanwhile, Boston Rob had his hands full trying to smooth things over with Andrea – who was left in the dark about his plan to vote out Matt. Andrea seems keenly aware that Boston Rob shouldn’t be trusted – the only remaining question is what does she plan to do with that information?
What is your feeling about Russell being voted out of the tribe? Are you celebrating or are you keeping hope alive that he could come back from Redemption Island? Let me hear what you have to say on twitter, @robcesternino