Sunday, April 25, 2010

Survivor Heroes vs. Villains Episode 10 Thoughts

This season of Survivor is already in the running for being the best season of all time. Great personalities, memorable physical battles, classic one liners, multiple rivalries, some amazing plays, and 2 of the top 5 bone-headed plays of all time. And yet, I have a nagging feeling that something is lacking. There a presence that should be there, but isn't.

I'm referring to Richard Hatch.

The show just doesn't feel right without him there. Unline All-Stars, the players seem to be willing to accept former winners as players on their own merit, instead of just deciding to be rid of all former winners. This would have given Hatch every opportunity to play at the best of his ability. Could he have been the one to take down Boston Rob or Russell? Would he be the one to be able to resist Parvati's charms?

All of these questions won't be answered, and it's a shame. Hatch is the one element that could have tipped this show well over the edge to being must-see TV for the rest of the viewing audience.

If we're lucky, we'll be able to see this on Survivor 30, or whenever they bring back the All-Star concept.

****

That sound you hear is the "Russell Hantz is the best player to play Survivor ever" train coming to a screeching halt.

It started to move in Samoa, when Russell found a hidden immunity idol without a clue. It seemed so obvious that the idol would be hidden before it's presence was announced, and yet nobody had tried to find it prior. Then, he orchestrated the come-from-behind ressurection of his tribe after the merge, and continued to dominate the game to such a point as his victory seemed a foregone conclusion.

When he lost, the train gained a lot of momentum to the point where it was the most dominant argument coming out of the Samoa finale. People weren't discussing whether the jury was wrong in giving Natalie the victory; that was assumedto be true. Instead, the result just fed the frenzy over whether Russell was the best player ever or the best player since Richard Hatch. When he was revealed to be a member of the Heroes vs. Villains cast, the buzz began. Will he take down the seemingly unbeatable Boston Rob? Would anybody be able to counter his unusual playing style?

As the show began, we saw a Russell that was alienated from the majority of his tribe. He fumbled the hidden immunity idol clue and then had to reveal it to the rest of his tribe. After the tribe decided (via Boston Robs's brain) that nobody would look for the hidden idol, Russell would notably go off on his own and look for the idol. Nobody outside of his allience of Danielle and Parvati cared for him. But since he found the idol, he was able to create his own luck by putting a thought in Tyson's mind that Russell was going to vote out Parvati. Tyson inexplicably decided to move away from the foolproof plan and inadvertantly cause his own ouster.

Russell played his part well in that sequence of events. He knew that there was going to be a split vote to flush out his immunity idol. But by Hantz's manipulations, Tyson chose to give an extra vote to Parvati and mess everything up. Even then, Parvati was a sitting duck if Russell didn't make a production at Tribal Council of giving Parvati the idol to play. Russell did this to get Coach's trust, and accentuated this by giving a speech about honour and trust.

After a bit of time to gloat, Russell moved on to the big man on shore - Boston Rob. Rob felt threatened by Russell and his abilty to make seemingly crazy moves which work out in the end. Russell was threatened by Rob's phsyical skills and Rob's leadership over the tribe. In the end, Rob was voted out because of how he treated Jerri in All-Stars.

It also seemed like luck was on Russell's side. After organizing the ouster of Rob, the Heroes jumped to the (incorrect) assumption that there was an all-girl alliance in the works. This was reinforced when Coach was the next player out. At this point, Russell started to make mistakes.

With the Coach vote, it appeared that Russell had made some corrections to the main flaw in his endgame - the social game. Russell did not vote Coach out; instead he voted for Courtney with thoughts of the jury. But his moves exaserbated his main fault...his arrogance. Russell was in a position of power and as he is wont to do, he started acting as though the game was already over, and began to revert to his old ways. He alienated Sandra and Courtney by repeatedly mocking them to their face. He caused Jerri to lose a lot of trust in him, driving her to be closer to Parvati. Parvati started to use his arrogance against him.

Russell lucked into an incredible break, when JT decided to give Russell a hidden immunity idol. Given the protection of an idol that his allies knew nothing about, Russell chose to brag to his alliance, letting them know of it's existance - and more importantly in his eyes - his brilliance of how his played those foolish heroes. Now, both heroes and villains are on edge about whether they can trust him.

After a poor decision to vote out Courtney over Sandra for reasons that are still unclear, the merge occurred. Russell and his alliance had come up with a story about the idol, saying that both Russell and Parvati had both played idols. Luckily, the heroes bought this, even with the evidence that Parvati was not afraid of being voted out.

Russell continued his new play style of trusting his teammates, and gave Parvati (who he thought was the target) his idol to protect her. Naturally, he did not know that Parvati had an immunity idol of her own, as she had did the information from him. As well, she was able to read Amanda's plea for her to use the idol as meaning that she isn't actually in trouble. She was then able to use her idols to protect Sandra and Jerri, bringing Jerri closer to her, and putting a larger target on Russell for betraying the Heroes.

We will have to see how Russell reacts to losing control of his alliance. But the story of how Russell Hantz is the best Survivor player of all time has taken a beating, blows being delivered from his own and Parvati's hands.

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