This week may have been one of the best episodes in Survivor history and based on the conversations I’ve had with people over the past seven days, Russell is establishing himself as perhaps the best player to ever put on the buff…but more on that a little later, here’s the recap.
The episode begins with the Galu girls relishing the notion that Russell needlessly played his immunity idol last week and that now they can safely place the target directly between his shoulders – a great bit of foreshadowing by the Survivor producers who did an outstanding job of steadily building the drama throughout the episode.
At some point, Nathalie savagely hunts down a rather drunken-looking rat and the tribe skewer it, BBQ it and dine on the little rodent – amazing how they all seem so satisfied by the small amount of meat the little guy has to offer.
Next we’re off to the reward challenge where five members of the old Galu take on the old Foa Foa plus Laura and Brett in a team challenge. Due to the uneven numbers Nathalie is forced to sit out and choose a side to vote for – if her team wins, she gets to participate in the reward. Nathalie is either extremely loyal, not very bright or perhaps the rat meat made her a little wonky, but she picks the Foa Foa team – the same team that hasn’t won anything all game. Of course, they lose and the Galu 5 are treated to an afternoon at a natural waterpark and a feast of fried chicken and baked goods.
While on reward, the Galu 5 are given a note that tells them the hidden immunity is back in-play at their camp. They agree to keep this information secret from the remaining Foa Foa players. Little do they know, the one Foa Foa player who is actually playing the game is already on the hunt for the idol.
Russell, the one bright spot for Foa Foa somehow figured out that the idol would be re-hidden at or around camp. He spends his time methodically searching around camp for the idol. Then, while looking underneath a footbridge, Russell says, “No Way.” The smile returns to his face as he pulls the idol out of the linen bag and states, “It’s too easy.”
When the Galu 5 return from reward Russell pulls Shambo aside and shows her the idol. She is genuinely in shock as she kisses Russell as the two begin plotting to get rid of Laura, the leader of the Galu Girls Alliance. All they have to do is keep the heat on Russell and get Foa Foa to vote Laura. He’ll play the idol and Laura will go home.
But there’s still the immunity challenge and we all know anything can happen there. This is a two-part challenge with the players trying to hook two bags of puzzle pieces before trying to solve a word puzzle. Only three make it past the first round and Shambo, Laura and Mick make it to the finals. Shambo get out to an early lead and Mick is right behind her. Laura struggles to open her bags but once she gets the first puzzle piece in place, she breezes through the rest of the challenge, securing her second straight immunity necklace and putting a wrinkle in Russell and Shambo’s plans.
Before tribal council, Russell shows the rest of Foa Foa his idol and let’s them in on the plan to know vote for Kelly. Who? That’s right Kelly. She’s the attractive blond girl with the dreadlocks that is rarely on camera and seldom speaks. Russell wants to get rid of her to break-up the female alliance. Not sure about that play but we’ll see how it goes.
At one point Monica suggests to the Galu group that they should hedge their votes just in case Russell has somehow found the idol. Dave, the person with the highest IQ to ever play the game, dismisses Monica’s suggestion and Galu go to tribal gunning for Russell.
At tribal, Erik is introduced as the first member of the jury and he does not look happy to see his old tribe mates from Galu. Dave explains that Erik was cut loose to strengthen tribe unity. Erik does his best to stay seated but you could see how badly he wanted to jump up and swat Dave. It’s time to vote.
Just before Jeff reads the votes, Russell springs to action and pulls out his second immunity idol in as many votes. At this point, the colour is drained in the faces of the Galu players and their jaws drop collectively. Erik pumps his fists and Foa Foa finally does something to gain control of the game. Four votes come out for Kelly and seven meaningless votes for Russell. Russell has outwitted Galu again and he’s not going anywhere. So long Kelly. We hardly knew you.
As the show closes and Laura mutters, “he just stirred up a whole lot of hell,” I am left with the one question on my mind: Is Russell the best player to ever play the game of Survivor? The game isn’t over yet and if Russell can hold on and win, or even make it to the top-5 I think you have to consider him as one of the best. Here is my list of the best Survivor players of all time:
- Richard Hatch – The trailblazer. He set the bar for all others to be measured against. A dirty psychological player, he invented the way the game is played.
- Jon “Johnny Fairplay” Dalton – Who can forget Fairplay planting a visit from his friend at camp to tell him his beloved grandmother had died while he was away. It was all a ruse and helped keep him in the game.
- ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano – He was so smooth, you didn’t even know he was manipulating you while he was doing it. He finished second in All-Stars, but managed to marry the winner.
- Parvatti Shallow – A master manipulator she managed to use girl power and her tools of seduction to win in Micronesia.
- Rob Cerestino – The best player to never win. Had the ability to flip alliances from week-to-week and get away with it. That’s skill.
- Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth – Perhaps the best physical player to play the game. He could swim like a fish, swing from trees like a monkey and win challenges at will. He was robbed of victory in the Cook Islands.
- Jenna Morasca – Using a strong female alliance and a well-timed strip-tease for peanut butter, she cruised to victory in the Amazon as the youngest play to ever win Survivor.
- Bob Crowley – the master of the fake idol and oldest player to ever win.
- Terry Deitz – didn’t win but holds the record for winning five straight immunity challenges. Arguably the best physical player to ever play the game.
- Yau Man Chan – the skinniest player ever and also one of the smartest. Used his brains and social skills to outwit players half his age.
Who’s your favourite?
The Scribe has spoken…