Survivor 19 continues to deliver some of the most entertaining reality TV in a very long time. The key figure in this year’s cast of characters continues to be Russell who, win or lose, has changed the way future competitors will play the game. His in-your-face strategy of causing chaos, bold use of alliances and knack for finding hidden immunity idols has left him in a great position going in to the home-stretch. What once seemed like an impossible mountain for any Foa Foa member to climb is now within grasp and Russell has us all believing that it has all been going as planned – at least as far he’s concerned.
Episode XIII begins with Russell performing a little damage control with Shambo who thought Dave was going home last week, not John. Russell lets Shambo know that John was plotting against her and he kept her in the dark in order to protect her. Somehow, Shambo buys Russell’s story and simply restates her desire to get rid of Dave next. “This is too easy,” Russell tells us once Shambo settles down.
Next, Jaison foolishly decides to tell Brett and Monica that Russell is a millionaire. Brett suggests that perhaps it’s time to get rid of Russell or at least get rid of his idol to which Jaison reminds the ex-Galu members that Russell is running out of time to use it (he can’t play it after day 36) and implies that once the deadline passes they’ll be looking to dump Russell. Brett and Monica finally see a crack in the Foa four and bank that information for later in the game.
The players are off to an early immunity challenge which suggests we’re getting two tribal council’s this week. The players engage in Survivor’s version of bowling by rolling coconuts down an outdoor bowling alley. Players compete head-to-head in elimination rounds until there is a winner. In the final pairing Shambo takes on Jaison for immunity and Jaison beats the former Marine for his second consecutive immunity necklace.
As the players get ready for Tribal Council, Russell is faced with the decision of staying the course and appeasing Shambo by voting out Dave, or cutting Shambo loose and keeping one of the stronger Galu members in the game. Truthfully, I never doubted that Dave was going home and he ended up receiving seven out of the eight votes proving that Russell is truly calling the shots around camp.
Following the first immunity challenge Russell immediately sharpens his focus on Brett as he has literally flown under the radar so far. He hasn’t burned any bridges and he is a strong worker and player. Russell is worried about having Brett in the game at the end, especially since most of the jury will be his former Galu tribe mates. In the meantime, Mick asks Russell about his intentions for the end, questioning some of Russell’s comments from tribal council about getting rid of players that will do well with the jury. Russell assures Mick that he as talking about Brett, but one has to wonder.
In my opinion, at this point, Russell should only consider taking Jaison, Nathalie and perhaps Shambo to the end as Mick and Brett would do well in front of the jury.
At the second immunity challenge the players must make their through the water to retrieve three bags and then use a plank to launch their bags in to a basket high above their heads. Not much interesting here and Brett wins immunity which puts the bulls-eye directly on Monica’s back.
Knowing that the heat is on, Monica attempts to use Russell’s chaos strategy to upset the apple cart. She approaches Russell and tells him that she knows he’s a multi-millionaire and that she doesn’t think she can vote for him if she’s on the jury because he doesn’t need the money. She tells Russell that Nathalie told her about his fortunes in an attempt to sour the jury should they both be there at the end.
Sensing trouble, Russell angrily confronts Nathalie who assures him that she would never betray his trust. Russell then asks Brett how he know’s about Russell’s money situation and Brett tells him Jaison leaked the information. Confused by what’s transpiring, Russell has a chat with Jaison who tries to calm him down and assures him that it is just Monica trying to stay in the game. Not knowing who to trust, Russell decides to bring his little friend, the immunity idol, with him to tribal council.
This week’s second tribal council proved to be one of the most dramatic and entertaining in Survivor history. Before Jeff could even get things started, Russell stood up smiling and confidently put the immunity idol around his neck letting everyone know that he has the goods and isn’t afraid to show it. Monica tries again to stir things up further by claiming that Russell is getting cocky. Russell uses the attention to put doubt in the mind of anyone who was thinking of blindsiding him – he’s ready to play the idol. Once all the votes were in Russell opted to hold on to the idol and Jeff proceeded to read the votes.
I have to tell you, I thought Russell was gone. They did such a good job at building the drama, by cutting between close-ups of Russell, Jaison and Mick that it was impossible to predict the outcome – truth is those shots could have been edited together from any part of tribal but neither Jaison or Mick let on in their expression how they voted. Then, with the final vote, Monica was eliminated leaving the Foa Four together and only two Galus in the game.
This is the final week for Survivor 19. We get our regular Thursday show and then a two-hour finale and reunion show on Sunday night. I’ll have a preview of the finale later this week but here’s how I see it going down.
Russell can play the idol on Thursday and guarantee his place in the top-5. Then, it’s anybody’s game and million dollars from there. If he can eliminate Mick and Brett, I believe it is in the bag. Truthfully, only Shambo represents a player who has been strategic in order to stay in the game. Everyone else has been riding on someone else’s coat-tails.
The Scribe has spoken…