Russell of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'
Pre-credit sequence. After a lengthy pre-credit sequence, we return to Yin Yang for Night 36. Parvati and Russell are debating whether or not Sandra's decision to play her Idol that night was stupid. Russell thinks it was pointless and proved that Sandra is a liar and Sandra doesn't understand what sort of etiquette she was supposed to observe. Sandra, who refuses to back down, makes it clear that Russell wasn't exactly forthcoming with all of his Idols. Russell doesn't just think Sandra's lying. He's also convinced that Parvati knew about the Idol, which makes her sneaky in his eyes. Parvati compares Russell to a two-year-old child who had his toy taken away, but Russell's pouting has had its desired effect. Jerri's talking about how she'd been wanting Parvati out since the first day, while Colby is just smiling and nodding politely. As Colby puts it, "Any time this dysfunctional family of Villains is not getting along, it takes the attention off me.
[Full recap of all two-plus hours of this "Survivor
, leading up to the climactic vote, after the break...]
Contingencies. The tree-mail clue hints about shattered dishes and steady hands. Russell says that it's all on Colby. If Colby doesn't win Individual Immunity, Russell says he's going home. But if Colby wins, Russell thinks he has a choice to make. He says his ideal Finals group would be Sandra and Jerri, figuring if he goes to the jury with those two, the jury wouldn't have a choice but to give him the million bucks. Silly Russell still thinks he won a million dollars in Samoa.
Irritable Bowl Syndrome. Immunity finds the contestants stacking and balancing plates and bowls and dishes, a challenge that was part of the China season. Sandra's steady hand fails her first. Jerri's dishes wobble and crash next. Russell's out next, meaning that we're down to Parvati and Colby. A large bowl causes shaking for each contestant, as they reach 17 dishes and the wind isn't helping. Colby seems under control, but his dishes fall. Parvati wins another Immunity. Jerri sounds confident that Colby is doomed, but she correctly notes, "It *is* 'Survivor.'"
Colby doesn't know how to quit, previous 37 days notwithstanding. "Winning today is a huge deal," Parvati knows. Colby's gracious, saying he had his opportunity to win Immunity and that he's proud to be the Last Hero Standing, vowing not to hustle for votes. He finishes his "surrender speech" and hugs everybody. He's hoping for an "Aw shucks, he's so pathetic" vote. However, it's a lie. Or he tries to tell the camera it's a lie. Colby votes, "I don't know how to quit. It's just not in me." Well that's fine. But what *can* do? He has one more play. He goes to Russell and asks if the plan is to get rid of him tonight and get rid of Parvati tomorrow. Russell agrees that it is and Colby argues that Russell's best hope is to get rid of Sandra instead, making it more likely to beat Parvati the next day. Russell briefly makes it sound like he's considering Colby's point and vows to make his decision on-the-spot at Tribal Council.
Tribal Council I. Colby calls this his toughest "Survivor" experience yet. He clearly makes his argument again that voting Sandra out would be right, because nobody wants to sit next to Parvati at the jury and everybody wants to sit next to Sandra. Parvati is amused to hear Colby talk about the target on her back and says she doesn't believe anybody. Everybody wants to trust people, but nobody trusts anybody. Blah blah. I can't see any way this vote doesn't go against Colby.
The Vote, I. Sandra writes Colby's name down. Colby writes Sandra's name down. Jeff reads the votes: Colby. Sandra. Colby. Colby. Game over. Well that was dull. Colby's done, ending a rather pathetic season for both Colby personally and for the Heroes. Jeff tells everybody to get a good night's sleep. "I guess I'm just an old, dusty veteran," says Colby, who admits he's just not destined to win this game.
I'm the only one left who likes Parvati. The Final Four returns to camp, Villains all. For some reason, they're only talking about how much of a lunatic Rupert is. Parvati, though, is newly wary. Her eyes were opened at Tribal Council by the talk of her being a jury threat. Jerri and Russell both agree that if they don't win Immunity, Parvati's going to win. "They all think she's some big strategic player, which she isn't," Russell tells Jerri, grumbling all the way. A map arrives and sends them to go off to celebrate the Rites of Passage.
A great chance to take a shower, bake a cake or having a conversation with friends and family. At least with an All-Star season, you remember all of the contestants vividly, rather than stopping and going, "Who the heck was that?" The Rites of Passage begins with a tribute to Sugar's pixelated breasts. And it's downhill from there. I like the wise words of Randy, who observes, "My lack of ability to communicate with 26-year-old girls is what got me booted." My stomach flips a little with Russell's mockery of Boston Rob and with Jerry referring to Coach as "Benji." By the end, it's one person after another with Russell saying, "You shouldn't have messed with me." Yawn. They end at a massive, creepy Wicker Man/Burning Man stature and set it aflame.
Four blind rats. See how they run. It's time for their final Immunity challenge. It's a "Survivor" maze. They're blindfolded, but have to make their way to four stations to collect four necklaces with the help of guideposts they can only read with their fingers. In the beginning, the contestants are all bunched, but then Russell opens up a lead. He's the first to two necklaces, followed closely by Jerri and by Parvati, who keeps bumping into things. Jerri is the first to get to three necklaces, with Parvati close behind. Russell and Parvati both find their fourth necklace at the same time and the start slapping and elbowing each other trying to get out of the maze. Who will escape the maze first? It's amazingly tense, as Russell, Jerry and Parvati get within inches of the finish, but the final Immunity goes to... Russell. "I've gotta talk to Russell, make sure I'm still his girl," Parvati says. It's probably too late for that, Parv.
"Survivor" finales are really long, aren't they? Jerri is giddy that Parvati is going home. The only person who's safe is Sandra. Russell says he's keeping her because he can beat her, which he tells her as well. Sandra makes a big show of saying she's perfectly happy with the $100,000. Parvati, however, takes Russell aside and says that Sandra would get Danielle, Candice and several other votes. Russell's trying to think of which woman he could sent home, while still getting their vote. It's yet another Tribal Council where I can't see any chance of the vote not going the most predictable direction. Parvati is going home.
Tribal Council II. The ladies each discuss their approach to currying favor with Russell and keeping him around. Sandra jokes that Russell keeps telling her she can't win and therefore she could be kept around. "Alliances are going to get broke tonight," Russell warns. Parvati admits that she's a threat and that she played a good strategic game and Jerri jumps in to agree. Parvati's only argument is that Russell should keep her if he wants to redeem himself, that she's had his back the whole time. She says that she's been protecting him. Oy. PARVATI. Russell doesn't like anybody else getting credit for anything and he wants no part of Parvati claiming that she helped him in any way. Bye, Parvati.
The Vote, II. Parvati writes Jerri's name down. Jerri writes Parvati's name and actually acknowledges having "mad respect" for Parvati. That's gracious. Jeff reads the votes: Parvati. Jerri. Jerri. Jerri. Huh. Well that was some interesting editing. "I can't wait to hear this story later," Jerri tells Russell, before telling the camera she's probably going to vote for him.
A brief pause: Do you think an All-Star jury will respect Russell's gameplay in a way that his regular season jury didn't? It's an interesting question. Also, when all is said and done, Parvati and Sandra have orchestrated nearly as many clear and big moves as Russell has, provided they're willing to take credit for it.
Fear of the dirty, gray hat. So our Final Three is Parvati, Sandra and Russell. Sandra is so close to winning another million, but she's also homesick and wondering how her husband in Afghanistan is doing, comparing his fight with hers. She says this is how she hustles, this is how she makes her money. They all celebrate the next morning with their drinks and their food. This is Parvati's 114th day. Russell is playing that game where he tries psyching his rivals out on jury morning. "He don't know what it's like to be up against two chicks!" Sandra laughs and then, in a classic moment, she goes and tosses Russell's signature hat into the fire. "I don't care," She says. "I should burn his sneakers." She calls it payback for everything Russell did to her. Russell returns and looks for his hate and the two gals play dumb. "If I don't get my hat, I ain't leaving," Russell pouts. Sandra smartly points out that the Heroes were all responsible for their own self-destruction. In this segment, the only person making a good case is Sandra. Is that foreshadowing? Jury time!
Opening statements. "I've been sole-surviving since my alliance was wiped out," Sandra leads. Her point is that she's been on her own and that she did what she had to do to keep her torch lit. Russell says "Survivor" isn't a game of luck. "I tried to play hard. That's what I did," Russell says, actually apologizing if anybody was offended. Parvati leads by saying that she was a threat from the beginning and that she worked to keep a wall of defense. She says that Russell was her dragon and "I kept him as my pet." It's a great line. It may even be a million dollar line.
The Jury. Colby leads off by asking if Russell thinks he made it here without luck. Russell says yes, and Colby calls him delusional. Colby then asks Parvati to defend her strategy, which she does by pointing to her double-Idol night. Coach calls Parvati "The Charmer," Russell "The Manipulator" and Sandra "The Coattail Rider." Coach tells Russell he should have been more penitent, tells Sandra that she played with weakness, but he tells Parvati that she was a warrior in challenges. Coach says he's taking his responsibility seriously. Amanda asks Sandra to defend her strategy, but Sandra gives the smart answer that if her strategy had been better, Russell would have been gone long ago. Sandra laments that Heroes wouldn't join her in voting Russell out. Courtney likes Sandra and praises Sandra's loyalty and gives her friend the chance to defend her loyalty. Well played Courtney, who sets 'em up and Sandra knocks 'em down. JT starts by telling Russell you can't win the game if you can't get the jury to vote. Russell thinks this jury will respect him. JT emphasizes he isn't out for vengeance. Danielle pops up and starts talking in a funny voice. Is she drunk? She points out Russell's lack of skill in his jury management and asks him if he'd change anything. Russell says no and says he refuses to tell them what they want to hear. He says that he doesn't regret anything he did and Danielle says, "That's too bad." Jerri wants an apology from Russell. Russell makes up some lie about how he couldn't beat her. Parvati, however, says that Russell told her that he was certain he'd get Jerri's vote. Russell doesn't even protest. Candice tells Russell that he told "dirty lies," tells Parvati that she was under Russell's thumb, like a spouse in a bad relationship. Candice says she's basing her vote on how people treated people. Rupert tells Russell that being honest in "Survivor" is hard and that to be manipulative and deceiving is easy. Rupert apologizes to Sandra and says he was swayed by "a disgusting human being," thanking her for helping. Rupert respects Parvati's effort, but has reservations about who she aligned with.
Post-Jury Read: It sure feels like Sandra has this one in the bag and that Parvati might get a couple random votes. It turns out that All-Stars might actually respect Russell's game play even less, because all of them have played the game before and they all understand what he never learned, the lesson of playing your game, but also knowing that there's going to be a jury at the end. I'm not sure which of those jury members could possibly vote for Russell. I can see Amanda and Danielle still voting for Parvati. Maybe one or two others? Sandra still wins, I'm assuming.
The Final Vote. Jerri decides to vote for Parvati, but at the last second. Candice votes for Sandra, saying she works hard and puts family first. Danielle votes for Parvati, because hot chicks have to stick together. Courtney gives Sandra a fist-bump and a vote. After long deliberation, Coach writes Parvati's name down, because she's a warrior adding "King Arthur's journey has officially ended." Rupert votes Sandra, of course. This could be a bit closer than I thought. But Russell getting shut out is gonna be awesome. Jeff exits Tribal Council and walks all the way to New York City.
And your winner... Jeff makes a speech about what a good season this has been and goes to read the votes: Parvati. Sandra. Parvati. Sandra. Parvati. Sandra. [Russell's gonna kill somebody.] Sandra. SANDRA IS THE WINNER. For the overall season, this was a more deserved win than Sandra's first win. It was, in fact, a totally deserved win, even if I was rooting for Parvati. Sandra Diaz-Twine is your first-ever two-time "Survivor" winner.
Bottom Line: This is a good result. Sandra was much more active in her second time through. She made several key moves, including getting Coach voted out. She also tried to swing the game in an entirely different strategic direction and when she couldn't sway the Heroes, she hung around and stayed in the game by doing it her way. That was a good season and a worthy winner.
What'd you think of the finale? And of Sandra as a winner?