Liars and schemers and plotters, oh my!
The third episode of Survivor: Redemption Island was filled with plenty of misrepresentations, faking and downright lying. And you know what, I love it! This is what Survivor is all about. Who wasn’t sitting on the edge of their seat for the tribal council vote?
Julie burst on to the scene this week after having a grand total of zero words aired in the previous three episodes. I’m sure that the first time she was involved in anything relevant (the discussions to throw the challenge) most of you didn’t know her name (or Sarita’s) just like me. Well, we all know her name now.
Unlike Steve and David, who lied to Russell for no obvious reason and for no apparent benefit, Julie’s lie was brilliant, though not initially obvious. The way the show was edited made it seem like she completely bought in to Stephanie’s rationale for sticking with Russell. She even smiled at Russell throughout tribal council as if to reassure him that she was on his side.
So why go through all of the trouble to fake everything if she clearly had no intention of voting with him? We don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that she correctly deduced that if she turned down Russell and Stephanie, they’d go after someone else. All they needed was one and if she played along, she knew that her alliance was safe. They bought it, hook, line and sinker.
My favorite part was that it was Russell’s game played against him to perfection. He’s all about manipulating people behind the scenes and then stunning everyone at tribal council. Instead, he got played like a fiddle by Julie who earned Russell’s trust, got him to become overconfident and sent home.
Beyond Julie’s lying, Ralph’s lie of omission about the immunity idol almost messed up his alliance or, worse, got him sent to Redemption Island. By not telling his alliance that he had the idol and allowing them to simply put all six votes to Russell, he gave Russell outs. The first out, getting someone to flip, Russell almost pulled off (or at least he thought he almost pulled it off).
The second out, the one I was sure he’d play, is where Ralph’s omission really could have gotten them in trouble. Once Russell correctly figured out how the six-man alliance was going to play the vote (very impressive) why didn’t he just vote for Stephanie? She would have been sent home and Russell would still be in the game. What did he have to lose? He was already on the outs anyway.
This is where Russell’s overconfidence again did him in. Instead of simply going in to survival mode and making sure he’d stick around another three days, he wanted to wrest control of the tribe with an underhanded move. Had his ploy with Julie worked, he’d still be around, but he’d also still be down in numbers, four to five. The risk vs. reward was not there in my opinion.
One thing Russell was right about, but for the wrong reasons, was throwing challenges too early. I agree with Steve and Mike that Russell did not represent a numbers benefit for Zapatera at a merge. There’s little evidence that Russell would have played nice in the sandbox with his tribe once Boston Rob was gone.
Considering how much is on the line with the challenges, Zapatera sacrificed a lot just to get rid of Russell. Zapatera was unlikely to run the table and would have had a chance to vote Russell out at tribal council eventually (the counter is that they didn’t want to give Russell time to find the idol, something they would not have had to worry about if Ralph revealed his secret). Missing out on the reward that came with the immunity challenge will prove to be enormous.
Russell has consistently claimed that he is the greatest player to ever play Survivor. Certainly a claim that is now very much in question after he was voted out in his first opportunity while Boston Rob has survived two votes already. Perhaps Russell’s success in his first two seasons was largely the product of being an unknown quantity to two different casts.
This season Russell came to the game as a known quantity but was too enamored with his own perceived ability to dominate Survivor that he refused to change. Boston Rob’s willingness to adapt his game is what separated the two this season (and may have done the same in All-Stars if Tyson wasn’t a moron). As we know from seeing the interviews, Boston Rob still plots, schemes and lies. He’s just better at concealing it.
Knowing that it is possible to be the known quantity heading in to Survivor and still compete makes Russell’s performance frustrating. On Survivor: Samoa I thoroughly enjoyed Russell. He started to get a little bit old on Survivor: All-Stars, but was surrounded with capable players like Parvati who damped his effect. This season his arrogance and bluster was insufferable.
And yet, we still might not have seen the last of Russell.
More from this week:
- So far Redemption Island is 0-for-1 in my book. The challenge wasn’t that exciting and I simply didn’t care who won. Felt like wasted time where I could have been watching something more interesting.
- Unlike Julie’s lie, the one that made no sense to me was Steve and David lying to Russell about who won at Redemption Island. What possible benefit comes from lying to him? Is he really going to be that shocked when he gets there and sees Matt and not Francesca? The only thing that could happen is Russell finds out about the lie and targets Steve and David for lying to him. I couldn’t find any upside to doing that.
- David could have done a better job throwing the challenge without winning. Their plan was not obvious until David simply stopped trying the puzzle.
- I’m all about lighter scenes being included in our weekly episodes that briefly discuss life at camp or a funny moment. But, Russell’s shaved arm pits developing a pussy rash? Really, that’s the best we could get?