Survivor Review: Russell Wins! Well, For Now Anyway

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The Clash of the Titans is over.  Russell has won.  As he said during the episode, “may the best man win.”  Regardless of your opinion of Russell or Boston Rob, it's hard to argue that the better man lost.

Listen, there’s no bigger Boston Rob fan in the Survivorverse than yours truly.  However, as far as manipulating the key player this week, Jerri, Russell knew how to do it better than Rob did.  Ironically, Boston Rob even outlined his own demise by talking about how you get someone to do something for you – find out what matters to them most.  Boston Rob did that with Coach, but not Jerri.  Russell did it with both of them.

Russell Hantz Contemplates

Coach is easy; he just wants to be liked and feels he can do that through being honorable with people.  That’s why we got his cop-out vote for Courtney instead of Boston Rob or Russell. Both Russell and Rob appealed to his honor and he didn't vote for either of them.  Advantage, Russell.

Jerri was a slightly harder nut to crack.  What matters to her more than anything is having someone to trust.  Unfortunately for Boston Rob, he never even got the chance to be Jerri’s someone because of actions against her six years ago in Survivor: All-Stars.  Russell, on the other hand, also felt untrustworthy to Jerri, but provides her with that papa bear persona she’s been craving for 38 years.

As much as Boston Rob was working with a six-year handicap, I don’t feel like he really made the full-court push on Jerri that he needed to.  Russell tried every trick in the book.  Try to sway her playmate, Coach?  Check.  Promise a finals appearance?  Check.  Use Parvati and Danielle for some good old-fashioned female manipulation?  Check.  Flat peer pressure by confronting her in front of multiple people?  Check.

Boston Rob’s approach?  A tent-side heart to heart where he basically tried subtle intimidation to get her to vote Russell out.  His strategy was one part humility (“I’m at your mercy”) and one part Godfather (“you know what to do”).  For a woman simply looking for a strong man to stand behind and lead her to the finals, Boston Rob was not painting a rosy picture for her.

Again, advantage Russell.

Jerri Mantheny Listens In

What else could Boston Rob have done?  For one, put far more pressure on Coach to get Jerri to see things his way.  Rob hit the nail on the head with how to manipulate Coach, but didn’t use that to his advantage more by using it to get to Jerri.  Even beyond that, engage Jerri more with a long term strategy.  Talk about how he doesn’t want to keep Sandra and Courtney longer than her. 

This brings me to one of the most interesting aspects of the Survivor players.  There are those who promise they’ll take someone to the final two, three, whatever and those who want to be promised.  Russell and Boston Rob are the promisers.  It seems everyone else on the Villains tribe is a promisee.  For those hoping someone will take them to the finals, why leave it up to those making the promises?  Take matters into your own hands!

So there it is, the best man, Russell, won.  Wait, what?  There’s more to this season than Russell vs. Boston Rob?  A whole lot more you say? 

Indeed, we’re not even at the merge yet and may be an ouster or two more away before we get there.  That brings us to option three in the Russell vs. Rob showdown that was only briefly discussed, mostly by Coach, and would have preserved their phenomenal showdown another week.  Get rid of Courtney, dummies!

To Russell’s credit, he partly advocated for it.  In fact, based on his conversations with Coach, Jerri and Danielle, if Rob was up for it, I think he would have gone for it.  I got the feeling that Russell was not so convinced Jerri and Coach would flip as to risk his own neck in favor of the Cirie approach in eliminating Courtney – as long as it ain’t me.

Boston Rob Looks Tired

I’m a little surprised Boston Rob didn’t go for this considering his candid remarks after the elimination about how he saw it coming.  If he was concerned he might go home, why not try to work Russell and boot Courtney?  If nothing else, it guarantees his survival for another three days and who knows what could change.  A merge might do him wonders, even if he has lost the numbers in his own tribe to Russell.

Unfortunately, the undeserving Courtney (nothing against her, but, really, what has she done?) will continue to float on in obscurity while one of the most colorful Survivor characters ever, Boston Rob, is sent back to Massachusetts and his former Survivor wife, Ambuh! 

So where do we go from here?  There was so much build up for Russell v. Rob it’s hard to imagine how the show will be interesting from here on out.  A few questions to ponder as we learn to live ABR: After Boston Rob

  1. Did Jerri make the right move going with Russell over Rob?
  2. Are the Villains in trouble without Boston Rob?
  3. Did Coach honor his commitment to Rob and Russell by voting for Courtney or just cop-out of it?
  4. Who will step up and challenge Russell with Boston Rob out?
  5. Does Rob’s ouster help the Heroes or hurt them?

I'm Not A Good Villain Review

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Survivor Season 20 Episode 7 Quotes

[Russell] a bandied leg little troll


I've played Survivor three times now and for the first time in all of those times, I was shocked last night.

Boston Rob