We'd happily bore you with a lengthy discussion of the events of the episode, but the vidcap above conveys the Greatest Story Ever Told. Please feel free to gaze at it, in all its glorious, glorious, gloriousness (also known as glory). Thanks for helping us, Zapatera Six, you were our only hope.
Come on, was anyone else even close here? From his "This is my game, SUCKA!" voting confessional, to his Tribal Council gloating that things don't always go as planned, to... (please don't make us relive more of this, we've suffered enough already) the rest of his time on this episode, Russell was Pure Troll once again this week. If there's a camera on him, he'll play up to it. Same as every other episode he's ever appeared in. We can't pretend he won't be a contender again next week, but we're really hoping the "Memorial" part of this section's title soon becomes fact.
Perhaps we should take this time to write some new lines, or create new personae for the Russellbot, before his inevitable return in Survivor 23: Russell vs. Charlie Sheen, and/or Survivor 24: Russell Really Needs the Money.
As much as we loathe Russell, he might be more entertaining as a prissy, early 20th-Century nobleman, replete with monocle and waistcoat: "Oh I say, these heathens are attempting to oust me! That's not cricket!" Or maybe an intensely fey escapee from the world of fashion: "I can't believe they're expecting me to compete in this atrocious outfit. And with a fedora? If I die of shame, do I still have to go to Redemption Island?" Or maybe a grizzled gold rush-era prospector: "Great horny toads! Dem russlin' varmints are tryin' to jump mah claim!" (Actually, Warner Bros. might object to the last one, due to the obvious similarity to Yosemite Sam, except shorter, meaner, and far less funny).
Nah, screw it. Russell's gone. Dead... or perhaps undead. Hopefully soon forgotten. Amen.
In a week where a member of your three-person alliance is voted out, and two of the three of you get votes at Tribal Council, you'd think you'd have a decent shot at some screen time. But not if your name is Krista Klumpp (it is, we looked it up). If it is, you'll find yourself demoted in relevance to the alliance behind Russell, Stephanie and... Russell's armpits. And Stephanie's bag.
So... well done, Krista? On the plus side, both previous recipients of the ICU! award have received confessionals in the following episode as consolation prizes, so we may well anticipate finally hearing you speak in Episode 4. Unless Phillip goes hunting for crabs again, or something. Or maybe Rob looks for an idol, or talks about not looking for one (again). To be honest, we're a little shocked that Phillip managed to go an entire episode without a confessional. But we're sure you just missed the cutoff for this episode, Krista. Keep hope alive!
Yeah, yeah, there were other events this week that didn't involve Russell Hantz. For example, Matt won the first Redemption Duel in an impressive comeback. Perhaps more noteworthy: David has apparently so convinced his tribe he's a puzzle whiz, that neither Stephanie and Probst found it conceivable that Boston Rob, who's routinely flogged everywhere as some kind of puzzle genius, could possibly beat David, even though Rob had a fairly substantial head start. (Not to mention that it was a slide puzzle, which is not particularly difficult, especially when the tiles are numbered, as they were here.)
But we'll ignore all that. Boston Rob gets a Beasty for cavalierly prying Phillip out of a lopsided deck chair (while, with not a twinge of irony, calling Phillip "fat") and extracting an idol clue. True, true, Rob gained approximately zero insight from the clue, and didn't appear to bother actually looking for an idol. But this is a step up for Rob, who previously was of the opinion that idols were beneath his Old-School Awesomeness. Never mind that Kristina was happily digging away, looking for the idol (again) without a clue. Nothing can possibly go wrong for Rob here, such as the next clue recipient getting advice that's actually useful. That's crazy talk!
There are simply not enough words in the English language to express how great the actions of these six were, six- (twelve?-) handedly rescuing the entire season from the pits of pus-filled rashes. They had the self-awareness to realize that there was a black hole in their camp (good image, Mike), sucking away their food, water, screen time and confessionals, all while doing absolutely squat around camp, apart from... well, being squat. And yes, getting six people to agree to boot Russell may be low-hanging (heh) strategic fruit, but a win is a win. And a six-way Slashy split.
Oh sure, it may backfire. After all, when the editors ditch the title sequence to make room for a Jeff Probst Tribal Council harangue about how throwing challenges will come back to haunt the tribe at the merge, chances are, even though Ethan did it in Africa (to boot Silas) and went on to win, Jeff Probst is "correct." And okay, fine, Russell's not completely out, since he could conceivably win a bunch of Redemption duels and re-enter the game, even though he's never shown any particular aptitude at any Survivor challenges so far. But let's put that aside: March 2 should be a NATIONAL HOLIDAY in perpetuity. (Who really cares about, say, that Columbus guy, anyway?) Also, these six people should be Sainted immediately, even though they're (1) not dead, and (2) (probably) not (all?) Catholics. Let us have our moment!
We know, there are naysayers. A lot of people, like Stephanie at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst on his blog, and Dalton Ross on his EW blog, are flapping their jaws (or fingers), patronizingly lecturing us about how it's bad to throw challenges, because having numbers at the merge is the Most Important Thing Ever, blah blah blah, blah, blah. To put it politely: These people are idiots, who have probably never even watched Survivor before. (Seriously, what does that Probst guy know about this show? He acts like he runs it or something.)
Surely they recall Rotu in Marquesas? Huge tribe, with a bitter post-switch minority alliance schemer named Boston Rob. Contemplated throwing a challenge to boot him, but didn't. They ended up crumbling after the merge, after allowing Rob's seeds of dissent to fester. Or the mighty Timbira tribe in Tocantins, skillfully sliced and diced by Stephen and JT, using the Coach-Brendan rivalry as a wedge. Or look at Galu in Samoa. Huge numbers advantage (8-4) at the merge. Fell apart immediately due to divisions within the tribe, exploited by Natalie White and some guy named Russell. There is no strength in numbers when one of those numbers is actively plotting to rip you apart.
So thank you, Zapatera Six. You did the right thing. But don't think we won't turn on you as soon as one of you starts giving confessional after confessional about how you were born to play this game, you're king of Nicaragua, and you're playing with a bunch of babies. We have standards.
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