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'Survivor': Russell may be one of the best players in the game's history

November 12, 2009 | 10:59 pm

Russell Well, I think he's done it: a stout Texas oilman has proved that he's one of the best players ever to grace the game of "Survivor."

Sure, he talks a big game -- but this week, Russell showed he's got more than just a big mouth when he tracked down a second hidden immunity idol. Which he wasn't even sure existed! Which he had no clue for!

I wasn't shocked that Russell was crafty enough to assume the producers had planted another hidden immunity idol somewhere within the Aiga camp. But I was surprised he was able to track it down. I mean, how does he keep finding these things? Yes, as he himself said, oftentimes the idols are near or inside greater objects. But rolling himself across an entire bridge to spot the secret prize under some boards above a murky body of water? The guy must have excellent eyesight.

By the way -- is anyone surprised that no one has tried to copy the smart move made by "Survivor" winner Bob during the season in Gabon? The schoolteacher made not one but two of his own false idols and tricked his team into believing they were real. How difficult can it be for the Samoa cast to find a piece of rope and a shell and call it an idol?

Anyway -- it was so great to watch Russell find that second idol.

"I'm shaking," he said, clasping the hidden treasure in his hand. "This might be worth 1 million dollars."

His friends had some pretty good reactions as well: Shambo lopped a big wet one on Russell's cheek, while Jaison grinned, "I'm really beginning to love him."

But I could tell from the instant that Shambo and Russell decided to vote off Laura that things wouldn't go as smoothy as they hoped. They never do in "Survivor," right? As Sham smiled with excitement, she said nothing could ruin the newfound plan -- unless Laura won immunity again. 

Lo and behold, there's Laura, popping puzzle pieces perfectly into place one after the other during the immunity challenge. Ugh! Cannot. Stand. Laura. My reaction to her walking away from the challenge with the necklace around her neck pretty much mirrored Shambo's:

"I'm so sad," Sham whined during her confessional, squeezing her eyes shut and throwing her head backwards. "I'm pissed!" 

Lauramonica

My hatred for Laura ceased temporarily, at least, as I watched her convince her tribe mates that there was no way Russell could have tracked down the hidden immunity idol without a clue. Surprisingly, Monica -- who, I'll admit, has never struck me as the brightest bulb -- was the one urging her tribe to vote for Natalie in case Russell played an idol. Luckily, she wasn't persuasive enough to convince everyone to jump on the Natalie bandwagon.

Speaking of Natalie -- how surprising was it that the sweet Southern belle was the one to stone a rat to its death for some quick protein? It's still kind of baffling to me that these contestants are at the point of hunger where they'll literally eat anything, but I thought it was hilarious to see the bikini-clad blonde carry the rodent back to camp by its tail sheltered in a coconut.

As for next week, I want to say that I'm not worried about Russell -- but I am. Did you watch the preview for the upcoming episode? Laura was following his every move like a hawk to make sure he doesn't secure yet another idol. Let's just hope she starts to get on the remainder of Galu's nerves -- and that Russell has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

So, did this week episode's prove that Russell is the ultimate "Survivor" player? Can he outwit the irritating Laura? And can you imagine ever being hungry enough to eat an island rat? Share your thoughts in the comments.

-- Amy Kaufman (follow me on Twitter @AmyKinLA)

Photos: (Top) Russell Hantz contemplates how he can find the second hidden immunity idol. (Bottom) Laura Morett and Monica Padilla ponder who to vote out at tribal council.

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