'Survivor': Has Russell secured his spot in the final two?
I cannot believe that Mick and Jaison opted not to vote Russell out of the game this week. It may have been their only shot! Mick's too moral for his own good -- he even admitted to the camera that though he envisions becoming a millionaire every night, he also thinks about his "emotional and moral" responsibilities. I think it's safe to say his dreams of becoming a millionaire are going to remain only fantasies.
I can't see how Russell could be taken out of the game at this point. Even if everyone decided to team up against him, he still has the hidden immunity idol to play. And next week's preview shows him aligning with Jaison, arguably the strongest remaining player in the game.
But man, Russell did totally lose it when he found out that one of his tribe members had leaked the news that he's actually rich in real life. How fun was it to watch him scramble, angrily running around and accusing Natalie and Jaison of spreading the news to Monica? That was definitely one of the few moments of weakness I've seen yet this season in Russell's game. He got too emotional, in the process making it obvious that he really had been lying about being poor.
I didn't really like the different format of the show this week with two contestants being eliminated and no reward challenges. Things went by too quickly and we only got a simplified view of what went into the voting process. In the end, I guess it wasn't that bad because the two contestants I liked least -- Dave and Monica -- finally were sent packing in the most expedient manner possible. Good riddance.
All of a sudden, at the end of the game, Monica decides to cop an attitude and stir things up and suddenly emerges with a massively annoying ego. Dave, meanwhile, never struck me as a crafty player because he was too quick to jump into things and would vote off fellow Galu members on a whim. Plus, Russell made an excellent point: Why didn't Dave come to him earlier and try to team up? It probably would have guaranteed Dave a free ride to the final two. But that likely would have been as far as he could have progressed in the game because I cannot -- as Russell so aptly said -- imagine anyone choosing Dave over Russell.
I know that everyone thinks Brett is now becoming this big-time threat, but I still don't buy it. By the looks of things, next week, he aligns with Mick and Shambo while Jaison and Russell team up. Unless he continues to win all of the immunity challenges -- which I guess is a legitimate possibility -- it doesn't seem like there's any way he'd be able to survive long enough through any of the tribal councils. And Shambo and Mick probably don't have a vested interest in keeping him around, either. Even though they'd both cull favor with a jury, Brett probably would get even more votes himself because he's a former Galu member whom everyone loved.
On the subject of the jury -- come to think of it, is there anyone who might have a real shot against Russell in a final two pairing? Both Mick and Jaison are strong players who are friendly, but I think jury members would feel they truly just coasted by as a result of Russell's inventive schemes. Natalie hasn't really wronged anyone, but I'm sure everyone will claim she also rode Russell's coattails throughout the game. Brett, too, is kind to everyone but hasn't made any big moves. And I love Shambo, but many of her former Galu tribe members don't feel the same way -- especially, I'd imagine, after she played a major role in sending them home.
Then again, members of the jury often vote with their hearts, not their heads. If enough players are mad that Russell voted them off or lied to them, they might not vote for him. Not to mention the issue that already caused a stir this week: the possible small fortune he has back at home. Though I'm sure if he were grilled about his financial situation in a final two situation, he'd just grin and continue to lie through his teeth.
So, do you think Russell has sealed the deal at this point? Who else has a real shot at winning this season's "Survivor?" Let's debate in the comments.
-- Amy Kaufman (follow me on Twitter @AmyKinLA)
Photos: Russell Hantz, seen above, may well win this season's "Survivor." But contestants worry that Brett Clouser, pictured at right, is Samoa's quiet threat. Credit: CBS