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'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains': Russell and Coach escape the hot seat

Rob I think Russell owes Boston Rob a big debt of gratitude. Or is it Coach?

One of them wouldn't be on "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" anymore if the player proving himself to be a superstar among stars didn't win yet another challenge for the villains.

Just as he did in the second episode, Rob Mariano almost single-handedly won a challenge for the villains by being the team's brains, guiding them through the strategic part of the immunity challenge. Frankly, once I saw that it was the "person in the rolling ball" challenge from last season -- the same one in which Russell Swan infamously passed out -- I knew the villains would win. Tom, the guy in the ball for the heroes, is smart and a good leader, but Rob is at least as smart and an even better leader, with a team that's good at taking orders.

With all due respect to the heroes, it's a shame, because both Coach and Russell were begging to go. In the opening of the show, Coach was literally crying like a little girl to Tyson (who shockingly dropped his normal jackass personality for a moment) because Sandra offended him at tribal council. Rob put it best: "That's not much of a coach if you ask me."

It didn't take long, however, until the target went from Coach to Russell, who doesn't seem to be aware he has gone from little league to the big leagues. Last season on Samoa he was able to intimidate his teammates by constantly going after immunity idols. This time he basically begged his experienced teammates to vote him out when everybody else decided not to act on the immunity idol clue they found together and he went to look for it by claiming he was going on a "walk," possibly the dumbest move on "Survivor" since Erik gave away his idol on "Samoa." He couldn't even wait to do it in the middle of the night?

Thanks to Boston Rob's leadership, however, it was the heroes on the hot seat for the third time in four episodes. When the heroes found their clue and all ran off to look for the idol -- no unity on this tribe -- Tom found it. But because they were all together, Amanda saw him get it and soon everyone knew he had it, turning the guy already on the outs with his tribe into someone not just disliked, but a threat.

"I wish I didn't have the idol," Tom soon admitted. Hard to blame him. Because there were so many votes against him and Colby that the alliance of six could guarantee either he or his pal-on-the-outs Colby would be gone.

Except ... for J.T. If Boston Rob is the smartest player on "Heroes vs. Villains" and the best at challenges, J.T. may be the most strategic. He flipped, joined with Tom and Colby, and voted our Cirie. Which was a very smart move.

I adore Cirie and am so sad to see her go. Probably the saddest moments for me in all my years of watching "Survivor" was when she just barely missed winning the final challenge in "fans versus favorites." But she's a smart player and not a particularly loyal one. Since she expected J.T. to stick with her, she wouldn't have been any more loyal to him after the vote. But by flipping, J.T. earned the loyalty of Tom and Colby, two excellent players who will now stay as tight with him as Chewbacca was with Han Solo.

Before I go, a special shout-out to my girl Cirie, who may just be my personal favorite Survivor ever. In her third defeat, she stayed as classy as she has always been, stating, "I felt like I was got by one of my moves. My hat's off to them." For the third time, I'm going to miss her.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Rob Mariano during the immunity challenge. Credit: Robert Voets / CBS Broadcasting


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'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains': It's good to be bad

Comments () | Archives (5)

Apologies if others have already mentioned this, but it seems to me that this Survivor was shot before the previous season was aired, as no one seems to know Russell's devious ways, or were aware that he found all those idols (the controversy this week was him searching for the idols at all, not that he was a Master Idol Finder, which surely would've been a major topic of discussion.) Also, the way Jeff described the immunity challenge from last "season" to the two teams made it seem as though they were not familiar with it...

IF I'm right about the above, I also wonder if a contributing factor to Russell's bummed-out demeanor on the winner/reunion show last fall was the fact that not only did he not win that one, but he had already lost on the Heroes and Villains, too...

And if I'm completely wrong about the timing, in the immortal words of Emily Litella... "Never mind!"

Yes, from my understanding - these players have not seen Russell in action. But Rob is sharp enough to keep an eye on him.

I like Cirie too, but I was thrilled to see her go. She never knows when to shut her trap. If she had a little self control, Candice would have went home. But no.

I too was surprised that something intelligent was muttered by Tyson. Who knew?

There's no doubt, Sandra is a cold b***h and I'm glad her air time is limited. In fact, why is she even there??? She adds nothing to the tribe and many times sits out of the challenges. How Coach let her completely tear him down is beyond me. He needs to stop blowing his own horn and begin believing in himself. He begs for the ridicule, time and time again.

Rupert sadly admitted to being a cog in the wheel. bleh

Good to see JT using his brain.

Good show, good recap, thanks.

I totally agree with everything you said. Cirie is my favorite Survivor contestant of all time and I was sad to see her go. Cirie knows how to play the game of Survivor and would definitely have been a threat if she had gotten to the merge.

Russell is a walking target and it is now only a matter of time before his torch gets snuffed. Same with JT, by turning on his alliance of James, Parvati, and Candice, it's only a matter of time before he gets the boot. While I do applaud Tom for finding the Hidden Immunity idol, I wish he wouldn't have used it on Cirie.

You're completely right, Blair. Russell indeed filmed his "Survivor" stints back to back, about two weeks. The rumor about him not winning again is also correct, and it is also thought that he or his wife spoiled the whole on the Survivor Sucks messageboard.

Come on...anyone who think Russell is going anywhere anytime soon must forget how russell plays the game. He actively plays the game at all times. I can't wait to see them come after Russell. He is not going anywhere.


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