Okay, it’s not scifi, but this is a good jumping off point to get me back to the blog. (Maybe it’s not scifi, but I always picture a space bus crash landing on an alien planet where the biggest idiot of the week gets fed to monkey gods.)

Like a lot of shows, I came late to Survivor. I didn’t watch the first few seasons, even when my roommates were engrossed, like everyone else in the world, and it didn’t hit me until round about the 16th or 17th edition. (They’re not really “seasons,” as they broadcast a different show twice per year.) Now, I’m hooked. Oddly enough, this happened with Star Trek, too. Of course, I was young, but I hated the show at first.

In Survivor, like any good story, the characters are what it’s all about. If it wasn’t for the “flagon-slayer” in 18, I might have stopped watching. 19 was billed as having one of the most unique and interesting characters, Russell. The “Puppet Master.” It sure lived up to its billing, too. He manipulated, lied, and wormed his way into the final three with an unprecedented success. It was truly an amazing thing to watch. Whether you agreed with his methods or not, he did it.

But could he win that way? Right from the get go, given his strategy, did he actually think he had a reasonable shot at winning it all?

Right from the beginning, he was all about sabotage. He decimated his own team by removing the strongest players, and week by week this showed. Team Foa Foa could not win a challenge to save their life (maybe one), and week by week they had to eliminate members of their own tribe, to the glee of Russell. He manipulated his tribe to eliminate everyone but those who were no threat to him at all, which is to say, the weakest players.

Going into the merge, Foa Foa was down 8-4 to Team Galu. Conventional wisdom suggests that Foa Foa should have been eliminated one by one, four weeks straight, and that would have happened had Galu not imploded. Shambo defected, Eric was voted off, and suddenly Foa Foa was back in the drivers’ seat. Shambo was huge. Without her help, Russell would not have got as far as he did. Galu continued to go home, and were it not for Brett’s lucky streak, Jaison would have stayed. In the final challenge, it was Russell’s sheer determination to win that pushed Brett out. And so Russell made it to the final three.

The final three: three Foa Foa vs. a jury of 7 Galu and 1 Foa Foa. It was pointed out that all three had, at some point, voted for all eight jury members.

And here’s where I always had a problem with Russell’s strategy: if your intention is to lie all along the way, lie to everyone, never tell the truth, make alliances you have no intention of keeping, how do you expect to get any votes from the jury? By that time, even if you played the most masterful game, why would any of them want to vote for you??

It is a matter of record that Natalie won. Why? Why didn’t they concede to Russell’s masterful plan?


Pure and simple, it was a spite vote. The members of the jury were, by that time, so angry about the way the game was played that they would not give Russell the satisfaction of winning. They could vote for Mick, if they wanted to, but he was not a standout. Feckless? No more than anyone else.

That left Natalie. I think she may have got the female bloc to vote for her, more than anything else. Did she do anything outstanding throughout the game? Not at all. Yes, the little Christian girl looked HOT in that little bikini as she got skinnier and skinnier (“Brett! We’re prayer warriors!!”), but I don’t think that’s why she won. Like Russell said, she rode his coattails. She stayed in his wake. In 19, more than any season I have seen, someone won after flying low under the radar and doing nothing. I don’t think she even won a challenge.

Winning the game is about putting people on the jury who will vote for you. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, it matters what the jury thinks!

Come on, Russell, you had to see this coming! How could you lie to everyone and expect to win??