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Review: Survivor Samoa - The Game Ain't Over (season finale)

by Jackie Schnoop, posted Dec 21st 2009 2:02AM
The final five go for the million on Survivor
(S19E14) I suppose it's only fitting and par for Sunday evening programming that the big three-hour Survivor season finale and live reunion show was delayed by football here in the NYC viewing area. No, I won't dwell on it. But, really. CBS, can't you get this scheduling thing down?

What I should dwell on are these skinny legs in the image above. It's a wonder the three guys were able to walk out of there at all. Tonight we went down from five to four to three and then onto the sole survivor in the live voting reveal. Am I pleased about it all? Read on.

Just in case you missed the show, but are reading this post (shame on you), here's how things went down:
  • In the first immunity challenge of two, Brett won. The challenge itself was nothing we haven't seen before -- run through obstacles, grab puzzle bag, run back, assemble puzzle. Russell, Mick, and Brett were the contenders. Jaison was a shambles and Natalie was lagging behind.
  • Brett was the big target for the Foa Foa Four. With this third immunity win in a row, he's like a mustard spot they just can't get out of that dress.
  • So, it was scramble time for Russell. He had to convince all four of them that he would be in the final two with them. Um, okay. Although a few are a bit leery, they all think they're in like Flynn with the main man.
  • At the first tribal council, they voted out Jaison. I think it was a wise choice (at the time). His head hasn't been in the game for a good portion of the season. He tends to wuss out in comps and fuss about wanting to leave. So be it. He's gone.
  • In the second immunity challenge, it came down between Russell and Brett doing a carnival trick -- balancing a figurine on an ever-lengthening pole. Oh my, Russell finally won a challenge! I wasn't too thrilled with his gloating and cockiness about being a shoo-in for the million. But I was thinking he would be the one myself.
  • They made the wise decision to vote off Brett. Not a one of the old Foa Foa could have won against him.
  • Then things all went kerflooey.

Why Russell didn't win


I honestly think his own mouth did him in. Between announcing to some folks about his millionaire status in his business while initially posing as a poor Katrina victim to the way he bullied people. Had he been a bit more subtle about his actions, had he led the sheep without reminding them he was leading them, he might have won.

Every week I watched Erik's face light up on the jury as Russell maneuvered yet another blindside. Every week I watched Natalie, Jaison, and Mick just follow him along. Sure, the guys voiced a few doubts in Russell at times. The snake oil oozing from his pores didn't stop them. They didn't make a stand against him. The few times they disagreed with him, Russell reconsidered and went along with their wishes so he wouldn't hurt his own position in the game.

Now, all of a sudden, Jaison (during the jury questioning and reunion) is all indignant about no one needing the money and how Russell played the game. He likened it to an office environment. Sure, Russell would be the snake oil salesman of the company. But Jaison would be the guy who calls in sick with every cold and whines about his workload. Russell would work like a horse to do whatever it takes to finish the task at hand. Jaison would be the guy who wants to have committee meetings to discuss what to do while Russell would just jump in and get it done ... one way or another.

In the end, I can only think they were jealous of Russell finding the idols, perhaps a bit embarrassed how he ran the show from day one. Sure, they can act like they're the picture of morals and integrity. But they're playing Survivor, a show which first introduced us to snakes and rats in reality television. This season it was more like a snake and a bunch of Zhu Zhu pets. They're humiliated to be the mechanical hamsters.

They couldn't vote for Mick because he really didn't do anything other than cling to Russell. Natalie came up with a passable strategy for the jury. So she won the million. I honestly don't think they were voting so much for her as they were voting against Russell. And, why? Well, because they got got by him. Instead of admitting that he played the better game, they remained sheep.

In the end

Years from now, I'll try to remember this season. I'll remember Russell while saying, "Natalie? Who was she?" With the exception of the jury vote, I was very entertained this season and it's all Russell's doing. No one else was particularly spectacular. Shambo was an intriguing character, but bumbling and inept. It would have been interesting to see how Good Russell would have done if he didn't have his medical issues. But, for me, the season was all about Evil Russell -- the castaway I despised at the start of the season.

I know I'm not alone in my thinking. At least Russell won the Sprint viewers choice $100,000 and I'm fairly sure we'll be seeing him on the next season's "Heroes and Villains" season. That season starts on February 11. At least with returning players, they all won't be sheep whose feelings get hurt. What are your thoughts on the season gone by? And wasn't Russell a bit too intense during the reunion? Yikes!

[Watch episodes and clips of Survivor over at SlashControl.]

Did Natalie deserve to win?
Yes, she made wise choices and had a good strategy191 (19.4%)
No, all she did was ride Russell's coattails625 (63.6%)
Natalie who?167 (17.0%)

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1truz

Russell = sick, egotistical, ROTTEN to the core megalomaniac. Good riddence.

January 04 2010 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cody

What happened to Russell was just plain criminal. Jealousy over the way he manipulated them all seems to be the only answer. He played the game better than anyone in the history of the show and will no doubt be remembered long after the show is over.

December 24 2009 at 6:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony

Russell was incredibly arrogant and thought he was God who did everything. There were plenty of times that he ended up following the others because the person he wanted voted out, no one else did. People think Russell was so good because he kept shouting it from the rooftops, while the others didn't. Russell also did plenty of stuff he didn't need to do solely to annoy others. He made a deal with Brett after the last immunity challenege. What was the point of that? Russell kept saying on the jury that he was responsible for every single one of you to the jury. He wasn't. Erik wasn't his idea. Russell wanted to vote out Dave first time to appease Shambo but Mick and co. didn't, and Russell was forced to vote with them. Plenty of other times as well. Others didn't always follow him to protect themselves, he was following others to protect himself. He blatantly lied to the jury when he told them how good he was, when others were just as responsible. The game was over, he didn't need to lie to the jury(especially when they all knew) Most people hate arrogant liars. Russell is just that. If Russell was honest when speaking to the jury (such as saying who he wasn't responsible for being voted out) and not so up himself, he might have got more votes. Although Natalie played a much better game.

December 23 2009 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

It's mentioned that Russell may be in V vs H and have an advantage because the other players will not have seen his "play" in season 19. But I can't imagine that Russell's cockiness would keep him from bragging at some point about what a great player he is and I'd bet that that will be his downfall. He might make it through many episodes but I really don't see him making it to the winner's circle at the end of season 20. Russell is stubborn and I doubt he will ever accept that he lost the game because he "created" that bitter jury.

December 22 2009 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nick

I've watched every season of Survivor since the beginning and never more, since the first winner, have I disliked a player more than Russell. I actually thought about tuning out because of the moments where he dumped his team's water, burned Jaison's socks, and called the women on his team 'dumb ass blondes.' It really made me wonder what he's like in real life.

In the end, I'm truly glad he did not win. And the part during the reunion, when he burned socks again, which I found completely disrespectful, made me appreciate that that jury made the right decision.

December 22 2009 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to nick's comment
Tigeeno


Russels so called oil takering business listed is a fake. Check it out on google earth.. it's a freaking trailer park.
No wonder he was crying when he lost..The chubby little dude is a broke joke.

December 21 2009 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
greg

All you Russell lovers are a bunch of crybabies!!! It NEVER
matters who WE think should win! The winner is the winner! He/she did what was needed to win. Sometimes it is to play a hard game and other times the winner flies under the radar. Stop whining about how Russell should have won. If you think he is so great send him $$. I'm sure he would laugh all the way to the bank!!

December 21 2009 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

ha - ha, I love it, Russell's own cockiness did him in,
and I hear he didn't do all that well in Survivor 20, that combined with finding out he lost Survivor 19 yesterday, probably led to his, grade 2 like school yard recess attitude, okay now poor little boy, take your marbles and go home now LOL and Shambo's questioning of the jury was a EPIC Fail, she looked like a total idiot, I felt sorry for her, she looked and sounded so foolish, it was embarrasing :/

December 21 2009 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

ha - ha, I love

December 21 2009 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

ha - ha, I love

December 21 2009 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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