Last night Survivor: Samoa wrapped up season 19 of the reality series and, woe to us all, our favorite survivor, Russell Hantz was not voted the winner. We generally enjoy watching Survivor, but when we spend an entire season rooting for the best player in the history of the game, and then waste three hours watching him lose to pettiness and burnt feelings, we want to turn off the television and never watch the show again.
I’m not the only one full of outrage over Russell’s loss this morning:
A travesty. That’s really the only word for it. Wait, here’s another one: A joke. You could also go with absurd, ridiculous, lame. I’m going to make sure that I am absolutely clear about this: Natalie winning over Russell is the worst jury vote in the history of Survivor. That honor previously belonged to the All-Stars season, when a bunch of bitter Bettys couldn’t handle being outsmarted by Boston Rob and awarded the million dollars to Amber instead. But this is worse. At least Amber won the final immunity challenge, so could argue that she brought Boston Rob to the finals. But this? You may not like Russell. You may consider him cocky, sneaky, and lots of other things. But he OWNED this game, and he owned the final Tribal Council as well. Natalie’s opening speech to the jury contained NOT ONE SINGLE REFERENCE to anything she did well in the entire game, just that it was ”the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Hey, hand her the million then! Later, she talked about how her big strategy was to NOT be aggressive. That was her strategy!!! Don’t do anything. Again, hand her the million!
Russell singlehandedly planned the demise of each person in the game and then summarily executed them through the votes of others. Each week he told us his plans and then made it happen. Who does that? How did he do it? Nobody that cocky and certain ever gets what that they want during the season. Everything fell Russell’s way because he did the pushing. Russell Hantz was magical with manipulating the independent will of other players to form and then serve his need to win.
Russell was a marked man from the beginning. He was strong. He was charming. He schemed in the open. Everybody said he was a threat yet nobody did anything to stop him because he could not be stopped within the covenant of the game. Nobody could touch him until the final million dollar vote which, to me, is like cheating after the game to fix the final score as a bagful of losers colluded to vote revenge over the honor of excellent gameplay.
During the game, when it really mattered, Russell outsmarted every single one of them by outlasting them, outwitting them, and forcing them to do his dirty business. When the live show started, we could see tears in Russell’s eyes. He’s a smart guy. He read the room and sensed he had lost the final vote before it was tallied. Again, Russell Hantz was right on the mark and he was right to be furious over the crybabyism of his competitors.
The greatest gift Russell gave us that no other survivor in the history of the game could even attempt — was finding the hidden immunity idols without any clues. Without the threat of using those hidden idols, Russell would’ve been done long ago. That fact alone makes him the greatest player in the history of the game. No clues! That meant Russell spent his days and nights secretly looking for those hidden idols — and when he found every single one of them — we were left speechless and admiring.
Russell told us he came to play and play he did. He was entertaining and amazing to watch. If Russell made one error it was taking Natalie, the last remaining girl in his “Dumb Girl Alliance,” with him to the end. She knew he took all the bullets — she openly admitted that after winning — and she said she did nothing on her own to get tot he end… except to actively hide behind Russell. Natalie was the smarmy, innocuous, choice the others could vote for to win while wrapping themselves in the dishonorable flag of “a good person should win” babbling — while simultaneously punishing Russell for not just beating them, but slaughtering them in every step and instance of the game. The jury vote against Russell was horrible because it was so betraying to the spirit of the game.
They didn’t vote for the best survivor. They voted against the best survivor in the history of the game by robbing him of the title of “Sole Survivor” and while they all sat there, smiling and confident that America would love them — WE LOATHE THEM! — for voting against Russell, the true feelings of the nation were revealed when Russell won the $100,000.00USD “Viewers Choice Award” and a bit of right was done to reset Russell within the frame he earned but did not win: The Real Sole Survivor.