Saturday, November 21, 2009

Samoa's Unstoppable Leprechaun

You either love Russell Hantz or hate him. When Survivor Samoa debuted its first episode, I emphatically hated him. Privy to Russell's dark side the first week, we saw him burning one of his tribe mate's socks by moonlight, emptying his entire tribe's water canteens, and lying to them about his background. I almost boycotted watching this season--my ONLY reality show obsession--because of his meanness and unrepentant impish behavior.

Russell's sabotaging strategy knew no bounds. In his delusion of grandeur, we saw him cut his female tribe mates down (figuratively, of course, though you wondered if he would just as happily do it for real) in his tenacious quest for the million dollar prize. He seemed to disdain women in general, considering them stupid and weak. And if they had the nerve to cross him or call him on anything, he turned on them and threw them out of the game. Yes, he seemed to have that power for awhile.

But something happened on the way to episode ten. Russell SEEMS to have softened his stance on women as the enemy, working with them, not against them. And even if you blanch at his tactics, you have to admire his willingness to get in there, and without complaining, get dirty, work his butt off, and stay focused with optimism no matter what is thrown at him or the tribe.

What won me over is when he says he's going to do something, he actually does it. No, really, it appears as if even God doesn't stand in his way. He singlehandedly uncovered three coveted immunity idols, which represent life in the game, finding two of them with no clues whatsoever. He announced he was going to do it, and then he made good on his word, and bear in mind no one found idols like this before in Survivor history. As if that wasn't jaw-dropping enough, he found the third one with two of his worst-enemy tribe mates dogging him. One was literally on his heels. How he lost him is beyond me, because Russell isn't the lightest feather in the flock. And then to prove he was no one's fool, he actually played two of the idols at Tribal Council, and effectively saved his butt for one more round in the game each time, unlike his Survivor predecessor's who got booted out while cluelessly holding onto their idols.

You know when Russell says he's going to do something, he does it. This blows my mind. Can someone believe in themselves so thoroughly that they can make things happen, just like that? It's not that it's effortless of course, he works for it, he makes the effort, and he stays positive (by seeing what's really there and focusing on the target, not by spouting platitudes). But nothing seems to stop him. Maybe that's what totally amazes me about this guy. And although I am rooting for rocket scientist John to win the game, I would gladly vote for Russell if he makes it to the end (assuming his teammates don't catch him releasing the chickens into the night on next week's episode and vote him off, by blindsiding him).

So though I started out hating this guy, I have grown to admire and grudgingly like him.I can't get over how the universe just seems to support him in whatever he sets out to do. And I kinda secretly hope he wins Survivor Samoa, if the rocket scientist cutie doesn't.

Now, just for pure fun, read Tallula Morehead's take on last week's episode. I haven't laughed so hard in all my 47 years:


  1. I will admit to you that I don't watch it. However, you have made me rethink that decision!

  2. The Talulla Morehead story was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. My husband is softening to Russell as well. I am not. I think his toxicity is why his team almost got wiped out before the merge. On the other hand, it's a game that he's really good at, and has been completely clear from the beginning about. I can't stand Shambo more than I don't like Russell, though. Love or hate, it's a show we can't tear ourselves away from. :-)

  3. I had no idea Survivor was still a show. Not up on the reality TV thing, however, I did catch my husband watching Dancing with Stars last night. I couldn't believe it!

  4. When Survivor first aired, I refused to watch it. I thought it was somehow not an uplifting, positive Yes folks, I was highly judgmental and as my father has said, a real 'pain in the ass'.

    But I do learn.

    Once I opened to watching it, I fell in love with it! You learn so much about human dynamics from watching these folks endure hardships, and see early on how the ego works. Granted, it's highly edited, still, you sure see and learn alot.

    So Deb, you might watch the first episode of the next season and see what you think.

    Debbie, I felt the same way about Russell initially, and have gone up and then down in my feelings about Shambo as well.

    Julie, I catch myself watching DWTS too! But I can take it or leave it...

    Have fun you guys :)

  5. I felt the exact same way about Russell! I used to hate him but now I'm rooting for him too. He makes the show SO much more interesting. I've never been a big Survivor fan, but now I'm hooked.

  6. That's hilarious Kim! Would love to see your cartoon version of Russell wreaking havoc...