November 12, 2009 07:53 PM by Ryan Haidet
A new battle has been brewing on the shores of Samoa — it’s between an evil strategist and a manipulative Medusa.Â Russell and Laura are squaring off in a battle of big minds on Survivor: Samoa.Â After the blindside ousted Erik from the game, the newly merged Aiga returned to camp with Russell worried about his safety in the game.Â After playing his hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal Council, Laura was ready to send Russell packing.Â To top it all off, tonight’s episode delivered one of the most satisfying Tribal Councils I have ever seen — so good that Jeff Probst even looked surprised.Â It was well beyond satisfying.
Chowing On Rat
Day 22 arrived with Natalie stumbling upon a tiny rat at camp. Naturally, she decided to whack it in the head with a stick so they could have some extra food to chow on.Â After the deed was done, she brought it back to camp very excited about her kill.Â Brett quickly skinned it up and cooked it over the fire.Â They chowed down on the rodent saying it tasted just like chicken.
At the Reward Challenge, the 11 players were split into two teams of five, which left one person sitting out of the contest.Â Those players then had to use poles with colored coconuts to create a four-digit number that matched a combination lock — far too complicated to accurately describe here.
After a random draw, the teams were divided as follows:
Purple team — Shambo, Kelly, Dave, John and Monica.
Yellow team — Brett, Laura, Mick, Jaison and Russell.
Natalie had to sit out, but had the option to choose one team to support.Â If she chose the winning team, she would get to spend the Reward with them.Â She chose the yellow team.
After the contest was all complete, purple came to victory.Â Too bad for Natalie — her choice was the wrong one and she went back to camp with the losers empty-handed.
A New Clue
The winning five were taken to an area with natural rock waterslides.Â Just like kids, they all slid down the slippery rocks and jumped into the watery pools below.Â John was definitely the biggest kid of the bunch doing backflips and constantly sliding down the rocks.Â When the play was done, they gathered together and gobbled down fried chicken, fruits and dessert.
But far more important was the clue they received to the next hidden Immunity Idol, which was somewhere back at camp.Â The group quickly decided to strategically only share that information with former Galu members, thus keeping the four Foa Foa players in the dark about the new Idol.
But somebody was one step ahead of them.Â Oh, yes.
The Hunt Is On
Back at camp, Russell figured there was probably a new Idol hidden at camp since he played his at the last Tribal Counil.Â After digging around in the dirt, looking near treemail and under rocks, Russell found his second Idol without a single clue — this time near a bridge.
The next day, he and Shambo went for a walk when admitted to her that he had found the Idol once again.Â She couldn’t believe it.Â “You lucky bastard,” she exclaimed.Â “Oh my God.”Â With that, she was totally convinced Russell was the one person in the game she could absolutely trust.
Their strategy now was to take out Laura by blindsiding her with his new Idol.Â Now dubbing her Medusa, they were hoping Laura and her crew would vote against Russell who would then play the Idol and take out Galu’s most strategic player.
At the Immunity Challenge, the 11 contestants had to use grappling hooks to grab a pair of bags filled with puzzle pieces.Â The first three to successfully drag their bags back would move onto the next round, which consisted of completing a puzzle.Â After round one was over, Mick, Shambo and Laura moved on to the puzzle, which was just like the kids’ game Perfection.Â Ya know, the one where you have to fit tiny pieces into appropriately shaped positions in a short amount of time before the board bounces up at you, tossing everything around.
Anyway, the challenge was no contest and Laura blew by her competitors very easily.Â Sorry, Russell.Â I guess Medusa isn’t going anywhere either.
A New Target
Shambo was really upset that Laura had won the challenge, but she had a backup plan — to vote Kelly out of the competition.Â The strategy was easy — get all of the Foa Foa members to vote against Kelly while everybody else from Galu likely votes for Russell.Â Then he plays his new Idol and knocks Kelly out of the competition with just a few votes.
Setting that into motion, Russell told Jaison that he found the new hidden Idol.Â He then unloaded the plan by telling Jaison to vote for Kelly, which would bring another Galu blindside.
Galu was working on their own scheme, which was far less brilliant.Â They were simply targeting Russell because of his status as a strong player.Â But Monica was worried he may have found another Idol.Â Dave shot that idea down immediately saying they had no information there was a new Idol in the game and thought it was nonsense that Russell could’ve found it.
Jaws Drop In Amazing Tribal Council
At Tribal Council, Probst asked about old tribal lines.Â Mick said Foa Foa was still solid, and Dave said the same for Galu.Â Dave went on to comment that Erik was eliminated because he was the weakness of their group.Â Dang.Â That brought some nasty looks from Erik who sat there alone as the first member of the jury.
Everybody went and cast their ballots one by one.Â When Probst returned with the voting urn, he asked anybody with a hidden Idol to play it then.Â Russell stood up and pulled out the Idol immediately saying, “I ain’t finished playing just yet.”Â Galu looked absolutely stunned.Â This moment gave me chills.Â What a great instant in reality TV.Â With his play of the Idol, any votes against him were void — and he used it at the best time.Â When all of the votes were read, seven were against Russell.Â Man, he dodged a bullet!
Just four votes was all it took to take Kelly out of the competition.Â She had no idea it was coming either.Â “He just stirred up a whole lot of hell, is what he did,” Laura said as Kelly got her torch snuffed.Â Shambo nodded in agreement.
As Kelly walked away into the darkness, Probst announced that another Idol would be hidden at camp.Â Game on!Â Can Russell make it three in a row?
Here goes my first big rant of the season.Â You may not like him for the Katrina tale he told early on in the game.Â Not to mention the slimy way in which he burned Jaison’s socks and dumped out his tribe’s water.Â But Russell Hantz is such a good player that he is really the only person truly deserving to win the competition at this point.
I realize the editing is strongly slanted in his favor, but it’s for good reason — he’s entertaining.Â No offense to players like Monica, Mick, Brett and Kelly, but they obviously did nothing too thrilling that producers have been able to skip on showing moments with them involved.Â In fact, I didn’t even notice Brett or Kelly until a few episodes ago.Â To be honest, I don’t care either.Â I would much rather see Russell and his solid strategies instead of invisible characters.Â Keep it up Russell.Â I’m rooting for you!
With her elimination, I think Kelly could possibly go down in Survivor history as the least-known contestant since she was never really featured.Â Let this be a lesson to future players: If you want to be remembered, don’t be boring!
This was by far the best episode in a long time!
Images courtesy of CBS.