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Evil Russell from 'Survivor': Love him or loathe him?

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Is 36-year-old oilman Russell Hantz the best or worst thing about Survivor: Samoa? Depends on whom you ask. He has taken a beating from many fans for being, well, a jerk. That might be due to the fact that he secretly emptied his tribemates’ canteens and burned their socks. Or it could be due to the fact that he lied about being a Hurricane Katrina survivor to garner some extra sympathy from his tribe. And then there’s his attitude towards women: We’ve heard lots about his “dumb-ass girl alliance,” and seen him intimidate any female that stands in his way. Well, get ready for another scrape tonight when (judging by promos) he gets into it on the beach with another lady — this time, Liz. So yes, I get the animosity towards Russell.

On the other hand…the guy is definitely playing the game better than anyone else. He found the hidden immunity idol with no clues, and (with the exception of Jaison’s personal vendetta against Ben) seems to be in charge of who gets voted out and when. Plus — unlike others — he doesn’t whine and moan about being tired and hungry.  (Keep that in mind while watching tonight’s episode, which features a truly insane rainstorm.) It’s because of all this that I’m okay with the guy. Unlike Ben, who seemingly had no rhyme or reason for his obnoxiousness, Russell does have a method to his madness: All of his dirty dealings are done for strategic purposes. Will it work out for him in the end? We’ll see, but in a season in which bad game-play or no game-play at all is rampant, at least this guy is trying, and I’d rather watch a jerk play hard than watch a nice person not play at all. (Oh, hi there, Mick!)

So as we head into episode 5 tonight, how are you feeling about Russell? Love him? Loathe him? Or love to loathe him? Post a comment and let us know where you stand.  But first, make sure to check out our special two-part Survivor Talk interview below with Yasmin, who discusses her big post-challenge blow-up with Ben. The train to Crazytown leaves right about now!

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