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Survivor recap: Lightning Strikes Twice

Russell proves that clues are for suckers by finding a second hidden immunity idol

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Survivor Russell H
Monty Brinton/CBS


TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Jeff Probst
Current Status:
In Season

There are few things sweeter than watching people get duped at Tribal Council. Wedding day. Birth of my kids. I’ll get in serious trouble if I don’t put those above it. Seeing the Cowboys lose is pretty great. And the fight scene from They Live is about as amazing as amazing gets (“Put on the glasses!!!”). But after all that comes watching people get duped at Tribal Council. And it’s especially sweet when the dupees have only themselves to blame. Galu was sitting pretty up 8-4 at the merge. But they got complacent and decided to vote off one of their own. Well, guess what? Now, after ditching Erik, ostracizing Shambo, and allowing Russell to find a second hidden immunity idol with no clues — we are looking at a 5-5 deadlock. Nineteen seasons in and people still cannot grasp the fundamentals of the game. I love it. And those of you who hate Russell — and lord knows you have your reasons what with his silly hat, grandstanding, and wicked words about women — you had to kinda love it as well. Why? For two reasons. (1) He’s playing the game! He found two idols with no clues. Now, don’t get me wrong, producers make it so easy to find these damn things, you could practically stumble into them (as Parvati claims she did in Micronesia). But still, he was the only one smart enough to look. The one thing true hardcore Survivor fans want are contestants who would kill to be there and will scrape, fight, and claw to stay in the game. Well, in Samoa, that contestant is Russell. If you respect nothing else about him, respect the effort. (2) He’s now the underdog. Everyone loves the underdog. As the biggest target of a tribe that was down four members, every week he sticks around is flat-out incredible. And whether it is deserved or not — nice, happy, friendly Galu have now been cast in the role of entitled bullies. What’s more fun to watch: Galu picking off their helpless underlings one by one, or the seemingly outmatched minority fighting back? You know my answer.

So to all you hardcore Russell haters out there, admit it: When he stood up as the votes were about to be read, and Dave’s mouth fell open and Erik started punching the air with his fists, and Russell calmly and coolly looked at the Galu members and said, “I ain’t finished playin’ just yet” — you were totally into it. You can go back to wanting him eradicated from existence next week, but this? It was pretty sweet. So sweet that I wasn’t even that upset that it meant the hottest girl on the show (Kelly) was no longer.

Of course, we knew Russell was not going home from the previews last week showing everyone talking about voting him out. Our suspicions were confirmed two minutes into the episode when Laura boldly proclaimed, “Russell is going to be gone next” — always a sure sign that the intended target will slip by unscathed. But not everyone was as lucky as Russell. I’m speaking, of course, about the rat Natalie pummeled into submission with her big stick. Honestly, I didn’t know Natalie had it in her, although it would have been a bit more badass had she not then apologized to the rat after killing it.

NEXT: Russell’s second chance with the idol