Rob and Russell face off on Survivor, and I’m going to tear my face off

This is exactly how I felt at the end of last night’s Survivor Heroes vs. Villains:

I don’t care that Russell often plays the game well, and I don’t care how entertaining or dramatic episodes get because of him, I just can’t take him. Two seasons of his arrogance and self-importance have just worn me down. I cannot take six more weeks of this, and it’s going to get so much worse now that he took down Rob. And just wait until he loses again, which we’re all predicting based upon his crying meltdown during the Samoa finale.

I’m just frustrated rather than entertained: Yes, Russell deserves credit for a lot of great moves and some incredible entertainment, but the arrogance is in such severe disproportion to what he does that it’s driving me insane. Russell gives himself way too much credit, and the editors play along because they know he’s good TV. In Samoa, for example, he was responsible for some dramatic game play, but in reality, he made it to the end because his alliance kept him around because they knew how much everyone hated him and his anti-social behavior would work to their advantage.

Of course, that was all edited out of the broadcast because Russell is a better character if he’s both arrogant and right, and we’re getting that same edit for Russell this season, which is disappointing. At Tribal Council, Russell gave himself credit for Tyson’s exit, insisting that last week, “I could have blindsided anybody,” but Tyson said Russell had nothing to do with Tyson’s stupid decision. It was ultimately just a confluence of things that benefited Russell in a pretty spectacular way, yet the edit and Russell insist that he deserves all the credit. That’s annoying.

Ultimately, Rob was voted out because his alliance was insecure about him and who did what they thought was best for them in the moment (Tyson, Coach, and Jerri). Let us not forget that Rob was not long for the game. Post-merge, he’d be an immediate target. But since he was winning challenges for the villains, he seemed to have developed a cushion. Russell absolutely helped puncture that, but it’s not like he hoodwinked everyone into doing something totally unbelievably shocking.

Before I forget, Coach deserves a significant amount of scorn, and not because Rob got voted out. While he’s always insisted he’s about loyalty and honor, he made two opposite commitments and then started crying about not knowing what to do. First, Coach promised Rob he’d vote for Russell, and then promised Russell he’d vote for Rob. If that’s his definition of loyalty, it’s pretty fucked up. Rob seemed to be playing Coach and in doing so revealed his strategy: “find what they hold dear … and put that on the line,” which for Coach is loyalty. It seemed to work, because Coach said he wanted to “get that little bastard out of there.”

It’s worth noting that since Rob’s alliance had five votes to Russell’s three, Russell needed two people to flip, and Coach didn’t: He voted for Courtney because of her crap performance in challenges (she almost broke in half during the immunity challenge, which is maybe the second challenge I can remember her competing in this season). If he’d voted for Russell, there would have been a tie, and even more drama, so thanks for nothing, Coach.

By the way, Russell is setting himself up to lose if he does make it to the end again, and he just doesn’t get it. Talking to Rob, Courtney, and Sandra, Russell said he’d vote for either Courtney and Sandra. Rob was baffled, because Rob understands the social game, and Russell absolutely does not and never will.

Russell also gave himself credit for uniting Jerri and Parvati. He did convince Jerri to join his alliance, but as he was courting her, there was a great moment that illustrated old versus new: Parvati promised Jerri that Jerri would go to the final four with her, and Jerri looked at her like she’d grown tentacles. “How can you guarantee that?” Jerri asked Parvati. Parvati told us that she thinks that Jerri is just “jealous that a man hasn’t done that for her,” referring to Russell giving her the idol. I think Jerri’s just jealous she didn’t get tipped off pre-season.

The Villains’ showdown was all thanks to a newly resurgent Heroes tribe, led by Colby in the reward challenge, a replay of a Survivor Tocantins challenge (oddly, it rained during that challenge, and it rained during the replay of it, too). Colby said there was “pressure on me to perform” but he performed well, and then gave himself a reward by lifting Candice off the ground and placing one hand virtually inside her ass.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.