Survivor’s Sunday finale: one sad hero, four different villains, Russell’s 28th episode

For all of Rupert’s blustering, bearded talk at Tribal Council about being the last remaining Hero or Villain, he has a good point: it is kind of a badge of honor to be the last person remaining from your tribe.

Alas, that goes to Eeyore–I mean, Colby, who moped his way through another episode, falling out of the immunity challenge in mere seconds and screamed at his brother instead of doing anything productive during the reward challenge. Remember when Colby won five individual immunity challenges in a row during Survivor Australia? Who is this guy? Pre-season, he seemed like he was going to be great, but he’s just fallen apart. Still, he is the last remaining hero–or maybe that will be Parvati, since she hilariously said “I’m a hero on the inside” when asked if she was the top villain.

The big drama in this episode stemmed from Jerri’s win at the reward challenge, when she chose Parvati and Sandra, and their family members, to go with her, leaving Russell behind. Of course, he got pissy about that, calling them “a bunch of unappreciative little bitches.” He’s such a charmer, and it’ll be fantastic to watch him lose again.

Tangent: When Sunday’s three-hour finale arrives, we will have had 28 episodes in a row of Russell Fucking Hantz, so I’m kind of desperate for him to get voted out right before the final Tribal Council. But he’s so loathed–jury members say he could never win–that they’d be stupid not to take him to the end, where I am hoping and praying to every available deity that he loses and gets zero votes. If he burst into tears, that’d be okay, too.

Anyway, Russell flirted with aligning with Rupert and Colby, but he rejoined the villains alliance and dumped Rupert. That was attributed to Parvati’s win in the immunity challenge, but I’m not so sure Jerri and Russell would have voted Parvati out, especially since Rupert made himself such an easy target, stomping around the campsite like a bearded, tie-died giant and kept them awake all night. How hilarious was Jerri’s commentary about him? “I have never in my life seen anybody that inconsiderate,” she said, adding that he was either being cocky or stupid, and then said, “I’m leaning more toward stupidity right now.”

For a penultimate, pre-final episode, it was a little flat in places, especially with the over-the-top product placement. I can handle some, but this was ridiculous: first they had to use every possible feature on a mobile phone to get their tree mail, and then Probst and the cast members said the phone and its company’s name throughout the reward challenge and reward. That reward was pretty cool: a trip to the Savaii blowholes (the show was filmed on Upolu, Samoa’s main island, and Savaii is a ferry ride away), where they used the geyser-like water to launch coconuts.

My msnbc.com recap covers the rest of the episode and its narrative arc, but before the Sunday finale, let’s look back at our final five and my pre-game conversations with them back in L.A. last August. Some of what they said is pretty prescient and/or hilarious now.

Click on their faces to read and listen to their pre-game thoughts, or go here to review the jury members’ pre-season interviews:

Colby Donaldson
Colby Donaldson Before the game, Colby had a great, positive attitude, and said that the previous all-star season was “a nightmare,” but he’d realized, “I can control how much fun I have. … I’m just tremendously looking forward to going over there and giving it hell.” Alas, he doesn’t seem like he’s having much fun or “giving it hell,” perhaps because, as he told me, the game is now “a lot more aggressive than it used to be.”

Jerri Manthey
Jerri Manthey Unlike Colby, Jerri has redeemed herself somewhat, though she’s not quite a super-player. I liked this version of Jerri, although she she was worried about how she’d be edited. But she seemed like she had her head in the game: “I’m winning, that’s it. I’m 100 percent in on it. … That’s where my head is at, without a fucking doubt. I can’t even tell you how ready I am.”

Sandra Diaz-Twine
Sandra Diaz-Twine I’d forgotten how much I loved Sandra’s humor until she started talking, saying hilarious things such as, “just because they’re strong don’t mean shit.” The best part about our conversation, though, was that she predicted that she’d play the same way and it’d work again: “The same thing I did before, it’ll work, because they’re dummies.” It’s hard to argue with that so far.

Parvati Shallow
Parvati Shallow Before the game, I talked to Parvati about how many people these previous four seasons have held her up as their role model in the game. After this season, that trend is unlikely to die, because she’s played well. She told me that unlike in Micronesia, she was “going to at least form relationships with every person out there,” even though she had separated herself from other cast members in her real life. She also said pre-season alliances are “foolish,” but there is that lingering question about her advance knowledge of Russell.

Russell Hantz
Russell Hantz CBS didn’t let me talk to Russell before the game began, but considering he’s spent 28 episodes in a row saying the same things, I’m pretty sure we all know what he would have said (king of Samoa, best player ever, controls everyone, blah blah blah). In a CBS.com interview, he did say, “I’m going to teach all these brats a lesson.” But it may just be the reverse.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.