Russell rash finally voted out of Survivor after his tribe throws a challenge

At long last, our great national Russell Hantz nightmare is over. He’s infested three of the last four seasons of Survivor, and spoiled two of them (which he denies even though there’s clear evidence), but he finally got voted out for the first time. Well, he’s almost out: Like a cockroach that keeps running after it’s been smashed, he’s still alive, and will face off in a duel next week to see if he can stick around longer. With his generally miserable track record in challenges, that’s unlikely, but we’ll see next week when he battles Matt in a duel.

And how tense was that Tribal Council? I was nearly gnawing a pillow and shrieking louder than Stephanie during the first vote read, and not just because Ralph spelled Russell’s name “Ressell.” (Also, like 50 percent of the Internet, a lot of his fellow tribemates dropped the second L on his name; I wish there was a funny metaphor there.) When the votes were evenly split, it seemed obvious that the plan to vote Russell out was in full effect, but we had to sit through a tiebreaker vote just to make sure, and you never know. But finally, out went his torch and out went the little man.

Russell’s tribe actually threw the combined reward/immunity challenge–a repeat of the water wheel challenge from Survivor Nicaragua–to get rid of him, and then split their votes into a three-way tie just to make sure Russell didn’t have a hidden immunity idol. (Because a member of the dominant alliance, Ralph, actually has it, he presumably didn’t share that information with his alliance, probably to avoid putting a target on his back, though it would have avoided me having a near-heart attack having to watch two vote counts to see if Russell would finally go away.)

This means that we won’t have to sit through any more of Russell’s insufferable, undeserved self-aggrandizing (“this is my game, sucka”) because, as Sarita said, a tribe finally realized he was a “sickness” and “huge black cloud.” He also does nothing, and, as Mike said, “sits in the tent with his concubines,” his hands behind his head, allowing for man views on on Russell’s shaved armpit and its horrific rash. Mike pointed out that Russell had “some funk going on with his armpits” and because he shaved them, he ended up with “pus-filled rash.” Let that be a lesson to all you shaving manscapers.

Russell was, of course, not happy about being voted out. As he walked away, snuffed torch in hand, he said, “I’ll be back, and be ready.” Once he arrived at Redemption Island, he was even more angry. “I was pissed off; I wanted to bitch slap every single one of them,” he said.

Jeff Probst, too, seemed forlorn (ugh), telling the tribe, “You just voted out one of the most successful players in the history of Survivor. The quesiton is, will this decision come back to haunt you?” I’m not sure losing twice as a result of being a pawn of players who realized he was a lock to lose makes him successful, but I suppose he did outlast others, so okay. I’m just glad he’s gone (sort of, aack). Probst’s narration for next week’s preview got a little more critical, as he said, “It’s time for Russell to put up or shut up.” I vote for the last one.

Even with Russell gone, there will still be people to dislike and who will create drama, and her name is Stephanie. Besides sushing a tribemate at Tribal Council (“I’m still talking; mouth is still moving”), she has a disproportionate love for all things Russell, perhaps because she just wanted him to carry her to the end. She told her tribemates, “This is Russell. He’s played the game,” as if that meant they should roll over and die in the game. She walked around camp hugging her bag, showing that she learned her terrible acting skills from her master.

She and Russell tried to make a deal with “the old lady,” firefighter Julie, who has previously been mostly invisible. Julie said, “I like my chances with someone who’s been there before,” and Stephanie shrieked, “This is going to be the biggest blindside ever!” But it was she who was blindsided by Julie’s refusal to go along with the plan.

Meanwhile, at Ometepe, their challenge win meant their first reward–a big one, as it consisted of comfort items such as a tarp, blankets, and chairs–and their first hidden immunity idol clue, which everyone searched for frantically. Rob said that clue meant there was “no time to celebrate,” and he eventually found the clue thanks to bumbling Phillip. Rob said he wouldn’t have discovered it “had Phillip not been so fat,” because the clue was attached to the bottom of a chair Phillip was sitting in. Rob used that as an excuse to look by pretending to fix the chair, telling Phillip he was going “going to break it,” and then finding the clue “right underneath his ass.”

Earlier, Matt and Francesca dueled at Redemption Island’s arena. Two people from each tribe showed up to observe, having apparently failed to come to a consensus or just deciding to make the decision random: they both drew rocks out of a bag, which the instructions told us (or told those of us who freeze-framed the DVR at that moment) the rocks were there if they couldn’t come to a decision.

Probst called the duel an “old-fashioned Survivor challenge,” which is a nice way of saying it was a repeat of an old one. It took place in an epic ruins-like arena, though, and was super-dramatic. At first, it looked like Francesca would easily beat Matt, having retrieved two of three keys with her makeshift pole while he retrieved zero with a pole that had as much strength as spaghetti noodles held together with wet tissues. But she failed to get her last key, and Matt got his pole firm enough (ahem) to reach all three and open his locks.

Let’s hope he can stay firm and kick Russell’s ass out for good next week.

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.