Katie and I did not become fans of this show until a couple of years ago. We've managed to find a way to watch most of the past seasons, the only ones I haven't seen are the 2 or 3 seasons prior to China (which was the first season I watched as it aired).
It's really interesting that we never watched it until 3 years ago, because it's in our reality show wheelhouse. I'm mildly embarrassed to admit that I've probably seen close to every episode of the MTV Challenges featuring former Real World and Road Rules cast members. And we've watched shows like the Amazing Race for a long time (even if I'm utterly bored with it) and I was a fan of other Mark Burnet productions such as The Apprentice (back in the day, not now).
This season of Survivor has been great. They hand-picked a fabulous cast. Boston Rob! Coach! Tyson! Parvarti! Amanda! Rupert! and on... Some of the best people to play this game over 19 seasons. And of course, Russell Hantz, the most egotistical SOB to ever play the game.
Like a lot of people, I started off hating Russell during his season last year. And slowly, I started to build admiration for him, only to be blown away in the finale when I realized he'd gotten a really good edit from the producers and had ultimately failed to play the social game - alienating just about every single jury member. I was let down by this.
So in this season, Russell is at it again. He took down Boston Rob a few episodes ago, in a rather epic turn of events which started when Tyson stupidly created his own downfall while Russell made a gigantic bet by giving Parvarti the hidden immunity idol.
What some people may not know on the surface is that the Samoa season and Heroes vs Villains were taped only a few weeks apart in the same relative locations on Samoa. Russell went home for less than a week and then returned. This was well before his season aired, so the people on his team did not have the benefit of seeing his gameplay. Boston Rob thinks that he would have been voted out first "without a doubt". At the same time, Probst points out in his blog this week that they were well aware that Russell was one of the most evil of all time. But it's clear there's a benefit there - if the players had seen Russell's season, there's probably no way he gets to the point last night, and there's absolutely no way JT gives him the idol. No way.
Still, here we are, with Russell holding an idol about to go into a merge with a seemingly strong alliance. Sure, there are cracks showing - Parvarti is clearly supportive of him but at the same time doesn't fully trust him - that was clear from her holding back the information about the idol she holds.
I gotta confess though, I'm tired of Russell. He makes bold moves but he doesn't play the social game very well. I don't want him to get all the way to end, because the same thing would result. Andy Denhart nails it at Reality Blurred a few weeks ago. The same thing is happening this season - he's getting a favorable edit because they love him, but there's no way he'll win it all.
I've never been a huge fan of Parvarti. She's like that popular girl in high school that you couldn't stand because she was so evil to everybody behind their back. But I'm even finding myself hoping that she would win over Russell.
Ultimately, I hope Amanda finally wins one. She deserves it. And was the only one that they showed questioning giving the idol to the other side. She plays a much better social game than a lot of the people and is strong in challenges. Rupert, JT and Colby need to go.
But I've been extremely entertained and that's an accomplishment for a show on its 20th season.