Survivor: Redemption Island Round-up - the end of an era

"Russell, you are out of this game."

And with that, Jeff Probst ignited massive outbursts of joy, or heart-shattering shortness of breath, depending on what you think of Russell Hantz.  I for one, am on the side that felt sick, and couldn't believe that Russell was out of the game, a game he had arguably mastered (well, at least in getting to the end...)  He represented the evolution of the strategic snake, that began with Richard Hatch, twisted into Brian Heiduk, morphed into Boston Rob and culminated in Russell Hantz over the years.  To me, he was fascinating to watch, was interesting to listen to, and changed the game like few have.  Even Survivor producers were forced to re-consider how hidden immunity idols were used (unfortunately "The Russell Factor" of making them harder to find only lasted for one season.)

In the other camp, Russell represented all that's ugly with the game.  A liar, a cheat, a thief, a snake.  His over-agressiveness wasn't seen so much as strategy, but as bullying.  And it wasn't all limited to the game either.  Russell lied when he didn't need to, telling his Samoa tribe that he was a hurrican Katrina victim.  He berated his own allies, calling them the "dumb-ass alliance."  He has even been recently accused of leaking information about the show to spoiler websites, a claim in which he denies but seems to be something he is capable of doing. If anyone was going to claim their passion and respect for the game, he seemed an odd candidate.

But if you are a fan of Survivor and understand the history of the world's best reality TV competition, you cannot deny the importance of Russelll Hantz.  He is one of the game's most memorable characters, for good or for bad, and will always be one of the faces of the franchise.  He changed how the game was played, how idols were used, and even in losing all 3 seasons, he has been a great model of what NOT to do on Survivor...A lesson and reminder that the game is much more than strategy-based, and is not all about getting to the end...To quote Charlie Sheen, it's about "winning."

Survivor renewed!  So believe it or not, there was actually other important Survivor news this week besides Russell Hantz leaving the show.  Hearing my calls (thank you loyal TVGeekArmy soldiers, as I'm convinced it is all because of you!!), CBS announced this week that Survivor will be renewed for 2 more seasons, throughout the Fall/Spring 2011-2012 schedule.  This "two at a time" renewal has been typical the last few years, but ensures a 23rd and 24th edition of the show.  Read the full press release here.

Beyond that though, it was all Russell.  Here is some of the most noteworthy stuff:

  • Survivor Examiner Recap:  If you missed the play by play of Episode Four, here is the full recap.  It still is hard for me to consider that not only is Russell gone (to be expected), but he's gone very early (very unexpected).
  • TheTVKing:  Surely we all have opinions on Russell, but this article takes a look at what exactly will be Russell's legacy on the game.  Did this outing take away from it, or actually add to it?
  • Exit Interviews with Russell:  So many great ones this week, as many members of the press were in a piranha-like frenzy as they all fought for time with Russell:
  • Jeff Probst Exclusive Russell Interview:  By far the most fascinating interview held in the wake of Russell's downfall, was by Jeff Probst himself for his website, JeffProbst.com.  Via Skype, Probst chats with Russell just moments after the episode aired.  Like a personal and private Tribal Council, there is nobody better at getting Survivors to talk, and in cutting through BS in order to get real info.
  • My interview with Russell:  A great chat had Russell telling me that Redemption Island "may have been my best season yet."  Here's his response, when asked what he would like his legacy to be:  "But 20 years from now?  When Survivor is considered one of the best reality shows that's ever been played?  I want them to say my name, to say 'Oh Russell,  he was one of the best.'"
  • JeffProbst.com:  Jeff's must-read weekly blog.  In addition to his interview with Russell, you need to hear Jeff's take on the episode and Russell's final moments:  "The tears that Russell shed were real. It was a very emotional moment for a guy who has spent most of the last two years of his life playing this silly little adventure game called Survivor."
  • Dalton Ross:  Dalton Ross is just the man.  Read his weekly recap, and also his weekly Q & A with Jeff Probst on the previous episode.  In Dalton's interview with Russell, find out why Russell said he might sue his Zapatera Tribe.
  • Brenda's Survivor Blog:  Here's a cool blog for those looking for some unique perspective each week on the game of Survivor.  This week as part of Brenda's blog, she examines why Russell doesn't have what it takes to be a winner in the game.
  • Rob Cesternino Podcasts:  Former Survivor All-Star Rob Cesternino has one of the most entertaining Survivor podcasts out there.  This week Rob talks with John Fincher of Survivor: Samoa, who played along with Russell.
  • Next week's episode reminds us that the game is bigger than Russell Hantz...yes, the show must go on.  One other side note?  I hear all of you Boston Rob lovers, and we'll give him his due when and if he gets voted out as well...Here's the CBS synopsis for next week's episode, entitled, "We Hate Our Tribe."

    TWO TRIBEMATES USE THE DUEL AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE VALUABLE INFORMATION WITH THE OPPOSING TRIBE, ON "SURVIVOR: REDEMPTION ISLAND," WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 - Two unlikely castaways unite over their shared frustration with their tribe members while another castaway hides clues to keep their tribe from searching for the idol.

    See you next Friday!  (As always, you can follow all of my Survivor coverage, including weekly previews, recaps, exit interviews, in-depth analysis and weekly TVGeekArmy round-up, on my blog FilmSurvivor.com!  And be sure to follow me on Twitter as well, @tomsantilli.)

    By FilmSurvivor - Tom Santilli

    About the author

    Tom Santilli is a national columnist and movie critic, who also covers Survivor for Examiner.com.  His ongoing work can be found at his blog, FilmSurvivor.com.  He is a member of the Detroit Film Critic Society, and huge Survivor fan.

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    1 Comment
    On: Friday, March 11, 2011
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

    Hard to believe russell is really gone !

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