Survivor: Samoa, week twelve

In order to reconcile having missed a double council earlier in the season when Black Russell was removed from the game, this week’s episode was actually two episodes squashed together. Two immunity challenges, two tribal councils. Things ended up being a bit compact but in the end I think it worked fine.

The first half went about as you’d expect; Dave needed immunity but didn’t win it and was quickly voted off. I really liked Dave. I think he had it in him to win, but in the end he just perpetuated the silly mistakes of his tribe during a crucial point in the game where doing so was most costly. Ta-ta.

I did appreciate seeing Jaison win an immunity necklace without a distinct advantage.

The second half was more exciting. Monica saw the writing on the wall and started scrambling like mad for any kind of foothold. She found one, too, by instigating Russell’s little explosion. This must have been awful from Russell’s point of view, watching as his carefully crafted house of cards started to tumble. If Mick and Natalie weren’t clear on just how dangerous a player Russell was before they certainly do now.

In the end though Russell managed to keep his cool. Especially notable was the way he played his idol without playing it. Sure, he could have just used it after the vote in case his allies turned on him and savored their shocked expressions in doing so. Revealing he had it before the vote, though, seeded a lot of doubt. Now anyone who was thinking of voting for Russell had to determine if he was going to actually play it, but they had to determine how the revelation would affect anyone else who may have agreed to vote for him. With no time to discuss a new strategy (if indeed a double-cross was in the works) Mick and Natalie really had no option but to fall back on the safe vote.

So Russ skates by another vote with his idol still in hand. Now if his enemies want to take him out they have to make sure it’s a complete blindside. Even so it will be difficult; Russ has not only proven to have an excellent nose for scheming, but he’s also proven that he isn’t skittish about playing an idol if he’s the least bit spooked. Some people thought it was dumb when he played his first idol when he didn’t need to, but I’ve seen far too many people leave the game with an idol in their pocket to agree.

Monica tried to get her licks in at tribal but I don’t think she really hit home. She tried to paint a picture of Russell lucking his way to this point in the game thanks to immunity idols, to which he responded, “That’s playing hard.” He’s absolutely right. Monica was playing hard too, but only in those last few days. Ta-ta to her too.

Brett, by the way, won that second immunity. I still don’t know who the hell this guy is. Russell said something about “he’s super likable, he could win the jury over for sure.” I believe that’s the very first thing I’ve heard someone say about Brett the entire season. I’m going to be livid if he turns out to be one of the finalists. I can appreciate that this season had other great personalities to showcase but to get to the final six and have one of the players still be a complete cipher is just bad, bad editing.

Who’s gonna win? Russell will probably sneak by the next vote, and play his idol the vote after, landing him in the final four. At that point he either needs to win immunity or needs Shambo and Jaison with him. Seven and five are dangerous times for power players because those are the last turn-offs for alliance members to flip and change the game up. If Russell can keep his allies in the game I think he’s got a terrific shot of winning the game. If he can’t, he’ll probably be taken out at four, leaving a final three of Mick/Natalie/Jaison… which I believe Jaison would win. So that’s my prediction going into the endgame: either Russell or Jaison.

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