"I'm closer to Parvati than you think." Seven little words changed the course of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. It's been four days since Survivor but that last Tribal Council still replays in my mind. Danielle broke down sobbing and Russell changed his vote on the spot to blow his ally away. The betrayal was so cold it felt like a Sopranos mob hit. I loved it.
Russell plays like he's completely insane. His crush on Parvati reminds me of the Phantom of the Opera's crush on Emmy Rossum. He's at once terrified and terrifying, a tragic figure and monster. He felt threatened by Parvati having anyone else in her life so he wiped them out, as if to say "You're mine now. Now we can be together forever!"
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Russell's possessiveness is disturbing, and I'll be relieved when Survivor moves beyond Russell, but for these last few episodes it's incredible reality television. The stakes are so high now. If Parvati gets revenge, it will be sweet for almost everyone watching.
When we first saw Parvati in the Cook Islands I thought she lived up to her last name (Shallow), but Russell has gifted her with a redemptive role: that of the butt kicking girl power heroine. No offense to Natalie, who played well and had charm, but she couldn't carry Parvati's torch.
I would go so far as to say that if Parvati vanquishes The Dark Lord and wins the game, she will be the greatest Survivor player of all time. If Sandra wins this season, she could make a case as well, but it wouldn't be an "Eliza Orlins for the prosecution!" open and shut case.
One player who won't be getting my vote for the best of all time is Jerri. I've met her and she's a great woman. I would gladly have a beer with her. But I wish I believed that her decision to change her vote was a self-interested move. Frankly, it came across like she was just intimidated by Russell.
Russell's scare tactic of threatening that "they" would vote for her if she didn't vote out Danielle was one of the most bizarre ever used on the show. There's no possible "they," since Parvati wouldn't target Jerri for saving her closest ally, and Rupert and Colby have no power, much less motive. Nevertheless, when Russell said to change the vote, Jerri clowned herself, apparently still running from this shadowy entity known only as "they." But I digress.
Enthusiasm has not run quite this high for any season since Survivor's golden age. Remind me again why CBS didn't premiere this season immediately after the Super Bowl.
In other news: In case you haven't heard, Candice bites. She sucks. She's a blockhead, a tad thick, a nozzle, a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather, a blondie, lame-o, a bozo, a douchenugget, a space monkey and a dorkapotomous.
To be clear, I have nothing at all against Mrs. Cody nee Woodcock, and congratulations on tying the knot are in order. I think Candice is an above average Survivor player and has a wonderful heart for saving Africa, human lives and probably the whales. But apparently Rupert and Colby would compare her unfavorably to the taste of burnt toast. She gives them bitter beer faces.
I love the Rupert Roar as much as the next guy, and yes, Russell was childish; but if Rupert has his heart set on remaining the greatest Survivor hero of all time he may want to stick to the things he's good at, like stealing shoes. Nobody likes a self-involved, banana-hording hypocrite.
Some people would point out that Rupert made a good move when he hid a rock in his pants to look like the Hidden Immunity Idol and then voted for Candice. Fair enough. It bought him three more days and even Parvati and Danielle were laughing at how clever he was. My only quibble would be: That shouldn't have worked, and if Colby hadn't overheard the Villains' conversation about voting for Candice, it wouldn't have.
On a final note, I was glad to see the return of the water bucket challenge, and particularly the food temptations. Trays of generically-referred-to cookies and candy (known to you and me as Oreos and M&Ms) have been missing from recent endurance challenges.
It's a small detail, but the risky proposition of taking peanut butter and chocolate over a chance at immunity provides an added psychological element. If I were Sandra, I would have jumped down too, since realistically she was never going to win. But knowing only what they knew, should Colby or Candice have?
Or perhaps that's not why I care. Perhaps I just like looking at closeups of food.
In any case, I cannot wait for the final two episodes of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains this week. Stay tuned for our interviews with Candice and Danielle, and with all remaining six contestants throughout this week and next.
Weigh in on the comments section, Survivor readers: Do you like the double snuff episodes? (With a tip of the hat to radio hostess with the mostest Nicole Palmeri.) Am I being too hard on Russell, Rupert or Jerri? Who should win this season?
(Image courtesy of CBS)
-Henry Jenkins, BuddyTV Guest Columnist