'Survivor: Heroes vs Villains': Why Sandra Deserves The Win (And Why Russell Missed Out Again)
'Survivor: Heroes vs Villains': Why Sandra Deserves The Win (And Why Russell Missed Out Again)
First off, congratulations to Russell for achieving what we all thought as impossible before: competing in two back-to-back Survivor seasons and going all the way in both instances. Sure, he'd say that he only competed once--"a looong time"--but if he wants to be considered one of the greatest Survivor players ever, he might as well count the last two seasons as two time periods rather than one.

It's quite obvious he did too many things without taking a breather. His strategy in Heroes vs Villains remained the same as his strategy in Samoa: make a deal with everyone until you bring yourself in the end, and then hope that the jury will respect the way you play the game. You can argue that he didn't get the benefit of learning how the results of Survivor: Samoa panned out when he joined this season, which meant he wasn't given the time to contemplate and change his play. But him not getting a single jury vote this year should sound the alarm.

Still, I don't think Russell was screwed by the jury. The circumstances are very different. Last time he was up against a "tribal chief" and someone who rode his coattails, the latter ending up the winner. Right there you can see that he deserved the win. He still deserves the title this time, but he was seriously outplayed.

We all thought Parvati can only be a flirt, but her strategic fangs really came to the fore this season. I mean, two immunity idols in one Tribal Council! That's a bold move that made her a force to be reckoned with. She's had a couple of missteps afterwards, especially when the numbers started dwindling, but she still managed to hold on and make herself this season's runner-up. Her biggest problem is, she was aligned with Russell from the very beginning, and while that didn't stop her from getting three votes, it wasn't enough to make her a winner. Russell's almost-pathological manipulative streak dragged his ally down. Still, the way I looked at her has really changed.

I'm glad Sandra won. I wasn't rooting for her because she's an underdog, nor because of her story about her husband serving in Afghanistan. I still think she played the smartest game this season, despite the fact that she didn't win that many challenges, and she always came up short when implementing her strategies. It takes a lot to hold on despite being on the outs with virtually everyone--from the beginning, when Rob's gang got voted off one by one, and later, after the merge, when the Heroes were unable to understand what she was planning. She's literally a survivor.

And you're saying she didn't do anything this season? It's a matter of having the heat off you, the same way Colby lasted this long in the season despite being far from his peak in Australia. With him, it was disappointing watching him flounder in tasks and in morale, since it's a far cry from the guy we saw kick ass down under. In Sandra's case, that's the way she's always played.

Considering the competition--let's forget what actually happened before, okay?--Russell never really stood a chance at winning this season. It wasn't a vindictive jury: it was a jury that knew what the game is about. In Tom's words, it's one-thirds strategy, one-thirds physical, and one-thirds luck. Russell perfected one aspect but Sandra perfected others, and the jury put a bigger premium on that. Now, that's respect for the game.

But a hundred thousand bucks ain't bad a consolation. At least a bunch of people still think he should've won. Now, for him to talk to Mark Burnett and pitch his variation on Survivor... call it Survivor Idol. "To vote for Russell, call 1-866-SIDOL01!"

If that happens, let's see if the viewers' vote will single-handedly make him the winner.

(Image courtesy of CBS)