Archive for December, 2009

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Runner-Up Interview: Russell Hantz

December 22, 2009

It used to be when someone would perform an Olympic-style high jump, they would go over one leg at a time. That is until Dick Fosbury revolutionized the sport with his back-first Fosbury Flop. Today everybody utilizes Fosbury’s method.

Nowadays it seems foolish not to have an alliance in “Survivor.” But it didn’t before Richard Hatch owned the original competition. It seems crazy not to whittle down your alliance as you move later into the game. But it didn’t before Rob Cesternino carved up “Survivor: Amazon.” And, before “Survivor: Samoa” it seemed downright ludicrous to look for an immunity idol without a clue. But it doesn’t now that “Evil” Russell Hantz has been able to do it…twice.

Love him or hate him, the game of “Survivor” will never be the same thanks to this bold, brash player. I spoke with Russell the morning after his disappointing finale to find out why he thinks he’s the Michael Jordan of “Survivor,” how (and when) he knew he wasn’t going to win the million dollars, and which player still holds a major grudge…

Gordon Holmes: How’s it going?
Russell Hantz:
Am I being taped?
Gordon: You certainly are.
Russell: (Laughs) Well, then I won’t say! That’s how I’m doing.
Gordon: Now, I’m a big believer in “All’s fair in love and ‘Survivor.’” And however the jury votes is how they vote. But, you were robbed.
Russell: Thank you for that. And I’m not a big fan of that, because almost every jury member has told me they made a mistake.
Gordon: Really?
Russell: Yes. So, if they’re saying they made a mistake, does that mean that that weak person made their decision when their heart was broke? And it’s a double-edged sword. The people I was dealing with were so weak out there that they were easy to control. But when you’re dealing with someone that weak and you put them on the jury, they’re too weak to give you the vote. So, what can you do? I got cast with a bunch of losers. I might have won that game with any other season.

Gordon: Now as one “Survivor” fan to another, don’t you have to take the jury’s feelings into account when you’re playing the game? That sometimes you’ve got to massage egos or play nice to win votes?
Russell:
That’s the social game. Does Russell have a social game? Hell yes, I do. Look at what I did. Everybody watches and they say to themselves, “How the hell are Jaison, Mick, Natalie, and Shambo doing everything Russell says?” Every single person I got rid of on Foa Foa was because of my extremely good social game. So, I did have a social game out there, I had a strategic game out there, I had a physical game out there. I still lost the game. I was robbed more than any other player in history.

Gordon: During the final tribal council, Erik went off on an odd bender. He kinda said, “Mick, you didn’t do anything so I’m not voting for you. And Russell, you played a deceitful game so I’m not voting for you.” Then, he goes and votes for Natalie because she played under the radar. How is what Natalie did any different from what Mick did?
Russell:
I didn’t get him at all. Cause he was pumping his fist every time I got somebody out of there. He’s acting like I’m the man, he’s winking at me, shaking his head “Yes.” I don’t get that. I was shocked when I didn’t get his vote. And he gave his vote to the weakest girl that ever made it to the finals besides Amber (Brkich – from “Survivor: All-Stars”) and you know what? The same thing happened to her.
Gordon: Yeah, Boston Rob played a dominating game, and they gave her the million because they disagreed with his methods.
Russell: Well, he played an OK game.
Gordon: He didn’t play a Russell-level game. We’ll put it that way.
Russell: And I knew that I was losing. I can read people so well I knew what was going to happen. So, I set up a Web site, russellgotscrewed.com.
Gordon: Yeah, I’ve already been there.
Russell: What?!
Gordon: Yeah, someone sent me the link this morning.
Russell: Wow, thanks.
Gordon: And which charity does a portion of that money go to?
Russell: St. Jude’s.

Gordon: At what point did you know that you weren’t going to win?
Russell:
I knew I wasn’t going to win before they even started reading the votes. I knew how many votes I was going to get because I knew who was going to vote for me. I knew that John and Shambo would vote for me. After the second vote I said, “That’s all.” And that was it. And if you watch the tape, I am really upset because I play so hard. I put my heart and soul into that game. And when Kelly came up to me, she almost started crying when she sees me. Because she knows I should have been the one who won that game.

Gordon: Any hard feelings toward Natalie at all?
Russell:
None at all. I love Natalie.

Gordon: Did the cast express any hard feelings?
Russell:
Yeah! Jaison is still pissed off about his socks. His fifty-cent socks!

Gordon: Jeff Probst and I did a piece on a hypothetical “Survivor” Hall of Fame. And I chose to pick players that changed the way the game is played. I went with Richard Hatch, Rob Cesternino, and Jonny “Fairplay” Dalton. I’d add a fourth to that list now, as I feel the game won’t be the same now that you’ve played it.
Russell:
It’s totally different forever.
Gordon: There will never be a situation again where someone just sits around camp when there could be a hidden immunity idol out there.
Russell: What Michael Jordan is to basketball is what Russell Hantz is to “Survivor.”

Gordon: Was your fan vote victory any kind of consolation to you?
Russell:
That was amazing, man. That helped me a whole lot because Natalie didn’t even get nominated for that fan vote. So, obviously they didn’t think she played at all. It made me feel really good that the fans respect the game, and that’s what makes me happy. I was really upset that I didn’t win the title. But that helped a lot.

Gordon: How do you want to be remembered as a player?
Russell:
I asked (“Survivor” Producer Mark) Burnett to say one day, on live TV, that Russell Hantz is the best player to ever play the game. There’s only one in a million…maybe bigger odds than that. I want to be remembered as the best, not even an argument, the best of all time.

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‘Survivor: Samoa’ Sole Survivor Interview: Natalie White

December 21, 2009

Some call Natalie White’s “Survivor” strategy “Flying Under the Radar,” others call it “Riding Russell’s Coattails.” She doesn’t care what you call it, because it landed her a check for one million dollars. I had a chance to chat with “Survivor’s” newest millionaire to get her take on the popular belief that Russell was robbed, how she maintained her religious faith while being involved in such a cutthroat game, and how her hair stayed so nice in the Samoan wilderness…

Gordon Holmes: Now that you’re a millionaire…what are you going to buy me for Christmas?
Natalie White:
(Laughs) What do you want?
Gordon: I’ve been very good this year.
Natalie: What do you like? Do you want electronics? Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Gordon: I like “Survivor” buffs.
Natalie: I think we can get you one of those.

Gordon: What’s it like for Jeff Probst to pull out that final parchment and it has your name on it?
Natalie:
It is the absolute craziest, most amazing feeling. I’ve watched so many seasons and it’s so different watching it than actually being there. But with your name on it? It’s surreal. I didn’t want to count any of my eggs before they hatched, I had a one-in-three shot. And we’re not supposed to talk about the vote, but I’d heard a few little things here or there. And I thought “You know, they could still be lying me.” Or, they still wanted to blindside someone. But I was thrilled.

Gordon: Something you’re going to hear a lot is “Flying Under the Radar,” and that’s something you’ve owned up to. You said aggressive people were being voted out so you took a different approach. How do you respond to people who say that  that’s a less-admirable approach to “Survivor?”
Natalie:
That’s fine, everybody has their own opinions. Here’s the thing, there’s been so many winners in the past who have done the exact same thing. I had to play with what I’m equipped with. I’m just not equipped to play the game how Russell did. At the end of the day I get to go to the bank and put my million dollar check in it.

Gordon: Russell seemed to be visibly shaken last night. His eyes seemed to be a little glassy. Did you expect him to be that emotional?
Natalie:
I really didn’t know what to expect from him. He really feels that he played the best game and that he deserves it. Clearly, he asked me to give him the title. I guess when you really want something and it doesn’t work out, you’re expected to be emotional.
Gordon: Did you and Russell patch things up?
Natalie: I didn’t have any hard feelings either way. Russell is a great person, we have this weird friendship. I never had any hard feelings. I felt like I got to know who he was other than the character he was playing.

Gordon: Last night Erik gave Mick some grief over not being much of a player and not taking a dominant stance. Then, he kind of backhandedly praised you for similar gameplay. Do you know why Mick was viewed differently than you were?
Natalie:
Probably the primary reason is that Mick was elected the leader. And as a leader, I think that he (Erik) probably felt that he (Mick) should have taken a stronger stance. Now, I don’t know if this is what he thought, but I’m just thinking that maybe he thought that Mick should have stepped up more to help us win more challenges.

Gordon: OK, let’s talk about the rat homicide that took place. Did you ever think that your hunger would get you to that point?
Natalie:
(Laughs) Oh gosh…no, I have a huge love for animals. And I thought never in a million years could I kill anything. I don’t do the hunting thing. But really, you are so hungry, and you could see how skinny I was, but you’ll do what it takes to survive.
Gordon: What was your family’s reaction to that?
Natalie: My parents are outdoors people, so they were really proud of me. They were really excited that I was willing to do what it took to feed myself.

Gordon: You mentioned how much weight you lost, do you have an exact number?
Natalie:
Since I was in the end, I ate that huge breakfast before I weighed in. So when I weighed in it was somewhere around 17 pounds. I wanted to say I weighed in around 90-91 pounds. But, the medical team decided that I got as low as 85 pounds.
Gordon: There was a point last night during a testimonial where you were kind of turned to the side, and your waist looked about five-to-six inches wide.
Natalie: Shambo for some reason knows that from her index finger to her thumb is a certain amount of inches. She measured my waist and she said it was 18 inches. It was tiny.

Gordon: A lot of players with strong religious faiths have some problems with the more deceitful parts of “Survivor.” Others just view it as a game. What approach did you take?
Natalie:
I knew that it was going to be a struggle for me. In the pregame interviews I said I wasn’t sure about all the lying, but I’ll never say never. It’s not anywhere in the rulebook that you can’t lie, cheat, and steal. It’ll come down to the situation. I just tried really hard not to solidify things with people. I’d try to avoid people if they were going home. But, my faith was so important to me because it is so brutal out there.

Gordon: During the first tribal council last night, my girlfriend asked me, “How does her hair still look so nice?”
Natalie:
That is so kind. That’s refreshing to hear because I’m thinking, “Ugh…look at my roots.” But that is so nice of her. I have no idea. I put it up in a bun a lot of times. I did have the shower at the auction.

Gordon: When you watched the episode where Russell referred to the “Dumb A— Girl” alliance, what was your reaction to that?
Natalie:
Initially, I was like, “Wow, that was really mean.” But I feel like it’s more of a character thing. We had talked about it, he said, “Don’t listen to things I say, you’re probably going to hate me forever.” And I said, “No, I won’t.” We have a great relationship. We really do.

Gordon: Aside from a big, fat, million-dollar check, what was the best part about your time in Samoa?
Natalie:
Wow, so many things. It was a humbling experience. It’s the most amazing experience you can have in your entire life. You realize what’s important to you. Your health, cause I was in bad shape when I came home. Your family and friends, I missed my boyfriend dearly. It helped take our relationship to the next level. I will be forever thankful, and so blessed. And the basic hygiene items? Coming out of the game and being able to brush my teeth? The most amazing feeling.
Gordon: (Laughs)
Natalie: And I had four cavities when I got home. I ate so much candy on the flight home.
Gordon: A million dollars will pay for a lot of dental work.
Natalie: My boyfriend’s uncle is a dentist, so that kinda helps too.

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Finale Recap: Did Russell Do It?

December 20, 2009

Last Episode: After Brett won his second-straight immunity, the Foa Foa Four had to choose between Shambo (who would be easy to beat in front of a jury) and Mick (who could help them defeat Brett). In the end, they decided to send Shambo to the jury.

And then there were five…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

Aiga (Samoan for “Extended Family”)

Brett – 23 – T-shirt Designer
Jaison – 28 – Law Student
Mick – 33 – Doctor
Natalie – 26 – Pharmaceutical Sales
Russell H. – 36 – Oil Company Owner

Russell wakes up the tribe with a tree mail that announces the next challenge. Jaison said he had a rough time with his diarrhea the night before and isn’t in the mood for a challenge. Thanks for that, Jaison.

Russell thinks he’s in a game with a bunch of misfits. He thinks he should be out there with superstars. Have you been reading spoilers, Russell?

Immunity Challenge #1: The players will race across obstacles to retrieve puzzle pieces, they’ll then take those puzzle pieces and run back across the obstacles. Once they get back to the beginning they’ll have to put their puzzle together. First person to complete their puzzle wins immunity.

Mick and Russell have a tough time at the beginning, falling off of the balance beam. Russell retrieves his pieces first and maintains his lead throughout the racing portion. They all get to the puzzle part at around the same time. Brett, Mick, and Russell are the closest to completing the puzzle with Brett managing to finish it first to claim his third consecutive immunity challenge.

There is no joy in Aiga, the Foa Foa Four have struck out.

Back at camp, Russell promises that he’ll try to keep Natalie around. Russell thinks he can beat Jaison in votes, but Jaison can’t win challenges. But, he thinks he may have trouble beating Mick in front of a jury, but Mick could possibly beat Super Brett in a challenge. Russell goes to Jaison and pitches Mick, then he goes to Mick and pitches Jaison. They’re both on board because they completely trust Russell.

Wow.

That night at tribal council the Galu jury seems to be very excited that one of Foa Foa is finally coming to join them.

Jaison says his vote may rely on who’s the second-best vote getter after Brett.

Mick thinks they need to keep around people who can take out Brett in a challenge.

Brett actually says something and claims he wasn’t sandbagging the early challenges, but the most recent challenges have been things he’s good at.

Voting Time: Mick votes for Jaison, Jaison votes for Mick, and the rest aren’t shown. Don’t worry, Probst will read them…now. One vote for Mick, one vote for Jaison, one vote for Jaison and the eighth member of the jury is…Jaison.

During Jaison’s farewell confessional, he lets us know that he wishes Russell would have let him know. He says he’s now rooting for Brett.

Quick Aside: I can’t imagine Brett winning the next immunity challenge. He didn’t say anything in this episode until 30 minutes into it.

The following morning, Russell tells Brett that he’ll take him to the final three. And for some odd reason, Brett believes him.

Tree mail announces the Fallen Comrades Ceremony. During the trek of torches, Mike’s punching dance, Ben’s debate with Yasmin, and Erik clotheslining himself (literally) were all shown. Good times.

Immunity Challenge #2: Each player will balance a wooden statue at the end of a pole. At regular intervals they will have to extend that pole with another pole. The last person to keep their statue on the pole wins immunity.

Another Quick Aside: Am I the only one who misses the final challenge where they’d just have to stand in one place forever? Those were awesome.

Mick is the first one out of the challenge, followed shortly afterward by Natalie. Probst spells it all out, saying the winner of this challenge will probably go home with the million dollars.

This is actually really tense. Both poles are swaying in the wind. Eventually, Brett’s statue falls. Russell wins immunity.

Back at camp, Brett tells Mick and Natalie that he’s proud to have made it as far as he did. Maybe, he’s smart and doesn’t trust Russell to take him to the end.

Russell thinks Brett is the kind of guy he wants his daughters to meet, but not the kind of guy he wants to face at the end of the game. However, he is worried that Brett won’t vote for him if he breaks his deal with him.

Russell breaks it down to Brett with this gem of a quote, “I made a deal with you, but I made a deal with everybody.” He pitches Russell and Brett voting for Mick and Mick and Natalie voting for Brett. This would force a tie and a fire challenge between Mick and Brett. I don’t buy this for a second; he doesn’t want to go to the end with Brett.

That night at tribal council Russell says he knew Brett would be there with him at the end of the immunity challenge.

Yet Another Quick Aside: How does Natalie’s hair still look so nice?

Natalie and Mick both agree that they knew Brett was going home once he lost the challenge. Mick says Brett deserves to go to the end because of how well he played. Natalie and Mick follow this up by saying keeping Brett around will cost him a million dollars.

Brett thinks keeping him around shows integrity and self confidence.

Voting Time: Mick votes for Brett, Natalie votes for Brett, and the rest will be kept secret until such time as Mr. Probst decides to share them with us. Fortunately, he doesn’t wait that long. One vote for Brett, one vote for Mick, one vote for Brett, and the ninth and final member of the jury is…Brett.

The following morning, the Foa Foa Four Three are greeted by the traditional pre final tribal council breakfast.

Russell is proud of the fact that not only did he get to the end, but that he brought the two people he wanted to take with him. Russell starts grilling Natalie on how she’s going to answer the jury’s questions. She doesn’t have any answers. I get the feeling Russell’s been practicing his jury speech in the shower for years.

Natalie thinks Russell is trying to psych her out. Her plan is to differentiate herself from the players who were out to get people.

That night at tribal council, J-Pro makes the point that all three of the remaining players are responsible for putting all nine of the jury members on the jury.

During Mick’s opening statement, Mick uses the fact that Foa Foa was an underdog to make it OK for him to bend his morals a bit.

Natalie says the reason she came to Samoa was to learn to go outside of her comfort zone and that the jury members helped her do that.

Russell says he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He said he made huge strategic moves to get to the end. He went through each big move he made throughout the game to show how he got to the finish. He says if either Mick or Natalie outwitted him or outplayed him, then they should give them the money.

Wow, great opening statement, Russell.  I’m a big believer that you should just fess up to everything at the end. If you lied, say you lied.

Jaison’s up first; he wants the players to explain to the jury who they really are. Natalie explains that she is unemployed due to coming on “Survivor.” Russell says he is a business man, he says his business has just become successful. Mick says he’s has major debt due to medical school. Jaison says Natalie has made a lot of money, he says that Russell made seven figures over the past year, and says that Mick has a fellowship at a prestigious medical school.

Next up, Shambo apologizes to America for dismantling Galu. She asks Mick if he’d describe his game as “feckless.” Mick claims not to know what “feckless” means. Oddly enough, that answer is good enough for Shambo.

Shambo wants to know what word that starts with “C” describes Natalie.

Ahem….

Shambo thinks Natalie rode Russell’s “Coattails.” She doesn’t say anything to Russell, but says Mick won’t get her vote.

Brett wants to know where Mick and Brett would go on a “Bro-date.” “Danger” Dave must be jealous. Mick laughs and says he’d whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Brett asked the question to see how well Mick knows Brett.

Kelly takes her turn. Kelly thinks that Natalie wasn’t ever on the field. Kelly knows Russell claimed he wanted to lie and steal, but is he like that in real life? Russell says he isn’t at all. Kelly doesn’t believe that.

Next up is Monica. Monica admits that Russell made big moves. She feels that Natalie and Mick were somewhat honest, but didn’t have passion. She asks Mick why Russell and Natalie don’t deserve the money. Mick doesn’t think Natalie did anything to deserve it. He thinks Russell lied and had a large ego. Russell claims that Mick didn’t mind him being a snake when it worked in his favor.

“Danger” Dave is curious as to what people think their chances are to win. Mick says 20 to 25%, Natalie says 30 to 40%, and Russell says 55%.

Laura asks what Russell learned about her that helped him to beat her. Russell says he knew right off the bat that she was the person to beat. Russell thinks if it didn’t turn out the way it did, that Laura would be in the finals.

John wants to know why Mick should get John’s vote. Mick claims he has the best character of anyone up there. Mick says that he wasn’t an end-justifies-the-means type of player. John then asks Natalie why she should win. She says the most aggressive woman was voted out first, so she went the other direction.

Erik finishes it up by telling Mick that he didn’t do anything to earn the title. He tells Russell that they have nothing in common because Russell didn’t play an ethical game. This drives Erik crazy because Russell got to the right place by playing the wrong way. Erik thinks Natalie is undeserving, but how is that any better than having delusional entitlement or playing an underhanded game? He says his vote is for Natalie and he hopes she gets four more votes. Whoa…Erik was crying there.

Voting Time: Erik votes for “Ratalie,” Shambo votes for Russell, and the rest will have to wait till Los Angeles. I wonder if that means Mick will be voteless.

First vote is for “Ratalie,” second vote is for Russell, third vote is for Natalie, fourth vote is for Russell, fifth vote is for Natalie, sixth vote is for Natalie, the seventh vote and the winner of “Survivor: Samoa” is Natalie.

Wow…Russell looks really upset…as he should.

Verdict: The funny thing about “Survivor” is how a bad winner can change how you feel about a season. And I’m going to come out and say it; Natalie is a terrible choice for the winner. Russell was 100% right at the final tribal council when he said he did some deceitful things, but Mick and Natalie were right behind him when he did them.

And while I agree that you should win anyway you can, the “Fly Under the Radar” strategy is extremely unsatisfying for the viewers.

That being said, this was a really good season with a super hot middle and a slightly sputtering finish.

“Survivor” Power Ranking Challenge Results: Due to the East Coast’s crazy snowstorm, the server was down and I was unable to get to Taj’s final picks. I consulted with the “Survivor” Power Rankings Executive Ruling Committee and they have decided that the player with the highest score during the last episode will be rewarded the coveted Golden Probsty Award. That player, by a final score of 134 to 133, is Tamara “Taj” George. Congratulations, Taj!

What Do You Think? Should Russell have won the million? What do you think of the “Fly Under the Radar” strategy? How do you feel about the “Heroes vs. Villains” concept?

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Shannon ‘Shambo’ Waters

December 20, 2009

The most memorable “Survivor” players have either had a trademark look (Rupert Boneham’s tie-dye t-shirt, Richard Hatch’s nudity), a heated feud (Sue Hawk vs. Kelly Wiglesworth, Colby Donaldson vs. Jerri Manthey), or a clever nickname (“Boston” Rob Mariano, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper, Benjamin “Coach” Wade).

Former U.S. Marine Shannon “Shambo” Waters nailed this “Survivor” triple play with her glorious mullet, her betrayal of Galu’s 90210 alliance, and her 80s-inspired nickname. We had a chance to talk with this unforgettable player the day after she was voted out of “Survivor: Samoa.” During our chat she spilled the beans on lost chickens, smuggled bananas, and the Samoan barbecue of a lifetime.

Gordon Holmes: My brother in law is a Marine, and he wanted me to tell you…now I know I’m going to get this wrong, “Hoo-rah.”
Shannon “Shambo” Waters:
It’s “Ooh-rah.”
Gordon: Ooh-rah!
Shambo: (Laughs)

Gordon: So last night, you had to have had some idea that your number was up. Immediately after the challenge Jaison and Russell were conspiring against you, and Jaison didn’t do a very good job of hiding it.
Shambo:
The second Jaison started to run away, I thought, “Dude, I’m going home tonight.” On three occasions I asked Russell to repeat word-for-word, and he gave me three different answers. So, I was sure to pack everything I owned for the very first time going to tribal. And, I wouldn’t have had it any other way because Brett won immunity and he deserved to stay.  I wanted Foa Foa to maintain that integrity that they worked so hard to stay together, so I had no problem.

Gordon: I spoke with “Danger” Dave and Laura over the past few weeks, and they maintain that they never slighted you or tried to make you feel like an outcast. How do you respond to that?
Shambo:
I think those guys have to own a quiet moment and try to figure out what it is they have done. I know there are things that I have done, and I think that the hatchet just really needs to be buried. Everybody knows what they owned, and far be it from me to disparage anyone at this point. It would be senseless. I don’t really have any comment, other than I’m glad I made some great friends while I was out there.
Gordon: Who would you consider to be your great friends?
Shambo: Definitely Johnny and Jaison because they’re beautiful, good, decent human beings. Yasmin…Russ with his redneck, disparaging-others values. Hopefully I’ll have an influence on him so he can live his life in a different manner, but he is a great guy. Mick, Natalie, Ashley, Erik…those guys I will probably my entire life have friendships with. Those guys are all on my Christmas card mailing list.

Gordon: You were in charge of the chickens in camp, and there were some problems there…
Shambo:
Everything that was shown on television is not always what happened. The funny thing is, if you do nothing, you can’t be accused of doing anything wrong. I was cleaning the chicken coop, and one of the chickens got away. One of the chickens got away on my watch, but I caught that same chicken.
Gordon: You and “Danger” Dave had a disagreement over how the chicken was prepared. I still want to know, how was that chicken?
Shambo: The day that we made the soup, every single individual that was there said it was the best thing that they had eaten, even from food reward challenges.

Gordon: The training that goes into becoming a U.S. Marine is pretty intense. But, in “Survivor” it seemed like your emotions were getting in the way of how you were playing game. I guess my question is; how would you compare the two experiences?
Shambo:
It’s nothing like the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps can prepare you for life better than any university in the world. But, in the Marine Corps there’s a band of brotherhood where you are always looking out for each other, and “Survivor” is the exact opposite. As far as appearing to be emotional, I am an incredibly emotional human being. Do I get my feelings hurt sometimes? Absolutely. But, I was true to myself, and if I felt like crying I wasn’t going to hide it. Maybe it’ll be an inspiration to other people to be true to their emotions.

Gordon: Was it rough last night to hear the things Russell had to say about you to Mick, or was that just part of his game?
Shambo:
I was laughing at the TV watching it with loved ones. They were pretty disturbed, but I said, “You guys, on more than one occasion, Russ, Jeff Probst, everyone was bugging me about my mullet.”  And Russ would say, “Shambo, I know you’re hiding bananas up in your hair, give me a banana!” And I will guarantee you there wasn’t anybody out there that wasn’t packing some major breath. There’s no personal hygiene other than swamp water. Did I have mack daddy breath? Absolutely. Did Russell? I’m not going to answer that cause Russell is a bad guy and Shambo is a good guy.

Gordon: OK, let’s talk about some fun stuff. Tell me about that Samoan feast.
Shambo:
Oh my God, that was absolutely, positively the time of my life. When I heard that “Survivor” was going to Samoa and I was cast on that show, that’s what I wanted to do. Meeting the people, and drinking with the chief, and dancing with the locals and little kids, and learning about their hierarchy… I sat there with the chief and with what I think are his advisers, there were about eleven of them, the entire time, about five or six hours straight. It was very informational, uplifting…it was beautiful. It will forever in my mind be one of the best days of my life.
Gordon: When you guys are being rained on, I’m not jealous. When you’re getting smashed in the Schmergen Brawl challenge, I’m not jealous. But when you’re doing stuff like that, I am so jealous.
Shambo: Dude, you stand corrected, the Schmergen Brawl was my favorite competition.
Gordon: Yeah, but I’m a dainty little writer…
Shambo: I’m a forty five year old with multiple surgeries, broken bones, head injuries…but there was so much heart out on that battlefield.

Gordon: If you could choose one moment from “Survivor” that people could remember you by, what would it be?
Shambo:
That’s a good question.
Gordon: Not bad for a dainty, little writer.
Shambo: I would say having the honor of being with the Samoan tribe that we got to dine with. I was pretty buzzed, and didn’t have full recall. But watching it last night and seeing me make that toast, it was a moment. I got a little teary eyed. I loved being there.

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Episode 13 Recap: Foa Foa No More-a?

December 17, 2009

Last Week: Brett won immunity, Russell lost his cool, and ‘Danger’ Dave and Monica received an all-expense paid trip to the jury.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

Aiga (Samoan for “Extended Family”)

Brett – 23 – T-shirt Designer
Jaison – 28 – Law Student
Mick – 33 – Doctor
Natalie – 26 – Pharmaceutical Sales
Russell H. – 36 – Oil Company Owner
Shannon – 45 – Sales

We start off with a disturbing image…Brett giving Shambo a mullet massage. A mulletsage? Brett might deserve the million.

The following morning, we meet up with Brett (twice in one episode?!) as he quotes scripture to Natalie. Natalie seems to have a strong faith as well and is happy that she and Brett have that in common.

Meanwhile, a less deep conversation is taking place between Russell, Shambo, and Jaison.  The topic? Shambo’s glorious mullet (twice in one episode?!) and how large it has gotten. Unfortunately, this blog isn’t really a visual medium. So, I’ll do my best to paint a picture using words…her mullet has expanded to full Wookiee proportions.

Russell laughs as he tells us that Shambo smuggles food in her mullet. I’m not sure if he’s joking or not.

Reward Challenge:
A huge net contraption is holding a large amount of coconuts. The players will be broken into two teams of three. One at a time, the players will have to remove a string from the net. Their goal is to find a string that will release as few coconuts as possible. The first tribe to release 100 coconuts loses. The winning tribe will join a Samoan tribe for a feast. They’ll also get to spend the night in the village, sleeping on a mattress with pillows and blankets.

Russell and Natalie will serve as captains and choose teams. Natalie chooses Brett (which raises some eyebrows), Russell chooses Jaison, Natalie chooses Mick, and Russell ends up with Shambo.

As Shambo is choosing the first rope to pull, J-Pro asks Shambo what she calls her hairstyle. Shambo responds with “Shambo-licious, baby.”

OK, that’s way worse than last week’s “Sham with the plan.”

Probst continues with his coif-based grilling, asking her how long she’s sported her mullet. She says since 1986.

For those of you keeping score at home, Brett was born in 1986.

Round 1: Shambo releases four coconuts, Mick releases two coconuts.

Before the second round starts, Natalie and Brett say a few words to the Almighty as “Prayer Warriors.”

OK, we’ve discussed this in the past. I don’t think God is going to slip Shambo pointers about who to vote off, and I don’t think God is going to pick sides when a barbecue is at stake.

Round 2: Jaison releases seven coconuts, Natalie releases a lone coconut. The score is Team Russell 11, Team Natalie 3.

Round 3: Russell releases eight coconuts, Brett releases one coconut. Team Russell 19, Team Natalie 4.

Round 4: Shambo releases ten coconuts, Mick releases nineteen coconuts. Team Russell 29, Team Natalie 23.

Round 5: Jaison releases forty eight coconuts. Before Natalie can pull her string, Shambo predicts Natalie will drop fifty eight coconuts. Natalie pulls her string, and sure enough, fifty eight coconuts drop from the net. Team Russell 77, Team Natalie 81. Maybe God is giving Shambo pointers.

Round 6:
Russell uses his evil powers to pull a string that doesn’t drop a single coconut. Brett pulls a string that releases a coconut avalanche. Team Russell wins the reward.

At the feast, Jaison, Shambo, and Russell are treated to pineapple, lobster, crab, roast pig, and other island delicacies.  After he ate, Jaison informed us that he’s “About to get jiggy with it.” With that, he got up and danced with Shambo, Russell, and the Samoans. It is unknown if he eventually cut a rug.

That night, the three of them made the decision to vote Brett out next. They also decided that Mick will be their target if Brett wins immunity.

The next morning, Russell pulls Natalie aside to make sure there wasn’t an ulterior motive with her decision to choose Brett. Russell shows how smart he is by playing it off like Jaison and Shambo were concerned with her choice.

Immunity Challenge: The players will run across a field to six bins. Each of the bins has a certain amount of items (pigs, rocks, fish, crabs, squid, and coconuts). The number of items in these bins are the same as the numbers in the combination of a lock. The first person to get all of the correct numbers and open their combination lock wins immunity.

Russell, Brett, and Jaison manage to get all of the numbers first.  Brett arrives shortly afterward. They all race to input their numbers into the lock.

Jaison has the wrong numbers, Mick has the wrong numbers, but “The Little Galu That Could” has the right numbers. Brett wins his second consecutive immunity challenge.

Back from the challenge, Jaison approaches Russell about voting out Shambo instead of Mick. However, Jaison didn’t take into account one of the most basic “Survivor” rules…

DON’T TALK ABOUT BLINDSIDING SOMEONE WHEN THEY’RE RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

Shambo was literally a few steps behind Jaison when this conversation took place. Maybe Jaison didn’t think she could hear him through all that hair…

Shambo didn’t hear what Jaison said, but once he saw her he ran off. Naturally, she thinks something is up. Russell tried to play it off, but wasn’t entirely successful.

Later, Russell breaks down the Shambo vs. Mick conundrum. Shambo is loyal, terrible at challenges, and can’t win at the final tribal council, but Mick is an athlete who could help them defeat Brett.

That night at tribal council, Shambo admits that she betrayed the former members of Galu. Natalie agrees with Jeff’s assessment that nobody on the jury would vote for Shambo.

Russell lets us know that he trusts Shambo as much as he trusts the other Foa Foa members. I’m assuming he doesn’t trust anyone at all, so technically that wasn’t a lie.

Shambo tells us that Brett is a threat because he stayed “Loyal to a fault” to Galu.

Brett says his strategy is to keep winning immunities. Really, Brett? Way to go out on a limb there.

Russell says this is the first time he’ll feel bad about voting someone out.

Jeff lets Russell know that this is the last time he’ll be able to use his immunity idol. Russell decides against it because he’d like to keep the idol as a souvenir. Russell is the king.

Quick Aside: OK, being the king aside, moves like that are keeping me from joining in the “Russell is the best player ever” discussion. All that move did was entertain the folks at home and annoy the jury. Most entertaining player ever? Possibly. Best player ever? Not in my book.

Voting Time: Mick votes for Shambo, Shambo votes for Mick, and the rest are victims of editing magic. One vote for Shambo, one vote for Mick, two votes for Shambo, and the seventh member of the jury is…Shambo.

Verdict: I’m not sure how I feel about the Shambo vs. Mick decision. I think I agree with the decision to keep Mick. If Brett wins two more immunities, he’s a millionaire. It’s as simple as that.

Who’s Going to Win?
Russell’s the favorite, but I could still see Natalie sneaking in there.

What Do You Think? Was Russell’s idol move stupid? Is Russell the best player in “Survivor” history? Who’s your pick to take home the check Sunday?

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Power Rankings Challenge: Week 12

December 17, 2009

The Rules: Each week, “Survivor: Tocantins’s” Tamara “Taj” George and your beloved “Survivor” recapper Gordon “Truth Seeker” Holmes will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of that Thursday’s episode will determine the number of points the two combatants will earn. For example, if Mick is voted out this week, Taj will receive 2 points and Gordon will receive 5 points. At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Samoa” Power Rankings Challenge Champion and be presented with the coveted Golden Probsty Award.

Last Episode: Both “Danger” Dave and Monica were voted out in a dual elimination episode. This helped Taj gain some ground on Gordon as she earned 14 points while he only received a measly 7 points. The current score is now Taj: 128, Gordon: 131.

Taj’s Picks:

Rank Last Week Contestant Comment
1 1 Russell H.: Whatever Evil Russell wants, Evil Russell gets! Evil Russell is determined to win “Survivor: Samoa” and I believe he will. Every week I want to believe that someone will take a stand and take him out but no such luck thus far! It looks like Mick and Natalie might try to stand up in the weeks to come but I’m tired of getting my hopes up. Go Evil Russell!
2 2 Mick: He’s doing better in the challenges as the game is coming to an end. Things are looking much better for Mick but nothing is set in stone. Now it appears that he has created a side alliance with Natalie and Brett. Good for him! It’s good for him that there will be three sitting in front of the jury instead of two. He actually has a chance of winning.
3 3 Natalie: I really like this girl. She’s a little spitfire. I think if she can make it to the final three like Brett and Mick are promising her she will take the money from both of them. If not Evil Russell, my vote is for Natalie.
4 4 Jaison: I like the guy but I’m not seeing enough drive or determination from him. He’s playing too low to the field. If he doesn’t find a strategic bone in his body soon he’ll be the next to go after Shambo. No one really needs him anymore. He needs to find a way to get the other players out or win challenges to be able to stick around. Neither seems likely!
5 5 Brett: This guy is dangerous. He’s good at challenges and he is sweet enough for someone to want to be in an alliance with him. With that being said, the entire jury so far is comprised of the Galu tribe. If Brett is in the final three his tribe may just vote for him to get back at the Foa Foa tribe. If the remaining Foa Foa members are smart they would get rid of Brett and Shambo, respectively.
6 7 Shannon: What a cute character. Now its time to go bye, bye! Shambo actually thought that she was in complete control of the game. I really dislike when contestants on a game like “Survivor,” where one is expected to outplay, outwit, and outlast the competition, complains when someone is not being honest. What in the world?! Until Shambo learns the name of the game, I think she should sit on the jury and watch and learn. But I still think she’s a doll.

Gordon’s Picks:

Rank Last Week Contestant Comment
1 3
Russell H.: With the immunity idol out and in the open, he might as well use it this week for fear of them trying to flush it out. As far as the rest of his game, you’re going to hear a lot of talk about Russell being the best player of all time. I won’t go that far, but I would easily dub him “Most Entertaining.”
2 4 Shannon: Our favorite chicken whisperer is the only person on this list who can’t win this game. There’s no way she can win a jury vote unless the person she’s up against punches a kitten, a puppy, and a baby during their final tribal council speech. With that being said, Shambo must be the popular pick to take to the end.
3 1 Natalie: Right now I’m predicting a Natalie/Shambo/Russell final three. And if that happens, the only way Natalie can win is if the “I Vote for Nice People” jury members outnumber the “I Vote for Strong Strategy” members.
4 6 Jaison: Does Jaison really think that he and Russell have been making all the decisions? Really?! I can’t imagine Jaison taking home the top prize. The vibe I get from the players I’ve interviewed is that Jaison isn’t very well respected at all.
5 7 Mick: Mick: The Foa Foa Four can’t last forever. I think when it’s time to start cutting some people loose, Russell’s going to bounce Mick first.
6 8 Brett: All of the former Galu members seem to think Brett has been playing an amazing game. I’ll have to take their word for it, because we haven’t seen much. I’d imagine he’ll be joining the jury as soon as he loses an immunity challenge.

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – ‘Danger’ Dave Ball

December 11, 2009

We’ve learned a lot of things during this season of “Survivor.” Never feel safe at tribal council, never choose shampoo over a tarp, and most importantly, never question the way Shambo prepares chicken. “Danger” Dave Ball made the mistake of starting a chicken fight with Shambo, and now he’s sitting on the jury. We caught up with “Danger” Dave the day after his dismissal to get his thoughts on Russell’s crazy strategies, Laura’s misleading portrayal, and Shambo’s culinary talents…

Gordon Holmes: “Danger Dave!
“Danger” Dave Ball: Gordon…I don’t know your nickname…
Gordon: Feel free to come up with one for me.
Dave: “Throbbing” Gordon!
Gordon: Oh…
Dave: Not bad, huh? They don’t call me “Danger” for nothing, baby!
Gordon: I wasn’t sure if I’d be talking to you or Monica, so I have to shuffle some of these questions.
Dave: Like “How good do I look in a bikini now that I’ve gained some weight back?”
Gordon: How good do you look in a bikini now that you’ve gained some weight back?
Dave: Spectacular!
Gordon: I don’t think I like where this interview is heading, “Danger” Dave.
Dave: (Laughing) I think you like it just fine, “Throbbing” Gordon.

Gordon: Alright, let’s get back on track here. You’re on this show called “Survivor” and there’s a gentleman named Russell who seems to be a dominant force on that show. What was your impression of him while you were in Samoa?
Dave: Skeevy. You could tell he was just a fast-talking, shiny-haired…well, if he had hair…used car salesman.
Gordon: When he’d come to you with ideas like voting out Shambo, did you know he was playing you?
Dave: Did it look like I bought it?
Gordon: Not really.
Dave: I’m just checking. That’d be stupid. I’m dangerous in a very real way where Shambo is dangerous in a completely different and also real way. She’s dangerous with instability where I’m dangerous with game-playing prowess.

Gordon: Now that you’ve watched the show and seen Russell’s behind-the-scenes maneuvers, how do you feel about him?
Dave: At first I thought he was a little crazy with that strategy, but in a weird way I can see how it made his tribe so weak they had to depend on him. It’s like an aggressive form of co-dependence creation.  It’s a bold move, and you have to give him that.
Gordon: Does it bother you at all that he’s become somewhat of a fan favorite?
Dave: Yeah, a little bit.
Gordon: I talked to Laura and she said they’re not showing how aggressive he’s been.
Dave: He was pretty aggressive and obnoxious behind the scenes.
Gordon: Last night they discussed his oil company, but he has also said he was a New Orleans fire fighter. Is everyone buying this?
Dave: When he told me he was a fire fighter, I believed him. Because why would someone lie about that, and why would I care? Part of me thought it was true, because how horrible of a person would you have to be to lie about something like that? It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes home and someone punches him right in the face. That’s a line you don’t cross.


Gordon: I heard a rumor from John that you have the title of the player with the highest IQ in “Survivor” history.
Dave: That is a pretty, pretty loaded rumor, isn’t it?
Gordon: And you were told this?
Dave: Jeff Probst actually said it in the pre-game online stuff.
Gordon: And John said the worst thing to happen to you was knowing you had the highest IQ.
Dave: You know, John doesn’t really know how to play the game, so he wouldn’t know what would work. He really relies on his brain, but he has a certain kind of intelligence instead of a well-rounded spectrum of intelligence. And, he’s a little insecure about it.
Gordon: Did it ever come into play?
Dave: It was a little stressful, the first day the chief had to pick players, and our chief chose Shambo as the smartest one. The very first thing out of Jeff Probst’s mouth was, “Dave Ball, how do you feel that you didn’t get picked to be the smartest one.” And I was like “You son of …” He’s outing me. I was so mad. I just thought it was some kind of bone he had to pick with me.  But then when I went back and watched the show I realized he didn’t have a bone to pick at all, I just made this face like, “Are you kidding me? She’s a retard!”
Gordon: Dave, there’s one thing I won’t stand for, and that’s anyone calling Jeff Probst names.
Dave: Have you got a man crush, Gordon?
Gordon: A little bit.
Dave: “Throbbing” Gordon, ladies and gentlemen.
Gordon: Do you think John was jealous he didn’t get the title of best-looking rocket scientist in “Survivor” history?
Dave: Oh no, John’s like Fabio. That’s what I called him before I actually knew his name.

Gordon: OK…let’s get to your buddy Shambo.
Dave: She’s a piece of work isn’t she?
Gordon: Indeed. Did that chicken fight go down the way they showed it? Did she just go ballistic on anyone who dared to doubt how she was preparing the chicken?
Dave: Yeah.
Gordon: And we never got any closure on this question; how was that chicken?
Dave: I didn’t really get any because I had a moment where I decided to go out on the beach and chill. I won every single reward while I was out there. I ate better than anyone else. By the time I made it back all that was left were a couple of feet. So, I learned to eat chicken feet. And you know what? It was good enough for my grandparents during the depression so it’s good enough for me!

Gordon: You guys were portrayed as being mean to Shambo, but we never really saw it. Laura especially seemed to get a bad rap. What can you tell us about her?
Dave: Laura is a champion. She is one of the best people I know. She is a touchstone. I will love and cherish her for the rest of my life. If I had to choose a team to go back using five people you give me Laura, Brett, Erik, and Kelly and I’ll beat anybody in the game of “Survivor.” We didn’t shun Shambo, Shambo just has so many demons from the past. And she took out her rage on us. We worked so hard to be nice to her that we were snapping at each other. We were holding in our frustration with Shambo who is mentally and emotionally ill.

Gordon: Now, you mentioned a Brett? I’m sorry, there’s a Brett in this game?
Dave: Gordon, watch your mouth, buddy. Don’t be funny. Brett’s a champ.
Gordon: I’m not going to disparage this person, I just don’t know who he is.
Dave: Then why are you asking a question about him?
Gordon: If there is a player named Brett out there; what’s he doing? What kind of strategy is he employing?
Dave: Dude, he’s the best player in the game. He is as smart as I am, smarter because he has a handle on the social game that I didn’t. He was my touchstone. He’s a smart guy, he’s a great guy, he’s my best friend.
Gordon: Has he been making moves we haven’t seen?
Dave: Absolutely, he and I controlled the game up until Russell and Shambo pulled off the crazy upset.
Gordon: You were about to get really offended if I said something bad about Brett.
Dave: I was.
Gordon: I think you have a man crush on Brett.
Dave: I am not particularly moved one way or the other by what you think.
Gordon: (Laughs) We could man-double, you and Brett, me and Jeff.
Dave: MAN DOUBLE! “Throbbing” Gordon, out on the town.
Gordon: You’re going to get me in so much trouble.

Gordon: OK, word association time. Let’s start off with Jaison...
Dave: Weak.
Gordon: Mick?
Dave: Nice guy.
Gordon: Shambo?
Dave: Crazy.
Gordon: Jeff Probst?
Dave: Awesome.
Gordon: Natalie?
Dave: She’s adorable.
Gordon: Coconut bowling?
Dave: (Laughs) Pathetic.
Gordon: Laura?
Dave: Champion.
Gordon: Brett?
Dave: Champion.

Gordon: What do you take from your time in Samoa?
Dave: This weird rash that I can not get rid of…just kidding. I take a family. Brett, Laura, Kelly…they’re my family, dude. I love them. I’d do anything for them.

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Episode 12 Recap: ShamBowling!

December 10, 2009

Last Week: Shambo got into a bizarre fight with Danger Dave over chicken preparation. She wanted him to go, but the Foa Foa Four decided to target John. The Foa Foa Four went behind her back and made a deal with Dave to send John to the jury.

Some people think chicken soup is good for making you feel better when you’re sick. Last week we learned it’s also good for fracturing alliances.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here is the tribe as it currently stands…

Aiga (Samoan for “Extended Family”)

Brett – 23 – T-shirt Designer
Dave – 38 – Fitness Instructor
Jaison – 28 – Law Student
Mick – 33 – Doctor
Monica – 25 – Law Student
Natalie – 26 – Pharmaceutical Sales
Russell H. – 36 – Oil Company Owner
Shannon – 45 – Sales

CBS is promising Russell’s most shocking tribal council maneuver ever. At this point, the only thing Russell could do that would surprise me is to figure out a way to vote Probst out.

We meet up with the tribe as they return from tribal council. Shambo is not pleased that she was left in the dark regarding the John vote. Russell tells her that John had been gunning for her and they did it so she wouldn’t have to break her vow never to vote for John. Shambo shrugs it off saying she would have voted for Dave anyways. Man, she takes that chicken stuff seriously.

The next morning, Jaison sidles up next to Monica and Brett to discuss strategy.

Quick Aside: Brett is like the “Survivor” Ninja. He’s been out there for like a month now, but you never see him.

Jaison asks them who they’d vote for if they were on the jury. They inform him that they might vote for Russell because he’s played such a strong game. Jaison is offended by this because he thinks he and Russell have had an equal say in what’s been going on.  Wow…Russell’s got him fooled.

Jaison drops the bomb that Russell already has a lot of money. The “Survivor” Ninja says this could affect how he votes. He then throws a smoke ball on the ground and disappears.

Another Quick Aside: I don’t like the idea that you vote for someone based on how much money they have. At the end of the day, it’s a competition. Vote for someone based on how well they play the game.

First Immunity Challenge: Um…it’s literally a game of bowling. One ball, two throws, ten pins.  Way to go, creative team. Oh well, at least they’re not running out to get puzzle pieces, then putting that puzzle together. The players will be randomly paired off to compete in a single frame.

Opening Round: Shambo defeats Natalie, Russell eliminates Brett, Jaison beats Monica, and Danger Dave nails a strike to bounce Mick.

Semifinal Round:
Shambo bests Russell while Jaison beats Dave “Gutter” Ball.

Final Round: Shambo throws two gutter balls, Jaison does slightly better hitting three pins to win his second straight immunity challenge.

Back at camp, Dave realizes that he’s the lowest man on the totem pole. Monica goes to bat for him, trying to talk Russell into bouncing Shambo. She even refers to it as “planting the seed.” She’s like an adorable junior Russell.

Russell seems more interested in the Shambo idea then you’d think he would be, even going so far as to discuss it with Dave.

Shambo doesn’t seem too concerned with this. During a strategy discussion, she even refers to herself as “The Sham with the Plan.” That’s it, after that nickname I’m on board with Shambo going home too.

That night at tribal council, Shambo says she was more blindsided than John was during the last vote. Probst thinks she’s trying to work the jury. I’m not sure Shambo knows there is a jury.

Dave explains his strategy of telling people that he’s a good person to take to the finals. Russell says he agrees with this, and the game now comes down to sticking with people you can beat. Ominous music plays as Mick and Jaison look over at Russell.

Voting Time: Shambo votes for Danger, Danger votes for Shambo, and you know the drill with the rest. One vote for Shambo, three votes for Dave…and the fifth member of the jury is…Danger Dave.

The next morning, Russell tells the rest of Foa Foa that the biggest threat is Brett. Wait, who?

Russell thinks Brett is far too likable to keep around. Has Russell just now started reading the Power Rankings?!

Mick pulls Russell aside to tell him that he’s a little worried about Russell’s comment the night before about who he wants to take to the finals.  Have we learned nothing?! Never challenge Russell or you’re going home John-style!

Second Immunity Challenge: The players will run out into the ocean to retrieve a bag. They’ll then return to the beach and try to catapult the bag into a bin. They’ll then swim out to get their next bag and continue the process. The first person to get three bags in their bin wins.

Not much to describe in this one. Brett gets out to an early lead and doesn’t give it up. Brett wins his first immunity.

Back at camp, Monica realizes that she’s taken Danger Dave’s place as the new low person on the totem pole. Monica and the “Survivor” Ninja chat with Mick and try to convince him that Russell is going to take Shambo and Natalie to the final three.

Monica and Russell have a conversation where Monica claims that Jaison told her that Russell has the idol. She also says that Natalie told her that Russell makes a lot of money.

And…Russell snaps. He goes after Natalie for spilling the beans to Monica. She denies it. Russell then goes after Brett to find out how they found out about the money. He rats out Jaison.

It’s getting ugly at Aiga camp.

Russell lets us know that he feeds on being angry, and that if he feels any kind of threat at all that he’ll play his immunity idol.

Tribal council starts…and Russell stands up and puts his hidden immunity idol around his neck! Russell is the king!

Russell lets us know that the idol doesn’t put a target on his back. Monica disagrees.

Monica and Russell are going back and forth to the point that I think Monica is going home and is mouthing off because she has nothing to lose.

Russell thinks that if Monica had played the game from the beginning the way she played it that day, that she’d be in a better position.

Mick says he isn’t naïve and knows that only one of them can win the million dollars.

Voting Time: Russell votes for Monica, Monica votes for Russell, and the rest blah blah blah… Probst asks if anyone wants to play the idol. Russell does not.

One vote for Monica, one vote for Russell, one vote for Monica, one vote for Russell, one vote for Monica, and the sixth member of the jury is…Monica.

Verdict: This season is top five…easily.

Who’s Going to Win? I’m still liking Natalie at this point.

What Do You Think?
Was Russell’s idol move brilliant or stupid? Where does this season rank for you? Could anyone beat Brett against a Galu-heavy jury?

‘Survivor: Samoa’ Power Rankings Challenge: Week 11

December 10, 2009

The Rules: Each week, “Survivor: Tocantins’s” Tamara “Taj” George and your beloved “Survivor” recapper Gordon “Truth Seeker” Holmes will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of that Thursday’s episode will determine the number of points the two combatants will earn. For example, if Monica is voted out this week, Taj will receive 8 points and Gordon will receive 2 points. At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Samoa” Power Rankings Challenge Champion and be presented with the coveted Golden Probsty Award.

Last Episode: The fourth back-stabbing (back stabbery?) in a row sent John to the jury. This shocking move earned Taj 3 points and Gordon 6 points. The current score is now Taj: 114, Gordon: 124.

Taj’s Picks:

Rank Last Week Contestant Comment
1 1 Russell H.: Simply because I have never seen anyone play the game so well and so diligently as Russell.  I would hate for him to lose after all that he has done to get this far.  It looks like Mick might try to pull the wool over on Russell.  Well, we all know what happens to anyone that tries to pull one over on Russell.
2 4 Mick: He’s beginning to use his head finally!  He’s a doctor for God’s sake!  If Mick can successfully overthrow Russell, he might stand a chance at winning.  Slim chance though!
3 7 Natalie: This girl is so tough.  I really like her.  She successfully planted seeds in the heads of the Galu ladies to help get rid of Erik, she killed a rat on her own and fed the tribe, in the last challenge she almost outlasted all of the men.  Hell, if it wasn’t for Jaison having leverage in the challenge, I’m positive she would’ve taken him.  I see her outsmarting all of the guys to make it to the end.
4 6 Jaison: I’m happy that he was able to finally win immunity.  He needed that because he was surely on the chopping block several times this season.  I like his independent thinking but it might work against him.  Hopefully, he and Mick will be able to put their heads together to make it to the end.  Fat chance!  Lol!
5 8 Brett: Brett seems like he will know when to fold ‘em.  It is very clear that Galu has lost the momentum and it is only a matter of time before the Foa Foa tribe finds a way to knock each one of them off.  He needs to pull a Shambo and cross over as soon as possible.  It just might be too late!
6 2 Dave: Dave is a terrible leader.  He doesn’t listen to his tribe when they’re actually telling him valuable information.  Now, he’s on the outside looking in.  Dave knows that it is just a matter of time.  Smooches!
7 5 Shannon: She is pissed at her alliance.  They went against her wishes to vote out Dave and voted John out.  She’s looking for an explanation that no one can give her.  I think her emotional wrath is about to bite her in the butt.
8 9 Monica: Its just time for her to go.  I understand that there are more important people to get rid of before her but no more please!  I’m placing my vote for Monica!

Gordon’s Picks:

Rank Last Week Contestant Comment
1 2
Natalie: I’m a little concerned putting Natalie this high as she’s seen as Russell’s right hand man (er…woman). But, she’s been playing an amazing game. In years past in the case of an uprising, Russell would go first. But with that immunity idol in his pocket, Natalie could get the fake-out vote to flush it out.
2 3 Monica: I can’t believe I’m ranking Monica this high. But, if you think about it, she’s not really a threat to anyone at this point. Everyone thinks she coasted on Laura’s coattails. She could make it to the end if she strikes the right deal.
3 1 Russell: Let me preface this by saying “Russell is the man.” This season would have been a boring disaster without him. That being said, he’s always going to have a target on his back. His strategy is effective, but it’s also extremely dangerous.
4 5 Shambo: Wow…Shambo.  Just, wow. She’s a piece of work. My sister had a good point when she asked if Shambo was really a marine. Aren’t they supposed to be known for keeping their cool? That chicken display last week over the soup was just embarrassing.
5 8 Danger Dave: Danger Dave dodged a bullet last week. I think he’ll be OK this week unless they vote him off just to placate Shambo.
6 4 Jaison: Kudos to Jaison for buying the immunity advantage last week. Seriously, they offer that advantage every season, why doesn’t someone just save their money and go, “Boom, five hundred dollars! Cough it up, Probst.”
7 7 Mick: I could’ve put Mick in Jaison’s spot, because they’re basically the same guy at this point. They’re like the High Tax Bracket Alliance. Eventually Russell’s going to have to trim the fat (or muscle in this case) and they’ll be gone.
8 9 Brett: Have you seen this man? Rumor has it he’s been lurking in the background of the reality television show “Survivor.” If located, please report to Russell Hantz so he may orchestrate his dismissal. Thank you.

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview – John Fincher

December 6, 2009

The thing about ‘Survivor’ is four morons can vote off three rocket scientists all day long and there’s nothing you can do about it.” – Randy Bailey: “Survivor: Gabon”

We’re not calling the members of Foa Foa morons, but Randy’s theory was proven correct this past week when Rocket Scientist John Fincher was voted out of “Survivor: Samoa.” When we caught up with John the next day, he told us why Russell was right to vote him off, which player was told he had the highest IQ in “Survivor” history, and how important wind resistance is to the process of constructing a shelter.

Gordon Holmes: Did you see last night’s blindside coming at all?
John Fincher:
Russell was being very truthful when he said it was a very strategic day. Lots of stuff was going on. I didn’t know who was going home. I like to have as much information as possible, and the second you don’t know you’re in trouble. So when I asked Monica, Brett, and Dave who they were voting for and they said Mick and then I asked Foa Foa and they said Dave, it was like…wait a second Galu, you’re dumb but you’re not this dumb. One quick conversation with Dave and Russell on the beach, and that’s all it takes. And you can’t be everywhere at the same time.

Gordon: You just said that Galu was dumb, when did you sour on them?
John:
That’s an interesting point. I don’t think I can pinpoint one exact thing. There are several decisions that were being made that I disagreed with, like the Erik vote. But there comes a point where you can’t do anything and you just have to go. Picking Russell to vote the night Kelly went home? I was against that. There’s a time to get Russell, but that wasn’t the appropriate time. There were several decisions that were made and at some point you can’t keep going along with it. But it was less of me souring on Galu, and more of me becoming a more powerful player.

Gordon: At this point, you and Russell are playing the game on a much different level than everyone else. Why should Russell have kept you around if you’re a physical and strategic threat?
John:
At that point, Russell shouldn’t have kept me around. One of the things I’ve said is Foa Foa is a great team. At the beginning Dave and Brett thought we were a great team because we were winning challenges. That doesn’t make you a great team. Foa Foa continues to make the right choice. They establish goals, they plan toward that goal, and they accomplish them. Russell was right to take me out when he did. If I had gotten Mick, a lot of power would have shifted toward me.

Gordon: What was your opinion of Russell while you were out there?
John:
Very similar to what you see on television.
Gordon: Did you trust him?
John: No, certainly not. He’s very charming and has an ability to connect with you at times. But he can get overtly aggressive at times. But I didn’t trust him. You hear people say “I can’t trust this person, I can’t trust that person.” You can’t trust anyone, not just Russell.
Gordon: Now that you’ve seen what’s been going on with the burning of the socks and the releasing of the chickens, what do you think of Russell now?
John: (Laughs) I found Russell’s pranks to be very amusing. When I was watching that on TV, everyone was telling me, “I hate that Russell guy.” And I was thinking, “Damn it, I wish I would have thought to burn someone’s socks!” Russell and I are from the same cloth in the sense that both of us operate better in chaos than other people can. When people are panicking, that’s when I’m at my best. I’m amused, his pranks are funny.

Gordon: The opposite side of that spectrum is Shambo, who seems to take minor slights very seriously. Was she portrayed accurately?
John:
I think that the Shambo character is being portrayed pretty close to accurately. Shambo is a nice person, she’s a good person. But, she’s a little bit hard to work with in a situation like “Survivor” because she’s very stubborn. I don’t mean that as an insult, but she’s hard to work with. She’s very emotional.

Gordon: If Galu had stayed in control, what was your plan heading into the end of the game.
John:
That was something that I wasn’t going to let happen. The very controlled world of going one, two, three, four…Foa Foa, Foa Foa, Foa Foa, was way too easy for me to let happen. So, I wouldn’t mind picking off one or two, but for the right reasons. Galu says they want to pick off Jaison. Well, why Jaison? Because he’s lazy and doesn’t do enough around camp. Really? It’s day nineteen, you think I care if someone’s lazy? I’ll open coconuts for you all day long for a million dollars.

Gordon: How strong was the Galu guy alliance?
John:
Brett was basically on the girls’ team and “Danger” Dave Ball…the worst thing that happened to “Danger” Dave was when the producers told him he had the highest IQ in “Survivor” history.

Gordon: Alright, let’s do some word association.
John:
(Laughs) This is going to be bad, but OK.
Gordon: It tends to be. We’ll start with Danger Dave.
John: Out of his mind.
Gordon: Shambo?
John: Too nice to play that game.
Gordon: Jeff Probst?
John: Professional.
Gordon: Laura?
John: A bit out of touch with reality. No pun intended.
Gordon: Murdered chickens?
John: Yummy.
Gordon: Jaison?
John: Intellectual.
Gordon: Wind resistance as it applies to shelter construction?
John: (Laughs) Crucial…crucial!

Gordon: So, did Randy Bailey’s theory on rocket scientists vs. morons hold true?
John:
(Laughs) I couldn’t have said it better!


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