It's all in how you play the game
On Thanksgiving my family gathered to show our appreciation and love for each other, play games, eat turkey…. and watch the recap episode of Survivor. At first I was a little put off that my family was wasting time this way, but as I tuned in, I quickly became intrigued with oilman and Houstonian Russell Hantz (actually he’s from Dayton, but the media seems to understand that as Houston).
Upon first observation, I couldn’t believe he was the character my family described as cunning, shrewd and even evil. There’s nothing attractive about him and “mastermind” is not the first description that popped into my head. As we learned with Richard in Season 1, looks can be deceiving and it’s this initial response that Russell uses to his advantage.
Unbeknownst to his fellow competitors, Russell has three different alliance categories– his secret alliance, “dumb-ass girl” alliance, and “strong guys” alliance- and yes, he named them. Its a tricky game managing where he stands with each teammate, but this self-proclaimed “puppet master” has found success with his methods and managed to outlive 11 other contestants.
How does he do it? In his own words, “I’m not going out there to make friends. I’m just not doing it. But everybody is going to think I’m their best friend, because I’m just such a lovable character.”
He’s definitely a memorable character, but lovable… that’s debatable. It seems that among viewers, and his teammates, people either love him or hate him. While he has duped many contestants, there are others who would love to vote him off, and that’s where his skill at finding immunity idols has come into play.
It seems that every time he turns around he’s finding another immunity idol giving him more and more power over the team. His fellow competitors, once again, have been a step behind not believing he could find as many hidden immunity idols as he has.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the real reason many viewers hate him is because he’s constantly sabotaging his team and instigating chaos. From setting their hard-earned chickens loose, to pouring his teammate’s water out, to hiding the team’s flint and framing another– Russell’s constantly creating an uproar.
What’s completely sickening about it all is that Russell admits to not needing the money. He’s confided in one other teammate, but the rest of the team believes him to be average when, in actuality, his oil company has made him a millionaire (or so he says). What a Texan!
Where all of this will lead is yet to be seen, but I know I’ll be tuning in Thursday to continue watching the psychology of Russell Hantz unfold.