Survivor

Stephen's Survivor Strategy Blog: What Happened to Ralph – and Russell?

03/10/2011 at 10:00 AM EST

Survivor: Redemption Island - Russell Hatch, Rob Mariano
Stephen Fishbach (left) and Ralph Kiser
Monty Brinton/Landov(2)
"He who uses force unsparingly ... will obtain superiority if his adversary uses less vigor." – Carl von Clausewitz, On War

If Russell had to go, I'm glad he went with thunder. Wednesday on Survivor, the puppetmaster outed the Zapatera hierarchy and goaded rooster Ralph into revealing his idol, while the country boy struggled to stutter out a response. And that was after he'd been eliminated from the show.

For having more game in a few parting minutes than most players have in 39 days, Russell wins a valedictory Fishy. But the actual Fishy, for the player who broke through the most obstacles, goes to ... Sears! Now where's my check?

Craftastic

This actually was one of the better product integrations in recent Survivor history. After last season's Gulliver's Travels abomination, it was refreshing to see a challenge where the sponsor made sense.

Using a crowbar to pry open a box, a saw to cut through boards, and a hammer to smash nails into plates was an innovative way to showcase the product and also to challenge the contestants. Kudos. (Seriously, though, where's my check?)

Ometepe

The real Fishy winner this week is, once again, Awesome Rob. He imagines a "Royal Treatment" game to keep his tribe busy, then invents phantom constipation so he can go out and find the idol – in just over 15 minutes? It's almost like he's creating hurdles to keep himself entertained.



The thing that most impressed me about Rob's dash through the woods was all the digging he did. By day 10 on Survivor, your body is physically exhausted. You can notice it in when you watch – that transition in the contestants' bodies from well-defined to sickly. Rob's frantic shovel-work is pure force of will.

Rob really has an unfair advantage this season. He's had four chances to become the Super-Survivor. The Groupie Alliance wants to build campfires and sing "Kumbaya," and Rob is counting jury votes. Let's call Redemption Island "Fans vs. Favorite." And as in season 16, the fans are about to get squashed.

While the rest of the tribe is annoyed that Phillip is bossy and wears gross underwear, Rob wants to get rid of the one player smart enough to challenge him. Kristina is an actual threat after a merge. She's looking for the immunity idol while Phillip is sweeping up the outdoors.

With Kristina gone, Rob has sealed his dominance. Good move by him, but I'll miss her.

Zapatera

What happened to Ralph? He started the season off so savvy. Sure, he stumbled onto the idol, but he had the good sense to keep quiet about it. And he was amassing such a lovely collection of rocks!

This episode, not only does Ralph tell his entire alliance about the idol, but he tells Russell, Kristina and Phillip at Redemption Island, too. Then to top it all off, he tries to lie about it – right in front of a former federal agent!

The Zapatera alliance of 6 can only keep loyal for so long. At some point, that group is going to splinter – and when they do, someone will have the good sense to blindside Ralph.

Conversely, I'm loving Mike's position. On any other season, the chisel-jawed ex-Marine would be the alpha male everyone was after. But right now, Ralph is sucking up all the ... suck. Mike could very well be waving farewell to his one-time ally from the bleachers at Redemption Island soon.

If Sarita really is running the show, she needs to keep Ralph in check – or pull a Sash and get the idol for herself.

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