Never go to Las Vegas with me.
Before this season started, I would have bet good money that Russell would be the first person out of the game. After all, nobody knew him. He was an outcast. And as he noted in Survivor: Samoa, he was playing with a bunch of dumb-a** blondes. These veteran villains would surely get privy to his wily, sock-burning, water-hiding shenanigans before the first immunity challenge and send his butt back to Texas.
The second person out? Parvati, of course. She won Fans vs. Favorites two years earlier and her strategy (giggle and smile and giggle some more and hope it all works) seemed as shallow as her last name. (Ahem, her last name is Shallow).
So here we are, what, nine episodes in, and not only are these guys still in the game, they're running the game. And, as much as this Survivor fanatic doesn't want to admit it, they're running it masterfully.
The April 22 episode starts with the expected merge. Eat (plantains), drink (coconut water) and be happy (that you're still here). Blah blah. Evil Russell, still holding on to JT's idol, gives the Heroes a fish story about he and Parvati both playing the idol that ends in Courtney's ouster. And yes, they buy it hook, line and sinker.
But the drama (comedy? Dramedy?) is just beginning. Sandra outright tells her fellow Survivor: Pearl Islands alum Rupert about Evil Russell's alliance domination. I'm willing to bet (uh-oh), that she did not even give her children Christmas gifts as large as the one she gave Rupert. Thankfully, he believes her -- but has a difficult time convincing the rest of his alliance. Damn you, Rupert! It's great that you're running a youth center in Indiana and everything, but it's times like this when you really should have considered using that $1 million from All Stars and gone back to law school. Had the tie-dyed one made a better case against Evil Russell (and helped bring Sandra into the alliance), perhaps the Heroes tribe still would have wised up and had a chance.
Instead, they're cooked. Most of them conk out early at the immunity challenge -- an endurance test that involves standing on the side of a pole. (The guys and their big feet have unfair disadvantage, no? Not that that excuses Colby's 30 seconds of grit. Come on, dude.) More important: Sandra may think that Russell is running the show, but little does she realize that it's actually Parvati who has the power. And the hidden immunity idol. And the ability to detect when Amanda is lying. And the ability to one-up the Evil One himself.
The result? A ridiculously entertaining tribal council. Here's the deal: Amanda knows that Parvati has the idol. Amanda tips off her tribe, and they decide that if Parvati decides to hand it off to someone, the least likely recipient would be Jerri. Negative, whiny, kinda decrepit Jerri. So they all vote for the bongo player as a safety measure. If Evil Russell doesn't vote their way (they tell him to oust Parvati), they know he's lying. Meanwhile, the Villains all vote for J.T. (who will hereby be known as the Most Gullible Reality Millionaire in History). Simple, right? Ha. In a twist that surely had all viewers yelling inaudibles at their televisions, Parvati hands off her immunity idol to Sandra. And then she takes her other immunity idol -- the one JT gave to Evil Russell and he bequeathed to her -- and gives it to Jerri.
Well played, Parvati. Well played. Hell, I'll even throw in an exclamation point. Well played! JT is gone, the Heroes tribe have lost their numbers‚ edge and can now get (theoretically) picked off one by one. A villain is going to win.
Just one problem: Parvati may have played her hand too early. Also, Evil Russell never knew about her secret hidden immunity idol -- or her devilish plan to hand both of them out like ripe bananas. And I'm going to bet that he doesn't take this well.
That's right: I'm back to rolling the dice. Just like that! I guess I'm learning from the Villains that it takes more than luck to get far in a game.