AHHHH good old Russell Hantz. Has to be the most controversial Survivor character in the history of the show. Undoutedly played the greatest non-winning game in history in S19 Samoa and now is back for more in Heroes VS. Villains.
There is absolutely no doubt that Russell deserves to be in S20. He earned it by totally hoodwinking a very naive unsuspecting cast in S19 and garnered great acclaim for his ability to seemingly control every player's game and get into their heads. Almost like he had everyone on strings and they did everything he asked them to do. Also the seemingly effortless manner in which he collected hidden immunity idols is legendary. So than whats the problem here?
The issue at hand in S20 is that the other 19 players have no idea who Russell is. S19 was filmed right before S20 in the same Samoan location. Once S19 ended, Russell went home for 2 weeks and than immediately came back out for S20. When S19 was broadcast on national TV this past fall, Russell and the rest of the Heroes/Villains were already in combat at the same time. Thus no one saw the debuchery and diabolical game Hantz played and in turn had no book to go on in deciding how to evaluate his presence on the tribe.
To me this is a very unfair issue at hand in the game. Casting more light on this problem was an interview that "Coach" Wade gave recently in his hometown when he was asked about Russell and his game. Coach in a nutshell went on to exclaim that no one knew anything about Russell's game in S19 and that if they had seen all that he had wrought in that season, than "he was certainly going to be the first person voted out." That says it all in a nutshell.
If Russell does go far in this game, and Coach's comment leads me to believe he does, than one can only surmise that the surprise factor is at work here and there is no arguing the fact that his game is way more effective the first time around people who have never played with him before.
I admit I have a love/hate relationship with Russell. I think he is great entertainment and I have great respect for the way he seemingly always makes the right moves and always avoids trouble. Although I dont agree with some of his methods, Russell got screwed in S19. He should have won and unfortunately for him, was a victim of a very bitter jury who couldnt get past his less that classy game maneuverings. The title of best Survivor ever? Not a chance in that you have to win to get that title. Until that happens, Richard Hatch still has the trophy.