Thursday, March 3, 2011


This is what Probst had to say about Survivor Redemption Island episode 3.

Historic Moments in time:

Jan. 10th , 1935 Canned Beer invented

May 6th, 1954 – First Sub-Four Minute Mile

July 20th, 1969 – Apollo 11 lands on the moon

March 2nd, 2011 – Russell Hanz voted out of Survivor: Redemption Island

Survivor fans all over the world will no doubt remember this day for decades, and if science hurries up, perhaps centuries to come. Those that missed the episode will no doubt tell their kids years from now, “I was there. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting on the couch and yelling at the TV.” And Russell Hanz will no doubt be telling this story to his grand kids, “I was so good they had to purposefully lose a challenge to get rid of me!”

It happened.

After back to back seasons during which he was never voted out, lasting the entire 78 days, Russell Hanz finally met a tribe he couldn’t control.

Russell Hanz is gone.

More on that later…


More history was made as Matt and Francesca squared off in the first ever Redemption Island duel.

Some background:

We decided to use smaller versions of previous challenges as the duels because we knew they worked and we didn’t want any risks when it came down to a one-on-one duel.

The decision to let two members of each tribe watch was made just a few days before we began. That was Mark Burnett’s call. He was right. It created yet another layer by separating the tribe. The two people at the duel have valuable information but in exchange for it, they’re away from camp where alliances can shift quickly. The opposite is true for those left at camp. Information is king in this game so anytime you can create a situation in which some people have the info and others don’t, you increase your chances for great reality.

The idea for the Redemption Island Arena came early in the process but the design and execution of the Arena was still mind blowing. The first time I walked into the half finished Arena I knew it was going to be a good season. The creative team that is our Survivor Art Department really hit it out of the park with this one. They created a ruin that looks as though it has been there for hundreds of years. It was built small enough to remain intimate but large enough to accommodate our cameras. It is one of my favorite builds of all time. What will they do next year?!

From a producing point of view we were certainly nervous before the first duel. Remember, this is a massive format change. Survivor had worked just fine for 21 seasons and now we are changing everything. This was our first test of the twist that we had pinned the entire season around – would the duel work?

From a drama point of view we couldn’t ask for me. I really thought Francesca was going to win. She was ahead so quickly that it appeared over. But Matt never panicked. Not for a moment. He continued to take his time and re-work his stick until he had it just right and then he went on a tear and made history, winning the first ever Redemption Island duel.

Matt is now the guy to beat on RI and if he can continue to win, Matt will get a chance to come back into this game..

The possible threat of Matt returning is already causing Rob major stress. You saw him trying to soothe Andrea, but I don’t think she was buying it. If Matt gets back in the game and Andrea is still around, there will be trouble.

I’m guessing so many of you were finding a lot of joy when Zapatera lied to Russell about who lost at the first duel. It does seem fitting that everything Russell had done to others for two seasons is now being done to him.

What is most fascinating to me is the justification of ethics. My most favorite topic. When someone is taking an action that “we” support then it’s awesome, it’s fantastic, it’s brilliant. But when it’s someone that “we” don’t like taking the same action, they’re a villain, a loser, untrustworthy. I’m just sayin… the Zapatera tribe is acting as dickish to Russell as Russell has acted to his tribemates in the past. Is one action more acceptable than another?

Stephanie is no joke. She is a player. She’s smart and she’s feisty. Her idea for a fake idol, while not a new idea, was still a good one. It was a worthy performance as she pretended to protect her bag. The double team effort to get Julie to flip and join their alliance was a valiant effort. I give Russell credit, he chose the right person for his alliance as Stephanie is a barracuda. Stephanie’s problem now is quite obvious. She and Krista have nobody left. They must make a move or they’ll be gone soon.

Damn that was nasty. Note to future Survivors, if you’re gonna shave body parts that previously have not been shaved, please do it a few times before you leave for location. Let your body get used to the sweating and the clothing rubbing against the skin because nobody should have to endure that visually disturbing sight.

As for the challenge itself, you might remember this from last season. It was a huge construction build and so unique that we decided to use it again. If you are one of the people strapped to the wheel it’s a bit unnerving to be spun round and round while going under water, having to take a gulp of water and then spit it into a tiny trough. You wanted to play Survivor, you got it.

Now to the more interesting aspect of the challenge.

It’s very easy to back seat drive in this game but if you examine Survivor history, throwing a challenge rarely works out well.

When you let the other tribe win a challenge you give them confidence. You give them what they need to begin to believe in themselves. You risk the momentum shifting to them.. Often, you are also giving up a valuable reward. All so you can get rid of one tribemember, which also reduces your numbers, potentially making you weaker when you go to the merge.

Zapatera was so focused on getting rid of Russell that they could see nothing else. From day one, their focus has been “get rid of the cancer.” They wanted him out so badly, they not only threw a challenge, but they gave up a TARP! Next to flint, a tarp is the most sought after item on Survivor.

The other big risk is that anytime you go to Tribal Council, regardless the plan, you risk being voted out.yourself. Blindsides are very common in this game.

That’s how badly Zapatera wanted Russell gone!

Having said all of this, I’m sure there are times when the risk feels worth the reward. Leaving Russell on your tribe is risky. He’s a proven player who can manipulate and if you go to a merge, and he’s on the bottom, it’s a given that he’ll flip.

I’m not second guessing Zapatera’s move, but it will be interesting to see if history repeats and Zapatera lives to regret their decision.

I don’t know if it’s my Midwest roots but I understood Ralphspeak almost immediately. Sure, it takes a moment, you have to let it roll through your brain, but as it makes it’s way across your neural pathways, it slows enough that you can pick up enough words to make sense. Ralph is a sharp dude, don’t underestimate him just because of the unique way in which he speaks.

Ralph’s biggest issue is not his manner of speaking, it’s his ego. Ralph is heading down the same slippery slope of ego that has consumed Russell. Ralph is not quite as smart a Survivor player as he thinks and his biggest liability is his mouth. He doesn’t think before he speaks. Ralph has the idol and he’s been strong in challenges. He has so much going for him but if someone doesn’t get his ego in check he’ll do himself in.

When the entire tribe knows they threw a challenge and they’re about to vote out the person that they threw the challenge to vote out… and that person knows they threw the challenge too… why do they still lie to me when asked, “Did you throw the challenge?” I never get this. Maybe it’s just a basic premise surrounding the idea that “saying less is more” at tribal council. But now that I’ve seen the interviews confirming that they absolutely threw the challenge, I am once again confused as to why they wouldn’t say – “Yes we threw it, so we could vote out Russell. Come on Probst, how hard is this to figure out?”

As I often do I refer back to the idea that maybe this is why I am only a host, not a player.

Did you think Russell had Julie convinced? Ah we’ll never know how close she was to flipping sides. A lot? A little? None at all?

After all was said and done, Julie stayed true to her alliance and just like that – Russell was voted out.

Were you happy? Sad? Are you rooting for him at Redemption Island or do you want to see Matt destroy him?

This is brand new territory for Russell but we all know that Russell can never be counted out. He is always playing. But he will have his work cut out for him with Matt. Matt has had a few days to adjust, Matt has been to the Arena before, Matt has already competed and won a duel. On top of it all, Russell thinks he is going to battle against Francesca, a far cry from the athletic abilities of Matt.

Will Russell try to intimidate Matt? Will he try to befriend him? Will Matt ask Russell to pray with him? Ah so many good questions.

You don’t want to miss next week – it is do or die time for Russell Hanz. You can’t get a better tease than that.

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