We're down to the final six in "Survivor," with the big finale this Sunday. Wrote a brief appreciation for tomorrow's paper that I've posted for your convenience below.

Naturally, this has all got me to thinking: Could Russell go tonight?

The answer would seem obvious: Absolutely not. And that's the one I'm sticking with. But consider how the dynamics unfolded last week. He engineered the ouster of Danielle and instead of consolidating his hold on the game, by using Danielle, Parvati and Jerri (almost certainly Sandra, too) to cherry-pick off either Colby or Rupert, he has opened a second battle front!

It's bizarre. In fact, tonight, new alliances may even be forged with Rupe and Colby because clearly it's now Russell v. Parvati. This means, the whole bloody game has gone topsy-turvy. 

Does any of this make any sense, dear reader? Or TMI? Or tl;dr?

If you are interested: Back to my original question. I don't think he can because I don't think Parvati can muster the votes to get rid of him - unless she turns Rupe and Colby. That's hard to believe insofar as they trust her about as deeply as they do Russ.

But here's the point: Russell must go to the finale, if only to allow history to repeat itself; or allow Russell the chance to not let history repeat itself; or finally, simply to get to the inevitable glorious showdown between him and Rupe.

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Thanks for your patience. 

Here's the column ...


 "Survivor," WCBS/2, Sunday, 8.

 Reason to watch: 20th season finale.

 Catching up: By last week, Russell Hantz -  the Obadiah Stane of the "Heroes vs. Villains" edition - had appeared to take commanding control of the game by ousting Danielle. So confident of ultimately having enough votes to dispatch remaining "heroes" Rupert and Colby, he took time to bust up the well-hidden alliance of Danielle/Parvati. With that deft display of power, he now thinks he has Parvati completely under his thumb. Thus, the last piece of his game has been set in motion - to pick off the last five, one by one by one... Remaining cast: Before last night, these were the last six standing: Parvati Shallow, 27 (Cook Islands) who has proven almost as shrewd as Russell, though slightly more honest, vastly less diabolical; Jerri Manthey, 38 (Australia), who doesn't seem to have much of a game plan, other than to stick with Russ; Colby Donaldson, 35 (Australia runner-up), who's the Nice Guy of finalists, and highly vulnerable; Sandra Diaz-Twine, 34, (Pearl Islands, winner), the cat with ten lives, playing the waiting game she played in PI; Rupert Boneham, 45 (PI), the teddy bear who confronted Russell and may not survive that move; Russell Hantz, 37 (Samoa), borderline sociopath who lies and controls as skillfully as anyone in "Survivor" history.

   Classic Russell quotes: "I swear to you on my kids' lives that I'm with you all" ... "It's
going to be a wonderful thing" ... "They swallowed it hook, line and sinker" ... "I'm the king
of the hidden immunity idols ..."
 
 What will happen Sunday: Gods of "Survivor" willing, we will have match-up featuring
Russell versus Rupert, but Russ vs. Parvati seems more likely. If so, Parv wins because, as always, jury members really know what kind of guy he is. Why vote for THAT?

 My say: Ten years old this summer, the original reality show remains the most enjoyable of that large, jostling, wildly uneven crowd that has followed in its wake. While still great
to look at -- ah, how that tropic sun warms our winter-hardened psyches -- "Heroes vs.
Villains" once again established that Cast Is All. Russ, take your bow now (because spoils of victory may yet be denied).

 Grade: B +