TONIGHT: Russell vs. Boston Rob Round 2 (Oh, and the Premiere of ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’)

February 16th is finally here and tonight is closing in fast.  Which means that, after literally weeks of anticipation, Survivor: Redemption Island premieres this evening.  But, more importantly, that means the epic, long-awaited, dream come true, clash of the titans showdown between Russell Hantz and Boston Rob is nearly upon us.

When their return was announced a few weeks back we quickly voiced our initial skepticism.  And in the intervening time our feelings haven’t really changed.  We’re still extremely hesitant about this twist, bringing Rob back for his fourth go ’round and Russell for his third attempt in four seasons, because their personal battle genuinely threatens to be bigger than the game, and we’re nervous about what it means for future seasons.  The initial returns could be astronomical, but we could be trading long-term satisfaction for immediate gratification.

But it’s hard to watch this and not get excited.  We’re excited.

And what will happen on Survivor: Redemption Island, you ask?  Well, as far as Rob and Russell go, it’s going to be incredibly, heroically difficult to win the million.  In fact, if either of those guys attain the title of the Sole Survivor he will probably have to be considered the greatest player in Survivor history.  The odds are stacked completely against them, probably more than they have been against any other player in any other season.  So if the odds of either Russell or Rob winning it all are less than slim to none, who will last longer?  Well, our prediction might surprise you.  While we think that Russell will certainly have a tougher time getting people to trust him, we think he actually has the better chance to go further in the game.  Our guess is that his tribe will decide to use his smarts, skill and physical ability to their advantage, figuring that they can string him along as long as he suits their needs and then cut bait when the time is right.  Likely, some cocky bastard is going to think he (or she) can outsmart Russell, and keep him around just to prove that he (or she) can outplay him.  Of course, if someone does attempt that strategy he or she will no doubt be taught a lesson by Mr. Hantz.  Now, as for Boston Rob, he’s fashioned himself into somewhat of a good guy, a noble leader, someone who has an exponentially greater grasp of the social game than Russell.  But our bet is that there’s going to be an arrogant alpha male who will want to oust Rob as soon as possible, more than anything to prove his manhood and worth.  And that would also be a mistake, because Rob is too good at this game, too valuable of an asset to discard so early in the competition.  But if his tribe mates are only thinking short-term, about making a “this is our game, old man” statement, Rob will go quickly.  Or so we anticipate.

As for the Redemption Island wrinkle to this season, our gut tells us it’s not going to be much of a success. We hesitate to forecast it as a huge, undeniable flop, but we doubt it’s going to make the impact that Rob Burnett hoped it would.  If anything, it’s just going to be a distraction, especially if Rob and Russell can hang long enough to really resume their rivalry.  They can talk all they want about how Redemption Island is different from Exile Island and the Outcasts, but we just see it going the way of the Medallion of Power.  An attempt to change the game that will fizzle and be abandoned after one season.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

On a related note, it was a meeting of two of our favorite people when Jeff Probst stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night.  Although it wasn’t discussed in the interview, we’re going to predict right here right now that Probst is going to take over for Regis Philbin in early 2012 so he can finish up the fall season of Survivor, host the live finale, take a long vacation, and then come January join Kelly Ripa on Live! And while that still might happen, Probst teased another possibility last night, that of a celebrity edition of Survivor, which would likely and thankfully be a truncated version of the game.  This concept doesn’t thrill us, we’d rather just have another All-Stars season.  But, then again, we quickly fell in love with Jimmy Johnson.  So if this speculation turns to reality it could work, but only if the celebrities fully commit, go all in, just like Jimmy J.  And by that time Russell and Rob might be just be celebrity enough to come back for round 3.

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Filed under Be careful what you wish for, Century 21 Reality, Freak Out Control, Impatience, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Reeeeeege, Tribal Council

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