Survivor: Redemption Island

You're Looking at the New Leader of Your Tribe

By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst

February 17, 2011

No one was *actually* eliminated yet, so...

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Hello, good people, and welcome to Survivor: Redemption Island. My name is Jim and I'll be your guide through the murky waters of Survivor's 22nd season. A lot has happened in the four seasons since I hung up my recapping shoes. A good ol' boy from Alabama took home $1 million, but a Dragon Slayer stole the show. We had another All-Star season that was a gazillion times better than the first. Some dude called Fabio "Beavis'ed" his way to a million bucks.

But easily the biggest Survivor story of the last two years was the emergence of Russell Hantz, the biggest villain in the history of the show. Love him or hate him, Russell is sure to get a response from every fan of Survivor. From those who think he was robbed of the title in Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains, to those who think he was lucky to make it as far as he did...everyone has an opinion on Russell. During Russell's second tour on Survivor, he got the attention of another Survivor icon, "Boston" Rob Mariano. The first half of Heroes vs. Villains could be broken down as Rob vs. Russell, as every episode watched their feud deepen. Thanks to one of the biggest bonehead moves in the history of the game, Russell managed to outlast Rob when Tyson essentially voted himself off the island. At the HvV reunion, Rob refused to shake Russell's hand and boldly suggested that if they ever got to play again, he'd "kick his ass all over the island". The sound you heard after that was a cash register ringing as Jeff Probst blinked and his eyeballs turned to dollar signs.

And now, just one season removed from HvV, Rob and Russell are back to settle the score once and for all! There are 16 other people out there playing too, but if CBS promos are any indication, this is all about Rob vs. Russell.


The only thing that might take the spotlight off the returning players is the new twist for this season, Redemption Island. Redemption Island is a new twist on an old twist, the Outcast Tribe from Survivor: Pearl Islands. The Outcast tribe is the single worst thing to happen in all of Survivor's 21 seasons. It allowed people who had been voted out of the game an opportunity to get back into the game and set the stage for the worst finalist in the history of the show, Cub Scout Leader Lill. As a fan of the show from Day 1, that twist was like a slap in the face to all of the fans. And yet, here I am some 15 seasons later and I like the concept of Redemption Island.

The difference here is that Redemption Island will keep the evacuated players living in the same conditions as the rest of the cast. They'll have the same weather, same food (or lack thereof) and they'll have challenges. Here's how it will work. In tonight's episode, someone will get voted out of their tribe. That person will go to Redemption Island, where they will live alone for the next three days. In next week's episode, someone else will get voted out and also go to Redemption Island, where the two players will live together until Episode 3. Episode 3 will host the first Redemption Island duel. This duel will pit the two RI dwellers against each other, and the loser goes home. The rest of the cast will go to RI to watch these duels and witness their outcomes. At some point later in the game, the "champion," if you will, of Redemption Island will have the opportunity to get back into the real game and continue to compete for the million dollar prize.

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