By Andy Dehnart, TODAYshow.com contributor
Monty Brinton / CBS
The Zapatera tribe is working as one all right. They banded together to vote out returning "Survivor" contestant, Russell Hantz, center.
At long last, our great national Russell Hantz nightmare is over.
He's infested three of the last four seasons of "Survivor," and he finally got voted out -- for the first time. Well, he's almost out. Like a cockroach that keeps running after it's been smashed, he's still alive and will face off in a duel next week to see if he can stick around longer. With his generally miserable track record in challenges, that's unlikely, but we'll see when he battles Matt.
Russell's tribe actually threw the combined reward/immunity challenge -- a repeat of the water wheel challenge from "Nicaragua" -- to get rid of him. Then they split their votes into a three-way tie just to make sure Russell didn't have a hidden immunity idol. (Ralph, a member of the dominant alliance, actually had it. But he didn't share that information with his pals, probably to avoid putting a target on his back. However, that led me to have a near-heart attack when I had to watch two vote counts to see if Russell would finally go away.)
This Tribal Council outcome means that viewers won't have to sit through any more of Russell's insufferable, undeserved self-aggrandizing ("This is my game, sucka") because, as Sarita said, a tribe finally realized he was a "sickness" and "huge black cloud." Russell also does nothing, and, as Mike said, "sits in the tent with his concubines," his hands behind his head. Mike also pointed out that Russell, by reclining as he did in, revealed to everyone he had "some funk going on with his armpits," and because he had shaved them, Russell ended up with "pus-filled rash." Let that be a lesson to all you shaving manscapers.
Russell was, of course, not happy about being voted out. As he walked away, snuffed torch in hand, he said, "I'll be back, and be ready." Once he arrived at Redemption Island, he was even more angry. "I was pissed off. I wanted to b---- slap every single one of them," he said.
Even with Russell gone, there will still be people to dislike and who will create drama. Namely, Stephanie. Besides hushing a tribemate at Tribal Council ("I'm still talking; mouth is still moving"), she has a disproportionate love for all things Russell, perhaps because she just wanted him to carry her to the end. She told her tribemates, "This is Russell. He's played the game," as if that meant they should roll over and die in the game. She walked around camp hugging her bag, showing that she learned her terrible acting skills from her master.
Prior to Tribal, she and Russell tried to make a deal with "the old lady," firefighter Julie, who has previously been mostly invisible.
Julie said, "I like my chances with someone who's been there before." Stephanie responded by shrieking, "This is going to be the biggest blindside ever!"
But it was she who was blindsided by Julie's refusal to go along with the plan at the end.
Keep reading on realityblurred.com for the first duel, Rob's clue strategy and Russell's rash.