The jury is still out on whether there is indeed a “Puppet Master” among this season’s castaways…but there is definitely a snake, and he wasted no time in rearing his ugly head.  That would be who? Why Russell Hantz of course.  Love him or hate him, anyone would be hard-pressed to say that he doesn’t add interest and villainous entertainment value to the show.

I’ll admit that at first glance, I was set to dislike “evil” Russell, but his persona has always intrigued me.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to see if he actually lived up to his own hype, let alone the media’s.   I watched him in action during the premier, and I actually found myself smiling at a witty, cunning, mischievous, and perplexing “character”, who seemed to be in tuned to those around them.

Russell and MarissaWitty because his delivery is hilarious…Cunning because he successfully used Marissa’s suspicions of him to manipulate her early exit and save his current ally, Ashley…Mischievous and Perplexing because, like he said, he intends to play differently than anyone else has ever played.  Can’t argue with him there…No one has ever tried to sabotage his/her entire tribe, and certainly not on the first day.  What the heck was he doing? …Fabricating Hurricane Katrina woes, depleting the water supply, and burning Jaison’s socks…What will he do next?

Perhaps he’s not “evil”, just misunderstood?  OK, I don’t believe that any more than you do, but after applying my analytical skills (too much reality TV has me thinkin’ I can actually get in their heads and my family should be very concerned if I get into this one), I think we all can agree that we all sympathize with Hurricane Katrina victims, and the loss of a beloved dog, or any pet for that matter, tugs at the heart of most people.  However, this trumped up story makes Russell appear to be less intimidating, communicative, vulnerable, and approachable in the eyes of his tribe.  Pouring out the water and burning the socks was an effort to manipulate the focus of his tribe members and create an environment of disruption and distrust.

After a summer of watching shallow, clueless, and less than attractive women on the inside (BB withdrawal takes time), Marissa was refreshing.  She was astute enough not to fall for Russell’s bull, and had she held back a little and kept her “honesty” to herself, she’d still be in the game and Ashley would likely be on her way home.  Who knows what “evil” Russell has in store for us in the weeks ahead.  Will he be the next to go or is he in it for the long haul?  I think he is enigmatic, and one thing is for sure, he will continue to be written about, talked about, and whenever he departs, he will certainly leave an impression upon this season and the game.  He may just become the “one we love to hate”…America’s favorite even. ;)  I’m laughing, but anything is possible…