By DERRIK J. LANG
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES — It’s down to one good guy against four baddies on ‘Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.’
After ousting beloved Rupert Boneham on Thursday’s installment, five players remain on the 20th season of the CBS reality competition, which matched a tribe of nasty former castaways against a group of veteran contestants who played with honesty and integrity. Former rancher Colby Donaldson (‘Australian Outback,’ ‘All-Stars’) is the lone hero left standing.
“This guy was brought back this season because he represented the quintessential hero of ‘Survivor,’ but he’s been anything but this time,” said host Jeff Probst. “He’s dropped out of challenges and had an overall lackluster attitude. Despite that though, Colby has a one-in-five shot at winning this thing. It’s a great lesson in never giving up.”
Among the villains hoping to prevail are mean girl Jerri Manthey (‘The Australian Outback,’ ‘All-Stars’) and sinister Russell Hantz (‘Samoa’), who was unknown to the ‘Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains’ veterans because his season was filmed immediately before the 20th edition. Probst argued that his lack of a reputation was both an advantage and disadvantage.
“When we started the show, I told everybody, ‘There’s one person here you don’t know,'” said Probst. “‘His name is Russell, and all I’m going to tell you about him is that in one season, he managed to crack the top five most notorious villains of all time, and you should read a lot into that.’ They knew coming in that this guy played a vicious game.”
Watch the latest full episode of ‘Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains:’
Bold banker Sandra Diaz-Twine (‘Pearl Islands’) and sly former boxer Parvati Shallow (‘Cook Islands,’ ‘Micronesia’), with whom Hantz aligned himself early in the game, have a chance at becoming the first contestants to win the $1 million grand prize twice. Shallow previously dominated the ‘Fans vs. Favorites’ edition, which pit former players against newbies.
“I think Parvati is the best overall player, regardless of whether she wins or loses, to ever play the game of ‘Survivor,'” said Probst. “She came in with a gigantic target on her back, and she managed to not only last in the game but control the game. I think she and Russell will both argue that they’re the ones in control, and both are probably right.”
The remaining contestants will compete in two immunity challenges and three tribal councils before the sole survivor is selected on Sunday’s finale at 8 p.m. EDT by a nine-person jury that’s comprised mostly of fallen heroes. Probst promised a close finish in the season’s last immunity challenge, which will feature the final four castaways blindfolded.
“The final immunity challenge is a big challenge with a lot on the line,” said Probst. “Everybody is wanting and truly feeling they need to win or they’re probably going home. It’s one of the closest finishes we’ve ever had. It was so exciting and so close, that it cut itself in the editing room. Our editors said it was the easiest challenge to edit.”
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