'Survivor: Heroes vs Villains': Ousted Villain admits 'Russell got the better of me'

It turned out to be one of the most gripping rivalries in Survivor history, but the big Russell-Rob feud finally reached its endgame last night with one Villain emerging victorious over the other. On one hand, there were no losers in this clash of the Survivor titans. But in another more accurate sense, the loser is the one who was voted out first, and that would be Boston Rob Mariano. The latest victim of Heroes vs Villains called in this morning to talk about his thoughts on Tyson’s moronic move, Coach switching sides, and his epic battle with the player viewers love to hate. [Read the entire interview after the jump.]

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Point blank: Did Russell outplay you?
ROB MARIANO: Did Russell outplay me? It seems as if Russell got the better of me. At the end of the day, he was able to convince Jerri to vote with him and Coach didn’t stand up and do what he said he was going to do, and therefore I’m sitting here talking to you. Russell — very entertaining, I give him credit. I wouldn’t want him on my team ever! I wanted him gone from the outset. But I’m the one here talking to you, so he got me.

Do you think you two play a lot alike? I think in some ways, yes, because you’re both very aggressive, and in other ways not so much.
I would agree with you. I think parts of our game are very similar, and parts are completely opposite. My approach to the camp life and team aspect of challenges is in stark contrast to his. But strategy-wise, he recognized me as a threat from the beginning, as I did with him, And with me it’s either you’re with me or you’re against me, and I think it’s the same with him. We were against each other from the outset, and rather than working together we decided we were gonna get each other off, and it didn’t work out too good for me.

How much of an advantage do you think he had with no one having seen him play before?
Well, it cuts both ways. He has an advantage in that people are gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. Myself, I realized that 20 seasons in, you have 10 people that are considered the most villainous to ever play the game, and here’s a guy from the most recent season, so he had to do something so outlandish to get picked over all those other contestants. So to me, it’s a no brainer. This kid, you got to keep an eye on him. And then when you look at him and he looks at you with those beady eyes and doesn’t blink, and can’t give you a straight answer — look, I played poker. I can read him. I knew he was bad for business. But at the end of the day, he got me, so I can’t give it to him too hard about it.

But Jerri’s whole thing for turning on you was that she remembered how you played in All-Stars. Had she seen Russell play in Samoa, do you think she would have still flipped?
Absolutely, he would have been gone. His reputation precedes him, as did mine. We watched Samoa when we got home, and I found him very entertaining. I really did. Some of the stuff he did was pretty out there. Having said that, some of his tactics, like sabotaging his team, poring out the water bottles, burning the socks — it’s not a road I would go. I don’t think there’s much to be gained in playing the game by hurting your own team.

How were you feeling entering Tribal Council? Did you think it was about 50-50 as far as still having Coach and Jerri?
I knew it was me. I knew Jerri was gone before we even left the beach, and I could just look in Coach’s eyes and tell he was gonna take the easy way out, It’s terrible, because Coach really wants to play with honor and integrity, and at the end of the day, he has the opportunity to do that and chooses another path. But that’s on him.

Coach actually appeared to take the easiest path possible in not voting for you, yet casting a vote that he knew ensured you going home. That seems like he was almost trying to not own up to his decision.
I think he’s a guy that was conflicted and he didn’t have it in him to do the right thing in this situation. So, it’s bad for me because it makes me go home, but he’s the one who has to live with it. Essentially, the turning point for me was not even that, it was the week before with Tyson switching his vote. Because here it is, Dalton: You lay out a foolproof plan, it can’t fail, there’s no way anybody in our alliance goes home, there’s no way Coach or Jerri are at risk, and you go another way for what reason? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Look, Russell took a shot. It was a gamble. It was a big gamble, it paid off and it makes him look great. It doesn’t necessarily mean that his play was correct. In poker, you can do the right thing and still lose. He did the wrong thing and ended up winning and looks like a genius, but in actuality it’s not a play I will ever make myself or applaud. But having said, that I’m the one sitting here and he’s still in the game, so I can’t take that away from him.

What’s the first thing you said to Tyson when you met up with him at Ponderosa?
I can’t say that. [Laughs.] Since then, we’re reconciled. For me, I just wanted to know why. It didn’t make any sense. It was the first time ever in the three times I played Survivor, even counting Marquesas when I went home — it was the first time I ever went to Tribal Council and things did not go the way I expected them to go, And to me, it was a total shock, because when I go to Tribal Council, I know what’s going to happen. The person going home is always the person I think is going home. So I wanted to know why, and to be honest, at the time, he didn’t really have an answer for me. He was basically like, “I screwed up.”

I wondered if your new daughter would be a distraction for you out there, and it certainly didn’t seem to be. How were you able to block that out?
I didn’t block it out. Once I made the decision to go and play Survivor you have to use it as a motivator and not a distraction, and I did. Every time I felt down I said, “You’re doing this for your wife and your daughter. Go out there and make them proud and give 110 percent of everything you do,” and that’s it. I just wanted to make them proud. I did the best I could. I didn’t come home with it but I tried my hardest.

We’ve been treated to this immense, intense battle between you and Russell these past few weeks. How are you two now outside of the game?
I have no ill will towards him. Russell did what he thought was best for him, And his strategy is not one that I would employ. I think we have a lot of similarities in our game, but we have a lot of things that are complete opposites. As a person, I don’t really know Russell much. I only know him in the game of Survivor, and in the game of Survivor, he’s someone I wouldn’t want on my team, ever. I would want him gone right away — partly because he is a threat strategically, and partly because his tactics, to steal a line from Coach, are not tactics that I would consider honorable.

Finally, have you given Coach that hug yet?
[Laughs] I have not, but I have to give it. Look, it’s a game, Dalton. I get that, always have, and I don’t harbor any ill will or resentment toward anyone. To their credit, they’re lucky they got me out when they did, because had they not, I would have gone a lot further, and probably won it.

To see a special pep talk that Boston Rob recorded for himself before the game started to cheer himself up should he get voted out, as well as an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, then click onthe video below. And for more Survivor shenanigans, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains: The Rob and Russell feud heats up

Jeff Probst blogs Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Comments (193 total) Add your comment
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  • kapellmeisters

    glad to see him gone. he’s a phony

    • wino

      i love comments that dont make sense. he’s a phony, how? puhleeze. what he is, is good entertainment and pretty good survivor player. too bad he’s gone, i enjoying watching him and russ spar.

      • KEH

        Rob as the most straigt up player on that team. Coach can only dream of being what Rob clearly has become since we first met him. He is well grounded and hardworking. We miss him already.

        I am very upset that the Producers gave their newest TROLL PET the edge of knowing everyone and them having no idea.

        The ONLY Fair thing would have been to sit them all down for a 2 summary of his play before leaving for the filming.

        I personally feel that was an UNFAIR advantage for an All-Stars format game. Come – on Guys the blind spot Producers Gave Russle tarnishes the entire concept.

      • darclyte

        As Rob himself said, not knowing about Russell worked both ways. Russell being there back to back told them that he must be hardcore. Most didn’t like nor trust him from the start. His hunting down the HII only solidified that, yet there Russell still sits. I think any “advantage” Russell had was quickly negated by the distrust factor.

      • EW

        ROB, dont worry, Russel is a product an actor, made in cbs/MB factory.

      • Daul

        Don’t blame the producers. Rob and others should have listened to Randy. Get rid of Parv and then Russel. They went with the unknown and it bit them.

      • tony

        Rob is a whiny loser. Russel is the best player EVER to play this game.

      • iEatrainbowz

        Russell? The best player? haha
        if he is the best then he should have won a season of Survivor by now but no, he is a dumbass in getting jury votes.

    • joblo

      Phoney? What does that even mean? I’m not a big Boston Rob fan, but I give the guy credit. He’s a great player in all aspects of the game. And I like how he realizes that it is just a GAME, and will give credit where credit is due. He’s not bitter – he got outplayed. But he still put on a great show and helped make this one of the best seasons ever. Kudos, BR.

      • terry

        He’s a little bitter. Like not giving Russell credit for Tyson, saying it was the wrong move. What other move could russell have made that would have saved him and his alliance? None, so don’t try to discount it with the stupid poker comparisons

      • Adam

        I see both sides – i agree with Rob that in the sense that ‘saving’ Parvati and your alliace in the short-term was dumb since it didn’t 100% secure Russell’s own survival- rather, it relied on the stupidest vote cast in Survivor history from Tyson. Was he not paying attention when Rob was telling him what to do. Could he not have just dealt with 3 more days of Parvati?

        On the other hand, I respect Russell for making a big picture move aimed towards winning the whole thing. He realized that losing anyone from his strong but small alliance would prevent him from potentially winning in the end – and it gave him the pub/’rep’ to then manipulate Jerri (and eventually Coach) right out of her alliance with Rob.

        I like the Poker analogy. In each game – you only have so much control. I would argue though that the short-stacked Russell made a big move which is what you need to do when you’re short-stacked as opposed to slowly bleeding your chips til your dead.

      • jersey

        i totally agree with you.am not his biggest fan either.what i like about him is that he has sportmanship.no bitterness when he lose and gives credit where it is due.had it been russel who got voted out, he would be there saying the same things that he did when he lose in his season.he was so bitter then that you will just laugh at him and not respect him either in the game or outside the game.and am glad that Rob would not even consider following Russel’s strategy, i.e., sabotaging the team by burining socks, hiding machete, poring out their water, etc. that tactic is just so immature and not even considered a tactic but more of an act of a person who can never be trusted in any aspect.and he is a businessman?i wonder if the people who does business with will like or respect him after whatever he did in this game.

    • Matt

      Phoney? Really? Give me a break. They will regret voting him off instead of Russell. Watch and learn.

    • KC

      Big ego there, buddy…for someone who’s never won. LOL
      Notice how he doesn’t hold it against the others who voted him out just Coach? Just the one he knows will be bothered by it.

      • Ian

        @KC. Maybe B.R. didn’t hold a grudge against the others because they didn’t promise to vote out Russell. The Coach gave B.R. his word that he would vote out Russell. That’s the difference.

      • D

        I get it. It’s because Coach is so holier-than-thou.

    • Laura

      Boo Hoo Rob! You are crying and whining because Russell just schooled you in the game of Survivor. It’s called a blindside, Rob. Get used to it.

      • Shotgunsamurai42

        I didn’t see him as “crying and whining”. Also a blind side would imply that he didn’t think he was going home when clearly he did.

      • dee dee

        Russell hasn’t won either…twice

      • IJOO

        you seem not to have understood what Boston Rob is saying, he is not whining, not at all!!

      • D

        Technically speaking, it was Tyson who “blindsided” Rob.

    • Jessy

      I lOVE Boston Rob best player ever! You should hang out with Russel he is more your real style.LOL

  • RB

    I hated Rob before, but his season I really loved him. I will miss him. I HATE Russell. Darn you Jerri and Coach. I am now glad that Colby manhandled you both! ;)

  • Liz

    Rob you played an awesome game! I am sorry to see you go.

  • savonarola

    Never liked Boston Rob before–not here and not on TAR. However, I’ve changed–or he has. Anyway, I was rooting for him to prevail. Bummer.

    • D

      I didn’t like him on his original season, but I was starting to like him on his second season and TAR. Loved him this season.

    • Sal

      I second that savonarola, although maybe if he had stayed longer and got a chance to pull what he did before, I would go back to hating him. It really annoys me how much he got away with on TAR.

  • Steven

    Here’s the thing – Coach did EXACTLY what he said he was going to do. He made it clear to Rob AND Russell that he wanted Courtney out. That he felt voting for Courtney was the honorable thing because it kept the team strong. At least that’s how it looked on TV. Rob tried to bulldoze Coach and it didn’t work. Coach actually should be applauded for sticking to his beliefs on this one. Frankly, Courtney deserved to go.

    • Dave

      Coach can’t say no to anyone…thats the problem. It would be one thing if he said “it’s Courtney” and stuck to his plan. But he said “it’s Courtney” then “it’s Russell” then “it’s Rob.” He got hisself all tangled up in an honor web. And he took the wimpiest way out.

      • Snsetblaze

        And he also said he was sticking with Jerri as well b/c she was his first alliance. He did take the wimpy way out. Funny thing, most of the episode, he was actually making sense for the first time (other than voting Courtney out – its the team’s own fault for not putting her on the puzzle.)

      • anna c.

        completely agree! I was somewhat flabbergasted that I was yelling at the tv saying these words I would never ever think I would ever say: LISTEN TO COACH!

    • luvmichaeljohns

      sometimes “sticking to your beliefs” is not good strategy.

    • Alan of Montreal

      To me Courtney is one of the more entertaining players on Survivor (though as Dalton said, she’s been given very little time to actually mouth off)

      • D

        NYers are funny.

    • Laura

      In a strange twist, I am finding myself cheering for Coach. How is this possible???

      • aaa

        What I dont understand is why coach is on the villian tribe

      • Ashley

        You don’t understand why Coach is on the villains tribe? The guy is the biggest jackass I’ve ever seen! He’s a pompous liar full of self-righteous delusions, and he never stays loyal to anyone despite claiming that he “plays the game with honor”. He’s either a brilliant actor or a very disturbed man in need of a reality check.

      • D

        @Ashley-He does seem less mentally ill this season than on his first though. Not sure if that is because of his alliance with Jerri or the edit he is getting.

      • aaa

        I never saw the season coach was originally on but he seems like a tame villian – other that the fact that is is crazy

    • Daul

      Applauded? Come on. He threw the vote away. Coach had a chance to make a stand, just like Russell did the previous week. He folded like a tent.

  • Queen Bee

    Sigh… what is this season going to be with Boston Rob? Not even half as awesome as it was with him in it. Man. I have a major case of ennui over this.

    • alex

      yeah well if you take russ out as well, its becomes beyond boring, its sad few see that

      • kaye

        Totally disagree. I loathe Russel so much I’m considering bagging the season.

    • jersey

      ditto. i read it somewhere that Rob will be voted out after Tyson (i read this even before Tyson got voted out)but i told myself it was just gossip.when i saw that tyson indeed got voted out, i started to think that heck, Rob will follow. and then i watched him got voted out for real. i was rooting for him from the start because he is so upfront, plays hard either in the competition or strategically and doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. my 2nd choice WAS J.T. but after watching this season, i changed my mind. he’s not what i saw him as a player in his season. i will stop watching and just wait for it to be finished and just checked who won and that will be it. i’ll just stick to watching House and CSI.

    • UsualSuspects

      You and me both, friend

  • sydney

    Rob used to be the player I loved to hate until I watched Amber and him on The Amazing Race. They were superb players and the best to watch.
    I think having JT and Rob in the merge together would have been the best contest of all.
    Boring Russell should just move his action to Housewives of New York or something else where nasty works better than finesse.

    • alex

      oh gosh you got russ with that one buddy…he sure is having a hard time in the game of survivor…what works? he just eliminated your hero…I would say his methods are working.

      • Shotgunsamurai42

        Are they working? Sure he can make it to the end but tribal kills him. Russel does not play a good social game and that hurts him every time.

      • Chris57

        Russell’s methods were only working because no one had seen him play before. Tyson would never have made that stupid move if he had seen Russell in action in the previous season. And Jerri believing she could trust Russell but not Rob? Give me a break. Russell didn’t beat Rob. The Producers of the show did. If everyone had seen Russell’s act on the previous season, he would have been gone at the first Tribal Council.

      • Kaylin

        but he’s such a sleaze bag, I don’t find him fun to watch at all! Just sickening! Atleast Robs strategy was always fun to watch and clever in his own right. jerri had to have been kicking herself after she watched douche bag in samoa!

      • Chris

        Those social skills that Russell lacks surely didn’t help Boston Rob in All Stars. Have we all forgotten that?

    • Anna

      I also really grew to appreciate Rob when he and Amber were on The Amazing Race. They were totally accepting and supportive of each other, there was never a cross, impatient or disparging word between them and their teamwork was incredible.

    • shannon

      That would have been awesome to see JT and Rob up against each other!!! Oh well……… GO JT!!!! :)

      • Snsetblaze

        I’m sort of interested in seeing JT v. Russell. Methinks Parvati may just be able to slide by after all.

    • terry

      Kinda like asking a friend to save your girlfriend then when you merge, stab him in the back. You mean that kinda nasty? At least russell stabs you in the face.

    • D

      I don’t think the NY housewives would have ANYTHING to do with him. Maybe Dallas housewives or Houston houswives :)Better he stays where he is.

      • D

        Meaning, on Survivor.

    • Sal

      Superb players? They were edited way too nicely, and don’t forget how much they cheated and bribed and got too much help. They should have been penalized for all they did.

  • Rain Puddle

    Boston Rob is my favourite player evah!I am so disappointed to not be able to watch him work his magic. he had russell pegged from the get-go. I believe Russell had a huge advantage in that no one had seen him play…if they had he would have been the first one gone. But as Rob said…he was on the Villain team so he must have done s/thg to deserve it. Coach was an idiot to not give Russell paybacvk for getting Tyson voted off…I see the demise of the Villains in the next 2 epi’s b/c Russell will take out Coach and further weaken the tribe b/c he doesn’t care and as Rob said, Russell loves to mess up his own tribe.

    Boston Rob for Fan Favourite!!!

    • alex

      who wouldnt have russ pegged from the get go…they were on the VILLANS…andhe looks like a pirate…I mean cmon…

      • D

        I disagree. He looks like a troll.

    • alex

      Its funny when people talk about russ and say “he messes up his OWN tribe” guys…its survivor, ONE person wins, not a TEAM…if you lose challenges, you must trim the fat..period.

      • wino

        yes one person wins, but if you mess with your trip pre merge, then you decrease your chances of winning immunity, thus you decrease your numbers/allies. its not rocket science.

      • MB

        Russell’s game is not suited for the endgame. Richard was the King: he stabbed you in the back and made you think it was your idea. Russell stabs you in the back and can’t wait to tell he did it, me, Russell, the greatest Survivor ever. That’s why he didn’t win Samoa and won’t win here. Ousted players still vote for the winner.

      • StrawBerryCutie

        Your right…Russell can’t win the million because he’s too arrogant…but Boston Rob didn’t either…for the exact same reason, so you can’t claim that Rob is better at the social game than Russell because they both came in second for the same reason.

      • D

        MB-You are 100% correct. A disadvantage for Russell is that he did not see the outcome of Samoa before starting H v V. He thought he had a winning strategy but it lets him down in the end.

        @StrawBerryCutie-Rob seems like a completely different person than before. Had he made the final 2 or 3 he would have had an excellent chance of winning it.

    • debby

      I agree and I always hated Rob before this season. Russell just makes my skin crawl.

      • D

        That’s a lotta hate.

    • Dave

      All I’m looking for out of Survivor is entertainment, compelling twists and watercooler moments. Russell delivers. Why get caught up on advantages or honor? We’re not playing for a million…they are. Just sit back and enjoy. I love the dynamic now. Russ has caused a major fissure in the group…now watch for him to slither around and make sure that nobody has a chance to cohesively latch onto each other in the wake. He’ll stoke the chaaos right up until the merge. It’s really quite amazing.

      • StrawBerryCutie

        haha..I totally agree with you. It will be very interesting to watch :)

  • sydney

    I agree! Boston Rob for fan favorite!

    • wino

      true, thats who has my vote. that guy is an all around good player….he had to do something right for russ to be so jealous of him.

    • Daul

      Don’t think he made it far enough to get fan fav.

  • alex

    what is sad to me is that survivor “fans” cant seperate real life and gameplay…you cut throats to get ahead if you must…none of us want to go have lunch with russell hantz…but I sure enjoy watching HIM control all these people every thursday…hes like mike the situation…you may hate his tactics and him as a person, but hes a classic for television.

    • jill

      I agree with you Alex. Survivor is a game. People need to sit back and enjoy the show. I am tired of these whiny villains who all of a sudden want to do the honorable thing. It is the GAME of survivor. There is no honorable way to play survivor. You do want you can so you do not get voted off. I stopped watching survivor after All-Stars because I was sick of the Amber and Rob show. I started watching survivor again because of Russell. I was home one Thursday night and there was nothing on TV so I turned on Samoa. I hated Russell but I have to admit the guy was entertaining. It will be interesting to see how things turn out now that Boston Rob is gone. Russell should of teamed up with Boston Rob as an alliance because they both would have gone to the final, but as we know both Russell and Boston Rob want to run the show. I like Colby, but we know he will not win.

  • alex

    RUSSELL HANTZ FOR FAN FAV…oh wait that already happened last year…gosh…

  • Monica

    I never thought I’d say this about him, but he’s a class act.

    • laurie

      I agree, I really think that he grew up a lot after his second time on the show. It was evident on TAR and here. Looks like Amber’s calming presence has really affected him. Good for them both. Enjoy your baby and your new life together.

  • Leah

    Boston Rob for fan favorite! The season will go downhill from here on out. Rob, you rock … 5 reality shows and you’re still as entertaining/compelling as ever!

    • casmir22

      Yesssss! He is just that, entertaining and compelling and from a women’s (at least my) point of view – so damn manly. I hope it’s not the last we see of him.

  • laurie

    Any you know this??????

  • Bilbo

    Seriously brutal last night to see Russell get the best of Rob… I never really cared for Rob in his prior runs, but was really impressed with him this time.

    There is no denying Russell is a great player, he definitely makes Survivor a better reality show… but man what a little creep… it cracks me up because on last season’s (Samoa) Survivor Talk Dalton had Courteney on and she would rip on Russell with the ugly hobbitt jokes… and I had no clue then she’d played a season with him prior, hilarious!

    • jersey

      totally agree.Russel is a creep.the kind of person who will invite you for dinner and poison you. Rob has changed and he’s so much better in this season than the previous ones. now, i am nominating him for FAN FAVE. since Rob is gone and J.T is no longer the J.T i have seen in his season, i will stop watching the show and will just stick to watching House.

      • Brian

        awwww…are you going to cry too?

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