Li'l Russell says he has a question for Natalie. A proposal? Isn't he already married? Oh, wait -- this is just more camera hoggery. He says he wants the title of "sole Survivor" and will pay her $10,000 for it. He wants Probst to say it and have it written down somehow. I don't think Natalie gets a signed paper calling her the sole Survivor either, so whatever. Natalie doesn't answer, so Probst claims that this "brings up an interesting question," which it really doesn't. He turns to Erik and asks him if Li'l Russell is a better player than Natalie despite the fact that she won, saying he "dominated the game with big, bold moves." I would like point out that big, bold moves do not necessarily make you a better player in this game. Especially since they're part of the reason why Li'l Russell LOST it. I mean, Sugar made lots of "big, bold moves" in her season and no one is calling her one of this show's greatest players. Well, except for me. I thought she was awesome, engineering almost everyone's ouster at the end, always surprising both her tribemates and the audience because she never cared if those moves were advantageous to her position because she hated reality shows anyway, and then showing up at the Reunion looking amazing. Also, let's talk about another player who made "big, bold moves" and actually won: Chris from Season 9. Probst gave him no credit whatsoever because he was dating one of the contestants Chris screwed over on his way to the top, but Chris was awesome from Day 1. He went into a merge as a member of a minority alliance that dwindled down to just himself and still managed to win. And unlike Li'l Russell, he went into the Final Tribal Council knowing exactly who the jurors were and what he had to do to win them over: apologize, grovel, and let them all feel superior to him.
Anyway, back to the current season. After Probst finishes telling us all why Li'l Russell is the greatest thing to ever happen to this show, Erik replies that this is the first time in his life he's encountered a game or competition where "winning is arbitrary." Probst thinks Erik is trying to say that Li'l Russell was, then, the better player, but Erik just says that he doesn't value Li'l Russell's strategy over Natalie's or vice versa. Probst cuts him off and turns to Jaison, asking him about "social politics" as he points out that audience is "overwhelmingly" in Li'l Russell's favor while the people who actually played with Li'l Russell and had to deal with him for 39 days are not. I don't think the audience is really a good barometer of Li'l Russell's gameplay here. First of all, they can't stop themselves from yelling things out when people are trying to speak, and second, aren't many of them members of Li'l Russell's family? Hardly impartial. Jaison says that this game is very similar to working in an office, where everyone has to work together while simultaneously trying to advance themselves as individuals above their co-workers. He says every office has a Li'l Russell, but whereas that person is hated in a real office by the people who have to work with him, on this show that kind of guy and his negative contributions are applauded. He concludes by saying that Natalie played the better game. The audience cheers for her just as loudly as they cheered for Li'l Russell. "People hate Russell in real life," Jaison says, as the cheering grows louder; "but then you come on Survivor and all of the sudden all the back-stabbing and pouring out water and burning socks is gameplay? I mean, what is that?" Well, it's kind of what you signed up for on this show, Jaison, but obviously you'd never seen it before you were recruited to come on it so I can understand your confusion. Li'l Russell says that Jaison is just bitter about Li'l Russell burning his socks. He stands up and whips out a pair of socks he just happened to have in his pocket (either Li'l Russell stuffed his pants for the show or he planned this in advance) and hands them to Jaison. "Thank you!" Jaison says. And then Li'l Russell throws them into the prop fire. Most of the panel finds this hilarious, although not Brett, Dave Ball, or Jaison, who (I think -- it's hard to hear in all the commotion) points out that things like that are why Li'l Russell lost to Natalie. Shambo tries to calm Jaison down, even though he isn't at all angry. Butt out, Shambo. With that, Probst goes to a commercial, although he promises that we'll be hearing a lot more from Li'l Russell. Awesome. A montage of the many ill-advised physical challenges we had this season plays us out.