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I never thought "Francesca" was a hard name to pronounce, but apparently it's impossible.

“Survivor: Redemption Island” Episode 1: “You’re Looking at the New Leader of Your Tribe” (Phillip thinks it’s him!)


Han Solo: “Keep your distance, though, Chewie, but don’t look like you’re trying to keeping your distance.”
[Chewie barks a question]
Han Solo: “I don’t know. Fly casual.”


If we’ve learned anything from recent seasons of “Survivor” it’s the need to fly casual. Lay low. Go ahead and strategize. Go ahead and find immunity idols. Go ahead and play hard like Kristina Kell, just don’t be as obvious about it as Kristina Kell. (Who is Yve + Alina from “Survivor: Nicaragua.”)

However, brava to her for making a big move on the very first episode of “Survivor: Redemption Island.” After “Nicaragua” I am starved for big moves. But make them SMART big moves. Pissing off Boston Rob Mariano on the first day? Not smart.

Also not smart: Making an alliance with Phillip “Pipe That” Sheppard and his motor mouth. How many sisters does he have? Seven? How have they let him get away with this “Did I mention I’m a former federal agent” and “You need to pipe that” and “We’re done talking” and “hyper state of arousal” and “excuse me!” horseshite for so long?

Ometepe, minus Rob.

Boston Rob — hero-worshipped right off the bat, as if “All-Stars” never happened — saw through Kristina right away and knew she was looking for the idol. (While everyone else was socializing and building camp.) He played it down. She should’ve tried to make an alliance out of it, but instead she panicked and decided to go against him.

Rob used her decision to go against him to go against her — calling her out at Tribal Council and making a big move in front of the impressionable young’uns. He won.

Rob proves if you get a second chance, you don’t waste it. You change or at least convince people you’ve changed. He will do well.

And he’s right: He’s playing with amateurs. Francesca Hogi should’ve kept her mouth shut at Tribal Council and Phillip’s “crazy outburst” saved Natalie Tenerelli’s fate and sealed Francesca’s.

Poor Francesca is now gone … but she’s gone to Redemption Island. We still don’t know how that will play out.

I feel sorry for Kristina, but what can you do…

While Rob was being casual, just making friends with the worshipping young’uns, Russell Hantz made a speech about changing and then went right back to his routine of trying to organize a “dumbass girls” alliance.

Immunity winners Zapatera, minus Russell.

LOVED his patronizing exchange with Stephanie Valencia, asking her — like a teacher, leading a student — who he took to the end the first time on “Samoa.” Natalie! The second time, on “Heroes vs. Villains”? Parvati!

He thinks she’s stupid enough to go with the “i” name theme. He makes his pitch. She goes for it, or at least says yes, which is the correct response even if you don’t mean it. (She is not living up to her namesake. The Real Stephanie, from “Palau,” would’ve told Russell off.)

And, point of order, Parvati owned the Russell/Parv alliance. She is not a “cute little girl.” She’s the best player this game has ever seen.

David Murphy (my pre-season favorite) and Mike Chiesl want Russell gone. Good idea. You can’t bank on having him take you to the end. He does breed paranoia and he can’t be trusted to stick with people. (He tried to get rid of Parvati and he ousted her BFF, Danielle, in a blindside. He’s also obnoxious and emotionally exhausting.)

Rob is on Ometepe, which has more women than men. He’s good with girls. Very good. Ashley Underwood even said losing the immunity challenge made her feel like she let her “leader” down. Phillip believes he’s good with girls, too, and then he pissed off his alliance mate, Kristina, and their co-conspirator, Francesca. (It’s worth noting, though, that Fabio clone Matt Elrod is probably even better with girls, without having to try.)

Rob said he was going to try to vote off Francesca (or whatever Phillip called her, with his dry mouth), because Fran said right off the bat that Rob was sneaky and she didn’t want him around. But Kristina’s obvious moves prompted Rob to change his mind. And by his mind, I mean everyone’s mind. Ometepe is now The Borg. And Phillip, Kristina and Francesca are on the outs.

So far Russell isn't doing much. Even though Rob's team lost the immunity challenge, he's still in charge.

Right now, even with his tribe down one player, Rob is running the game.

Who will go to Redemption Island next week, if Ometepe loses again? Phillip or Kristina? As annoying as Phillip is, he’s not as dangerous as Kristina. She (over)played her hand too soon. But she does still have that idol…

Side note: Enough with the “Redemption Island” “What if?” videos — like Shambo. Really? Shambo? We get the point of coming back.

These people are still around:

Ometepe Tribe

* Andrea Boehlke, 21, Random Lake, Wis.; student
* Matt Elrod, 22, Nashville; pre-med student
* Kristina Kell, 46, Malibu; law student
* Grant Mattos, 29, West Hollywood; former NFLer, yoga instructor
* Phillip Sheppard, 52, Santa Monica; technology executive
* Natalie Tenerelli, 19, Acton, Calif.; professional dancer
* Ashley Underwood, 25, Benton, Maine; nurse
* “Boston Rob” Rob Mariano

Zapatera Tribe

* Mike Chiesl, 31, Del Mar, Calif.; former Marine
* Ralph Kiser, 44, Lebanon, Va.; farmer
* Krista Klumpp, 25, Columbia, S.C.; pharmaceutical rep.
* David Murphy, 31, West Hollywood; defense attorney
* Stephanie Valencia, 25, Long Beach, Calif.; waitress
* Sarita White, 36, Santa Monica; visual effects producer
* Julie Wolfe, 50, Oceanside, Calif.; firefighter
* Steve Wright, 51, Huntington Beach, Calif.; former NFL player
* Russell Hantz


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