Jeff Probst: ‘The Scariest Moment I Have Ever Had on the Show’

No vote, and nobody goes home — well, almost nobody.

Tonight’s episode begins with the tribes appearing very cold through the never-ending storms. Jaison says he wants to find a heart, you know, like the one from that cartoon he has trouble describing. Russell on the other hand is enjoying the miserable weather.

“This is really no big deal, as a matter of fact it makes me stronger,” he says.

After the commercial, my wife and I are both saying, “Look at the beautiful turtle!” Gotta love HD. Galu is huddled together and John the rocket scientist (really, he is a rocket scientist) is complaining that dreadlocked Russell didn’t choose the tarps.

Brett the young T-shirt designer (who hasn’t been at all prominent to this point) thinks Russell is going too far by working so hard on the fire. Kelly the hairstylist concurs that Russell is trying too hard. Over at Foa Foa, sad faces all around.

Mick the doctor is curled up against a tree and tries to put on a brave face. This stuff isn’t rattling Russell, and he keeps working. The rain keeps pouring as we go to another quick commercial.

At Galu, Erik the bartender is very happy to see blue skies the next day and is grateful to see the rainbow. The tribe reacts to the blue sky as if it were the coolest sight they’ve ever seen.

Looks like it’s time for a reward challenge, and it involves a human size hamster wheel and blindfolded tribe members. The reward is pizza, which will be good going down (and coming out) but regardless of who wins, both tribes are going to tribal council tonight. I’m getting dizzy even watching these wheels moving, and I’m reminded why I can’t play certain videogames.

Foa Foa has a lead through most of the course, but Dreadlocked Russell looks like he’s about to pass out. Wait, he does appear to have passed out. And Jeff stops the game and brings in medical. Uh oh, hope he’s okay. Cut to commercial as the medical staff looks at Russell.

“Let’s go,” Russell says. But he doesn’t look like he’s in any shape to go anywhere. He thinks he’s cool, but Ramona from medical believes his blood pressure is too low.

Jeff makes a call that neither tribe wins reward but both tribes are still going to tribal. Has this ever happened? I don’t think so.

At camp, Galu is wondering whether Russell is going to be coming back or not. To make matters worse, the rain has started back up. Back at the challenge location, Russell sits up and then quickly passes out again. His eyes are open but he doesn’t seem at all with it. His heart rate actually reaches a disturbing low.

Jeff tries to explain to him how being pulled from the game is not quitting. We go to a commercial with Russell crying. Jeez, this episode is getting depressing.

Thankfully, the rain has stopped and over at Foa Foa, Urban Planner Liz and Pharmaceutical sales rep Natalie are commiserating over the fact that one of them is going home tonight. Jaison is unhappy with his luck, given how close they were to winning the challenge before Jeff called it off.

At Galu, the three younger girls are discussing how Shambo is likely to go home. Shambo is asking them not to write her name down, but I think her pleas are falling on deaf ears. Monica lies to her and tells her she isn’t sure whose name she’ll be writing down.

The guys are throwing around theories on how Shambo isn’t so bad to have around camp, and that Monica should be the one to go. Shambo takes her show of imploration on the road towards the men and asks them not to write her name down. And why is Erik playing with his sword like that?

Get your mind out of the gutter, people.

Time for tribal council, and this time all 13 remaining members from both tribes are sitting down together. Jeff calls Russell’s physical breakdown “the scariest moment I have ever had on the show … 19 seasons I have never been more afraid in my life of how bad things were.”

Wow. He asks the tribe how they feel, and even heartless Russell admits that he didn’t want to beat his namesake like that.

Jeff is saying that these past 15 days have been some of the worst he’s ever seen. Erik says that he is terrified of the rain. Russell is confident that his tribe can come back.

Oh Em Gee … now Jeff informs the tribes that there will be no vote tonight, and nobody is going home. Some happy people, and some jaws hitting the floor. Russell says it’s good news, and that the tables are about to turn. “I’ma go all out,” he says. Last order of business is for Galu to assign a new leader.

Before the episode ends, we get footage of the medical team pulling Russell into a van while a voiceover of Russell talks about his frustration with not being able to finish. As the credits roll, Russell is shown on camera reiterating his disappointment.

It’s sad to see a strong competitor and good man like Russell leaving the game, but he has nothing to be ashamed of.