Initially starting out as the minority alliance in the Villains tribe, Russell's scheming allowed his alliance to gain an edge over its rivals. While this alliance stayed tight, members of Rob's alliance defected to Russell's. Once the alliance made the merge intact and fooled J.T. Thomas into giving up his idol, the alliance became the majority for the remainder of the game.
At the beginning of the game, Russell Hantz immediately created separate Final Two deals with Parvati Shallow and Danielle DiLorenzo. Parvati thought that agreeing to it was the same as making "a deal with the devil", but she wanted the "devil" on her side, while Russell said to her that she "did not even have a choice" since Parvati was a previous Sole Survivor, had pre-existing relationships with the members of the Heroes tribe and a reputation of a manipulator, she became a target by Rob's Villains Alliance, who were the majority alliance at the time.
Russell eventually found the Hidden Immunity Idol, which made rival alliance member Sandra Diaz-Twine alert Rob Mariano - the leader of the rival alliance - to split votes between Russell and Parvati to flush the Idol. However, Russell convinced Tyson Apostol, who was supposed to vote for Russell, to change his vote to Parvati as Russell said that he would vote against her too to save himself and Tyson wanted Parvati out over Russell. At Tribal Council, Russell gave the Idol to Parvati, nullifying four votes against her, and with Tyson deciding to vote against Parvati instead, Tyson blindsided himself by a 3-2-0 vote.
Russell Wanting to Be King
After what Russell did to Parvati, Jerri Manthey (a member of the rival alliance that was thinking of flipping) was burdened to join their side when the three asked her to join. Coach Wade, who had a separate alliance with Jerri, was also convinced to be part of the alliance. At the next Tribal Council, Jerri decided to vote with the alliance, while Coach stayed neutral and voted for perceived tribe challenge liability Courtney Yates, voting out Rob by a 4-3-1 decision.
The Bug in Russell's Ear
Upon Rob's elimination, the two remaining loyal members of Rob's alliance Sandra and Courtney saw no light in their survival and were in danger of being voted next. Sandra decided, however to target one former ally-now Russell's ally Coach, by manipulating Russell into thinking that Coach was gunning for him. Coach later lost respect from members from the tribe when he opted to sit the tribe's weakest members Sandra and Courtney out of the Reward Challenge because he wanted to eat pizza, thus disallowing them to sit out in the Immunity Challenge. The Villains lost both the Reward Challenge and the Immunity Challenge and went to Tribal Council, where Sandra's plan went into effect when Coach was voted out 4-3. Interestingly, Russell voted against Courtney instead of Coach whilst Danielle and Parvati voted against Coach after insisting that voting Courtney out was essential if they wanted to win future challenges.
The Idol Trick
At the merge (where after Coach, the alliance decided to eliminate Courtney for her weakness rather than Sandra), there were five Heroes and five Villains remaining in the game. The Heroes thought Russell was on their side after J.T. Thomas gave Russell his Hidden Immunity Idol to take out Parvati. However, when the Heroes saw the Villains arriving on the beach, Parvati was still there, and Courtney had been voted out instead. Rupert Boneham and J.T. then questioned Russell about what happened and Russell claimed that he and Parvati played both of their idols, nullifying all votes, where at the revote Courtney was voted out. The Heroes bought Russell's lie and believed he was with them, until Sandra let slip to Rupert that Russell was really the leader of the Villains majority alliance, which brought great concern upon Rupert and the Heroes Alliance. Little that the rest of the merged tribe knew, Parvati and Amanda Kimmel were talking, Amanda somehow got Parvati to fess up about her Hidden Immunity Idol. After the Immunity Challenge (where Danielle won), Parvati took her Idol plan to a whole new level. Firstly, Russell gave her the Idol that J.T. gave him, and Amanda told Parvati to play her Idol in case she could be targeted, which to Parvati, implied that they were only trying to flush the idol. At Tribal Council, the Heroes voted against Jerri or Sandra as they believed the two were unlikely to have the Idol played for them. But all of a sudden, when Jeff asked who wants to play their Idol(s), Parvati stood up by not playing one to herself, but by playing two Idols to the two unlikeliest Idol possessors: Jerri and Sandra. This resulted in Jerri's votes being negated and J.T. going home in agony. As Russell wasn't aware of Parvati's second idol, it left him furious with her.
The Outsider Fights Back
The next vote went as planned with Amanda being voted out but the Heroes were in an even bigger hole because Candice flipped over to the Villains alliance in an attempt to further herself in the game. This left Colby and Rupert furious but virtually helpless. However, Rupert faked being in possession of a Hidden Immunity Idol so Russell planned a split vote but his alliance weren't sure if they should split it between Rupert and Colby or Rupert and Candice, since Candice wasn't entirely trusted. Hoping they'd split the vote between Rupert and Candice, the loyal Heroic duo voted against Candice and Candice was voted off 5-3. After that, Russell noticed that Danielle and Parvati were becoming dangerously closer to each other as opposed to growing closer to him, so Russell planned on blindsiding Danielle. Colby and Rupert were on board with the plan but Jerri was on the fence between Danielle and Rupert. Jerri ended up siding with Russell and Danielle was voted off 4-3. At this point Russell's alliance seemed completely fractured. However everything returned to normal for the alliance and they succeeded in voting off the remaining Heroes by Day 37. On Day 38, Russell won immunity and it seemed like it was up to him as to who would join him in the final 3. Ultimately Jerri was seen as the most likely to win in the end and Russell thought Jerri would vote for him at the Final Tribal Council, so she was voted off 3-1. Russell and Parvati's early game alliance, despite many bumps in the road, stayed in tact although one of Russell's enemies Sandra found a spot in the final 3 as well.
The Wrath of the jury
Parvati, Russell, and Sandra celebrated with the traditional Day 39 breakfast. Unknowingly paying homage to something Russell once did, Sandra tossed Russell's hat into the camp fire in an attempt to throw him off his game at the Final Tribal Council. The three burned down the camp and set off for the Final Tribal Council.
At the Final Tribal Council, the jury questioned and lectured the final three on their strategic plays, their perceptions among the jury, what they would have done differently during the game, their loyalties, and how they played the game. The members of the jury made their dislike of Russell and his unlikelihood of receiving votes very clear; the other two finalists used this in their attempts to sway the jury to their side. Parvati mentioned that she used Russell and "kept him as her pet" while Sandra said that she lobbied for Russell's removal since Day 1. The votes went 6-3-0, with Sandra receiving all of the Heroes' votes plus Courtney's, Parvati receiving the rest of the Villains' votes, and Russell receiving none, to give Sandra her second Sole Survivor title.
- Out of everybody in Russell's Villains Alliance, Russell and Danielle are the only two to make the Final Tribal Council, but never win.