Russell Hantz, we just can’t quit you.

Russell, still evil. (CBS photo)

To the surprise of no one, CBS confirmed today that the upcoming season of “Survivor” will feature two of the series’ most storied competitors, Russell and “Boston” Rob Mariano. The two were heated rivals in last year’s “Heroes vs. Villains” season, with Russell succeeding in ousting Rob relatively early on. This will be Boston Rob’s fourth appearance on the show, and Russell’s third in four seasons.

It’s a win all around for CBS. Viewers love Boston Rob, and love to hate Russell. The fall season of “Survivor” lacked a strong villain (or hero, for that matter), and suffered because of it. Neither Rob nor Russell will have any sort of team-captain-like immunity, but even if the two veterans are voted off early, they’ll stick around thanks to the show’s new

Boston Rob, now a good guy. (CBS photo)

twist — Redemption Island, where a voted-off member will live alone until the next voted-off member comes along. Then they’ll battle, king-of-the-hill style, with the winner re-entering the game at some point. I can easily see Russell getting voted off yet returning to camp again, like Jason, the unkillable horror movie villain.

There have been rumors of Rob and Russell’s return since fall, and the two were strategically placed across the aisle from each other on last season’s reunion show, so they could both be in the camera shot when host Jeff Probst announced the new season. The only question is, are viewers tired of Russell? This will be his third appearance in the past two years, and as great a villain as he is, his act gets old fast. But he’s so over-the-top unlikable that he makes for captivating TV. Russell will never win, but it’s sure fun to watch him burn all his bridges.

The new season starts Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. on CBS. Click here for bios on the other 16 competitors.

So what do you think? Will this get you to watch? Or are you tired of these guys?

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