All Star Strategy #5:  Snuffing The Flame
Written by Mario Lanza on 02.27.04

"Who's that there?"
"I don't know.  Must be a king."
"He hasn't got shit all over him."
     -Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Well, we finally saw history this week.  In a Survivor first, Richard Hatch-- the King of Survivor-- was voted out of the game that he pretty much invented.  I hope you managed to get it on tape.  So wake the kids, phone the neighbors, tell your grandkids.  Good food, good fun, good Lord, Rich is gone.

It was a solid episode this week, culminating of course in one of the single greatest Survivor moments of all time.  And no, I'm not talking about Richard pulling a Kobe Bryant and dry humping Sue during the immunity challenge.  And no, I'm not talking about Ethan falling face first into a piece of wood when Rob tackled him and knocked him down to the ground.  No, the great moment in question was the moment riiiiiight after Rich was voted out.  Because the looks on the faces of his Mogo Mogo teammates were just priceless.  Between Kathy's excited chipmunk grin... to Colby's cocky smirk... to Shii Ann's coy little grin... that was one Survivor moment that I will always remember.  Because this was something that every Survivor player must have dreamed of throughout the years.  They all wanted to be the one to vote out Richard Hatch.  They all wanted to be the one who did it.  Because as Ric Flair once so memorably said... to be the man, you gotta beat the man.  And they beat the man, all of them.

By the way, as a parallel... check out my All-Star Survivor: Hawaii story back in 2002.  In the story, Richard became the fourth member voted out of the game.  And his downfall came at the hands of Kathy and (especially) Colby.  Colby ended up being the one personally responsible for Richard's demise.  How is that for foresight?

And I do have to point out that Richard handled his exit with an appropriate amount of humor and good sportsmanship.  He wasn't mad, he wasn't bitter.  He didn't even seem to care all that much.  If anything, I think he just found the entire thing hilarious.  The master of Survivor, the king of kings, outwitted at his own game.  And while it is sad to see him leave (I was really pulling for the guy), I have to say that I loved the way that he went out.  Richard handled his exit the way that all players should... with a tip of the cap, and a pat on Colby's back, and an extra super gay dance down the runway.  Err, okay strike that last part.  Everything up until the dance was great, at least.  So thank you Rich for coming back and thank you for all the entertainment.  Survivor never would have existed without you.

So where do we go from here?  Well, we have some very interesting tribal dynamics developing now, on both sides.

~~ Mogo Mogo ~~

This tribe could go one of two ways right now.  Although I am pretty sure I know what is going to happen.  The first possible outcome is that they will stick together down their original tribal lines.  Because even with Richard out of the game now, it is still four Mogo Mogos against two Sabogas.  Even with the Richard vote, not much has really changed.  So if they continue down that path, then Ethan is gone next.  Plain and simple, no two ways about it--- Ethan "EZ" Zohn will be dead meat. 


The more likely option in my mind (especially if you read the clues given by Kathy and Shii Ann) is that the girls will now team up to get rid of the guys.  Because I have said it before... and I'm sure I will say it again.  A female is going to win All-Star Survivor.  I have always said that Survivor is a female game, and All Stars will just amplify that even more.  At a certain point the males will either take each other out, or they will be dismantled by the weaker females.  So if THIS theory turns out to be true... and I think that it will... then Colby will be the next one gone.  It is no secret that he is rubbing people the wrong way, so he would be an easy choice for the women to get rid of (plus as a bonus they would be removing a very big challenge threat.)  If this particular scenario develops... then Kathy and Shii Ann will team up with Jerri (and fourth wheel Ethan) to take out Colby.  And then they can pick off Lex or Ethan at their leisure.  This option makes a lot of sense for the women, especially with a merge coming up soon.  There are just too many alpha male types left in the game to let them all stick around.  So if Mogo Mogo goes to Tribal Council next week, I am predicting that Colby will be sent packing.  And all I am saying right now is to watch the women.  The females will soon control every aspect of this game.  It is practically inevitable.

In particular, watch Kathy.  She's important.

~~ Chapera ~~

Chapera, which almost means "hat" in French, is sitting very pretty right now.  Their core alliance is solid and their newcomers (Jenna and Rupert) are really no threat to put together any sort of a counter-alliance whatsoever.  In other words, nothing has changed at Chapera in the slightest.  Rob and Amber still call the shots, Alicia is along for the ride, and Tom will go wherever the heck the power is.  Especially if there happens to be alcohol there too.  Rupert, Sue, and Jenna are all outcasts and really the most you can say to them right now is "tough luck."  You might as well hope for a merge, because otherwise you three are S.O.L. If I had to pick, I will predict that Jenna will go first, although you could really make a decent case for any one of the three going first.

Next week, look forward to some excitement.  We will see Colby square off against Shii Ann, we will see the editors try to hide the fact that Chapera's power core is perfectly obvious, and we will see Sue pitch a fit because Richard put his wee wee against her and treated her like a hillbilly blow up doll.  Bring the kids, it should be a lot of fun.

~~ Weekly Notes ~~

* I was SO excited when I saw the "parental guidance- inappropriate material" warning that showed up at the beginning of the episode.  Wow!  The only two times we have seen that particular warning before were when Mike Skupin killed a pig and, later, when Mike fell into the firepit.  Actually I think they might have shown it a third time too, when Colby's mom watched her naked son in the shower, but I could be mistaken about that.  Anyway, when I saw that warning pop up I was expecting greatness.  I was expecting Sue to beat Rob to death with a paddle, or Richard to be eaten by a shark.  But it turns out that all we got was Richard grinding Sue (most of it off camera, mind you) during a challenge.  How disappointing.  At the very least she should have at least slugged him.  Come on, give us some violence at least.  That was a waste of a parental advisory.

* I have always loved any Survivor challenge with an attack zone.  To me, there is nothing better than watching Rob and Colby battling it out for immunity.  And I know I make this joke in my column every season, but I think that EVERY challenge should feature an attack zone.  I seriously do.  Wouldn't you love to see a swimming challenge which featured an underwater attack zone?  Or a puzzle challenge with an attack zone?  Or a food auction with an attack zone?  Come on Burnett, let's make this happen.  And I think I speak for most every guy out there when I say I was bitterly disappointed that we didn't see at least one catfight.   Come on, are you kidding me?!  Jerri against Amber?  Kathy against Alicia?  You gotta give us some sugar here.  You know they would do it on Fox.

* I was hoping to see Richard and Rupert on the same tribe... just so we could have a fish-off.  Which fishing god could collect the most fish in two hours?  That would have been fun to see.  Oh well.  So much for my dreams.

* I wonder about the Lex/Ethan pairing on Mogo Mogo.  Do you think they have some super secret pact to stick together?  You know, because in Africa they were friends to the end?  I will be paying careful attention to to how Lex and Ethan interact with each other next episode.  It is the first instance of an alliance from a past season we have seen in All Stars.

* Yet another lesson we learned this week:  If you vote out Tina Wesson, your tribe will wind up getting dissolved.  I'm telling you, the ramifications of that vote are going to haunt these people for the rest of their lives.  I mean it is obvious that God already hates them for it.  How much more proof do you need?

* "Kiss my ass.  What a hag."  Thank you Tom, for the quote of the week (about Sue).

* My wife Diana is a huge Ethan fan.  So when Richard was voted out, she smiled and said "Finally!  Ethan finally gets to be the fisherman.  They are finally going to let him do it."  I thought that was cute.


Things are a lot tougher to predict now.  I still say we will have to get rid of the two extra players at some point in the future-- and who knows WHEN the merge is going to happen.  But as always, Survivor (especially All Stars) is a female game.  So bye bye Tom, you have been replaced atop the list.  But hey, at least it wasn't by Sue.

1. Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien
Kathy will not be going anywhere for a long, long time.  And the way she battled Rob in the attack zone was pretty clever.  If she decides to turn on the guys next week and band with the girls, look for her to be in the final four, easy.

2. Amber Brkich
I go back to the old axiom... never bet against an under-the-radar female.  Amber will remain here in the top three all game.

3. Shii Ann Huang
Shii Ann takes a huge leap this week because of her friendship with Kathy.  The Shii Devil is in good shape for now.

4. Jerri Manthey
Wow, where did Jerri come from?  Suddenly she is in a pretty good position.  What a story it would be if she won this game.

5. Rob Mariano
All Stars is showing us more and more than Hunter was the knucklehead of Maraamu, not Rob.  When Rob runs the show, things get done.  Just let him lead the way and good things will happen.

6. Tom Buchanan
He is still in good position, but I think that the guys are about to be outnumbered.

7. Alicia Calaway
In a decent position for now, but her temper and her athleticism will always be a problem once the game starts to get stressful.

8. Lex van den Berghe
Uh oh.  Watch your back, Lex.  Better separate yourself from Colby very quickly.

9. Rupert Boneham
I don't really know where to rank him, but it's gotta be low. 

10. Jenna Lewis
So much for Jenna's chances.  But if she makes the merge, watch out for her.  She will jump all over any sort of an all-female alliance.

11. Colby Donaldson
"He's not as tough as you think, ladies."

12. Ethan Zohn
The best thing that ever happened to Ethan's Survivor legacy is that Richard confirmed he is a great player this week.  Richard flat out said it, word for word.  "Oooh, Ethan is good."  But Ethan also needs a lot of luck right now.  It doesn't matter how good you are if you are the only former winner left in the game.  But at least he "played through the pain" the best this week.  Nice job Ethan.

13. Sue Hawk
Sue will pee on anything.

My boot pick for next week:  Colby

Mario Lanza is a writer and renaissance man living in Los Angeles.  He is the lead author of the S-C All-Star Stories as well as the smash hit Survivor: Okinawa (currently on episode 7!)  He also plays through the pain on a regular basis.