Amazon Strategy #10:  The Deaf Girl Took my Letter!
Written by Mario Lanza on 04.25.03

"A law of the jungle has been broken -- it will set back more than your token."
-Kirsten Dunst, Jumanji

Well, it looks like Rob's true character has finally been revealed.

It was only a matter of time, but it appears that my twin brother has finally been "outed," and now he is going to have to face the fallout. And as fun as last night's episode was, next week is going to be the big firestorm. Rob is going to face a pair of very angry twigs and sticks, and I'm not sure how well he will be able to handle it.  He is going to be drawing some big time heat next episode.

The thing about Rob is that he is a fun guy. He is a funny guy. He is good to be around. But he is not all that particularly nice. And I have written about this before, Rob even admitted it in his pre-game interviews.  He said that a lot of people in real life consider him to be an asshole. But (like many comedians in real life, Jerry Seinfeld is a good example) he can disguise it by the fact that he is funny. So this game was really sort of made for a person like Rob. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Survivor is a license for sociopathy for certain types people. It is a legalized chance to behave like a sociopath (ie, you can hurt others and be antisocial and not really care about the fallout.) And I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Rob's strategy, since I would play the EXACT same way that he is playing. I am just saying that the guy is finally starting to crack.

Watch Rob carefully from this point on.  The good natured comments are dwindling away. You can see more and more of the strain in his voice. Most of his comments this week were not funny. During his discussion with Matthew (aka "the most important conversation in the history of the universe"), Rob was clearly stressed out over what was happening at camp. Simply put, when Rob is scared in this game, he is really scared. He does NOT want to lose. He has way too much invested in the fact that he is the best player out there, and that he cannot show himself as being anything less than the best player on TV. There is a lot of pride running through Rob Cesternino right now, and he actually phrased it best himself. Over his dead body will he roll over and let ANYONE walk past him to the title right now.

So Rob has now made the big power play. He has backstabbed probably the fourth or fifth person in this game. And yes, he has a clear shot to the final two now, if he plays it smart. But as much as I like the guy, as much as I respect him, as much as I WANT him to win, it's not going to happen. Rob is not going to win.

People thought that Richard Hatch could never win a jury vote. But nope, they forgot that Richard was actually fairly well respected around camp. He brought in food, he planned his moves out well ahead of time, and as he himself stated many times, he played the game as ethically as was humanly possible. Richard played Survivor perfectly, and at the end he was rewarded accordingly. You might not have liked the guy, the other players might not have always liked the guy, but he got stuff done around camp and he treated people as human beings.  And you had to respect him.

People also said that Brian could never win a jury vote. Too cocky, too backstabbing, too insincere. But sure enough, the exact same thing happened. The jurors respected him (or they respected the image he presented to them, anyway.)  Brian could get away with all the stuff he did at the end because he was a hard worker and because he appeared to be sincere. The work ethic alone was all it took to get Helen's vote.

But Rob is really nothing like Richard or Brian. I hate to say that, since I like him so much, but it is the truth.  He is not particularly respected. He doesn't do jack around camp. No one trusts him, and they never really have. He isn't ethical in the slightest, he doesn't even try to be ethical, and this is something the other players have all laughed off up until now. But this insincerity is a trait that will bite any Survivor player in the butt at some point or another, whether they are Rob Cesternino or not, and the jurors all know who he is and what he is about now. Simply put, Rob is one of my Survivor heroes. Even Jeff Probst said recently that Rob "is a guy who plays the game the way it was designed to be played."  But he won't win a jury vote. I can say that with absolute, complete confidence. Jenna and Heidi are just as worthless as Rob is when it comes to having survival skills, but at least they are both more respected.  They both have friends on the jury. They are what they are, and they don't try to hide it.  Rob can't win against any of them.

The lesson here is simple. Jurors can overlook cockiness. They can overlook the fact that they don't like you.  But they will NOT vote for a person who they don't respect.  The weasel never wins.  Rob is second place at best.

The other big thing that showed up this week was all the "letter from home" drama. Sweet sassy molassey, you talk about your good old-fashioned Survivor melodrama. Jenna wanted her letter from home, and she was upset that Christy got one instead. And I'll just let Matthew's words speak for me here, about how selfish she was being. Apparently Jenna didn't notice that Christy got NO FOOD prior to that. And I'm not one of those people who like to deify Christy, like so many other people do online. Christy is not a flawless player, nor do I think she is always even all that likeable. But she was completely blameless in this particular case, and I was glad to see the scene of her getting a letter from her friend. Jenna is not the only one out there with loved ones, get over it.

Of course, it could have been worse. We could have heard these dread words come up once again: "Jenna, we never received a letter from home.  I'm sorry." Hey, it has happened before!

The whole Jenna situation was odd because, as a Survivor character, this was her big moment. She has taken a lot of flak on the message boards this season, and she is exceedingly unpopular among fans. People just don't seem to like her, despite the fact that she really hasn't done much of anything, either good or bad. So this was her big shining moment.  It was the moment when people would finally realize what her life is like back home. It was her chance to become a sympathetic figure, to transform from a Jerri into an Amber. And then she just blew it.  She just played the whole thing so badly, it completely ruined any chance of Jenna ever winning over the audience. Including, as a reader named Richard pointed out, a "ha ha, I got my way" look on her face right before they cut to commercial.  The whole scene was just weird-- It was a very touching, poignant, real-life moment that came off completely wrong on TV. It just seems impossible that Jenna could ever be the good guy after that.

Besides, Heidi even tried to outbid Jenna for that second letter. Did you catch that? One quick bid, and then Heidi realized "oops!" and she stopped. That would have made for a great TV moment.  Heidi outbidding her friend for a letter from her sick mom would have been a particularly nice lowlight in Survivor history.

Weekly notes:

* Rob's conversation with Christy was my favorite part of the episode. He came up to her with that big goofy grin on his face, and he just started giggling. You just know this was the biggest moment of the episode for him-- his big chance to pull off some more of his "shenanigans." Actually, I take that back.  Rob's favorite moment this episode was a toss-up between this and the moment that Jeff put the immunity carrots around his neck.

* Rob started his conversation with Christy RIGHT IN FRONT of Heidi and Jenna. A few people have questioned the logic of this, asking why would he do it right there in front of them. But you have to remember that Rob does this all the time. He makes up stories to tell people, and then he brags it to the others. Go back and watch how excited he was about all the lies he was telling to Matt.  So I have to guess he probably told Heidi and Jenna beforehand, "Watch, I'm gonna make up some story to Christy and send her on a wild goose chase," and they bought it. They probably thought it was hilarious at the time, and so did Rob.  Everyone had a good time that day.

* Wait a minute... Matt voted for himself as "Most honest" and he was the only person to get it correct?? If so many other people named him most honest, you would think that at least ONE of them would have also gotten it right. Have some faith in your answers, people!

* My wife loved how Jeff didn't even ask Rob if he wanted to give up immunity. "Well, Rob, I know you don't want to give it up, so let's vote." I think a better paraphrase of that statement would be "Rob, I don't want to lob you a softball question, and set you up for a big long rambling joke that you had all planned out, so we will just skip you and move on." I wonder if Jeff is sick of Rob's jokes at Tribal Council.

* The funniest moment of the episode was when Matthew voted for himself as the person everyone else would have a crush on, but no one else mentioned him. It just seemed like such a strange answer. Of course, I guess you would expect something like that from the guy who is also the most in need of therapy...


We head into the home stretch now, and things are just about as muddled as ever. I think three people have a good chance to win this game (Christy, Butch, Matthew), one has an outside shot to win (Jenna), and Rob and Heidi may as well just play to have fun at this point.

1. Butch Lockley
Laying lower than low, the crafty principal is guaranteed to make the final four. I think he or Matthew is our winner now.

2. Matthew von Ertfelda
Neck and neck with Butch for the #1 spot. Matthew is BY FAR the best athlete left, and he is maybe even also the smartest. Who knows? His overwhelming athletic advantage is what drops him down to #2 though. They better get rid of him soon if they are ever going to.

3. Christy Smith
All of a sudden, Christy has a solid shot to win, maybe just as much as the top two. She is in a great spot at the moment, and she would actually be a pretty tough jury threat. I bet a lot of people feel bad about the way she has been treated out here.

4. Jenna Morasca
Clearly not as high as the top three, maybe even out of it altogether. But I think she is sharper than Heidi, so she will stick around longer.

5. Rob Cesternino
Rob is a likely final two guy, but that's as far as he gets. Case closed.

6. Heidi Strobel
I think Heidi is gone next week. I think Jenna has the "people feel sorry about her sick mom" thing going on right now, and Heidi might pay the price for it. One of the two is going home, flip a coin.

Next week: All hell breaks loose. Rob takes unbelievable heat. Heidi and Jenna are livid, and one of them goes home (I guess Heidi.) And Butch just sits back, smiling and watching. It should be a great episode.

Mario Lanza is a programmer from Los Angeles who writes Survivor stuff when he is bored at work. Shhhh, don't tell. And no, it is not a pseudonym. Mario is actually his real name.