Amazon Strategy #13:  Six Votes??
Written by Mario Lanza on 05.12.03

Okay, this is it. My final Survivor Strategy column of the season. And rather than do a normal column, I am trying something that I did last season for the Thailand finale. I am going to sit here and write a running commentary. So here are my comments as they come up during the episode.

Sorry I wasn't in the studio this year, but maybe next year CBS will realize that we have no rain in Los Angeles and that it is possible to actually plan events out here around the weather. Take that, you east coast savages.


7:59 PM - The show is ready to begin! And as with every Survivor night this will be a family event. I am joined by my wife, Diana, and our 3-year old daughter, Vanessa-- the normal viewing team. They will both be assisting me with my commentary tonight. And in keeping with the festive spirit of the evening, we had an Amazon themed dinner right before the show. That's right, tonight's menu consisted of nachos, Pepsi, and s'mores. Just like they eat in Brazil.

8:00 PM - The credits are rolling! I hope that Rob wins. Diana doesn't care who wins, as long as Jenna doesn't win. And Vanessa just had a temper tantrum over jelly beans and was banished to her room. She will hopefully return later in the evening.

8:01 PM - The season recap starts, and it goes over the events of the past 36 days. Some favorite moments: Ryan stares angrily as his torch is snuffed out (he would have been a fun player had he stuck around), Alex gets macheted in the face again (ouch!) and Dave gets "blindsided" by the alliance. Uh, didn't Dave pretty much KNOW he was going to be voted out unanimously? I'm not sure that is really "blindsiding." And we are treated to the painful scene of Christy waffling over her alliance with Rob one more time. Please stop showing that, it hurts to watch.

8:11 PM - Did you ever notice that the opening credits give away the boot order for the men? Four of the male players are shown doing the balance beam challenge: Daniel, Ryan, Dave and Roger. And which four guys were voted out first? You guessed it. Was that just a coincidence?

8:12 PM - A commercial for The Amazing Race 4! I don't watch a whole lot of TV other than Survivor, but if you haven't seen the Amazing Race, you really should. It is a great example of reality TV done well.

8:13 PM - Wow, Butch is really starting to look like Keith Famie, what with the heavy white beard and all. And Matt just dropped his first "dude" of the episode. Things are going well.

8:15 PM - There is NO WAY that Jenna is going home first. The editors are harping over and over and over about how the guys will kick her off first, so I think you can pretty much bet she will win immunity. I can guarantee it, it always happens like that.  Matt says Jenna is next.  Rob says Jenna is next.  She is therefore not next. My wife utters a pre-emptive "this sucks." She just doesn't want Jenna to win.

8:16 PM - Butch dances again. No comment.

8:18 PM - The first Immunity Challenge! And it is a strange one too, a blindfolded maze. Add that to the nasty mud and rain that the players will be walking through and this one is going to be an effort to win.  But it doesn't matter since we all know Jenna will win, right?

8:19 PM - Once again, Diana hopes the winner of the challenge is "anyone but Jenna."

8:20 PM - Matt gropes Jenna in the maze.  This is quickly followed by Rob groping Matt.  Everybody gets to cop a feel today! Rob realizes this and he immediately heads towards Jenna...

8:22 PM - In a very tense finish, Jenna pulls off the miraculous upset. Gee, didn't see that one coming. The world rejoices for young Miss Morasca. Diana and I turn to one another and we both say the exact same name: "Butch." Butch is going to be gone first.

8:25 PM - Vanessa (our 3-year old daughter) is released from her room during commercial and she comes downstairs to watch TV. She makes her penance with us and we can all watch Survivor as a family again. Good girl.

8:29 PM - Rob is nearly having a nervous breakdown. He thinks he is going home. I don't blame him. But I don't think Matt is completely out of the woods either. If they were smart, they would all team up to vote Matt out. But they probably won't do that.

8:31 PM - Butch strategizes with Jenna, as he hopes to get Rob out.  Rob is now officially in trouble. "Youngest and Oldest" looks like they might be a team. And I have to say it is nice to see Butch actually do something. He actually came off like a player here.

8:32 PM - Rob says "Don't screw me over, Matt." That is foreshadowing if I ever saw it. Ten bucks says Matt screws over Rob tonight.

8:33 PM - Matt and Jenna make a super secret alliance to the final two. They will both take the other one if either one wins the final immunity challenge. Smooth move by Matt, who is really starting to look like actor Adam Baldwin.

8:35 PM - It looks set. Butch will be the first person voted out.

8:36 PM - The first Tribal Council. The jury files in, and Christy and Heidi have to share the back seat of the jury bench. I bet Heidi loves that. Hopefully she won't get any deaf germs on her. Heidi is all dolled up, her hair looks much poofier than it ever has in the past. She gets several closeups. I am guessing the cameraman has wood right now.

8:39 PM - Rob votes for Butch: "All the firewood in the forest is not gonna keep your torch lit tonight." Ha ha.  A great quote from the quotemaster of the Amazon.

8:41 PM - Butch is gone. We are down to three.

8:42 PM - Commercial break. Time to discuss our theories. I predict that the final two will be Matt and Rob. They showed the Matt-Jenna pact in great detail, but I just don't think that is going to happen. I just think Rob was meant to win this season, it all seems right. He just has to be in the final two. Diana is very worried about Jenna still being around.  She feels that Jenna is going to be a much tougher F2 opponent than people expect. She thinks sympathy will play a big factor and she doesn't like that. I mention that Matt has a final two pact with both Jenna and Rob, and because of that he should just throw the final challenge. That way, he doesn't have to lie to either one. There is too much potential fallout from him choosing his F2 opponent, so he might as well take it out of his hands and make somebody else do it.

8:47 PM - Getting ready for the final challenge. I hope it is "Hands on the Idol," I love that challenge. We are also getting ready for the torch walk, which is always one of the best parts of the season.

8:49 PM - The final three players get a scale and they get to weigh themselves. It would be funny if Rob literally was a 98 pound weakling, but he actually weighs in at around 130.

8:52 PM - Instead of a torch walk, the players get a ride on a sea plane. Not sure if that is a good tradeoff, but whatever.  Although on the plus side, we FINALLY get to see our first pink dolphin!  Yay, finally, after CBS teased us with them in all the pre season promos. Thanks a bunch, guys. Oh, and Rob gets to share the back seat of the plane with Jenna. If nothing else, when he goes home, Rob can now say he got Jenna alone in a backseat. Sometimes it is the little victories in life that are the sweetest.

8:54 PM - I was hoping for a Raiders of the Lost Ark reference, but it never came. When the plane was flying out of the jungle, I wanted Rob to say. "There's a snake up here! I hate snakes! I hate 'em!"  Oh well.

8:55 PM - My daughter Vanessa makes her first observation of the evening.  She points to Jeff Probst and says "The man's name is Jeff."  See, she is starting to grasp the subtle nuances of the game.

8:56 PM - The final three ride in a canoe to their final immunity challenge. And I have to say I enjoy the visual of canoes appearing to glide through thickets of grass. That was always one of my favorite images of this season, all those gliding canoe/grass shots.

8:57 PM - Matt tells us that he is going to throw the immunity challenge. That's my boy!

8:58 PM - Commercial time. No torch walk yet. Are they actually going to have one? I hope so, because I don't know about you, but I know I will get choked up when I see when Ryan got snuffed. Wait, was he the first guy kicked off or the third? I forget. Wasn't he Asian? Anyway, we can't send this season off without at least one more shot of Daniel looking directly at the camera, or of Heidi saying something foolish. Come on CBS, you gotta give us that closure!

9:02 PM - The final Immunity Challenge.  This one is going to be held at Tribal Council.  Butch comes in, and he doesn't have a beard anymore. Ye gods, he looks old. And five of the jurors are dressed in black, what's up with that? The final three look pretty cool with their orange facepaint on, especially Matthew. And I'm glad to see that Rob took the time to paint his kneecap. But you know what, this means no torch walk!  No way! And now we're stuck with stupid Fallen Comrades as the final immunity challenge? Yuck.

9:03 PM - Okay good, no Fallen Comrades. It is the perch again. Nice choice. It shouldn't last more than a couple of minutes though. Diana comments that this challenge is nasty, and I agree. The ones based on willpower are always a bit sadistic.

9:05 PM - Matt steps down, clearly throwing the challenge. And if you read Jenna's lips, she clearly says "shit." She knows it is all up to her now. Matt forced her hand, just like he should have done.

9:06 PM - Things are getting tense. Rob just offered Jenna a final two deal, and she turned it down. Rob can clearly read the writing on the wall by this point, he knows he needs to win the challenge to get to the end. It was a nice try though, offering a deal there was definitely the right move.  Rob doesn't care how he gets to the final two, he just wants to get there.

9:07 PM - Uh oh, something is happening... the music is building and swelling... somebody is about to fall.

9:08 PM - Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9:09 PM - With Rob out of the challenge, you can say it right now. The final two is Jenna and Matt. Women always win the balance contests, I should have seen that coming. I wonder how long that challenge took? For once, we didn't get a timer on the screen. But take nothing away from Jenna, she pulled out immunity when she needed it.

9:10 PM - Jenna says she wants to go to the final two against a person she can't beat. You can't beat EITHER OF THEM! And then she gives my personal favorite Jenna quote of the episode, about how she doesn't care if she winds up in first or second place. Wait a minute, if the entire reason you signed up to play Survivor was to help your mom pay her medical bills, wouldn't it make a BIG difference between first and second place? That's a lot of money! But whatever, we will get back to that later.

9:11 PM - Rob knew he was going home, and he is gone. Jenna just slit his throat. I wince, in pain for my long lost brother.  But the jury smiles. They are all glad to see him gone, they couldn't be happier. My wife begrudgingly admits that Rob worked hard and that he was the best player. But she is still dreading a Jenna win.

9:12 PM - Rob's final words. He seems to go out with some class.  Hopefully he is a nice juror.

9:13 PM - Commercials, time to discuss. Diana and I both think that Matthew will walk away with this thing. We both predict a 5-2 Matthew win. Matt played it great at the end, Rob never even realized that his Frankenstein Monster had a side deal with Jenna. Say hello to your newest millionaire, Matthew von Ertfelda.

9:16 PM - A commercial for Mitsubishi, advertising "dual front air bags." And then to demonstrate, they show a picture of Heidi walking into a wall. Just kidding. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

9:17 PM - More random thoughts during the commercial break. Jenna is now officially the worst final two player ever. At least Kim Johnson did the cooking around camp, and at least Neleh shared her mints. And ALL season long they have been building up the big Christy vs. Jenna feud, so you knew there had to be a payoff at some point or another.  It appears now we can see where it was going.  Maybe Christy will be the 4th vote for Matt, the one that seals the game for him. And I comment to Diana that if Jenna DOES somehow win, she can buy a new Zeta Crown and/or jacket, so at least there is something positive that can come out of it. Diana isn't amused.

9:22 PM - In lieu of the torch walk, we have Matt and Jenna having a "crate paint." They paint the names of their departed teammates on a crate while they reminisce. The replacement torch walk is pretty good, I guess, but you can sense that the producers probably prodded them to do it. "Quick, take this brush and paint the names of the other players. Oh, and do it in order. Oh, and comment on each one as you do it, and what you miss about them. I'm sorry, we forgot to film a torch walk, this is the best we can do." In the fake torch walk, we get more slams against Roger (ouch!) and more comments about Dave saying "booyah."  Oh, and in a convenient bit of editing, we aren't shown what Jenna says about Christy. I guess it wasn't a heartwarming moment to hear a potential winner say "The deaf girl tried to talk to me once, so I just bitch slapped her until she started to cry." I guess that line must have been edited out.

9:26 PM - A Matt confessional. He admits, for the 100th time this season, that he has been clueless all along, which destroys my theory that he was always playing dumb. He also admits to throwing the final immunity challenge. Then he points out that Rob was the mastermind out here since day one. What? Not Heidi?? But Heidi told us SHE was the mastermind. Now I'm confused.

9:27 PM - Matt is going to go home after the game and, instead of studying Swedish, he is going to watch more TV. So I guess the lesson learned here is that television is liberating. Take note, potential terrorists, our television = freedom.  But the lack of Swedish also means that Matt will no longer be able to shop at Ikea. He clearly did not plan this whole thing out very well.

9:29 PM - Matt and Jenna burn their boat.  They torch it in a manner reminiscent of a Viking funeral.  Matt also very nearly torches HIMSELF, as the boat explodes into a really nifty fireball and blows up in his face. This is likely the only way that Jenna can win Survivor, and she came oh so close. But it does back up Matt's comment from last episode. The guy -is- a pyromaniac.

9:32 PM - The jurors give their thoughts as Matt and Jenna travel to the final Tribal Council.  Rob is a poor sport (boo hoo.)  Christy is still waffling over her decision (go figure.)  And Alex asks the question that I would ask. "Why should I vote for you?"  He just wants one of them to admit to playing the game. Deena seems to prefer Matt more, as she all but calls Jenna a panty waste. And I didn't realize how much I missed Dave's cool voice until I heard it again here.

9:35 PM - The final Tribal Council begins.

9:40 PM - Matt and Jenna make opening statements, although Matt ventures dangerously into Neleh territory ("I was honest, I played fair, I just want you guys to love me.") Alex rolls his eyes at this.

9:41 PM - Butch almost dies when a tree branch comes crashing down onto him. Matt replies with proper concern, saying "Dude!"

9:42 PM - Butch asks Matt and Jenna to fess up if they ever lied. Matt answers the question... well... truthfully... but Jenna messes it up. She says she lied to Deena, but she neglects to mention the fact that she lied TO BUTCH JUST TWO DAYS AGO! She told Butch she was going to vote for Rob. Oops, minor detail.

9:43 PM - Rob asks them why the person sitting next to them should NOT win. This is a great question, I always like this one. Go for it.  Slam your opponent. Matt claims that Jenna has done nothing.  Jenna says Matt was a hanger on and that he doesn't really need the money. I think Matt answered this one better, I would guess two votes for Matt at this point.

9:44 PM - Alex asks them to state their biggest regret.  Jenna says that she trusted people, which is a horrible answer. That is a cop out answer because all it does is place the blame on others, you aren't actually critiquing yourself.  Matt says that he tried to go with Ryan at the start, and when Ryan was voted out it plunged him into depression. Neither one answered the question all that well, but Alex is going to vote for Jenna anyway, so it doesn't matter.

9:46 PM - Heidi takes a moment from reading her Mensa book to ask a question. She asks which player in the jury is the most deserving.  Matt knows he damn well BETTER say Rob, and he does.  Good boy.  I figure Matt has won the game right now, all he had to do was acknowledge Rob's greatness and he has it all wrapped up. Jenna also says Rob. Heidi asks if there is anyone else who deserves it too, you know, like me. Jenna and Matt refuse to answer the second part of the question, so Heidi all but begs them just to say her name. No dice. Jeff tells her to shut up and sit down. Rob covers his face in embarassment, and I laugh. My wife comments that Heidi digs a hole for herself every single time she opens her mouth, and it is true. That was ugly. And it is pretty clear that Jeff doesn't like Heidi much either.

9:48 PM - Deena is sure to come up with a good question, and she does. Should the jurors only vote based on who needs the money? Jenna, not surprisingly, say yes. Deena doesn't seem to have a question for Matt, and I take this as a sign that she has already made up her mind. I think she is a Matt vote for sure.

9:50 PM - Christy comes up to speak, and Jeff grins. You can tell he clearly loves the final jury questions. He loves to see the finalists squirm. And this one should be particularly fun to watch. "Jenna, you said that you had a handicap, that you were beautiful." Ouch! You can see where this one is headed, and it is not going to be pretty. But Jenna, to her credit, handles this question pretty well. And I think she makes a good point, people like her DO get underestimated out in the real world. But come on, Christy won't ever vote for Jenna, so what is the point?

9:52 PM - Dave asks a bizarre question, which famous leader do you most emulate? Matt says Jason Voorhees. Jenna says Cindy Crawford. Ok, I kid. But neither one really answers it well. I think Dave was hoping they would answer some famous sports figure.

9:54 PM - One last commercial. We go over our vote tallies, to make our final predictions.  I figure Matt has three votes in the bag: Rob, Christy, and Deena. I figure Jenna has Alex and Heidi for sure. It is technically anyone's game, but I think that Butch will vote for Matt, thus leaving Dave's vote irrelevant. So I am tentatively predicting a 5-2 Matt win. I think the only suspense is if it will be a 5-2 Matt win or a 4-3 Matt win. I am very confident about this. The only thing I can't figure out is why Alex hates Matt so much. Why is that?

9:57 PM - We're back. Final arguments begin. Jenna admits that she wasn't the strongest player, but she did her fair share of work around camp. Matt claims that he doesn't deserve a title of integrity, because he was lying to himself. Not great speeches, but nothing terrible.

9:58 PM - Final voting begins. Butch votes for Matthew, which I think cinches a Matthew win. Alex and Deena's votes are not shown. Heidi tries to vote for herself, and Jeff forces her to change it to Jenna instead. She says that she adores Jenna. My wife makes another unflattering comment about Heidi's intelligence, and I make no effort to rebut it.

9:58 PM - Christy's vote is not shown, but she sneers as she is casting it.  I think it is safe to say that she didn't write Jenna. We don't see any more votes, but we hear Rob's comments. He says he was impressed how this person got to the final two. It is meant to sound like he is talking about Jenna, but he can't possibly vote for her, right? I can't imagine a guy like him could possibly handle losing to Jenna. After all, wasn't she the same girl he called a "halfwit" just last episode?

9:59 PM - Jeff tallies the votes and, in a nice hokey pre-taped segment, he speeds off with the votes on a jet ski. He disappears into the deep dark Amazon night.  His corpse will be found five months later under a log.  It will have been mostly eaten by piranha.

10:00 PM - I was wrong. Jeff survived and he is now... in New York? Wow, that is a fast jet ski. But Jeff single handedly causes a Code Orange terrorism alert when his lone jet ski approaches New York Harbor unannounced. He just barely avoids being gunned down by the Port Authority. Maybe next time he will alert them that he is coming beforehand.

10:01 PM - A nice propaganda shot of the Statue of Liberty.  Ah yes.  USA!  And then Jeff is on the subway.  Two seconds into his subway trip he is mugged for the voting urn.  Ten seconds after that he is beaten by local toughs when he tries to hop a turnstile. Welcome to New York, tourist.  Now give us your wallet.

10:02 PM - We are now indoors at the Late Show studio. I knew this was going to happen ahead of time. Our webmaster, Murtz, is in New York and he tipped me off earlier today that the rain would likely cancel the outdoor finale. So it was moved indoors at the last minute. And I am impressed that they got the Tribal Council built on such short notice.

10:03 PM - The final two are seated.  We are ready for the last vote. Jenna looks great, she is less sticklike for a change. And Matt looks.... hey... who IS that guy? That's not Matthew von Ertfelda, that's Dean Cain! And what is with the spiky hair? Diana likes his new look, she says he looks cute. All I can say is that he looks FAR less creepy now that he has actual skin on his skull.

10:04 PM - Both Matt and Jenna predict they will lose, 5-2. The audience seems to want Matt to win. And I was wrong, Matt is STILL creepy. I take it back.

10:05 PM - The votes are read. And the winner is...

10:05 PM - This sucks. 6-1? How in the $%*# did that happen? NOBODY saw that coming. First off, Jenna is probably the weakest winner of all time. True, she DID have a strategy, and Matt wasn't all that great a player to begin with, but six to one is just ridiculous. NO ONE should get six votes. I mean, what did Matt do that was so wrong? Did they find him too creepy? Did they think he was nothing without Rob? Did Jenna just give really great jury answers?

I know I try very hard to say nice things about everyone, and I try to praise all of the winners, but this Jenna win is going to be hard for me. I just don't see it. I am usually very good at predicting these things, and that 6-1 vote just came out of nowhere. I can't even imagine why it was so lopsided. I do agree that Matt was nothing without Rob, at least at the beginning. But he turned into a fairly strong player by the end. He was respectful, he was strong, and he seemed very likeable. He just didn't have any enemies like Jenna did.

I know that in upcoming weeks, I will probably soften on Jenna's win.  I will start to give her the respect she deserves. But I just don't feel right about this finale. It just struck me as wrong, on several levels. First off, the person that I wanted to win (and the person that I thought would win) didn't win, and that has never happened before. Ever.  And I am never off this badly.  This vote just SCREAMED out that something went haywire, or that the editors lied to us.  I cannot fathom why Christy (or Rob) would have ever voted for Jenna. Christy hated her guts. Rob just referred to her as a HALFWIT! And why on earth would Deena vote for Jenna? Was it simply a chick thing?

I don't know. Usually I can see the logic in things, but the jurors this season just baffled me. I'm sure I will accept Jenna in time. I don't think she was an awful player.  She certainly got more likeable towards the end.  And true, Matt was never the strategic mastermind that I thought he was, so it is no real big loss to me if he didn't win. But a six to one vote, that's what really kills me. I KNOW it wasn't just a sympathy thing.  I know that the jurors wouldn't do that.

There is SOMETHING about Matt that really struck the jurors the wrong way.  Or there is something about Jenna that the jurors really love. Either way, we didn't see it on TV because the editors didn't show it to us.  And I will spend the Survivor offseason haunted by and wondering about what really happened here.

It just struck me as being wrong. No one should ever get six jury votes. And I can't explain it any better than that.  That ending was wrong.  That wasn't the storyline we had been given.

Mario Lanza is a programmer and writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently writing All-Star Survivor: Greece, which comes out May 30 at S-C. This will likely be his final Survivor Strategy column. After four seasons, he would like to work on different projects for the website. Please drop him a line if you have enjoyed his weekly strategy columns!