Amazon Strategy #4: Humans 1, Piranhas 0
Written by Mario Lanza
"Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be honest. A man who
catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley."
off, let me point out how bizarre the whole Shawna situation
In fact, we have never
really seen something like this before on Survivor. She wants them to
vote her off. She wants no part of sticking around, she wants
go home. But the Jaburus won't let
her go. Despite all of Shawna's best efforts (including trying to
sabotage the vote), she still couldn't make them vote her out.
It's just weird.
You would think that if somebody really wanted to go
they would be able to sway
the other players into showing them some pity. Especially in
selfish game like Survivor where the only goal is for you yourself not
to get voted out. But nope.
"You got into this with us. You're sticking around."
suppose if Shawna was really begging to get voted off, she could just
participate in a challenge. Or she could refuse
to walk to
Tribal Council. Or
something like that. I'm sure there is some way she could get herself
disqualified from the game if she really wanted to. But we
see what happens with her little dilemma now. Like I said,
has really never been a precedent for this
type of situation before. People have whined about being sick
before, and they have moaned and
complained, but no one has ever actively tried to get themself kicked
this blatantly. And failed at it.
I suppose it won't really
matter in the
long run, since Christy appears to have taken her place in the
probably won't be around much longer anyway, whether it is actually by
her own choice or not. But still, with Shawna gone that would
just leave a
4-person alliance. And a 4-person alliance isn't all
enter a merge. You still need a 5th, at least for one vote, if
only for numerical reasons. So I
think the females have a big choice ahead of them now. Do they want to
Jeanne around, and hope she will stick with them through the
first vote after the merge?
Or do they want to keep Shawna around and hope she eventually comes to
her senses? It is a
tough choice. In fact it is almost a no win situation, and
because of it I am beginning to
wonder if the Jaburu tribe is about to fall apart. Because they are in
sticky situation right now. Jeanne doesn't seem to like them
is strategically useless at the moment. And it is beginning to remind
me a little
of the Samburus back in Africa. The Jaburus look solid now,
there is no
guarantee that all these people will stick together once the tribes
get mixed up. Jeanne could be a very dangerous enemy if she
up with some
allies on the other side. Her angry look after JoAnna was voted out
pretty much said
it all. Jeanne is
pissed off now.
Ok, back to Jaburu. It appears I was way off
last week in my assessment of the tribe. In short, I was wrong about
thought it was a given that she would be aligned with the elders, but
pulled a 180 on me and went the other direction instead. And
her logic was pretty sound
too, because she was right. The younger girls will be
easier to sway down the road. They will certainly be a lot easier to
influence than Jeanne or JoAnna.
Now, a week ago, I would have said that Deena's plan was a little short sighted. Because in aligning herself with
Heidi, and Jenna, she seemed to be setting herself up for fourth place.
Sure, you can try to sway the girls all you want along the way, but like Heidi said, the
young girls stick together. Had things continued the way they were going, Deena would have been destined for fourth place.
But with Shawna giving up now, and with Christy taking her place, well
that changes things. That makes Deena's plan look much better.
Because now you have a fourth member of the alliance who
has no allegiance to either Heidi or Jenna. If these four are
indeed the final
four, we are now looking at a possible 2-2 split. And that is a MUCH
plan for Deena. I'm not sure if Deena planned it out this way, or
if she just stumbled
into a really good situation for her, but at this point she is
looking pretty good. Christy is looking pretty good too, for that
matter. In fact, if the Jaburu Four get a little luck the next
couple of episodes, I would say that all
four of them have a very legitimate shot to win this game right now.
All four of them seem
to know what they are doing.
Ok, there are really two
strategic decisions that people will be debating that came out of this episode. First off, was Deena
smart to go with the younger girls? Obviously it is really way too early to call, but
as I said above I think it was a pretty good strategy for her. At least, as long as Christy is along
for the ride. We will find out down the road if this will work out for Deena,
because I don't think Heidi or Jenna have ANY loyalty to her. They only have loyalty to themselves. Christy
is the one that Deena needs, and I am pretty sure Deena knows this.
second big decision this week was Jaburu choice's to vote out JoAnna over Shawna. Now this, I
feel, was a much worse decision. Deena can say all she wants about how she
"needed to get rid of the competition," but the fact remains that
JoAnna was not going to win this game. She was far too abrasive and she was far too
threatening. They could have carried her along for a while, and just used her
strength as a smokescreen to hide the rest of them. Deena, in
particular, really could have used JoAnna around to draw attention away from her leadership.
feel it would have been a much better decision this week to vote off
even troublemaker Jeanne. Shawna can bring absolutely nothing to the
tribe right now. In fact, she can actively hurt the tribe if they
force her to do
challenges and she doesn't really want to. And the fearsome
foursome HAD the numbers, so they COULD have
dumped her. It wouldn't have made the slightest difference to their
plans whatsoever, in fact she will probably go next.
JoAnna was such
a fierce competitor, and she was so strong in the challenges. And she was such a hard
worker. I feel that the Jaburus are really going to miss her now. It doesn't matter
if she was annoying, the fact remains that the game is still early, and JoAnna caught fish and she was
strong in the challenges. That is a lot of slack to make up now. And I
wouldn't be surprised if Jeanne now starts slacking off, just out of
protest over JoAnna. Then no one will be doing any work around camp.
If that happens, well, then we'll have problems.
think the JoAnna vote very well may be a pivotal moment in this season.
One of the
things I have been paying attention to thus far is how the tribes are
being edited. It was clear early on that the Jaburus were
"the good guys" and the Tambaquis were "the bad guys."
Ha ha, look at the cocky guys get their
comeuppance. Serves them right. Go girls! The editing couldn't have
been more obvious. In fact I'm surprised the first few episodes didn't
feature scenes with the
men pissing on an American flag, and the girls nursing
baby kittens back to health. We were all supposed to be rooting
But have you noticed that the whole good/bad dichotomy has started to
The men's tribe were "the good guys" this week. All of the
backbiting and the backstabbing and the complaining was over in camp
Jaburu. Meanwhile, in
Tambaqui, we got scenes of "heroic" Matthew catching a fish for his
tribe. We saw all six of them singing together like brothers in
their shelter. We saw the six of them work together as a
team to win challenges. And then after the challenges they all
bonded like buddies over a Coke and a smile.
The Tambaquis had a great episode. And I never thought we would see
positive about the men this season at all. At least, not after
that first episode.
For this reason alone,
I am getting a vibe now like the winner is going to come from the Tambaquis. The
girls are just playing this game very nastily right now, and there is a lot of
conflict over there. Add to that the fact that the Jaburu survival skills
have never really gotten any better, and they are really facing some hard
times in the game right about now. An alliance of four means nothing unless your tribe is
bigger than the other one. With the Tambaqui food advantage (they now have a huge pile of
fish), Jaburu is going to be hard pressed to keep up with them in the
next couple of challenges. And if Tambaqui wins just one of the next two
immunity challenges, I think Jaburu will have a hard time sticking together against the men all
the way to the end. As I said before, the Jaburu Alliance does not have a strong fifth
member. And they need one.
Back to Matthew. The Von Ertfelder
had a good episode this week. We are starting to see him in a
very positive light,
as the "loner outcast," the fisherman, the team player. The
other members of the tribe seem to like him, he doesn't say anything
nasty in his confessionals,
and he is getting a very nice underdog vibe from the edit.
His story, I believe, can
go either way at this point. He is either the next guy to go from
Tambaqui, or he is going to be a
major, major player in the storyline. You can almost look at Kathy
O'Brien from Marquesas as a
parallel. I sincerely think that Matt is going to be around for
the long haul, and I am
crossing my fingers that I am right about him. He looks like a great
player all around. And I don't think -any- of them actually see his
which is a hardcore schemer.
The other person who I think is growing
into a strong player right now is Christy. She has the exact same underdog
vibe about her, and has wisely learned how to keep her mouth shut and just react
to what others are doing. She does her work, she plays nice, and she votes with
the majority. She is in a great position right now to do well. And I wouldn't have said that a couple of weeks ago.
what happens next week? Twist or no twist? Frankly, I don't have a
clue. The preview didn't really give away any hints. But then
again, as always, you can go back to Jeff Probst's final
words from Tribal Council. To paraphrase this week's final words:
"Don't get too cocky, because you never know what is coming next."
that Jeff has ALWAYS warned players right before a twist comes.
Every season since Africa, he has hinted at some sort of a
red flag. And his comments above sound exactly like one of his
patented warnings. So I would say there is an 80%
chance of a twist next week. And if that happens, then we will
-really- see who will do
well in this game. Because the luck of the draw (if it happens) will
change a lot of fates. After a twist hits, all you can really do at
that point is adapt and hope
for the best.
Here are my weekly notes:
* A reader named June
pointed out to me that Heidi kind of looks like a female Brian Heidik.
She almost has the exact same face. Remember that after he won, Brian said he would
find a way to double his money? You don't think he... paid for some
reconstructive surgery... and came back to win again, do you...? And to
further the conspiracy, remember that Heidi with a K on the end
equals... nah, that can't be true. Can it??
* Speaking of
Heidi, I have to comment on her quote about "the bigger women" having
more fat to live on, thus they can do more work. Oh I'm sure
that quote won't come back to haunt Heidi at the reunion show. In fact,
she already has about ten such quotes like that. She is getting dangerously close
to the "I wish I hadn't said that on TV" Hall of Fame, which as you know was
co-founded by Rob Mariano and Lindsey Richter.
* I personally
liked the refrigerator-cam. It is my favorite new camera angle so far
season. Another personal favorite angle this season is the shot
that starts underwater and then skims along the surface, which was
popularized by Sam Raimi in the
Evil Dead movies. One of the great things about Amazon so far has been
all the weird camera shots. This whole season has been one big
golden age of
new Survivor camera angles.
* It's ironic that Jesus didn't help Jaburu
win the fishing challenge. Since we were told that Jesus loves them the
best, you would think He would have had some say in a challenge that
involves fish. But apparently the literal translation of the Bible was best, and
Jesus only makes fishers of men. Sorry I couldn't resist that joke.
Personally, and I may be going out on a limb here, I think JoAnna was
wrong. I don't believe that Jesus was in any way affiliated with Jaburu
at any point. I believe He has other more important things to worry about.
I'm sure PETA loved this week's fishing challenge. Repeated shots of
stepped on, thrown flopping into a bucket, or my personal favorite,
Christy bashing one over the head with a knife. Maybe next week the
set a fish on fire or skin one alive. Remember when PETA threatened
boycotts over the pig in Australia? I'm sure we won't hear from them
since, you know, Survivor is no longer the publicity machine it once
related news, PETA can eat me.
* Since when did Survivor get Coke
as a sponsor? Way to go CBS! We have been stuck with lame
Dureetoes and Dr. Scholl's bacterial fungus splooge for five seasons,
they just suddenly pull Coca-Cola out of nowhere? Nice job!
It's amazing that they actually managed to upgrade their
sponsors this season. EVERYONE was excited
to see cans of Coke as a reward.
* Finally, the quote of the
week. The obvious choice would be one of Heidi's diatribes against
anyone over 24 years old or heavier than 100 pounds. Or JoAnna's choice
words: "Son of a biscuit." I also liked Dave's rhyme about Rob's
jokes. But once again Rob Cesternino will get my quote of the
week, which came right after
Matthew ate the fish eyeball:
Rob: There's no 'I' in team, but there's one in Matt's mouth.
AFTER WEEK FOUR
Who is most likely to win? Well quite frankly this whole thing is
a crapshoot this week. Common sense dictates that a female is going to
win (duh, we are in the Amazon),
but my gut and my heart keep telling me that a guy is going to pull it
just strikes me that none of the females really gives off a "winner"
vibe, except maybe Jeanne or, to a lesser extent, Deena. There are a
few members of Tambaqui who seem like potential winners though,
including just about all of them except for Alex or Roger. So I really
don't know -how- the game is going to play out. Or what a twist
will do to it. Or where the alliances are going to fall.
All I can really say right now is that some people just seem to
come off as
winners to me, and some don't. So the power rankings are a bit
this week, but I figure they are as good as anyone else's list right
a twist hits, we won't have a clue what's going to happen for sure this
season.All we can do at this point is guess.
And yes, I am assuming there will be a twist next week. That's what makes this week's Power Rankings so difficult.
1. Jenna Morasca
never thought she would ever be ranked this high, but here she
is. Note that she is
very close to Heidi, but the difference is that of the two them Jenna
tends to keep her
mouth shut. She is always hanging off to the side, just watching,
and staying quiet. And THAT is the mark of a cunning player. Of the
four, I think that Jenna is in the best position to win the
game. People will underestimate
her. The part of the game where she was the most vulnerable (the early
part) has now passed. She will be on a tribe with the guys soon, and
obviously as a quiet hot girl that can only help
her. In short, there is no reason why Jenna would be in any
danger whatsoever in the near future. She
is in with a strong four person alliance, and even better (like Ethan)
she is one of the least visible of
its members. She doesn't say much, she is not the slightest bit
intimidating, and she is really no athletic threat.
Jenna isn't my
favorite player in the cast, but simple logic dictates that she is in a
great position to do well right now. From any angle you look at.
2. Matthew von Ertfelda
is the player who I think will win in the end, but he just isn't in the
to do so yet. He still has some obstacles to overcome first, including
the fact that
he remains a bit of an outcast in his own tribe. But he is much better
at adapting than I expected he would be, he really knows how to
here in the wild. He is clearly turning into one of my favorites this
season, and I want
to put him at #1 in the Power Rankings, but I can't right now because
(unlike Jenna) he is still in some danger. He very well could go
home next week. But as time passes, I think Matt's chances of
winning will grow
and grow. He just needs a little luck right now, and at that point then
the sky is the
3. Deena Bennett
Deena showed herself to be a very
cunning, very strategic player this week. She clearly knows how
Survivor works, and only time will tell if she chose the right path. I
still think her abrasiveness may cost her in the end, but she is making great
strides right now on her way becoming a very strong player.
4. Rob Cesternino
is still a player who no one takes seriously. The fact that Dave
commented on the lameness of his jokes just gives away the fact that
Rob is succeeding at what he is trying to do. They all just think he is
a massive tool. Now Rob might actually be a tool, of course,
but that is also what he is trying to do. The only thing that
will hurt him at this point is his eagerness and the fact that he loves
this game so
much. He may get himself into trouble down the road.
5. Dave Johnson
getting some major, major airtime right now. It seems like either he or
Matthew give pretty much every single confessional for the Tambaquis. Dave's good quotes always
get shown in the episodes, and he seems to be a very likeable, very mellow player.
I think he will be around for a while.
6. Heidi Strobel
I dropped her to six for the
sole reason that she never seems to do anything likeable in the episodes.
She is coming off awfully bad on TV right now, which I know is editing, but
you would think they would want us to like her if she were going to be a major
player. And I know I always say "don't fall for editing," but in Heidi's
case I think it is being done for a reason. I mean, even Vecepia got a
nice moment or a sympathetic scene every now and then. I can't name one good thing that we have
see so far about Heidi. We'll see.
7. Jeanne Hebert
seems to have made some enemies, but she is also in the prime Frank Garrison
position right about now. If there is a twist next week, she is the outcast who can
switch sides and blow the Jaburu Alliance out of the water. She will need some luck though.
8. Christy Smith
only reason for dropping her down to #8 is her lack of competitiveness.
I am also
afraid she will be in trouble if there is a twist, simply because (just
like it happened at Jaburu) it will take
her a while to fit in with a new group. And with the game
about to get complicated she might not have that luxury anymore.
9. Butch Lockley
There is no reason for him to be ranked all the way down at #9, but I don't think he is our
10. Alex Bell
is he so low? Heck, who knows? Probably because he hasn't done a whole lot yet to show
himself. Still, there is a big dropoff between Alex at 10 and the final
two below him. At least he still actually has a chance to be the winner this season.
11. Roger Sexton
He has toned down his act, but
he is still a longshot to win at best. He's not particularly likeable, he's not particularly
friendly, and he would be an easy "safe" vote for people to just gang up on
later if they wanted to. I don't see his storyline ending very well.
12. Shawna Mitchell
Her only asset right now is that
she is friends with Deena. That's it. But I still predict she will be gone next
from Jaburu. Especially now that she has been replaced by Christy.
pick for next week's bootee: All signs point to the females being in
trouble, and I think Shawna is an overwhelming choice for next bootee.
Jeanne is in danger too, of course, but Shawna simply must be removed from the
equation. If the guys lose, I bet it will be Roger. Matthew is far too smart to be
taken out this easily.
Twist or no twist, I think Shawna will take the walk of shame very soon.
Lanza lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two small children. He was
the lead writer of the All-Star Hawaii and Alaska stories and is
currently planning the third story, to be set somewhere in the Aegean