Amazon Strategy #7:  The Rob Show
Written by Mario Lanza on 03.28.03

"The problem with Roger is, he's an ass."
-Alex Bell

Well, with the merge out of the way, we can finally, finally, see how the game is likely to play out now. And it is about time. There has never been a season as wide open as this one has been, and it is refreshing that we can finally start making predictions with some degree of certainty.

Of course, I'm not complaining.  I love this season so far.  I love unpredictable seasons.  I love Survivor seasons with shifting allegiances, and with a complete lack of friendship and personal bonds. So far this season has been great.  But as a columnist, I have to admit it is a bit demoralizing when you don't have a clue what is going to happen every week. I swear, I think my boot predictions for the past three weeks have been Barbara Walters, Amber Brkich and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita. Seriously, I couldn't have been more off with my predictions if I had tried.  But with the alliances now taking shape, and the season finally starting to take shape, it is nice to see that the game is actually starting to make sense again!

And yes, that was a gratuitous Karate Kid reference. That makes twelve columns in a row with a Karate Kid reference. You can't stop me, you can only hope to contain me.

There are really only three players to talk about right now: Rob, Deena and Jenna.  Everybody else in this week's episode was pretty much only a background character. And as underrated as Jenna is, or as adaptable as Deena is, they are both also in danger of being completely overshadowed.  Because let me be the first one to say it, this season is really turning into the Rob Cesternino show.  That is, if it wasn't the Rob Cesternino Show already.  In fact, I even asked this to my wife after the episode.  I asked her, "How did Survivor ever exist before Rob?"  He is so damn entertaining, and he is such a goofball, that he completely takes over the episode every single time he opens his mouth. I could name four or five great Rob moments from this episode alone. I could name about ten just from the last two episodes.  He exists solely to entertain us at home on TV, and we should be eternally grateful for players like that. So thank you Rob!

In fact, that being said, I predict we will now have a "Before Rob" and an "After Rob" annotation when we are referring to past Survivor seasons.

Example #1: "Oh yes, Elisabeth. I remember her. She was in Australia. That was four seasons B.R."

Example #2: "That was great when Josh won Survivor: Mexico. Remember him?  That was four seasons A.R."

As you can see, I am one of the biggest Rob fans around. And it makes sense, since he is playing the game the exact same way that I would play if I were ever cast.  If you remember from some of my past columns, I have often lamented how much I have always wanted to be on the show, and how if I were ever cast I would make it fun and I would be a wonderful villain. Well, I think it's safe to say that I now no longer need to go on Survivor.  I don't need to do it because Rob has already done it for me. My doppelganger is doing me proud.  In fact, at this point, I guess it's not really even necessary for me to apply anymore. Because even if I did make the show, the only thing that people would say about me was that I was a Rob Cesternino ripoff.  So enough of that dream.  I guess I will just stick to writing for now.

Do not confuse yourself on this issue though.  As fun as Rob is on the show, as fun and as amazing as he is to watch, he is probably not going to win Survivor: The Amazon. Yes, it pains me to say that, but I know that it's true. He is just too fun and too over-the-top.  Sure, he has made the jury now, so at least he will be in every episode.  So that is a huge plus. But he is going to make enemies soon.  Although at this point it is uncertain who those enemies are going to be, or from which direction that attack is going to come. Rob has three potential rivals right now in Deena, Matthew, and Dave. And if I had to pick, I would probably wager that Matthew is the one who is going to send him packing eventually. I don't know when it will come, but it is going to happen in time.

And when that moment happens, I am going to be sad.

I mean, just look at all the times that Rob has called people "stupid," or "idiots."  He is just setting himself up for a huge fall at some point.  But hey, he probably knows that.  As a savvy reality TV watcher himself, Rob probably knows that if you are going to fall, make sure you fall hard.  Make sure you fall to the earth in spectacular flames.  As long as your fall is entertaining and memorable, people are going to remember you for it.

Here is my final evidence as to why Rob isn't going to win: When the players were sitting around the fire this week, talking about sex stories, Rob repeatedly mentioned to everyone how he was "unable to close the deal." Sure, he got the girl (admittedly, a fat one) into his room, but he didn't know what to do with her once he got her there. He even said so himself.

So right now, think of all of us as the girl he is lusting after. We are in Rob's room now, and he has promised us that he is going to win Survivor.

"Oh Rob," we think, "You're so funny. Please do your Casey Kasem impression again."

He will make us promises.  He will feed us cheesy pickup lines.  And he will tell us his jokes.  But by the end of the night, we will both still be wearing our pants. Because Rob will have failed.  Because he has no clue what comes after the jokes and the small talk. All the sex technique theory in the world doesn't help if you can't close the deal. Oh, he might offer us alcohol at some point along the way (the "great equalizer," in his words), but odds are that no matter how hard he tries, Rob won't be getting a Scooby Snack at the end of the evening. Sorry, man.  Let's just stay in the Friend Zone for now.  But nice try.

So yeah, Rob probably won't win Survivor.  But he will try his best.  And he might even get to second or third base along the way if he's lucky.  His story will probably make an excellent Farrelly Brothers movie.

Aside from Rob, Deena also had a great episode this week. She is really proving herself to be a sharp player. She is far more adaptable and shifty than I ever gave her credit for at the start. But that being said, could she please stop making comments like "I have the game in control" and "I rule" and "Bow down before me, mankind!!"

There is a wonderful irony in somebody saying "Roger is too cocky, and I was sick of it" and then twenty minutes later saying "I kicked his ass out because I am going to win this game. I rule!" Deena is fun, and she is great for the show, but she is headed for a crash and burn just like Rob if she isn't careful.  Although, on the plus side, I want to point out that Rob actually said he "thinks the world of her."  Deena is the only player this season that Rob hasn't trashed behind the scenes on a regular basis.  So she is obviously a pretty cool person in real life.

Rule #1 of the Amazon:  If Rob isn't trashing you, you know you have done something right.

Rob and Deena appeared to have the best episode this week, but if you pay attention you will notice that Jenna was the true mastermind behind this week's episode. She is in a wonderful position to win right now, and the best thing for Jenna is that no one else really sees it. They all still see her as just some random stupid swimsuit model, which was probably exactly her plan. Jenna is one of those players who I think you want to dislike because of her bio and because of her early confessionals, but if you pay attention to her she is making it hard to really talk much smack about her. Quite simply, Jenna is playing the game perfectly.  She is under the radar, she is underestimated, and she has a bunch of potential allies around her.  In fact, I would be stunned if she doesn't make it at least to the final four.  I just don't see any scenario whatsoever how that could possibly happen.  Like it or not, Jenna is here and she is going to be around for a while.

To further illustrate this, I would like to point out this quote from this week's episode, which shows that Jenna is not simply sitting back and playing a passive game like you assume she is:

Deena:  Jenna, thanks for bringing us all together.

Jenna also got credit in the episode (along with Heidi) for realizing that Roger on the jury would never work out for the females.  He would always only vote for a male to win.  Now that is the sign of some serious long-term planning going on. Way to go, Jenna!

I wish I had something to say about Matthew this week, since I have been such a big Mateo booster.  But he pretty much stayed out of the limelight altogether. We will come back to him next week, I'm sure, when he starts murdering people. That should be fun to watch.

To sum up, at this point in the game, the alliances look to be a little more certain. Deena/Jenna/Rob is the big alliance, and I think everybody else is either their enemy, or is just one of their hangers-on.  Heidi is clearly just riding the alliance's coattails. Christy doesn't appear to be significant to anyone, either in the alliance or not in the alliance. Out of anyone, Alex and Matthew appear to have the best chance to weasel their way into the "big three," but to do that they are going to need help. And as for poor Butch and Dave?  Well those two are pretty much doomed now.  Butch might delay the inevitable, just because he is unthreatening, but he is definitely marked. And as for Dave?  Well it looks like our favorite rocket scientist is done next week.  I would put money on it.

Dave might as well pack his bags already.


It is now Jenna's game to lose. The house of cards is going to fall down around her and because of who she is, she should remain unscathed. And for the first time all season, I now actually have some faith in my power rankings.  Survivor finally makes sense again!

1. Jenna Morasca
I see no reason why she would ever be voted out, at least certainly not anytime soon. Tip your cap to the girl, she is sitting very pretty right now.

2. Matthew von Ertfelda
I think he has the best chance of any of the guys to win, simply because he doesn't really have any enemies, or any alliances, or any ties. He appears to be more or less a free agent. And don't discount the fact that he might be the devil, which always comes in handy in issues of morality.

3. Rob Cesternino
Close the deal, Rob. Clooooose the deal.

4. Alex Bell
Nice turnaround, mini-Probst. Suddenly you are right back in the game.

5. Deena Bennett
She should be higher, but she is so damn cocky and obvious as a player right now.  I like her a lot, but she could really use a refresher course in "laying low."

6. Christy Smith
Christy appears to be in the dead zone right now. She is not on either side of the alliance, and she really doesn't have a whole lot of allies at the moment. The next week or two will be key for her, I want to see how she responds.

7. Heidi Strobel
It really depends on how close Heidi is with Jenna. If the two of them are as tight as the confessionals imply, then Heidi has a shot.  But I think it is more likely that she will only be kept around as long as she needs to be.

8. Butch Lockley
Believe in yourself, Butch.

9. Dave Johnson
Well, the game is pretty much over for him at this point. Which is a shame because, like the Big Lebowski's rug, Dave really tied this season together.

Mario Lanza hails from parts unknown, and is managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. He was the WWF intercontinental champion from 1985-86.