Marquesas Strategy #12: You Can Stop Betting On Black Now
Written by Mario Lanza on 05.18.02

"Choice? That's not a choice! It's a lack of option!"
-Bruce Willis, ARMAGEDDON

So, did Kathy make the right choice? Hell, I don't know. No one will really be able to say if she made the correct choice or not until after the season ends. So I won't get into discussing it too much. She made the choice to go with Neleh and Paschal and she's gonna see where it takes her. Just keep in mind that she was backed into a corner. She had to pick one of the two teams, so she might as well have flipped a coin. And as she said, the layers of complexity between the two choices were "ridiculous." I hope for her sake that she made the correct choice, because everyone will second guess her if she loses the game now.

In my personal opinion, I think she probably made the right choice, or at least the one that's more likely to get her to the finals, anyway. Paschal is incredibly weak right now, and is just barely hanging on. It didn't help that he weighed like a buck and a quarter going into the game. He should have learned a lesson from Jeff Varner and put on some weight before he went out there. He has nothing to lose anymore, except for maybe those ridiculous yellow shorts (please don't analyze that last sentence from a Freudian perspective.) So Kathy is probably looking at it as a Kathy vs. Neleh showdown, which is probably skewed in Kathy's favor. Kathy is still incredibly strong, and I imagine that nobody can beat her in an endurance challenge right now. She's got some of that Tina Wesson-like determination oozing out of her, and turning this into a one-on-one showdown with Neleh is a pretty decent gamble to take. Not to mention that Sean and Vecepia still seemed very strong. Obviously Sean still had some energy left, as witnessed in his reward challenge effort. In fact, the way he walked on those stilts sure makes you suspect that he was loafing it in the earlier stilts challenge (strategy...?) So if I'm gonna take a guess as to why Kathy picked Paschal/Neleh, it's probably because Paschal is so weak right now. She probably figures he is as good as gone.

Now, while I was watching the show, I thought that Kathy made the wrong choice. Even though she did exactly as I predicted last week, when it actually went down I thought, damn, she is shooting herself in the foot keeping Paschal/Neleh together. Just like I thought the Africa people were nuts to keep Ethan around as long as they did. It didn't help that I kind of wanted Sean to make the finals, but at the time I was set to say that Kathy just lost the game for herself. But since then, I have decided to reverse my stance on if she made the best decision. But wait a minute, this game aint over yet! There's still one more big vote to go. One crucial vote.

Next week is another biggie. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Kathy and the "winning pair" would pick off the other two in a row. But it suddenly hit me (as well as four readers who wrote me already) that Kathy has a great chance to still take out Paschal and Neleh. In fact I'm almost sure that Kathy and Vee are going to pair up next week, and try to separate the other two. It's obviously in both of their best interests, and the more I think of it, there's very little reason NOT to do so. We will probably have our first tie vote, and it's anyone's guess how they break the tie this season. So look for next week to feature a big tiebreaker. If there's anything we know about Kathy, it's this: She votes for strategic reasons, not due to emotion. Sure, she voted for Zoe out of spite at the time, but she really has her head in the game now. She is turning into the star of the show. She made one particularly clever move during the episode this week, when she told everybody that she "never knew" Paschal and Neleh were together. This despite the fact that she has told us repeatedly in the past few weeks that Paschal and Neleh are a team. Kathy is no fool, she knows exactly what is up. And by playing dumb around the campfire all she's doing is just lowering everyone else's defenses. She's ready to go for the kill now, and I find myself really pulling for her. Kathy really deserves to win this game.

There sure was a lot of anger, and racism, and drama this episode. Kind of ironic that Vecepia was a big cause of the drama around the campfire. She didn't walk away for a change, so apparently that wasn't too much drama for her. I guess it was just enough drama. And a whole lot is gonna be made about Sean's "racist" comments or Paschal's "racist" comments, but I don't think they are worth getting into. The game's very stressful, and none of these people are in their right minds after 36 days. They seem to all be perfectly pleasant people in real life so, once again, I think its best to just attribute their actions to the situation, not their personalities. See how well you get along with others in that type of situation. But it was too bad that Paschal and Sean got so heated. Paschal, in particular, was such a passive person up to this week that it was kind of jarring to see him lose his cool. But after seeing how weak he is, and how much the game is killing him, I don't think you can blame him too much for being a little snippy.

Before I get to the final power rankings, I just have to comment on Sean. He was never my favorite of the bunch, but I always appreciated him in the game. He was a lot of fun, very passionate, very emotional, and was one of the funniest people I have ever seen on the show. He got a lot of flak for being "lazy" but I said all along that it wasn't laziness so much as anger. He just has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. It seemed to me that he refused to do work for people that he felt didn't respect him, which isn't laziness at all. He's a passionate guy, and it affected a lot of his decisions, and he even admitted it at the end. He was probably a little too emotional for his own good, and he may have talked himself out of the game at Tribal Council this week. But at the very least you can say he was always interesting to watch. There was never a dull moment with Sean around. And I hope he insures that brand new red SUV quickly, because if he parks it in South Central L.A. every night I'm guessing he won't own it for very long. Hey, it's a tough world.

Also, special kudos to Sean for recently being named the Los Angeles representative for Teacher of the Year. He's probably a great teacher, which you can see in how passionate he is.

Ok, time to put up or shut up. I had Rudy at #1 going into the final episode of S1, Tina going into the finale of S2, and Lex was #1 last year. So let's see if I can get my winner predictions back up to 50%. I'm absolutely predicting a female final two. And if you made me give two names, I would say it's going to be Kathy and Vecepia.

1. Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien
40% chance to win. I'm not entirely sure Kathy will win, because she's also my favorite player left. I have a problem with separating "my favorite" from "the one who I think will win." But I think Kathy has the best chance to win right now, and I will kick myself if she wins after I don't pick her at #1. So my money's on the wild woman from Vermont.
2. Neleh Dennis
30% chance to win. There has been one persistent theory around since about episode four that Neleh would win this game. I really would hate to see that theory come true, not because I dislike Neleh, but because I just don't like spoilers panning out. So sorry Neleh if I'm rooting against you, because you haven't done anything wrong. You have been an incredible player and I never thought in a million years that a 21 year old Mormon girl from Utah would ever get this far. I'm really interested in seeing the "real Neleh" in her interview after the show ends. Who is she?
3. Vecepia Towery
25% chance to win. Vee has been very strong, and is always in the running to win challenges. She is smart, feisty, and adaptable. But I have questions about her winning a jury vote. A lot of people don't seem to respect her strategy and her flip-flopping. She doesn't have a whole lot of allies on the jury, but other than that, she has as much chance as anybody to win.
4. Paschal English
5% chance to win. It's tough watching Paschal slowly disintegrate before our eyes. I wonder how much weight he has lost, if he had any to lose. I suppose he could win, but I think he is toast in any physical challenge at this point. If he loses immunity next week, I think Kathy and Vee will take him out. And if he wins immunity, I bet he will give it to Neleh. You know that new rule will be envoked sometime!

Mario's final picks:
4th place: Paschal
3rd place: Neleh
2nd place: Vecepia
1st place: Kathy (5-2 vote)

When he isn't writing strategy columns, Mario struggles to write witty short bios about himself. This is the best he can do. You can email Mario at