Marquesas Strategy #7: The Day the Suspense Died
Written by Mario Lanza on 04.12.02

"Well, suck me sideways."

Okay, I guess I was a little off in my power rankings last week. And I guess it's safe to say that Rob Mariano isn't going to win. But wait, you mean you took me seriously? I can't believe you fell for it! That's the oldest trick in the book! List Rob at #1 when you really mean to keep Tammy at #1. And you people all fell for it! Suckers!!!

Ok, all kidding aside, I screwed up. Normally I stick with the common sense picks at all times. Common sense would say that the Rotu 4 is the final four. Yet for whatever reason, I was seduced by Rob's strategy. He had already become my favorite Survivor of all time (someone finally knocked Tina Wesson out of the top spot) and he was the star of this season. I just sensed that a radical change was coming, and Rob would be able to recruit the Maraamus to his side. But, alas, it failed. Rob had just one chance to take control, and he tried his damndest. But he probably tried too hard, and everyone saw through him. Oh well. I'm not used to my favorite player being booted so early (previous favorites were Richard, Tina and Lex), but at least he went out kicking and screaming. He didn't meekly accept his fate like a lot of players do, he was really trying to stir up some crap before he left. I guess his strategy could best be described as "If you're going down, take down as many people as you can on the way out." He has already rattled John, and may have single-handedly destroyed Zoe's status on the island as well. Not to mention the psychological damage he may have done to poor Kathy. So yes, Rob went right after I listed him at #1 in the power rankings. He had one shot, he took it, and he failed. But there's not much shame in the way he played. I've already seen countless essays and columns about how viewers "started to like him" at the end, and how boring the game will be now that he is gone, so it's safe to say he will be remembered well. Don't forget that he was booted in the #7 spot, aka the Jeff Varner/Gretchen Cordy slot. And there's certainly no shame in being compared to those two players. Rob rocked, and he had arguably the best porn-star mustache ever featured on Survivor. In fact, in his honor, I tried to spend all day at work today speaking in a comical Boston accent. It only lasted about an hour, but I tried!

Now, back to the common sense picks. With Rob removed, the game is about to plummet into predictability. I am 95% sure that the winner will now be Zoe, Tammy or Robert. Rob was the only guy who could have salvaged some sort of counter-alliance. He tried, with Kathy and the Beer Alliance, but she got spooked. Not to mention the fact that Paschal and Neleh never came on board. In an post-game interview, Rob said that Gina had pretty much poisoned Rob's chances of ever aligning with them, so I guess it is true that ALL of one's past actions can come back to haunt you. I am actually a little disappointed in Paschal and Neleh, because it appears they are just going to drift along into 5th and 6th place, as I predicted at the start. They are too nice, and either don't see the obvious Rotu alliance, or don't care. Theoretically, they could join up with Kathy and Sean next week, but don't bet on it. Massive realignment like that rarely happens on this show. I predict they will just drift along with Rotu, making nice with everybody, until their time is up. You thought they were similar to Rodger and Elisabeth before, well just wait until they finish up the EXACT SAME WAY. Paschal will probably sacrifice himself first, as seen before. Neleh will be sad, but will vow to fight on, and will be booted the next vote. Been there, done that. All that could change next week, but this is the absolute last chance for anyone to stop the Rotu Four. In fact the only one who can stand up to R4 right now appears to be Kathy. Sean has no pull with anyone. Neleh and Paschal are too nice and easily swayed, and Vee is in complete kiss-up mode with Rotu. So, Kathy, it's up to you. Besides being my favorite player currently left in the game, you are the only one who can stop the slide of predictability. You already pissed on John once, and now it's time to piss on him again, this time in a more figurative manner. Show him who's boss!

So let's look at all the players left in the game, and how they could theoretically win:

Sean- Needs a miracle. Probably booted next.
Kathy- Needs to form a counter-alliance. Good luck, Neleh and Paschal probably won't go for it.
Neleh- Needs to start playing to win.
Paschal- Needs to start playing to win. He is already wary of the Rotu Four, will he do anything about it?
Vecepia- The true mystery of the game. She's one to watch, and a Rotu implosion could be her key.
Tammy- Just needs to stay in the power group, and lay low. She is the safest bet to win.
Robert- Best bet is to keep John around, to keep all the focus on him. Robert is a definite final four.
Zoe- Needs to regain her credibility. Rob caught her like a deer in headlights, twice. She's an awful liar, but is still in the power group.
John- Needs to work hard to stay on top. There's nowhere to go but down from his position, he could use a weak ally right about now.

So what do I think will happen? Well, I am going back to my old standby: The most likely scenario will happen. Time to ignore the editing, ignore the "spoilers," and ignore the preview clips. The Rotu Four are going nowhere. The boot order will probably be Sean, Kathy, Paschal, Neleh, and then the final five. Vee should be next at that point, but she is slippery, and it's tough to predict at that point. I'm never going to say that the loss of one contestant will ruin a show, but losing Rob took the element of surprise out of it. Next week is the absolute last chance for anyone to throw a wrench into the game.

Power Rankings after Week 7:
Back to the norm. Tammy, welcome back to your rightful spot.

1. Tammy Leitner
40% chance to win. Sorry I doubted you, Tammy! And don't think I didn't notice the "winner being foreshadowed" confessional you had midway through this week's episode..
2. Robert DeCanio
25% chance to win. I still don't have a strong vibe about him as the winner, but his competitors are all making mistakes. He isn't.
3. Zoe Zanidakis
20% chance to win. She's got a lot of die-hard supporters out there, but Rob may have hurt her chances. Kathy already is on to her, who knows if it will get worse. She is a very strong player though.
4. Vecepia Towery
10% chance to win. She's a great player. It's time that she started getting some respect. Is she really in the Rotu Alliance or not? We'll find out soon!
5. John Carroll
5% chance to win. It will take a lot of work for him, because he is extremely visible as the leader. But on the plus side, he IS a strong competitor, and even Rob complimented him for playing a good game. John won't go down easily.
6. Paschal English
Big dropoff from #5. He, alone, controls his own destiny. He knows about the Rotu Alliance, can/will he do anything about it?
7. Neleh Dennis
It's great that she's playing the game in a respectable fashion. She will do her family proud, but I don't think she's playing to win.
8. Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien
Kathy is my favorite player left. She plays with her heart on her sleeve, and is 100% intensity at all times. She is the only one who could take John down right now, but I don't think the others respect her much. It's too bad, because she adds a lot to the show.
9. Sean Rector
Time to practice his angry jury stare.

Biggest Power Gain this week: Robert
Biggest Power Loss this week: Sean

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