Marquesas Strategy #8: A Judge's Wrath
Written by Mario Lanza on 04.26.02

"He's gone. The Evil is gone!"
-Dr. Sam Loomis, HALLOWEEN

Hold the phones! The game is on!

Okay, first off the bat, that was a great episode. There was wonderful suspense, with a conclusion that made most people ecstatic. But I have to say that this season makes my head hurt. I'm usually pretty good at making predictions in this game. Up until S4, the game made a lot of sense, and would always follow a (somewhat) predictable pattern. But everytime I make a sweeping statement this season ("Neleh won't win Survivor", "Rob is in control right now", "Tammy or Robert have a 90% chance to win", "Paschal isn't there to play the game", "Sean is toast", "John won't get peed on", "If Tammy and John go to Vegas, they should bet on red", etc.), it comes back to bite me in the butt. So please forgive me if you're expecting some great wisdom from my column this season. I have none. Aint nothing here.

Maybe I should follow the wisdom of the late importer/exporter George Costanza. Maybe I should just go with the opposite of my instincts this season. It sure as hell can't be any less accurate. So from now on maybe I will just say the opposite of what I think will happen. And then when Survivor-Central fires me, maybe Vandelay Industries will be willing to give me a job.

Okay, enough kidding. I actually DID predict this to happen, it just happened to be two weeks ago. In my infamous "Rob will win" column, I predicted that Neleh and Paschal will join up with the others to take down John. I just predicted it a week too early, and then backpedaled and put Tammy back at the top. In other words, I suck. But I don't think anyone has been any better with their predictions this season, so I can take some solace in that. In fact, one of the regular readers of this column, a guy named Thomas, is always bombarding me with fanciful alliance theories, and outlandish cross-alliance pairings. But ironically for the first time EVER, this week he finally listened to me. I told him that despite his predictions, Marquesas would be as predictable as always, and Sean, Vecepia, Kathy would be the next three to go. I said nothing big ever happens on Survivor and he just needs to accept it. So Thomas finally agreed with me, and humbly admitted that Sean was next. And then ... BAM ... John goes, due to an outlandish cross-alliance coalition being formed. Oops. Sorry, Thomas!

So, now it is anybody's game. And I do mean anybody. I don't really think anyone is the overall favorite, and I think 5 out of the 8 people left have a decent shot at a million bucks. The ones who probably aren't going to win are Tammy, Robert and Sean. Tammy's biggest error was being too close to John. As I said a while back, John's early mistakes would bring down his whole alliance, and it looks like it will finally happen. Tammy is the obvious next target, and I'm sure she knows it. She was John's #2 in command, and she's gonna have a hard time distancing herself from the now deceased Rotu-4. She doesn't appear to be any less cocky than John was, and I think with her still around, the old fiery Rotu spirit will live on. The only chance I think Tammy has is if she teams up with Vecepia. The two of them appear to be quite close, and there are an awful lot of hugs being exchanged between the two. So keep an eye on them. Robert probably won't win for the same reason as Tammy, he was too close to John. The General really came off badly during the Immunity Challenge. It was his fault as much as anyone that Paschal and Neleh caught on. His comment to Tammy, "Do you want me to leave (the machete) out for you," when cutting down Neleh's rope was a terrible move. And the third person who probably won't win is Sean. Despite all his heroics and comebacks, Paschal and others still want to get rid of the guy. In fact the only way Sean will get to the final two is if someone deliberately picks him to go against in the final vote. I don't expect Sean to go next, but he will go soon.

By the way, there's a fascinating theory I read about Sean on the EZ Boards last night. Called "The Godfather" theory, someone proposed that this season of Survivor is following the same pattern as the Godfather trilogy. It's the reason CBS shelled out all the money for the Survivor promos and commercials and music a few weeks back. Marquesas supposedly will end up taking the same plot turns. Rob (The Godfather) is in charge, dispatching all his rivals. He dies, and it is up to his son (Sean) to avenge his empire. Sean eliminates all his rivals, and soon rises to the top. And according to this theory, Sean would win the game! I still don't see how Sean could win in a logical world, but that is a wonderful theory, especially considering that all of Sean's rivals have been "eliminated" rather quickly. Please remember that this isn't my theory, and there's no proof to it yet, but I think that would be really interesting if the "Godfather" plot actually turned into reality.

So the five remaining who could win are Zoe, Vecepia, Kathy, Neleh and Paschal. You might say that Zoe is a longshot, but did you notice that she also voted for John last night? Kathy may have converted her to their cause. Either that, or Zoe read the handwriting on the wall and distanced herself from John ASAP. She is still a major player, so don't forget about her. In fact, don't forget about any of these five. I can concoct reasonable scenarios in which any of them could win, and it would take too long to write all of the theories out. Let's just watch the next week or two and see if the finalists start to show themselves. It's nearing the time when the cream rises to the top, and we'll see for whom the game really is on.


Okay, I wanted to write a quick paragraph on my thoughts on John, and the many blunders of the Rotu Alliance. John is going to get savaged on the message boards and columns this week. You can't play the game that hard and not expect some comeuppance when you are removed. It would have happened to Richard, happened to Sue, happened to Jerri, and Lex got blindsided by it. And I can't say that John isn't going to deserve a lot of it. As a player in the game, he was incredibly conceited, intoxicated with his own power, and it was almost ridiculous how self-centered he was. His comment about how Neleh and Paschal "are supporting my success" was so arrogant it makes your jaw drop. But as I said a few weeks ago, I just think he was one of those players who can't handle power. Some can, some can't, and I think John got waaaaay too caught up in the game for his own good. From what I have read, John is one of the biggest fans of the show around, and was probably so excited to get on the show. I'm sure he told everybody he would win, made boasts, compared himself to Richard Hatch, and (as we later saw) made certain promises to his mother. Then the game started and he was completely overwhelmed by the power that was handed to him. He seemed like a completely different person during his final words, when I think he realized how it was all going to look on TV. That's probably the first moment that these players see the big picture, and stop to think about what they have done. So, sure, John made a ton of mistakes from a strategic standpoint, he treated those under him with contempt, he openly mocked his lessers, and he was as responsible as anyone for the nasty turn in the game. But I will say the same thing about him that many said about Rob... he just had a strategy and went with it. Just because John did certain things in the game, doesn't mean he is a bad person in real life. A lot of times, we attribute a person's actions to their personality, instead of looking at the situation they are in, and the context of the actions. That's called the Fundamental Attribution Error, if you wanted to get into basic psychology. So John just adopted a role for the game, and played it hard. He got overwhelmed with his power, and is about to pay for it. He wanted to play like Richard Hatch, and is about to find out what would have happened to Richard if Richard had lost. So if you have to write something about John, try to be nice. Sure he earned a lot of criticism, and he played as badly as anyone, from a strategic standpoint. But the guy broke down and cried on national TV when talking about his mom. Give him a break.

Sorry for all the upheaval in this section lately. This season is far too interesting and unpredictable for these to be of much use so far. Maybe my luck will change. I have a good sense that a woman is going to win this game, by the way...

1. Neleh Dennis
30% chance to win. I never thought she would be at #1. Back in the first episode, I gave her the dreaded asterisk, meaning she would never win. But here she is, and she is a fighter. She has a solid alliance, and she is very likeable. I think Neleh is in a wonderful position to win, and will soon become the most famous Mormon since 80's baseball star Dale Murphy.
2. Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien
25% chance to win. Alright, Kathy is in the game! I'm a big fan of Kathy and her unusually large eyes. I mean that in a good way. I think she's the best schemer left in the bunch, and it would be a HUGE upset if she won. But she very well might be the one. Look down the line and see that she would be a huge swing vote between Paschal/Neleh and Sean/Vecepia, if they all get that far. She is a hell of a competitor, and I want to see her on All-Star Survivor some day.
3. Zoe Zanidakis
15% chance to win. Zoe is sneaky. To use a line from the movie Mary Poppins, "We'll have to keep an eye on this one. She's tricky." She cast a vote for John, is in good with Kathy, doesn't really make waves, and is a good worker/competitor. Some people might think she is doomed now with John out of the game, but I think she will find a way to adapt.
4. Vecepia Towery
15% chance to win. The ultimate chameleon keeps on adapting. She has never made enemies, and just drifts along with whoever is in power. She's not in a great position yet, but there's no reason to think she will go home soon. By the way, do you realize she is 36? I bet that surprises a lot of people. She looks much younger.
5. Paschal English
15% chance to win. Pappy is in a huge power position right now, but I don't think he is the favorite to win. And there's one simple rationale: He will take a dive for Neleh. I think the only way Pappy gets to the final two is against Neleh, and then he will probably tell the jury to vote for her instead of him to win. Paschal is honest, noble, sincere, and there's no way he will take the money over Neleh. You're a good man, Paschal, and I'm proud you started to play the game.
6. Sean Rector
I don't think he will win, unless the aforementioned Godfather theory pans out. But it would take a lot to go right. Too many people still want him out. He lifted that quote, "Always bet on black" from the movie Passenger 57, which I respect. Movie quotes are good. By the way, I give him credit for not sneering at John when John got voted out. John did it to Rob, and Sean had the good sense not to be smug about it when it was his turn. Well done, Sean.
7. Tammy Leitner
Her ferocity and intensity will get her kicked out soon. You pick your strategy on day one and try to ride it to the end, so now we'll see if Tammy has the ability to deviate from her initial stategy. Although personally, I don't think she could ever change. She's too much of a pitbull. No, Tammy's only real chance is to latch onto Vecepia NOW. Can she handle not being in control for a change?
8. Robert DeCanio
The tough limo driver, loyal to the end. But there's no leader left to be loyal to, and his strength is now a huge disadvantage. The General is a funny guy, and he'll be missed, but his time is just about up.

Biggest Power Gain this week: Neleh and Kathy
Biggest Power Loss this week: Tammy and Robert

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