Pearl Island Strategy #1: Searching for Honey
Written by Mario Lanza
"I'd never seen a saltwater catfish. I didn't know they made such a animal!"
night's episode was a very good start to the season. The opening
was truly inspired. I loved the pirate theme, the selection of
the teams, the twist, and I especially enjoyed all the pirate-like
incidental music between the scenes. Pearl Islands is already shaping
up to be a very distinct, very unique type of Survivor season. And I
really do applaud this new format change, it was nice to add something
new to the premiere this time around. The scene where they went to the
village and bought supplies was great and it added a lot to the
episode. It was especially helpful because we got to see a lot of
character traits come out in a situation that was non game
related. We got to see what these people are really like when
they aren't sitting around talking game strategy. We got to see
their true natures and their true personalities right
off the bat, when they aren't concerned yet with putting on a game face
or with trying to form alliances. That is going to come in very handy
down the road when it comes to things like storytelling and
in all, the village scene was a very crafty way to introduce us to the
players in a new and exciting way. We learned a lot more about
the players this season than we usually do in a Survivor premiere
episode. So kudos to Burnett and CBS. That was a very creative
way to start off the season with a bang.
the Drake and Morgan tribes look horribly mismatched on paper. It is
obvious that the Drakes are going to walk all over the Morgans
unless there is some sort of a twist. What is wrong with the Morgans?
Well for starters, they lack leadership, unity, teamwork,
physical strength, and a killer instinct. Yeah, it's not too bad for
them. They are only missing every single thing that is important when it comes to Survivor.
And to be fair, Andrew DID step up as the Morgan leader eventually
(finally), but his ridicule of Ryan Shoulders and his contempt for
Lillian certainly aren't very leaderlike. I think Andrew will provide a
good stopgap for a while, but Morgan is essentially dead meat the way
they stand now. The Drakes are just that much better. The Morgans are
Over at Drake, the only problem I see is the lack
of a leader. True, Shawn and Burton have stepped up, but they seem to
be more of a 2-man team, not so much a pair of leaders for the tribe.
In fact, there is already a little bit of resentment towards them. So I
don't know what will happen with the Drakes. I think Burton will step
up as leader in time, but that lack of leadership is going to be
their biggest obstacle for now. At some point the Drakes
will eventually be tested by the Morgans, and then at that point
we will finally see who their leader is going to be. It just
might take a while for the Morgans to challenge them though.
only real similarity I see between the two tribes is the fact
that both Drake and Morgan are unbelievably male-dominated. You
thought Thailand was bad? Well Chuay Gahn was nothing
compared to these two boys clubs. Drake has a whole pack of cocky
alpha males (plus Jon), and Morgan already has the "naked 3" of Andrew,
Osten, and Ryan O. The guys this season are either going to either walk
away with this game without any competition, or they are going to tear
each other apart. Add in the fact that there aren't very many
strong, significant female players this season, and I think that Pearl
Islands is going to be dominated by males.
Okay... on to
my initial player notes. My pre game predictions were right on for some
of them, not so much right on for the others. But here is what I think
of their chances this season after finally seeing everyone in action.
~~ Drake Tribe ~~
is strong, he is leaderlike, he is competent... but he is just as
oblivious and vulnerable as I predicted from his bio. I don't
think he really sees that he is ruffling some feathers. And sure, Shawn
is the biggest culprit in that particular area, but Burton is right
there by his side. Like Joel and Gervase in Borneo, they are a package
deal. Burton caught a fish, true... but then Rupert came in and stole
all his glory. Burton is safe for now, but I don't see him
winning. He doesn't possess the self-awareness needed to do well
in this game. Like Heidi in Amazon, I think he is just way too
oblivious to the way he comes off.
was very quiet this episode, aside from the fact that she was
propositioned by a lesbian shopkeeper. What that means is that she will
probably be around for a while (Trish, not the shopkeeper, although
they DO like twists on the show so who knows.) But keep in mind that
while Trish might look like a strong player on paper, this tribe isn't
all that great a fit for her. She is the eldest female on Drake by far,
and there aren't many older guys for her to try and bond with. She will
probably do well, but don't be surprised if she exits the game
early. Remember, tribal dynamics and chemistry are the key. Who does
Trish possibly have on this tribe to relate to?
resident quote master of the season. As my wife pointed out, Rupert
seems to have several entirely different personas. There is goofy
Rupert, there is angry Rupert, there is hardworking Rupert, there is
scheming Rupert. Oh and then there is also Popeye's enemy Rupert, and
fisherman Rupert, and shoe thief Rupert, etc. His personality is just
all over the place. Which, from a Survivor point of view,
means he will be as entertaining as all hell. It is hard to
peg where Rupert is going to finish in the game, but his
exuberance to do well and his obsession with impressing everyone else
was an ominous sign of somebody who is an early boot. He might
just run himself into the ground and run out of gas. I hope it doesn't
happen, but he definitely seems like the type. Plus he is already wet
and crotch inflamed and chafing. Yuck.
gets my award for "most impressive performance in comparison to my pre
season predictions." Simply put, she ROCKED in the bartering part of
the episode. She spoke Spanish, she cut deals, she won an ENTIRE
CHICKEN DINNER. She basically got as much as was humanly possible
with their measly 100 balboas. That was absolutely amazing. Now,
as a player, Sandra seems a bit short tempered and outspoken. So I'm
not sure how long she will last in the game. But she is
definitely jumping up in the power rankings this week, simply because
of the way she has impressed everyone else on her tribe.
Impressing your teammates on day one is a good way to start a game of
easily fit in with her tribesmates, which is what I expected. She
didn't do anything good or bad this week, and she is clearly going to
be one of the understated sweethearts of the season. I love how Robert
DeCanio called Michelle a "hot, naughty librarian" in his column a
couple of days ago. That is a perfect description of her persona,
and I happen to agree with him one hundred percent. She is going to be
around for a while.
said in a pre game interview that Christa "has a lot of Lisa
Kudrow in her." Now first off, that is a bad thing. Lisa Kudrow can be
annoying. But luckily for Christa, she managed to channel the
funny, quirky part of Lisa Kudrow instead. She is FAR less
annoying than I expected just from reading her bio. Christa is a
narrator type. She is very observant, she is very smart, and she
has a way with words that most people don't have. I think she is going
to be around for the long haul, and she could very well turn out
to be a heck of a player if she has any deviousness in her. Christa is
definitely one to keep an eye on for now.
off, Jon is much smaller than I expected him to be. But luckily,
that will probably just make him play meaner. You know, Napoleon
complex and frustrated small person and all that. But Jon is my
guy, he is the one I will be rooting for and (in my mind) he is going
to be the unquestioned standout of the season. It is great to see
someone who not only has no problem being the villain, but who
will actually flat out tell you: "I am the villain. I don't play fair."
When all is said and done this season, Jon won't go on to the Early
Show afterwards and whine about his editing. He won't break down at the
reunion show and say that he really isn't like that. Because he IS
like that. And he is damn proud of it. I wish for nothing more than for
Jon to rip this game apart and gleefully laugh his ass off all the way
to a million dollars. In fact, I hope people already appreciate
how much he is going to add to this season. Assuming he actually gets
past the first Drake vote, of course. Here is a hint: Jon, don't drink
anymore. Keep your mouth shut for a week and this game is yours. Like I
said in my pre game notes, we are only one episode in and he already
has a spot reserved in my next All-Star story. We need more unashamed
villains in this world. Go Jon!
was Jon who got the "He talks too much and he is annoying" editing
this week, but I believe Shawn is the one who will likely get in
trouble for that. He is already digging a hole for himself with
the rest of his tribe, and next week's confrontation with Rupert
certainly isn't a good sign either. I see bad things in Shawn's future.
~~ Morgan Tribe ~~
might be one of the nicest and most normal people we have ever on the
show. I don't think anyone will have a bad thing to say about him when
it is all over and we are at the reunion show. But that being
said, he has already been targeted for dismissal and he knows it.
He is simply over his head in this game, just like everyone
predicted he would be. But I do have to point out that Ryan is
less awkward and he is way less nerdy than we all made him out to be
just from reading his bio. He is simply a normal guy who is about to be
sacrificed by a tribe that doesn't want (or need) him. It sucks but
that's just the way that the game works. Natural selection is a fact of
life out here.
made the mistake of running off on his own in the village, but other
than that, he will be perfectly safe for a while. Morgan is a boys club
above all else, and Ryan is third in command among the all male power
core. That is the PERFECT place to be. He will be around for a while, I
just hope he starts to stand out a little more. When I think about the
Pearl Islands cast, he is still rather anonymous.
is a good leader, a good provider, and he knows when to keep his mouth
shut. Good, good, and good. Also, his decision to go naked so that
Osten wouldn't be alone was actually, in a weird way, kind of
touching and noble. That could be a sign that the three Morgan men are
going to be close this season. However, Andrew also trashes his
weaker teammates (Ryan S. and Lill) around camp, which is a terrible
thing for a leader to do. Andrew could go either way in this game, but
for now the Morgans absolutely NEED him. He will be around for a
while. He is all they've got.
Lill. She had a rough week and she already looks shellshocked by it
all. But I expect her to bounce back. Lill may be weak, but she is also
competent around camp, she tries hard, and she is loyal
and unfailingly honest. You would be a fool to dump a potential
loyal ally like that, unless she was REALLY really dragging down your
tribe. I think Lill will bounce back and stick around for a while.
who? Was she even there this week? All I can say about Darrah is
that she ALWAYS appears to be paying attention, and that she is smart
enough to watch and mostly keep her mouth shut. It is clear that the
men are going to run Morgan, and if Darrah can become the guys'
favorite female (there isn't much competition), then she will be
perfectly safe. Darrah is almost a lock to make the merge. At
least, unless she gets sick or something.
strong Osten LEAPT out to the front as the Morgan leader... and then he
slunk back down to the bottom with his tail between his legs. He can
barely swim, he is scared to death of the jungle, he tends to be a show
off, his campsite was a complete bust. And now, to make
things worse, he doesn't even have any pants! That is a rough
start to the game. I think the boys club of Morgan will save him for a
while, but I don't think Osten has much of a chance in the long run.
off, Tijuana is a Heidi clone. They have the exact same smile!
That being said, she had a rough start to the game (yelling at
villagers and being targeted by Nicole.) But she managed to
escape execution AND she managed to do it without losing her
temper. That impressed me. However, despite the fact that
she avoided execution, Tijuana really doesn't have a whole lot of
allies. She also doesn't seem like a "tough, outdoorsy" type of
girl. I just don't think she will get very far, despite the fact that
she was very impressive this week.
-- WEEKLY NOTES --
The opening credits remind me a lot of the first season. Lots of
swimming and action shots and the exact same type of lettering font and
* I thought it was funny that the very first confessional of the season was Sandra saying "shit." Very classy, CBS.
Burton was the first person to jump off the boat... and he tried to do
a can opener when he hit the water. Now there is a guy who has a lot of
inner child left in him. Go for the maximum splash at all times! Screw
cannonballs, can openers are the way to go when you are trying to
* How excited do you think Rupert was to see
that chicken dinner? He even reeled off a Chris Farley-esque "OHHHHH
MYYYYY GAWWWWWWWD." It was pretty funny.
* There was a funny
scene in the episode where Shawn made fun of people with beards,
because you can always tell what they just had to eat. Then he pointed
at Rupert and he laughed at him. Geez, how first grade is that? I'm
surprised he didn't just give Rupert a wedgie.
* Was that the closest first challenge ever? It was decided by a couple of feet.
Andrew is almost a clone of Mike Skupin. They even have the same voice.
Close your eyes and listen to Andrew talk next week, he and Mike could
* Speaking of voices, Ryan Opray almost has the exact same voice as Alex Bell. Again, listen to him next week. Same voice.
Poor Nicole. My hometown girl was the first one to go. She tried
to scheme and she got Debbed. Or Petered. You pick. And sadly, we
may never see another contestant from Bellevue again. Oh well.
Nicole if you read this, please write me! Or maybe we will run into one
another at Crossroads Mall some time.
* Speaking of Nicole,
did you notice that yet again the first person who cast a vote was the
person who left? That seems to happen a lot on this show. Do they
volunteer to cast their vote first, is that why?
* Okay, the
quotes of the week. While Jon had some funny ones ("We have a skirt for
Blackbeard"), I am going to give the award to a pair of Rupert
quotes. You see, there were two Rupertisms that just cracked me up this
week. He has a very unique way of phrasing things, and I can see he
will be a lot of fun to listen to this season. Okay, here are the
quotes, with emphasis added to simulate the way that Rupert said the
Rupert quote #1: "Jon just says stooooopid stuff. Like he wants to get some honey."
first off, I believe Jon probably said he wanted to get some "honeys",
which of course is slang for cute girls. Knowing Jon, that's exactly
what he would probably say. And I don't know if Rupert just misheard
it, or if he really does think that Jon is after some honey. It would
be pretty funny if he thinks Jon is on some wild ass quest to find
honey in this game, as if Jonny Fairplay were Pooh Bear or a bee.
In either case, it is a funny quote. And I agree, looking for honey
would be stooooooopid.
Rupert quote #2: "I'd never seen a saltwater catfish. I didn't know they made such a animal!"
is the quote that just killed me. I rewound it about ten times just
because of the way that Rupert says it. His phrasing is so unique, he
says the line very excitedly, as if he were about six years old. And
then of course he says "a" instead of "an", and the whole thing just
comes off very awkwardly. Rupert just has such a distinct way of
speaking, he is going to be great if I ever use him in an All Star
story. Rupert, I hope you stick around!
AFTER WEEK ONE
This is gonna be a tough season to predict. All the strong looking
players (Trish, Shawn, Osten) have weaknesses or obstacles to overcome.
And all the weak looking players (Sandra, Lillian, Michelle) either
came off like underdogs or they had a good first episode. So
everyone is just kind of jammed up together right now in the middle.
And it makes picking a #1 (or even a top four) nearly impossible.
But here is my best shot. Who is in the best position to win Pearl Islands right now?
1. Ryan Opray
is simply in no danger whatsoever. I can't think of any way he goes
home this week, or next week, or the week after. He has the fewest
standout weaknesses out of all of the guys, and like Ethan in Africa he
seems like he is fairly soft spoken. Also he is third in line among the
"Three Naked Morgan Guys," so he will take the least amount of heat if
they ever get targeted. Ryan rises to #1 simply by default.
2. Christa Hastie
seems like she is going to be a player. She is also far less annoying
than I predicted from her bio. Christa has a good head on her
shoulders, and she seems likeable and hard working. As long as she
doesn't cross the line into irritating, she will do quite well.
3. Darrah Johnson
Darrah didn't say much this week. Darrah is always paying attention. Darrah won't get voted out for a while.
4. Jon Dalton
Jon is still a risky pick to put this high but I still think he is going to do well. I think all
the talk about "Jon is annoying" is just misdirection. I think the editors are doing that
to set up the great villain of the season. And remember that the girls
might find him annoying, but the guys sure won't. Jon will be in
good with the men of Drake, and that is where all the decisions are going to
be made. We haven't seen the true Johnny Fairplay in action yet... but we will.
5. Sandra Diaz-Twine
Like I said, she made a
huge leap in the rankings this week because of her success and her resourcefulness in the
village. Hopefully she can keep this momentum going. Otherwise she will
plummet right back down to the bottom of the power rankings next week.
6. Michelle Tesauro
She did nothing great, but she did nothing wrong either. Go librarian, go!
7. Andrew Savage
He is much
wiser and much more soft-spoken than I expected him to be. He was rightfully
anointed as leader of the Morgans, which was good. But then he slammed Ryan and
Lillian to his teammates, which was bad. Leaders don't do that. He would
be ranked higher but I don't think he has the common sense to really pull off the
Survivor leader thing.
8. Burton Roberts
Burton is a strong male, but he and
Shawn are in trouble. He will outlast Shawn because he is the one who talks less, but
he needs to work harder at blending in with the rest of his team. You can't just turn it into a two person game out there.
9. Trish Dunn
I said, on paper she looks good, but on this particular tribe she
sticks out like a sore thumb. If Trish is the SLIGHTEST bit annoying,
they will get rid of her.
10. Lillian Morris
is getting the underdog treatment in the editing, and I think she will stick around
for a while. They all know she is honest, and they know she tries hard. And the good news is that she
survived the first vote, which was probably her biggest obstacle. Ryan
Shoulders will probably go next, and when that happens I expect there to be high drama (will Lill
vote for her friend Ryan?) Lill should stick around for a while, although
I hope we see her smile and actually have some fun at some point this season.
11. Shawn Cohen
made fun of Rupert to his face. He has already alienated half of his team.
I think Shawn is in trouble very soon, unless he learns how to watch what he
12. Rupert Boneham
I love Rupert. We all do. But
really, where do you see him fitting in? Especially when he is
sunburned, out of shape, and out of energy. Entertain us, Rupert, and I promise
we will be sad to see you go one day.
13. Osten Taylor
muscular than anyone else, very oblivious to the way he comes off, and
very uneasy in both
the water AND the jungle. That is a horrible combination in this game.
Osten is lucky that Morgan is run by the men, so he is safe for now.
he isn't going the distance.
14. Tijuana Bradley
sweet and nice, and she also didn't fly off the handle with Nicole. She
handled it as maturely as she could have handled it, which is always nice to see.
But she isn't the winner.
15. Ryan Shoulders
Lillian was right in that he is "a good kid." He seems like one of the
nicest and most down to earth people ever to play Survivor, and I am guessing he would
be a blast to hang out with in real life. But it is evident that he is
going to take the fall for Lillian. I don't THINK he is the one who
wants to quit next week, but I expect him to be voted off anyway. I
think he is simply too nice for this game.
Be sure to read my friend Isabella's new column here at S-C, she is a
good writer and she is the single most observant Survivor fan I have ever met. You
will be impressed be her!
Note 2: If you liked Survivor: Tonga,
or you wished you could have played, you are in luck! The sequel to it,
Survivor: Okinawa, is coming in a couple of weeks. Official applications will
be posted sometime this weekend, and the competition is expected to be
Mario Lanza is a programmer and writer who lives in Los Angeles. Check out
his homepage for more of his writing samples, Survivor or otherwise.