Pearl Island Strategy #10: She's Not Quite Dead. She's Getting Better.
Written by Mario Lanza
"I am gonna help my Gram-Gram. She is the one that taught me it is better to be truthful and good, than to not."
-Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
I will start this week's column with the following disclaimer:
are two types of people in this world: There are those who enjoyed the
dead grandmother strategy... and there are those who hated it. And
there is not going to be any middle ground on this issue. So
really, it is a bit of a political deathtrap to even try to discuss it
at all. I mean really, you are either on one side or you are on
the other. You either loved it or you hated it. So why waste
space talking about Jon Dalton? Instead, we should just move on
to the far more interesting topic of strategy and delve into why
Tijuana got booted.
Let's ignore Jon, and let's just talk strategy instead.
can't believe you thought I was serious! Oh man... you bought right
into it. There's no WAY I am going pass up a chance to talk about
the "fake dead grandmother" strategy. Or as I like to refer
to it, "The single greatest thing that has ever happened on
I felt it was important to get my column out early
this week. I felt it was important to get my voice up and heard before
the anti-Fairplay tidal wave comes crashing down. Because I know I will be
one of the few remaining fans of Jon Dalton after this week's episode. I know I
will be one of the few... one of the proud... one of the naysayers who
will stand up and proudly say "You know what? That episode was f-cking HILARIOUS!"
my column didn't exactly come out as fast as I would have liked. So much for that. But putting aside all ethics and talk about
morality and basic human decency, I will just come right out and say
it. Jon Dalton came up with a strategy that I had never even
considered before. And I have come up with a lot of nasty, soulless, evil
strategies in my day. But Jon topped me. He trumped me. He has
outdone every single sinister scheme I could ever come up with. I will now
have to make my All-Star stories TWICE as scheming and twice as twisted,
because Jon raised the bar on me. And sure, you can trash him for
crossing the line of human decency. But Jon is absolutely right when he
says "You should take every single advantage possible in this game."
That's all that he did. He found the one weakness that a lot of people
have, human emotion, and he exploited it for personal gain. And honestly
I have never even for one second thought that was a bad thing. Jon
simply outwitted them. He outwitted ALL of them. He outwitted the game. He even outwitted Jeff
The most impressive thing to me was the patience it must
have taken for Jon to pull the whole thing off. He had to wait two months (at minimum) for the dead grandmother
scheme to finally come to fruition. He had to work it out with Thunder Dan
ahead of time... then play the game for nearly 30 days... all while
building up this story of his "sick grandmother back home" to the other players.
Because we never saw it on TV, but you know Jon must have been talking
about his grandmother around camp all the way back on day one. He had to have been working out a
foundation for the scam down the road. He probably talked to Lill
about it on their catamaran ride, that's probably one of the ways that they
just astounds me the kind of patience and discipline it must have
taken for Jon to pull this whole thing off. People who know me in
real life will tell you that I
have the patience (and the attention span) of a border terrier. I
can't stay focused on something for more than about 10 minutes.
So I can't
even imagine how Jon could hide this scheme from the producers and keep
it to himself and not tell
anyone what was going to happen. You don't expect that kind of
forethought and self control from a guy like Jonny Fairplay. But
it. He pulled it off. And yes of course it was only for a
challenge, but Jon had no way of knowing that ahead of time. It very
well could have been for immunity (like in Thailand.) In
fact, it wasn't so much that he won a reward as it was that he managed
to change his image. Jon found a way to think outside the box... by
using his loved one
as a weapon... and all of a sudden the other players forgot that he is
just some douchebag who is there to betray them. So yeah, of
COURSE I thought the dead grandmother strategy was great. Jon managed
to come up with a Survivor first, and he did it in such a way to ensure
that he will
be remembered forever. And as many people who want to be infamous will
tell you, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Jon just became a legend. Whether you love him or hate him, Jonny Fairplay is now a Survivor
What I am saying is that yes, on an ethical level Jon
crossed about every line possible. I certainly couldn't have gone as
far with a scheme as he did, and if you know me in real life that is saying something. But on
some level I think you HAVE to appreciate the level of deceit and
forethought (and the balls) that went into planning the whole thing out.
And it worked! It is going to work! And as our very own Murtz Jaffer
said to me this week, "If you don't respect what Jon pulled off, you
don't have any respect for the game of Survivor."
about Jon. I just felt I had to say all that. I thought it was
the time and I still think it is great. Dead Grandmother cracked
me up. Although of course
there will be fallout from this after the season. And of
course Jon is going to take a lot of flak
from people after the game is over. I mean, just imagine the reunion
show this year. Who is going to murder him first? Will it be Rupert?
be Lill? What about Sandra? But hey that will all be down the
road a bit in the
future. Let Jon enjoy his fun for now. He will get his
comeuppance and of course it will be awesome to watch. Because as
the great Kenny Rogers
(aka Zeus) once sang: "You never count your money when you're
sitting at the table. There'll be time enough for counting... when the
So on to strategy this week.
first thing I want to say is that the game has officially entered
Cesternino mode. Alliances are now shifting at the drop of a hat. Power
shifts happen every five minutes. And the weak are inevitably going to
vote out the strong. There is something I have wanted to say about
Survivor for a while now
and this appears to be the perfect time to say it:
In many ways, Rob
Cesternino revolutionized the game of Survivor. He took it to a whole
new level and he taught people the correct way to play it. But what Rob
ALSO did was ruin it. I hate to say that but he did. Once the game
reaches Cesternino mode (which it probably will every season now), it is impossible to predict who is going to win. It
is also impossible for a strong player to win the game once we reach
this phase. The weak will always take out the strong and the outliers
will always take out the power players. So for this reason alone, my power
rankings are essentially going to be useless from here on out. Too much will
happen between here and the end, too much will shift, too much will change. Rob, you ruined it
for me. I give up.
All I can say for sure at this point is that Burton won't
win this game. He is way too strong and the rule of Cesternino ensures that Burton
will be gone as soon as possible. In fact he really should have gone home THIS week, except Tijuana
screwed up so badly. Tijuana made the classic blunder of getting greedy
and trying to do too much at once. She tried to pull Jon in on her side
for a slam dunk vote and she got nailed for it. And if you appreciate
irony, please remember that this was the EXACT same thing that happened to
Nicole in episode one... when she tried to get rid of Tijuana. You would
think Tijuana would have learned from that!
My prediction to go home next
week is Burton. And the week after that I will pick Burton. And the week
after that I will continue to pick Burton. Like I said before, once we hit Cesternino mode the
strong players simply have to go home. *shakes fist at the sky* Curse you Rob!!
down to six players now. And the winner of the game will inevitably come from the
pool of Sandra, Lill, Jon or (gulp) Darrah. Obviously I hope it is
Jon but I would be just as happy with a Sandra win. She grows on me
as a player more and more each week. and I think she is really the best bet for a win right
now. But then again that could just be because I don't want Darrah or
Lill (or really any outcast) to win. So it it tough to tell. But if Jon or
Sandra win, I will be ecstatic. In fact, that would be my dream final two. In
any case, we WILL have a Sandra vs. Jon showdown at some point this
season. And no matter when it happens, it is going to be a memorable one!
~~~ Weekly Notes ~~~
A reader from Alabama named Dan Bartley wrote in a couple of weeks ago and
he predicted Jon's "big lie" right down to almost being word for word. He nailed it a couple of
weeks ago and I was impressed when I actually saw it unfold on TV. Nice work,
* I want to point out again that the music this season
has been top notch. From start to finish this season has had the best music
* Personally I think Sandra's
lie about Christa and the fish was much more unethical than Jon's lie ever was.
Jon's lie didn't actually hurt anyone... but Sandra's lie definitely made
Christa's life a living hell for a couple of days. Sure, Sandra was just
acting in self defense at that point, so I don't really fault her for it. But her lie was in much more of a
gray area than Jon's was, in my opinion.
* The greatest irony of
all would be if Jon became so likable over his "dead grandmother" that
he was suddenly too likable to take to the final two. That would be hilarious.
* My wife Diana pointed out that the cute hunky guys on the show always bring their mom as their loved one. She
found it funny when it happened again with Burton this week. No girlfriend, no wife...
the hunky cute guys always bring their mom.
* The "you get to
stay at camp while the rest of the tribe is sent away for a day" reward
was one I also used in my Alaska story. In case you were still keeping score.
Darrah and her boyfriend sure didn't seem to know each other very well.
I am not sure if they actually got a single question right.
I am guessing they must have met each other in the airport
on the way
out to the Pearl Islands.
* Great quote from Jon about
Sandra: "I have about a million questions I'd like to know about my
grandmother but obviously some people don't give a f-ck." Ha ha ha. By the way, I
will never get tired of this episode.
great quote. From Lill: "I've gotten to know Jon. He hurts as much as
anyone." I seriously hope Lill didn't just find out it was a lie when she
saw it on TV this week. But you know that is probably what happened. Poor Lill.
More quotes. "The fake dead grandmother could easily go down as the
dirtiest thing ever to be done in this game." Yeah Jon, I think you got us
on that one. Although "My grandma's gonna love it" was pretty much the
best quote of the episode.
* Burton had this wonderful quote
which every future Survivor player should memorize: "You don't have to trust
someone to have an alliance with them. You just have to have the same
interests. You could hate someone's guts but if you can help them get
further and they can help you go further-- hey we've got an alliance."
* Rupert in pants looks strange to me. I miss the dress.
* As a final note... why was Jon not picked for All-Stars?? Are you
kidding me?! He could have pulled the "fake dead grandmother" scheme
all over again, since none of the All-Stars would have actually watched Pearl
Islands. It would have been beautiful!
AFTER WEEK TEN
Like I said... once we get to Cesternino mode, the weak will always rule the game. Rob, look what you did!
1. Sandra Diaz-Twine
player who is just PERFECT for this stage of the game. And she apparently
uses the "eavesdrop from the bushes" tactic as a regular part of her
strategy. That's awesome.
2. Jon Dalton
I still don't think he will win. But he
WILL be the last male standing and you know he will do anything to get
to that final two. Never count him out of the game at this point. He will play it dirtier than anyone.
3. Lillian Morris
much as I don't
want her to win (nothing personal, she's just an outcast) I think
Lill is guaranteed a spot in the final two. Jon wouldn't take Sandra to
the end and
Sandra wouldn't take Jon to the end. It should be one of them against
4. Darrah Johnson
Well at least she won immunity this week. That counts for something.
5. Christa Hastie
Strong, unlikable, and with very few allies. That is a bad combination at this stage of the game.
6. Burton Roberts
Bye bye Burton. Again.
Next week's pick to leave: Burton.
Mario Lanza is a programmer who lives in Los Angeles with his ever-quotable
wife, Diana, and their two small children. He is currently running the
Survivor: Okinawa game, which will be written up as a story in
December. He is also still laughing at the movie Bad Santa, which he
saw this week and which will one day be inducted into the dark humor
bad taste hall of fame. Seriously, if you enjoyed the dead grandma strategy, you will enjoy
the dark humor of Bad Santa. Just trust him on this one.