Pearl Island Strategy #11: Fairplay all the Way
Written by Mario Lanza
"But what is evil, anyway? Is there reason to the rhyme?
Without evil there could be no good so it must be good to be evil sometimes."
- Satan, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
again we have reached that point in the season. As always, it
happens around episode eleven or twelve... and I reach the point where
I simply have nothing left to say. There is just not much left to
add to what we are seeing each week on TV. The players have all
defined themselves, the strategies are all in place, and by now we have
all picked out our favorites. By this point I'm sure that
everyone who reads this column has already picked out who they want to
win and who they want not to win so any more cheerleading I do for
Jon Dalton is just going to be pointless. Either you love him or
you hate him. You either want him to win, or you want him to be
keelhauled and left for dead in the ocean. There is probably not
going to be much middle ground.
You know, I try not to
pick out a favorite player every season. I try, but it never
works. I really do try to only watch the season from a neutral
third party perspective, like I was viewing it as a narrator. But
you can't do that as a season is playing out on TV, it is practically
impossible. The only way to REALLY watch a season impartially is
to record the episodes on tape and then go back and watch them again
after the season ends. That way you don't really root for your
favorites anymore. Since you know what is going to happen you can
just follow the editing and see how the story was told to us from start
to finish. I have always found Survivor to be much more
satisfying the second time around than it was the first time around for
that specific reason. You just don't get sucked in by your
emotions anymore. But I digress.
Basically what I am
saying is that I am putting all my eggs in the Johnny Fairplay
basket. That's it. We have reached the point in the season
where I just ride one player's success to the end, and it will make or
break my happiness depending on if they win or not. And I am well
aware that most people out there are NOT rooting for Jon to win.
Well, if you are one of those sad misinformed haters of
Fairplay, then I have some good news for you. If you came
here to read that Jon is going to lose, you are probably right.
good news (for people other than me) is that my favorite player
very rarely wins Survivor. Sure, I called Brian Heidik to win
almost from day one in Thailand, but he was the only one. Heidik
was a fluke. Other than Brian, we have to go all the way back to
Tina Wesson in Australia for the winner to also be my favorite
player. And I really only started to like Tina around episode
four (because of the Mitchell vote). And then after Tina?
Well I have pretty much had a sad trail of favorites that came
oh-so-close and then broke my heart at the end.
van den Berghe. So close. But he drank elephant crap on day
35, he got amoebic dysentery, and then he fell in the final
challenge. Oh, such a dagger to my heart.
Mariano. I put all my faith in a Rob win very early on, and then
he didn't even make the jury. *sigh* So then I transferred
my allegiance to Kathy and... well... you know the rest. Third
Brian Heidik. Brian won and he
redeemed my faith in all that was good and right in the world.
Plus C.C. got to go to Fiji!
Rob Cesternino. Oh, this
one still hurts. I still can't bear to watch the Amazon finale,
this one hits me way too close to home. Rob got SO FREAKING CLOSE
to pulling it off. And then another 3rd place finish. Bah,
so much for my dreams.
And here we have Jon Dalton, who
might be my favorite Survivor player since Tina. And I know a lot
of people can't understand why you would root for a villain like Jon,
but it has never really been a question in my mind. If you like
Survivor I think you have to root for him.
Number one, Jon
is creative. He doesn't play the game like most people
do; he is one hundred percent unique in the annals of
Survivor. Number two, he is clever. I'm not saying that Jon
is the best player of all time, I doubt he is even close. But he
is sharp and he is clever and he has more going on in his head than
most players do, and I figure you have to respect that. Number
three, Jon is mischievous. This is a trait I hold very dear to my
heart. Jon is playing to amuse himself out there, he is playing
to have fun, and he is playing generally just to make a mockery
out of everything around him. And what can I say, I love it.
I love the concept of people just randomly doing mischief.
Number four, Jon realizes that negative publicity is just as good as
positive publicity. After all, like I said before, there is
no such thing as negative publicity. He went into this game
telling people he wanted to be the most hated television villain of all
time. That is all that he cared about. Not winning, not
losing, he just wanted to be the star. And if you go back and
read my Andy Kaufman Strategy Column
that I wrote two years ago, you will see that that is almost word for
word exactly how I said I would play if I ever got the
chance. Jon and I are kind of kindred spirits in this way.
Because you never forget the villain. Especially one who does it
with mischievous glee and with such a big smile on his face.
the main reason I like Jon is because he is the one who is having
the most fun. So many Survivor players don't seem to have any fun
out there (Lill) or just become worn out stress cases by the end of the
game (Kathy, Rob C.) But do you think Jon will ever stop having
fun? He is probably having more fun out there now than he did at
the start. Every season, I make a list of things that I will miss
when the season is over. And right at the top of my Pearl Islands
list is the way Jon gleefully struts over to cast every vote at Tribal
Council. He is having so much fun out there, you can tell that he
just LIVES for this moment.
When I say that Jon is my
favorite player, it has nothing to do with how good a player he is
(although I think he has proven himself quite well in this
regard.) It has nothing to do with whether I think he is a nice
person or not. And it has nothing to do with what kind of ethics
he plays by. I say he is my favorite because he is fun to
watch and because he is a master of creative mischief. And
because he is not going to bitch after the season is over about the way
he was edited. Win or lose, he will be the happiest one sitting
there at the reunion show, I can almost guarantee it. Win or
lose, he will LOVE talking about the way he played. After all, the
notoriety is exactly why he has been playing this way.
this logic, of course I am placing all my faith in Jon Dalton to win
this game. And of course, along the same lines, we know that I
have a terrible
record of my favorites ever winning. My favorites generally
finish third, and I am bracing myself for this season to be no
different. In fact, my wife Diana picked Jon to
finish third way back at the start of the season (the
"Mario's favorite always finishes third" curse) and I think she will
probably be right. If I had to predict a boot order the rest of
the way it would probably be this:
The females turn
the tables on the guys and take him out. There has been way too
much foreshadowing of this lately and Burton is pulling off some
numskull moves lately by not promising Lillian any security. I
just don't see him in the final four. He is going to blow it and
he will probably blow it for Jon at the exact same time.
final four is tough to call but Lill seems to have tragic victim
written all over her. You can just see it in her face. I
see bad things happening to her in the end. Apparently no one
wants her anywhere near the final two, they say she is too
likable. This surprised me since I don't see her that way at all,
but it was mentioned over and over in this week's episode. I
Oh well. Better make peace with it now.
see her in the final two in a whole bunch of different scenarios and I
don't like it. And she has a decent shot to win this game if she
gets there too, the jury has a bunch of Morgans on it. That is
My new pick to win. I have said for
a while now that Sandra OR Jon will be in the final two, but not
both. A Sandra win would be satisfying to most people and it
could definitely happen. I am not THAT confident in picking her
to win, but hey you might as well pick someone. Since I can't
pick Jon, anyway. Sandra is the next best choice.
** SPECIAL CONSPIRACY NOTE **:
By the way, there is one thing that has been bugging me all
season and I better mention it now. I want to make sure I get
this in print JUST IN CASE IT TURNS OUT TO BE TRUE.
All-Star Survivor was officially announced, it came about very fast and
without any warning. Not many people knew it was coming when it
did, it just kind of popped up out of the blue without any fanfare.
In fact, I remember specifically that it was announced a day
or two after the Amazon finale. I remember that it came out so
fast that it seemed to take a little press away from Jenna Morasca's
win. Just all of a sudden now everyone wasn't talking about Jenna
anymore, they were talking about All-Stars. Well, needless to say, the
timing of that announcement struck me as fishy then and it still
strikes me as fishy now. It came around way too fast and the
whole thing just seemed rushed. All of a sudden there were too
many rumors flying around, there was way too much discussion about the
location (which I believe hadn't even been decided yet), and the
cast list was all over the place and wasn't officially confirmed for a
couple of weeks.
What I am getting at here is that I don't think
All-Stars was intended to happen when it is happening. The whole
thing seemed like a rush job that was thrown together at the last
minute, and usually that would only happen for one reason. That
would only happen if the fans were going to be upset with the Pearl
Islands winner. I have had a sinking feeling in my stomach all
season that after an unpopular Jenna win, we were going to have another
unpopular winner in Pearl Islands. Because, well look at the
timeline. Pearl Islands finished taping about a week before
All-Star was announced. Which was the same week that Jenna won
Amazon. The producers knew what was coming. In fact, I
really hope that I am wrong about this. Because if my hunch is
right, we might be looking at a Darrah win. A Darrah win would be
especially unpopular among Survivor fans (especially right after the
notorious Jenna win) and the excitement of All-Star Survivor might be
the only thing that would appease a lot of the hardcore fans after
something like that happened. Again, I hope I am wrong. I
really do. But you never know.
For now, I am predicting that Sandra will win. It won't be
Jon, that would simply make me too happy. Sandra is my pick
and I am sticking to it. I will not have a column after episode
12, my next column will be a recap of the finale. I will write a
running diary of our comments as Diana and I sit there and watch it
next Sunday. The finale actually will be taped here in Los
Angeles this weekend, and I wish I was going, but it is not going to
happen this year. CBS simply isn't giving out tickets to the
websites anymore, so I will be watching from home. But it should
be a lot of fun. Win or lose, I expect Jon to give us a good show
and go out with a bang.
Until next week... go Jon! Win it for grandma!
~~ Weekly Notes ~~
It is really funny to see the players lined up at the start of a
challenge. You have massive Burton, and then you have four small
little people next to him. And two of the females are actually
taller than Jon, he barely clears Sandra's height. It is a funny
image every time I see it, it looks suspiciously like the silhouette of
the Goonies on their movie box (Sloth and then seven little kids).
Diana has been making jokes all season about how people treat Jon like
he is a female. No one ever fears him in the challenges.
And then Sandra went and summed it up perfectly this week: "We'll
get Jon on the next shot because Jon is just like... like a girl."
* The Boy Scout uniform and panties is a very strange and wrong combination. Shame on you, Lill!
The reward trip to the spa was almost the greatest day of Jon's
life. He got to hang out with a partially clothed Darrah in a hot
tub and the two of them just relaxed in half naked luxury. But oh
wait, third wheel Lill came along too. Great, I get to go on a
date with a hot girl but then her mom comes along to chaperone.
* Diana made a funny joke this week about the
three pairs of silk pajamas on the bed. She said it was like
Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Lill's pair was too small,
Darrah's pair was too big, and Jon's pair was juuuuuust right.
Are chicken fingers considered fine food? Did Jon actually have
to explain what they were to the women? Wow, it is a good thing
they didn't get cheese sticks or buffalo wings. Actually no, Jon
was there to explain so they would have been okay.
* My favorite
quote of the episode: "One of grandma's last wishes is I
win." Then Jon pauses and he starts laughing with glee.
Sorry, but I will never get tired of this storyline. It would
make me laugh if I was Jon too.
* One of the frustrating things
about Lill is that she is very inconsistent. It is hard to like
her or dislike her because you never know where she is coming
from. We saw a good example of that this week, where she said she
hated how Jon talks down to her and how he tells her what to do.
But two episodes ago, she told Jon he needed to help her with the
strategy part of the game because she wasn't very good at it.
Make up your mind, Lill!
* The revelation this week that no one
wanted to face Lill in the final two was news to me. I assumed
(like everyone else) that she could never win the game because she was
an outcast. I am usually not that badly off on my predictions but
apparently reality was 180 degrees different from what I
* You hate to pick on Darrah, but really,
with a quote like this it is hard not to. "It's gonna be me and
Jon in the final two. I mean Jon yeah is a snake and he lies but
he also tells the truth too." Yes, apparently he does
both. Good point.
* Is it just me or do Jon and Burton
have a weird Rob-Matteo relationship all of a sudden? Little Jon
calls all the shots and Big Burton is only told what he needs to
know to get by. I am having Amazon flashbacks.
* Diana thinks Jon should wear his Slytherin armbands as pants. She thinks they would probably fit him by now.
* There were three memorable events that happened during Tribal Council:
Burton said it was a requirement to deceive people out here and we cut
to Rupert doing a VERY EXAGGERATED sigh and rolling of his eyes.
Rupert cracks me up even when he is sitting in the jury. He is
the least silent, least impartial juror you will ever see in your life.
Sandra kind of threw Lill under the bus by saying that Lill was
unbeatable in the final two. It was a clever move designed to get
some heat thrown at Lill in the upcoming days, and Lill didn't even
seem to notice. I love how she said "awww" and then she thanked
Sandra. She didn't seem to catch on that Sandra was playing dirty.
When Jeff read the last Christa vote, it was timed just perfectly along
with a thunder crash in the background. That was a neat
* Christa got blindsided at the vote, just like
everybody else this season. I swear, Pearl Islands will set a
record for the most contestants being blindsided at Tribal
Council. Lill might have been the only player to know she was
going before she left.
AFTER WEEK ELEVEN
These are my final rankings of the season. I want Jon to win but I think it will be Sandra. Or... gulp... Darrah.
1. Sandra Diaz-Twine
2. Darrah Johnson
3. Jon Dalton
4. Lillian Morris
5. Burton Roberts
My annual Fallen Comrades parody will be up in the next day or
two. Hopefully by Tuesday. It should be a good one, this
season is practically begging for parody.
My Survivor: Okinawa project is nearly complete and we are finally
winding down. The episodes will be written up very soon, in fact
the first one should be out (hopefully) by the end of the year.
Watch for a lot of updates coming soon!
is a programmer who lives in Los Angeles with his ever-quotable wife,
Diana, and their two small children. And he is accepting tickets to the
finale if anyone is giving them out.