Pearl Island Strategy #3: Mercy is for the Weak
Written by Mario Lanza
"Hey, nice try Bears. Maybe next time you'll get a chance to bat."
-Joey Turner, The Bad News Bears
The key thing to note about this week's episode is that we finally
got a chance to see the Drake and Morgan power alliances. It took
three episodes to get there, but the rest of the (non-Rupert) cast is
slowly starting to develop, and the tribal layouts are finally starting
to emerge. And from here, we can now get a pretty good picture of
what will be happening in the next couple of episodes.
Morgan, Andrew flat out told us who is in the Morgan alliance. It
is Andrew, Osten, Ryno, and Tijuana. They are the big four, and
they call the shots. Now, this isn't really much of a surprise,
you could tell that the "three naked guys" would be close right off the
bat. They stuck together for solidarity reasons at the first
immunity challenge, and that told you all you really needed to
know. I didn't peg Tijuana as their fourth right away, it took a
few readers to point out to me that she was in with the three naked
guys, and that she would be a possible breakout character this
season. So nice job guys, you nailed it.
And then off
to the side, that leaves Darrah. Poor Darrah. The girl who
many of us thought could just waltz to a victory this
season. I certainly thought she was more respected by her tribe
than she seems to be. But this episode certainly changed
that. She seems to be over her head and, barring a Morgan winning
streak or a falling out between the guys, Darrah is the next person
gone from Morgan. There is really no way around it, they seem to
be a very logical and systematic tribe, and she happens to be next in
line. Unless something big happens next week, Darrah is the next
Morgan to walk the plank. No question.
Drake... we finally got an inside look at their power core this
week. And sometimes the editors will throw us a red herring to
confuse us, but I believe that this one was the real deal. It
happened during Jon's confessional, where he was talking about
Sandra. He laughingly said that "We have bigger threats to get rid of first... but she's not one of the final four."
Now I know enough about Jon (from his bio and his audition stuff) to
believe that he knows how to play this game. He isn't just
sitting out there trash talking people and getting on everyone's
nerves. He is the guy who probably had an alliance on day one,
and who knows exactly where he stands among his tribe. I know he
comes off like an annoying little twerp on TV but I think that is just
the editing. That is just the character that the editors want you
to see. I have a very very strong suspicion that Evil Gabe is
right now. He is just that type of person, he is not the type who
will leave his fate up to chance. And I don't care if he is
likeable or not, a good player would realize that Jon is the person to
align with. He is small, he is unthreatening, he is not
particularly charming. That is the guy you want to advance to the
end with, and Jon probably knows it too. It is in Jonny
Fairplay's best interest to annoy people right now, as long as he
already has his alliance in place first. Then he can just sit
there and do whatever he wants.
As for the rest of
the tribe... well we know that Sandra isn't really in the power group
of Drake. You can just see that. Notice how nonchalant Jon
was when he was discussing her fate, he wasn't concerned about Sandra
in the slightest. She just doesn't frighten him at all. And
you can take that one of two ways. Either Sandra is going to go far and
is going to make Jon look stoooopid, or this was the first real glimpse
into the way the game is going to play out. And honestly, in this
case, I think it is the latter. I think Jon gave us a clue as to
how the game is going to play out. And barring a twist, I think
the Drake alliance is already in place. We just haven't been
shown it yet.
Going back to Jon's quote (which I feel is
very important), clearly he feels like he is included in the
"we." It was just the way he phrased it, he said that line with
complete arrogance and confidence. Jon is in the alliance.
I am 100% positive. But the hard part is trying to figure out who
the rest of the "we" are.
My first hunch is that
Christa is involved. She just seems way too savvy to be left
behind on something like that. She clearly knows this game inside
and out. And with Christa probably comes Michelle. It just
makes sense that Jon's "harem" (as he would probably call them) would
include the two cutest girls on the tribe. Jon spoke of
"the final four", so it is clear that this is more than just a
three-person alliance. And since you can't have a majority
alliance in a tribe unless you have five people, my guess is that Shawn
and Burton are a part of it too. It could
be Trish instead of Shawn, but she is more of a wild card. I'm
just not entirely sure where Trish stands at the moment.
in my mind, that is your Drake power core. Five people, who are
in absolutely no danger whatsoever. And if you buy this theory,
you can probably see where I am going with it. Because two of the
people who are NOT included in this group are Sandra and... (cue
ominous music)... Rupert. And since Jon flat out told us that
Sandra is safe for a while, some simple logic leads you right to
Rupert. That's right, Rupert Boneham-- the king of the Pearl
Islands. The star of the show. The hero of just about every
single freaking challenge thus far.
And I think he is doomed.
you watch the previews for next week, you see the Drakes talking about
throwing the next immunity challenge. Now this ties right back
into my theory that the players are bored. The Drakes are bored,
they are set in their alliances, and they are desperately waiting for
the game to start. And I suspect this because I actually have
some first hand experience with this from the Tonga game I participated
in last spring. Our tribe was kicking butt at the start...and we
were beating the other tribe so badly that a few of us started to get
bored. We started to say to ourselves, "You know, this game isn't
much fun if we can't use our alliance power to start voting people
off." So I could absolutely see Drake throwing a challenge next
week. They win everything, they are in no danger whatsoever, and
the game is kind of boring if you are perfectly safe. If you have
an alliance and you have the numbers, damnit, you want to use it!
my prediction for next week? Well, I am going to go out on a limb
this time. Usually I take a very conservative stance on the game
and I just predict the players will follow the status quo. But
this week, I am predicting some fireworks. I predict that Drake
will throw the immunity challenge, and they will vote off
Rupert. It all makes sense in my mind. You have Burton and
Shawn, two wanna-be alphas who can't lead when Rupert is around.
You have Jon, who talks of "bigger threats to get rid of first."
You have Rupert, who is so much larger than life that I can't see him
being much of a strategist. And you have a bored Drake tribe
without much to do right now. The pieces all fit.
think the Drakes will be cocky enough to think they can win without
Rupert. And I think Rupert may have dug his own grave on day one,
when he caught more fish than Burton. And I know that in
pre-season interviews, Jon was described as "dispicable" by more than
one person. If he somehow knifed fan favorite Rupert in the back,
for no apparent reason, don't you think it would help earn him that
This is a wild hunch, and I am probably wrong...
but I think Rupert becomes a martyr next week. And the legend of
Johnny Fairplay will thereby be born.
~~ Weekly Notes ~~
They stole Canoe Wars! That's right, CBS managed to swipe the
challenge I made up for All-Star Alaska, episode 10. Well okay, I
suppose I can justify it here, with Pearl Islands being a pirate theme
and all. But if they wind up swiping Red Rover too, someone owes
me a royalty check.
* My favorite episodes are the ones where you know
who is going to be booted, the players know it too, and the whole
episode is dedicated to the deceased and their inevitable doom.
And sure enough, Lill got the hammer this week. There was no
suspense whatsoever, we just got lots of scenes of her sadly
walking towards her fate. Those are always the most powerful
* Speaking of Lill, did she ever smile this
season? Even once, over nine days? I think we should
introduce a new term to the Survivor lexicon... the Lill face. It
is defined as a person with a sad looking, hangdog, perpetual pouty
face for their entire stay on the show. Poor Lill. Do you
think she enjoyed a single moment in this game? It was like
watching Eeyore out there.
* I was particularly
pleased that Osten got a chance to redeem himself this week. I
didn't want him to be remembered as a quitter, and I was happy because
the whole episode seemed to revolve around Osten's redemption. By
the way, this is how you can tell that Survivor isn't staged, and is a
good example of why I love reality TV more than I like scripted
shows. Because the whole storyline was set up for Osten to
redeem himself, and to win the immunity challenge for his tribe.
The whole episode was geared around him! And true he lost the
challenge in the end... but he really did show the heart of a warrior
in trying to outmuscle Rupert. I was happy for him, he finally
had a good episode.
* If you pay attention, we have a fun
little subplot developing this season with Osten. The "once proud
warrior must regain his strength and believe in himself"
storyline. I don't think we have ever seen that happen on
Survivor before. In fact, if you wanted to draw a literary
parallel, you could go back to Greeks having to persuade Achilles to
fight in the Trojan War. Because they couldn't win without
him. Or if you were less inclined to read the classics, you could
say it is like Superman trying to get back his super powers in Superman
2, so he could stop General Zod. Or if you wanted to really
really lowbrow it, you could say Osten's story is like the Three
Amigos, who had to find their strength to work as a team and stop the
murdering, villainous, infamous El Guapo. All three parallels
work, it is really your choice.
* Did you catch the
cryptic message in the tree mail, that this was the Morgan tribe's
"final test"? Is it possible that we have a twist of some sort
next week? That would sure make things interesting, especially
since the previews don't even hint at a twist...
* I still
stand by my belief that Tijuana is a heck of a player. I think she will
be the last Morgan standing. Just watch the way she greeted
Christa when Christa came to loot the camp. Tijuana seemed
genuinely happy to see her, and she gave her a big hug. When your
ship is going down, it is always a good idea to make friends with the
enemy! Tijuana is very good at the social part of this game, keep
an eye on her.
* I have a theory that Andrew actually works
for the CBS editing department. Week in and week out, he likes to
throw out comments that could be taken more than one way. He
seems to know exactly what the editing department wants, and he helps
out by throwing them a bone. "Well, you know... Ryan could go
this week. Or it could be Osten. I don't know."
"Is Lillian more important to our tribe? Or has Darrah earned her
place here? I just can't tell you." "Jeff, it doesn't
matter if you are 100 pounds, or 250 pounds, if you hurt our team, you
are our weakest link." Keep an eye out for this, Andrew does it
all the time. Maybe it is a lawyer thing.
Sandra has a mean little face, doesn't she? I bet her kids
try very hard not to get her upset. Sandra's kid are
probably the best behaved kids on the face of the earth.
Ryan Opray is the only Morgan who ever smiles... and he happens to look
almost exactly like NBA superstar Steve Nash. I just wanted to
throw that out there for my Canadian readers. And I should know,
because I was Steve Nash's English tutor in college.
funniest scene this week was Jon and Sandra's argument, and how they
bleeped all the swear words and replaced them with chimes or
rattles. Listen to it again, it was a very creative way for the
editors to do that.
* My wife Diana thought it would have
been funny if Drake had picked Jon to sit in their harness instead of
Michelle. The poor little guy would have been humiliated.
In fact, as it was, he still pulled the rope in front of Sandra and
Christa. I'm surprised they even let Jon come to the challenges
at all. Hey Fairplay, stay here and boil our water. We'll
be back in a couple of hours with the idol. Oh, and please shine
our shoes while you're at it.
AFTER WEEK THREE
There is no way you can rank any of the Morgans very high
right now. They could be the best players in the world, they
could be the best strategists in the world, but they are still stuck on
a crappy team. Just ask Ernie Banks. He was one of the best
shortstops of all time, he was eventually voted into the Hall of Fame,
but he never played in the World Series because he was stuck playing
for the crappy Cubs his entire career. Sometimes fate just craps
on your head like that.
1. Michelle Tesauro
with last week, Michelle isn't going anywhere for a while. The
fact that I think she is in a strong alliance can only help her chances.
2. Christa Hastie
A very savvy player, and I think she is in the center of the Drake alliance.
3. Burton Roberts
safe for now. If he is the "threat" Drake wants to get rid of,
obviously he is lower in the rankings. But I don't think he is
4. Jon Dalton
a very risky pick to be putting this high. He has to make it past
a Drake Tribal Council first, and then at that point we will see if he
is for real or not. But I think Evil Gabe will stick around for a
5. Trish Dunn
much to say about her. She could be in the alliance, she could be
out. The first Drake Tribal Council will tell us, but I think she
knows what is going on. She is safe for now.
6. Shawn Cohen
He could be the target that Jon is after, but I think that Rupert is much more likely. We'll see.
7. Rupert Boneham
week is a big one for him. I have a bad feeling about his
chances, but no matter what he is still the star of the show. Do
stars ever go home this early? I guess we would have to ask
8. Sandra Diaz-Twine
you @#*&ing piece of @#*&! I can get @#*&ing loud
too, you @#*&! @#*& you and all your @#*&ing ideas,
you loudmouthed little dip@#*&. Sandra is fun, she
always comes up with some good @#*&ing quotes. I hope she
sticks around for a while, otherwise she is going to be @#*&ing
mad! If she gets blindsided she is liable to @#*& them all up
9. Tijuana Bradley
As it stands now, I predict she is the last Morgan standing.
10. Ryan Opray
He is doing fine for now. He is just on the wrong team.
11. Osten Taylor
gotta get that edge back, Rock! The eye... The eye of the
tiger! You had it when you fought me, but you got soft! And
now it's up to you to get it back!" When in doubt, always turn to
the wisdom of Apollo Creed.*
12. Andrew Savage
He is in a terrible position and that isn't likely to improve anytime soon.
13. Darrah Johnson
Well, at least she's cute.
* Yes, I was too lazy to look up Apollo's actual quote. But I was close enough, stop whining.
is a programmer and writer from Seattle. He lives with his
delightfully witty wife, Diana, and their two small children. He
is the lead author of the S-C All-Star Stories and also the
upcoming Survivor: Okinawa project.