Pearl Island Strategy #4: Red Rover
Written by Mario Lanza
"Every three days, we will have the same reward, and it is what I
like to call 'Red Rover.' I'm sure you played the game when you were
kids. Two teams, standing across from one another. One team
gets to call a player from the other side to come over and join them,
usually the strongest one... So for every reward challenge up until the
merge, the winning tribe will get to 'steal' a member of the losing
tribe. That person will then become a permanent member of the new
-Jeff Probst, All-Star Survivor Alaska
off, I was glad to see Johnny Fairplay finally rear his ugly head this
week. I was thrilled to see that because I had been predicting
for weeks that he would turn out to be important to this season.
I just knew that
Jon was the big villain that the editors were hiding from us, and it
looks like I will turn out to be right. So thank you to Jon for
making me look good. And I still maintain that he is much better
liked than we are being led to believe from the editing. In fact,
I think Jon is almost a leader in some ways. Note the way he
called the shots during the immunity challenge. Note the way he
sat front and center at Tribal Council, like this was his tribe. And especially, pay attention to the fact that he didn't get any votes.
Not only did Jonny Fairplay get zero votes, but it was never
even discussed that he might be the one to leave. His name
simply never came up!
Now I'm not saying that Jon Dalton is
going to win this game. I really don't think he has it in
him. But I would warn you not to underestimate him. He is
not just some yappy little jackass who struts around camp and who picks
on people. I think he's got a lot more going on than we are being
shown on TV. And you can already tell that Jeff Probst hates his
guts. I don't think it's an exaggeration to assume that the rest
of the production staff probably hates his guts too. So you are
damn right he is going to get some bad editing. Although, if you
look at it from the flip side, most television shows would KILL for a
character like this. A self proclaimed villain, puppetmaster, and
all around asshole? Jon has absolutely no problem with coming off
as the bad guy on TV, in fact I am guessing he would probably be
disappointed if he wasn't booed at the reunion show. But I think
it is great that Survivor has its first true evil villain since...
well... since never. You can mention Jerri, Brian, or Richard if
you want, but I don't think any of them ever really saw themselves
as the "bad guy." Richard certainly didn't see himself as the bad
guy. But Jon does. And that is the difference. And
that is why Jon is special. He is one of a kind. You might
hate him, but he is here to provide entertainment and to make good
TV. So boo him, America. Loathe him, curse him, strike him
down with your hatred. Because that is exactly why he applied for the show and that is exactly why CBS cast him.
here is to you, Jon-- may your reign of terror last for many
weeks. Make sure they never forget you. And like I have
said before, I will save you a spot in my next All-Star story.
was a lot of stuff going on this week that will inevitably shake up the
game from here on out. First off, Drake completely fell
apart. And I know a lot of strategists will tell you there are
reasons to throw challenges, but it has always apalled me that tribes
on Survivor would ever throw anything. I have just always hated
that part of the game. Sure, you can throw an individual
challenge to make yourself less threatening later in the game, but it
just strikes me as wrong that you would ever want to lose a player
during the team portion of the game. Maybe it is the athlete in
me, I don't know, but I can say I would be a lot like Rupert if I ever
played. You want me to throw a challenge? Like hell.
Either sit me out or I aint gonna do it. The goal is NOT to
go to Tribal Council, and no strategist will ever be able to convince
me otherwise. Throwing team challenges sucks.
However, on the plus side, because of this thrown challenge we finally
saw the inner workings of the Drake tribe. And to me, the biggest
surprise was that Christa and Michelle do not get along. It just
never crossed my mind that those two wouldn't be aligned with one
another somehow. I didn't have Christa pegged as a bitter
outcast, nor did I have Michelle pegged as a snobby sorority
girl. But alas, it turns out I was wrong about both of
them. So the minority alliance was Shawn-Burton-Michelle all
along and, now that Burton is gone, Michelle is suddenly left dangling
in the wind. I don't think she will be the next one to go, but
then again Shawn wisely saved his own butt and teamed up with Jon and
his minions for now, leaving poor Michelle stranded on her own.
Drake tribe is definitely a bit fractured now, and losing
Rupert certainly isn't going to help. I am curious to see
how well they will be able to handle him being gone for a couple of
days. In fact, I am curious to see how the whole Red Rover...
ahem, I mean "stolen player"... twist is going to play out. Will
Rupert stay with the Morgans forever? Will he actually have the
option to stay? How will Rupert on Morgan affect future
challenges? Will this now happen at every immunity
challenge? Can Rupert ever be stolen again? Do I get a
royalty check from CBS? How about I just give them my ATM card
and my PIN number too? All of these questions nag at my
brain, and I have to ponder this new twist for a while before I decide
what I think of it. I am just not sure how it is going to play
The other thing that happened this week was that Osten
almost died. Well, okay, that's not really much of a surprise,
since he almost dies every other day in the Pearl Islands. Let's
see... there was that time when he jumped off the boat... and that time
he was accosted by a ten year old street tough while bartering goods...
and that time he dropped a coconut on his foot... and his first bout
with pneumonia... and then that other bout with pneumonia... and the
time he dropped his torch and it almost set him aflame... and the time
Lill shoved him and he almost broke his collarbone... plus that last
bout with pneumonia... whew! I am surprised he has made it this
far. I hope you can tough it out a few more days, Osten.
But watch out, Rupert gets pissy when you touch his spear. Please
refer back to rule number one of the game. Do not piss off the
big man, or you will die.
So what is going to happen
from here on out? Well, Drake still controls the game, but I have
a bad feeling they won't be controlling it for very long. Being
that Burnett will do anything to get the Morgans back in it (*cough
cough* invent a new reward for a challenge that they know Drake is
going to lose *cough cough*), I know that something is around the
corner that will shake the game up. I have no idea what it is,
but I suddenly suspect that Andrew and Ryno (RyanO? Rhino? Rino?) will
be around a lot longer than people expect. Call it a gut feeling, but I
will agree with Isabella (whose column is hilarious by the way) and
predict that I think a Morgan is going to win this thing. They
aren't at the top of the power rankings this week, but I would watch
that pair of Andrew and Ryan very closely if I were you.
oh, and then there was that time Osten almost died in the cannon
challenge... and the time his pants fell down and he became entangled
and almost asphyxiated himself... and the time Ryan elbowed him and it
almost pierced an artery... and the time he missed a football pass and
it struck him in the aorta... oh, and the time his fishing hook just
missed poking his finger when he reeled in the line...
boot prediction for next week? Hmmm... I was close
with Burton this week. I knew it was going be an
overbearing Drake alpha male, I just happened to pick the wrong
one. But I think Shawn goes home next week. I think it will
be Shawn, Michelle, Darrah or (less likely) Jon. But I will stick
with Shawn for now. I just go back to the pre-season interviews,
where Jon said he wanted to have an orgy and a harem of women
surrounding him at all times. So Shawn has to go, and I will make
him my prediction for next week.
~~ Weekly Notes ~~
Check out this quote from my pre-season predictions: "Burton
is an alpha-male type, and he seems like he is going to be a pretty
straight shooter. He has "leader" and "alpha" written all over him. He
looks like a strong player, but then again the Drakes are CRAWLING with
alpha males, so who knows where Burton is going to fit in. And I have
no way to prove this, but he just strikes me as being a
tragic figure. There is just something sad when you look at his
face. If I had to take a WAG (wild-ass guess), I would guess that
Burton will get Huntered very early on in the game, for no
apparent reason but strategy. We will see." Woo hoo, yay
me! I called Burton's tragic downfall simply from his sad little
face in his bio picture. That is probably my best (and luckiest)
pre-season prediction of all time.
I love how Morgan's shelter is about to be decimated by the tide, and
their solution is to just build a moat around it. That made
me laugh. Anyone who has ever tried to save a sand castle from
the ocean knows how well building a moat around it works. Just
move your shelter, you lazy butts. Besides, if you dig the moat
too deep, Osten might fall in. And then he will die. For
* I can never get enough shots of Burton and Shawn
just pointing and laughing at Rupert. It is too funny. They
do it right to his face! And it makes it even funnier because
Rupert is so very sensitive, so it is like little kids picking on each
other at recess. Too funny.
* When Osten almost
"drowned" it brought to mind a quote from Carrot Top, during a
segment on VH-1's "I love the 80's." Carrot Top said "When you're
drowning, you don't scream and yell 'Help, I'm drowning!' No,
when you're really
drowning you just say *blub*." That quote always made me
laugh, so I now become the first Survivor columnist to ever quote
Carrot Top in my column.
* How many women loved that Rupert
knows how to sew? My wife got quite a kick out of it. She
is so in love with Rupert, and I know she isn't alone. As Diana
said, "He is so sensitive and, at times, he seems to have the mind of a
six year old. He is just adorable." We also got a kick out
of the look on Rupert's face when the Morgans Red Rovered him over to
their team. He was so incredibly sad. He had the exact same
look on his face that our 1-year old son does when his toy breaks, he
had the big pouty lip and the hound dog eyes and everything.
Rupert is one in a million, you just couldn't invent a character
* But I really could do without any more Rupert
upskirt buffalo shots. I am not judging here, I am just making a
comment. Please just stop it, CBS. Children are watching.
When the Drakes ate their chocolate, a few of them let out delighted
"oh my gawwwd"s. My wife Diana pointed out that it must be a
required Survivor phrase for all players to say that upon eating
chocolate. I think it all started back in Australia, when Jerri
actually had an orgasm just from unwrapping a candy bar.
Okay, another Diana quote... she is on quite a roll lately. When
Andrew and Ryan O were lost in the woods and were saying that their map
was wrong, Diana commented that "suddenly, they're on Eco
Challenge." We joked that Team Spie and the Playmates were right
behind them. Okay, only about four of my readers actually got
that joke, but Eco Challenge is a good show! You should watch it!
The immunity challenge was a lot of fun. It was a ripoff of the
great "attack zone" challenge from Thailand, but that's okay since any
challenge with an "attack zone" is alright by me. I think all
challenges should feature an attack zone. Even the food
auctions. And sure, Jon got ass-beat by little Tijuana, but that
was just good TV. I bet Robb Zbacnik got all excited watching
this challenge at home. He probably got so worked up that they
had to sedate him.
* How cool would it have
been to see Tijuana and Sandra battle it out in the attack zone?
I think that was the matchup we were all waiting to see. I fear Sandra
would have literally torn her head off.
* Okay, here are a
few great images from this episode, ones that will live on forever in
Survivor infamy: 1. Drake loses the challenge, and Jon
turns to wink at Burton. Burton smiles happily, with a great big
shit-eating grin on his face. You know he has no idea he just
sealed his own fate. 2. Jon sitting at Tribal Council,
totally plastered and holding up two fingers on either hand. Was
it a signal? I think he was telling people who to vote for, that
is my guess. Either that or he was flashing Jonny Fairplay
hand signals to his friends at home. 3. Upon entering
Tribal Council, Jon lights his torch. Then he holds it up and
gets a smile of pure ecstasy on his face, as he watches the flames
dancing around in the darkness. It was a pretty eerie little
grin. In fact, if you have the episode on tape, go back and
watch it again. Jon looks like a pyromaniac who just set a
building on a fire. He just stares at the flame and he starts
orgasming. 4. At Tribal Council, Jon's strut both to and from the
voting confessional. He is just so over the top, it kills
me. Add in all the pro wrestling references and this was Jon
Dalton's episode, from start to finish. Go Fairplay!
Both Diana and I agreed on this, the minute the episode ended:
Jon is the villain. Jon is the star. Jon will probably be
the best player out there. And, as per Survivor tradition, we
might as well mark him down for third place right now.
have been calling Jon "Evil Gabe" all season, and I now have a
whole analogy worked out to support it. I think Jon Dalton and
Gabriel Cade are actually twin brothers. At birth, one of them
was whisked away to live on a tropical island, to learn and flourish in
a learning utopia. The other one was tossed into the streets, to
live among the vagrants and to scrounge for food and friendship on his
own. Sure enough, the blessed one (Gabe) grew into an ideal young
man, strong of heart, morals, and mind. And the other one (Jon)
kind of didn't. And yes, this is the exact same plot of the movie
Twins, starring Danny DeVito and Governor Schwarzenegger. But I think
that movie was actually based on the lives of these two young
men. I think it was a true story! You have Good Gabe and
you have Evil Gabe. It all makes sense now. It was a
science experiment that went horribly wrong!
* Note to Jon's parents: If you read this, I am just kidding. Jon is my favorite!
Quote of the week: Like I said, my wife Diana is on a roll
lately, she is practically taking over the weekly notes. Back in
episode one, I joked that Rupert said "Jon is always saying stooopid
stuff. Like he wants some honey." Well Diana pointed out to
me that they actually DID get honey in the Drake treasure chest this
week. She added "Looks like Jon got his honey after all! I
guess it wasn't such a stooopid thing to wish for!"
AFTER WEEK FOUR
In general, this is a very hard list to make this
week. Things are topsy turvy right now, and there are still a lot
of important variables left in the game. But as of right now, the
Drakes still rule the roost. But something isn't right in my gut.
I can't justify listing any of the Morgans at the top yet, but I
am keeping an eye on them. I still think a Morgan is going to win
the game. Oh and for the record, Burton becomes the highest ever
power ranked played (#3 last week) to take the walk of shame. And
Michelle takes the biggest plunge in power rankings history, dropping
from #1 down to nearly the bottom.
1. Trish Dunn
see no reason for her to leave now... and nobody else really jumps out
to me as a favorite. So Trish rises to the top mainly because no
one else does.
2. Rupert Boneham
should be safe for a while, because he is incredibly well liked.
I think the girls all fawn over him, even if he isn't the most
strategic player in the world. I think the other players kind of
look after him like he is a child (which he almost is, in many ways.)
3. Christa Hastie
avoided the bullet for now, and she should be safe. She has
started to stand out a little as a troublemaker, but that just means
she is a good strategist. People are onto her, but I think she
knows what she is doing. Christa remains safe for now, and I
still see her a potential winner. As a bonus she is one of my
4. Tijuana Bradley
I am always impressed by Tijuana, and again she is the top Morgan on my list. I still expect good things from her.
5. Andrew Savage
am starting to think he has a chance to win this game. The man
simply doesn't seem to make any enemies. And even though he isn't
a master strategist (or even a great leader, for that matter), he
doesn't appear to be in any particular danger at the moment.
6. Ryan Opray
Wherever Andrew goes, Ryan is always one step behind. We have no exception here.
7. Sandra Diaz-Twine
is a real wild card in this game. She is aligned with Jon, even
though she can't stand him. That shows more of a strategic mind
than I expected out of her. She could do very very well in this
game, I can definitely see that happening. Put her at #7 for now,
but you could easily rank her even higher.
8. Jon Dalton
I said, you might as well mark him down for 3rd place. At least,
if Probst doesn't kill him first. All season long, Jeff has been
harping on this "great lie" that one of the players is going to
tell. Anyone want to place bets that Jon WON'T be the one
behind it? And how evil is this lie going to be? Is it
going to be only kind of nasty, like "Michelle voted for you last
night, blame her. She hates you." Or is it going to be
nasty, like "Rupert went up and tried to fondle one of the girls.
I think he is dangerous and I don't think any of us are safe around
him." I really don't think Jon would be above something like
that. And I have no proof it is actually Jon who is going to tell
the lie, but all signs kind of point that way. After all, he
doesn't play fair. Remember that.
9. Shawn Cohen
was safe this week, but he could very well be out next week. And
I think that would be a horrible mistake. If Shawn leaves the
Drakes will be running out of athletes!
10. Michelle Tesauro
guess you chose the wrong side of the alliance. Better make some
new friends quick. Oh, and be nice to Christa. She controls
your fate right about now.
11. Osten Taylor
is a good thing Morgan didn't win the sewing machine. Or else
Osten might have sewed himself to a pair of pants and died from blood
12. Darrah Johnson
As a Survivor-Central columnist, I am contractually obligated to
plug Daniel Lue's calendar. I'm sorry, I have no say in the
matter. You can pick one up at his website (www.danlue.com) or at
amazon.com. Please do your part to help.
is a programmer and writer who lives in Los Angeles with his
ever-quotable wife, Diana, and their two small children. He is
the lead author of the S-C All-Star Stories and the
upcoming Survivor: Okinawa project. He also loves the Friday
the 13th movies, especially parts 3 and 6.