Pearl Island Strategy #5: Believe in Yourself
Written by Mario Lanza
"Believe in Yourself."
it looks like a Drake won't be winning this thing anymore. I
don't know about you, but it is looking more and more likely to me that
the winner will be coming from the Morgans. There isn't
really any evidence I have to support that, or any proof I can give you
to back it up, but just... damn, why must that blasted Isabella always
be right? The Drakes are falling apart. They are falling
into a world of hurt, while the Morgans have not only BONDED, but now
they actually all BELIEVE in themselves. I think it is going to
get very ugly, very fast, and I think the Drakes screwed themselves
when they threw a challenge and let the Morgans back into the game.
MVP this episode, as usual, was Rupert. Just when you think the
guy couldn't be more impressive, he pulls something out new the very
next week. Morgan can't win a challenge? Give 'em
Rupert! Morgan doesn't know how the spear works? Rupert
will show 'em! Ryno isn't a very good fisherman? Rupert
invented fishing! And on top of it all, this week he just went
out of his way to become superhuman. First off, the reward
challenge became Drake against Rupert. I know that sounds like an
exaggeration, but that is exactly how it went down. Rupert beat
the Drakes all by himself. And if that weren't already enough, he
is now best friends with the Morgans AND the Drakes. For God's sake,
Rupert told the Morgans to stay strong when he went back to Drake...
and NONE OF THE DRAKES SEEMED TO MIND! And then Rupert finds a
baby sea snake and he nurses it back to health. I swear, Rupert is a
god. He could not be more noble, he is not one of us, and I know
I am treading on the blasphemous here, but he is a freaking god.
Rupert Boneham can do no Survivor wrong.
One of my favorite
scenes so far this season (and maybe of all the Survivor seasons) was
the one this week where Andrew came to raid the Drake camp. There
was a very touching moment between Andrew and Rupert where Andrew knew
he should take all of the rice, but he couldn't. He either didn't
want to screw the Drakes that badly, or he was covering his own
political butt in case of a merge. But it was kind of
touching to watch Rupert try to get Andrew to take more rice than he
originally asked for. Rupert KNEW that the Morgans were starving,
he knew that the Morgans were suffering, and he has too big of a heart
to let his new friends starve over on the other tribe. And you
could just see it in Andrew's eyes... he didn't want to take all the
rice. And maybe he was kind of embarrassed that his tribe had
fallen so far. But Rupert basically pulled him aside and said
"Look buddy, I know you guys are starving and I know you are too proud
to take it. But game or no game, you need this. Just take
the rice." It could have been strategy, or it could have been
Rupert just being a humanitarian. Either way, it was an
awfully touching little Survivor moment. As I said before, Rupert
manages to top himself each and every week. The guy is amazing.
keep this in mind. The fact that Rupert is amazing also
means that the end of Rupert will be all that more tragic.
Because when you look at Rupert, what you should see is "tragic
victim." His downfall will not be pretty, and it will not be
expected. In other words, when it happens it is going to be tough
Our bootee this week was Michelle. She was
pegged in my preseason picks as the sweetheart of the season and,
unfortunately, that turned out to be far from the truth. On TV, I
don't think she came off very well at all. In fact, on Friday
morning's Early Show, she came off as quite bitter and snippy, which
was far from what most of us predicted from her. And it leads me
to believe that the producers probably weren't all that thrilled with
her. I believe she was cast to be the sweetheart of the season,
but once she got out there she turned out not to be. And that is
probably why she didn't get very much airtime. I think the
producers expect you to fit into a certain stereotype when you are cast
for the show, and if you don't live up to what they are expecting from
you, you won't be shown much in the episodes. I think the exact
same thing happened to Zoe in the Marquesas, among others. The
producers cast you for a reason and you better play by their rules, or
you get the shaft. That's why I never pay much attention to
predictions based on who gets the most or the least airtime. Lack
of airtime doesn't necessarily mean a player won't get very far.
Sometimes it just means their character doesn't fit into
Now, of course we can't overlook the
fact that I predicted that Michelle would probably do well in
this game. I seem to remember having her ranked #1 in the power
rankings for a couple weeks. But, hell, let's just forget
that ever happened. I wasn't the only one who got fooled by her
Michelle's performance this week was one of the
all-time great Survivor lowlights. The plan was for her to fake
squeamishness and to fool the Morgans. Yet instead, she aced the
challenge and she almost seemed to shove it in Jon's face in the
process. I wasn't surprised in the slightest that she was voted
off. She was probably going to be voted out anyway but, as we
have been seeing this season, if you piss off Jon, you leave.
His confessional where he gave her the middle finger said it
better than I ever could. "We gave you one chance to save
yourself! You made a promise to try and fool the Morgans.
And then you go back on your word?! Are you insane?"
Unfortunately Michelle isn't going to be ripped apart on the internet
like some other players might have been in the past (oh we will pick
John Carroll as an example) but come on, that was one of the worst
strategic maneuvers I have ever witnessed in seven seasons of Survivor.
In fact I would say it was way worse than anything that John
Carroll ever did. Although, in the interest of being fair,
Michelle did explain it on the Early Show. She said that the
smoothie really DID smell and taste that bad. And that if
she had tried to fake it, she might have barfed it all up. But
I'm not buying it. I think she had too much pride, and
I think she didn't want to look bad on TV. And it wound up
costing her. Because as Marcellus Wallace once said, "Pride only
hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit."
what is the status of the Pearl Island alliances now? Let's
see... at Drake the main alliance clearly involves Jon, Christa, and
Trish in some way. Those three are all over every single strategy
talk, and I have always believed that when you come right down to it,
Jon and Christa are at the center of it all. And it looks
like Sandra and Rupert are in with them too, with Shawn doing his best
to be a peripheral hanger-on. So my guess is that if Drake goes
to Tribal Council next week, Shawn will go home. I think it will
be Shawn or Sandra. But the catch is that if Shawn goes home, the
Drakes will be HORRIBLY outmatched in the challenge department.
It really WILL be Rupert against the Morgans if that were to
happen. So my guess for the next Drake bootee is Sandra.
Bless her resiliency, her spirit, and her wonderful potty mouth, but I
think she will be the next one to go. And don't be fooled by the
editing into thinking that Jon is in any danger at the moment... or
that he is disliked. Jon is clearly the leader of the alliance
right now. Just look at how many times he is the center of
conversation, or how many times he is the one giving orders. Jon
is funny to be around, he is a morale booster, he does work around
camp, and he is smart and devious. He is SO the leader of the
Drakes right now. Michelle even admitted in her Early Show
appearance that Jon was a morale booster because he was always making
people laugh around camp, and that is why I think he will be perfectly
safe for a while. My pick to go home next week is Sandra.
at Morgan, nothing has really changed. It is still the three
naked guys alliance (Osten, Ryan, Andrew), with Tijuana as their
"nubian princess." And then you have Darrah hanging around as
"that other girl." Darrah would be the next one to go, although
that's not going to happen. This is the point of the game where
the Morgans start dominating. I doubt Morgan sees Tribal
Council again until after the tribes merge.
Again, my pick for next week is Sandra.
~~ Weekly Notes ~~
It has taken me five episodes, but I can finally tell all the guys on
the show apart now. Of course that just means that Shawn is "the
guy who isn't Burton, Ryan, or Andrew" but he is now distinct to me in
one way or another, nonetheless.
* Diana (my wife) noticed
that Rupert sounds an awful lot like Milton from the movie "Office
Space" when he speaks. Especially the line "I'm gonna rebuild the
shelter today," which is the exact same tone and cadence as Milton
saying "But I wanted the red Swingline stapler." Just a random
observation that you probably don't care about.
was Red Rover only used for one challenge? Why is nobody
screaming bloody murder that this was an obvious manipulation just to
help the Morgans get back into the game? I can't believe the
producers only used it once, that just seems weird.
* Is it
just me, or did Jeff comment on the action in the challenges way more
than usual this episode? He was basically narrating everything
that happened in the reward challenge for us at home. So instead
of graphic overlays like "Drake Trailing," we have Jeff taunting the
slower players to hurry up. Although I have to way that frankly,
I kind of like Jeff's narration. It helps you get into the action
more. Although I could certainly do without him saying stuff like
"Drake, nice of you to join us." He really doesn't like them very
much, you can tell.
* Butch Lockley would be thrilled to
know that the Morgans now believe in themselves. In fact you can
just picture Butch, sitting there by the Morgan campfire, giving Osten
a pep talk. "And this is one of the five or six greatest moments
of my life, but when you didn't get pneumonia today, Osten... the smile
on your face was something I'll never forget. You proved that you
can go a day without dying out here, and I will never forget that
smile. Osten, you don't have a disability."
was a horribly cruel thing to say about the starving Morgans, but Jon's
nickname of their tribe as "Jenny Craig Island" was pretty funny.
* Bleeding clams are nasty. Yuck.
The immunity challenge was very exciting, that was one of the closest
finishes we have ever had on Survivor. Top it off with a very
funny Jon-Darrah interaction where she shot him down when he asked for
a date and that was one of the best challenges of the season.
I'm close to giving Diana her own section of the column from now
on. Here are some of her best comments about this week's episode:
In the reward challenge, it would have been funny if Rupert caught
three fish while he was underwater untying the flags. That
wouldn't have surprised me.
2. Christa has been running wild with
the sewing machine. Look at all the things in her hair and all
the new clothes she has each week.
3. If I'm bending over a log and
throwing up, I don't want a big man in a skirt to sit next to me.
But maybe that's just me.
* I know we haven't seen the last
of the twists, I know that there is still something big looming on the
horizon. But by the seventh season, the players would be REALLY
thrown off if there turned out not to be a twist. I always
thought "the twist is that there is NO twist" would be a funny thing to
throw at people by this point in the franchise. Hmm...
Quote of the week: I could go with Darrah shooting down
Jon's pick up line at the Immunity Challenge, but since I can't
understand a word she says, I have to go with Johnny Fairplay
instead. "(he holds up his middle finger) Michelle, that's
what I think of your ego right about now."
AFTER WEEK FIVE
Wow, we are almost up to the merge. This season is
flying by very quickly. I have had a lot of shifts in the power
rankings so far this season, and that is because Pearl Islands has been
an awfully tough season to predict. But we are getting to the
point now where things are finally starting to solidify. There
are a few strong players in the game (Jon, Christa, Trish, Andrew,
Ryan, Tijuana). There is a hanger-on who could theoretically slip
into a victory (Darrah). I don't think that Sandra, Osten, or
Shawn will win... although an Osten win would be awfully funny (I bet
he gets a paper cut from the million dollar check). And Rupert,
as we all know, is a tragic victim just waiting to happen. Rupert
is flying so far above the radar that he has almost circled the earth
and wound up UNDER the radar again. But for now, I think the
winner will be one of the six "strong players" I named above, with a
Morgan victory looking more and more likely each episode. I guess
the morale of the story is... too much early success can splinter a
team apart. Because when you lose, you bond. And we are
seeing it here.
1. Ryan Opray
here on out, I will be keeping Ryan at #1 until he screws
up. He may just turn out to be the golden boy of the
season. The whole confessional last episode with Rupert saying
"Ryan wants to learn, Ryan wants to provide...", that was the passing
of the torch that officially does it for me. I think Ryan is
about to turn into a mini-Rupert. So Ryan, you are back at #1 in
the Power Rankings until you do something wrong. Oh, and my wife
loves the fact that you smile every time you talk. You are always
2. Tijuana Bradley
could just as easily be our winner. She seems very, very good at
the social part of this game. And forget her screaming at the
villagers on day one, that is old news. She is back in the
driver's seat now.
3. Andrew Savage
has made mistakes, sure, but he is still the leader and he still seems
very well liked. There is no reason to rank him any lower than
4. Trish Dunn
We haven't seen too much of her, but she is definitely a player. I think she is the most likely Drake winner.
5. Christa Hastie
Christa is right in the thick of everything, and she is one of my favorites. She is doing well.
6. Darrah Johnson
I'm still not used to the accent though.
7. Jon Dalton
doesn't seem like the eventual winner to me but, dang, he is fun to
watch. Like him or hate him, I guarantee that you won't forget
him. And we are still waiting for that big lie, Fairplay.
Don't let us down.
8. Rupert Boneham
Next week he splits open the earth his fist and then he harpoons a blue whale. It is must see TV!
9. Sandra Diaz-Twine
%$!* *&@! **&! you for ranking me so low, Mario! @!*# #!#$ $#!@! you!
10. Osten Taylor
Osten has issues with the outdoors. We will just leave it at that.
11. Shawn Cohen
Shawn at #11 is a risky move. This is because of a comment I made
a couple of weeks ago that the eventual winner "always makes a good
strategic move between episodes 3-5." The catch, of course, is
that Shawn made an excellent strategic move when he teamed up with Jon
and he voted against Burton. A reader named Thomas pointed this
out to me. So I am kind of setting myself up to look awful if
Shawn winds up winning. But at this stage in the game, he won't
win. For my own personal sake, let's hope he keeps it that way.
A pelican attacks Osten. I think we can predict who wins that
one. Osten's battered body will have to be shuttled out via
The sequel to Tonga, Survivor: Okinawa, is going along strong and it
will be written up as a story after Pearl Islands. We just
finished our first episode last night and we already have our first
bootee. So wish the players well, because they are going to need
it! Watch out for the thingyroaches!
is a programmer 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. His column this week is brought to you by the letter S
and the letter G.