Pearl Island Strategy #7a:  Return of the Living Dead
Written by Mario Lanza on 10.31.03

"At the bottom of the sea lies the Elizabeth Dane-- with her crew and their lungs filled with salt water, their eyes open, staring into the darkness. But it is told by the fishermen-- and their fathers and grandfathers-- that when the fog returns, the men at the bottom of the sea will rise up and search for the ones who led them to their dark, icy death."
-The creepy old fisherman, The Fog

Since today is Halloween, I figured it would be fitting to start out with a quote from a horror movie. "The Fog" is the story of some sailors who accidentally mistake a campfire for a lighthouse while they are out at sea. They approach shore, their boat crashes into some rocks, and then they sink and they die. And then a hundred years later, their bodies rise from the sea to enact revenge against the city that led them to death.  Needless to say it is a neat movie.  Rent it tonight!

The other reason I used that quote is because it was quite fitting for this particular episode.  After all, for the first time in Survivor history, we had players "returning from the dead" to get revenge upon those who had voted them out. And I have to say that I wanted to hate this twist.  I SO wanted to hate it.  I wanted to hate everything it stood for, which was producers meddling with the game. I went into this episode telling myself "This is going to be the single worst episode of Survivor ever, and it is probably going to ruin the entire season for me." There was no way I would ever like the idea of voted out players returning into the game.

But guess what?  I watched the twist.  And I loved it.

I don't know why I loved it so much.  I guess I just got caught up in the idea of people having to pay for the way they treated bootees before they left. I just found that whole thing incredibly awesome, that Andrew would suddenly be quaking in his shoes over the way he had treated Ryan and Lil before they left. And that the Drakes have a whole TRIO of pissed off bootees who are going to be after them now.  This whole storyline is going to be a lot of fun. So I have to begrudgingly admit that yes, I liked the twist.  And no, it didn't ruin the season.  As a matter of fact, we just saw one of the single greatest Survivor episodes of all time.

As a player I would HATE this kind of a twist.  I would hate it because it just isn't fair.  But as a viewer?  Man that made for some awesome TV.  Plus it served the dual purpose of suddenly making Burton interesting.  All of a sudden that big bland generic guy has a gimmick.  He went from being "that tall, squinty guy who kind of looks like David Duchovny" to "that tall, squinty guy who kind of looks like David Duchovny but is PISSED OFF AND WHO WANTS TO KILL HIS OLD TRIBE." That is a huge upgrade. We went from Burton 1.0 to Burton 2.0, and I think I like the new version much better.

Speaking of Burton, could they make it any more obvious that he will be coming back into this game next week?  I have no insider spoiler information, I have no clue what is going to happen next week... but the editors couldn't have beaten us over the head with Burton's Revenge any more if they had tried. We never heard a single word about Michelle or Trish the entire episode, but we had at least ten comments about how "Burton better not come back here." So I think it is safe to say that Burton will be coming back here.

As for the Morgans, their returnee is going to be a little more up in the air. Because it really doesn't matter who WE want to come back, it is a matter of who the OUTCASTS want to vote back. And I just don't see them caring much about Nicole, so in my mind it is a toss up between Skinny Ryan and Lill. Both of them have grudges against their old tribesmates, and they both also have scores to settle. And if you go by foreshadowing, it seems obvious that the returnee will be Lill.  After all, her torch didn't go out when it was snuffed.  There were numerous scenes of Ryan telling her never to give up.  Plus there was that whole weird (and out of place) subplot about Andrew mistreating her before she was voted out.  I think Lill will be returning next week.

If I had to guess, I would guess that Burton joins the Morgans and Lill joins the Drakes. That would just be fun times all around.  Plus it would give the Drakes a chance to see Lillian's "I'm sour and unhappy" face that she seems to have perfected so well.  It made me happy to see her trademark pouty face back on my TV this week.  I didn't realize how much I had missed it.

On Drake, Rupert is out of control right now. He has actually dropped off my list of favorite castaways this season after the past two weeks because he is kind of turning into a maniacal overlord. HOW DARE SOMEBODY VOTE FOR ME!! I think he is dangerously crossing the line into cocky and arrogant and he is losing a lot of his early likability. I guess the best way I can describe it is this: When you get into an argument with Jon... and Jon comes off looking like the good guy... well you know that something has gone tragically wrong. I still predict that Rupert will be leaving soon. In fact, the editing in the episodes right now is just SCREAMING that Jon will take down Rupert, and that he will do it in a very unfair and unethical manner. They are practically shoving that message in our faces at the moment, Jon is the one who will eventually take Rupert down. I just don't know what else I can say about it.  I am nearly 100% confident that the downfall of Rupert will happen, and that it will happen soon.

Oh, and I loved Jon's voting comment when voting for Shawn. Call me simple, but that made me laugh.

The rest of the Drakes besides Jon and Rupert are all on cruise control. Christa is sitting pretty as usual and Sandra is just standing out in my mind more and more each week that she could be our eventual winner. Have you noticed that Sandra has gotten much nicer editing lately? We have seen less swearing, less arguing, less scowling.  Most of the time she actually appears to be smiling now. And she had a very telling quote in the episode this week: "Let the guys duke it out. Let them kill each other and vote each other off. As long as it isn't Sandra, I'm happy." That sounds like the quote of a verrrrry savvy Survivor player. Combine that with Jon's comment earlier that Sandra won't make the final four... and I am beginning to think that the Twinester is a slam dunk for the Final Four. She is doing very well.  She could even finish much better than fourth.

The vote at Drake this week came down to either Fairplay or Shawn, and honestly I don't think it was all that hard of a choice. I have always thought that Shawn was much more disliked than Jon. PLUS Shawn is a bigger physical threat, PLUS he does no work around camp, PLUS his buddy Burton might be coming back into the game. That just spelled bad news for Shawn all around. The only reason Jon would have gone this week is if people voted emotionally, but the remaining Drakes seem to be way too smart to do that. Even Rupert voted strategically, and he seems to be borderline bipolar.  So you know these guys all know how to play.

Over at Morgan... well the less said about Osten, the better. The ending with Jeff being super pissy was pretty funny. "Osten, per your wishes, go home" is a quote that will live on in Survivor history. Although it would have been even funnier if Jeff had done it like on Boot Camp: "Osten. Get. Off. MY. HILL!" I'm not going to trash Osten too badly, other people can do that in their columns this week. And I suppose it is a grey area whether Jeff's treatment of him was actually warranted or not. But in the end it all made for good TV, and it was supremely entertaining. It was a moment we will never forget... that final shot of Osten's torch laying down on the ground and him not allowed to have any final words. That was some Must See TV.

So what is coming next week? Well they have beaten us over the head with "Burton returns" and "Lill returns" foreshadowing, so I predict that those two will come back. It would be really funny if we had angry Burton on Morgan and angry (and sour) Lill on Drake, so I predict that is what is going to happen.

And then I predict there is a merge... and that Jon somehow gets Rupert eliminated.

We'll see!

~~~ Weekly Notes ~~~

I don't really have many notes about this episode. Tribal Council took up thirty minutes and it was really only half of an episode anyway. But I did enjoy:

* Ryan's "Die, Jerks" buff

* The fact that the seamail said the reward would be "Better than steak and lobster!" So wait, the reward of not losing a player is better than 1500 calories of succulent fat, butter, and protein? Um, I think the players might disagree with that.

* The fact that Nicole, Ryan, and Lill finally won their first challenge. There was a reason the three of them were that excited. None of them had ever won a challenge before!

* The fact that the most interesting players are the ones still left in the game. That rarely happens on Survivor! No wonder this season is so good. In my opinion, none of the early bootees really brought much to the table in terms of entertainment, and getting rid of Shawn really helped too. I mean, just look at who's left: Jon, Rupert, Christa, Sandra, Andrew, Tijuana, Ryan O... those are all the stars of the season.  No wonder this season is so amazing.

* Jon's little scarf he wears from time to time. What is that thing? Is that his Slytherin House Scarf? What is the deal?


It is tough to do rankings since we don't 100% know who will be coming back, but I will just stick the returnees at the bottom until we see who they are. Otherwise I am pretty confident in my rankings for now.

1. Ryan Opray
Still the man, and still smiling.

2. Tijuana Bradley
She should be in the top 3 on everyone's list. No reason to rank her any lower.

3. Sandra Diaz-Twine
She is thiiiiis close to being #1. Everything about her right now screams "Final four."

4. Andrew Savage
Dropped a little this week because of the upcoming merge, and because of the fact that he will hate the outcast so much. But he is still in a good position.

5. Christa Hastie
Hey, Christa is engaged to a race car driver!  Sorry, I hadn't taken that cheap shot all season.  I owed it to myself to do it at least once.

6. Darrah Johnson
Yep, she's still around.

7. Jon Dalton
Evil Gabe is just floating around at the bottom of the power rankings, and that's when he can be dangerous. When he goes out, I expect him to go out with a bang.

8. Rupert Boneham
He is losing a lot of his likability and he is starting to almost become dangerous to the other players. His treatment of Jon and Shawn before the vote was particularly arrogant, especially when he made them beg for their survival in front of everyone else.  I think old Rupes is about to go down hard.

9. The Living Dead Zombie Tribesmate (Drake)
The Drake outcast will have a decent chance of doing well, because Jon would LOVE to have an ally right about now.

10. The Living Dead Zombie Tribesmate (Morgan)
Whoever it is, Andrew will hate them from the get go... unless maybe if it is Burton. We'll see. It all depends on who the Morgans get.

Special Note: Survivor: Okinawa is just finishing up its third episode and I have to post a small disclaimer. I just wanted to point out ahead of time that two of my ideas for Okinawa (so far) have also ended up in Pearl Islands. And as always, this was just a total coincidence. I just happen to be good at predicting what Mark Burnett is going to do a lot of the time. You will see when the story comes out :)

Mario Lanza lives in Los Angeles with his wife (Diana) and two children. And if you like The Fog, his other Halloween movie recommendations are The Vanishing (Dutch version), Sleepaway Camp (1 or 2), Dawn of the Dead (the 1978 version), April Fool's Day, Phantasm, The Final Terror, Return of the Living Dead, and the best bloodless suspense film of them all, Halloween.