Pearl Island Strategy #8:  The Calm Before the Storm
Written by Mario Lanza on 11.14.03

"To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question."
-Eric Hoffer

Yay!  The obvious boot episode!  Woo hoo!

There isn't a whole lot to say about this week's episode other than it was slightly dull and it was extremely predictable.  Ryan Opray was the obvious boot, Ryan Opray was target number one, and there was never any chance that anyone else except him would have ever gone home.  And if you are looking to have a career in television editing one day, this episode would be an excellent one for you to study.  Just take a predictable storyline, and try to hide it by throwing in fifteen minutes of pointless scheming and alliance talk at the end.  Voila, the boot looks like a surprise and you become an editing genius.  Here is your ACE award. 

While the editors had a lot of fun trying to mess with our heads this week, it was pretty clear that Ryan was going home.  All you had to do was look at the "Rupert is going!" subplot they tried to build up and that pretty much sealed Ryan's fate.  In fact this is exactly what I wrote in my column last week:  "If they start talking about Rupert going... then Ryan will go. If they start talking about Ryan going... then Rupert will go."  Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. 

The bad news is that this episode was boring.  But there is some very good news on the horizon as well.  Well, good news unless you are a Rupert fan.  Because I am almost positive that Rupert goes home next week.  Yes, I know that I have picked Rupert to go home the past 86 weeks in a row, but this week I really mean it.  I don't just pick Rupes to go, I emphatically pick him to go.  I mean, logic says that he has to! 

My friend Anna described it like this:  Say an old woman plays the Lotto for fifty years.  She will play the same numbers over and over and over until, inevitably, she is going to win some day.  And then she looks like a genius.  Well I am employing the exact same strategy in Pearl Islands.  I will pick Rupert to be evicted each and every week this season until he goes home, and then I will look like a genius.  So I stand by my prediction... again... that next week Rupert will take a big blustery bipolar Walk of Shame.


Well, I think that this week was your traditional "the calm before the storm" episode.  You know that something big is coming, but the pieces just aren't quite ready to fall into place yet.  In fact, one of my longterm readers, Thomas, summarized my thoughts quite well:

"I view Ryan O's boot as being like those of Boston Rob and Dave Johnson -- that last boot before the major change.  The situation wasn't ripe enough yet, but I noticed how the players ALL seem to know exactly where they stand (except for Rupert).  Moreso than in previous seasons, these players know the outcomes of their decisions.  Lillian and Burton know they are 4th-5th if the Drakes aren't broken up.  Sandra and Christa know Rupert must be taken out as soon as it's safe to do so.  Jon knows he's toast as soon as the Drake power core feels safe enough to cut one of their own.  And everybody knows Darrah and Tijuana should be toast, but are useful pawns as the various factions vie for dominance.  Can't wait to see the rise of the cross-tribe counter-allliance next week."

I have always said that the players tend to get smarter with each passing season, and this email kind of illustrates that.  All the third and fourth wheels of their respective alliances are ready to make a run at the top, and this week should be the week that they do so.  It seems that a lot of the time on Survivor, people get cocky when they are in the middle of a Pagonging.  Once you get the main cogs of the other tribe out of the game (aka Andrew, Ryno), sometimes you get a little cocky when you only have the weaker females left.  And sure enough, we have Tijuana and Darrah next on the chopping block, and I think the Drakes are about to get a little bit cocky.  I think they are about to turn on one another. 

And I think we will wind up with a big five of Burton-Lill-Tijuana-Darrah-Jon.

Starting next week, Pearl Islands is going to turn into a game of "Who can stab Rupert in the back first?"  Well, it actually turned into that a couple of weeks ago, but this week should be the big conclusion.  Every sign points to Rupert being blindsided this next episode, and the only real question now is "By who?"  Will it be Jon?  Will it be Burton?  Will it be Sandra?   It is going to be like a game of "Clue."  By this time next week we should be asking the question, "Who killed Rupert?"  And if you have read my column all season, I am sure you can guess my answer.

Johnny Fairplay did it, in the billiard room, with the revolver.

~~~ Weekly Notes ~~~

* I don't think we have ever seen a challenge god quite like Rupert Boneham.  I mean, he nailed the slingshot targets on THREE CONSECUTIVE SHOTS!  He is good at everything.  There simply is not a challenge that he cannot master.  The only parallel I can think of would be Colby or Lex, who just flat out kicked butt in every challenge.  And why does it not surprise me that Rupert is left handed?  Aren't all lefties weird?  And I don't mean to offend lefties out there but, come on let's face it, you guys are weird.

* Although it probably helps that the rest of the players are all scared to death of him.  Would you want to put a coconut in Rupert's bin?  I didn't think so. 

* My wife thought it was funny that-- at the breakfast feast-- the first thing Lill noticed was the vase of flowers.  Not the pile of bacon, not the fresh pancakes, not the carafes of juice.  No, Lill went right for the flowers.  Meanwhile Burton had already eaten his entire weight in sausage.  I think Burton could have spent an entire day in that tent and never noticed there were fresh cut flowers sitting in a vase. 

* Wait a minute, did Jeff really ask the players what a barnacle was?  Doesn't everyone know that?  I wasn't aware that was considered trivia.  Of course, I could have a bias since I grew up on the ocean in Seattle.  It just never occurred to me that someone wouldn't know what a barnacle was.  But then again, a friend of mine from the midwest once made fun of me because I had never seen a water tower before, nor had I ever seen the name of a town painted on a water tower, so I guess I should just shut up.

* The quote of the week this week is easy:

Darrah:  *Silent stare*

Seriously, I hope Darrah makes the final four.  That way, in my annual Fallen Comrades parody I can just have her answer every one of the questions like this:

Darrah:  *remains silent*

Although to be fair I seem to remember her saying at least one word this season, back during the rope harness challenge.

Jeff:  Darrah, how do you feel out there?
Darrah:  Nuuumb!

It has become a running joke between my wife and me to use that quote as many times as possible throughout the day.  The way Darrah said it was just funny, so by law of course we have to mock it.  I'm sorry people, these are just the rules.

Diana:  Hey, how was your day at work today?
Mario:  Nuuumb.


Mario:  Did the kids give you a headache today?
Diana:  Yeah, I'm nuuumb.

Try it at home, it is a game the whole family can enjoy.



You know when I said that I hope Darrah makes the final four?  Well screw that, I was just joking.  Darrah is coming dangerously close to having a GREAT chance to win this game.  And I have nothing against her as a person, or as a player, but the fact that she hasn't said a word all season is making me nervous.  There is just no reason whatsoever to ever vote her out, either now or anytime soon.  She is going to cruise along for a while, and she is going to be AT LEAST sixth place.  And the fact that we could wind up with back-to-back winners of Jenna and Darrah is making me a little bit queasy.  It would just be bad for the franchise  Can you imagine if we had this trio of winners:  Jenna - Darrah - Amber (All-Stars).  My god, I don't know if the show could recover from something like that.  So I am hoping that either Darrah doesn't win, or she becomes a heck of a lot more interesting in the next couple of weeks. 

That being said, the power rankings are completely unstable this week.  The players who currently call the shots (Burton-Lill-Christa-Rupert-Sandra) are the players who are also in the most jeopardy.  And since I am predicting a big overhaul about to go down, the power rankings will be kind of reversed this week.  That means we have a new number one.

My power rankings could be completely wrong, but again I am going with the 90-year old woman Lotto strategy.  I will be picking Rupert to go home until the day that I die.

1. Jon Dalton
Well, well, well.  Look who's back at the top.  I had him #1 in my pre season rankings and all of a sudden he is right back where he belongs.  I had been debating this #1 choice all week, and what finally convinced me was my friend Isabella who said "In weeks of turmoil, the biggest snake is always in the best position."  Jon simply isn't going to go home this week, and he will be VERY DANGEROUS as people battle for power in the upcoming weeks.  Jon will always be lurking around where the power happens to be and he will be a free agent all the way to the end.  So Fairplay, the game is back in your hands again.  Make me proud.

2. Darrah Johnson 
I hope she doesn't win.  That would make me nuuumb.

3. Tijuana Bradley
If the Pagonging continues (unlikely) then she is the next to go.  But if things change she will be a very valuable free agent.

4. Sandra Diaz-Twine
Sandra could probably survive a Rupert booting, and I still think she is a great player.  So this ranking could be too low.  Sandra still has winner potential, she just needs things to fall her way once the turmoil happens.

5. Lillian Morris
I will root for her... all the way up until she has a chance to win.  Then I will say that no way should an outcast ever win the million dollars.  I think she can only win if she is up against Burton in the final two.

6. Burton Roberts
If Rupert doesn't go this week, Burton will.  He is still living on borrowed time.

7. Christa Hastie
Whether she helps take Rupert down or not, she is not particularly well liked and I think she will flounder without him.

8. Rupert Boneham
Too powerful and athletic and dominant for his own good.  I didn't think they made such a athlete.

Mario Lanza is a programmer who lives in Los Angeles with his ever-quotable wife, Diana, and their two small children.  Contrary to popular opinion, he is NOT a garden gnome who lives on the island of Okinawa.  That is just a myth.