Pearl Island Strategy #9:  Goliath Falls
Written by Mario Lanza on 11.21.03

"If it bleeds, we can kill it."
-Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator

"You cut him!  You hurt him!  You see?! You see?! He's not a machine, he's a man, he's a MAN!"
-Duke, Rocky IV

I couldn't decide which quote I wanted to use to start my column this week, so I just went with them both.  After all, Rupert was voted out on Thursday-- and he was the previously unstoppable, unkillable, juggernaut Survivor machine.  No one was sure he could EVER be stopped.  And even though I picked him to go home nearly every week, I was never quite sure that the players had it in them to work up the guts to actually do it.  And while many columns this week will bemoan the loss of Rupert Boneham (I have already heard several people say they refuse to watch this season anymore), I will loudly proclaim that this was the PERFECT move for this season.  Rupert HAD to go.  It was in everyone's best interest to get rid of him.  Heck, it was probably even in Christa and Sandra's best interest... although the way it went down really wasn't the best timing for either of them. 

What I guess I am saying is that my column this week will take a different tone than most of the other columns you will read.   I am not here to complain about the loss of Rupert.  I loved the guy as much as anyone, he really was one of my all time favorite Survivor personalities.  I mean, I even wrote his crystal ball tribute for this week's boot pick!  But he just had to go, for predictability sake.  Rupert simply had to go.  His fall makes the season better. 

The theme of my column this week (as it really has been all season) is that the guy you should be rooting for is Jon Dalton.  Yeah, you heard me right.  I have been hinting at it all season and now I will just come right out and say it.  Start cheering for Johnny Fairplay!  The guy is out there working his butt off, playing for the endgame, doing his best to entertain us and... in a way of thinking that is very close to my heart... doing his best to entertain himself.  The guy has limited athletic ability, he isn't particularly endearing or charming, and he has been a backstabbing threat since day one.  No one trusts him, nor should they ever trust him. Yet he is all of a sudden in a prime position to win Survivor: Pearl Islands.  I still don't think he WILL win... but he has put himself in the best available spot possible at this moment.  He might not finish in first place, but I bet he is going to get awfully close.  I know you probably hate him this week... and I suspect you will probably hate him even MORE next week... but come on, be fair.  Just give the guy his due.  You don't have to like him, you just have to respect him. If I convert a couple of people into Johnny Fairplay fans this season, I will feel like I did my job.

Oh, and it is no accident that I picked a Rocky IV quote to start my column.  I know I am probably going to be torn apart for this, but from day one I saw this season as spunky underdog Jon against unstoppable juggernaut Rupert.  David against Goliath.  Just like one of my favorite movies of all time, Rocky IV.  So I deliberately quoted the scene where underdog Rocky Balboa finally realizes that superhuman Drago can be injured.  Yes I know, I just compared Jon Dalton to tbe beloved Rocky Balboa.  Please send all hate mail to

So where do we go from here?  Simple.  Christa goes next.  We finally see the power players of the Pearl Islands start to emerge, and I'm sorry but Christa aint one of them.  Rupert's little girlfriend goes next unless she wins immunity...

... and then things start to get tricky.  Because Sandra WOULD be next on the hit list, but I don't think that it will be that simple.  Sandra is awfully slippery. And I don't expect her to go down without a fight.  Nor do I think that Burton will be allowed to stick around much longer.  Sure, Tijuana-Jon-Darrah-Lillian love Burton NOW... but wait until they figure out he is a Colbyesque immunity threat with little or no competition in his way.  Seriously, Burton could EASILY just waltz his way to the end now.  As a few columnists here at S-C have already pointed out, Burton has won nearly every single immunity challenge he has ever participated in.  There is nobody even CLOSE to him left in the game in terms of physical strength, and he can probably even hold his own against anybody mentally.  The only reason most people haven't noticed this yet is because Rupert did the same thing, only more colorfully.  But now Rupert is gone, and Burton is suddenly thrust into the role of the Challenge God.  So I imagine the Jon-Burton bond will be severed relatively quickly, and it will happen the first time that Burton loses immunity.  I expect that Burton's fate will be very similar to Rupert's.  Uh, just like it already was earlier this season.

My pick to leave next week is Christa.  I won't even make a backup pick, it is just that simple.  I don't expect her to be winning immunity and I expect the vote to be pretty much unanimous.  Sandra is sharp enough to vote against Christa along with the majority if she has to... unless of course she just decides to throw another spite vote at Jon instead.  That just came out of nowhere this week.  Although Sandra's voting comments ("I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you.") at least seemed to explain some of her thinking.  Maybe she has some sort of a problem with him...?

After Christa goes home, it is really anyone's ballgame.  I expect Burton to be voted out ASAP afterwards, but it really could be anyone.  And what is making me increasingly nervous is that Darrah is now almost guaranteed a spot in the final four.  We removed nearly EVERY reason to vote her out this week.  Jon has to go home before her... Burton has to go home before her... Christa has to go home before her... ugh.  I really, really hope the editors start showing more of her soon (assuming there actually is more of her to show) because I am getting the same queasy pit in my stomach that I had about Jan in Thailand.  Wait a second... she keeps surviving vote after vote... don't tell me... oh no... final four... but...

And I really don't like to badmouth any of the players, I always say that I won't do that.  I have nothing against Darrah as a person or as a player-- but as a character on a TV show, she is among the weakest we have ever seen on Survivor.  I have no idea if it is HER to blame, or the editors, but she is just not a part of this season at all.  So I am not rooting for her to fail as much as I am rooting for her to suddenly show some great strategic mind or some fascinating character development or just... something!  Anything!  She has to give us something to either like or dislike because right now she is little more than a blank slate that is guaranteed a final four slot.  That is not good.

** RUPERT **

Okay, I know I need to do this.  I have ignored him for nine paragraphs so far, and this section is for the big guy. 

Rupert, you had a 91% favorability rating in the fan polls.  No one else in the history of Survivor has ever been that high... with the possible exception of Brian Heidik's porn star wife, CC.  It is sad that you thought you were voted out "for not being accepted" when your whole problem is that you were accepted by way too many people!  You were simply too popular to keep around!   I hope that watching the show was at least an eye opener as to how well loved you really were.  And I'm not sure why I am writing this, since you are filming All-Stars right now and you will probably never read this.  Unless of course you have already been voted out and they gave you a laptop to surf the internet.  And at that point I would have to say... how could you be voted out so soon??!  Do you realize that Amber and Jerri are probably still around!  I mean, good lord!   You better not be reading this column!  You better be kicking Richard's ass and catching all his fish and making him cry like a woman.  I am glad you got to turn around and do All-Stars so fast while your wounds were still fresh, and I hope you get along with and take care of (still my favorite player of all time) Tina.  Because in the Pearl Islands, you were great.  You were the best of them all.

~~~ Weekly Notes ~~~

* Man this was a dark episode.  It was somber and depressing and foreboding from start to finish.  I have never seen another Survivor episode quite like it, with the possible exception of the the Michael Skupin fire episode in Australia.  And in that case the dark part was only the last half hour.  This week's episode could not have ended with anyone else leaving except for Rupert.  The editors wanted to make damn sure we knew what was coming, and they wanted us to feel it.

* Speaking of the producers loving Rupert... did you notice that Probst read all five Rupert votes?  They only needed to read four, but Jeff wanted everyone to know there were five votes for Rupert in that urn.  There are a lot of subtle little ways the producers can manipulate the game if they really want to (and not really do it blatantly) and this was one of them.  It was Jeff's little way of saying "Oh, by the way Rupert, it was a five man alliance, not four."  He might as well have just said "Yes, Lill voted for you too.  Don't vote for her to win at the end."

* Rupert's quote that "Everybody here is finishing in places of honor" was one of the cockiest non-Silas speeches we have ever seen on Survivor.  But because he is Rupert he will probably get away with it.  I doubt that Jon could get away with saying something like that. 

* My wife made the comment that Rupert reminds her of Milton from the movie Office Space.  He walks around and he mutters to himself a lot, as he complains about island events.  It is actually a pretty funny comparison if you know the movie.  "And then Jon took my Swingline stapler... it was the red Swingline... though I wanted the black one... I wanted the reward too, but he took it... I really wanted that fishing trip... I think I'll go throw all his fish in the ocean now... see how he likes that... then I'll burn this place to the ground..."

* I can't believe I didn't make a single "Rupert = Popeye's archrival Bluto" joke all season.  

* Burton has suddenly become a very interesting and fun character.  Becoming an Outcast really sort of turned him into a bad ass.  In fact one of the best moments of this season (sorry Rupert fans) was when Burton nailed Rupert with the x3 shot in the blowdart game.  Burton then just smirked at him like "That's right.  Bye Hagrid."  Go Burton!

* I will miss Rupert, but I will not miss Rupert upskirt shots.  I won't comment any more on that.

* One of my favorite scenes of the episode was at Tribal Council.  Jeff tried to ask Darrah questions and she just wouldn't elaborate on her answers.  It cracked me up.  You could just see Jeff getting annoyed but Darrah never says any more than she absolutely has to.  So Jeff got frustrated and gave up and told people it was time to vote.

* Okay, I hate to pick on Rupert again, but I had to comment on this.  He said in his final words that he needed this, that it would change his life, that this was what he had always hoped for, etc.  But then on the Early Show, he said that if he had won the million dollars, he would have bought his own Pearl Island.  I just don't see the connection between the two, but it made me laugh when I heard it.

* For the quote of the week, we again go to my wife Diana... who seems to swipe this honor every single week.  It was at Tribal Council, where Sandra complained about Jon:  "I have yet to see him wash a dish or even clean a fish."  Diana commented "Apparently Dr. Seuss is writing all of her speeches.  I bet they cut out the part where she said Jon will not do chores in the rain and he will not do chores on a train."


Christa is next.  Christa is next!  The top 6 above her are tougher to call but Burton is at the bottom and the rest are all just jumbled together.  I still don't think that Jon will win but he is in the best position to do so at the moment.  Slots #2 through #4 are basically pick and choose, and they are essentiually based on how Lill wants the game to play out down the stretch.  At the moment I am predicting a Lillian-Jon final two.

1. Jon Dalton
Long live The Italian Stallion. 

2. Lillian Morris
If she plays her cards right, she could easily be in the final two... and probably against Jon.

3. Darrah Johnson
Who?  Oh yeah, wasn't she in the final four?

4. Tijuana Bradley
She is starting to become lost in the shuffle.  I am baffled as to how her story is going to end.

5. Sandra Diaz-Twine
Sandra will have to work the hardest right now and she will DEPEND on some sort of a female counter-alliance to finish better than fifth.  Right now she just has to make sure that Christa doesn't win immunity next week.  Basically just make sure the vote is anyone but Sandra.

6. Burton Roberts
In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a basketball game (all by himself) in a 169-147 win over New York.  That is how lopsided every physical challenge is going to be now with Burton in it.  Which is exactly why he has a huge target on his back from this point forward.

7. Christa Hastie
Your "slingshot shooting face" will live on in Survivor history.   But your time here is just about up.


**** Special Dedication ****

It was reported in the news this week that Jenna Morasca's mother passed away after a long battle with cancer.   Jenna was reportedly on location filming All-Star Survivor at the time, so she more than likely had to leave the game and fly home immediately.  Survivor-Central sends its best wishes to Jenna and to the entire Morasca family.  Jenna has been a faithful reader and a fan of the site for some time and we all wish her well. 


Mario Lanza is a programmer who lives in Los Angeles with his ever-quotable wife, Diana, and their two small children.  He is currently running the Survivor: Okinawa game, which will be written up as a story in December (Hello, first bootee!)  And since the cast is always scouring this column looking for hints, I will throw them a bone this week...  beware the Wheel of Fortune!