Thailand Strategy #6: Dust in the Wind
Written by Mario Lanza on 10.25.02
"All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
-Bill S. Preston, esq.
There isn't much to say this week, because everyone
Robb was going, and there wasn't a whole lot the editors could do with
it. I have seen this in the past, where you know a certain player is
going, and the other players know it too, so the editors figure, ahhh,
to hell with it. So instead of going for misdirection, they just try to
pull at your emotions instead, and they make the episode as sad and as
touching as possible. So yeah, Robb went out on a pretty favorable
note. He found his peace, he said his goodbyes, he called Jeff Probst
"brother" one last time, he got in a few gratuitous "dude"s. See ya
later, Robb, we are going to miss you. You might not have been the best
player, but you were never boring.
What I normally do on the eve of the merge is look back on some of my early predictions, and see how well I have done. And this season it will be much prettier than in the past. I have predicted five bootees in a row (although how could you NOT have predicted Robb and Stephanie) so I have definitely earned my Scooby Snack this time around. Last season, yeah, not so much. The Marquesas season was an unpredictable bloodbath. No columnist escaped its wrath. I think at this point last season, I was predicting either Peter Harkey, Michael Skupin, or Kathy's son Pat to win the game. In fact please do me a favor and don't go back and read my archives. Marquesas was... Marquesas was a dark time.
So now I will go down the list of my observations after episode one, and I will see how close I was. And in honor of the one and only Robb Zbacnik, I will let Robb score my predictions, in his own unique style.
1. John Raymond
Ep.1: I just think he didn't know how to play the early part of the game.
Ep.6: Well, John was booted out, and he is still out of the game, so I have no reason to think he has figured out how to play the early game. My prediction of John not winning will very likely come to pass. Okay, this was an easy one, let's just skip to the later bootees.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, right on, bro!
2. Tanya Vance
Ep.1: Tanya has already gained the stigma of being the "sick, weak one." That's not good. People are always looking for a reason to feel sorry for you in this game, especially when you have a tribe who consider themselves "a family." Well, we don't want to vote anyone off, but Tanya should really see a doctor, she is sick. So unless the tribe starts to turn mean, or she starts to contribute soon, she is in trouble.
Ep. 6: Well, I guess I nailed that one right on the head. She was gone at the next vote. And their comments when they voted her out were almost word for word what I predicted they would be: "You're like a little sister. I'm worried about you. Go get a hot meal."
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, you totally rock! You nailed that one! Rock on!
3. Jed Hildebrand
Ep.1: He seems to have a bit of an attitude, almost a primadonna type of thing. I'm getting a vibe from him like "I'm a little too good for these people." I don't know if that is off the mark or not, but it isn't a good mood to be in for this type of game.
Ep.6: I don't know how much of a primadonna he really was, but he continued to have that same attitude for his entire 9 days on the island. But I thought he would stick around a lot longer, since I also called him "the best player in the game, from an all around glance at his bio." I figured that, despite his attitude, Sook-Jai would need him for some time. But I later amended that to say they had no more use for him, and there he went. I also apologize for spelling his last name as "Hilderbrand" for so long. Sorry, Jed.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Not bad, brother. I could feel the love, but you jacked up the last part. I'm stoked about your success so far, much love, man. Keep it coming.
4. Ghandia Johnson
Ep.1: I think Ghandia is in a lot of trouble. John was a little cruel when he said she "wasn't good at the physical challenges, and not good at the mental challenges," but if you have that kind of stigma, you won't do well, no matter how well your team gets along. I think people will like her a lot if she gets far in the season (The Vavrick-O'Brien Theory), but I don't think she will get a chance.
Ep.6: I actually do think that people would have pulled for her if she got far in the game. Maybe. She was awfully grating at times. But in interviews she is very funny, and she has a nice self-deprecating sense of humor. Aw, heck, yeah okay I'll say it. People would have liked her if she had stuck around for a long time. But it was pretty clear that Ghandia wouldn't get very far, so this prediction of an early demise was pretty much a no-brainer.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, that's messed up. You totally shanked that one. I feel for ya, but you're all right. Ghandia was a mess, bro.
5. Stephanie Dill
Ep.1: I was convinced that Stephanie was a favorite to win from reading her bio, and seeing her in action just confirms that. Even the other players seem to be in awe of her. She can do pretty much whatever she wants to do for now. I don't think there's any doubt she will do well in this game, unless she starts to butt heads with people. If you are on Sook-Jai, you want Stephanie on your side as soon as possible.
Ep.6: Uh... let's just skip this one. I think it's safe to say I was a little off with Stephanie.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, let me tell you this story about Steph. This one night we were out by the fire, and she goes, hey man, let's eat one of these squid. I'm like, no WAY, bro, but she goes yeah man, it'll be good. So I bite into it and it's like, rubber. And I'm like, DUDE this tastes like crap. But Steph just laughs and goes, yeah. I laughed, that was awesome. She was like a sister. We had some times. Seriously. It was awesome, bro.
6. Robb Zbacnik
Ep.1: Robb is pretty much exactly as you would expect him to be. Fiery, enthusiastic, young, hyper, outspoken and a bit immature. A lot of people are writing Robb off as an early bootee, which makes sense. Just on a pure "he is annoying" standpoint, Robb would go. But if he gets in good with the right people, and can gang up with others against a common enemy, Robb could do okay. He just needs to be proactive and strike first and grab the bull by the horns. But not the she-devil horns! Stay away from the she-devil horns, Robb!!!
Ep.6: Damnit, Robb, you got the horns. It was a pretty safe bet to say that Robb would be an early target. He lasted longer than I expected he would last, but that's only because I didn't realize he was such a good athlete. That's probably why he lasted longer than Jed or Stephanie.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Remember that time in the first episode when I said we were rowing the boats backwards? That was awesome, bro. I remember totally thinking, we're rowing this boat backwards! Backwards! So like if we turned it around, we would be going the right way. I remember telling Ken that and he was like, just shut up and row, dickhead. Seriously, it was pretty funny. I'm laughing right now, thinking of us rowing backwards. It was like if you took a car, and backed out of the driveway, and went backwards through the streets and stuff. But the boat actually went faster backwards than forwards, so I don't know who the idiot was. Us, or Mr. the guy who designed the boat dude. Maybe he should fix his boat, cause it works better the other way.
And now, the theoretical merged tribe:
Ep.1: Didn't see too much of Ken except for his blistered hands and the fact that he warrants applause whenever he speaks. I think he is going to be a very strong figure, but there is no way he will ever defer to anyone else as leader. His personality will be very forceful. The whole Sook-Jai tribe is made up of forceful Alpha types like Ken, and he is probably going to be in trouble if they start to battle.
Ep.6: People have deferred to Ken so far, but they don't applaud when he speaks anymore. Luckily for him, Sook-Jai never really battled as much I thought they would. They have had their moments, but I think everyone knows that Ken is the guy in charge right now, so his alpha status has never really been challenged. I DO think he is in great danger at the next vote, though, so we will see how far he gets in the game.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Bro, you so rock. I wish he wouldn't have gotten all policeman over the bananas, but the dude is okay. And I'm not saying NOTHIN' about the next vote. Wait and see.
Shii Ann Huang
Ep.1: I like Shii Ann, and I would like her to do well. But that being said, I think she is in a very precarious position. She has brought herself out into the open too early, and she is picking fights with somebody who might be in the power core. She appears to have a hair trigger too, and that's gonna kill pretty much anyone in this game. She comes off as seeing herself as a bit of a leader, but that's not gonna happen.
Ep.6: Her temper isn't as bad as I feared, her leadership aspirations are pretty much nonexistent (not sure what I was thinking there), and her horns are really yet to be seen. She is wiser than I expected, and she is laying low, which I imagine is difficult for somebody with her personality. Simply put, Shii Ann is a better player than I expected her to be, but she is also short on allies. If you are looking for someone to switch sides in the future, Shii Ann is your best bet. She really doesn't have a choice, it might be her only means of survival.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Nice try, bro, but you were way off with S.H. I like the girl, and S.H. is a cool chick, but c'mon man, she's evil. And did you see that crap she was eating in the chicken? I'm like, no WAY, but S.H. was like, yum yum. It was repugnant. Freaking gizzards and all that. Dude. Shit.
Ep.1: He is going to be a pretty decent player. He's just a little guy, and watching him and Ted hang out together is comical. But Clay seems to be on the right tribe, with the right people, for him to succeed. He seems likeable enough to make no enemies, but not strong enough to scare people. He seems like the kind of guy you want on your side, which can make all the difference early on.
Ep.6: Well, he HAS made enemies, although he doesn't really hang out with Ted anymore. What happened to that pairing? I don't think anyone really thinks of Clay as "the guy you want on your side," I think Brian fills that role instead. I think it's pretty safe to say that Clay is completely different than I expected, in just about every way possible. Although I was right about Clay being in the right situation for him to succeed. He would have been dead meat on most tribes, especially Sook-Jai. But here he is, still the little guy who could, still going strong.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: That little backwards farmer makes me sick. Bad Robb so wanted to just smash his face in, but good Robb was like, woah, dude, don't do that. They got like cameras and stuff all over the island, you'll get busted. So yeah you said he was a nice guy, but he was just a gnarly old little twerp. I know how far he will get, but I aint tellin' you, bro.
Ep.1: That being said, she was either brilliant, or terrible, at picking her team. She chose none of the alpha types, she chose none of the athletes, she chose none of the really younger people. I think in retrospect, it is going to turn out to be a great strategy, because this team will get along. Jan seems very emotional and a bit weak, but at the same time, she's very sweet and likeable. She was chosen to do the rope puzzle, she gets along with everyone, and she didn't get a single vote at the first Tribal Council. That's a BIG deal for the weakest and eldest female to not get a single vote, so clearly she is doing something right.
Ep.6: It wasn't a brilliant strategy to pick this team, because they DIDN'T get along. But how could she know that Ghandia would inspire Ted to turn into Mr. Touchy McGrindington? Beyond that, the Chuay Gahns DID make the merge 5 to 5, so clearly she did something right. And yes, she is as emotional as I expected. How on earth she avoided getting any votes early in the game is still beyond me.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, who is Jan? I don't remember her. Seriously, bro, are you making her up? I remember this one time, Jed played a joke on me. He's like, Robb, man there's a big cheeseburger over there in the ocean. So I went in the ocean, and he was like, no way, bro, it's just water. And I'm like, you DICK! That sucked, he totally made it up. So are you doing the same thing here? I never saw a Jan out there. I think you're messin' with me bro.
Ep.1: Erin will draw obvious comparisons to Sarah from last season, for one or (more likely) two reasons. I think Erin is better looking though. I actually had her pegged as one of the more cunning ones in the game from her bio, but I think I was way off. I think she's a pretty nice person, and I don't see a whole lot of schemer in her. She is apparently quite the free spirit (pierced tongue, confirmed exhibitionist) so she will be fun to watch. She's not one of the stronger players in the game, but in a tribe FULL of alpha types, that could help her survive for now. I don't imagine she will be one of the featured players early in the game, other than being the requisite eye candy.
Ep.6: I was right on the mark with most of this. She has been compared to Sarah, she's not particularly scheming, she is smokescreened by the alpha types, and she hasn't been featured all that much. And I STILL think she is cuter than Sarah, what with that distinct Elvish look. In fact I think Erin is one of the best looking females they have ever had on the show. I was wrong about her being much of a free spirit or fun to watch though. If she really has been like that, we certainly haven't seen it. But Erin should stick around for some time still, it will be interesting to see how her story plays out.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Erin is a doll. She was a lot of fun bro, and you hit the nail right on the head. She's waay cuter than Sarah, I thought we might hook up but it never happened. Still, you can't blame a brother for trying.
Ted Rogers Jr.
Ep.1: I think Ted is going to be my favorite player in this cast. I correctly guessed from his bio that he had sad eyes, and that he was likely a very compassionate person. And I turned out to be right. He was Jan's first pick, he has taken a leadership role in the tribe, and he appears to be their center. He's the man, and he is where it all starts. For now, anyway. And like I said, he seems to be as nice as anyone out there. I predict that Ted will get alone with Ghandia, grind her, and then deny it, to which she will express shock and horror, and will likely hit a tree and throw multiple rocks into the ocean, while yelling.
Ep.6: Okay, I didn't write that last sentence after episode one. Would have been impressive if I had, though. But my prediction of Ted as leader didn't really pan out. He's in the power core, true, but it's pretty clear that Brian is where it starts and ends. Ted still seems like a very nice guy, and he still has sad eyes. But he is a much less significant player than I originally thought. I don't think he will be a major part of how this season plays out. He will go when it is his time to go, which might even be next.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Dude, you totally had me smoked with that last prediction from episode one. I thought you had predicted he would grind her. Nice work, brother, you pulled the wool over these eyes. Ted pissed me off when he kept blocking me in the wicker ball game. I was like, c'mon let's go, man. And he was like, you don't want to fight me. And I'm like, bring it on, I'll mess you up. Lucky for him he shut up, or I would have tossed him up. It was all good though, cause I got back to camp and ate a banana, and that helped calm me down. Bananas rock, bro.
Ep.1: Every reality show contestant from Texas has the same perfect teeth. Weird. But we didn't see a whole lot from Penny this episode. She was chosen to do the rope puzzle, so it's clear the team respects her intelligence. That should be good for something.
Ep.6: There wasn't much to say about Penny back then, and there isn't much more to say about her now. It's clear that she is pretty sharp, and I think she is in good with Ken, which helps. She has led Sook Jai in two different challenges now, so you can tell she can get fiery whenever she needs to. I think Penny is hiding in the shadows brilliantly, and despite not having much of a character, she has a very real chance to win this game. And she still has perfect white teeth.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Penny is a sly one. You never know with her, it's hard to predict what she will do. Like this one time, I took two bananas, and she was like, dude, just take one. So I took one instead, and then I saw her take two. I was like, SUCKS, man, I wanted two. She didn't eat two, she just took one to give to Erin. But I was MAD, I was like, I wanted TWO. It took me like a half a day to chill out and settle down after that.
Ep.1: Helen seems to be the wild card in this tribe. She seems to be more of a player than the rest, and I can see she doesn't really buy into the whole "family vibe" that Ted is trying to set. She seems very independent, and strong, and she also has a bit of a short fuse. Either way, Helen will be one to watch on this tribe. They need her skills, but if she's not one "of the team," she will eventually be expendable in time.
Ep.6: I correctly predicted that Helen was playing a little differently than the rest. A few people gave me crap about speaking highly of her chances to do well, but I think I was right on the mark with her. She is definitely one to watch, and she is a prime candidate to switch sides in the endgame if it will benefit her own chances. She is a heck of a player, and her temper is fun to watch too. There are probably ten times a day when she has to bite her tongue and not say what she is really thinking about someone. Whether you like her or not, I think Helen has a great chance to win this game.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: You were right on the mark with her, dude. She creeped me out a little, I was like, what's WITH this chick? She talked a lot, and as you can tell, I don't like people who talk too much. I was like, just cool it lady, we get it. You can swim, big deal, go swim a mile or something, leave me alone.
Ep.1: Jake surprised me. I didn't figure him to be so likeable, so down to earth, and just so darn cool. He is clearly going to be the central figure of Sook Jai, although it's a matter of debate on how long that will last. I do think he fell into the trap of "Pick ALL strong people" though. I think it's gonna bite him in the butt when Sook Jai implodes. But Jake will probably be one of the favorites in this cast. Jake SHOULD be the leader of the tribe, but he won't be, and how far he gets in the game will be determined by which direction the house falls down around him.
Ep.6: I was right on the money with some of Jake's predictions. He is very likeable, he is one of the central figures of the group, and he is one of the favorites of this season. He also SHOULD be the leader, but likely is not. The thing that I was wrong about was that Sook Jai would collapse around him. They really haven't done it yet, in fact they really haven't even come close. They aren't the friendliest bunch in the world, sure, but they aren't in chaos either. Jake is doing well. Speaking of which, I finally got around to seeing his audition tape, and the man is pretty slick. Jake is very confident, he is very cool, and he could very well charm his way to a million bucks.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Jake is an awesome old dude, he's like, 40 or something, and he kicks ass in the challenges. But this one time he went out skinny-dipping with the Sookers, we're all out in the ocean, me, Steph, Jed, E, and along comes Jake. He's just walkin' around, with his business hanging completely out. Caught us all off guard, I'm like, DUDE! But he's a good guy, you were right about that. I hope he wins, he's my favorite of the guys left. That dude's got a lot of skills. Watch him, bro. Watch him.
Ep.1: He's laying low, saying the right things, fitting in. He was chosen to dive in the underwater portion of the challenge, he brought along a guitar to cheer up his tribe, he has a sense of humor, and he seems to be helping out all around camp. Then he busted out a great quote about how Survivor was "a business trip" for him, and he smirked. He's playing them all! He's got it figured out! And best of all, Brian has absolutely no competition! There's not really anyone else on his tribe who is a serious threat. All the ones to worry about are on Sook-Jai, so he can sit back and relax until the twist or merge hits.
Ep.6: Brian has done nothing wrong in this game, and everything right. It's like he was born for Survivor. From his audition tape, I remember him saying that his wife wanted him to go on Survivor "to give my ego a test." Well, Brian, so far you are the man. All signs point to him either winning, or getting very, very far. Unless something tragic happens, or Chuay Gahn falls apart after the merge, Brian still has no competition from virtually anyone. Now that the merge dawns near, Brian is finally in a bit of danger, but the Sook Jais will probably go after Ted or Clay first, so he is lucky. Brian is still the favorite to win this game until somebody else proves otherwise.
ROBB'S PREDICT-O-METER: Brian's a slick dude. When I first saw him, I'm like, nice hair man. But he came around, you may be onto something with this prediction. Nice job predicting him to win just from his bio, that's crazy, bro.
would like to thank Robb Zbacnik for stopping by with his wonderful
insight. He was truly a unique character in the annals of Survivor, and
he will be missed. I know he has taken a lot of crap on the message
boards and from the fan community, but it's refreshing to see
someone who can't ever be anyone but himself. Robb was
incapable of adopting a persona, or of playing a part. All he
could ever do was just be Robb.
So what do I think will happen from here on out? Well, at this point it becomes hard to call. Although I have a feeling that something big is about to happen. The promises of a merge, the "fake twist" two weeks ago, those are probably the calm before the storm. No way would the powers that be allow a return to an old-school 5 vs 5 merge on Survivor. The game has changed too much in the last couple of years, something is coming. Your guess is as good as mine, but I don't really have a clue as to what will happen next week. If we continue WITHOUT a merge, Jan will go from Chuay Gahn, or Shii Ann will go from Sook Jai. Those are both pretty easy to call. But if there is a merge, or a swap, or a twist, or a realignment, you have to start looking at targets like Ken, Ted, Clay, Helen, Jake, or Brian. My gut feeling is that Ken, Clay, Shii Ann, or Ted goes next week, in that order, but that's just a wild guess. Something fun will happen, and hopefully it is something we have never seen before. The game needs to get nasty, because we haven't really gotten there yet.
One final note to the producers, this week we FINALLY saw some neat challenges. They had been trying so hard to give us new and interesting games, and, for the most part, this season's had been pretty dull. But I have to say I love the ones with physical contact, like this week's ball launch game. And I also loved the "21" flag game, which is much tougher than it looks. I had it figured out once they got to 9, but I was at a loss before that. Shii Ann totally screwed it up for Sook Jai, of course, which proves my theory that, once again, Shii Ann is the Mole.
SURVIVOR: TEXAS POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK SIX
I'm pretty confident the winner will come from one of the
top four, but I'm not 100% sure. This is actually a pretty wide open
game, which should lead to a great finale. Next week's merge, or
non-merge, should clear this up quite a bit.
1. Brian Heidik
Brian will switch alliances at the drop of a hat. A perfect candidate for #1. And bonus points for when he told Jan he wanted to eat her bat.
Jake will be forgotten after the merge, because he has no enemies. Except for the chickens of course. I don't think I need to see any more neck snapping scenes. Jake will make friends in a merged tribe and, as he said in his audition tape, "the woman I respect the most is the one I will take with me to the final two." I'm very tempted to put Jake at #1, he is right at the doorstep. Not to mention that one of my readers, an astrologist named Thomas, predicted Jake to win before the season simply by looking at his astrological profile. So file that little tidbit away for later.
3. Helen Glover
Helen is another candidate to switch tribes if she needs to. My only hesitation with ranking her high is that she is a bit more abrasive than Jake or Brian, and she could make enemies very fast, particularly among the younger females. I bet she is more used to dealing with men (like at her job) and the influx of young females around now might be bad for her.
4. Penny Ramsey
I feel very strongly that tiny little Penny is a major player. She lays low, she smiles that big smile, but she's got some fight in her. I still think back to how she ran her teammates into the poles during the "blindfold" challenge. And then this week, she huddled her team before the final point and she told them "I want all four of your butts in the middle, and I will shoot it there." She was deadly serious, and all of a sudden that cute little smile was nowhere to be found. Not to mention the fact that Penny probably had an unfair advantage in the challenge, having shot T-shirts into the stands at baseball and basketball games before at the University of Maryland. I think Penny is definitely one to watch, keep your eye on her.
5. Ken Stafford
I hope I'm not making another Ethan mistake here, but I feel that Ken has too many good traits, and it will be used against him. He is a threat to win from this day forward. If Chuay Gahn takes the lead, Ken is probably gone next. Because when we get down to four or five people left, he will be a HUGE threat and everyone knows it. He is a nice guy, everyone loves and respects him, and he is also the undisputed leader. And because of that I think he is probably gone soon.
6. Shii Ann Huang
Shii Ann is the one on Sook Jai who is most likely to switch sides in a merge. People need to keep an eye on her, because she is a player. She has enemies, and she needs to watch out, but there is definitely potential to do something if she sees an opening. The jury is still out on whether she screwed up the immunity challenge this week, or whether she lost it on purpose. I wouldn't put it past her either way. Her voting comments for Robb about a fool and a wise man were right on the money. She had obviously been waiting to use that quote since day one. And I noticed how she adopted Stephanie's braided hair this week, like Penny did last week. As my wife pointed out, every season the girls always adopt the same hairstyle, and apparently this season it is the braids.
7. Ted Rogers, Jr.
This is the lowest Ted has ever been in my rankings, and it is because I don't see a whole lot of cunning in him. He is a nice guy, he is very trusting, and he is probably as honest as the day is long, but he might be eaten alive by the sharks like Brian and Helen. Not to mention that I think Helen still holds a bit of a grudge against him because of Ghandia. Ted could very well be the next one to go.
8. Erin Collins
Erin needs to start showing her personality, because I don't think we have seen much of it yet. She is in no immediate danger, true, unless Ted tries to grind her, but she's also not really in tight with anyone except for Penny. I will be keeping an eye on Erin in the near future, and I will try to figure out who she is, and what sort of intelligence she possesses. Because to quote an angry email from one of my readers last week, it isn't like she grew up on an (expletive) farm. She may have some street smarts that we just haven't seen yet.
9. Clay Jordan
Clay really isn't in any danger yet, but he is running out of allies. I think he is being forced out of power by Brian and Ted, and his window of success is quickly closing. It will be hard for Clay to make any new friends from here on out, and I suspect that his time is up soon. He will be an outsider even if Chuay Gahn takes power. And in physical challenges, like this week, he is consistently pushed around and beaten up by everyone else. Poor guy.
10. The Dead
Jan's favorite little embryotic mascot might be dead, but he still has a better chance to win than Jan does.
11. Jan Gentry
Which will come first, her breakdown, or her expulsion? Place your bets now. The funniest part of this week's episode was watching Clay trying to hold his tongue when Jan was going on and on about the stupid dead bat. I honestly don't think Jan will be voted out right away, but she is really just there for the experience now.
Author's Note: No Survivors were used or harmed in the writing of this column. Robb was a fictional creation, although I am guessing he wasn't too far off from the actual thing. And that's for reals bro.
Lanza lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two small children. He was
one of the writers of All-Star Survivor: Hawaii this offseason, and he
promises not to make fun of Kansas in the future. He will miss having
Robb on the show.
Email Mario at MLanza1974@aol.com