Thailand Strategy #7: The Phantom Merge
Written by Mario Lanza
anything. That way, you won't make an ass out of u or me."
-Coach Manning, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
First off, my column will be shortened this week because I am about to
head out of town for vacation. But the main topics this week are the
strategic mistake of Shii Ann, and the trickery of Jeff Probst and the
Survivor brain trust. Shii Ann made a HUGE tactical mistake in playing
her cards too early. Well, it was a mistake in that she got caught,
anyway. Was it really a mistake? I don't think it was. If the game had
progressed in the way that she, and everyone else, expected it was
going to progress, it certainly would have mixed things up a bit. She
would have been in trouble with Chuay Gahn eventually, of course, but
for a couple of votes she would have been safe. And it would have been
fun to watch.
Did Shii Ann get busted? Hell yeah. Did Sook Jai know exactly what she
was up to? Yup. Did it get her kicked out of the game? Not really. Shii
Ann was dead meat at the next Sook Jai tribal council anyway,
so it really didn't make a difference. At least she tried
something. And at least she seemed to have a smile on her face
for a change. So I say more power to her for going down the way that
she did. If you are going down, you might as well go down in
flames. In other words, no I don't think she should take any
flak for being "stupid" or for being "an idiot." She was gone anyway,
what difference did it make? I admire anyone who is willing to take a
proactive approach to affect the game. Yes, even if it doesn't
work out for them.
So the She-Devil is gone. The non-merge clearly caught her, and
everybody else in the game, off guard. It was a particularly nasty
trick to play on the two tribes, but it was also a
particularly welcome one. Because the game had been much too nice and
much too predictable up to this point. It needed a good kick in the
pants. It also needed some emotion behind it, and the Shii Ann-Penny
feud made for some great TV. I had correctly pegged Penny as
a hidden power player for a couple of weeks now, and it turns out I was
right. But she is going to plummet now in the Power Rankings because
she is such an obvious visible schemer. I didn't realize that people
were on to her as much as they were. Oh well. Might
as well say good bye to Penny now.
Was the non-merge fair? Well, I guess it depends on if you think twists
in general are fair. Some people HATE twists, and still long for the
days of a more "pure" Survivor without any twists. So they are going to
hate any changes to the game in any format whatsoever. But if
you can accept twists, does that mean you can also accept this week's
shocker? Probably. After all, it wasn't that far
into the realm of trickery. And as some posts I have read on message
boards have stated, it's not like the producers gave the players new
buffs or told them to pick a new tribe name. The players jumped the gun
a little bit and got ahead of themselves, that's all that happened.
And I don't think we are done with twists yet either.
I still think we have yet to see the big one.
For the first time since episode one, I was off with my weekly boot
prediction. I did say that if the game progressed without a
merge, then Shii Ann or Jan was going to go home. But that was a
no-brainer. I finished my prediction by saying that Ken was the most
likely bootee this week. I assumed that things were going to happen
too, like, you know, a merge, and you know what happens when you
assume. Oh well. In any case, Ken was the most likely boot
for most of the episode. I didn't seen Penny as the big villainess yet
because she hadn't been shown that way before tonight. I knew she was a
player, but up until now we hadn't seen the dark part of her soul.
Up until now she had been hiding it from us.
The "living together" aspect of the game is going to be a lot of fun
now. I'm not sure exactly what dimensions it is going to
take, but I imagine that some good old fashioned backstabbing will take
place at some point now. SOMEBODY is going to cross sides, and I think
that Helen and Brian are the most likely candidates. Of course, they
won't have to for a while, but it will make it that much easier with
people you have been chatting with around the campfire every night. It
should be a lot of fun to see, it is a factor that will
totally be unique to this particular season.
As for predictions next week, I'm assuming that the tribes WON'T merge,
and they will stay together at the same camp. The likely bootees now
are Penny or Ken for Sook Jai, and crazy Jan for Chuay Gahn. Since this
is still a team game, Jan remains in danger, both from her teammates,
and from the easy access to alcohol on the island. As for the likely
Sook Jai boot, I suppose I would have to flip a coin between Ken and
Penny. Penny has Erin on her side, Ken likely has Jake. So you pick.
Flip a purple rock if it helps. If there is no merge next week, my pick
is Jan first, then Penny. If there IS a merge, then I pick Ken to go.
Sounds easy enough.
SURVIVOR: TEXAS POWER RANKINGS
AFTER WEEK SEVEN
Chuay-Gahn goes up, Penny goes down. Magilla is on dangerous ground.
And no Robb-o-Meter this week, but Robb will return in the
future. I promise.
1. Brian Heidik
Welcome to His kingdom. Love Him. Fear Him. I love the fact that he
still thinks strategy, even when he is drunk.
2. Helen Glover
She looked scary in that face paint. She is still a tough chick, and is
probably the only one who will be able to see through Brian's B.S.
3. Ted Rogers Jr.
Ted shoots back up in the Power Rankings. He showed empathy for Shii
Ann, he got in good with Brian, and he appears to be friends with
everyone again. Have people forgotten about him? And with that white
face paint, he looked like that creepy 7-Up voodoo pitchman from the
80's (Geoffrey Holder). You know, the guy who was also in
Live and Let Die.
4. Clay Jordan
The little guy is still around, and he is laying low again. Hellfire,
he could still win!
5. Jake Billingsley
The lack of a merge didn't really hurt him, he is still in a fine
position either way. Everyone loves Jake.
6. Erin Collins
Erin showed a little more intellect this week, a little more cunning,
and a lot less skin. Yay to the first two, boo to the last one!
7. Ken Stafford
He is starting to attract some negative attention, and you know he will
be targeted at a merge. He needs to keep Sook Jai together to save his
8. Penny Ramsey
This was a bad time to attract all that attention. I
correctly judged her to be a player, but I missed the fact that people
hate her guts. That's a bad trait to have. Penny may very well go next,
because I don't think anyone but Erin trusts her anymore.
That's bad news.
9. Jan Gentry
Biggest Power Gain this
week: Ted. A strong performance all around.
Biggest Power Loss this
week: Penny. She pulled a Stephanie, shooting to the
bottom of the rankings in one episode, with a bullet.
promises to write a longer column when he gets back from vacation next
week. He was one of the writers of All-Star Survivor: Hawaii this
offseason, as well as a featured comedy writer at Saturday Night You.