Scott Hardie | October 31, 2003
Spoilers below. I intend this to be an ongoing discussion of the series.

Okay, Survivor fans: What do you make of the Outcasts? When I first saw them in the promos, marching up dressed in purple, I was scared that CBS was introducing a third tribe and resetting the player count to 16. The relief that this isn't the case is, for me, kind of overshadowing how brilliant a twist this is. Though overdelivered with a cheesy tone, the concept of an outcast pirate coming back for revenge is a beautiful thematic tie-in. I loved the vengeful look from Trish to Rupert, even though that was obviously achieved in editing since Rupert was on the other side of her at that point. :-)

I predict Burton and Skinny Ryan to be the two players returned to the game, which would be a shame for Ryan. As long as Andrew remains in this game, he'll make it his personal mission to vote out Ryan, which isn't fair to the kid. According to Ryan's chat transcript, Andrew has had it in for him since before the game even started. My fingers are crossed for Ryan and Lillian to be the two players returning to the game since I like them the most, but they do have the least chance of winning of the six Outcasts.

So long, Osten. You've been throwing the challenges for Morgan for long enough (dropping that pole early last week didn't fool anyone), and now you finally get your wish. I hope that by violating the rules and quitting instead of being voted out, you have forfeited your consolation prize money. You don't deserve it.

I'm no fan of Jon (is he second only to Jerri Manthey on the annoyance scale?), but even I had to bust out laughing last night at his simple, understated "&$@% YOU!" as he cast his vote. :-)

Mike Eberhart | October 31, 2003
Last nights episode was great. I love the whole Outcast's tribe. I was really shocked by it. However, I had a feeling that both Morgan and Drake would lose. So, my gut feeling is that Burton and Lil will be the two returning to the islands. However my theory is that they won't be sent back to their orginal tribes. I think that if Burton is voted back in, he will be sent to Morgan, and If Lil is back, she's going to Drake. That way they have a chance to create new alliances. Osten was a pussy. He could totally last out there if he had to. He just couldn't mentally cut it. At least he won't be there for a merge if they have one. As for Jon. I hate that little prick. I actually hate him more than Jerri Manthey. However, I think he now realizes that he has absolutely no power anymore. He is completely under Rupert's, Sandra's and Christa's control. He knows that he's next on the chopping block if it comes to that. My thoughts on the future though is that next weeks, will be a normal episode with the rewards challenge, then an immunity challenge, then maybe, the following weeks there will be a merge. I would really like to see no merge at all, just to see what happens. Could be interesting.

Scott Hardie | November 14, 2003
I give CBS credit for trying to build suspense: This is the most scheming I've seen in a single episode in a long time. But it was all for naught when Ryan was the first one knocked out at the immunity challenge, and Rupert was the one who held on the longest; we knew immediately how likely each person was to get voted out. My common sense tells me Rupert's a goner soon, but there's an increasingly visible line through to the end of the game for him. I hope it's not just wishful thinking, since I (like most other viewers) want the man to win.

Two other highlights this week: Beautiful sunrise photography in the first segment, and a genuine sense of fun during the reward challenge. It was the first reward in a while, and everyone was just happy to be competing without immunity on the line, so there was a lot of laughing and joking that probably spread to the audience.

Winner of the week: Jon. His status as Permanent Swing Vote is now well-established, and the fact that he's the biggest jackass around will help him get to the final two: If you were one of the other players, wouldn't you want to face him against the jury? I don't see him winning, but I do see him as more likely to get to the final two than just about anyone else. I wish him bad luck.

Mike Eberhart | November 14, 2003
I totally didn't understand last night's episode. Everyone was scheming about getting Rupert off ASAP. They had the perfect opportunity to do it, and they didn't. This was the one challenge that Rupert didn't have any control over, and they left him alone. Totally blew my mind. I too want him to win, but I really don't see it happening. His only chance now is to win out on the immunity challenges. If that were to happen, I could see Rupert and Jon as the final two.

Erik Bates | November 14, 2003
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Scott Hardie | November 14, 2003
The tribe certainly does seem to be scheming against Rupert. He's apparently the biggest personality out there (I've heard this called "The Rupert Show"), and so he's a giant target. He's also the opposite of Jon: Would you want to go up against him in the final two and try to convince the jury he doesn't deserve to win?

But with all that said, I still don't see Rupert being in an especially dangerous place right now. All that scheming we saw last night was just clever editing, I think. The players talk like that the whole time they're out there, and we rarely see it because it makes things too complicated. The proof is in the challenge: If the tribe had wanted Rupert out, he would have gotten all the coconuts right away. Their talk is just talk; they don't really want him out. (If they were serious about eliminating one of the big guys, they would have voted for Burton after Rupert won immunity.)

My prediction at this point is that the former Drakes are loyal to one another: Rupert, Christa, and Sandra will stick together as a team, through to the end. Jon will stay with them unless he gets a really good opportunity for betrayal. Burton knows he's not part of their core team and Lill certainly knows, so they might try to spoil it. As for Tijuana and Darrah, they're dead meat; they'll be gone in the next two episodes unless there's a major shift in power. If is accurate, there are only four episodes left, which means the final episode will have five players, and that means a five-way alliance. I predict that the final episode will have Rupert, Christa, Sandra, Jon, and Burton. We'll see what happens.

Scott Hardie | November 14, 2003
I'm reluctant to mention it because it's going to get broken one of these times, but there's also the gender pattern. Men have won the odd editions, women have won the even editions. Since Jon almost certainly cannot win this, that means that the winner will be either Rupert or Burton if the pattern holds. All three men match the other pattern, that each of the game's six winners has used a different strategy. Jon's strategy (be loyal to no one), Rupert's strategy (provide for the tribe), and Burton's strategy (win challenges) have all been tried by other players in the past, but not by any of the six winners.

Mike Eberhart | November 20, 2003
Scott, I think you may be right about a man winning this season's survivor. I was reading an interview that Mark Burnett gave, and the interviewee asked Mark about the All-Star edition. Mark said he didn't want to talk about it because it would take away from the current series, and it wouldn't be fair to Rupert, Jon, & Christa. In another interview that I read, he was asked the same question, and he gave virtually the same answer, except this time he said it wouldn't be fair to Rupert & Jon.

So, if he accidently let something slip, Rupert & Jon could be the final two. I wouldn't have any problem with that, because then Rupert would be the best choice to win. Unless, the jury was sick of Rupert winning everything and they vote for Jon just to get back at Rupert. I hope that doesn't happen.

Honestly though, Rupert's only chance to make it to the final two is if he wins all the rest of the immunities. He's pretty much unstoppable as long as the challenge isn't handicapped some way.

Mike Eberhart | November 21, 2003
Well, let the mourning begin. Rupert is gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, my only wish will be for that punk ass Jon to be voted out before the final 3 is made. I'm pulling for Burton now. He was always my second best choice for winner, plus he looks pretty unbeatable....

Erik Bates | November 21, 2003
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Scott Hardie | November 21, 2003
Well, so much for the Drake Alliance going all the way. As ticked as I am (and probably most viewers are) that the other players took down Rupert, they did what they had to do to win. For Burton to let Rupert slip by for another three days would mean his own end. The only thing I kind of expected was for Lill to tell Rupert at the last minute that he was done. That would have kept Lill's honesty intact, would have saved her ass from Rupert's vengeance on the jury (and it will be a furious vengeance!), and by then there was nothing Rupert could do to turn the tide anyway. The new in-retrospect question is, should the Drakes have exterminated Jon when they had the chances?

Like Rupert or not, the man was kind of arrogant, and he played to the camera way too much. (Final words: "So much for my dreams"? Come on!) The plus side of Rupert leaving the show is that we might finally get to know the women on the show: Other than Lill, each of them have said maybe one sentence per episode, while Rupert has gotten multiple scenes to himself each week. Even I was getting kind of sick of the guy.

I like Burton and Lill a whole lot, but I can't bring myself to root for them. They both lost the game already. I'm okay with them shaping the game, but to see either of them get the million dollars seems unjust. (Andrew put it well in his online chat: "No one will convince me that Lill or Burton outwitted, outlasted or outplayed me because they were voted off before me fair and square.") Since Christa and Sandra are the new lost cause, Jon's a weaselly little shit, and I can't root for the Outcasts, that leaves... Darrah and Tijuana? ........sigh Come on Morgans, let's win this! :-)

Mike: Well, obviously that hasn't played out. :-) Burnett is a master at false hints. Most of the time when he says things like that, he's giving false names to trick viewers. But just so they don't come to expect lies, once in a while he tells the truth...

Erik: Yes, line breaks are here (inspired by a comment from Mike), and an edit function is here too (as per a request from Matthew). Your own request (a list of goos requested when you look up a player) has also been fulfilled. Other things you'd like to see while I'm in a tweaking mode?

Scott Hardie | November 27, 2003
Wonderful! That's how I describe last night's episode. Finally, one that lived up to the hype. :-)

Jon's grandmotherly deception gave him a very good edge in the long run, when he used it as leverage to reform an alliance (that was probably his intent), but he couldn't have planned for it to turn out as well as it did. Were the other survivors banished to the remote island for the night only after the producers learned from Dan of the deception? Dan and Jon wouldn't be able to celebrate it with the rest of the tribe around; in fact, Dan would have to go into great detail about it, and Jon would have to fake sadness, unless they managed to take a private walk (with or without Sandra). Frankly, if I were Jon, I'd worry about cracking up with pride (especially at Tribal Council) when others expressed sympathy over my grandmother. Jon's still a little worm and people still don't want to see him win, but I expect his popularity (currently 16%, one of the lowest ever) to rise a little after pulling off the lie. He's a weasel, but he's a clever weasel.

I also see Jon moving closer to victory. Granted, he's advancing by the absolute stupidity of his fellow players, but in the end his scheming will be counted as real effort in the game. If Jon faces Darrah in the end, for instance, Darrah will (half-assedly) argue that she didn't ruffle any feathers, while Jon will admit to intentionally ruffling feathers as a (successful) means of getting to the end of the game, and the jury will likely side with him. The polls bear out Sandra as a likely winner, but I don't see anybody making it to the final two except Burton, Jon, and Darrah, and I don't see Darrah winning.

Erik Bates | November 27, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 5, 2003
Another great episode tonight. It all came together in the last sentence, spoken by Jeff: "You are five very skilled liars." Putting aside the unfairness of the Outcasts returning, these five finalists are the people who belong at the end of the game, not the noble ones like America's Sweetheart (Rupert). All five of them have earned the right to be here by crafty playing. I very much look forward to the final two episodes.

The "duh!" factor was especially high in the first segment, however, as Sandra and Christa kinda began to suspect the possibility that maybe Jon's sort of lying through his teeth. It's moments like this where the show's verisimilitude breaks down: Can anybody truly be that naive? We in the viewing audience have seen Jon's dishonesty and the players mostly haven't, but come on! At least Sandra and Christa got their comeuppance from trusting him at the end of the last episode: He promised them later protection if they did his bidding, and they did, and now one of them has been sent packing for it. See ya, moron!

I want to mention another little thing: When the treemail arrived and it seemed to be a water challenge, Sandra commented that she's no good at water-based challenges. We were shown this comment on purpose, because of course she later sucked at the challenge. But I seem to recall a scene in episode 3 when Jon, trying to help the tribe, implied that Sandra was a poor swimmer; she became so furious at it that she started a loud argument at the campsite to defend her honor, forcing Jon to walk away in defeat. Let's hope she can still out-argue the little weasel if they're the final two.

Erik Bates | December 7, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 7, 2003
Good point on the quote. :-)

The survivor who is ousted each week appears first on The Early Show on Friday, then on Letterman the following Monday. Rupert didn't make those appearances "for undisclosed reasons" (he was busy filming the All-Star edition). Remember, Burton was voted off in episode four. What your friend probably saw on Letterman a few nights ago was a rerun from October when Burton was that week's ejectee.

Erik Bates | December 7, 2003
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Erik Bates | December 13, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 13, 2003
(In this comment I describe my prediction for the finale's outcome, which would be a spoiler if I am correct. Read with caution.)

That's certainly what the women are thinking, and they' ve been thinking it ever since the tribes merged. But I see Jon as most likely to win: I predict that Darrah will win the last two immunities and take him into the final two with her. She'll then argue to the jury that she hasn't betrayed anyone (except Ryan who understood). Jon will argue that yes, he betrayed people left and right! He was playing a game! Jon will argue that no one has worked as hard as he has at the game, and every move he made was for the sole purpose of getting ahead, and he deserves to win for being the best player. (If this happens, he might even reveal that he pulled off a huge lie about his grandmother, to prove how much he has outsmarted them.) And I think the jury would let Jon win in this case, probably 5-2.

But that's what I see as the most likely scenario, and it's far from guaranteed. To be honest, this is the first finale since Palau Tiga (season one) where I felt that every single participant has had a reasonable chance of winning. Sandra and Lill cannot be discounted: If either one makes it into the final two, they have a good shot at convincing the jury. The hard part for them will be getting there.

The hard part for me is deciding who I want to see win: Frankly, I don't want to root for any of these people. Jon's a conceited asshole, Darrah hasn't worked very much at playing the game (forging alliances etc), Lill is disqualified because she was already voted out on Day 9, and Sandra, well, Sandra annoyed me by continuing to keep deals with Jon. (That idiotic deal that Sandra & Christa made with Jon to vote out Tijuana was inspired largely by something we didn't see, a threat Tijuana made earlier that day to kick out Christa at the first opportunity, according to this. But in that case, if I were them, I still would've gotten rid of Burton.) Sandra is the most popular player and is considered most likely to win, and so I suppose I'll be rooting for her over the others, but I still think she has played this game badly. If Jon wasn't so intentionally obnoxious (part of which must be exaggerated for the camera), I'd probably root for him to win, because he really has been the best player out there. Rob Cesternino played the Amazon game much the same way and he was my favorite to win then; the difference between him and Jon is that he was generally a nice person, and that's a big enough difference for me.

Scott Hardie | December 15, 2003
Yay for Sandra! And so it ended with many surprises, as befits this unpredictable season. I could feel the cheers and applause across America when Jon's torch went out. (They certainly occurred where I was sitting.) I don't think Lill gets enough credit for being a smart player, but then again, if she were smart, she would be the one picking up that million dollar check this morning. As Peter Sarrett pointed out, Lill thought she was going to lose to both Jon and Sandra and so she gave Sandra the money, but that proved to be a miscalculation. I don't believe her for a second that she doesn't regret her $900,000 mistake.

I can no longer invoke the "gender pattern" among winners, and it's a relief to finally see that ridiculous thing broken. The other pattern still holds: Sandra's strategy of being a team player (we won't forget her constant mantra of "I'll vote for anyone as long as it isn't me") has been tried before by other players, but she's the first to win a million with it. By my count, she's the first player since Kelly Wiglesworth (season 1) to make it to the final two without ever getting a vote. I'd call that a variation on the "flying under the radar" strategy except for Sandra's big argumentative mouth, her most popular asset among fans.

The big disappointment to me last night was the limp reunion special, which was usually a lot of fun in prior incarnations. This special, like the series itself, focused way too much on Rupert and Jon to the detriment of other players, revealed very little off-camera information that we didn't know already, gave the fucking winner about 30 seconds of speaking time for the whole hour, and didn't contain a video preview of the next season, which I had told my mother was worth staying up an extra hour to see. And holy commercials! I didn't keep track, but it seemed like at least half of the hour was given over to those endless commercial breaks ("Swiffer good!"). We should have turned it off after the final vote was revealed.

Erik Bates | December 15, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 15, 2003
Until CBS makes an official announcement of the cast (like it should have done last night!), the contestants who will return in the All-Stars edition technically remain a mystery. I don't think that Jon's comment was anything more than a bad joke, but it could possibly signal that he'll be present in the All-Stars edition. Personally, I hope so.

Bryan Antonio Carroll | December 15, 2003
Wow, just imagine Jon as an all-star O_o
Im guessing that he would be quickly voted out due to his reputation as a "Bad guy", but personally I think he is without a doubt the best strategist ever to play the game. Yea Im happy for Sandra and all but *c'mon* the way Jon continued to manipulate the others even after Burton *his last hope* was kicked was simply genius. Darn those skinny legs of his lol, to buckle like that during that last challenge was embarrassing. To make it worse he desperately tried to make a deal with Lill while she appeared totally calm and relaxed. Well anyways if he is in fact one of the "All-stars" I can’t wait to see it, makes me wonder what kind of crazy ideas he will cook up this time.

Scott Hardie | December 17, 2003
Welcome to the site, Bryan.

I agree with you that Jon should come back in the All-Stars. He's great at rousing up the audience (even if he did lay it on a little thick in the final episode) and he clearly understands the game better than most players. I'd love to see him, Richard Hatch, and Rob Cesternino try to out-strategize each other.

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