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Check Out the Big Brain (and Mouth) on Shii Ann; or Why Shii Ann Should Not Have Been Voted Offby Peggy Keller -- 11/05/2002
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Finally, we have an episode of Survivor: Thailand that looked like Mark Burnett actually participated in it. I was beginning to think he was so busy picking out the site of Survivor: Amazon that he was going to let his flunkies run the whole of season five. C'mon, admit it. You thought it was a merge too. Thought those buffs would be coming right along now, any minute. Probst said they were going to share everything now; why should Sook Jai have to share their boat and bananas and chicken with Chuay Gahn? A cave is one thing, that is there already, but Chuay Gahn lost their boat. Sook Jai won that food fair and square. It was the sharing part that made everyone think it was a merge. But you know Burnett, it's been reported that he hates it when players think they know how to play his game, so he had to stir the pot. But even when it seems to be blatantly unfair (purple rock anyone?), it's still fun to watch the dominoes tumble. And this week, out little domino was Mensa genius Shii Ann.
Shii Ann, who can do logic puzzles in her sleep. Shii Ann who thought it was brilliant to throw a challenge just to toss out the biggest challenge winner on the tribe. I wonder if she is now looking back on that moment and thinking, "D'oh! Maybe we should have tried to keep as many people as we could, annoying or not."
Shii Ann has continued to maintain that she was ostracized by Penny and several others. But where was all the abuse that Penny was giving her? All Mark Burnett showed us was Penny telling Shii Ann that she needed to stay out of the boys' argument, and some quips from Ken. If Shii Ann was tormented, then why is Burnett choosing not to show Penny in this unflattering light? Does this mean that he is pulling a Vecepia on us? Hiding all of her manipulations so that if she is sole Survivor we can say, "Gee, I am so glad that non-manipulative, under the radar girl next door won this time." Has the overwhelming hatred for Rich Hatch so tormented Burnett that all other winners have to be either sweet (Tina, Ethan) or non-existent (Vecepia)?
With the severe anemia that S5 has had, viewers would have loved to see some more drama and less shots of rugged cliffs and flying birds. We all know that Burnett could have shown Penny being popular cheerleader homecoming queen snob, if it was there; instead he chose to show aggressive, smirking Shii Ann. Why? Something to ponder.
I noticed an attitude change in Shii Ann as soon as Clay came in the picture. I kept thinking about something I tell my daughter when she is whining about a teacher not liking her. It's all about the attitude. Shii Ann went over to Chuay Gahn with this lovely, happy, smiley face attitude, she was sharing and caring. I couldn't help but wonder, why didn't she do that in Sook Jai? Did she ever stop to think that maybe her attitude was what turned people off over there? We never saw Shii Ann smile, we never saw her approach any member of Sook Jai the way she immediately took to Chuay Gahn. Maybe if she had tried a little harder with her own tribe, she would not have felt so paranoid. Shii Ann was voted off because she was honest and told Ken, hoping to get him to come with her, that she wanted to be a switch hitter. Is that any reason to vote her out? Well, yeah, but since this is about why Shii Ann should not have been voted out, let's say "no."
There was a golden moment at tribal council, when Shii Ann said she knew more about Chuay Gahn, had better access to them than anyone else did. At that moment, in front of God and Probst and country, Jake could have said, "OK, Shii Ann, I gotcha. You are right, we could use a spy. Our very own Mata Hari. Declare your loyalty to us right now and we will toss Penny to the wolves. Get up and dance naked on that table, Shii Ann." (Well, maybe not that last part 'cus we already knew she wasn't going to show us her tatas!)
It wouldn't have mattered in the long run, of course, Sook Jai would still be outnumbered five to four, but there are questions remaining. If a merge does not come soon, Sook Jai has a couple of opportunities to whittle Chuay Gahn down by winning the upcoming Immunity Challenge(s). If the merge does come in the next week or so, letting Shii Ann work undercover to get rid of Jan and then Clay or Helen could have given Sook Jai the advantage. If Shii Ann was honest, and Penny was the real problem, then getting rid of her should make everything OK again. Unless Erin "abuses" her, or maybe she gets mad at Ken for telling everyone her plans. But at least now, by voting out Penny, Shii Ann would be appeased like a Volcanic Goddess.
Shii Ann should have been kept because once things go individual, the Ted-Brian alliance could become the Ted-Brian-Shii Ann-Ken alliance. If Ken and Shii Ann could have persuaded Ted to toss at least Jan, if not Helen too (Clay could go along with that.) Then Shii Ann and Ken could go back to Jake and Erin and vote to toss the rest of them out. As it stands, it looks like Chuay Gahn will pick off Ken, Erin, Penny, and Jake. In fact, Sook Jai's only hope right now is to pray Burnett does not merge them until they can win another immunity and tie things back up. So who should have been the one to go? Penny. If Penny is abusing another player, and has Ken pissed at her, she should have been the one. The whole reason Shii Ann was even considering defecting was because of Penny. Remove Penny and Shii Ann stays, only now she is a spy.
Who is the underdog this week? Out of all those left on Chuay Gahn, I would have to say it's still Jan. Sook Jai has a good shot at bringing her over from Chuay Gahn, if there is a merge, and if there is not a merge and Chuay Gahn loses they will vote her out.
On Sook Jai, the underdog now becomes Ken. If the tribes merge, Chuay Gahn will elect to get rid of him because he looks so strong. In his own team, Penny must know by now that he doesn't like her. Penny and Erin are practically one vote and Jake will have to go with majority. So if Sook Jai loses immunity, look for Ken to go. If there is a merge, look for Ken to go. If Chuay Gahn loses immunity, look for Jan to go.
Let's hope Burnett is back at the helm full time now and we can have more episodes of Survivor: Thailand like this one. Otherwise, Monk is looking better and better.
Peggy Keller is Mother and Behavior Therapist to her two autistic sons and teenage daughter. Click here to e-mail her.
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