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Saying Goodbye to the 'Survivor: Thailand' 16by Kevin Nauta -- 12/29/2002
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We've reached the end of a long road at last, having crowned Brian as this season's champion and sent him back into the real world where all is less than rosy for him. Surely the strains of John Lennon's "Instant Karma" must be playing for him someplace. Not at the reunion party, mind you, but then there was a lot of pretending going on there. I think it's time to look back on our players and ponder what was, what might have been, and what will become of them now.
John: I don't believe his unlucky fate, as the first to be voted off, was totally unmerited. I do think it was probably a decision made far too soon and for reasons that don't really sit well with me given the players involved. Had Chuay Gahn voted out the ill Tanya a week earlier, or the troublesome Ghandia before the team was nearly split by her actions with and towards Ted, the early part of the game might have played out differently and to their benefit. Almost missing in action during the reunion taping.
Tanya: Poor girl. I felt so sorry for her. This is a hard game to watch. I would never even attempt to try. I give her credit for making the effort. I wish it had ended better for her. I think she'll make us proud in the end.
Jed: I don't think he understands to this day why he was voted off, nor why people disliked him so much. Contrast him with Stephanie and wonder.
Ghandia: I wish Jeff had asked her some tough questions about her own conduct and motives. I still don't understand what that whole episode was about.
Stephanie: Yikes! And we thought Erin was this year's pinup, until a certain bit of video footage of Stephanie's audition made it on the reunion show. (Maybe that's why Reverend John was speechless!) What a shame the Stephanie who was so outgoing, so crazy, and so enthusiastic about wanting to be a Survivor blew her chance by morphing into a person the producers didn't recognize - and one Stephanie herself didn't, either. We'll remember that casting tape, remember the stubborn woman sleeping alone on the beach, and wonder. Stephanie is wondering the same thing, and that's a difficult cross to bear in life.
Robb: I don't know if his epiphany is real or not. I hope for his sake it turns out to truly change his life for the better. He sounds a bit embarrassed about his behavior on the show, in his own rather strange fashion. He should be. I'd like to look in on him in five years and see what happens to him. Ken, I hope you can look out for Robb. He's a goof, but he's got some good in him after all, and a little tough love did him wonders.
Shii Ann: Of all the Survivor 16, my favorite from day one, and the one I'd love to sit down with over dinner (with my fiancée chaperoning us, if you're reading this, Melissa!) and get to know. She's clever, witty, a bit caustic, and too clever by 7/8ths. There will be a chapter devoted to her in the reality TV history books for the Merger-That-Wasn't. Somehow, I don't think that bothers her as it would me if I were in her place. But I could be wrong, and I'm sure she'll tell me if that's so.
Erin: Did anyone ever figure out why Erin was voted off? She's a very beautiful woman, but there's just something about her that seems to make her an empty parenthesis. There is flying below the radar, and then there's crashing into the ground.
Ken: Sorry, but I don't buy the whole concept of 'I would never lie' to get ahead in this game. Friends, this is a game where deception is necessary to win. Unless one is looking for an exotic vacation that involves eating bugs and scorpions, why bother with all the hassle?
Penny: She will be remembered as a third-rate schemer able to be played like a fiddle by experts. Shii Ann knew this before the rest of us, but we soon saw how Penny thought she could save herself by turning on Jake. In the end, all it turned out to be was a better deception by a smarter player that earned her a quicker exit.
Jake: Well, it should have worked. Pick young players, provide quiet leadership… but in the end, Jake reminded me of the Biblical story of Zedekiah the king, who unwisely picked a fight with the stronger Nebuchadnezzar and lost his kingdom. His punishment was to see his sons killed before his eyes, and then be blinded himself. The ending is happier here. Jake goes home to his beloved wife, and I don't think he'll have any regrets. He saw what was coming before the Chuay Gahns who voted him off did. There's some small feeling of good when you know you were right after all.
Ted: I think he's come to a new appreciation about the dangers of trusting used-car salesmen. Ted wound up trusting a lot of people in this game, and a lot of people let him down. I suspect he's probably just as nice a guy as he seemed on TV in real life. Suggestion: for your sake, and ours, too - drink in moderation, okay?
Helen: Et tu, Brian? Helen was exposed by her own husband, who suggested she take Brian out because he was a threat. Helen said she couldn't do that. Couldn't do that? Are you here to win or what? Don't complain about losing because you weren't able or willing to do the things needed to win. Helen was taken in by Brian's charm, the same way a lot of people were. Helen's a confusing player - very hard shell, but very soft inside. Must be the soft inside that would inspire anybody to eat a tarantula for her. Here's hoping my fiancée - who has in past thought it would be a lot of fun to be a Survivor contestant--never gets around to applying!!
Jan: Made it almost to the end, despite being remarkably unconnected to the strategy that kept her in the game until the final episode. The role of sacrificial lamb could never be cast as well, and best of all, she can be buried in her own pet cemetery.
Clay: St. James said, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing… these things ought not to be so." One more reason to have kept Pastor John around a while longer - perhaps Clay might have been reminded to think before speaking. That ridiculous tirade directed at Jake might have cost Mr. Jordan the game. One vote gone, but consider this: the three votes Clay received were from the three people on the jury who lived with Clay the shortest amount of time. Those who knew Clay the best to a person voted against him. You can fool some of the people, but not all of them. The work at Chuay Gahn wasn't done by Clay, and everyone there knew it. Deep down, I think Clay did, too. I didn't see much surprise in his reaction, and he wasn't trolling for his fellow team members' votes. Outside the game, Clay's probably a fun guy to hang out with… but I wouldn't want to depend on him in a crisis.
Brian: What can I say? An incredibly well-played game both from the standpoint of strategy and from physical stamina and ability. David Bloomberg has already covered Brian's victory well. He has to live with himself now, and one can only wonder if it isn't instant karma that is causing the problems in his marriage to this incredible woman we saw on film and in person. Everyone did a good job at the end pretending that nothing was wrong and that all was rosy in the world of the contestants. In the end, we can only wait to find out if this was the last deception in Brian's march to become sole survivor.
Kevin Nauta, who survived another weird Christmas with his family and lives to write another day. At least we had ham for dinner. I won't eat green beans for them, let alone tarantulas!
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