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Survivor: Guatemala - Surprise!by Ken Kellam III -- 12/08/2005
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At first, I’d thought about titling this article “A tale of two episodes.” To paraphrase Dickens, “It was the most boring of episodes, it was the most interesting of episodes.” That brings us to our first surprise: Namely, that the most interesting footage Burnett and Company could show us in the first half of the show revolved around Judd talking about Stephenie’s expulsion of “Guatemala Gas,” and various players doing cartwheels. Honestly, I felt that I could’ve fallen asleep and not missed anything. The second half hour contained plenty of memorable moments, including Judd’s bitter exit, but the first half seemed somewhat uneventful.
Even the footage of the relatives making a visit wasn’t exactly riveting. Yes, the castaways were surprised, and it was nice for them to see their loved ones, but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of drama to it this time.
Once the auction came up, no one should’ve been surprised that Danni outbid everyone for the immunity advantage, since she was obviously on the chopping block. What WAS surprising, in retrospect, is how the others let her have it. Wouldn’t it have been worth it to further stack the odds against the odd person out? Is that the kind of thing Shii Ann had in mind when she said, “Stupid, stupid people?”
Another thing that wasn’t so surprising was how Danni refused to go down without a fight. After all, this lady’s a competitor. As a teenager, she competed for, and won, the crown in a beauty pageant. She also competed in track and field, helping set a state relay record that stands to this day.
She also once competed on Star Search as a spokesmodel, and traveled the globe in the ultra-competitive world of modeling. As a sports talk show host, she was used to competing for ratings, so for her, the game wasn’t over till it was over, and thanks to her prowess, “over” will come later rather than sooner.
Not only did she outbid everyone for the immunity advantage, but she made good use of it, switching places with Stephenie at just the right moment and winning three more days. But what came next showed just how suited Danni is to the game of Survivor. She didn’t just rest on her laurels, knowing she had at least three more days. In fact, she played as hard as if she hadn’t won, looking towards the future and persuading others on how to vote. In fact, she may have single-handedly turned the entire game around and bought herself more than just three days.
Think about it: The power four were Stephenie, Judd, Cindy, and Rafe, with Lydia and Danni on the outside looking in. However, Judd is now gone, and Cindy felt left out by the vote, so Danni might be able to persuade Cindy to turn on Stephenie, and Lydia won’t be such a hard sell since she felt the alliance abandoned her, and Stephenie and Rafe may well be the ones in trouble now. As Stephenie herself said, “Danni is one cool chick,” and one smart chick at that.
One surprising aspect of the show was hearing Cindy “diss” Danni, saying she wasn’t good at physical or mental challenges. Maybe she forgot how Danni was on the winning team in a reward challenge a few days prior. In any case, Danni knew how the tribal council vote was going more than Cindy did, so maybe Cindy underestimated her rival. After the immunity challenge, I noticed that Cindy seemed to be noticeably absent from any “plotting and scheming” footage, and now we know why: she wasn’t in on it.
The outcome of tribal council was a big surprise to the zookeeper, just as Jamie’s ouster was a big surprise to Judd. Seeing her twin Mindy was a pleasant surprise, tribal council, not so much.
Speaking of which, if Survivor had taken a page from Big Brother and pulled a twin switch with the two, would the others have been able to tell?
While Cindy is not the only person in Survivor history, or even in this cast, to have a twin, to the best of my knowledge, she’s the first person in Survivor history to have an identical twin visit her while still in the game. Seeing the two side by side makes one wonder what Burnett and company could’ve pulled if they’d decided to try it.
Let’s look at the immunity challenge that bought Danni at least three more days. If I’m not mistaken, we saw a similar challenge in the show’s first installment, and it was won by Rudy. When you think about it, maybe it’s a bit surprising this type of challenge hasn’t become a series staple. After all, there are SO many way to bring variety to it.
Maybe if you had the advantage you could have the right to move two spaces any time you wanted, or choose to make someone else move one or more spaces at any given time. Or, you could have any two players switch positions at any given time, in case there was somebody you DIDN’T want to win. Or, they could combine the challenge with a trivia contest, and you could only move if you answered the question correctly. There are no doubt countless other variations as well.
Finally, who was surprised more than Judd at tribal council? And should he have been? After all, wasn’t it he who said that if you think you’re safe in the game you’re crazy? Either he thought that didn’t apply to him, or he’s crazy. He didn’t even claim to know it was coming, saying he was totally blindsided. Despite what he said about thinking you’re safe, the thought he might be the one to go was apparently the furthest thing from his mind.
I can tell you this from playing numerous versions of Survivor online: It’s awfully easy to say it’s a game until you’re no longer in it. If Pam, who I met in an online game, is reading this, I have no doubt she’s having a good chuckle right now. After all, in the game I met her in, I told her, “Games are separate from relationships outside the game,” but when I got voted out, I certainly didn’t act like it. Speaking of which, Pam, why DID you vote me out of that game over three years ago? Just kidding.
Okay, back to Judd. No doubt he was disappointed, but he showed himself to be a pretty poor sport, saying he hoped they all got eaten by a “freakin’ crocodile,” and calling them scumbags. The problem was, they were looking at the game the same way he was, and it came back to haunt him.
When he claimed in his final words he didn’t lie to anybody, I figured that either he didn’t remember the lie regarding the immunity idol, or he was in serious denial. In fact, in that same episode, Stephenie said he’s already been caught in quite a few lies, which makes you wonder what the producers haven’t shown us.
During his Early Show interview, he was called on the carpet regarding the immunity idol lie, and his explanation was bizarre: He said you have to understand that it was a competition, so he really didn’t see that as a lie. But of course, if he’s the one ousted, it’s not a competition, is it? Judd seemed to redeem himself after the Margaret fiasco, but has since lost all credibility with his post-game behavior. Look for the doorman to give possibly the most volatile speech of all at final tribal council.
There was one moment that must have been pleasantly surprising to a leading burger chain. That would be when Judd said a visit from his wife was worth 25 burgers from said chain. Since the chain doesn’t advertise on national television, as far as I know, no doubt they appreciated the free publicity he gave them. It was also probably a hoot for anyone who’s a fan of the chain, including a longtime friend of mine. Well, at least she was a friend until she stopped speaking to me, but that’s another story.
One person who was NOT surprised by the tribal council outcome was Rachel, another friend of mine who sent me an email before the show predicting Judd’s departure. To be honest, I didn’t believe her for a second, but she obviously knew something I didn’t.
Okay, we’re down to the final five, including the last male in the game, Rafe. See you Thursday!
Ken can be reached with any comments, criticisms, or money orders at YourNextOfKen@aol.com .
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