Reality High Test Results, Survivor: The Amazon, Episode 7: Hate to Say I Told You Soby Brian James -- 04/02/2003
You may have noticed that there was no Reality High Test Results column last week. This is because as a devout Italian-Irish Catholic, I gave the class and myself the week off to properly observe St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day.
Yeah, right. I may be Italian-Irish, but I'm about as good of a Catholic as Fox's background checkers are at investigation. The truth is, I forgot to change the timer on my digital cable box so I wound up taping the first half of Survivor and the last half of American Idol. Rather than leaving you scratching your head saying, "Funny... I don't remember any yodeling goats on Survivor," I decided to call the week a wash and concentrate on quitting smoking... nine days and counting as of this writing. I will say this for the patch – it's one of the best deterrents against lighting up ever made. While I'm on the patch, I could wind up in the hospital or dead from a nicotine overdose from just one cigarette – oops! Will you excuse me for a second? There's a messenger at the classroom door.
Oh, how sweet! Several of my students past and present just sent me a carton of cigarettes each! They're nothing if not thoughtful.
Ah, well. Nothing was going to dampen my mood this week. It was a fun week both for me and most of my students: they got to kick out someone who'd been a huge thorn in their sides since Day One, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that maybe, just maybe, sometimes I know what I'm talking about after all.
Therefore, there won't be any new questions this week – almost everything that happened was addressed in my previous columns, and had certain students, oh, I don't know – actually LISTENED TO ME, perhaps things would have turned out differently. Besides, this isn't the kind of thing that needs to be bogged down with a lot of analysis; this is the kind of thing where you just sit back, munch on popcorn, and enjoy!
Tambaqui and Jaburu merged this week into the new tribe of Jacaré. It's worth noting that Jeff Probst spelled out every detail of the merge in no uncertain terms so we could be assured it was for real this time. A new shelter had to be built, and Roger, once again, stepped up and took charge. Once again, he ruffled feathers in doing so. From my column on Episodes 1 and 2:
"One of the biggest parts of this game is getting allies, so why alienate people unnecessarily? Especially in Roger's case, where he just narrowly escaped being the first person voted out. Sure, he was instrumental in building the shelter, but it's built now. He's expendable."
Can I call it or can I call it? The exact same thing happened here. He alienated Deena right off the bat by making her feel belittled and insulted. In no time flat she was mocking Roger silently behind his back as he spoke. I might have predicted Deena and Roger would clash, but his hamfisted approach to building the shelter alienated even Christy, who complained in confessional that she was pissed at not being "allowed" to help with the shelter frame, instead being relegated to secondary palm frond duty.
Now, Roger might have been able to get away with these antics in the original Tambaqui because despite his grating ways, he was a pretty strong player and hard worker, but guess what? It's postmerge! There is no more team! It's all individual and that sort of thing doesn't matter anymore! As Rob noted, some people were building a shelter, while other people (such as himself) were building alliances – would the people building the shelter even be there to use it in six to nine days?
In Roger's case, the answer was an emphatic "no."
Because now, who was left to vote with him besides Butch and Dave? Alex may have remarked, "Seems like old times," while the guys were building the shelter, but it clearly wasn't. From my phone call to Jim in the Episode 4 column:
"Me: Roger grumbled something about the guy who started the singalong being a loser. But he grumbles about everything.
Jim: HE sounds like a barrel of laughs.
Me: OH yeah... if you had a choice between being stranded with a humorless martinet and... well, anyone...
Jim: Ah. The sanity vote. This Roger's that bad?
Me: Like Archie Bunker without the 'Awwwww, geez, Edith' redeeming charm. Most of the guys have already admitted he's a pain in the ass."
And continued to do so in confessional after confessional this week. Rob was positively giddy at the thought of being able to say, "Shut up, Roger! Stop talking, Roger!" Then Alex further clarified the issue:
"The problem with Roger is that he's an ass. He's loud, he's obnoxious, he's bossy, he thinks he knows everything and he wants to be the dictator, he wants to be the leader – and what he thought was important took precedence and he's yelling at everybody!"
Yet more evidence of Rob's further observation, which hit the nail right on the head as far as I'm concerned:
"Roger has no idea how much of a jerk he is. He has no self-awareness that people don't like him. Nobody likes him!"
Actually, Deena probably summed it up best: "Screw him!" As I predicted, Alex, Rob, and Matthew weren't about to put up with Roger's drill sergeant routine any longer – ESPECIALLY after having almost an entire week's vacation from it. So they decided to go back and tell the other three they were still part of their alliance and that's why Shawna was gone. Rob, who clearly watched Jason and Danielle on Big Brother 3 last summer, even told New Jaburu not to let the others see them talking together, which is smart thinking. Roger, Butch, and Dave fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
Not that Dave is all that (insert your own rocket scientist joke here) when it comes to picking up on plotting and scheming in the first place, mind you. From my column on Episode 3:
"7. Yes, Virginia, there is plotting and scheming on Survivor.
Dave disagreed. He seemed utterly amazed to realize that people were – gasp! – talking behind each others' backs and playing the game! I sat Dave down and broke the news gently to him that while we're at it, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy don't really exist. "But... but... I used to get quarters... and the milk and cookies were always gone..." he stammered. I patted him on the head and assured him it would all be OK."
Dave was similarly clueless this week when the tribes merged. "Nobody's thinking about who's going next at [this] point!" he chirped as everyone enjoyed their meal. Could he be any more dense?! I mean, just for starters, Rob alone is pulling so many strings behind the scenes he practically had a neon sign over his head flashing "Call Me 'Gepetto'." Furthermore, who's front and center on Rob's hit list? Yup! You guessed it – our intrepid rocket scientist himself! This was the first in a series of howlers out of Dave's mouth this week, leading me to think that perhaps what I attributed to skill in picking the new tribes was just sheer dumb luck. Speaking of which, let's reexamine that, shall we? From my column on Episode 5:
"10. After a tribal swap, your tribe is divided equally between original and new members. You and your fellow original tribemates decide to target one of the new members at Tribal Council. You know the following information about them through observation and preswap discussion with a representative of the other tribe. Which person do you target?
The Tambaqui men chose "A." For the life of me, I can't figure out why the answer wouldn't be "C." It makes absolutely no sense. Dave specifically chose Heidi first because he knew she was Jenna's best friend there and closest ally... so why on earth would he bring Heidi over to his tribe only to keep her around so she could rejoin Jenna after the merge?... Any way you slice it, I just can't see the logic in keeping someone who's almost guaranteed not to be loyal over two people who could be."
Let's see. What was the first thing Heidi did postmerge? IMMEDIATELY run to Deena and Jenna to blab that not only was she back in their alliance, but Roger needed to go first because if he was on the jury he'd never vote for a woman! (As much as I may have ripped on Heidi's "cute girls" schtick before, SMART thinking there.) So the notion of Heidi remaining with them was completely shot to hell in oh, the first five seconds. Too late to recruit Jeanne – they voted her off. Perhaps they could make an effort to keep Christy on their side, since it was no secret she hated her treatment at Jaburu? Nope – once Deena won immunity, they targeted Christy FOR THE BOOT!
See, this is what I mean. At this point, forget questions – all you can do is sit back, point, and laugh.
And the yuks came fast and furious. First up, Dave solemnly assured us in confessional that the plan was for the six guys to eliminate the four girls. Christy was up first because it was the way the old alliance was voting, so she should be really worried, as should Deena for butting heads with Roger!
Oh yeah. I'm sure Deena and Christy were just quaking in their boots, considering that they were the last two standing in the immunity challenge. Speaking of which, as soon as Roger gave up and jumped off – with NO reward as incentive, mind you – Jenna gave the thumbs up to Deena, who returned the favor. Meanwhile, Alex is giving his own thumbs up and Christy's grinning like the Cheshire cat.
Screw whether this was smart strategy. I was HOWLING. Yeah, it may not have been the wisest move to be so openly gleeful, but to paraphrase the Colbster, it's Roger so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
"Roger's planning all these activities and he won't even be here!" gleefully noted Deena when they returned to camp. Why, she even refused to pack heading to tribal council! (I have to admit that at first my jaw dropped at her hubris, but then I realized, DUH – she has immunity! What can I say? I have natural blonde highlights.)
Did Roger himself have any inkling he was doomed? Oh no. "The women are gone – it's that simple!" he assured us. He noted for the second time that episode it seemed to good to be true (which of course it was) – not that he did a single thing about it, mind you.
Jenna and Heidi howled over the guys thinking they were picking the girls off and being "generous" in saying they'd spare them – and for once, I was laughing with them, not at them.
I then proceeded to fall out of my chair when this immediately cut to the following pearls of wisdom from Dave:
"All four of the females realize they are going to be quickly eliminated because the six guys are sticking together a little better. I don't think they're surprised; six guys, four girls – they're looking to go packing pretty quick!"
Oh, WHATEVER, Captain He-Man of the Spaceship I've Got These Lil' Fillies Trained.
Then we reached the actual tribal council, where Roger yawned that sure, he could have lasted longer in the immunity challenge had he felt it mattered, as seven tribe members did their best to restrain themselves from pointing and shouting, "HA ha!" (If someone had REALLY imitated Nelson from The Simpsons as they held up their vote for Roger, that would have topped even Rob's Casey Kasem schtick.) Thus, Roger was booted 7-3, and there was much rejoicing in the tribe – well, for seven of them anyway. Where's JoAnna with a good "HALLELUJAH!" when you really need her?! Roger said he wasn't outwitted or outplayed – just outlasted. Um, sure.
The brilliant thing about this episode was that not only was it completely fun and satisfying, but it left us with a lot of questions as to what will happen next. For starters, Deena's seeming to get awfully cocky herself there. "The game is MINE!" she crowed at one point. Uh, not so fast there, Madame Hubris. There's still eight other people who could beg to differ – especially if you keep that attitude up.
She told Rob it was him, her, and Jenna in the final three, and it seems pretty certain that she and Rob each want each other in the final three, but how they get there seems completely up in the air. Deena wants to eliminate Alex to force Rob to stay with her, but I'm imagining she didn't exactly lay this out to Rob in those terms. She told Jenna she was part of the final three, but we didn't see if she mentioned Rob as the other component. Meanwhile, Jenna noted that Dave and Matthew were the biggest threats as far as strength, and Matthew at this point is part of their alliance, or so he thinks. What IS the deal with Matthew, anyway? In confessional he's talking about how he sees the five New Jaburu as remaining strong to the end, but right then and there Alex had to tell him they'd decided to vote out Roger, not Dave. "Oh, OK!" shrugged Matthew. If that were me, that would have set off some warning bells. But did it for Matthew?
Getting back to Jenna, is she closer to Deena or Heidi at this point? Right now, it seems like Jenna and Heidi have a strategy they're working as a team of flirting with the guys, which reached hilarious heights when Heidi assured the men most girls would be quick to have a three-way and immediately added, "Right, Jenna?!" Then there was the tandem strip in the immunity challenge, which... oh, I give up. The only thing I know for certain is that I don't think the sky is falling just because Heidi's a teacher and she became a pixellated blur on TV like some people seem to, but it's impossible to figure out what I DO think about it because every time I try I feel like it's peeling an onion or something with all the layers. I mean, it definitely seems like it came out of this same strategy, so I'm imagining on some level their reasoning was that they could make some of the guys fall in from distraction, which is one thing, but with this particular group of horndogs, I could absolutely see that working, but as Jeff pointed out, they were doing this when no one was looking as opposed to offering it as incentive for the guys to give up, and they would have gotten the peanut butter anyway regardless, and it turned out Edmund only thought he drowned Kristen but it was really the long-lost Banks sister Penelope, who was adopted by a British family who fixed her teeth and gave her contacts so she looked just like Kristen and she was dying of cancer anyway, so while Stefano thought Kristen had fooled everyone, in reality Susan switched places with her at the last minute so it's Kristen who's being held prisoner in the sultan's harem, while Sister Mary Moira –
You see what I mean? Every time I try analyzing it my brain melts down and starts merging it with old Days of Our Lives plots. So I guess the best I can do is reserve judgment and wait and see how Jenna and Heidi fare from here.
And then, once again, there's Rob. Remember how I said in my last column that it seemed like he had a lot of pent-up resentment toward "Golden Boy" Dave? Well, that all exploded like Mt. Vesuvius this week. As a matter of fact, my sources let me see one of Rob's confessionals that never made it to the air:
"All I hear all day long is how good Dave is at this! And how good Dave is at that! He wants to have a three-way, BOOM! He has a three-way! I'm tired of being in Dave's SHADOW all the time! Dave, Dave, DAVE!!!"
There you have it – Jan Brady is alive and well and competing in the Amazon after a sex change. There are quite good strategic reasons why Dave should go, but ousting Dave seems to have taken on a personal level for Rob that goes beyond that. Will he be able to keep that in check, or will his resentment cause him to act rashly? And while we're on the subject of Rob, normally I don't recommend hiring an escort, but if Rob is even one-tenth as sex-obsessed and unlucky with women as he's telling us, perhaps he should look into it. In addition to Jan Brady, he's also starting to seem like one of the guys who paid to see Molly Ringwald's panties in Sixteen Candles.
And finally, with Dave himself – just how did one of the youngest guys on Tambaqui wind up bonding with the two oldest guys, anyway? And now that he's finally been bashed over the head with a sledgehammer that his alliance is dead, will he do anything to save himself?
Hopefully, at least some of this will be answered next week, when Matthew reminds me of myself when I tried to quit smoking without the patch – hey! Speak of the devil – here he is now!
Hey, Matthew! Good to see you! You're the first one of my students this semester to drop by! Ah – I see you brought your machete! Really, souvenirs aren't necessary...
Hey, is something wrong? You're awfully quiet... why are you looking at me like that?
Um... you're starting to scare me...
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Greetings, gentle readers! It is I, Matthew von Ertfelda, Survivor: The Amazon contestant and one of People Magazine's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors in 2002. I regret to inform you that Mr. James is indisposed at the moment. Some stabbing pains in his chest and stomach, from what I understand. However, he indicated to me that perhaps you would relish some cooking lessons! I'm happy to oblige. Today, I'll be instructing you in the fine art of making that traditional Italian dish, insegnante cotto alla griglia. I recommend complimenting this delicacy with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, but really, any decent quality red rum will do. First, let us discuss the proper service vessels...
Brian James is an actor/writer in New York City. An avid reality show, Passions, retro music, and Internet discussion board junkie, he can be found holding up "Will Snark For Food" signs in subway stations as he continues to search for that elusive "day job." Brian would like to stress that this column is based solely on the "TV characters" he witnesses once a week, not on how contestants behave in real life. Comments and cybertomatoes accepted at email@example.com.
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