Fuggybootnling's thoughts on Week 11 of Survivor All Stars
"And for the record, anybody would have done that, it's not like this guy is patron saint of reward challenges." - Rob Cesternino, commenting on Matt giving up the reward on Day 31 of the Amazon season.
And that pretty much sums up that whole "Oh, I'll give up the reward" thing. If it was an option, anyone would have taken it to score political points. I'll pick up on this later, but first a wrapup on Kathy.
I simply can't say enough about Ms. Vavrick O'Brien in this game. Her parting words both right after getting voted out and on the day after were so incisive and intelligent, showing that she truly had a grasp on the dynamics of everything going on around her. And Lex can boast all he wants about his game and whatever he did, but the true power player on Mogo Mogo was Kathy. Every vote turned on her - it was her call to boot Rich, setting up the pecking order on the tribe. According to Kathy's TV Guide interview Shii Ann asked her for coaching in the early going after getting off on the wrong foot with the people. This essentially left Shii Ann eating out of the palm of Kathy's hand. And when it came time to keep Amber, not only did Kathy make the call, but said to Lex she would only do so if Jerri went and not Shii Ann - thus leaving Kathy with her minion and making Lex lose his.
The problem was that she was on the least hungry team...the one most stacked with top three and above finishers. And I think in the long run it would have been best to keep Rich and boot Colby, who sounds like he was completely distracted and not interested in forming trust with anyone. But these are mere quibbles in what was by and large a stupendously skilled outing on the show, given the cards she was dealt. And she is now the only player to have won individual Immunity on two different Survivors...a title she may be the sole owner of, seeing as...
...five out of seven players remaining have never been this far in the game. Amber came in sixth, and Tom is the only player to have ever glimpsed the final four. And Kathy was right to say that the other five may not fully grasp not only how nuclear it gets from here on out, but also that as the numbers dwindle, there's much, much less wiggle room to make alternate deals to improve one's lot in the game. Kathy has also said that, given more time (this past episode was all on Day 28) she might have been able to convince some people to switch things up. But then - who pray tell would she recruit??? No one wants a tie since as Kathy witnessed firsthand in the Marquesas it makes everyone vulnerable. So she needed three votes to get a majority...and how was THAT going to happen? You got Tom and Alicia, but how were they going to get, say, Rupert or Amber to vote out Jenna, or Jenna to turn on Rupert? The numbers just weren't there this time. Again, Kathy had wise words - the time to make a move was when LEX WAS STILL THERE!
And nothing works this week either. Four makes a majority and that's Alicia, Shii Ann, Big Tom and...who??? If the others have had a final four pact since Day 14, they stand to lose three jury votes at the end if they switch, and their place in the pecking order isn't helped one bit. There's just nowhere to go. Sure, Jenna and Rupert could decide to break up Romber, but then at five THEY will be the twosome with the numbers disadvantage. All things considered, you really have to admire the setup that Rob and Amber have constructed for themselves...with Lex out, there's nowhere to go.
Anyway, back to the challenge...it was certainly a doozy! In a jam-packed episode they had to gloss over the picking of teams, but they did mention that Alicia and Rupert were chosen by lot to pick the teams. So how did this go down? Alicia clearly came away with the better team, but was this consciously done or purely by accident? Studying the course (and Jeff walks them through each challenge before they run it) the team that would win wasn't going to be the strongest but the one with the best balance. And that's what it came down to...Rupe's team was close, but it was the time that he lost on the balance beam that cost them.
That challenge by the way was a smorgasbord of past Survivor obstacle courses, lifting many elements from Pulau Tiga (including the blown bridge plank thing) a couple from Thailand, and the flying fox finale from the Amazon. If only there were actual Amazon players here to see it! I still can't get over how the players from the best season since the first are long, long gone.
And I dug seeing the videos...another smorgasbord here, this time of new family members we haven't seen before, a couple of familiar faces that made appearances the first time around and...JENNA!!!! The first Survivor was filmed in March and April of 2000, so it was almost exactly four years to the day between when Jenna was told her mom didn't send a tape of her "beauties" to when America got to see Jenna's reaction to viewing her downright adorable twin daughters. Talk about closure!
As for Rob giving up the tape...you know, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that we don't see. Probst made a big showy point of asking Matt if he wanted to give up his reward so everyone would get it in the Amazon, as described by Rob C. in this article's opening quote. And Mariano made sure to immediately say "You all would have done the same thing" after he gave up his. This implies that there was a major suggestion to Rob that this was an option for him or for anyone winning it. I just have to wonder how many other times someone has wanted to sacrifice a reward only to be told they can't? Colby was given a big loaf of...some sort of pastry when he won his 87th challenge that season, and immediately asked to give it to the tribe. Jeff said no. Lex won not only a truck in the final five of Africa, but also a chance to visit an AIDS hospital to distribute medical supplies. Well, that was his 3rd reward win, he already had the car, and most of all Teresa's brother died of AIDS in 1990. Something tells me he might have wanted T-bird to go to the hospital, as it would have meant the world to her, but the idea was nixed. I could be way wrong, but that's my gut thought as it would have been a great political move.
So Rob is no hero for sacrificing the video...but at the same time, the guy DOES have a soul, and the motives for doing that were (to me anyway) so complicated and screwed up that it's no wonder he was as genuinely emotional as he was. We see this show in week intervals, but to them you had the hardcore real emotion of voting out Lex, the horror of rain and cold through the night, seeing videos from home, a challenge for all the marbles, everyone going off alone to bawl over their letters, gathering together again to scheme like crazy, and finally another hour or so of grilling at tribal council and Kathy leaving...ALL IN 24 HOURS. That's hardcore!!! How could any human being not be just wrecked after all that???
The scene of Rob describing this on the rock was...far and away one of the most conflicted scenes I have ever seen on Survivor. It was a fight...a fight with himself. He's thinking about how the letters thing will be perceived by the tribe, by the viewers, by his brother, by HIMSELF. To paraphrase him...
"It's strategy...but it's not...but it is...and I look like a big crybaby...but I wanted to do something to make things a little better because I wanted to...and it's good politicking...but I wanted to be compassionate...but it's strategy...but they will see that and be cynical about me...but it wasn't cynical...but it was, to a point..."
YEESH! I haven't seen this kind of soul searching on strategy vs. friendship since Kelly Wiglesworth! And just as it was with her...Rob was being genuine as hell.
Funniest Moment: Another episode without much comedy, but I would say Lex walking in with the Mohawk. Everyone seemed to get a good laugh from that...hey, he's embracing the experience, why not? It still doesn't beat the ultra-conservative Frank showing up in the jury with a sarong though.
Logic would dictate that the Pagonging should continue next week. We are now at the point where I can state that Chill One, the famous Amazon season spoiler, once again delivered the goods. He called Alicia, Amber, Jenna, Rob, Rupert, Shii Ann, and Big Tom as the final seven back in January, info he got on a trip to Panama from someone he called "The Man" (no word if Chico was also in attendance). Now notice I've listed those names alphabetically - "The Man" rhymed off the names in a certain order that I won't reveal, and it was Chill's impression at the time that he was naming them off in order of their expulsion.
But then...that's just an impression. Nobody really knows. The order he named has been accepted as gospel for months now in spoilerdom, but this week will be the first test of that.
All I will say is this...given what the Immunity will be, the boot that Chill One called makes a lot of sense. But is it right? I'm waiting with baited breath...for a surprise more than anything.