"This ain't a little boys game - this is for the big boys." Big Tom, Day 1

"That's the story of my Survivor life - the big boys don't let me play." Rob C., Day 7

Don't tell me those quotes weren't put in to make that point.

For those who don't read spoilers, hopefully you see now why I just couldn't sit here at my computer and have the heart to speculate on what might happen this week. I knew The Robasu was gone - not only from spoilers, but from just watching the show. He is, and probably will always be, my favorite player of all time. Aside from Richard Hatch, no one has done more to contribute to the lexicon of How To Play Survivor than Rob Cesternino.

I mean, think of it - his season was the first in Survivor history without a "Pagonging" - where one tribe or group systematically and predictably votes out the other. It was constant shifting in the Amazon, including Rob completely upsetting the balance of power on Day 30. Whereas the Richard Hatch paradigm was to establish a solid and numerically superior alliance, vote out the other side, and then duke it out in the end, Rob took the fact that alliances were a given in the game, and realized that they shouldn't be set in stone. If you feel you're the odd person out in your voting bloc...switch it up, and put yourself in a better position. Constantly reassess where you are at. THAT'S what Rob contributed to the game...and it will never be the same after he played it.

And the proof of this is in the Pearl Islands season, which saw new alliances spring up so often that Probst even called the players "wishy-washy." All of them had seen the Amazon season - Jonny Fairplay cited Rob as his #1 inspiration, and Christa took more than a few cues from The Robasu too. All of them were trying this approach...pretty clumsily in many cases, but still it was there. For instance, in any other season, Lil would have been perfectly happy at a final three finish with a shot at Immunity, which is what Burton and Jon offered her. But she had been tutored in the game by Ryan Shoulders (yet another devout Rob C. acolyte) and decided to flip it up.

Rob was on the only tribe with no previous winners - strike number one. They all saw Probst call him "The smartest player to not win" plus he was the highest placing member on his tribe - strike number two. And of all the nine men in the game, save for perhaps Rudy, he was the weakest one out there, in spite of his commitment to working out with a personal trainer before the show. If you watch the Insider, and see what they all said as they voted him out, it was a total respect vote - they knew he was good, and would just get more dangerous as time went on. Alicia? Too assertive...plus easily targeted post merge as a physical threat, as she was in Australia. Sue? Very acerbic, not too clever, an easy out at some point down the line. The tribe made the right decision, without a doubt. But it doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

I do believe Rob C. though when he said that Mariano had him targeted from Day #1. Both employed similar strategies of lying, but Mariano was stuck on the Survivor 700 Club so just hit a wall. That just goes to show you that luck does count in this game. This time, Mariano was lucky enough to connect with Amber, who shrewdly saw an opportunity to form a voting bloc. And then Big Tom, much as I love the guy, does have a tendency to gravitate towards manly men in the game, so Mariano had him five minutes after they landed on the beach. And there's three - fans talked of forcing ties, but I think the age of the tie is done in this game, ever since the whole Paschal purple rock thing. So with a three person bloc, it was simply a matter of Mariano deciding...and he opted for the most threatening player...full stop.

One final thing on this long essay on Rob Cesternino - many have talked about how Rupert is the odd guy out, the player no one knows. Well, I actually think the Amazon crew were at the greater disadvantage here. Rupert is a complete unknown - they don't know his game, don't know him personally, and thus he has the benefit of being a wildcard in a game of nothing but familiarity. But with Jenna and Rob they faced an odd, odd situation for Survivor alumni - the day after their season ended (and actually before) everyone knew there would be an All Star season, and that The Robasu was a given to be on the cast. It is a misnomer to say the All Star season started on November 3 (the day filming started). It actually began probably more like April last year, as word clandestinely spread through the (then) 96 that such a game was being conceived of.

So both Rob and Jenna went into the world and started chatting with the Survivor family...but with an undercurrent of suspicion, of people thinking not only "Is Rob trying to figure me out here?" but also "Hmmm...who IS this Cesternino guy? Let's try to figure HIM out." Don't tell me Rob and Jenna weren't thinking this all along - they are both smart people. Not to mention that a fan as devoted as Rob is had to be just a little star struck by it all. In one year he went from singing karaoke in his basement and writing his thesis on reality TV, to placing third THEN playing against Richard Hatch on his favorite show. It had to be somewhat overwhelming!

So anyway, put it all together...and as I suspected since the unofficial announcement of the cast in November, The Robasu was in real big trouble, right off the bat. Again, his ouster is not at all surprising...but it's still a blow. Mariano is the kind of guy that shoved people like Cesternino into lockers in high school. So to see him win this showdown is just..........ugh!! Disappointing. I guess I'll have to root for Lex now!

Well now...in other, non Robasu related news...

Well lo and behold! Saboga's shelter flooded! In other shocking news, the Pope is Catholic, and Rich Likes to Get Naked. What in the HELL was Rupert thinking??? Once again I give props to Jerri for trying to put the kibosh on a stupid idea...but Rupert's bullheadedness was unstoppable, especially with a tribe too worried about their own asses to say anything. They are awfully lucky to have bounced back.

As far as I'm concerned, in the Rich vs. Rupert fishing showdown, it is Rich by a mile! Jenna M. mentioned that the shark Rich caught in episode three was the best fish he had caught, implying that he had caught more before that point. So I get the feeling that while they are showing Rupert hauling in a few fish, Rich is hauling in a few fish...PLUS the huge catches we have seen so far. Hatch has been spear fishing in the ocean since he was a kid on Rhode Island - has taken his son Chris out fishing. He's as good as they come at this.

Funniest Moment: Boy, there were so many this episode! I laughed continuously at the repartee between the Survivors this time. But I think I have to pick Sue and Rich's exchange...

Lex: Richard actually caught three moray eels out there...

Sue: That must be better eel than what you caught when I was with you, 'cause that was all bone.

Rich: But I was feeding you honey.

Sue: But that was all bone.

Rich: But I gave it to you.

Sue: You have no bone to give me Richard!

Rich: That is Ab-so-LOOOTELY true!!!

Ha ha ha...I think I pick this as the funniest moment, because in Episode Five of their season, after losing live chickens in a reward challenge Rich was shown going out and getting an eel. The tribe (including Sue) was all anxious to chow down and forget about not getting chicken...but the eel Rich caught was very cartilaginous, and not at all good eating. Even Rudy criticized it...and coming from the guy who has had ice from a cesspool of dead bodies, that's saying something.

So next week...I will actually comment this time...

The spoiler list that has been out there since before the first episode is supposed to hit the wall this week. Jenna Morasca herself said it was only right up until the Rob C. boot, and then it was completely wrong.

The list says Jerri is gone next...and the only reason I state this in a non-spoiler writing forum is that the author of the list apparently admitted it was a hoax...

Or...IS IT???? *cue dramatic music*

That's the question. This is a really up in the air boot, with the tribes set to fuse from three into two. Depending on who ends up where, it's a chaotic situation, to say the least. It's also the first week this season where I am clueless as to who goes, for this reason. I would name a short list of Jerri, Ethan, Sue, and Rich, but then who knows? It's real educated guesswork this week, even for a spoiler fan like myself.

But just to conclude...ROB-A-SU!!!!!!!!!!!! BOO-A-HOOO!!!!! *sniffle sniffle*