Thursday, April 21, 2005

"Survivor": Another Bizarre Departure

Why do people go on an obviously grueling, spirit-draining, back-biting contest -- and then decide it's not worth it? That was the question at the heart of tonight's ''Survivor: Palau,'' and the arguing about it gave me yet another reason to want Stephenie to win.
Stephenie, you'll remember, was the last member remaining of The Worst Survivor Tribe Ever and is now increasingly isolated in combination with the remaining members of The Tribe That Whipped The Worst Tribe Ever. On last week's show, I thought Stephenie proved very smart by losing an immunity challenge, since it could make her seem less of a threat to other players. This week, though, she was once again in the spotlight, her fierce competitiveness evident in the way she approached a reward challenge. There's a reference on the show to her being the strongest woman in the competition; heck, there are moments when she makes the guys look soft.
So let's jump to tribal council. You could make a pretty good list of people who deserved to go home -- basically, all the women except Stephenie -- but it was Janu who is on everyone's ugh list for the night. Only, when it came to tribal council, Janu seemed likely to stay around because it Stephenie's supposed allies looked ready to break their word and take her out because she's too strong. (We don't know what exactly was on their mind, because there was no vote. But the show certainly set up a scenario where Stephenie was on her way out.)
Well, if the others think Stephenie is strong in the physical challenges, they haven't been paying attention to her skill at mind games. (Think of that little-girl-lost bit she pulled before the fire-for-immunity faceoff with Bobby Jon.) On tonight's show, Stephenie demonstrated that again by replying to Janu's I-don't-care-if-I'm-gone attitude with an emotional declaration of her own will to win; Stephenie's speech basically shamed Janu into quitting so Stephenie would not be voted off. It was wonderful gamesmanship on Stephenie's part and, if the promo for next week's episode is to believed, Stephenie will try an even bolder move in next week's telecast.
All right, I'm gushing about Stephenie. But she's a great contestant. The passion gap I've talked about with contestants on ''American Idol'' is not a problem on ''Survivor: Palau.'' I wouldn't mind if Tom won, but I'm cheering Stephenie's every move. Even the devious ones.


Blogger curiostrip said...

I concur. Jeff Probst said that Stephenie is second only to Rupert in generating viewer interest. She's already outlasted Rupert (he was member #2 on the Panama jury, at worst she'll be #3). She has a compelling case to make against Tom in that he's won two immunities in a row, so I agree that her mental game will now have to kick in, assuming neither she nor Tom win immunity next week.

2:56 PM  

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