Thursday, May 12, 2005

'"Survivor'': Did Caryn's Palau-ver Cost Her?

Northeast Ohio's representatives on reality shows must be starting to feel like sports teams in recent decades. They can hope to get close to the title, but not win it all.
Last week, Scott Savol of Shaker Heights finished his ''American Idol'' run with fifth place. Tonight, Caryn Groedel of Solon finished fifth on ''Survivor: Palau.'' For Groedel, the ouster must have been tough -- and not just because she has looked horrible on the challenges.
First, the final four on ''Survivor'' was a big deal because all four go to the season's biggest episode, the finale on Sunday night.
Second, Caryn had to wonder if she talked herself off the show with that let's-air-all-the-dirty-laundry monologue during tribal council.
My guess -- and it's purely a guess -- is that the talking didn't cost her much.
She didn't make friends, to be sure. She may have swung Jenn's vote against her with the scorched-earth talk, but that would still have left her at the short end of a 3-2 vote instead of 4-1.
It's likely that Katie would have turned on Caryn under any circumstances. We saw a week ago that Katie will forget old deals whenever a new deal looks better. (And Caryn's jury vote looks pretty interesting, since she has been betrayed right and left -- and may just have to decide who betrayed her the most.)
Besides, Tom or Ian figures to dominate the remaining immunity challenges, so even if Katie worked with Caryn and Jenn in taking out Ian, they had to face the prospect of turning on each other in a week if Tom won immunity again.
This way, she at least has a shot at staying close to Tom and Ian and going to the top three. Then, if I'm Tom or Ian, I want to take Katie with me to the finals, since the jurors may look at me as a good game-player and Katie as just plain nasty.
So at this point, Katie remains pretty smart when it comes to self-preservation. And since Jenn also turned against Caryn, any attempt at a women's alliance looks way too fragile.
But why can't women's alliances work on this show? One that was firmly in control of ''Survivor: Vanuatu'' collapsed so thoroughly that a man ended up winning. The women on ''Palau'' have had two obvious chances to take control of the game and have sacrificed one of their own each time.
You can look at ''The Apprentice'' and see that the final two contestants are both women. On ''American Idol,'' two of the last three contenders are women -- in a season where, when it was six men and six women, it looked as if the men were collectively much stronger than the women.
Yes, I know those are different kinds of games. But they're demonstrating some women power, while ''Survivor'' is still about every woman -- and man -- for himself.

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