Author Topic: Lex Speaks Out on this Season's Survivors  (Read 2100 times)

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Offline Blue Jean Baby

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Lex Speaks Out on this Season's Survivors
« on: October 31, 2004, 08:46:58 PM »
Has this been posted yet?

This article (taken from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10-24-04) is rather interesting!

Lex van den Berghe: The Skinny

‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ is half over, but the game is just starting

I’m baaaack!

A month has passed, and I’ve clocked more than a few thousand miles on my frequent flyer plan. And what a month it’s been. The standout highlight was definitely my trip to the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu, host country to this season’s "Survivor."

And so I watched this week’s episode with an extra measure of nostalgic melancholy, already missing these extraordinary islands just days after returning home.

I was relieved to see the action and drama in Vanuatu finally heating up. After all, with nearly half the season already over, it was high time for the show to hit its stride. If you ask me, "Survivor: Vanuatu" so far had barely sputtered to a start, and I blame gender-based tribal division in part for the show’s lackluster entertainment value thus far.

But now that boys versus girls has become boys meet girls, mouths are flapping, drama’s brewing and the game is officially ON.

Aside from the final couple of episodes, when drama hits a fevered pitch and storylines get set to crescendo, I enjoy this part of the "Survivor" season more than any other.

Nearly three weeks into the game (real-time) the players begin to succumb to starvation, fatigue and paranoia, and as conditions get more extreme, the veneer of propriety peels away, and they start dropping their game faces.

This is when we really start getting to know the characters, and can begin to flesh out their motivations, strategies and personalities. We’re down to just 11 players now and can finally get a sense of who’s who.

This is also about the time that we get a glimpse at who the real power-brokers might be and what everyone’s place is in the game. As I see it, there are power-players and there are pawns, and the beautiful thing about "Survivor" is that both have a pretty even shot at going all the way.

Let’s run down the list of players still standing, and I’ll make my call on who I think is really driving the game and who is being played by the game.

On the Lopevi tribe
LEA (A.K.A. SARGE): Lopevi’s gruff self-proclaimed and self-assured figurehead, Sarge is true to form (he’s a real-life drill sergeant) and has no problem barking orders to his tribe mates. As the obvious leader, his head is always on the block, but his spot seems secure for now, as he’s cemented his place in one of the games most solid alliances (with Chad and Chris). My only regret is that with the recent tribe switch he lost his Gomer Pyle (Rory), and we may not get to hear a rousing chorus of "Move it, move it, move it!" Sarge is a POWER-PLAYER with a target on his back.

CHRIS: The low-profile member of Lopevi’s power trio, Chris seems to follow Sarge’s lead whenever he comes to a fork in the road. He’s eager to please, unfailingly loyal, and does as he’s told, which makes him a very valuable PAWN.

CHAD: We haven’t seen much of our local boy Chad in action yet, but something tells me there’s a lot we’re not seeing. On those few occasions that Chad’s been featured, he’s seemed comfortable voicing his opinion without hesitation. There’s something deliberate and purposeful about his game play, and I doubt this guy’s a waffler. Chad’s been consistently strong in all challenges without appearing as a threat, and for him this could prove essential. I mean c’’d have to be crazy not to see the obvious threat in the positive-minded, cancer-survivor/amputee who can do it all. This is definitely NOT the guy you want sitting next to you in the final two.

He’s made a very shrewd move in locking a spot in Lopevi’s power trio ... it could be his ticket to the end. Since we haven’t seen hard evidence yet that Chad’s playing a hard-core game, but we have seen hints, I’ll call him the WILD CARD.

JOHN: Poor John, never had much of a chance to realize his potential in this game. When his early alliance of young’uns were wiped out one by one, he became virtually emasculated. He now continues to survive thanks to immunity challenge victories, but unless he can cook up one hell of a Hail Mary pass, he’ll soon exit this game a PAWN.

TWILA: This homespun highway repair girl from Missouri takes no crap from no one and always speaks her mind, for better or worse. Her unapologetic abrasiveness rubs some folks the wrong way, but her no-nonsense style has gotten her "in" with Sarge, resulting in a valuable invitation to join Lopevi’s all-male power trio. She’s now secured a stake in both Lopevi and Yasur alliances, making her a POWER PLAYER.

JULIE: Julie has worked this game without climbing into the driver’s seat. And although she’s been careful to avoid the alpha role, she’s never let the game play her. When she found herself switched to a new tribe with only one of her Yasur girlfriends, she did anything but lie down and die. Well OK, she did lie down — naked — and turned the tribal male majority to her possible advantage by playing on their carnal instincts. This makes her a POWER PAWN.

On the Yasur tribe
AMI: Yasur’s undisputed Alpha-Grrrl, Ami is playing a hard-core, balls-to-the-wall power game. There’s nothing subtle or sneaky in her attack — it’s full-frontal and in-your-face. She does what she wants, when she wants to, and you’d better hop on board or get out of her way, making Ami this game’s ultimate POWER PLAYER.

SCOUT: Like Chad, Scout’s another player that I suspect is moving and shaking a lot more than we’re seeing. Perhaps her approach is a bit understated, but I’m pretty sure she’s got a veritable bag of tricks up her sleeve. She seems to be in nearly everyone’s good graces, and commands respect with both young and old. If she makes the merge, I think this WILD CARD will go very far.

ELIZA: There’s not a lot of grace or style in Eliza’s playing style or personality, but you’ve got to admit this one’s a pistol. Unashamed and unapologetic about spouting off, it’s a wonder she’s still in the game. But crafty maneuvering and a knack for last minute scrambling has kept this endangered POWER PLAYER in the game.

LEANN: Poor Leann seems to be in a pickle just like John. Since the very start, she’s been the odd-girl-out, and doesn’t seem to have made any strong relationships in the game (a deadly sin for sure). She’s going to have to find someone to hook her wagon to, and soon. Leann does seem to be a firecracker, but as long as she keeps the fire at bay, she’ll be a PAWN.

RORY: Like it or not, Rory knows that in the Yasur tribe, he’s nothing more than a puppet with a limited shelf life. His stock did go up slightly this week, as he seemed to be in the loop with the voting majority at tribal council. The girls could’ve left him in the dark about who was getting the boot, but instead they let him in on the deal. And Rory knows the value of inclusion, even if he’s being played — better to be a PAWN in this game than all alone.

When so many challenges lately have seemed like thinly veiled clones recycled from seasons past, both the reward and immunity challenges this week were fresh and top shelf.

The reward challenge had each tribe chasing crazed pint-sized pigs in muddy sties. The first tribe to capture 10 pigs won steak and eggs. The action was pure hilarity as both piglets and players mud-wrestled and squealed like lunatics. Eliza was the only player to catch no pigs, giving up early because she didn’t want to get dirty, and Lopevi slayed Yasur, 10 pigs to five.

The immunity challenge was an elaborate and gnarly water obstacle relay course that tested players’ speed, stamina and swimming skills. Leann, who was Yasur’s third player to swim the course, got stuck in the underwater portion and ended up losing the challenge for her team.

Tribal council this week was particularly delicious and exposed just how much power and sway Ami has over her tribe. In a strange last-minute twist, an unintentional slip of the tongue from Lisa shortly before tribal council ended up costing her the whole game.

As Ami was leaving camp to go find manioc for their next meal, Lisa chimed in "Can I go with you, just in case ..." At which point Ami assumed Lisa was going to finish, "just in case you’re voted out" (since I don’t know where the manioc grows).

Ami’s vengeance (or damage control) was swift and extreme. Lisa was gone hours later. What seemed to be nothing more than a grudge boot, did reveal the extent of Ami’s control over the tribe’s voting decisions. In no time flat, Ami had managed to convince nearly all the women of Yasur (Scout excluded) to vote against one of their own based on her suspicion that Lisa was not a 100 percent loyal.

No doubt about it ... in Vanuatu, game is definitely ON.

Offline RudyRules

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Re: Lex Speaks Out on this Season's Survivors
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2004, 01:19:35 AM »
Great article, t!  Thanks! ^:)^

I'm gonna re-read it again later & make more comment.  Need to hit the sack now! :)ZZZ:)

Offline puddin

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Re: Lex Speaks Out on this Season's Survivors
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2004, 05:25:17 PM »
November 7, 2004

Lex van den Berghe: The Skinny
‘Survivor’ is a battle of the sexes
"Survivor: Vanuatu" started as a battle of the sexes, and it looks like it may very well end up that way.
The two tribes merged into one this week, and tribal council left no doubt in anyone’s minds that old alliances still ran deep. Votes were split straight down the gender line and since the girls outnumbered the guys six to four, the ranks of men-folk shrank yet again. And then there were three.

Wow ... unless the boys manage to make a serious Hail Mary pass, we may actually get to see the first season of "Survivor" ever to end with a single-gender Final Four.

Let’s rewind.

This week’s episode opened with scenes of obvious and deliberate maneuvering by Julie, who felt no shame in using her natural-born gifts to buy herself more time in the game. She was, after all, a girl in a guy’s tribe, and at the time, she had no idea that her current predicament would soon flip 180 degrees.

I have to say, the women of this game so far have shown resourcefulness and resolve that none of the boys could muster in a pinch. When faced with a crisis, the girls consistently dodge, jockey and regroup with impressive dexterity, while the guys just stick to their guns in bulldog fashion.

And in this game you’ve got to adapt to survive.

Julie worked it ... and hard. She brazenly cozied up to Sarge by the fire and then upped the ante by sunbathing next to him buck-naked. I had to laugh out loud when she talked Sarge into following suit.

Sarge showed us how cosmopolitan he can be by pulling his shorts down halfway past his butt and proclaiming, "I’m comfortable with this ... I’ve been in Europe."

The big news this week was delivered at the immunity challenge. Jeff Probst officially announced the merge, signaling the formation of one tribe and the switch in the game from team play to everyone for him(her)self.

Following the first individual immunity challenge, which Sarge won decisively, it was interesting to see everyone’s reactions to the merge.

The boys immediately started scrambling and strategizing, while the girls just chilled out. It said so much about where the game was going, and where everybody’s head was. Reunited and still united, the women knew they had it made.

Chad, Chris and Sarge had all but surrendered like puppy dogs to the two girls who’d worked their magic and spun their webs during those few short days with Lopevi.

In Twila they saw a kindred spirit, more a brother than a sister, and in Julie they saw ... well, a hot chick. But in both of them they entrusted their very survival in the game. At only four-strong, the guys had no choice.

When Rory was jettisoned from the island in a unanimous female decision, none of the men saw it coming.

The look on Chad’s face when Probst snuffed out Rory’s torch was an easy read. It said, "Oh god ... I’ve been played." And he must’ve had a sick feeling in his stomach as he remembered the words he’d uttered only hours earlier to Twila, "Survivor is a numbers game. It’s simple math."

Chad must’ve realized at this point that simple math meant certain doom for the boys.

But let’s not forget that historically on "Survivor," women sometimes turn on each other and seem to have the toughest time trusting one other.

The man in this game who can spot this opportunity when it presents itself and exploit it properly, may find himself reborn and on solid ground again.

The other guys will just have to win immunity EVERY time if they want to stick around.

That said, I have to take a moment to give props to Ami for playing an unapologetically hard-core, and frankly smart, game of "Survivor."

Obviously I know from experience that we can’t possible see or know everything that’s going on out there from the one hour a week we’re privy to. But, from a viewer’s perspective, you can’t deny that Ami has played a brilliant game so far.

She’s obviously comfortable in the driver’s seat, and all of her girls seem to have her back (not one of them has ever voted for Ami in tribal council). She’s made most of the big decisions and ballsy moves in this game, and she’s a player you could never accuse of flying under the radar.

Having worked so hard to go far in the game and with what seem to be good friends, or at least allies, in her girls, she’s set herself up as the perfect final two candidate. It’ll be interesting to see if she makes it that far. Odds are she’ll make final four, maybe three, but it often seems that power players are ousted just short of reaching the final two.

Well, with the merge behind us, "Survivor Vanuatu" is now well past the halfway point, and the action should really start kicking in. Only half a dozen episodes before we find out who comes out Vanuatu’s top dog.

By the way, I have to ask ‘cuz it’s killing me. Were any of you wondering how in the hell these folks got the coffee maker to brew coffee? Where’d they find the power outlet? Do you think they had to unplug their coconut phone first?  :)*

Contact Lex van den Berghe at

Offline WENDY

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Re: Lex Speaks Out on this Season's Survivors
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2004, 07:27:51 PM »
If I were Lex, I'd be bitter much too. ^:)^
Wendy Jean