Piranha Report (Day 9)
Chick Dig Guys With Big Machetes

The Piranha Report is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the Jaburu and Tambaqui tribes during their stay in the Amazon. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling?

This week the maneuvering began early and often, as nearly every participant left in the game began to make their moves, assess whom to trust, and decide who should be sent to loser lodge to rust.

Tambaqui

The men are self-destructing in a remarkably embarrassing manner. These guys have been on the island a week, have spent maybe a couple hours total in the company of the ladies of Jaburu, but somehow they have collectively decided to throw their chances at a million dollars away, for the off chance that a low rank television reporter / even lower rank swimsuit model from Pittsburgh might remember their name more than five minutes after the show ends.

Worse still, they have completely blown their window of opportunity. The ladies were in domestic disarray for the first several days. The guys needed to take advantage of that. Now, it is the ladies who are eating well, while the pangs of hunger echo throughout the Tambaqui tribe.

Pathetic is not a strong enough word for this group. Nevertheless, in between magic eight-ball fantasies about a gym teacher from the Midwest, this group has been playing the game, and I suspect that at least one of them is playing quite well.

Leaders

Roger survived yet another challenge to his leadership. I wonder if he knows just how precarious his position in the tribe currently is. It seems that his gambit to discredit Daniel worked to perfection. However, how many more tribe members can he slander to keep himself alive? He is collecting quite a few votes, and I have to think that it is he who is on the hot seat.

The other problem for Roger is that he is the leader only because other tribe members are allowing him to do so, and that makes him a puppet. I am beginning to wonder if a couple of those tribe members have sound reasons for doing so, as so far, two players who may have been post-merge threats are gone, yet Roger remains, and I don’t think he would last long on his own.

There were no motivational speeches from Dave this week. He did claim to be surprised that everyone else is playing the game, whereas he was worried about survival. I am a bit skeptical of that assertion, as he was playing the game in week one, and he continues to keep himself in an influential role. It is too early to tell for certain, but I suspect that Dave is in cahoots with the real master manipulator.

Nothing but a Schemer

Rob continues to scheme, but as we suspected, his little global-domination-computer-geek-wins-over-the-fair-maiden-while-conning-his-opponents-master-plan has already been uncovered. He just doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct necessary to pull it off, and what is worse, he is very easily distracted whenever the ladies are around.

I know that his plan involved coming across as bumbling oaf, and he is doing quite well on the execution of that part of his plan. Unless Rob has another layer to his strategy, he is going to be in real trouble, as no one is going to trust him, and it is only a matter of time before Joanna finds out about the magic 8-ball and condemns it as a false idol.

King of the Rainforest

Alex is playing brilliantly so far. He has established himself with all of his tribe-mates, and I believe that he may well be the true power behind the throne. Alex showed support for Dave early on (during the motivational speech where he scolded the tribe for lying about catching fish), and I have a feeling, not substantiated at all though, that Dave and Alex have an alliance.

As we predicted last week, his blow up with Roger was merely MB tease editing, and as long as Roger keeps taking down acceptable members of the tribe, Alex will allow it to happen. Make no mistake though, it is clear that Alex controls the voting blocs, the only question is, did he perhaps show too much of his hand in the last vote?

Trying to Keep Their Heads Down

Matthew is trying to play under the radar, but his friends are getting picked off one by one. I continue to wonder what Matthew’s strategy is. He is clearly intelligent, so perhaps he just made a poor early decision in allying with Ryan and Dan. I was going to put him on the hot seat this week, but the preview information tries a little too hard to get us to believe that he is next to go, and while MB is definitely getting sloppier with each passing Survivor, I am not convinced that he is that careless yet.

Butch seems to have backed off from a leadership role since his poor showing in the week two reward challenge. This is probably a good strategy for him right now, as aside from offering safety tips on the use of machetes, he is not responsible for any vital function in the tribe, and if they continue to lose immunity challenges, his name is going to come up sometime before Alex, Dave, and Rob.

Jaburu

The ladies also have a lot of maneuvering going on, including a machiavellian plot that may well have backfired. Most importantly though, Jaburu got their act together thanks to the reluctant, but effective, leadership of Deena.

The Leader

Deena was masterful this episode. I don’t know if she saw through Jeanne and Joanna’s plan to make her the leader, hoping that she would blow up, but I suspect she did. Deena turned the tables by getting the tribe to agree on her position, and in fact to ask her to do the delegating. In effect, she defused their future resentment. We had an excellent example of the effectiveness of approach when Shawna commented on how Deena was bossy, but that they all had agreed that they needed her to be bossy for the good of the tribe.

The thing that Joanna and Jeanne probably haven’t taken into account about Deena is that she is a prosecutor. In that capacity, she spends her days making judgment calls on whom to trust, who is lying and why, and of course, who to prosecute. She has seen all kinds of human behavior, and I suspect that you have to be pretty slick to get something by her -- or at least a lot slicker that Jeanne and Joanna. Unless she missteps in a major way, her position seems very secure up to the merge.

False Leaders

Joanna continues to set a good example for Jaburu in terms of work ethic and athletic ability. One wonders though if her strong belief system will begin to get on the nerves of her tribe mates. I also note that MB has often made it a point to cast people with strong faith in the show, and then to show as much of that behavior as possible. I am sure that Pappy disappointed him, while Joanna is making up for lost time, and then some. Really though, aside from a couple of comments, there isn’t any evidence that anyone is scheming against Joanna, and that perhaps this topic is just another MB red herring.

Jeanne continues to manipulate things at every turn. Her behavior seems quite obvious on the edited version of the show we see, but what about her tribe mates? There is some evidence that they don’t see it at all.

For example, Jeanne claims to have schemed with Joanna to nominate Deena as leader, and we know they didn’t have good intentions in mind. Why would Joanna work with someone who set up a conflict between herself and Christy? It seems that Joanna didn’t see that side of Jeanne. With the Deena plan backfiring as of now, I suspect that Jeanne’s position in the tribe is a little more precarious than it could have been. Her redeeming quality is catching big fish, and that should keep her around.

Looking to Solidify Their Shot at a Maxim Photoshoot

Heidi, Shawna, and Jenna have some kind of alliance, but I am not sure that they understand math. Alienating themselves from four other members of the tribe is not good strategy, and I am guessing that while MB would undoubtedly like to give them extra votes for their ‘assets’ he wouldn’t get away with it. It is difficult to say what their plans are, either as a group, or individually.

Jenna’s plan before arriving in the Amazon was to use her “womanly” gifts to manipulate the men. I remember laughing out loud at that assertion, and looking forward to her early exit in a tribe of women. It seems now though that the laugh is on me. Not only does her plan still work, it may well be working better than it would have in a mixed tribe. Even Shawna and Heidi have noticed the effect, and began their own round of flirting with the men.

I am not convinced that any of them are in danger, though I don’t see any of them demonstrating a plan that will carry them to the end of the game. That could mean very good things, or simply that they have no plan at all. It is too early to tell.

Still On the Hot Seat

Christy remains on the hot seat, but only by default. She had a much stronger week compared to the tribulations she endured in week two. I enjoyed watching her sense of humor throughout the episode, and she responded well to Deena’s delegation. Christy just needs more time to come into here own, and for the faults of the others to come to the forefront.

Nevertheless she remains in danger, as she may not have that much time. Her only real ally at this point appears to be Jeanne. Based on what we have seen, Jeanne is probably not the best teammate to rely on, as I think she would sell out her mother for a vote. Christy needs to spend more time with the other ladies of the tribe, and while I agree with her mocking of the younger women, she has a unique opportunity to set herself up as the swing vote in the coming conflict. If only she will get that chance.

I Guess That Didn’t Work

Daniel, we hardly knew ye.

Like your alliance buddy Ryan, you correctly surmised that it was you against Roger at tribal council, but once again you could not build a majority. Unfortunately for you, I would guess that some of those votes against you would be different if the voters had the chance to see tapes of Roger in action.

You did try to help out Matthew (according to your post-eviction chat) by telling him to vote for you when it became obvious the battle was lost. At the same time though you stabbed him with your reference to the private conversations. We’ll have to see what impact that parting shot had.

Your comments are welcome. Email bill@fansofrealitytv.com