Welcome back, Mole friends. We’re nearing the end of the season and running out of suspects. Last weekend it was raining when I wanted to be out doing yardwork so I didn’t something I don’t usually do: re-watch old episodes looking for clues. And I found something that made me change my mind. I almost went online and posted the many intricate details of my fabulous “findings” in the speculation forum, but then I realized – I have to write a column after next Monday’s episode, so I’ll keep it under my hat for a couple days. How Moley of me! Actually I saw something in the first couple of episodes, and then it sort of stopped, so I became less “sure” than I was after re-watching the first 4 episodes . . . isn’t that the way it goes.

Then I watched Monday’s episode and my main suspect from much of the season, Clay was eliminated. I wasn’t shocked. Disappointed, because I was hoping to bask in the glory of great internet website reality show prognostication by having Clay picked since before the series started, but not shocked because I had moved my suspicions to Craig last weekend while watching tapes.

In final episodes of prior seasons, we’ve been treated to a clip montage of the Mole carrying out their acts of sabotage. When I was re-watching the old episodes, I was focusing on my top two suspects: Clay and Craig. I was trying to see which one the producers aired showing examples of Moley behavior. I noticed a number of scenes which looked like they were planned for the final reveal of Craig as the Mole, but didn’t really see such scenes for Clay.

Slike of Hand

In the first episode, we are shown a clip of Craig kicking the sand during the Robinson Caruso challenge. It didn’t stick out to me at the time, but Jon later explained that the “Scavengers” group (which included both Craig and Clay) were “unable” to locate two of the five items needed to get all of the cash for that challenge. They showed us the tea kettle which was visible in the rocks, and then mentioned that the tobacco tin “was around somewhere”. I remember speculating after that episode that the Mole may have buried that tin. I think the shot of Craig kicking at the sand was a shot that will come back to indicate that he hid the tobacco tin from the other Scavengers to keep money out of the pot.

In that scene we also see Craig’s attempts to use “humor” as a deflection away from his sabotage. As Mark pointed out, Craig “wasted time” when he should have been scavenging and finding the tobacco and tea pot by bringing over the enormous “Welcome To The Mole” sign. Craig’s efforts to use humor as a deflection away from his sabotage is a recurring theme, including when he claimed “sense of humor” in picking impossible (and yes, funny) modes of transportation, earning himself an exemption but costing the pot a possible $30,000.

Wrong Way Mole

In the second episode, we are treated to multiple airings of Craig kicking the soccer ball into the wrong goal. I certainly didn’t view this as sabotage at the time because it did not hurt their chances in the challenge to have goals scored against them (and plenty of others were doing far worse in the soccer challenge). However the way it was filmed, and then replayed in black and white as a reminder of his Roy Reigels moment made me think that it will re-appear in the finale when showing Craig’s Moley game plan.

Also in the second episode we get to see Craig and Liz volunteering themselves to be on the Uphill Battle team. Everyone else thought that was a terrible idea because they were far from the most athletic contestants. If he had his choice, Craig would have been in a position to not only cost the pot $35,000 that Mark and Kristen did, but also additional money coming out of their previous winning by taking the cab ride.

Craig deflected suspicion in episode 2 by “rescuing” the flying pigs challenge by stepping in with his three-person slingshot skills. Why would the Mole step forward with these skills when he could sit back and watch Alex pelt piggy banks into the ground? Perhaps he did that because the group had so far that episode not banked any money for the pot whatsoever. I certainly gained him respect and a level of trust by his competitors (and the viewers). Please note that his team (with Bobby pushed in a wheelbarrow by Kristen) found exactly zero pigs for that challenge.

Sabotage, or Dinner?

In the Fruit of the Luge challenge in Episode 3, everyone focused on Nicole and Alex’ suspicious behavior of naming two apples in a row. Craig was not blindfolded and kept talking to Victoria long after their luge had stopped, costing the pot $10,000. This clip may show up again, as Craig was in a position to know well before they were at the end of the track that they needed to stop talking.

Any thoughts of Craig as the Mole after the luge challenge were quickly forgotten (by me, anyway) when Craig almost single-handedly found the dry cleaners that had their clothes so that Bobby, Nicole and Craig could show up at the restaurant in their own stylish clothes. When I watched the replay, there is a shot of Craig specifically looking at the card with the restaurant’s address. If Craig is the Mole, did he know that the address for the dry cleaner (and their clothes) was on the card? He was staring rather intently at the card, perhaps trying to read the Roman numerals in small print at the bottom. Craig as the Mole wants to cost the pot money, but Craig as a human being also wants to eat dinner. He drew suspicion away from himself and got a decent meal (and got to wear his own clothes sooner). He had also lowered expectations of himself in this challenge by pointing out (again, with humor) that “no-one in Santiago is my size” so that people wouldn’t have been disappointed with Craig even if he had failed. Very sneaky, Mr. Slike.

The Producers Also End Up in the Emergency Room

Episode 4 is a tough one for me to judge because Craig got hypothermia and spent time in an ambulance and with medical staff. I do not doubt that he was genuinely experiencing altitude sickness and hypothermia after seeing his face while climbing the mountain. He showed a lot of heart in making it up while carrying a heavy load of gold bricks. However, Craig made a strange confessional comment that he thought Mark was acting suspicious for leaving behind gold when he picked up the 20 pound scale. Mark is carrying a ton of gold and now a 20 pound scale while leading the charge up a mountain. If this is Craig’s line of thought, how on earth has he stayed in the game? I’m guessing that it’s based on the fact that Craig is the Mole, rather than his quiz results.

One of the main reasons that Craig wasn’t my top suspect before the season started was because I had seen a preview showing Craig in the ambulance. This raised doubts in my mind as to whether Craig would make it to the end of the series and whether the producers would take a chance with him in this crucial role of the series due to his health. Was this ambulance footage part of the promotions merely because it was flashy videos (like the “Mole Angels” video of the ladies walking in their bras and panties), or was it to draw suspicion away from their Mole? I have no doubt that the producers were quite concerned that their whole season was in jeopardy when Craig got sick.

Doctor, I Want You to Check Out This Funny Mole

Craig’s medical issues carried forward into Episode 5 when the group lets him out of the cold first. Craig may be the Mole, but he is also a person and has compassion for his competitors. This “Compassionate Mole” theory was raised by Mark in last Monday’s episode when he mentioned that the Mole didn’t sacrifice anyone’s time with their family for a $10,000 hit to the pot. Craig the Compassionate Mole also wouldn’t strand all of his competitors to spend the night in the cold after they let him out of the locks first.

He did assign them nearly impossible modes of transportation in the next challenge, costing the pot money while earning himself an exemption (again, using humor as a defense). He also very suspiciously just happened to say the word “exemption” first that morning to put himself into the position to be in control of that challenge.

Programmer Seriously Lacking Geek-Skills

Craig’s failure to contribute in the trivia question challenge in Episode 6 was the main turning point for me. I have no doubt that Craig is a computer programmer in real life. I also have no doubt that Craig is genuinely overweight (and is not wearing a fat suit, as has been speculated by some folks on the internet – good grief, could you imagine how badly that suit would stink by now?). I know quite a few computer programmers and most of them have several things in common:
• Love of science fiction, comic books, and online games.
• Bad hairstyles and questionable taste in clothing.
• Highly logical brains that completely rock at trivia questions like the ones asked in that challenge.
Not to say that all programmers are exactly the same, but I re-watched that segment with my hubby, who used to be a computer programmer, and he rocked those questions. This is the same hubby who got me hooked on Battlestar Galactica and wears shorts and t-shirts absolutely everywhere. This failure to contribute was the impetus for my decision to re-watch the season thus far looking for clues of Craig’s Moliness.

Everyone Likes Craig, But No-One Really Trusts Him

There was some funny math going on in last night’s first challenge. The “smart” group of Clay, Mark and Paul managed to get their numbers correct the first time (despite some math disagreements between Clay and Mark with Clay using some of the “new math” in which 7 minus 2 is something other than 5). Craig and Nicole had a tougher task with more numbers to calculate and remember. Nicole was looking rather suspicious when she came back after recounting with a clearly wrong number, but Craig had clearly fed her an incorrect number when they were counting tiles, and Craig was wavering and hesitating when Clay (and I think Mark) were trying to get him to input the final number right before the time ran out.

In last night’s “Who do you trust the most” challenge, Mark and Clay were both picked twice as most trustworthy, wildly erratic Nicole was picked once (and did an awesome job of it), but no-one picked Paul or Craig. Paul has earned his reputation as someone who will do something crazy, like talk to a lemon and yell at someone for no apparent reason other than loving to hear his own voice. Craig, however, seems well liked. Why didn’t anyone pick him, especially after they were doing it out loud in front of everyone? Nicole specifically picked Mark instead of Clay just because she knew that Clay had already been picked twice. Why didn’t she pick Craig if her goal was to spread around the choices? Because Nicole has ruled out Mark as the Mole due to his extreme dedication to many challenges, including last week when Nicole knew that Mark answered most of the logic questions while on the treadmill. Craig is not so trustworthy, doesn’t seem to have a consistent strategy for figuring out who he thinks is the Mole, doesn’t have an alliance, yet he’s still there.

So We Know The Mole, But Who Is Going To Win?

Mark has been right all along by pointing out that everyone applauds Craig’s efforts, even when he fails. That was the case in both the Over the Falls challenge and the Bungee Jump challenge, and Craig wasn’t successful at getting any money into the pot for either challenge. Mark’s downfall, however, may be his speed at answering the quiz questions if he wants to double and triple check his answers in his beloved journal. I’m guessing that Mark is trying to have his information in his head (and not in the journal) when he actually takes the quiz because he knows the importance of speed with the three ties we’ve already had this season, but I’ve never seen a contestant more attached to his journal than Mark. The need to verify may be Mark’s downfall, or his saving grace if he gets more correct answers than anyone else.

Someone tied with Clay last night, but was it Paul or Nicole, I have no clue. I think Paul may be onto Craig, and I’m pretty sure Mark is as well. Nicole had been “playing the odds” at least as recently as Kristen’s elimination, but after watching Craig’s abysmal failure at the Grapes of Cashe challenge, she may be onto him as well. I think it is still anyone’s game, and speed may be the key to victory.

Tune in next week when I need to make the case for a new Mole after Craig is eliminated. (Just kidding, hopefully.)

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