Boy, I don’t know. On last night’s Survivor, it looked a lot like Stephenie was going home. But at Tribal Council, Jeff led them on a merry question and answer chase that ended up with Janu laying down her torch (quitting) and Stephenie living to see another day.
I don’t quibble with the result. Stephenie is far more entertaining than Janu. She’s plucky, which goes a long way towards winning over television viewers. She clearly deserves to be there, whereas Janu clearly does not, even with her “one with the beach bonfire” solo adventure.
But Probst’s leading questions, ending with his mention to Janu that she could serve on the jury, even though she quit–where was such magnanimity when Osten quit a couple of seasons ago? Jeff just about kicked him in the butt on the way out, and ignominiously tossed his torch down on the ground. Janu’s torch he did lay down, but not with the venom he reserved for Survivor’s first quitter.
It leads you to believe that the producers had a hand in the decision last night. I don’t think they would have gone as far as to mandate Janu quit (or rather, mandate that Stephenie not be voted off), but Jeff easily led Janu to that conclusion.
If I were Greg (quoted last night and in the previews for next week as fearing Stephenie’s prowess) I would be royally pissed at Probst.
Still, I think it has only put off the inevitable. Stephenie is much like Rupert: charming, fierce competitor, fan-favorite, but dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to strategy. She can outlast any of them, possibly even uber-fireman Tom given the right challenge, but she couldn’t outwit her way out of a wet paper bag. The previews suggested that she’ll try next week, cozying up to the women to vote a man off, and it may work once or twice (Tom must loom as an awesome threat to anyone with a brain), but I think it will ultimately be in vain. The alpha-males see her as a threat, and the women can’t help but see her as a threat, too. Jen is jealous of her, Katie is worried she’s next to go, and Karen is a snake in the grass just waiting to strike.
Alas, poor Stephenie, we actually knew ye pretty well. The producers are in a bind, because with her tribe starring in “Can’t Win Survivor for Trying” she’s emerged as the star this season. I guess I can’t blame them for doing whatever they can to keep her around as long as possible.