In a farewell letter to a great ''Survivor'' villain, our correspondent expresses his gratitude to Jonathan for saving the season

By Dalton Ross
Updated December 27, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

”Survivor”: Sympathy for the devil

Dear Jonathan,

I just want to take time out from this busy season of Survivor to say thanks. Thanks for everything. Because honestly, it looked like this season was shaping up to be a real stinkeroo. And then you and Candice stepped off your mat and mutinied, completely turning the game on its head. Then you flipped again, and went back to the Aitu fearsome foursome, becoming, in your own words, the only person to backstab every single person in the game. Many viewers hated you for it, but loved you at the same time for adding some good old-fashioned vim and vigor to the proceedings. You are now gone, voted out by all those people you turned on at one point or another, but you will not be forgotten.

I knew you were something special before the game even started. I recall sitting on the plane to the Cook Islands, and you wanted to talk to me about my Sarah Lawrence College T-shirt. Turns out you went there too, as did some random woman seated across the aisle, as did TV Guide Channel producer Paul Adler, making four SLC grads on the same plane — quite an achievement for a school with an enrollment of under a thousand. An even bigger achievement considering three of the four people were male, the exact opposite of the female-heavy SLC ratio. Whatever. I’m rambling. The point is, you weren’t gonna let any stupid gag order silence you.

You started the game by stealing another tribe’s chickens, insisted on wearing a very silly hat — even sillier than Probst’s Guatemala getup — and took some sort of odd pleasure in hanging fish from your crotch. Look, I know 33 days is a long time and you missed your wife, Stacy, dearly, but that was just plain creepy.

But let’s take a look now at your final few days. The first blood spilled in this episode was not yours but rather Parvati’s, after the sexy brunette sliced open the nail on her left thumb. That was nasty, and you admirably refrained from puking all over Survivor doctor Ado Cohen as he stitched her up. Good thing you left the fish at home during the reward challenge, because all of a sudden — out popped Stacy! (Don’t want her to get jealous or anything.) I suppose it was heartwarming seeing you and the others reunited with your loved ones, but truth be told, I was too busy wondering if Yul had morphed into the Incredible Hulk when I saw him busting out of his ripped green shirt. (Of course, the Hulk only starts busting out of things when he’s angry — an emotion I’m not quite sure RoboSurvivor III (Tom Westman and Terry Dietz being the first two incarnations) is even capable of experiencing.) I did like the way your wife and Ozzy’s mom, Gina, acted like they were competing in a wet T-shirt contest. Apparently, so did you, which explains why you started sucking face with Stacy before heading to Exile Island. (Great, now the fish are jealous.)

Ultimately this was your undoing — being sent to Exile, not sucking face with your wife, although there does seem to be some sort of kissing curse going on this season. You were isolated, cut off from solidifying your place among the others. First, Parvati and Adam went to work on Sundra during the reward, and then they made their smartest…okay, their only smart move of the game in bringing back food for Ozzy, Yul, and Becky. Ozzy said he ”didn’t want to feed people to beat me,” but he and the others seemed to change their mind about hiding food after being served some chicken, corn, and meatloaf.

You could have saved your hide by winning immunity, but how could you have known it would be one of the most brutal challenges ever? Sure, it seemed easy enough — walk over a few planks and barrels to get some poles, and then grab a few rings — but with all the slipping and sliding, you all looked completely drunk. Punch drunk, perhaps. Poor Sundra was getting hit harder than she did in that catfight she had with Kim Cattrall on Sex and the City back in the day.

After the challenge, Jeff asked if anyone felt in danger of going home. You declined to raise your hand, but the fix seemed in. Back at camp, nobody would even talk or look at you. You were right about Sundra and Becky — they are horrible liars. In perhaps the most unconvincing fib in Survivor history, they told you it was Adam, not you, on the chopping block. You’re pretty good at the whole deception thing, so this seemed to hurt you the most. Not being lied to, but being lied to so damn poorly.

Then came tribal council. Jeff asked Ozzy if it was nice not having you around camp, and he shockingly said ”sure.” (Certainly can’t blame him for lying!) At this point, you probably had a good idea it was you, as did we. You also probably realized that even if you stuck around, you didn’t stand a chance in hell of winning the million dollars anyway, as did we. I can’t say I wanted you to win, as my frightening man crush on Yul has been well documented. But this season would not have been the same without you. You didn’t come to make friends (unless, perhaps, they went to Sarah Lawrence), and you didn’t come to have an ”experience.” No, you came to win, and you did whatever you thought was the right move to get yourself that much closer to the end. I can respect that — for a man who hangs fish from his crotch.


Dalton Ross