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ANALYSIS, SPECULATIONS AND PREDICTIONS
contributed by Jeff Schoch

Three contestants stand out to me as I mentally review Episode 2 of Survivor Thailand. They are Jed Hildebrand, Jan Gentry and Brian Heidik. Jed is darker than I imagined; Jan is dimmer; and Brian is just downplayed. Whether it's part of their strategies, part of Mark Burnett's editing or a combination of both, it's clear to me these are three to keep an eye
on.

There seems to be an almost certain deliberate irony in showing Jed at first to be alienated from his team only to have him come back later as team savior. In week one, he took flak because he was trying to catch fish (something, by the way, that should have been applauded), while everybody else was working on shelter. He came back, however, the hero when his puzzle-solving abilities won his team a come-from-behind right to hold the immunity idol. In week two, he took more abuse for sleeping outside the shelter and
passing on dinner, but nobody was complaining when he bailed out Penny and his team by completing an extra leg in the swimming competition that once again earned Sook Jai immunity. It's clear that Jed is fiercely competitive, but what's not clear is what Burnett wants us to believe about him. I'm guessing we haven't seen the full picture of who Jed is.
His bio tells us he's a dental student who has done missionary work in Cambodia and other places. We may have seen a hint of compassion from him in week one when he offered comfort to Shii Ann after her run-in with Robb. I suspect more of that will come out as the show unfolds. I'm also waiting to see his fun side. After all, he brought a Frisbee as his luxury item. Though I still don't think Jed will win, I believe he'll be around at least until the merge.

Then there's Jan. Sweet, quivering lips Jan. She shows us (and Burnett happily capitalizes on it) all the traits that make for a contestant's early exit. She comes off as weak, inept and lazy. But I'm not buying it. In week one, she wept as she told us she's not a leader and was afraid. She seemingly picked a team that as a whole lacks youth and physical
strength, and her selections raised eyebrows. At the first tribal council, she cried again at John's departure (even though she voted for him). In week two, she seemed content to let Helen do all the work when they went for water. The camera shot of an exhausted, water-lugging Helen returning to the boat to find Jan outstretched in a dead man's float was priceless. And it further planted the seed that Jan's not much of a contributor. In the immunity challenge, Jan had trouble getting her flower unhooked, and Burnett made a point of showing us a later scene where she is asked to explain what happened. Her tribe is already down two players, making it seem like Jan picked a weak team. Like Jed, there's much about Jan we haven't seen, and I stand by my prediction that she makes the final four and could win it all.

And what about Brian? If anybody is playing under the radar, it's him. Of all the contestants, he drew the most pre-show publicity, most of which will not be revealed
during the show. His job as a used-car salesman almost certainly will come into play in his strategy.Though his "it's all about love" speech at the first tribal council was a bit over the top in the ?ag us? department, he generally come across as just a nice guy (big brother to Tanya, song leader for Helen's anniversary gala). While he might be that nice guy, I'm guessing there's much about him we haven't seen. He's already told us he's there on a "business trip." I think he means it. He's still my pick for final four and likely the runner-up.

What else can I say about last week's episode? Ghandia apparently has a short-term memory problem. She voted this week for Helen to leave because she felt that Helen couldn't handle the pressure. How hysterical is that, from the one who just a few days earlier (during week one) single-handedly lost immunity for her tribe when she panicked
under pressure? More irony, I suppose, but in her I believe we're getting a very real picture of who she is: an overbearing loudmouth trying to overcompensate for ineptitude. She should have been gone after week one. She will be gone the next time Chuay Gahn loses.
The departure of Tanya Vance (which, by the way, I stood alone in predicting in our pool at work last week) was clearly an act of mercy.

In her interview Friday on "The Early Show," she said he would have voted for herself if that were permitted. What amazed me most about that interview, though, was that nobody on
the CBS morning show mentioned the death of Tanya's father, which reportedly occurred during the final days of taping of "Survivor Thailand." There was much pre-show publicity about his death and what it might mean for her chances on the show. The on-air personalities were either completely uninformed of this fact or just content to talk repeatedly about how sick she got.

The tension between Robb and Shii Ann seemed to have cooled last week, although neither got much air time. That should change this week, and one of them will likely get the boot if the Sook Jais lose immunity.

(Feel free to send comments or thoughts to me at schoch@vindy.com)

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