It’s time for another edition of Fan Friction, a series of essays where one of our columnists writes an ode to one of their favorite Survivor players, while defending them against any potential naysayers (both real and imagined). This isn’t a place to be fair and balanced. This is a chance to let your fan freak flag fly. We all knew this one was coming… we might as well get into it.
Why He’s Great
Survivor loves its heroes. It loves its big, beloved crowd pleasers: its Ciries and Cieras, its Cochrans and Colbys. These are the types of folks that Survivor knows are gonna fit the bill for all those casual fans that tune in solely because the almighty TV should be on just after dinner. Someone that they can root for.
The Survivor casting pan frequently turns up a gold nugget. Sometimes it’s a hero, sometimes a villain. You get your Ruperts and you get your Russells. You get your Spradlins and you get your Sandras. But sometimes something goofy happens when casting is panning for gold.
Sometimes it turns up a gem like Rodney Lavoie Jr.
Please, don’t get me wrong. Rodney is not a great player of this game. I will concede that right now. He wasn’t a goat by any means, but he is most assuredly not going to be in the Survivor Hall of Fame. But aside from maybe Jeremy Collins, Rodney is probably the greatest Survivor player to come out of Boston. (Editor’s note: to be continued).
What we get out of Rodney is tenacity. He is not a student of the game – not at all –but he is a student of competition in general. This gentleman is pretty much the Tom Brady of any contest that he is involved in. And oddly, the only person from Boston to never mention the Red Sox. Ever.
Rodney’s game hinged on his dedication to what he called “The Three ‘C’s” Let’s examine these.
CALM Having an outburst at camp gets you nowhere. That’s just Survivor 101. Anybody remember the player that ran around screaming “I can get loud, too!” just because something didn’t go their way? Exactly. Nobody does. Rodney stayed calm in this game. He had no food or rest. He made a BFF and lost him in mere days. And Rodney never went on a reward. Never. In spite of these hardships Rodney remained calm and kept his outbursts down to one every two or three days – roughly once an episode or so. Rodney is like the John McEnroe of Survivor.
COOL Now some of you may be saying “wait a minute, Palsy. Isn’t staying cool the same as staying calm?” Not according to Rodney. Rodney looks at cool the same way that Fonzie does. In Survivor, your social game is everything. Anybody remember the athletic, good-looking player that was nice to everyone and made it to FTC just by playing an honorable game? Of course not, even though everyone at the time thought he was beautiful. He just didn’t have the cool persona that Rodney did. (His name was Woo, by the way) Rodney wasn’t just nice to his tribemates; he befriended them. He did impressions. He cracked jokes. He took his tired and hungry friends and he made them laugh. And if he made it to the end with Dan and Will? He would’ve won. That’s cool. Rodney is like the Michael Jordans sneaker of Survivor.
COLLECTIVE Lots of folks laughed when Rodney said this multiple times on national television. But was he wrong? When true Survivor scholars like Max Dawson and whoever Max Dawson is talking to at a party mention the term “hive-mind” you will see that Rodney may have known just what he is talking about. Rodney assembled and led his Axis of Evil alliance almost to the end. He controlled their votes and guided them in crushing his opponents. His control was so on point that if it weren’t for one lone Texan he would have won a million dollars. At directing his collective, Rodney was a genius. He is the Gregg Popovich of Survivor.
Haters Gonna Hate
But Rodney was a bit of a bully
He was. He wasn’t the biggest bully, but he was a bully. He was a villain after all.
He was weak at challenges
Yes, and it was funny!
He was a misogynist
I won’t argue this point at all except to say that he shows a remarkably different side of his personality at museums and carnivals.
He wouldn’t have been a deserving winner
Look. People bitched and moaned about how boring of a winner Mike Holloway was. You can’t have it both ways.
Okay sure, Uncle Palsy joked around a bit up there. I’ll admit it. Because to me Survivor should be fun. I started watching Survivor at the beginning of the first Blood vs Water with my mom’s best friend, who is basically like a second mother to me. We watched it together because my mother loved it and had recently passed away. The winner of that season was a villain, and he was So. Much. Fun to watch.
I discovered this community over at the AV Club and started commenting there. Survivor became a passion. I joined the fantasy league and found my way over here to this awesome group of people. I look forward to Wednesday nights because I get to watch something fun and I get to do it with people I genuinely care about.
And Rodney is fun. He is easily the most memorable person from his season. He was there for us to laugh at, to root against, and most importantly to have fun with.
Okay, I’ve said my piece. Let me wrap it up with this last bit. I’ll never forget when Mark asked me to return to the Outcasts fantasy league even though I had just blown the last season by choosing Rodney. He said that watching my melt down over him was the most fun part about the season (or words to that effect). And he was right. It was fun. And I realized that I was actually gonna miss having Rodney around. I really loved watching him.
He was fun.
Favorite seasons: Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains, Blood vs. Water, Worlds Apart
Favorite players: Burton Roberts, Christa Hastie, Jonny Fairplay, Lillian Morris, Rupert Boneham, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Abi-Maria Gomes, Ciera Eastin, Kelley Wentworth