On 'Survivor,' Richard Is Mr. Fascinating

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Well, Richard may be the Machiavellian (and not a little Malkovichian) puppetmaster of "Survivor," and he's certainly holding the show together entertainment-wise with his catty punditry and villainous wit. But he's still just a plump (but getting thinner) guy who likes to walk around naked — in other words, he's just one man, and for him the Tribal Council's expulsion of Greg on Wednesday must have carried a disturbing amount of unpredictability. (Best exit yet, by the way. Leaves with a "Jerk" impression, and then eschews CBS press tour.) To wit:

Of the eight remaining castaways, three — Colleen, Sean and Rudy — appear to be wild cards. Colleen claims to have no strategy whatsoever, and indeed may have voted for Jenna to send her home to her kids (or so she could be sure of having the best female bod on the island). Rudy, with the wife out of "American Gothic," seemed to think Greg and his sister were doing an "incest type of thing" — good reason to clear the island of that whippersnapper, who was also sleeping with Colleen but flirting with Richard. And Sean? He voted for Greg because he's going in alphabetical order, and Gervase — who, incidentally, is still the laziest castaway since Mrs. Howell — had immunity. (My new pick for winner: Xerxes.)

What's an island whip like Richard to do? Keep scheming, and hope for the best. The three wild cards must seem like easy targets — although as head string-puller you'd think he'd do viewers a favor and pick off charisma dead weights Susan, Sean and Kelly, in that order. We shall see. In the meantime, host Jeff Probst finally earns his journalistic stripes by asking Richard the big question: How does a schemer survive the final vote, in which the last seven kicked off choose between the final two?

Answered the Designated Fisherman: "Keep everyone fed, and hope they're happy." Spoken like a true politician.