The following is the script I worked off of and not an actual transcript. Most noticeably, the introduction is missing. Additionally, pieces were altered during filming. You’ll get the gist, though.
folly (n) – a foolish act or idea
When Rupert made the decision to take his wife’s place, he orchestrated his own downfall. He made the choice without hesitation, refusing to consult with his tribe and discussing it with Laura in a way that said his mind was made up but he would try to sway her if she needed swaying.
Now, Rupert is the first of the season to fall, off the island without ever going to tribal council. The legacy of the mad caveman has come to an abrupt end thanks to a decision that will go down in history alongside James’ idleness, Erik’s immunity gaff and Ian’s forfeit as one of the dumbest mistakes the game has seen.
Many in today’s audience think of Rupert as a clown, an idealistic Don Quixote figure that tilts at metaphorical windmills by attempting to uphold some moral code that can’t actually exist within the confines he’s trying to set them.
There is some truth to the Don Quixote analogy, but not in the way many think. The reason “tilting at windmills” is the most popular imagery to come out of the book is that too many dummies are too lazy to get past the first third of the first book and so that’s all of the story they’ve read. The book is much deeper and more interesting than a man charging madly at windmills, just as Rupert will always be more than a guy that went home first thanks to a dumb move.
folly (n) – a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
The question of how this season will affect Rupert’s legacy is a hot topic among Survivor fans. It’s somewhat surprising to think that a TV show like Survivor has a legitimate legacy of its own, much less the ability to confer legacies on individuals, but thirteen years in it does.
And to really discuss Rupert’s legacy, we have to go back a full decade. Ten years before Survivor fans were reconciling the shock of a returnee of his pedigree leaving so early with the relief that we wouldn’t be suffering from Rupert fatigue this season, the world was falling in love with the tie-dye pirate. Twenty million people tuned in legally to Pearl Islands, making it one of the most popular seasons ever. It is regularly put at or near the top of favorites lists, and although Rupert is by no means single-handedly responsible for that success, his presence helped enormously.
Pearl Islands had a wealth of great personalities, including Fairplay, arguably the first character made for the show rather than spawned from the show and the defining villain of the early years. It produced the first quitter with Osten, whom I could use as an excuse to touch on next week’s theme, but I won’t. It even had a grumpy leprechaun dressed like a boy scout. Among them all, though, Rupert stood out, an exuberant manchild that helped his enemy stay alive long enough to get stabbed in the back by his allies.
Rupert didn’t really do well that season, coming in 8th out of a field of 18. Behind the statistics, Rupert dominated the game while he was in it and his presence was felt long after he left. The very absence of Rupert was acted upon. That’s why he would be asked back for All-Stars, making him the first in a special breed of players that have played consecutive seasons.
folly (n) – a building constructed primarily for decoration but suggesting by its appearance some other purpose
Rupert’s legacy takes its first big hit on All-Stars because of the underground shelter. It’s used as an example of Rupert being less capable than he was made out to be the previous season, but the truth is that the underground shelter was a pirate hideout, the direct result of giving a pirate manchild a box of tools. It was a mistake, but it was a memorable mistake that made great TV – and damn the cold-hearted son of a bitch that can’t find empathy for Jerri after watching her endure that miserable night.
He came in fourth in All-Stars. When it was over, CBS gave him a million dollar bonus check for bringing in the ratings. He didn’t ask for the money, but it would embitter some in the audience nonetheless. Regardless, it was enough to bring him back for HvV.
folly (n) – an allegorical figure that acts as a catalyst for foolish action
In HvV, Rupert would be on of the last heroes standing, along with fellow All-Staller and original hero, Colby Donaldson. It was a season of lingering malaise, where the heroes were made out to be petty fools, where legends of the game acted like middle-schoolers at summer camp.
Rupert broke his toe, but that didn’t prevent him from making sixth, a respectable spot. He also became the first male to reach 100 days in the game, just barely beating Colby’s 98. Despite that, the season as a whole became a lesson in how being one of the good guys is the most foolish thing one can be in Survivor.
Seward’s Folly – the purchase of Alaska for 2 cents an acre. Naysayers thought it was a bad idea. They were wrong.
When Rupert was cast on BvW, there was a bit of a groan from the fan community. As a player, it was widely accepted that he would make the merge and then get cut. He would be a perennial jury member. But after 100 days in three seasons, hadn’t we seen enough of him? Even Laura, his wife, had appeared on the show twice already.
The twists were revealed and the scenario was tossed about, but nobody thought someone would actually do it.
And then Rupert did the impossible and essentially gave up the game for his wife. In the history of dumb moves, it is at the Colby taking Tina level of dumb.
At the end of Don Quixote, Alonso Quixano realizes that Don Quixote and his adventures have all been a bizarre hallucination. He was helped toward this conclusion by interacting with other people familiar with his legacy. Don Quixote talked to the fans, and in doing so became self-aware.
Replacing Laura may have been the single most self-aware thing Rupert has done on Survivor. Unlike Quixote, however, Rupert chose to embrace chivalry instead of spurning it.
Looked at purely within the confines of what it takes to win the game of Survivor, Rupert’s decision wasn’t good. Outside of the context of one season of a game he’s played four times, it could be one of the most important things he’s ever done. For the last decade, his wife has shared her husband with celebrity and deserted islands, and now he sacrificed his fourth chance so she could have her first.
And what did he really sacrifice, legacy-wise? Even if he won, merely playing a fourth time has chipped away at that untarnished image he walked from Pearl Islands with – back when he was tilting at windmills.