Conspiracy clouds 'Survivor' island: Former teammates oust hardy teacher

Thursday, July 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Only the strong survive? Not on Survivor, where the game took an ugly turn Wednesday when four vipers from the former Tagi tribe conspired to vote out bulwark Gretchen Cordy.

The 38-year-old teacher and former Air Force survival instructor from Clarksville, Tenn., easily had been the dissolved Pagong tribe's most formidable woman. But the show's "office politics" shifted dramatically when the 10 remaining contestants were required to merge into the new Rattana tribe on the seventh episode of CBS' runaway summer hit.

Gretchen proved to be a prophet when she said that island stalwarts now might be more endangered than weaklings. Little did she know that ex-Tagis Richard Hatch, Rudy Boesch, Susan Hawk and Kelly Wiglesworth were plotting her demise for that very reason. They ganged against her with four votes while six other contestants received one eviction vote apiece.

The only former Tagi with a soul, Sean Kenniff, refused to be a co-conspirator. He said he had decided to vote against contestants in alphabetical order of their first names. That meant Colleen Haskell was first on his list.

Under new rules, one contestant each week receives an "immunity talisman" that guarantees a one-episode reprieve from eviction. The first was claimed by ex-Pagong Greg Buis when he won a two-part underwater competition. The best finisher among the five women was - you guessed it - Gretchen.

It now may be possible for Rudy, Richard, Susan and Kelly to pick off whomever they choose if they remain united each week against a particular contestant. In other words, Greg had better keep winning the talisman or he could follow Gretchen into exile.

"I won't know [who voted her off] until I watch the show," Gretchen said before leaving the island. "I can hope that it was because they thought I was a threat. That would make me feel good."

She now knows it was nothing personal. Four out of five old Tagis don't play it that way anymore.