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''Survivor'': The Last Temptation of Stephenie?

By RD Heldenfels Published: December 8, 2005

When we first saw Stephenie on the previous ''Survivor,'' her will to win was not only powerful but endearing, since she managed to outlast everyone else in The Worst Tribe Ever before being stopped. This time, her will to win is just as strong, but it has taken on a merciless, hypocritical quality that keeps feeling like the sort of thing that bites you hard at jury time.

Having sold out supposed ally Judd, this week she turned on Cindy, even after Cindy had taken Stephenie along on part of the reward challenge. Yes, Cindy hurt herself some by winning a car in the reward challenge, supposedly setting herself up for the ''car curse'' (that a car winner never gets the final, top prize). She was offered a chance to give up her car and let the other four players have one, and decided to keep her car instead. And why not? If the curse goes to the winner of the car, she had already won it, whether she kept it or not. Giving up the car wasn't going to change the curse. But that didn't sit well with the other players, especially when Cindy gloated too much about the car.

Still, the car came with a big meal, and Cindy took Stephenie along for the eats; but when it came time to figure out whom to get rid of, Stephenie turned her back on Cindy and joined Rafe, Danni and Lydia in Cindy's ouster. And if Cindy remembers how votes are counted on the show, she knows that Stephenie took her down. Stephenie in turn should know two things: that she is steadily building a jury of people she has shafted, while still competing against people who have no reason to trust her, and ample reason to take her out the next time she is without immunity.

In sum, count me in on Sunday night. And count me out of the Stephenie Fan Club.

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