SURVIVOR….What with Thanksgiving and all, I almost forgot: how about a Survivor thread this week?

Here’s why: I almost couldn’t believe I said this, but after Wednesday’s episode I turned to Marian and said, “You know, that was awesome. I actually kind of like the guy now.”

“The guy,” of course, is Jonnie Fairplay, a loathsome toad of a contestant who I (and pretty much everybody else) have been praying weekly will get the boot. So what happened?

For non-Survivor watchers, here’s the story: Wednesday was “loved ones” day, a regular feature in which spouses, girlfriends, parents, etc. of the contestants are brought to the island to participate in a competition. The losers all go home after tearful goodbyes and the winner gets to spend time with his or her loved one.

Anyway, Jonnie’s loved one broke the news to him that his grandmother had died. He was pretty devastated, so everyone went easy on him and let him win. But later we learned it was all a setup: Jonnie had told his friend to make something up, and then used this to gain sympathy from everyone else.

Which is really loathsome, and just what you’d expect from Jonnie. And yet, this is a game, and it was a virtuoso performance. It was brilliantly original, it required lots of advance planning, and if he pulls it off it might even win him the game. He’s already spun it as a moment that’s changed him ? “somehow the game just doesn’t seem that important now” ? and he can now make new alliances and seem completely sincere about them because he’s a changed man. He already seems to have suckered Sandra and Christa with this ploy.

I know I’m probably off the reservation on this, but in the context of the game it was really pretty admirable. I can’t help but think that Jonnie Fairplay, everyone’s favorite loathsome toad, now deserves to win.