“If these people are smart, they’ll get rid of me right away. But they won’t. They never do.”
Boston Rob is considered to be one of the single best Survivor players of all time. A “natural”, according to Jeff Probst, Boston Rob understood the game on a level never seen before. He forever changed the strategic landscape, showing players that followed elements of the game never considered before.
Boston Rob is one of only two four time survivor players, and is currently the record holder for the most days spent on the show, with 117. Rob plays a gutsy game characterized by strong alliances ruled with throat-squeezing control, which has had varying results. Twice he has made the final tribal council, but twice he has been voted out just before the jury phase of the game.
Rob first appeared on season four, Survivor: Marquesas. He was quick to form close alliances, however his game was hampered somewhat by the physical weakness of his Maramamu tribe. Maraamu lost the first three immunity challenges, leaving Rob at a severe numbers disadvantage that he was never able to overcome. Although he made the merge, he was seen as too big of a threat by the majority alliance, and voted out in 10th place, just before the jury.
Despite his pre-jury finish, Rob was a big character, and made enough of an impression in season four to return four seasons later for season eight, Survivor: All Stars. All Stars was a cast of the most successful and memorable survivors who had played the game, and Rob was placed on the physically strong Chapera tribe. He formed alliances with everyone, including a tight alliance with Amber Brkich, who would later become his wife. Rob dominated the season strategically, but despite making it to the final tribal council, he had to betray many alliance members and friends along the way. The jury punished him for his poor social game, and he lost to Amber in a 4-3 vote.
Rob returned to survivor as a villain for season 20, Heroes vs. Villains. He assumed a position of leadership within the tribe, and was well liked and respected. However, he was determined to vote out Russell Hantz, and this led to his undoing. With some clever idol play and some strategic manipulation, Russell was able to dismantle Rob’s alliance and send Rob home in 12th place, again before the jury phase started.
Rob’s rivalry with Russell was so intense that CBS devoted an entire season to the two of them squaring off. Survivor 22: Redemption Island featured Rob on one tribe, and Russell on the other. Russell was voted out of the game early, but Rob was able to use his previous experience to manipulate his tribe and play one of the most dominant games that Survivor has ever seen. He made it to the final tribal council, and took along with him two players that had no chance to win, Phillip Shepherd and Natalie Tenerelli. He was voted the winner over Phillip and Natalie in an 8-1-0 vote.
Boston Rob changed the game on many levels. He believed in loyalty above anything else. He chose alliance members he could control over any strengths they might bring into the mix. He used intimidation to maintain his control over his alliance and dominate the game.
Podcasts Featuring Boston Rob
Boston Rob 1.0 – Survivor: Marquesas
“Doesn’t matter if my team is stronger physically or even stronger mentally, but just that they obey.”
Boston Rob’s first appearance was in season four, Survivor: Marquesas, where he was on the Maraamu tribe. Before season four, the accepted way to win Survivor was to reach the merge with a numbers advantage (which was accomplished by voting out the weaker members of the tribe) and then vote out all members of the opposing alliance. However, Rob did not value strength in an alliance member. He only valued loyalty, and would vote out the strong in order to ensure that he remained in control of the group.
Maraamu lost the first three immunity challenges, and Rob refused to follow common Survivor wisdom and vote out the tribe’s weakest member, Sarah Jones, because he knew that she would always vote with him. He protected her, and the first two people off were Peter Harkey and Patricia Jackson. After the third immunity challenge, Rob made a shocking move, voting out the strong and likable Hunter Ellis, who was arguably the strongest player in the game. This move allowed Rob to take control over the remaining members of the Maraamu tribe.
In a confessional, Rob explained, “It’s a tough principle, but fear keeps people loyal. If they’re afraid they have something to lose, then they’ll do what they’re told to do. That’s straight out of the godfather. It’s true.” It was confessionals like this that won the hearts of Survivor fans worldwide.
The game soon changed for Rob, when a tribe switch put him (along with his alliance members Sean Rector and Vecepia Towery) on the Rotu tribe, and at a numbers disadvantage. Sean and Rob did not get along well with the hard working Rotu tribe, preferring the fun loving atmosphere that they had enjoyed over at Maraamu. Rotu was run by a strong four person alliance, and Rob was seen as a threat to their power. When Rotu lost immunity, Rob was on the chopping block. However, Gabriel’s noncommittal attitude and unpredictable behaviour led to him being voted out instead.
Rob and Sean made a deal with the remaining Rotu tribe to vote as a block at the merge, even against former Rotu member, Kathy. While, if the deal held, this would put Rob in a final five situation, Rob attempted to flip it instead, wanting to be the head of his own alliance. When the tribes merged, Rob volunteered to take on the role of tribe ambassador, and he and Kathy Vavrick O’Brien spent a night together designing a new tribe flag. Rob tried to convince Kathy that her previous tribemates were in an alliance together. Kathy was concerned, but gave her old tribemates the benefit of the doubt.
When the tribe was together, Rob exposed the “Rotu Four” alliance, challenging Zoe on the deal he had made with them in front of Kathy. Rob wanted to pull Kathy over to his side with Sean and Vecepia, thereby putting himself in control again but Kathy was not ready to make a move and Rob paid the price for it. Ultimately, his plan failed, and he was voted out 7-2-1, with Rob’s ally Vecepia joining with the previous Rotu members to vote for Rob. Rob finished in 10th place, one place shy of joining the jury and forever changing how the game was played.
Survivor: All Stars
“You take care of her, I’ll take care of you.”
Rob was a big character during Marquesas, and played the game in a way that nobody had seen before. He was offered the chance to return to Survivor as part of the season eight, Survivor: All-Stars season. There were three tribes of six people (Chapera, Mogo Mogo and Saboga), and Rob was placed on the Chapera tribe, along with ‘Big’ Tom Buchanan (Africa), Rob Cesternino (Amazon), Amber Brkich (Australia), Alicia Calaway (Australia) and Sue Hawk (Borneo). It didn’t take long for Rob and Amber to begin flirting, and they created a solid two person alliance.
Chapera was a physically dominant tribe, and Rob only had to go to one tribal council before the merge. At this tribal council, Rob was not in danger of being voted out, due partly to his challenge strength, and partly to the fact that he had alliances with every member of his tribe. At that tribal council, Boston Rob, realizing that Rob Cesternino was the only member of the Chapera tribe whose game could not be predicted or controlled, voted with the rest of the tribe to send Rob Cesternino home. Shortly after this, the Saboga tribe was dissolved, and Rupert Boneham and Jenna Lewis became part of the Chapera tribe. Rob and Amber quickly established alliance with them also.
On Day 22, there was a tribe reshuffle that brought all former members of Mogo Mogo to the Chapera tribe, and swapped all members of Chapera (minus Amber) to Mogo Mogo. Amber was left alone and without protection. When Amber’s tribe Chapera lost immunity, Rob reached out to Chapera leader Lex, who Rob was friends with outside of the game. He promised Lex that if Lex would take care of Amber, then Rob would take care of Lex. Lex and his ally Kathy (from Rob’s original season, Marquesas) believed Rob’s promise, and at tribal council, Amber was spared and Jerri Manthey was voted out.
The two tribes then merged into one, and Lex looked for an opportunity to solidify his alliance with Rob. However, Rob had too many alliances to honor them all, and knew that if he was to go with Lex, he would anger all of his former tribemates. He told a devastated Lex and Kathy that the deal was off. Lex was sent home at the next tribal council, followed by Kathy.
Rob was then faced with the problem of having to vote out one of his alliance members. He had made a promise with Alicia never to write her name down, but she was the next person sent home. ShiiAnn, the last original Mogo Mogo member, soon followed.
At the final five, Rob and Amber were an unbreakable duo, and this was the greatest threat to their game. Realizing that the remaining tribe members could foreseeably join together and vote Rob out, he pitted Tom and Rupert against each other, stirring them into an argument. Although he promised Tom that they were still in an alliance, Tom was voted out unanimously that night, and left tribal council furious with Rob.
Rob was able to coerce Jenna into voting with him and Amber, as she was not willing to let the vote go to a tiebreaker, fearing that she would be forced to draw rocks. Rob then won the final immunity challenge, and chose to go to the final two with Amber.
At final tribal council, despite apologizing for his aggressive gameplay, Rob was attacked by a very bitter and angry jury. Many of them were upset that Rob had used the friendships that he had formed outside of the game to advance himself further. At the reunion, Rob proposed to Amber in front of a live TV audience, just before the votes were read and it was revealed that Amber had won the season 4-3.
Survivor: Heroes vs Villains
“I didn’t want to be a dictator this time round. I wanted to be the diplomat.”
Rob returned to the game 12 seasons later for Heroes vs. Villains, and was placed on the villains tribe. Survivor had evolved so much since season 8, with hidden immunity idols being the biggest change, but Rob was still able to play his strong social game, and became the leader of the tribe, leading them in making fire, building a shelter, and physically dominating in the challenges.
Rob built a close alliance with Tyson Apostol, who brought with him his ally from his previous season, Coach. The three men were joined by Sandra Diaz Twine, Jerri, and Courtney Yates. A dismayed Parvati Shallow bonded with newcomer Russell Hantz (whom none of them had seen play) and Danielle DiLorenzo. At the Villains’ first tribal council, Randy Bailey was voted off for being the weakest. However, after this, Rob began to target players that he didn’t trust, such as Russell and Parvati. The Villains tribe had found a clue to a hidden immunity idol, and had decided as a tribe not to look for it. However, Russell had ignored the tribe’s wishes, showing Rob that he could not be controlled.
On day 15, there was a double tribal council. Fearing that Russell and his alliance may have found the idol, Rob directed his alliance to split their votes 3-3 between Russell and Parvati, with the plan to vote Russell out on the re-vote. Unfortunately for Rob, Russell manipulated Tyson changed his vote at the last minute, deciding to vote for Parvati instead of Russell. When Russell played his immunity idol for Parvati, Tyson was sent home in a 3-2 vote.
Without Tyson there, Rob began to lose control of his allies, particularly Coach (who had been closely allied to Tyson) and Jerri (who had seen Rob destroy her game 12 seasons earlier in All Stars). Jerri made the decision to switch to Russell’s side, and Rob could only muster up a half-hearted approach to keep her on side. Coach did not vote with Russell, but he also refused to vote with Rob, and Rob was sent home in 13th place, for the second time finishing one place shy of sitting on the jury.
At the reunion show Boston Rob got into an argument over who was a better player which sparked the idea of a face-off season between the two legends.
Survivor: Redemption Island
“Man, it feels so good to play with you amateurs. You give away so much. You don’t even know enough to keep your mouth shut.”
Rob made his return to survivor in season 22: Redemption Island, in which he was pitted against his enemy from Heroes vs Villains, Russell. Rob and Russell were each placed on opposite tribes.
Rob quickly began taking control of his tribe. He targeted Francesca Hogi and Khristina Kell for thinking independently and hunting for idols. Early on, he also selected who he wanted to sit beside at final tribal: Natalie Tenerelli, a young dancer who would follow him blindly. He said of taking Natalie with him to the end, “It’s like literaly picking the girl up and putting her around my back and I’m gonna drag your ass to the end.”
Knowing first hand how powerful a couple could be in the game, Rob targeted Matt Elrod when he noticed a flirtation starting between him and Andrea Boethlke. He used the idol as a way to keep his alliance in check. At the merge, Rob initiated a “buddy system” whereby, no one was allowed to be alone and, therefore, no one could sneak away and talk to the other tribe. One by one, the other tribe was decimated.
At the reunion, Russell said he wasn’t given a change to beat Rob. Rob replied, “I guarantee, given the opportunity, I’ll gladly go back and kick your ass all over again.”