Christian Okoye second buccaneer cut adrift on CBS' 'Pirate Master'
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/08/2007
Christian Okoye earned the nickname of "Nigerian Nightmare" while competing as a running back in the NFL however he couldn't quite get his sea legs underneath him as one of the buccaneer wannabes competing on CBS' new Pirate Master reality competition series, causing the 45-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, CA to become the second swashbuckler cut adrift during last night's episode.
"One of the things I'm going to miss the most about the pirate ship is the guys that I was there with," said Christian upon being eliminated. "It's one of those things like when I played football, what I'll always remember about the pirate ship is the sense that it's an adventure of a lifetime."
Pirate Master's second episode began with the cast conversing on the Picton Castle -- a 179-foot, square-rigged barque that also serves as their main form of plundering transportation -- about that night's elimination of John Lakness, a 25-year-old scientist/Chippendale Dancer from Carlisle, MA, who was cut adrift during the premiere episode.
"John really set himself apart from the group," said Nessa Nemir, a 29-year-old make-up artist from Berkeley, CA. "I don't really know what his game plan was with that."
If John was responsible for setting himself apart from the crew, Joe Don "J.D." Norton -- a 36-year-old smoke jumper from Ft. Wainwright, AK who was serving as the Picton Castle's first captain -- was going to try and separate them even further by doling out assigned roles. He tabbed Sean Twomey, a 27-year-old bartender from Venice, CA, as the ship's cook before giving Jay Hatkow, a 37-year-old automotive-parts salesman from Detroit, MI, the dubious but lucrative job of bosun (aka chief mate), a position that would put him in-charge of the crew.
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"I really felt that the crew needed a leader, and I didn't want my first officers [Ben Fagan, a 23-year-old student/musician from Boston, MA, and Cheryl Kosewicz, a 35-year-old district attorney from Sparks, NV] to get too close to the crew. I wanted to have some sort of distance between them," explained J.D. Jay compared the job to that of a "union stuart." "I'm one of the workers, but I represent the workers," he said, realizing it would put him in an "awkward" situation. Cheryl thought Jay was somebody that needed to be controlled in the game, and she's apparently right.
"The captain doesn't realize I'm playing both sides," said Jay. "I'm playing him and I'm playing the crew. I'm in the perfect position to do that being bosun. I came here committed to be a pirate. The only thing I want is the loot... That's it."
The next morning J.D. gave his orders to Jay, who in turn relayed them to the crew, who appeared to be working very hard under their bosun and enjoying the sea.
"It's amazing being on the ship," said Kendra Guffey, a 38-year-old dive master from Los Angeles, CA. "I absolutely love it. I love going up on the rigging to do the sails. It's absolutely stunning... I wish I could stay on the boat forever."
However once Sean made breakfast the hierarchy of the ship reared its ugly head, as Alexis Shubin, a 26-year-old fashion publicist from Laguna Beach, CA, complained about the gruel the crew was eating while J.D. feasted on scrambled eggs, diced bell peppers, onions, a little bit of steak, some fruit and bacon.
"Of course it kind of divides the ship in two," said Christian of J.D.'s eating habits. "If I were captain, I would make sure everybody eats good because a happy crew is a hard-working crew." As the crew received more orders and worked even harder in the hot Caribbean sun, J.D. finished off his breakfast with some rum.
"Everybody's busting their butts," said Jay. "Joe Don's just sitting back, getting fat... That's pretty tough to swallow buddy." Louie Frase, a 43-year-old marina owner from Fishing Creek, MD, said J.D. was "bright and bushy tailed" while the crew was "tired." "It's nothing but work... If you're a crew member," he said.
The crew was then met by Pirate Master host Cameron Daddo, who informed them it was time to open the second of the Chest of Zanzibar's 14 compartments, which contained two maps that would lead them on their next Expedition. They'd also have to do it without compasses, as John took those in a last ditch attempt to get the crew to mutiny against J.D. at the first Pirates' Court.
Cameron said that from this Expedition forward, the captain and the two officers will lead the Black Crew. The rest of the shipmates will be randomly divided to either follow the captain on the Black Crew or oppose him on the Red Crew. If the Black Crew wins, the captain remains in power. However if the Red Crew wins, they elect a new captain. Everyone proceeded to pick either a black or a red shot to determine which crew they would join.
The Black Crew consisted of J.D.; Ben; Cheryl; Nessa; Louie; Azmyth Kaminski, a 26-year-old music producer from Los Angeles, CA; Elicia "Jupiter" Mendoza, a 30-year-old bartender from Los Angeles, CA; and Christa DeAngelo, a 29-year former member of the military from Tamaqua, PA. The Red Crew consisted of Sean; Jay; Kendra; Alexis; Christian; Jocelyn "Joy" McElveen, a 21-year-old receptionist from West Columbia, SC; and Laurel Schmidt, a 21-year-old glass blower from Los Angeles, CA.
Cameron began explaining the new Expedition by telling the crew that this next treasure was hidden by Captain Henry Steel's Master Gunner -- Felipe Sanchez Grillos -- who has "a talent for trickery, booby traps, and a love of snakes." The crews learned they must swim to shore through shark-infested waters, then hike along the treacherous coastline before entering the jungle where the leading crew can Sabotage the other crew. Then they have a grueling run up a steep mountain in search of a Snake Pit where snakes guard the tools needed to find the treasure.
With the two crews in the water and swimming for shore, Alexis noticed the Red Crew was losing a lot of ground because Kendra wasn't a good swimmer. The Black Crew was the first to reach the beach, with Azmyth in the lead. He set the Sabotage, which triggered a thorny wooden gate that dropped right in the middle of the path and slowed the Red Crew once they finally swam ashore and reached it. Kendra realized how her lack of swimming skills hurt her team.
"I just died inside," she said. "I couldn't believe it."
The hike up the mountain was definitely grueling -- as Louie found himself a little dizzy -- but the Black Crew was still able to reach the Snake Pit well ahead of the Red Crew. Once at the Sanke Pit, the Black Crew learned a Compass Plate was buried beneath the swampy snake-filled waters. Louie called the snake-infested waters "nasty" and Ben thought it was "intimidating." With the captain and his officers not willing to jump in the Pit, Nessa led a small contingent of the Black Crew into it. However it was Azmyth who found the compass plate before the Red Crew even arrived.
"That Azmyth, he's a rock and roll pirate," said Louie. "He's the real deal. And then the captain, he does nothing."
The Red Crew finally got through the Sabotage and began to hoof it up the mountain, where they were considerably slowed. Christian described the ascent as "difficult, even for an athlete like me," and Jay noticed the trouble the "Nigerian Nightmare" was having bringing his big body up the steep slope. If that wasn't bad enough, Joy twisted her knee and had to be carried by Sean before she decided to tough it out and limp towards the Snake Pit.
The Black Crew opened the Compass Plate to receive their next set of clues, and learned they had to find an altar nearby to put the Compass Plate on top of and then use the Compass Spoon found in the box to lead them to the Gunner's buried treasure. The Compass Spoon is an old fashioned way of reading north, south, east, and west. If you stick the Spoon on the Compass Plate, the Spoon's red tip points north and will tell the crew where to walk to find the treasure. Azmyth quickly found the altar while the rest of the Black Crew stared confusingly at the instructions, and they used the Compass Plate to determine how close they were to the treasure.
The Red Crew reached the Snake Pit and learned -- to their amazement -- that the Black Crew hadn't unearthed the Gunner's treasure yet. As Jay and Sean got on their hands and knees and waded through the Pit in search of the Compass Plate, Christian sheepishly stood behind them and waved a stick to keep snakes away.
"So I'm up to my neck in this grime, in this mess, and Christian's standing in the Pit with a stick," said Jay. "He's not even helping us look. He wasn't even kicking his feet around."
The efforts of Jay and Sean didn't matter, as Azmyth found the Gunner's treasure buried under a bed of leaves. The Black Crew rejoiced and fired the Blunderbuss in the air, signaling their victory.
"Azmyth is the man," said Ben. "Not only did he find the box in the Snake Pit, but he also found the treasure at the end." Back on the Picton Castle, the Red Crew helped Joy climb aboard and Sean realized she was the weak link during the Expedition but sounded like he wasn't holding it against her.
"If you gotta throw the dart at one of us who lost the expedition, it would definitely be Joy," said Sean as Joy's knee was bandaged. "Not due to lack of physical strength, endurance, or prowess. Just due to injury."
The Black Crew celebrated their victory on the Picton Castle's deck -- but the party was short-lived, as Jupiter remembered from the last Expedition that the captain would get half of the loot found. The found treasure was worth $45,000, which J.D. claimed half of, a cool $22,500. As his officers, Ben and Cheryl would each receive $5,625 of the booty, but Cameron told J.D. he had the opportunity to pick two new officers. He declined, which didn't sit too well with Louie.
"I'd like to set all three of them adrift at once," he said. "And I want them to see the inside of a shark's belly."
The other five members of the victorious Black Crew each received $2,250 and J.D. was told he had until the following morning to decide which three pirates would be marked with the Black Spot and face possible elimination at the next Pirates' Court. As the captain and his officers celebrated their win, J.D. realized his neck could be on the line if the rest of the crew decided to mutiny against him.
"Unfortunately I think a lot of the people who have lost are still broke and the Black Spot's coming up and I think it's gonna cause some serious anguish and problems," said J.D.. "I gotta kinda pay attention to that."
Apparently "pay attention to that" translated into J.D. giving each member of the losing Red Crew a small $200 payout, and he made sure they recognized his kind gesture. "A couple hundred bucks a piece is a couple hundred more than what you had," he said.
"Big deal. You're sitting on 45,000 dollars and you're gonna throw me 200 bucks apiece!" questioned Alexis outside of earshot from the captain. "How's your gold treating you?"
Afterward, J.D. decided to privately give Jay an additional $2,000. "Being captain is much like a chess game -- you have to understand what pieces are your most powerful -- and essentially my bosum mate Jay can give me information about how the crew is actually doing and feeling," J.D. later explained to the cameras.
"I'm not buying you, I'm rewarding you. Big difference between the two," said J.D. to Jay as the two talked in the ship's Captain's Cabin. As the two toasted their deal with glasses of rum, Jay reminded J.D., "No Black Spots for me bro."
However harking back to his earlier comments when describing his duties as bosun, Jay was all about the booty. "I've got $2,000 that nobody knows about and I haven't won a thing," explained Jay. "That's the key here. You don't have to go out and get the loot to be a pirate. You just gotta know how to get the loot into your bag."
J.D., Cheryl and Ben deliberated on who should receive the Black Spots, and the absence of John made the decision difficult on who should be cut adrift. After Ben suggested they give the Spots to three pirates who contributed to the Red Crew losing, Christian, Kendra and Joy were singled out.
"We are only as good as our weakest link," explained Cheryl. "Are point of view is Expeditions at this point are the most important because that's where the money is." Kendra was "surprised," Christian was "not worried" because he survived football, and Joy's "confidence level went waaaaay down" because it was the second Pirates' Court in a row she'd have to defend herself.
Just as he did prior to the last Pirates' Court, Louie openly discussed mutiny with his fellow crew members.
"Anytime anybody wants a mutiny, I am in. All we got to do is make sure it can be done," he said. "The whole ship is talking mutiny." Louie and Christian buddied up and the "Nigerian Nightmare" was confident he'd be able to defend himself well during Pirates' Court and possibly sway the crew into agreeing with a mutiny against J.D.
"It's time for him to go home man," said Louie about J.D.. "I want to cut the rope."
At Pirates' Court, Cameron explained the format once again, with the crew casting ballots and having to choose which of the three marked pirates is cut adrift, adding they could also unanimously "rise as one" and mutiny against the Captain.
J.D. explained Kendra received a Black Spot because she "wasn't as proficient in the water;" Christian's "size could work against him;" and Joy was on the chopping block for a second Court due to her injury. When it was time for them to defend themselves, Kendra admitted she had a "bit of a hiccup in the water" but picked it up on land, while Joy said the bandage was no longer on her knee and she was ready to continue. The same with John at the last Court, Christina took a different approach than the others who received a Black Spot.
"Fellow pirates. I love you guys, I love this ship," said Christian. "You know, many people have been complaining about the money they've been getting, that the portions are not very fair. The captain should make sure that his crew are happy. If you choose me to be the captain, I will not take 50%. I will not take 40%. I will not take 30%. If I don't make my crew happy, I'm not doing my job. So captain... How do you run the ship?"
After resisting a war of words with Christian, J.D. only commented, "I think you're digging your own hole. I'm going to leave it at that." J.D. then turned to his crew. "You guys know how I feel about you. You know how I roll. I say what I do, I do what I say. I think you guys are happy and I'm good with that." However at least some members of the crew expressed their displeasure.
"I don't think we're getting paid enough. We're not getting enough to eat. I would like some more pay," said Louie, who added he had considerably less money then J.D.. Much to Jay's chagrin, J.D. then revealed that he'd shared some of his money with his bosun.
While Jay publicly admitted to receiving some extra loot, he told the rest of the crew it was only $1,000 instead of the $2,000 he actually received. Alexis again expressed her displeasure with the $200 hand-out J.D. gave the crew. "I would prefer not to get the $200," she said. "It sounds so greedy, but I found it a little offensive coming out of a pocket with $40,000 in it. In hindsight, I was a little frustrated by that."
Cameron informed the crew -- excluding those three who received Black Spots, J.D. and his officers -- that it was time to vote, and one by one, the pirates placed their ballots atop the blade of a dagger. Cameron revealed there were no mutiny ballots cast against J.D., and added Joy also didn't receive any votes to be cut adrift. In a five to four decision, Christian was cut adrift and Kendra was saved.
"Good luck my brother!" said Louie, seemingly ready to exact his revenge on J.D.
Pirate Master will air its third episode on Thursday, June 14 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.