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Survivor: Samoa – Why Kelly Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/17/2009
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Last week I said, “I think Erik may have been the most surprising non-health-related exit we’ve had this season.” Now I have to update that to say that Kelly was definitely the most surprising non-health-related exit we’ve had this season! I mean, there was never really even a hint that Kelly was on Survivor, so how could there be a hint that she would be leaving?!
This makes our job here a bit more difficult. It’s hard to analyze a person’s game play when we weren’t privy to what that person actually did! But we’ll muddle through somehow. We’ll use the information we have plus what Kelly told me when I interviewed her to put together a picture of what happened. We will figure out why Kelly lost.
To help us along in our quest to discover this hidden information, we will use our usual roadmap – What Samoan Survivors Should Have Learned. Let’s follow its paths and end up at our destination.
The first rule says players need to scheme and plot. From what we saw, Kelly was not a lead schemer – that is, we always heard about Laura and her allies, Monica and Kelly – or just “the women other than Shambo.” We didn’t see Kelly making any alliances or plotting the outcome of votes or anything like that. We saw her as a purely supporting cast member.
However, Kelly had some more information to provide us when I talked to her. She said, “I was there to play a game, not to get airtime. … My whole M.O. was to just become friends with everyone, get in there, and to play the game and win the money…” That is an admirable goal and one that is certainly in step with how a player has a chance at winning Survivor. But it isn’t terribly specific.
In digging deeper, I asked about her planned strategy. She said, “my strategy was to kind of just get along with everyone and to be a good listener. Especially in a group of people like this, everybody likes to be a bit egotistical and hear each other talk. So I wanted to be there and listen but don’t reveal too much.” Also a good plan, but again, not very specific. It is more reactive than proactive – that is, it means she was waiting for other people to make moves.
Kelly also added, “You heard Shambo say nobody has anything against Kelly – it’s true. I was set up good with the guys and girls – my alliances were great.” And: “My biggest ally was Brett.” But again, there was no particular scheming and plotting that we saw or heard about. It’s good that she had allies, but she needed more than that. She needed a plan.
For example, if Galu had been able to eliminate all the Foa Foans, then what? She was apparently aligned with the women but had Brett as a key ally. So where does she go from there? Does she turn on the women? Does she have to be worried that because she got along with everybody, somebody might go after her? Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see or hear any of this. Because of that, I’m afraid I can’t give her much credit in the scheming and plotting area.
It’s obvious then that she didn’t violate the second rule by scheming and plotting too much. However, one thing all the Galu, except Shambo, are guilty of is allowing alliances to be too obvious. Russell knew exactly who he could trust and who he couldn’t. This time, he only confided in the other Foa Foans and Shambo, leaving the other Galus open to the power of the idol. If Kelly had perhaps not stuck so tightly to the tribal alliance, maybe she could have been one of those on the inside, like Shambo. Instead, she was the one sent outside.
Kelly was therefore not being particularly flexible, in contradiction to the third rule. I have to admit, being (apparently) solidly in the majority tribal alliance would indeed make most players want to stick to the script. However, the fact is that only one person can win, and even if everything goes according to plan with that majority alliance, it will have to split eventually. Players need to be ready for that split and perhaps even cause that split. Again, it’s better to be proactive than reactive, as both Erik’s and Kelly’s ousters showed that sometimes there is no opportunity to even react.
The fourth rule says to conquer your emotions when you play. From what we saw, Kelly didn’t have a particular problem there, but I do think it was a small issue. Why? Because almost all of Galu shunned Shambo, making her feel like an outsider. Those were emotional actions and they caused Shambo to start working with Foa Foa. If the Galus, including Kelly, had pushed down those emotions and also followed the fifth rule by hiding their feelings about Shambo, she might not have been so eager to put forth Kelly’s name as the target.
What about the sixth rule, which says not to be too much of a threat? Well, Shambo brought up Kelly for two reasons. One, as noted earlier, nobody really had anything against her while Monica had pissed off some people. Therefore, who would they rather face in front of the jury if it comes to that? The obvious answer is Monica. Two, Monica is weaker in challenges, meaning there is less chance she can win immunity and get to the point of facing the jury. While we didn’t see much of Kelly’s challenge performance, she did tell me, “I think during the challenges I excelled and that was the most fun and where I did the best.” Compared to Monica, Kelly was obviously the bigger threat.
And really, Monica is the only one to whom we need to compare Kelly because of the situation. Russell and Shambo wanted to get rid of Laura, but when she won immunity again, they had to at least knock out some of her power base. That left only two possibilities.
Were the Foa Foans and Shambo correct to limit things to only those two and, if so, did they choose the right one? Starting in reverse order, yes, they chose the right one if they needed to eliminate either Kelly or Monica. But I don’t necessarily agree that they had to limit it. I know Kelly was a close ally of Laura, but right now, all the Galu other than Shambo are still allies. So why not get rid of a stronger competitor such as any of the three Galu guys? Maybe Russell still thinks he can work with them. Maybe it’s because Shambo believes she’s closely aligned with them. Whatever the reason, I think they made the wrong decision. Not horribly wrong, mind you, but a little bit wrong.
That’s of little consolation to Kelly, though. She apparently was playing the game according to her own plan, even if we didn’t see it. But I still have to come to the conclusion that she wasn’t playing it hard enough and needed to push the action more rather than sitting back and waiting for it to happen. Maybe if she had done that, she wouldn’t have ended up as the target. But by just being the stronger member of Laura’s crew, she inherited the target when Laura won immunity. That is why Kelly lost.
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