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Survivor: Nicaragua – Why Jimmy T. Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/13/2010
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One week, Jimmy T. was apparently helping to lead the charge against Jimmy Johnson, resulting in a win for him as the coach was sent packing. But the very next week, Jimmy T. himself was targeted by the majority of those who had supported him just a few days prior! What happened to his allies? How did the tables turn against him so quickly? Why did Jimmy T. lose?
With Jimmy T., we have another situation where it might seem obvious why he was sent packing, but sometimes the obvious answer is not the right one – or at least not the complete one. As we head into our review of What Nicaraguan Survivors Should Have Learned, I think we’ll find that to be the case once again here. I mean, sure, Jimmy T. may have been incredibly annoying, but was that enough to get him booted? Let’s take a look.
The first and most important rule is always to scheme and plot, meaning the creation and use of alliances. Jimmy T. seemed to be pushing the anti-Jimmy Johnson agenda in the previous vote, which made him appear to be aligned with the likes of Marty.
However, when we moved past the anti-coach vote, we saw that, in fact, Jimmy T. didn’t really create or participate in any alliances – he was merely a useful stooge for Marty. Indeed, Marty needed to boot Jimmy T. (or somebody else other than weak link Dan) in order to ensure numerical superiority for his actual alliance!
Jimmy went into Tribal Council thinking he was safe, but also recognizing that Marty was “the puppet master.” As he told me when I interviewed him, he didn’t seem to put two and two together to recognize that “the puppet master” just might be pulling strings other than worrying about “going with the weakest link” – at least not until “about halfway through the Tribal Council,” that is!
But we probably shouldn’t be surprised at this. When I asked Jimmy about his strategy coming into the game, he only talked about being “physically able,” and having “a lot of outdoor experience,” along with boosting morale (such as through his singing). Ignoring for a moment whether off-key singing when people just wanted him to shut up was actually a morale-booster, the real issue here is that nowhere in answering my question about strategy did Jimmy actually mention, well, a strategy!
As we’ve seen time and time (and time and time…) again, being physically fit and having outdoor experience are not the keys to Survivor! They may help, but it’s the scheming and plotting that gets you where you need to be – or, if you don’t do it, gets you sent down the long, lonely path away from Tribal Council.
As we move to the second rule, it’s pretty obvious that Jimmy didn’t scheme and plot too much or backstab too soon or do anything along that line. But when we quickly head to the third rule, which explains the need to be flexible. I would have to say if there is one thing Jimmy was not, the word “flexible” pretty well describes it. He wanted to do things his way, and he wanted everybody else to do things his way, and he wanted everybody to know that he thought they should do things his way.strategy.
Jimmy just could not fathom that maybe – just maybe – other people had ideas that could be at least as good as his own. He couldn’t conceive of the possibility that he was not the solution to all possible problems on the tribe. He couldn’t just sit back and let the game happen – he had to keep opening his mouth and telling everybody else exactly what he was thinking. And then he told them again. And then he added it a few more times for good measure.
Good Survivor players can set aside the person they are in real life and become the person they need to be in the game. Jimmy couldn’t do that. As he told me, “that’s something I couldn’t resist – I can’t just sit by… The smartest thing I could have done was go easy. But that’s not easy when there’s work to be done. You spend 49 years of your life living a certain way, you can’t just change it. I had to be who I was.” But the thing is, he didn’t just have to be who he was – he needed to be somebody else, and that meant being flexible. Jimmy couldn’t handle it.
Part of the reason for this is that Jimmy was all about emotion – he was a big ball of seething emotion, really. He played this game with all his heart – and very little of his head. Heck, he admitted that very thing to me, as he advised future contestants: “Play it with your head and don’t play it with your heart because that makes you vulnerable.” But playing with his heart went against the fourth rule, because he allowed those emotions to run away with him.
Instead of sitting down and thinking about whether he was making a good game move, Jimmy had a tendency to just do or say things without considering it. So if he thought he should have been made the leader in a challenge, he was going to say it (apparently, many times over). Even if he didn’t have a shred of a logical reason to say it, as we saw when he admitted he wouldn’t have handled the blindfold challenge in any different manner, he still said it because that’s what was bothering him. He repeatedly went the emotional route instead of the logical one.
As far as the fifth rule, I don’t think Jimmy really violated the portion that says players need to pretend to be nice. However, there is a secondary portion of that rule that says, “Keep Your Politics and Controversial Beliefs To Yourself.” While Jimmy wasn’t talking politics or promoting some wacky religious belief, he was spouting controversial statements. Indeed, because they were game-related, that made them even worse than just going off on an unrelated rant. Jimmy really needed to keep his thoughts to himself. At most, he should have shared them once, not over and over again.
How does the sixth rule come into play? Was Jimmy a threat that needed to be eliminated? Well, he was certainly a threat to Marty’s sanity, and probably the sanity of several of the other players as well. But more than that, Jimmy posed another threat.
Really, it wasn’t Jimmy himself who posed the threat to Marty’s alliance – it was the threat of anybody in Marty’s alliance being voted out. The most obvious and likely target was Dan, and Marty needed some way to distract attention from Dan. Jimmy was the most obvious distraction, making himself an easy target for Marty.
That doesn’t mean it was the right move for the tribe overall, in accordance with the seventh rule. At this point, they should have been voting out the weakest link, which would almost certainly have been Dan. However, Marty was more concerned with the health of his alliance as opposed to the overall health of the tribe as a whole (and I can’t say I’d argue with him!). Plus, let’s face it, having Jimmy griping all the time can’t have been healthy for the rest of the tribe anyway!
At the beginning of the article, we discussed the possibility that the obvious reason for Jimmy leaving might not be the correct or full one. From the obvious side, Jimmy was incredibly annoying and couldn’t shut his mouth. That did indeed make him an easy target, but it’s not really the reason he was sent packing.
Marty needed to protect his alliance, even at the expense of the challenge strength of the tribe. That meant he needed to find a way to shift the attention off of Dan. Jimmy admitted to being the squeaky wheel in the tribe, but instead of getting grease, he got unwanted negative attention. Marty then helped mold tribal opinion to grease Jimmy’s way right out of the game. That is why Jimmy T. lost.
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