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Survivor: South Pacific – Why Sophie Won (and Coach, Albert, & Ozzy Lost)Page 3
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The lesson there is that there is a difference between pretending to be nice and really pushing it. Sophie could have suffered some consequences from her lack of a really good social game. We saw some final Tribal Council comments directed at her about it. But in the end, the majority decided that it was worse to have thought somebody was a friend while they were backstabbing than it was to be voted out by somebody with whom they didn’t have as much of a relationship.
The sixth rule discusses an aspect of the game that didn’t come into play at the final vote, but did earlier – the warning not to be too much of a threat. We already discussed how this rule completely derailed Ozzy’s chances of winning, but how did it affect the others?
In the end, not much. Ozzy overshadowed all of them in terms of being a challenge threat. Before that point, Albert saw the possibility that Sophie could be a threat in the end – and he was right. He noted as much in his interview:
She was the only other one there who could claim she deserved a million dollars. I know how a jury works. Given a final Tribal Council scenario, she was going to come in poised and give an answer she needs to give. Juries vote on “what have you done for me lately?” That to me was a big reason. I was concerned because she had all the makings of a winner, which turned out being true.But he couldn’t convince Coach to change things up, and he was unable to do so on his own without completely risking everything.
Sophie, on the other hand, took proactive steps to lessen the threat posed by her allies. We already discussed how she started going after Albert in earlier Tribal Councils, planting the seed that he was sneaky and sleazy – a seed that grew and blossomed in jurors’ minds.
She and Albert also targeted Coach, addressing the very issue we all saw at home – that he seemed to be the one making all the moves and directing the strategic activity. She told me, “Albert and I threw Coach under the bus, calling him a figurehead.” Coach, of course, couldn’t take these same actions of throwing stones at his competition because that wouldn’t be “honorable,” which put him at a serious disadvantage when it came to dealing with threats.
The seventh rule didn’t play a role for the final three, because it deals with who should be voted off. However, it obviously did apply to Ozzy, who was voted off just beforehand. Why? As we said, he was simply too strong and had to go.
But one thing that does apply here and did not for the previous articles this season is Appendix B: The Jury Phase. Actually, we’ve already discussed a lot about how the finalists dealt with the jurors, both before and during the final Tribal Council. We just finished going over how Sophie primed them for her arguments that Albert was a sleaze and Coach was a figurehead. But it went beyond that.
Part of the rule notes, “Sometimes, it's obvious what you need to say to a jury. Sometimes, it's not.” It seems to me that both Sophie and Albert knew what Coach needed to tell the jury. In Ozzy’s words from our interview: “I just wanted to hear him say, ‘Sorry, I had to manipulate you to get where I am. The honesty and integrity only went so far.’ That’s all I wanted him to say.” But Coach either didn’t understand it or simply would not do it. He couldn’t admit that he was anything less than an honorable and loyal Survivor player.
As for Albert, I don’t think he had much of a shot by the time the final Tribal Council rolled around. He himself admitted, “Most of the jurors had their minds made up.” The decision really came down to Sophie vs. Coach. Sophie laid out her strategies. Coach tried to weasel out of admitting he actually played the game. Given that choice, the majority went with Sophie.
All three of the finalists played well from a strategic standpoint. Indeed, as Albert said in his interview, “You don’t have many seasons where the three players who played the best game get to the end. We played a head and shoulders better game than anybody else.” He’s right. They controlled the game. They planned who would go and when. And they executed it.
But Sophie stood out higher than the head-and-shoulders of Albert and Coach. Albert kept trying to change things up, but she stuck to her guns and kept the plan intact. Coach played the best he ever had… right up until the end, when he couldn’t take the final, necessary step.
Most of what we saw on TV focused on Coach – which isn’t surprising, given his huge personality and the way he was interacting with the others. Sophie stayed quiet and in the background, not playing much of a social game but having her fingers in everything that went on, either directly or indirectly through her allies. Many viewers were surprised and upset to see Sophie win, but I think the entirety of the information we have shows that it was deserved.
Sophie played the best overall strategic game. She certainly could have improved from a social aspect, but then used it to her advantage when she could. Most importantly, she knew how to deal with the jury while Coach completely failed in that regard and Albert really never had a chance by the time they made it there. That is why Sophie won – and Coach and Albert lost.
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