Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
A Tale of Two Thailandsby O'Sean Aieghlans -- 09/29/2002
View Printable version of this article
We now have two weeks of Survivor: Thailand that we can use to evaluate the current set-up and to make a critical - and perhaps even philosophical - analysis of the two Thailands now on display on CBS. What are these two Thailands? Survivor: Thailand as approached by Jan and Jack - widely divergent approaches to the task at hand - who chose very different teams. What is the approach of these two players with their teams and what does it mean?
Viewers know that two teams always open the season and then eventually the teams merge. This year the teams are markedly different in outlook and philosophy, and for that we have to thank the people who chose those teams, the two oldest team members. Jan, a 53-year-old first-grade teacher from Tampa, Florida, and Jake, the 61-year-old land broker from McKinney, Texas, were the two people chosen by the host - based upon their ages - to pick the teams and set the game.
At first glance, it seemed that Jan picked all the old people and Jake picked all the young people. It's true that all Jake's team members are young. But Jan's team has younger members too.
Jan chose members for Chuay Gahn team. Chuay Gahn team consists (or consisted at the beginning) of Brian, Clay, Ghandia, Helen, Jan, John, Tanya, and Ted. The average age for Chuay Gahn is 39. Tanya is the only member under thirty. There are three members in their thirties and three members in their forties.
Jake chose members for Sook Jai team. Sook Jai team consists of Erin, Jake, Jed, Ken, Penny, Robb, Shii Ann, and Stephanie. The average age for Sook Jai is 31. Sook Jai has six members under thirty years of age and no one between the ages of 31 and 60 (Ken is 30 and Jake is 61). This team is overwhelmingly twenty-something.
References to high school P.E. class aside, this was a moment of difficulty for almost all of the players. Someone had to be picked last; and even the team 'leaders' wavered on their ability to find the best team member for their purposes. Jan cried later, saying how much she didn't want to do it. Jake seemed to know exactly what he wanted. Their strategies, while perhaps not thought through, are remarkable for their differences.
But let's first make an analysis of the two who actually chose the teams. Jan, a woman who may actually be older than her stated age of 53, said that she was not a leader and did not want to pick the teams. But pick her team she did. Jake, a land broker, picked his teams rather decisively and without any apparent hesitation. What, then, were their actual criteria? Jake stated that he wanted young, strong people. Jan didn't make any specific claims for a player-picking strategy.
Would it be wrong to generalize and say that Jan, as a first-grade teacher, knows the weaknesses of the young, and didn't want as many young people on her team? Or does she understand people better, as being a teacher perhaps she is used to evaluating future potential? She is definitely a people person. Can she see something that Jack could not? One thing she definitely can't see is how silly her pigtails look.
Jake, on the other hand, is a land broker. He is into property and territory. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he knows that you've got to know your territory and secure it before someone takes it away. Based solely on choice of profession, he is not as much of a people person as Jan is. It doesn't take a genius to know that in a game like this you've got to secure your territory. But perhaps like a general, Jake chose young soldiers who may or may not be able to follow orders - as long as there is someone to give those orders.
Looking at how Sook Jai began the game, it's clear that no one is shouting out orders to direct the battalion, because Sook Jai stubbornly paddled their boat backwards across the whole harbor, while Chuay Gahn quickly made headway by understanding the right way the boat was supposed to be facing.
But wasn't it strange how, in the first immunity competition, when finally both boats were facing the right way, Chuay Gahn went much, much faster than Sook Jai? What is wrong with the young team? Can't they paddle a boat?
In fact, the most remarkable thing about the first two weeks of Survivor: Thailand is how closely the teams have been competing. Sook Jai was cocky and surefooted - until the competitions actually started. In fact, Sook Jai would have lost the first competition if it had not been for a road-block delay caused by the spatial board block puzzle which caused Ghandia to lose the competition for her team. Before that road block, Chuay Gahn had been far ahead, mostly because Sook Jai displayed no evidence of teamwork in paddling their boat.
The luxury competition - playing for fish hooks, a large fish net, a lamp, and other essentials - was also extremely close, and Chuay Gahn lost by a matter of seconds. The second immunity competition - based on swimming capability - was quite close as well.
Why isn't the young team clearly the leader, winning by large margins? The average viewer might have picked, as did Jack, all the young and strong people. But was this wise? Opinions vary, but what is clear after two weeks of challenges is that the difference between the competitive capabilities of the two teams is extremely small. All the competitions were won by very narrow margins.
What can we take this to mean? And what - after all - were the purposes of Jan versus Jake in constructing their teams? It's easy to say that their purpose was simply to win. But was this actually the case?1 2 Next-->
View Printable version of this article