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Survivor: Thailand - Why Shii Ann Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/31/2002
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Wow. That was quite an episode! Never before has a Survivor contestant pretty much quoted directly one of the rules for survival from What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned (and previous incarnations of that article) in their final words. Coincidence or not, Shii Ann pretty well pinpointed the cause for her demise from the game. Still, was that the only reason? Let's take a look.
Shii Ann was right on the mark for the first rule - scheme and plot. She managed to stick around in a tribe where several people really didn't like her. How? Because she had the ear of Jake, who seems to have been the glue that held the semi-alliance together. This was a smart move on her part. Without Jake and Ken, she'd likely have been toast sooner. And then, when she was apparently given the opportunity to make a break for freedom, to switch to an alliance that would guarantee her some more time in the game, take out her main opposition, and to be with people she actually enjoyed, she took it. It was the right move to make… if the merge had really happened. Unfortunately, Shii Ann was the victim of the merge hoax. She thought she'd found an escape, but instead she ended up digging her own grave.
This brings us to the rule that Shii Ann practically quoted in her goodbye speech: Don't scheme and plot too much. Also within this rule is to keep your scheming secret and don't backstab until you absolutely need to. Let's address all of these. Basically, Shii Ann's main mistake was to be honest with Ken. She should have found a way to play him, saying that while she is spending time with the Chuay Gahn folks, it's for reconnaissance, not to switch sides. Yes, that would have meant a rather angry Ken after the vote (had there been a vote like that), but at least she'd have been safe. By telling him, she was taking the chance that there wasn't an unhappy Chuay Gahn person who was looking to switch sides as well. As it turned out, of course, the whole thing was moot, but you never know what's really going on and it is a mistake to give away the fact that you are even thinking of switching sides. Yes, Shii Ann was trying to stay on Ken's good side, insisting that she would remain loyal to him even after knocking the former Sook Jai folks down a notch. But how could she stay loyal to him once they were down a person? I didn't really understand that part and I suspect Ken didn't either. So by not keeping her scheming secret, and by doing too much of it in order to try to stay on Ken's good side, she ended up making herself a target.
She tried to talk her way out of it at Tribal Council, and I think she made some pretty good arguments. But in the end, Ken and Jake just didn't feel they could trust her even over the manipulative Penny.
Although this explains a lot about why Shii Ann was voted off, let's continue down the list. What about pretending to be nice? Well, it appears Shii Ann generally tried with some of the people, but with others she just couldn't do it. Her contempt for Robb was obvious (and understandable), and it seems that Penny, at least - and perhaps Erin - also did not find her likeable. Why? Well, it's hard to judge based on the extremely limited information we have been provided. But it's safe to say that Shii Ann probably should have done a little better at the job of pretending.
Next is the admonition against letting your emotions control you. In this case, we have a couple issues. First, she seems to have liked/admired Ken and wanted him to know what she was thinking. As we've already discussed, this was certainly a part of her downfall. Second, we know that she has been angry at Penny and Erin, and this was one reason for her almost immediate jump to Chuay Gahn. It may have been more reasonable to wait and look at the lay of the land before making such a big decision. On the other hand, what if Penny had managed to weasel her way into the Chuay Gahn alliance? It's a tough decision to make, but she definitely allowed her emotions to play a part.
The fifth rule, about not being lazy, did not really play a part other than that it seems to have helped keep her around until this point. Jed and Stephanie, whether true or not, were perceived as being lazy, and that started the downfall of that mini-alliance. Shii Ann was a worker, and that kept Jake happy with her. It didn't help her this time, but it made sure she got here.
So what about the others - did they make the right decision? Well, it's kind of hard to say because this is a point that Survivor has never been at before! Now that we have no idea when/if the real merge will occur, you've got to keep voting based on keeping the tribe strong. Shii Ann apparently helped quite a bit in this particular immunity challenge, but in previous physical challenges she has often been sitting on the sidelines. Even in the mental challenges, she has not been able to pull them off as easily as perhaps the others thought she should. But really, what we're looking at here is keeping strength not so much in ability to win but ability to stick together. Shii Ann admitted that she had considered helping out the Chuay Gahn alliance. Penny, however, kept talking about the tribe. She and Erin put forth the idea that the tribe should be supreme over the individual, which is silly, of course, but seems to have hit a nerve with Ken and Jake. They could either vote against the manipulative Penny or the potential alliance-breaker Shii Ann. They chose Penny. I'm not sure there was a clear right or wrong answer to this one.
Shii Ann made a bold play to get herself out of a bad situation. However, she was working with a flawed data set - the assumption that the merge had taken place. This certainly played a big role in her downfall, as none of this would have ever come out had they all known that they were still split into two tribes. Even so, Shii Ann should have found a way to keep things more secret rather than telling almost all to Ken. As she said herself, "I committed the classic error of plotting and scheming too much." That is why Shii Ann lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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