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Survivor: Thailand - Why Penny Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/21/2002
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Penny thought she was getting in good with the Chuay Gahn squad, using her charm on them the same way it apparently had worked in the old Sook Jai. But 'twas not to be. What happened to cause her to be voted off when it seemed likely that Jake was on the way out? As usual, let's take a look back at What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned to see what she did wrong.
Incidentally, before we get into the whole Penny situation, I just wanted to point out that this is the 1500th article I've posted on RealityNewsOnline. You know, 1500 is an awful lot when you think about it, and I'd just like to thank all of our readers for continuing to come back to find out things like why each player lost.
Anyway, moving on. As has been true since the very first article on the site addressing why somebody lost, the key is to scheme and plot. While we never really saw Penny doing these things until this, her final episode, we heard about it from people like Shii Ann and Ken. And we saw the results of it when she apparently told Robb that she was voting with him and then repeatedly voted with the rest of the tribe instead. So even though we do not have much direct visual evidence, we have an awful lot of circumstantial evidence - enough for me to say she did indeed succeed in the scheming and plotting department. It appears to have been her charm, cuteness, America's sweetheart thing that she had going which helped her out in this department. Indeed, I would say she brought a whole new twist on the America's sweetheart role that is so often present in Survivor.
But while her plotting and scheming served her well within Sook Jai, it failed to bridge the post-merge gap. Part of it may have been that Shii Ann warned Clay and the others that Penny would be manipulative, but most of it was simply that Chuay Gahn was planning to "Pagong" the Sook Jai leftovers, and that included her. Also, it was probably easier for her to work her magic on people her own age than on those who have been around the block a few times, like Ted, Brian, and Clay (though Ted apparently believed Clay was succumbing). Then again, she suckered Jake in as well, so perhaps the age/experience issue is not as big a deal as it might seem.
Speaking of suckering Jake, this is the one place where we did see Penny scheming was in her attempt to leave Jake out in the cold. She said that she had an alliance with Jake, but when the chips were down, she literally moved to snuff his torch. In this particular case, she thought she would be aided because she had an in with Clay, who has simply been telling everybody what they want to hear.
So, with all of this going on, did she scheme and plot too much? I would say yes, she did. The reason Ted targeted her was because he felt she was overusing the whole charm ploy in an attempt to divide and conquer. Mind you, she might have only lasted an additional three days if he hadn't felt that way, but in those three days, she might have won immunity or found a way to somehow open a crack in the alliance. Unlikely, but possible.
Her best chance would have been to stick with Jake and somehow try to get the Chuay Gahn women over to their side. We saw Jake approach Helen, and he appears to have actually made her think about it. But once again, we never saw anybody go to Jan with a plan. Maybe they did and she ignored them, causing it to never be seen on TV. But in any event, a group of two is better than going it alone. She tried to hard to distance herself with the only person she could really trust, and that backfired.
As far as the third rule, she did indeed manage to pretend to be nice - at least once Shii Ann was gone. Before then, there was that whole Heathers thing going on where she shunned Shii Ann. Did that have any effect on this vote? Probably not, but the information on that situation provided earlier by Shii Ann may have been in the back of some minds, so we can't really say for certain.
She did okay with the fourth rule, though, and didn't allow her emotions to control her. While still part of Sook Jai, she stuck with the majority alliance even though she probably liked Robb (for example) more than Shii Ann. Post-merge, she decided it was necessary to dump Jake in order to survive, and she did. No Paschal/Neleh or Rodger/Elisabeth thing going on here. She may have been wrong to do it, but at least for this particular rule, viewed as a stand-alone, she did it the right way.
We saw no particular evidence that Penny was lazy, so the fifth rule can be safely ignored for now. That brings us to looking at whether the other players voted the right way. There were two real choices for the Chuay Gahn folks - Jake and Penny. Jake may be viewed as "stronger" in terms of leadership and overall physical ability. But Penny was thought of as the stronger schemer, especially in Ted's mind. Everybody seemed to know what Jake was up to anyway, but there was fear that Penny might sneak her way into an alliance crack somehow. As such, yes, they were right to throw her out at this point.
Overall, Penny appears to have gotten to the final seven through a semi-lethal combination of being cute and perky and also being manipulative. Hey, sometimes they go hand in hand in real life, why not on Survivor? But sometimes in real life people see through the act and know exactly what the person is up to. The same happened here. The Chuay Gahn alliance did not vote as a full unit, as Clay got mad at Jake's Tribal Council statements and perhaps has been charmed a bit by Penny. But it only took the other four, and they apparently saw Penny for the schemer she was. That is why Penny lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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