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Survivor: Thailand - Why Jake Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/05/2002
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Well, the producers tried to make us believe that there would not be a good Pagonging this time - but that's exactly what happened. One by one, Sook Jai was whittled away. The final member alive in the game was also the first member of the tribe, Jake. He picked a tribe for youth and strength and ended up with one that could not beat the old folks. But even without his tribe, could he have somehow fashioned a survival strategy? Let's take a look at what happened, of course using my What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned as a guide.
Jake did pretty well in the first rule for scheming and plotting. He apparently had a pretty solid group of Sook Jais who voted along with his decisions early on to get rid of Jed, Stephanie, and Robb. In fact, it was solid enough that even though Penny and Erin apparently shunned Shii Ann, they still didn't want to break up the group. However, he could not keep them together when they kept losing challenges. And once they went into the merge with fewer members than Chuay Gahn, they were in serious trouble.
To his credit, Jake tried to play a variety of strategies to split up the Chuay Gahn group. Who knows - maybe if he had kept Shii Ann around, one of them might have worked because they seemed to sort of trust her (yes, I realize that "seemed" is the key word here). The problem is, he was coy when he needed to be straightforward and straightforward when he needed to be more coy. For example, he flat-out told Ted that people in Chuay Gahn had said to vote for him. But when Ted asked who it was, Jake refused to tell him. Why? What could it hurt? If he had flat-out said who it was, perhaps Ted would have believed him a bit more and a crack might have appeared. In addition, we never saw him try to make a pact with Jan - instead he voted against her! Yet she is probably in the most vulnerable position and might have been the best one to approach. One major problem Jake faced is that Brian made one-on-one pacts with Ted, Clay, and Helen (each unbeknownst to the others). This solidified things such that all were loyal to Brian first, and Jake could not find a way to open up a rift. He tried, but Brian out-Machiavellied him.
Did Jake scheme and plot too much? Well, yes and no. As we saw above, he tried various tactics on different people. But it got to the point where they were calling him "Jake the Snake" because he kept hitting on different angles. Still, I can't really say he did scheme and plot too much because he was in a position where he needed to try everything to stay alive.
He generally followed the third rule of pretending to be nice - except in the previous Tribal Council, where he talked about how much work he does compared to some of the others. It was a shot across their bow, and Clay lashed out at him about it. But even that was more of a threat relating to how he will judge them from the jury than it was violating the rule about being nice. Overall, Jake has been a decent guy and has had no problems under this rule.
Similarly, he did not allow his emotions to control him (except maybe when he wanted to beat up the boat, as we saw in the review episode, but that hardly counts). He was apparently friendly with Shii Ann, but when it became obvious that she was plotting with the other team, he felt she had to go. It might have been the wrong decision, but the point is that he made the decision - and others - objectively for the purposes of the game. You can't ask for more than that.
Relating back to what Jake said at the previous Tribal Council, he definitely followed the advice about pulling your own weight. He worked at camp even when it was obvious that he wouldn't be sticking around much longer. Contrary to what some of the Chuay Gahn members had said a few Councils earlier, they did not vote him off because of any hint of not working hard enough.
Did the other five do the right thing in voting Jake off? Absolutely. From my earlier article: "You need to go back to voting off the weak again after the unallied strong are gone. In this case, 'weak' means the stragglers. These are the members of the herd who are left over, with nobody left to protect them." That describes Jake's position exactly. While there was some discussion about getting rid of Clay, they were smart to hold off on that until the last Sook Jai had been removed. Otherwise, he would have become a wildcard, and that's the last thing they needed.
In the end, Jake was, indeed, Pagonged. Chuay Gahn had a strong bond amongst themselves (at least once Ghandia was gone) and would not be pried apart by the Sook Jai, who came into the merge as the weaker group. We might trace his loss all the way back to the way he picked his team. They were indeed stronger, but also stronger-willed. They did not come together as a team. There were internal struggles that may have contributed to their losses at immunity challenges. Indeed, early on they (perhaps including Jake) apparently threw an immunity challenge to get rid of Jed. If they had won that, things might have ended up very differently. Once he was put into the position of a weaker member, he tried and tried to find a hole in the alliance, but never could. I do think that this is mainly because there is not one single alliance, but multiples. There is the overall group, but then there are Brian's three private alliances as well. It's more difficult to break a two-person alliance, and that's what so many of the Chuay Gahn believe they have. Basically, Jake was outwitted by Chuay Gahn - and Brian in particular. He was outplayed by Chuay Gahn, especially Jan in the early picking. That is why Jake lost, and he will now be outlasted by five of the original eight.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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