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Jake Creates His Own Fate, or Should Jake Have Been Voted Off?by Peggy Keller -- 12/08/2002
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Jake was given he opportunity of a lifetime on Survivor. He actually got to do what do many previous contestants wanted to do - hand pick his own tribe. What a brilliant move to pick all the young strong bucks, how could you possibly lose a physical challenge with that much brawn? And the mental challenges? Piece of cake. Robb is the only one without a college education compared to the older, weaker, group of college dropouts who make up the other tribe, so the mental challenges should have easy wins too.
It all looked good on paper. Sook Jai's faithful papa Jake would lead his team of enthusiastic, intelligent hard workers. But at some point, Jake must have gotten afraid of all that youth. Maybe sensing that everyone else was at least 30 years younger than him, Jake decided to make his position stronger by making the others weaker. Somehow, even though it was his idea for some of the tribe mates to gather food and some to build, the food gatherers became ostracized for doing exactly what he asked them to. The food gatherers were thinking correctly: Get some sleep, get some nourishment, and win as many challenges as you can. That is how you play the basic Survivor game. They did not realize that Jake was busy plotting against them.
Jake decided that the best way to save his own behind was to get rid of some of the stronger people and once the beach sleepers walked away from the uncomfortable, leaking shelter, Jake went in for the kill. When Jake was the one responsible for getting the fishing net back into the beach, he let it go and then told the tribemates that Jed lost it. Then he was part of the bloc that decided to loss immunity on purpose to get rid of Jed.
Looking back at everything we saw this season, there is no evidence that Jed was lazy. There is no evidence that he was a negative force on the tribe. Robb, I think this could be said about. Robb was confrontational and aggressive and yet Robb got to stay because he was still on the cusp of the Hut Builders alliance. Shii Ann was also, even though everyone was supposedly annoyed with her except Ken and Jake. Jake had the power but he used it for selfish reasons, and countless fables and fairy tales tells us that selfish motives lose in the end.
Should Jake have been voted out? Yes. Aside from everything that happened since the merge and the watered down villain that Clay has become, Jake, more than any of the other Survivor castaways this year except for Ghandia deserved the boot. I only wish it would have happened sooner. Don't misinterpret this to mean I don't like Jake. I love Jake. He seems to be a great guy with great stories and looks to be a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. But he played a lousy game of Survivor. He was a leader who led his tribe down the losing path. He made some serious mistakes. Jake should have seen the strengths in his tribe and instead he played up the weaknesses. He should have been a healer of rifts and instead he was a divider. If Shii Ann was as much a problem as many Sook Jai evictees have said, then Jake should have put aside his warm feelings for her and allowed Erin, Robb, Stephanie, Penny, and Jed to boot her. He kept her around while she still felt snubbed, which created unnecessary tension. He had faith in her, but it was unclear if it was deserved. She had the opportunity to win some mental challenges and she did not come through. Same with Penny. If people felt that she was manipulative to the point of distraction, he could have aimed the votes her way.
Jake should have admitted to losing the net, most likely the tribemates would not hold it against him as they were not catching fish with it anyway, and he should have admitted that the shelter was uncomfortable. He had a wonderful opportunity to create a strongly bonded tribe that went into the merge loyal and with good numbers. But he didn't. Had Jake been voted out early, the tribe might have self-destructed on their own, but it could not have been much worse than what actually happened.
Of course, each individual Sook Jai is responsible for their own actions: Shii Ann for being a know-it-all, Penny for being manipulative, Erin for riding Penny's coattails, Jed for not going along with the hut builders, Robb for being Robb, Stephanie for being irritable and taking her grumpiness out on the people around her, and Ken for choosing to sit out challenges he could have helped win so that he would look less threatening. And they are all responsible for allowing Jake to lead them down the path to the losers lodge. But it was, in the end, Jake who was that leader.
Peggy Keller is Mother and Behavior Therapist to her two autistic sons and teenage daughter. Click here to e-mail her.
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