Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor: Thailand - Why Brian Wonby David Bloomberg -- 12/20/2002
View Printable version of this article
Normally, I would start with looking at why three out of the final four lost before jumping to why the winner won. But since it's late and my laptop is running on empty, let's skip straight to Brian and deal with the others later.
I attended the Survivor finale (more on that later in another article) and the general agreement among other website folks I talked to was that Brian Heidik is the best, most strategic player since Rich Hatch. Considering that I wrote an article comparing the two, I would have to agree. Let's take a look at just why Brian was such a great player, based, of course, on looking back at What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned.
In many ways, the first rule sums it all up: "Make Machiavelli Proud: Scheme and Plot." Brian schemed, Brian plotted. I noted, "From the very beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships." This is precisely what Brian did. He made an alliance with Ted. He made an alliance with Clay. He made an alliance with Helen. Hell, for all we know he made an alliance with Magilla the monkey! There was an overall Chuay Gahn group alliance, and then there were several individual alliances that were independent of one another. This made it incredibly difficult for anybody to truly know what was going on in his mind, and it also made it nearly impossible for any outsider to have a chance at breaking into the alliance.
We've seen tribal alliances falter before, but Brian's never would. Why? Let's look at the options. Jake goes to Clay to try to turn him over to their side. No way Clay would do it, because Clay has a "final two" agreement with Brian. Jake talks to Helen about it. Nope, she has a similar alliance with Brian. How about Ted? Same deal. Jake was out of luck. But if there had just been a general group alliance, Jake (and/or Ken and Penny) might have been able to turn one of them who did not feel quite as secure. Since Brian had almost everybody feeling completely secure, the alliance held.
This might lead to questions about whether Brian schemed and plotted too much. After all, it was a 4-3 vote, and it could have easily gone the other way. The answer lies in the votes of Helen and Ted. They were the ones who were stabbed in the back by Brian. Yet both of them voted to give him the money. Why? Well, part of it is because of who he was up against. But even beyond that, as Helen indicated, she voted based on game play, and Brian was the best player. (Mind you, had this been the Survivor: Marquesas jury - or at least the Rotu four portion of it, they would likely have been so vindictive against Brian for beating them that they would have voted for Clay. But that's another story.)
Brian did an admirable job of keeping his scheming secret. He didn't backstab until he felt he really needed to. And he definitely did not scheme and plot too much - rather, just the right amount.
Moving on to the third rule, Brian did an admirable job of pretending to be nice. While he made all sorts of sexist comments privately to the camera or to some of his cohorts, he made sure that side of him never showed up with the women around. Had this been Big Brother, where all the "private" moments are public for the eventual jury, Brian didn't have to worry about that. He could say whatever he wanted to the cameras - as long as he kept quiet about it otherwise.
He completely succeeded in keeping control even under emotional stress. He knew that he was playing a game, and repeated that fairly often. He knew that he had friendly relationships with many of his fellow players, but also knew there could only be one winner. He kept himself calm - unlike Clay, who lashed out when upset.
The only time he might have failed in this - and that's only if we believe his answer to Helen at the final Tribal Council - is when he said that he voted Helen out before Jan, and without any warning, because he was mad at her for plotting against him. Frankly, I think that was an out-and-out lie, made to take off the heat because the real answer might have upset her more. What was the real answer? I suspect it was simply that he knew he could not beat Helen as easily as Clay in the final two. She was too much of a threat to him, and so she had to go. But if he had told her that at the end, she would not have had an answer to her question of why he couldn't just let her know she was going. By claiming to have been angry, it gave him an excuse. This actually further shows that he did not allow himself to be controlled by his emotions. Instead, he used emotions to control the game.
The fifth rule is that providing food wins allies and you shouldn't be lazy. Under normal circumstances, this is one of the least important of all the rules. But here, it is one thing that helped set him apart from Clay. Brian worked hard. Clay did not. It is just that simple. Jake may well have voted at least partly based on that. Same with Jan and even Helen. Brian's work ethic helped him - especially when compared to Clay.
At the end we normally look at whether the tribe made the right decision in voting a person off. Instead, let's look at Brian's decisions. Specifically, in the final four, he should have been voting off the strongest. "In this case, the strong are those who are members of your own alliance but threaten your chance in the end, either because they can win the immunity challenges or because they are popular with the future jury. … The main thing here is that you don't want a 'nice' person left with you in the final two." So, Brian pretty much had to get rid of Helen and Jan. There was no choice in the matter. He did the right thing.
Why then, did Brian win? It was not just one thing - it was everything. Brian played the game better than anybody since Rich Hatch. He schemed and plotted and put his onw new twist into the game that may affect later series yet to come. He managed to get people to trust him even though he was a used car salesman, fercryingoutloud! He made plenty of promises, allowing himself the leeway to decide which ones to keep and which to break when the time was right. He made every right move and avoided the wrong ones. And that is a sure sign of success when it comes to Survivor. Indeed, that is why Brian won.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at email@example.com.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent Survivor articles at the Survivor: Thailand page and take a look at our sections on Big Brother 3 and The Osbournes. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article