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Survivor: Thailand - Why Jan Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/20/2002
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Jan began the game of Survivor: Thailand in a unique position - she, in competition with Jake, was allowed to choose her own tribe. Jan picked an older and presumably more mature group while Jake went for youth and presumed strength. At first it looked like Jake's strategy was far better, but by the time of the merge, Jan's proved superior. Her Chuay Gahn tribe Pagonged the Sook Jai, thus keeping Jan in the game far longer than she otherwise would have been. It is likely (though not necessarily a given, considering the way Brian turned on Ted) that Jan would have been the next Chuay Gahn to go had the tribe not won so many challenges in a row before the merge.
Once Jan made it to the merge, she was destined to go even farther, much the same as Kim Johnson did in Africa, because she was not determined to be a threat in individual challenges. Unlike Kim Johnson, who won two challenges at the end to move her into the final two, Jan truly was not a threat. Yet she still made it to the final three. How did she make it that far and why did she end up losing anyway? Let's look back, as usual, at What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned to see where she succeeded and where she didn't.
The first "didn't" comes right at the top - scheming and plotting. Viewers only saw Jan scheming a total of three times that come to mind. First was when she encouraged Ghandia to get Helen and have all three vote off Clay. It was never entirely clear why Jan felt Clay needed to go when it had been the whole Ghandia/Ted situation that had thrown the tribe into disarray - it kind of reminded me of when the women of the Pagong tribe on the first Survivor blamed Joel for Gervase's joke about women and cows. But no matter - the plan fell through when Helen switched sides to help the guys get rid of Ghandia. We were not shown Jan in a scheming mode until after the entire Sook Jai tribe had been voted off, when Helen approached her about joining with Ted to get rid of Clay and then, presumably, Brian. It is unclear exactly what happened, but Jan apparently decided not to go along with this plan. Helen would later blame her for not jumping in, but, as noted in Why Helen Lost, it did not seem like Helen really pushed the issue. Finally, we saw her scheming - again when somebody else approached her - with Clay and Brian to vote off Helen rather than herself for the fourth place position.
If she plotted more than this, we didn't see it. Nor did we see any indication that she might have been. Indeed, when Jake was trying to rattle cages and see who might break from the Chuay Gahn alliance, the only person we didn't see him talking to was Jan. It never was entirely clear why - perhaps she was happy with the place she'd be given by her tribemates. Jake has made comments indicating that she said she would be happy with making the jury. Perhaps it just wasn't in her nature to do that kind of Machiavellian behavior. Whatever the reason, Jan definitely did not scheme and plot.
This therefore answers the next question, of whether she schemed and plotted too much. She did not; nor did she backstab before it was absolutely necessary - when it came to getting rid of Ted and Helen. These played no role in her being voted out.
She did fine in the area of pretending to be nice - indeed, she didn't have to pretend. Jan is an exceedingly nice woman - to the point of appearing a bit, well, loony, such as when she buried the bat and the chicken head and feet. Her tribemates generally viewed her as non-threatening, like their nice auntie. This helped her to stick around as long as she did. But it also made sure she would never see the final two - short of having won the last immunity. Nobody wants to face everybody else's favorite aunt in the final vote.She also did fine in controlling her emotions rather than allowing them to control her. She was very fond of pretty much everybody on her tribe - heck, she had picked them all and felt somewhat responsible for them. But when it came time to vote one off, well, she knew it had to be done. She went along with the group vote (except in the Ghandia situation already mentioned) even when she felt bad about it.
Finally, she did a great job in the area of helping to provide food and water and making sure she was not lazy. It was one thing that separated her very clearly from Clay, and had she made it to the final two with him, she could have used it to explain why people should vote for her instead of him. Alas, she didn't make it that far, but had she not been as hard-working as she was, the others might have chosen to get rid of her sooner.
So, did Brian make the right choice by voting her off when he did? There is no question about it. He had a choice of taking Clay or Jan into the finals. Clay was not well liked at all, and he still got three votes to Brian's four! Had Brian taken Jan into the finals, she would be a million dollars richer right now. It all comes down to this: "The main thing here is that you don't want a 'nice' person left with you as the final two." Jan is definitely a nice person, which is good in real life, but not necessarily so in Survivor.
Jan had the opportunity to change her fate. She could have joined with Ted and Helen to oust Brian and Clay. She could have approached the remaining Sook Jai after the merge in order to form a counter-alliance to her own tribe. She had several opportunities to jockey for a different position. But Jan is not a schemer or a plotter - she was too nice to double-cross people without heavy encouragement from others and too nice to be allowed into the finals. She was willing to go with the flow, and the flow took her up to third place. She put her fate into the hands of others in her tribe and was voted off when it was convenient for them to do so. That is why Jan lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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