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Survivor: Thailand - Why Clay Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/20/2002
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Clay made it into the final two and was one vote away from winning a million dollars. It was surprising to many that he was that close - some had predicted a much more lopsided vote against him. Sometimes he played smart; other times he just blew it. Let's look back at What Thai Survivors Should Have Learned to see which was which, and why Clay lost.
Clay definitely did well in the scheming and plotting department. In some ways, he even outdid Brian, who won. For example, when he knew that the Chuay Gahn were going to vote out Penny, he saw an opportunity to get himself a vote on the jury. So unbeknownst to his fellows, he told Penny that he would vote for her and prove it by underlining her name. By supposedly being a man of his word, he got what he was looking for - a vote from Penny at the end. Of course, it also helped that he knew a variety of things about Penny while Brian could only stare at her as if he was a deer looking at approaching headlights when she asked what he knew about her, but that was part of Clay's plan as well. It would have been interesting to see how Clay would have done as compared to Brian if there had been a "Fallen Comrades" challenge this season. It often seemed like he was too busy talking to really listen to anybody, but apparently he did put forth more effort in that arena than many had previously thought. I may appear to be jumping ahead to the "pretend to be nice" section here, but I think Clay's behavior was part of his overall attempt to plot for jury votes.
Another time that stands out with Clay is when he recruited Shii Ann during what everybody thought was a merge. Sure, she was easy to pull over to the Chuay Gahn side, but he made the attempt, got information, and plotted to overthrow the Sook Jai. Had the merge actually occurred at that point, thus putting Shii Ann at least onto the jury (because she would not have been voted out at that, the final non-jury vote), he might have earned himself another vote on the jury.
Clay outmaneuvered Ted, even though Ted had made a pact with Brian earlier. Sure, part of that may have been that Brian knew who he wanted to be against in the final two, but Clay worked on it and worked on it hard. Some have said that Clay simply rode Brian's coattails into the finals, but I don't agree. He did his fair share of scheming and plotting, and I consider him to be successful in that regard.
But did he scheme and plot too much? No. He did not come in second because of doing anything wrong in that regard. He did not backstab before he needed to, and even then it appeared that Brian would get the blame. Where Clay really went wrong was in regard to the third rule, pretending to be nice.
Yes, I know that earlier I mentioned how he went out of his way to learn about Penny - which was indeed pretending to be nice. That was part of a strategy, and one that worked in her case. That said, it went awry when he would lash out at people. Had he been as nice to Jake as he was to Penny, he might well have walked away with a million dollars. Instead, he got pissed off at Jake for daring to speak his mind at a Tribal Council about people not pulling their weight. Hell, Jake didn't even mention Clay's name, but Clay reacted as if he had pointed a finger at him - talk about protesting too much.
Clay was easily annoyed, and thereby easily annoying. He was pulled into the finals by Brian because Brian wanted to make sure he was up against somebody who would make him look like an angel in comparison. Okay, maybe that's going a bit too far, but at least Brian wanted to be the lesser of two evils. Clay allowed himself to become the "greater" evil.
Part of the reason for this was that he allowed his emotions to control him. Lashing out at Jake was a perfect example of this. He should have kept his anger in check, but he allowed it to get in the way of his game play. He lashed out again when it came time for the final questions by the jury. Even though it was apparent that Helen was mad at Brian, Clay failed to take advantage of this by calmly and nicely answering her question. Instead, he just said that nothing he said would change her mind anyway. Not a smart move, but one that came from anger on his part. On the opposite side, he did not allow emotions to interfere with the vote, but then it's unclear if he actually liked any of these other people! He seemed to like Ted, but certainly had no compunction about voting him off without warning. This is as it should be when it comes to the game of Survivor.
But what may have truly done in Clay was his failure to adhere to the fifth rule. While it is billed as the least important, it can still make or break a person. In this case, it broke Clay's chances of the million. There was no way Helen or Jan would vote for Clay. Even as pissed off as Helen was, she still never felt that Clay deserved the win. He tried to make excuses, such as claiming that people told him they didn't need him to help with getting the water (as one example), but nobody bought that.
So, did Brian do the right thing by bringing Clay into the final two with him, and did the jury do the right thing in not voting him the big prize? Yes and yes. By taking Clay in, Brian forced people to think about their votes more than they might have if he had taken in somebody more likeable. As noted above, he was the lesser of two evils. This also allowed the jury to consider game play as a factor, which earned him Helen's vote and possibly others.
By considering game play, the only person they really could vote for was Brian. As noted above, I do not believe that Clay coasted in as much as some others do (compare him to Kim Johnson, for example, if you want to see somebody who really coasted in - heck, look at Jan, who rode coattails right on in to third place!). He did his fair share of scheming. He made plans far ahead of time, considering what the jury would think long before Survivor contestants often do.
But he was not as good a strategist as Brian. And his plans were overturned by his inability to put on a happy face all the time and to pull his own weight around the camp. All of these reasons combine to explain why Clay lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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