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Survivor: Pearl Islands – Why Ryan S. Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/26/2003
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Shortly after the first episode of Survivor: Pearl Islands had aired, a person very familiar with the game of Survivor e-mailed to ask me if I had started writing “Why Ryan S. Lost” yet. I hadn’t, because I almost never do (the only times I ever consider starting ahead of time is before the Final Four – in order to get articles to readers more quickly, and only then if I’m absolutely certain that I’m right). But it seemed so obvious that he would go next that I was sure something would happen to change that. Well, it didn’t. Sometimes, the obvious does indeed happen – as it did in Episode 2.
And one thing that is obvious is that Ryan simply was not cut out for this particular version of Survivor. Some of the series are more physically demanding than others, and so far, this has been one of the most physical yet. The problem is that Ryan is not among the most physical of players. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Rather than jump the gun and perhaps miss something important, we’ll go through our usual path of following along with my pre-game article, What Pearl Island Survivors Should Have Learned to see where he did the right things and where he went wrong.
The first and most important rule is to scheme and plot. In his final words, Ryan claimed that he knew the game of Survivor inside and out. But from what we saw, you’d have a hard time proving it. Maybe he just didn’t have a chance, but as I note every year, “From the beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships. While it may be difficult to know whom you can trust after just a couple days…, if you take too long to figure it out, you may not have to worry about it because you won’t be around.” This described Ryan’s situation perfectly. For one reason or another, the only person he really seemed to bond with was Lill. It’s not entirely clear why this is the case; although he made a comment in his final words about having lost in the first five minutes, I think a little concerted effort to get to know people might have turned it around – if it could have been turned around.
However, I believe that this is one of the rare cases where plotting and scheming probably would not have helped Ryan a whole lot. We’ll get to that in a minute.
We can quickly skip by #2, as he obviously did not plot and scheme too much or stab anybody in the back. As for the third rule, he didn’t do anything wrong there either. He seemed to be a nice enough guy, and even those voting him off (at least the one we heard) seemed to agree.
OK, so let’s check out #4. Pretty much the same thing – he didn’t let his emotions control him. They never came into play. And he certainly didn’t have to worry about #5, being too much of a threat!
We start to have problems in #6 – don’t be lazy. It seems to have been more a perception than anything else, but at the very first challenge, several people, including the elected leader of the tribe, got it into their heads that he wasn’t trying very hard. This is not the usual “laziness” issue that we generally see, but it was enough that had Nicole not caused her own demise, Ryan would easily have been the first to go.
Unfortunately, Ryan tried to show how valuable he was to the tribe by going first in the reward challenge – and ended up putting them at an immediate disadvantage. Sure, most of the others screwed up too, but he was first, he was worst, and he already had a bad reputation. At that point, he wasn’t so much considered lazy as simply weak.
The seventh rule tells us to be flexible. Ryan really wasn’t. He got locked in with Lill early and viewed it as his lot in life to not be in with the cool kids. Even when he had the opportunity to take the focus off of himself by turning it instead on Mr. “I wanna go hoooome” Osten, he didn’t seem to really do a whole lot with the information. Sure, he told Tijuana, but why not tell everybody? Why not try to start a groundswell against Osten? It was his only hope, but he just didn’t – or couldn’t – see it.
The real key is not so much in what Ryan did or didn’t do, it was in what his tribe should do. We know that at this point in the game, the tribe should be removing its weakest links. In this case, there were two possibilities: Ryan and Osten. Osten is by no means weak physically, but he just doesn’t seem to want to be there anymore. As several of his teammates said, his attitude could wear them down.
But they just couldn’t seem to get past the fact that he’s got muscles on his muscles, while Ryan… doesn’t. They believe they simply cannot do without Osten’s strength, and it’s worth putting up with his whining. So did they make the right choice? I’d have to say yes. We’ve seen people come down with the “I wanna go hooome” syndrome before and snap back. Just last season we saw it in both Shawna and Jenna. If they could lift his spirits – perhaps through a single challenge win – Osten might be a new man. But no amount of morale was going to make Ryan a powerlifter, and they knew it.
So this brings us pretty much where we started, to the physical nature of this season. Ryan simply found himself outmatched in that area on a tribe that has been completely outgunned. This is not a good combination for him. Even if he had been one of the greatest schemers the game has ever known, I’m not sure if he could have turned this one around. There hasn’t been time to really get into that type of plotting, and his physical attributes are all too noticeable. Sometimes, the weakest link is truly the weakest player, and that’s what happened here.
Ryan came to play an intellectual game but couldn’t make it past the physical limitations. He received a one-council reprieve because Nicole couldn’t keep her thoughts to herself, but that’s all he was allowed. With his tribe losing all three challenges and his own showings being pretty bad, it is really no surprise to find out that physical weaknesses are why Ryan S. lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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