Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor: Pearl Islands – Why Burton Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/10/2003
View Printable version of this article
By now you’ve read my recap of the fourth episode and Professor Sadow’s look at strategy on that episode. If you haven’t, go ahead and do that now. I’ll wait…
OK, welcome back! It’s time to take a look at the first person voted out of the Drake tribe. Throughout the various Survivor series, we’ve seen people do things that essentially ensure their own demise. But perhaps we have never seen anybody engineer that in quite as successful a way as Burton did. As always, we’ll look back at What Pearl Island Survivors Should Have Learned and see why it is that Burton lost.
We will start at the beginning, with the most important rule: Scheme and plot. Well, Burton definitely did this. Even though his tribe was winning everything, he had molded an alliance for the future. This is a good idea – it makes no sense to wait until you need an alliance, because by that time it is probably too late. He thought he had at least Shawn, Michelle, and Jon on his side. Four is a good number for an alliance – except for the very first vote if “sides” are already established. He needed somebody else to be on his side or it could be a tie, and who knows what direction that could go. So he approached Rupert for an alliance of big strong guys. All of these things make sense… if you don’t really know the situation. Which brings us to…
…the second rule: Don’t scheme and plot too much, and don’t backstab until you absolutely need to. Burton broke both of these – big time. By trying to bring in Rupert, he made a fatal error. He even admitted that he was hesitant because Rupert was so gung-ho Drake. OK, then why did you do it?! Did he really think he could convince Rupert to completely change his thought patterns? No. If he felt he needed a fifth vote, he should have found another way. Even better would have been to stick just with four and try to throw off the other four so it wouldn’t be a tie. Instead, he opened himself up to the guy who would call him a “traitor.” Not very smart.
This error was compounded by backstabbing too soon. Christa was not a threat to him. Was she annoying? Maybe. But from what we’ve seen, Jon was infinitely more so. Was she part of his clique? No. But does that mean she had to go right then? No. She was still part of the Drake tribe and that tribe was running rampant over their opponents. Historically, tribal alliances have held up quite well and we saw nothing to indicate that this would be any different. They were setting themselves up to do a great Pagonging of Morgan. But no, Burton didn’t want that. He wanted to get rid of somebody on his own side first. Unfortunately for him, when he went to pull out the knife to stab her in the back, he found that it had been taken from him and plunged into his own back.
Where else did Burton fail? Let’s move on to the third rule, pretending to be nice. From the beginning, Burton seemed to be missing a few pieces in this regard – such as when he opened up a coconut and only shared it with Shawn and one of the women instead of offering it around to everybody. He and Shawn also took on leadership roles and began to alienate some of their cohorts. To make things worse, they apparently thought they were the life of the party as they made jokes at the expense of others, including Rupert. They were not making friends and influencing people.
I was about to write that Burton seemed to do okay on the fourth rule, not letting emotions control him, but then I paused. Really, it seems to me that this is exactly what he did in deciding to throw a challenge to get rid of somebody he didn’t like. Now, he may have couched it in terms of strategy, but was it really? Was she really a threat to him? I don’t see it. I think he just plain didn’t like her. Fine, that’s going to happen. But to then base a whole strategy around it, including throwing a challenge? Yeesh. That goes beyond the pale.
Burton certainly blew the new fifth rule – don’t be too much of a threat. I don’t think that’s what got him voted off, though it might have later in the game anyway. There is nothing he could have done about part of it – he’s a strong guy and can’t exactly hide that. But by taking on a leadership role, he emphasized the fact to the point that others might have started seeing him that way. This is especially the case when they have won so many challenges and will likely go into a merge with an advantage. When he opened himself up, they took him down.
Looking at it from another viewpoint, he made himself a threat strategically by being willing to throw a challenge in order to get rid of somebody he didn’t want around. If his plan had worked, Trish and Sandra knew they were marked for early dismissal as well. Jon, being the “freaking puppet-master” that he is, also had to know that Burton would be a threat later in the game if allowed to make it that far. So if he were allowed to control this first vote, things would only get worse.
One area where Burton seemed to do okay was in working hard. Rupert, of course, has apparently been the main food provider, but Burton hasn’t exactly been sitting on his butt all day or anything. So this is one that can be tossed aside for this discussion.
The seventh rule is to be flexible. This really didn’t come up here, so I’m going to pass it by as well.
So, what about the rest of his tribe? Did they do the right thing? Well, normally I’d say no. They should be voting off the weakest at this point. But “weak” doesn’t only mean physically. As I have noted in the article on what they should have learned, “the weak are those who will hurt your tribe’s chances in the immunity challenges or who will cause divisions in the tribe that will overall weaken the group dynamic.” When you have a guy who is purposely throwing challenges, he might be considered rather weak in that regard. Plus, as already discussed above, Burton also was causing problems in the group dynamic. Simply put, he had to go.
So we have somebody who schemed too much, backstabbed too soon, was a threat, wasn’t on good terms with a number of people in his tribe, and was causing divisions in that tribe. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. He set up the immunity challenge loss so the tribe could get rid of somebody they didn’t want around. What he wasn’t planning on was that he was the person they didn’t want around anymore! Burton might have well as written his own name on the voting paper. He engineered his own demise and snuffed his own torch. That is why Burton lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.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 recaps and other info on this show at the Survivor: Pearl Islands page, and take a look at our Temptation Island 3 page and our Race to the Altar page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article