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Survivor: Vanuatu – Why Brook Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/17/2004
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It’s Survivor time again! And that means it’s time to start snuffing torches. As soon as the torch goes out, we take a look to see why it happened. This season, Brook was the first to be sent packing. He seemed to have the right idea about forming an alliance and targeting somebody who appeared vulnerable, but it all got turned around on him. How did this happen? Why did Brook lose?
As we have done in past seasons, we will answer this question by looking back at our blueprint, the newly-updated What Vanuatu Survivors Should Have Learned. In so doing, we will find out what Brook did right and what he did wrong.
The first rule now and forever in Survivor is to scheme and plot. Brook did this in trying to get several of the others to vote out Chris as the weakest link because Chris was unable to get across the balance beam in the challenge, thus causing the men to lose. Brook saw somebody to focus on and took the opportunity, which was a smart move. Right off the bat he seemed to have a group of four on his side – he just needed one more. Unfortunately, he never got that one more, and actually lost one vote overall!
Brook neglected to realize that not everybody saw, as Chris himself said, “outbalancing” as a main part of the game. Sure, it made Chris stand out, but there were other things to look for as well. One of those things was the older guys’ worry that the youngsters would target them. So rather than thinking about just what happened at that particular challenge, they correctly focused on the game overall. There were two vulnerable people – Chris and Rory – and both of them were brought into the older alliance. Brook was focused on throwing somebody out; the elders were focused on keeping people around.
It had only been three days, so it would have been hard (though not impossible) for Brook to break the portion of the second rule that deals with scheming and plotting too much. However, he did manage to violate the part about keeping his scheming secret. Maybe he thought Lea would instantly be on his side regarding a vote against Chris, but it seems not to have even occurred to him to maybe ask in a less direct manner. Instead, he showed his hand, which allowed Lea to turn the tables. Bad move.
We didn’t see much that relates directly to the third rule – pretending to be nice – but we did see Lea and Chris talking about which younger guy to vote out. They settled on Brook for two reasons: J.P. was the only one trying to make fire, and Brook was cocky. The former will come into play a little bit down the page, but the latter is appropriate to mention right here.
Going all the way back to the first edition of Survivor, Richard Hatch came in so cocky that everybody thought he would be the first one voted off. However, he toned it down in front of his companions and they ended up doing what Brook wanted to do – they voted off the weakest link from the first challenge. Chris is no Sonja – he failed at one task and there is no indication that this will be a routine thing for him, while Sonja just appeared to be unable to keep up overall (much as Scout was doing this week for the ladies – and I think I would have been writing “Why Scout Lost” if Chris had been able to make it over the balance beam). But just as Chris is no Sonja, Brook is no Rich Hatch. His cockiness was enough to make him a target, and he should have known better than to let it show.
The fourth rule is not to let emotions control you, but that didn’t come into play here. Let’s move on. The fifth rule, not being a threat, did come into play, though I wouldn’t normally expect it to so early in the game. The elders saw the youngsters as a threat to them – they were afraid the younger tribe members would band together against them, starting with Chris as the first to be booted. So rather than focus on one incident, the elders took the long view. If they allowed Chris to go, they would lose an ally and the youngsters would gain ground. To prevent that from happening, they had to take out somebody who was a threat to them for later in the game. Brook fit the bill.
Looking at the sixth rule about not being lazy, we arrive at the second reason to be given by Lea and Chris for targeting Brook, in particular: J.P. was trying to make fire. It’s not that Brook was lazy, as far as we can tell, but he wasn’t seen to be working as hard on a specific task as J.P. was, so that was another straw on the camel’s back.
The seventh rule is to be flexible. There wasn’t much time for Brook to be too flexible. In the early-goings of a game, you pretty much have to pick a side right away. He chose to go after the tribe member who had shown an obvious weakness. Still, for whatever reason, Brook failed to notice that he apparently didn’t have the five votes necessary to get rid of Chris. If it was obvious, he should have tried a different maneuver.
Getting to the eighth rule, did the tribe do the right thing in voting off Brook? At this point in the game, they should be voting out the weak. But there are two ways to look at who is “weak” – somebody who will cause them to lose challenges or somebody who will cause divisions in the tribe. Chris caused them to lose a challenge, but it’s not at all clear that he will cause them to lose future challenges. Brook, however, was already causing divisions by pitting the younger men against the older ones and by apparently being cocky. There was a choice to get rid of somebody who might be solid but just messed up once, or somebody who could be a problem as the game went on. The majority chose to get rid of the probable future problem, and I certainly can’t disagree with that.
Brook apparently thought he was in a great position – he had an easy target in Chris, who obviously cost them immunity and he had several people who had agreed to vote his way. But because of that, he got a bit overconfident, and it showed. He tipped his hand before finding out exactly where everybody else stood. This allowed the older tribe members to form a counter-alliance before they could be picked off, and to target the one who seemed both cocky and least valuable. That is why Brook lost.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our other Survivor articles that have already been posted:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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