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Survivor: Vanuatu – Why Twila Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/14/2004
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Twila was definitely one of the more memorable personalities to come out of Survivor: Vanuatu – indeed, perhaps out of any season. However, being memorable does not necessarily equate to winning the game. She came as close as she could – second place – but couldn’t pull it off at the end? Why not? What happened during the game or at the end to give her $100,000 instead of $1,000,000? Why did Twila lose?
Of course, there is only one way to determine the answers to all our questions. We will look back at What Vanuatu Survivors Should Have Learned, just as we have all season for the 16 people who were voted out before her.
The first rule, which Twila knew well, is to scheme and plot. Twila said she came to Survivor for one reason and one reason only: to win a million dollars. So you’d better believe she was prepared to make alliances, break alliances, and do whatever it took. We saw this on numerous occasions.
Early on, Twila was a member of the elder women alliance, but also had a good relationship with Dolly that helped force Dolly into the indecisiveness that led to her dismissal. After the tribal swap, Twila must have felt as doomed as Bubba and Rory did on Yasur. But she made a new alliance – a Final Four alliance, at that – and found herself in a good position.
When Twila believed that Julie had been offered a Final Four deal as well (a lie, but she didn’t know that at the time), Twila didn’t sit back to wait and see what would happen – she took action by rejoining with her original alliance at the merge. Once again, she was in the majority.
And still again, when she saw her position slipping within that alliance, she refused to just lie down and let Ami, Leann, and Julie walk all over her. Instead, Twila turned the game around and dethroned the queen. Indeed, it was apparently Twila who realized that Chris was in the key position to bring Eliza to their side.
In short, Twila knew that she would have to make and break alliances, and make and break promises – and she didn’t hesitate to do so when necessary.
Another point to make is that the first rule notes, “Part of plotting and scheming can also be making good use of sneakiness.” This Twila did, to an extent. She overheard Eliza trying to make plans with Chris. She decided to confront them then and there and let both of them (though it was probably mostly aimed at Chris) know that she knew what they were talking about. It’s not clear if that had any effect on the game, but it certainly didn’t hurt for her to put Chris on notice.
With all this scheming and plotting, it naturally brings up the question of whether Twila did too much of it. I would have to answer that question with a “no.” Similarly, she didn’t backstab anybody too early.
Twila did have a problem keeping her scheming secret in the latter part of the game, but did a fine job earlier. The problem was with Scout, as the two of them were so tight that Chris suspected the two women had a Final Two deal. This led to him refusing to give in at Final Immunity (though it’s unlikely he would have anyway) and almost voting off Twila instead of Scout at the end.
Furthermore, as I’ve discussed previously in Why Scout Lost, having such an obvious alliance limited Twila’s options. Julie and Eliza certainly were not going to approach Twila to turn on Scout because it likely never entered their minds that she would do such a thing. Maybe it would have been the wrong move anyway, but it would have given her more freedom to choose.
Where Twila really failed was in the third rule, pretending to be nice. As was said at least a couple times over the course of the show, Twila had to be Twila. As a viewer, I loved that Twila said what was on her mind. But as a strategist, I have to say that it really hurt her.
To find out how much it hurt her, all we really have to do is look at the final jury. Both Chris and Twila lied. But Chris buttered people up and acted nice both before and after the lies. Twila just said whatever she was thinking, no matter who it pissed off.
Over the course of the series, Twila had blowups that we saw with Mia, Ami, and Eliza. Those were just the screaming matches. She also alienated several others. Each time, she came out ahead in the vote, but there was always the final jury looming.
Chris knew that Twila’s temper would be an issue. Before Eliza was to be voted off, he encouraged Twila to get everything off her chest. Eliza saw what he was trying to do in the particular case.
But then before the final jury, Chris told Twila that he was not planning on taking any crap from the jurors and she shouldn’t either. The first question came from Eliza, who wanted an apology from Twila. Twila refused, saying she didn’t feel she owed Eliza anything. Chris, however, turned on the charm and apologized in a way that appeared heartfelt. We could see in Twila’s face that she knew she’d been had, and immediately changed her tactics. However, it was too little, too late.
If Survivor existed in a perfect world where everybody valued only game play, the fact that Twila had gotten jury members upset wouldn’t matter. They would have been able to see past that and vote for her strategy, as Ami did. However, Survivor does not exist in such a world. It exists in a world where people take their personal feelings to heart, where emotion can determine their vote.1 2 Next-->
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