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Survivor: Guatemala – Why Brian Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/21/2005
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There were two Tribal Councils in this week’s episode, with Margaret going home first and Brian following shortly after. While the first Tribal Council certainly had more fireworks, the second had more strategy at play. With this being the case, how did the strategic-minded game player Brian end up going home? Why did Brian lose?
Whether there is one Tribal Council or a hundred, we go about answering questions like these in the same way – by looking back at What Guatemala Survivors Should Have Learned. Let’s see what we can find.
Brian had the first rule down pat. He knew the game was about scheming and plotting, and he acted accordingly. Brian was a main force behind getting his tribe to ignore the numbers game and evict Blake due to his obnoxiousness – even inventing the new game of “Bait Blake” to help Blake shoot himself in the foot.
But while he was able to help whittle down the opposing side, Brian didn’t seem to consider the possibility that his own side might not be so solid. Well, let me slightly correct that – he did consider it a bit, as we saw in an interview on the show, but they managed to convince him otherwise. Brian encouraged Gary and Amy to stay solid and vote against Bobby Jon. At first, I didn’t understand this strategy, since Bobby Jon actually voted with their alliance to oust Blake, while Brandon did not. However, in my interview with Brian, he explained it more fully – basically, he was trying to split the Danni/Bobby Jon/Brandon vote (for more details, see the interview).
Another option, of course, would have been for Brian to pull a Judd and switch sides altogether. I was going to suggest that he could have approached Bobby Jon, Brandon, and Danni and pointed out that Amy’s ankle was the size of a grapefruit, and he would be happy to help them avoid a tie by voting with them, as long as they guaranteed him safety next time. However, it turns out he used this strategy as part of his plan to split their vote. The only thing he could have done differently would have been to actually use it and mean it, meaning he would have been turning on Gary and Amy. In hindsight, it might have worked, but at the time, he did not know Gary and Amy were turning on him, so he figured they were solid.
The second rule says not to scheme and plot too much or backstab too soon. Brian didn’t do either of these things, though I think some of his cohorts may have believed he was capable of doing them later in the game. Indeed, Bobby Jon noted in Tribal Council that Brian was always thinking Survivor. We’ve seen before – both on Survivor and Big Brother – that people who are suspected of playing strategically may become targets not for what they have already done, but for what they might do.
Brian was fine with the third rule, which says not to let emotion control you. However, his tribemates – including original allies Gary and Amy – were okay with it as well and didn’t let their friendship with Brian hold them back from voting him off.
The fourth rule says to pretend to be nice and keep any politics and controversial beliefs to yourself. Brian was obviously fine with the first part of the rule, as everybody seemed to truly like him. The second part of the rule has not come into play much in recent seasons, but it did this time around. Brian talked about he really didn’t fit in with the group as far as politics and religion went. But he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. They wanted to thank Jesus for their food? He wasn’t going to say otherwise. They wanted to pray before a challenge? He wasn’t going to say otherwise. He didn’t agree with them, but he sure as heck wasn’t going to give them an excuse to vote him out. I suspect that the first time most of his tribemates even had a clue he disagreed with them was when they were sitting at home watching that episode.
Fifth is to not be too much of a threat. While Brian was not a physical threat – a point even noted by Jeff Probst during Brian’s final Tribal Council – he was certainly a mental threat. I need to point once again to what Bobby Jon said about Brian always thinking about the game. Was that a compliment? Sure. Was it also an indicator of potential trouble? Yep. Anybody who is thinking that much could be seen as a threat to ongoing survival. Indeed, it was likely that by the time Bobby Jon was saying that, he already knew from Gary and/or Amy that Brian was targeting him. That made him not only a potential future threat, but an immediate one.
The sixth rule says to be flexible. At first, this is one area I was a little disappointed in Brian, in that I expected him to follow this a bit better. Sure, Brian went into the tribal mix-up with lower numbers, putting him at a disadvantage. But once he helped get those numbers equalized, I felt Brian should have been thinking beyond just his original three-member team. However, once I interviewed Brian and found out about so much of what we didn’t see, especially regarding his aforementioned plan to split the opposing alliance’s votes, I see that he was indeed using quite a bit of flexibility. Plus, he mentioned in his interview how he even behaved differently around different people – again, a prime example of flexibility.
Seventh is to avoid being lazy – not a problem here, so let’s move on. The eighth rule looks at whether the tribe should have voted Brian off at this time. That’s a tough call, really. I think Brian’s main problem is that he ended up on a tribe dominated by testosterone. He helped get rid of one of them, Blake, but there were still three tough guys in Gary, Bobby Jon, and Brandon. Even the women are among the toughest we’ve seen, with Danni and fight-through-anything-Amy. Considering that this has been the most physical Survivor yet, it’s not surprising that so many votes have been based on who is the strongest. When it comes to that, Brian just couldn’t pull himself to their level. There was no one person who was the “obvious” choice to go home, but I can’t really disagree with the tribe picking Brian.
As we’ve discussed, Brian played a good game, but so much of what he did ended up on the editing room floor. He schemed and plotted well, but didn’t know that the others were doing the same to him. Indeed, his tribe figured out his Survivor skills and that was likely a point used against him in determining who should go. Part of it came down to pure physical reasons, and Brian couldn’t quite reach the level of the others there. When we combine the perceived physical weakness with the perceived mental strength, we have the reasons to explain why Brian lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other Survivor: Guatemala Episode 6 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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