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Survivor: Guatemala Ė Why Brandon Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/04/2005
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Brandon had a solid alliance and an overall pretty good demeanor, but neither of these could save him from the chopping block at the first Tribal Council after the two tribes of Survivor: Guatemala merged into one. Why was Brandon forced out before the jury? Why did Brandon lose?
We have moved to a new point in the game and players must change their play if they plan to survive. However, we still use What Guatemala Survivors Should Have Learned as a yardstick to measure how well they played and, of course, why they lose.
The first rule tells players they must scheme and plot. From what we saw on the show, Brandon did not have a great deal of success in this area. While he did have an alliance, that seemed to be about it Ė he didnít go out of his way to scheme or plot more. Thus, when everybody else on his newly-switched tribe turned on Blake, he was left holding the bag.
Actually, itís possible that Brandon did know what was going on, and just chose not to participate. Brian told me, in my interview with him, that ďBrandon always felt badly voting for people,Ē so he may have known there were enough votes to boot Blake and thus chose not to join in just so he wouldnít be part of voting Blake out.
If itís true that Brandon found voting that trying, then scheming and plotting to vote people out would also have been a difficult task. This does seem to be supported by what we saw Ė or didnít see. When Brandon knew his head was on the chopping block, we saw Gary, Danni, and Bobby Jon trying to swing votes; but we didnít see Brandon doing it. Indeed, he said he was pretty well resigned to the fact that he was going home and if anything changed, heíd crap his pants in surprise. That kind of resignation is no way to pull through. Maybe the majority alliance was going to vote him out no matter what, but maybe a heartfelt plea from the person being targeted would have been just what was needed to swing a vote or two his way.
Obviously, then, we donít have to worry that Brandon may have schemed and plotted too much. He did fail to keep his alliance secret, but at this point pretty much everybody has done that, as Probst noted during the challenge.
If indeed Brandon found it difficult to vote people out, and this affected the way he played the game, then this brings into question his ability to follow the third rule about not letting emotions control you. However, since he was on the short end of the alliance stick and his group was trying to get the other alliance to break this rule Ė which they didnít Ė it really didnít play a role in Brandonís loss.
Similarly, Brandonís Yaxha alliance tried to make use of Jamieís issues with the fourth rule, which instructs players to pretend to be nice. Jamie didnít even bother pretending. Brandon, however, kept his mouth shut, and thus should have been a bit safer than Bobby Jon, who responded to Jamieís provocations. It appears that Bobby Jonís request that Stephenie keep him around until the jury overrode whatever problems Jamie had with Bobby Jon and didnít have with Brandon.
The fifth rule says not to be too much of a threat Ė and here is where Brandon was in trouble. He was targeted first specifically because he was a strong challenge threat. Jamie flat-out told him that. Bobby Jon is a threat too, but again it appears his deal with Stephenie put off his doom. There isnít much Brandon could have done to make himself appear less of a threat at this point, because the tribal challenges just ended and the individual challenges had just begun.
But there was something he could have done about the sixth rule, being flexible. As weíve discussed, it doesnít seem that Brandon really tried anything to change the direction in which the vote was headed. Indeed, he specifically said on The Early Show that he didnít have enough time to change anything. But did he try? Another feature of The Early Show was a previously unplayed clip, in which he mulled over his fate and said part of him wanted to just give up right then. He didnít give up, but it didnít seem that he really fought either.
Brandon Ė and the rest of his alliancemates Ė did well in following the seventh rule about not being lazy. As soon as they showed up at Nakumís camp, they began lugging wood, doing chores, going fishing, etc. Iím still not quite sure what they thought it would gain them, as it would really only help if some of them worked while others did not. Then again, it did begin to make Rafe feel bad, so maybe there was some benefit to it, albeit (I suspect) unintentional.
So did Brandonís fellow tribe members do the right thing in voting him off? Obviously, his own allies didnít want him to go, but what about the Nakum alliance? The answer is an unambiguous yes. Sure, they were getting annoyed with Jamie. Sure, Jamie is being a jerk. But in the end, Survivor is not about morals, itís about playing a game.
As noted earlier, this is a new point in the game. Now, strength is weakness and weakness is strength. That made Brandon a strong player on the opposite alliance that needed to be taken out. The Nakum can deal with Jamie later if they want Ė or they can each plan to take him to the finals so theyíll have somebody obnoxious to compare themselves against in front of the jury. Either way, they still needed Jamie at this point.
Brandon came into the merge an obvious target, but that didnít mean he had to go right now. Bobby Jon immediately realized that he had to do some talking in order to stick around. Even though he essentially told viewers he couldnít stand Stephenie, he approached her and asked for at least one more vote. Since Brandon had apparently not made any such attempts, it was easy enough to vote him off now. Maybe Bobby Jon will go next week, maybe heíll win immunity, or maybe something new will shake things up. But Brandon will not get that opportunity. From what we saw, he didnít even really attempt to do anything to turn things in his favor. Considering that he already knew he was a threat for being too strong, that lack of scheming and plotting was the final straw to explain why Brandon lost.
If you havenít already, be sure to check out our other Survivor: Guatemala Episode 8 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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