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Survivor: Guatemala – Why Danni Wonby David Bloomberg -- 12/13/2005
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Each of the final four played remarkably different games. Lydia made it that far by being a provider and then by not being a threat. Rafe strategized and made decisions but stayed behind the scenes. Stephenie also made decisions but became the evil face of backstabbing in some eyes. And Danni stood back and watched to figure out who was in a strong position and how she could make her move. This season, Danni’s methods won out. But why did Danni win?
All season, we’ve been looking at why each player lost. Now it’s finally time to turn it around and examine what the winner did to get herself in position to win a million dollars. But we’ll still use What Guatemala Survivors Should Have Learned to figure out the answers.
We all know that the first and most important rule is to scheme and plot. Danni knew this as well, and formed an early alliance that carried her into the tribal mix-up and beyond. But that alliance was not what got her to the end of the game. Her tribe merged in the minority and it seemed to be just a matter of time before she followed her fellows into the jury.
But Danni didn’t give up. Instead, she formed a bond with Rafe, one of the leaders of the majority alliance. This was no accident – she didn’t pal up with Jamie or Judd or Lydia, she picked arguably the most important person in the tribe and made a deal with him: If he got her to the final three, she promised to take him to the jury.
It was a great plan, and it worked like a charm. While Danni sat as the outsider, the members of Rafe’s alliance dropped like flies – Jamie, Judd, Cindy, Lydia. Danni stayed out of the way, all the while encouraging and helping Rafe to turn on his own people. This was not a case of riding coattails, playing under the radar, or, as Judd said, skating through. Danni was active in helping her own cause, such as when she helped convince Stephenie that Judd was planning to take her out. That was scheming.
What was particularly nice about the way Danni went about her game was that she never had to stab anybody in the back until the very end. Because she was on the outside, none of the others expected her to be on their side, so when she voted against them, it wasn’t a slap in the face or a knife in the back. Therefore, she had no problems with the second rule.
The third rule didn’t pose a particular challenge for Danni either, as she did not let her emotions get in the way. Danni knew she was playing a game for a million dollars – if that meant breaking a promise, so be it. This was, of course, most obvious at the end. As mentioned earlier, Danni had promised she would take Rafe to the end if she won final immunity. But from all available evidence right now (such as Stephenie telling me, in my interview with her, that Danni admitted as much), Danni had decided to break her promise to Rafe because she was afraid she would lose to him and felt she could much more easily beat Stephenie.
Danni had Rafe to thank for getting her to that position, and they had become friends, but she was not about to let that get in the way of a $900,000 monetary difference! Not only would her family have killed her, but people like me would have been throwing tomatoes at her and probably giving her a mention in the Reality TV Hall of Shame like we did for Survivor 2’s Colby. That would have been particularly bad because we had just given her a Reality TV Hall of Fame Moment!
The fourth rule didn’t give Danni any problems either, as she seemed to be a genuinely nice person. This helped in several ways. First, as an outsider, she would have been easy to target if she had behaved similar to, say, Jerri Manthey. Later, when she faced the jury against Stephenie, it would have been simple for Stephenie to use any bad behavior against Danni – but there wasn’t really any to use.
The fifth rule says Danni should have avoided being too much of a threat. Danni seemed to be physically fit, but she was also rather thin and didn’t look threatening. But Rafe noted that she ran marathons, which certainly would speak to having high endurance. If there’s one thing to be good at on Survivor, especially as you’re nearing the end, it’s endurance. But even though Rafe knew that about her, he didn’t see it as enough of a threat to vote her off before the final three.
Being the last member of a minority alliance also kept her off the threat radar. While I applaud her for being smart enough to buy and use the clue for the immunity challenge she won a couple weeks ago, part of the reason she was able to get it at such a low price was that the others simply did not believe her to be threatening. That was their mistake.1 2 Next-->
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