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Survivor: Exile Island – Why Tina Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/03/2006
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Here we are after the first episode of a new season, and already we have what at first glance seems to be a real head-scratcher. Why the heck would Melinda and Ruth-Marie side with Cirie and against Tina in the first vote while at the same time complaining about how difficult life on Survivor is? Why did Tina lose?
As we have done for every season since Australia, and as we will continue to do, we’ll look back to a set of rules and guidelines to see how well each player who has been voted out did. So let’s review What Exile Island Survivors Should Have Learned and see if the reasons are really as mysterious as they seem.
Before we even get to the list of guidelines, let’s look at the introduction: “Survivor is much more about how each person gets along with their fellows than whether or not they can make fire by rubbing two sticks together.” In this case, Tina didn’t need the sticks, but we could have been talking about her in that sentence.
The first rule continues in the same vein, noting, “the real survival skills necessary here are more along the lines of something you might learn from Renaissance schemer Niccolo Machiavelli than anything you can get out of a survival book. From the very beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships.”
The two people who were most at risk in this first episode were Cirie and, of course, Tina. Tina had all the “real” survival skills down pat. She started the fire. She found the water. She “caught” a fish. Cirie had none of these skills – heck, she’s afraid of leaves! But Tina went off to spend time by herself while Cirie stuck around and talked to her teammates. Cirie made alliances and cemented relationships. Tina didn’t.
It might seem odd that Melinda and Ruth-Marie would want to align themselves with Cirie, but from what we saw, that was really their only option. We didn’t see Tina make any attempt to affect the vote (maybe she tried, but if so, it wasn’t shown), which meant the other two had to either vote with Cirie or decide on their own to oppose her. At this very early stage of the game, players will often go with whatever seems the easiest path because they don’t want to risk the vote turning against them. Cirie laid out the path, so they walked it with her.
Since Tina didn’t really scheme and plot, it’s pretty obvious she didn’t do it too much. So we can skip right past the second rule.
The newly-elevated third rule is to be flexible. There wasn’t a whole lot of time for flexibility yet, but there were a few things Tina could have done differently. For example, the rule notes, “when you are in an alliance of lazies, working hard may not be the best way to go.” This was not quite the case here, but the fact is that Tina immediately took an obvious leadership role and worked harder than anybody else, apparently making the others feel a bit put-upon.
In her final words, she said she couldn’t have acted any differently. That’s the problem. No matter what type of person a player is, they have to be willing to act differently if that’s what is necessary for the game. Tina should have assessed the situation and tried to act a bit more like the other members of her tribe rather than simply heading off and going to work by herself.
The fourth rule says not to let emotions control you. While Tina was obviously (and understandably) emotional due to her son’s recent death, I don’t think this played much of a role. Yes, she went to the beach to be alone with her thoughts of him, but it seems this was not the only time she went out by herself. She worked by herself, she walked by herself. She shouldn’t have been alone so much, but I don’t attribute it in particular to her emotional state.
Fifth is to pretend to be nice. Tina seemed very nice to viewers, but I have to wonder if her tribemates felt the same way. Was she warm to them? Did she go out of her way to form emotional bonds? It didn’t look like it – but it did look like Cirie did just that. Also, while I wouldn’t suggest that Tina should have used her son’s death for sympathy votes, it couldn’t have hurt to at least mention it to her fellows so they might better understand her need for alone time.
The sixth rule is one that usually doesn’t really come into play for a while – don’t be too much of a threat. The very first vote is not generally a place where we see people making the “too big a threat” argument, but there was Cirie doing just that. And she succeeded! I think the vote went against Tina mostly due to other reasons discussed here, but this was an opening that Cirie was able to use in her successful attempt to focus attention on Tina instead of herself.
Tina did a fine job when it came to the seventh rule – providing food and working hard. She caught a fish without any fishing gear! But her Survivor eviction just serves to highlight one point from the rule: “it still ranks at the bottom of the list as compared to the more ‘political’ issues discussed earlier.”
At this stage in the game, the tribes should be voting off the weak. They have no idea how long they’ll be in this tribal arrangement, so keeping strong members should be a focus, in order to try to avoid having to go back to Tribal Council. So Melinda and Ruth-Marie should have voted out Cirie, the woman who’s afraid of leaves, not Tina the lumberjill. They made the wrong decision.
Wrong or not, though, there were valid reasons for that choice. For years I have been preaching how it’s more important to connect with your tribemates on a political and personal level than it is to be the hardest worker. Yes, building a shelter and providing food are important and can help turn a game around sometimes. But the most important factors go back to pulling together allies.
While Tina was working or doing other things by herself, Cirie was talking to her tribemates and showing them how they could easily make it past the first vote: Join with her and get rid of the bossy lady. It required no thought on their part (and apparently, that’s exactly how much thought they gave it!). They were not at risk, they just had to follow along with Cirie.
Cirie might not know how to build a shelter, she might never have slept outside before coming on Survivor, and, yes, she might be afraid of leaves. But she knew enough to play the game from the get-go. That’s why Cirie is still there, and that is why Tina lost.
Normally, we end these columns on that line. But in Tina’s honor, I’d like to end it with a few appropriate lyrics from Monty Python:
I sleep all night. I work all day.
He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.
I cut down trees. I eat my lunch.
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin'
And have buttered scones for tea.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Survivor: Exile Island Episode 1 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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