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Survivor: Exile Island – Why Melinda Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/10/2006
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Sometimes on Survivor, luck can play a major role in any particular contestant’s eventual outcome. Following the rules laid out in What Exile Island Survivors Should Have Learned is a way to try to beat luck or at least tilt the stakes in your favor. Did luck doom Melinda when the tribes were switched around? Is there any way she could have overcome it? Why did Melinda lose?
It’s only the second episode of this season, but this is a challenging question to answer in terms of the rules mentioned above. Let’s give it the old college try and see what we come up with.
The first rule is to scheme and plot. Well, we didn’t really see much of this from Melinda. Yes, she joined with Cirie and Ruth-Marie to vote out Tina last week, but that seemed to be more Cirie pushing and Tina doing nothing. If all three women had been put on the same tribe, it’s possible that alliance-of-convenience might have lasted. But instead, Melinda and Cirie went to one tribe and Ruth-Marie to another. All three of them found themselves in the minority.
As Forrest Gump might say, Survivor pick-‘em games are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Melinda got… screwed. Four of the younger tribe members immediately banded together and she barely had a chance to say “hello” before her fate was sealed.
Or is that really true? Shane gave Melinda a chance when he started ranting about quitting. Eventually, he decided he wanted to stick around, but it at least opened a possibility that one of his allies could perhaps have been convinced to dump his unstable personality in favor of somebody more reliable. We never saw any of the “outsiders” try to get on the inside, but that is exactly what Melinda needed to do. It was fairly obvious that Aras was solidly with Shane – after all, he was the one who talked Shane into sticking around. But what about the women?
Melinda should have been spending as much time as possible with the other women so they could get to know her and she could have tried to maneuver into an alliance that would oppose Shane. She should have harped on the fact that just because he decided he wanted to stay now doesn’t mean that will last – anybody remember Osten Taylor from Pearl Islands?
Even if she couldn’t convince the others to vote off Shane, Melinda should have tried to get them to go after Cirie first. Sometimes on Survivor, all it takes is making it past one vote and suddenly the whole game changes. It probably would have pained her to do so, but if she saw that she would not be able to break the alliance, she should have at least tried to buy herself more time. However, from what we saw, Melinda did not do any of that. It seemed that once the alliance was revealed, she figured her fate was sealed.
Obviously, Melinda didn’t violate the second rule. However, Aras and Shane sure as heck did, by revealing the alliance to everyone. Will that come back and haunt them? Frankly, I sure hope so.
The third rule says to be flexible – and oh how the players need to heed this one! Contestants must have had mental whiplash from the way they were first organized into four small groups and then quickly reorganized into two new tribes. Some of the players understood that changing situations mean quick thinking is necessary – alliances were made immediately on both tribes. Others didn’t move nearly fast enough, and Melinda was in the latter group.
Fourth is to not let emotions control you. The only way in which this rule might have affected Melinda is if her brief friendship with Cirie made her shy away from suggesting to the ruling alliance that Cirie should go first. At this point, we can’t really judge that either way.
The fifth rule says to pretend to be nice. From what we saw, Melinda was a nice enough person, but it really didn’t have anything to do with her being voted out, so let’s skip ahead.
Nor, for that matter, did the sixth rule, which says not to be too much of a threat. While Melinda sent Tina packing last week in part for this reason, the same was not true here.
As far as the seventh rule, Melinda was not lazy nor were the others workaholics – after all, Shane was the one complaining that the other older guys worked too hard – so this one also had no impact. However, the eighth rule did.
At this point in the game, players should be voting out the weakest links in the tribe. The younger members of Casaya looked at Melinda and Cirie and saw players who appeared weaker. Frankly, I would have expected Cirie to be voted out first as the weaker link, but maybe she put a lid on her fear of leaves. In any case, Melinda was seen as one of the weaker tribe members, which made her expendable.
Melinda found herself in a bad position – an older woman on a mostly younger tribe. But when we look at Survivors past, this happens fairly frequently. Melinda needed to come up with a way to make her tribemates want to keep her in favor of at least one other person. There were targets in her tribe, Shane and Cirie being the main ones. However, she didn’t make it happen.
It’s easy to blame bad luck, but luck is a part of Survivor, just as it’s a part of life. Maybe there was nothing Melinda could have done once she was on Casaya. But there is almost always something that could have a good chance of swinging things a different way. From what we saw, Melinda didn’t make much of an attempt to challenge the ruling alliance and try to get them to change their vote. That is why Melinda lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Survivor: Exile Island Episode 2 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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