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Survivor: Exile Island – Why Dan Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/10/2006
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Dan believed he had a solid alliance and might even make it to the final four. He said that as recently as a day before Tribal Council he thought he was safe. But as he also noted, things can change quickly on Survivor. How did Dan’s world get turned upside-down? Why did Dan lose?
Dan accepted his loss with grace and dignity. But did he have to accept it? Was there anything else he could have done? Let’s look through What Exile Island Survivors Should Have Learned to see what Dan did right and where he went wrong – and if his game could have been salvaged.
The first, and most important, rule is to scheme and plot. Dan seemed to understand this – though perhaps not as well as Terry did. It seemed like within minutes of the start of the game, Dan had made a pact with Terry. That pact worked well… until it became inconvenient for Terry.
The two “older” men then convinced the two young guys on their tribe to join forces rather than fight against one another. It was a good move and worked well. Without the twist of Sally being sent away by Casaya, Dan would have been fine and I’d be writing “Why Sally Lost.” But in Survivor, as in life, $#!t happens, and you just have to be ready for it (we’ll deal with that more in a couple rules).
In any case, Dan knew what he had to do… to a point. After that point, he was too honorable to scheme as much as he needed to. As he said in his final words, there was no way he would vote against Terry. That was a good portion of his downfall. While Terry was able to plot against Dan, Dan was not able to try to turn the tables. The best he could do was suggest to Nick that maybe Austin wanted to go home. Uh, yeah, right.
Obviously, then, Dan didn’t scheme and plot too much. So we can skip past the second rule and right to the third, which deals with being flexible. Here is where we address the concept of “$#!t happens.” One day, Dan was solid; the next, he was out the door. These are the kind of fluctuations that require flexibility within the game. Dan did exactly what this rule says not to do: “you can’t simply tie yourself to one alliance and hope that it survives.”
While it is true that beyond the four-man alliance, he also had a two-man alliance with Terry, but what did he think would happen if the four had to face off? He should have at least been thinking of it, especially the way La Mina’s numbers were getting whittled down. Apparently, he thought they would all do the honorable thing and vote to a tie. But, really, it’s safe to assume on Survivor that people will not do the honorable thing, in general. Dan had no backup plan for that inevitability.
Part of the reason was that Dan allowed himself to fall prey to the fourth rule and let emotions get in the way. He became such good friends with the other three guys, especially Terry, that he didn’t seem able to plot against them. With that ability taken away, he was left as easy prey to be picked off when it became necessary. Maybe the other three felt bad about voting off Dan, but they still did it. That’s the difference.
Dan had no problems with the fifth rule, pretending to be nice. From all appearances, he is nice and no pretending was necessary!
As far as the sixth rule, not being too much of a threat, Dan had the right idea. Early in the game, he didn’t reveal to the others that he had been an astronaut, for fear of being labeled a threat. Well, he told Terry right away, but that secret seemed to stay between them until this week’s episode, when Dan told the whole tribe. It could have made him seem to be a threat, but by that time they all knew each other well. In the end, it didn’t seem to hurt him.
Dan also did fine with the seventh rule, about not being lazy. He was a hard worker around the camp, and nobody would have said otherwise.
Did the tribe do the right thing in voting off Dan? Well, probably yes. Of those available for the vote, Dan was physically the weakest. He was supposed to be mentally stronger, but he blew the puzzle portion of the challenge even after being given a good head start.
It might seem at first that perhaps it wasn’t in Terry’s best interest to get rid of his best ally in favor of sticking by two younger people in a game that seems to be slanting towards that age group. However, by showing Nick and Austin that he would pick them over Dan, it only increased their bond. Also, if he had stood by Dan, he would have had to put himself completely at risk and might have ended up going home himself! Why face a 25% chance of losing completely if it’s not necessary? (Even if we presume the immunity idol would save him from losing in this type of situation, it's still not something he'd want to have to use at this time.) Terry made the right decision too.
And really, that’s what it comes down to. Terry and Dan had a pact. Dan stood by it to the very end. Terry didn’t. He knew that this game sometimes meant having to make tough choices to stick around. Dan, on the other hand, kept his honor intact but by doing so ensured his own game demise. Dan would not consider scheming against Terry, putting him at a serious strategic disadvantage. He allowed his emotional bond with Terry to dictate how he would play the game. While Dan is certainly a nice guy and a good person, those characteristics often conflict with what is necessary in Survivor; they certainly did here. Dan had a solid alliance, but did not have any good plans beyond that. When the game changed quickly, he was not flexible enough to change with it. Dan had no backup plan and would not consider one that would go against Terry. That is why Dan lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Survivor: Exile Island Episode 6 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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