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Survivor: Exile Island – Why Cirie Lostby David Bloomberg -- 05/15/2006
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Cirie started Survivor afraid of leaves, but ended it as the most popular contestant on this edition. She definitely grew in terms of her outdoor skills, but we know that’s not what these columns are about. Did she grow in her game-playing skills as well? Or were they pretty sharp to begin with? Why did it all have to come down to a fire-making tie-breaker challenge? Why did Cirie lose?
The early portions of What Exile Island Survivors Should Have Learned, before we even get to the rules, talk somewhat about how “Survivor is much more about how each player gets along with their fellows than whether or not they can make fire by rubbing two sticks together.” On one hand, we could say that, in fact, making fire is now very important because of what happened to Cirie. On the other hand, though, she never would have made it past day one if survival skills had been more important – Tina would have made it and we never would have even gotten to know Cirie. With this in mind, let’s go through the rules outlined in that article to see how Cirie did.
Of course, the first and most important rule is to scheme and plot. I just mentioned the very first vote, which Tina lost and Cirie “won,” so let’s start there. While it was not apparent to viewers, Cirie had actually done quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work before that vote was even necessary. Both Melinda and Ruth-Marie told me in their exit interviews that they each had separate alliances with Cirie, unknown to the other. So in a four-person tribe, Cirie had deals with two. That pretty much assured the outcome of the first vote.
And she never stopped playing the game. When the tribes were switched up, Cirie was told that after Melinda, she would be the next person sent packing. Instead, she managed to turn the situation around and become solid allies with the very people who told her that! We didn’t get to see most of the action, but she obviously worked hard behind the scenes to enable her to turn the tables like that.
But even then, she was thinking ahead. Cirie appeared to be a lock for the final four with Shane, Aras, and Courtney. However, she saw how Courtney was setting herself up as jury bait; she saw how Shane could end up as jury bait. So she realized that these were two people who might stand between her and the final three or two – or maybe even the final four if Terry continued his winning streak (which he did). As such, she conceived of – and enacted – perhaps the most complex strategic move on Survivor to actually work, the Triple-Play (for which she received recognition in the form of a Reality TV Hall of Fame Moment).
Some people might look at where Cirie ended up and say it didn’t matter, she still came in fourth place. That is true, but that result was not due to any particular flaw in her plan. It was simply that Terry continued his run of wins. About the only thing she might have been able to do differently would have been to align herself with Terry, but when he proposed that idea to her, she really had no reason to do so nor any expectation that things would turn out better for her.
With all Cirie’s scheming and plotting, did she also succeed at the part of the second rule that talks about keeping it secret? Absolutely, yes. Heck, Cirie (and Aras) even managed to convince Shane that he was not in danger after he had just been hung out to dry at Courtney’s eviction from the game! And, of course, she managed to make the Triple-Play work by keeping the true intent secret from half her tribe. As far as the other portions of the second rule, Cirie certainly did not scheme and plot too much, nor did she backstab too soon. So she was good there.
She was also good for the third rule, being flexible. Cirie never gave up, she was always looking at new angles. When she was told she would be the next person voted out of the tribe, she worked her way into the core alliance. When she saw the way that core alliance was going, and that it would be difficult for her to progress towards a win, she put together the Triple-Play.
The only time anybody could really point to Cirie and say she wasn’t flexible enough was in her refusal to jump to Terry’s side right after the merge. But really, there is no way Cirie could have known at that point that it might be in her best interest. Using the information she had available at the time, she made the right decision.
The fourth rule tells players not to let their emotions control them. Cirie succeeded here as well. She had become friends with pretty much everybody in her alliance, it seemed. But she had no problem dropping the axe on them when it came time.
Indeed, this goes for the fifth rule as well, which says to pretend to be nice. I don’t think Cirie was pretending, but either way, it worked. Shane trusted her completely. He never once, even in his nicotine-deprived paranoid state, appeared to believe Cirie would double-cross him. That’s exactly where you want people to be in Survivor!1 2 Next-->
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