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What Cook Island Survivors Should Have LearnedPage 8
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It was in everybody else's best interest to keep Richard around for the final two on the first series, because he had been such an arrogant jerk. This is why Kelly correctly voted Rudy off when only the three of them were left. But it still wasn't enough. Richard's Machiavellian planning won out in large part because enough voters concentrated on game play as opposed to personality.
It was in Tina and Colby's interest to keep Keith around, for the same reason. Had that been the case, there is no way Keith would have won. The only problem was that Colby let emotions get in the way of his judgment. Neleh was definitely correct to bring Vee, rather than Kathy, into the finals with her. Had the Rotu 4 not been so vindictive and immature, Neleh would have won. Chris knew that he had to face Twila in the Vanuatu jury, because she was “the most controversial player,” as he explained in his RNO interview. He was, of course, correct. Same with Danni knowing she had to face off against Stephenie rather than the well-liked Rafe in Guatemala.
The Jury Phase
If you play your cards right, you might eventually get to the jury phase, specifically being in the Final Two. If you do make it, you need to be ready, and many previous final two contestants have not been.
Clay showed us a great maneuver for the jury when he made it seem like he was on Penny's side, even to the point of voting against Jake instead of her when he knew she was going. He made the others in his alliance, mainly Brian, think he was doing this all to confuse Jake. But he had told Penny he was on her side. So what happened? She was voted out and placed in the jury, ready to vote for Clay should he be in the Final Two.
But even without going to extremes like that, you have to realize how important jury arguments are. In fact, they are $900,000 important! So be prepared. Be ready to tell the jury why they should vote for you and not for the other person. Many Survivor winners have been decided by a single vote, which could have been changed during that final Tribal Council. And even Amazon, which was a landslide, was won in part by Jenna because Matthew messed up his final arguments. While many of those on the jury were probably already leaning towards Jenna, Matthew made sure they went that way. As Rob C. said in an interview with me, “I personally also felt that Matthew had a very poor final tribal council showing. His opening statements were along the lines of, ‘I have played this game with utter honesty and integrity,’ and his closing statements were, ‘I have been deceitful and dishonest during this game.’ All in all I felt the entire performance was inconsistent, whereas Jenna's responses (while not divine answers from the heavens) were more straightforward and truthful.”
Sometimes, it's obvious what you need to say. Sometimes, it's not. Neleh went to the final Tribal Council without a clue that the Rotu 4 were so vindictive and basically wanted her to apologize for beating them. Clay had no answers for those who accused him of being lazy. But Brian eventually caught on that Helen wanted an apology from him, and he gave it, thus securing her vote and the win. And Chris began with a vague opening statement that allowed him to figure out the best way to tackle the jury – and then he followed through with one of the best jury performances ever. More recently, Aras did a good job of reading people in the jury and played up that he had shown integrity while still playing the game and getting to know them on a personal level.
If the jury is looking for apologies, then in general they are good. Say you're sorry to those you ran over to get there. While you're at it, flatter ‘em – it never hurts. Point out that it was nothing personal, but you only acted that way for the game. Etc. But don’t overdo it, or they will know you are faking. On the other hand, some jurors won’t be voting on a personal level, but on game play. In that case, you have to reverse yourself and talk about what a great job you did of outplaying them. It all depends on the jury.
In short, whether it's through seeding the jury with people who will vote for you (a difficult task) or simply knowing what they want to hear, you need to think about the jury before you actually have to face them. In case you haven’t thought it all the way through, RNO writer Betsy Wasser did it for you in her article on Surviving the Jury.
These are the most important lessons that should have been learned ahead of time by the Survivor: Cook Islands players. Richard played by these rules and came home with the big prize. He was the best player and the jury recognized it. Tina did a good job as well, though her win had a bit more luck (and dumb playing by Colby) involved. Ethan did a good job of following these rules while others around him stumbled more than they should have. Vee, well – let's just say that sometimes every rule in the book gets broken. But then we went back to Brian, a player I consider to be one of the best in Survivor history. We had Jenna, who angered many viewers with her win, and who did a passable job – though pretty much everybody thinks Rob was the better player. Then there was Sandra, who won by a combination of luck and an interesting plan that worked for her even if it wasn’t the most strategically satisfying for viewers. Amber did it through a combination of luck, good play by her boyfriend, and really horrible play by several other people. Chris brought it back to strategy, pulling out a win that many viewers (not to mention fellow players) thought was impossible. Tom went against the grain by muscling his way to the top, winning in spite of being a threat because he had enough of a game plan to overcome any potential problems. Danni clawed her way up from the bottom to turn Guatemala upside down. And Aras did it not by being the best in any one particular area, but by being near the top in several while managing to avoid being seen as a threat.
For this 13th go-round, the person who wants to win a million dollars will need to plan at least as well as Richard, Brian, Rob C., and Chris did, or stay as under the radar as Sandra and Amber did – but put his or her own twists into either plan in order to stay out of the line of fire. The Cook Island Survivor contestants will need to use every ability to Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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