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Survivor: Cook Islands – Why Yul Wonby David Bloomberg -- 12/18/2006
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We usually build up to the winner’s article by doing all the losers first. But this time, I think it’s appropriate to jump over the other Aitus and cut to the chase for Yul. We’ll have time to address the others soon enough. With that in mind, what did Yul do right? Did he do anything wrong? Why did Yul win?
Throughout a season, we spend most of our time looking at those who have been voted off, and only one column examining why a person won. Along the way, certain people did certain things right, but we hope that by the end of it, the right person took home the million-dollar prize. I think that’s certainly the case here, as we’ll see by looking at What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned.
Yul came into Survivor thinking he could play with complete honesty and integrity. He’s not the first to believe it, but the difference is that he quickly realized it couldn’t be done, while others were voted out still clinging to this idea. I would have to say that Yul does rank high among winners who managed to scheme and plot without making it seem like he was the villain.
The first rule emphasizes just how important this is, and Yul’s win shows it. As much as Yul denies being the Godfather or the puppetmaster, the fact is that he did pull a heck of a lot of strings. Even when decisions were apparently made by consensus, he often took advantage of them himself.
For example, we have the voting off of Jonathan. According to Yul himself, this was a group decision made by the Aitu four. They knew they didn’t want to keep Jonathan around very long. But Yul used this in two different ways. First, he had his own private reasons for wanting Jonathan out – Jonathan was the only one, Yul believed, who could have mounted an anti-Yul attack and perhaps succeeded. Second, Adam told Yul that he would vote for him at the end if he voted Jonathan out first. Yul certainly didn’t tell Adam, “Well, it’s a group decision”! He took advantage of it and earned Adam’s vote – a key to winning. Ironically, when he was preparing to vote Adam out and it wasn’t clear if he or Parvati would go first, he used the “group decision” excuse to say he wasn’t sure he could stop it because that’s what the women wanted – and then he stopped it!
Another time Yul played in such a manner was the decision of who to target when Jonathan flipped over to the Aitus. Yul saw that Ozzy had formed the beginning of an alliance with Nate, and was afraid that could turn into a threatening situation. So he convinced Jonathan to say the voting out of Nate was a condition for him coming over – he put Ozzy into a bind where he had to go along with it, or so it seemed.
These are only two of the situations we know about now, and I’m sure there are more. The key point here is that even as Yul was telling his allies that they were all in it together, he was thinking of himself and the future, and planning his path to the million dollars.
Although many of us watching the show second-guessed Yul and believed he had backstabbed Jonathan too early, Yul showed us otherwise. He knew Jonathan was more of a threat than the Raros, and was confident that his foursome would not break. He was right. The man knew what he was doing!
Along those lines, I cannot find any facet of the second rule that caused Yul a problem. While his Aitu alliance was certainly out in the open, he kept his side scheming secret to the point that even Ozzy only found out about some of it at the reunion! And because Yul didn’t want to come off like a Jonathan-type villain, he kept his scheming to the minimum necessary to bring about his goals.
The third rule tells players to be flexible. As we’ve seen, Yul was flexible in terms of seeking out ways to help himself without making it look like he was doing so. While this rule advises people not to just tie themselves to one alliance and hope it survives, I have to say that Yul made it work.
I think the key is that Yul didn’t just “hope” the alliance survived, but worked at it. He ensured that everybody in the Aitu four was comfortable. He took all their thoughts into consideration, he didn’t just overrule people and direct them in what to do. He subtly manipulated the situations such that nobody wanted to jump ship, even though it might have been a better option for some of them. He essentially convinced the others that they didn’t need that flexibility.
Fourth is to not allow emotions to control you. While Yul was certainly tied to his alliance, most of this seemed to be strategic in nature – though his bond with Becky went beyond that. However, it didn’t really come into play. The only time it could have affected the game was when he offered Becky the hidden immunity idol, but she refused it and went on to win the fire-making challenge anyway! In the end, his friendship with the others in the final three didn’t stop him from making the arguments he needed to make.1 2 Next-->
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