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Survivor: Cook Islands – Why Sundra Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/21/2006
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Yes, yes, I know. We could make this a really short column by saying, “Sundra ran out of matches,” or, “Sundra couldn’t start a freaking fire even though a five-year-old with a match can burn down a house in just a few minutes.” But we all know it’s not as simple as that. A series of events led to the fire-making tiebreaker, and those are what we will look at in determining why Sundra lost.
Of course, we need to look at them in comparison to What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned, as we have done throughout the season. Because I went out of order, Sundra is the last person from Survivor: Cook Islands for whom this column is to be written. So let’s get to it.
The mixture of people in the final four was an interesting one. Yul and Becky were schemers who understood the strategy and social aspects of the game. Ozzy was a challenge demon. And Sundra came into the game without the foggiest idea about Survivor. In her own words, from my interview with her, “I knew nothing about the game.” That’s a rough way to start, and it is somewhat surprising she made it as far as she did.
However, she did understand some of the basic concepts. She knew, for example, that she needed to “get acquainted with the right people,” which is kind of a layman’s way of saying “scheme and plot.” Sundra did indeed get in with the right people, especially Yul.
But even so, part of her survival was somewhat out of her own control. As is similar to something I noted in Why Ozzy Lost, Sundra appeared to be a bit of an outsider on the Aitu tribe until the mutiny. If Candice and Jonathan had not jumped ship, she would have likely been one of the next two to go. The mutiny simultaneously created an incredibly tight foursome and a challenge-winning team that Raro could not beat.
As the game progressed, Sundra seemed to progress with it. She participated in strategy discussions, though we really didn’t see them. As she told me, “Becky, Yul, and myself discussed everything. Yul never ever said this is what we’re going to do, he always came to Becky and me and we all spoke about it together.” So she understood that she needed allies and had to plot to dispose of their enemies.
Sundra certainly didn’t have to worry about the second rule, plotting and scheming too much or backstabbing too early. But she failed was also where the rest of the Aitu alliance, besides Yul, failed – in the third rule. Sundra did not consider turning on them. Instead, she did what the rule says not to: “you can’t simply tie yourself to one alliance and hope that it survives.” The alliance did survive. But she did not.
I’m going to essentially repeat something I said in Why Becky Lost: It’s great that Sundra had such a tight alliance. She has friends for life now. But we’ve said it in previous seasons – Survivor is a game and we treat it as such in these columns. So that means I have to criticize her game play here.
I asked Sundra if she ever considered trying to break up the Yul/Becky duo. She said no:
They had a long-standing relationship. It would have been stupid and slimy to try to break them up. It wouldn’t have worked. For me to break them up it would have required some part of scheming that I was not going to do. Every move that I made in the game, I needed to be able to look at myself in the mirror. Some things are worth more than money. I wanted to be able to feel proud of how I did it.This is where Sundra’s main problem was. If she wanted to win herself, she needed to take some action other than just following along with her alliance. As I said in discussing Becky’s loss, it wouldn’t have been easy, but it was her only chance to win. Because even if she had won the fire-making challenge, she would have found herself in essentially the same position that Becky did – losing with zero votes.
Sundra’s words here take us straight to the fourth rule, which says not to let emotions control you. Sundra’s statement that “some things are worth more than money” is a perfect example of not following this rule. She wanted to be able to look herself in the mirror. That’s a fine, upstanding – and losing – thought. What she said is admirable in a person in real life, but predicts an almost certain loss for Survivor. Indeed, I should note that as close as Sundra was with Becky and Yul, Yul was the one who cast the vote that put her in a tie and caused her loss. She might not have turned on him, but he was willing to clearly show which side he was on – Becky’s.
The fifth rule says players need to pretend to be nice. That certainly didn’t seem like a problem for Sundra. Indeed, if anything, she was too nice – to her allies.
So the sixth says not to be too much of a threat. Again, not an issue here. Especially in a fire-making challenge!
The seventh rule was really not an issue either. She was not a big food provider, but knew she had to do work in other ways to show her worth. Nobody considered her lazy, and again it was not a cause for her loss.
With that said, Sundra really should have been able to start a fire! (And Becky should have too!) I don’t know why she couldn’t do it, but the ability to do so would have kept her in the game for another day. She still would have lost, but due to the vote, not a lack of matches.
That actually eliminates the joke that we began with, about Sundra losing because she couldn’t start a fire. Yes, she lost at that point for that reason, but it would not have mattered.
Sundra chose to play the game while keeping her moral system intact. She wanted to only do things that would allow her to look in the mirror when all was said and done. But she didn’t look at Survivor as the game it actually is. In order to have a shot at winning, Sundra needed to turn on her alliance – or at least a key member or two within it. She may be perfectly happy to live without that on her conscience, and that’s fine for her. But for us, it’s the reason why Sundra lost.
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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