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Survivor: China – Why Leslie Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/11/2007
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Leslie was a study in contrasts. She was a Christian radio host who kept talking about how Christian she was, yet also claimed she wasn’t religious. Christians aren’t supposed to lie and stab people in the back, yet she was a big fan of Survivor who tried time and time again to get onto the show. But did her religion really play much of a role in getting voted out, or were there many other, bigger reasons? Why did Leslie lose?
As a fan of Survivor, Leslie had the advantage of learning from the mistakes and successes of past contestants. Indeed, in the pre-show roundtable article, I said, “she’s been applying for Survivor since the third season, and you just have to hope she knows what she’s getting herself into by this point and has a plan to deal with it.” However, it appears I gave her too much credit. As we’ll see by looking back at What China Survivors Should Have Learned, Leslie didn’t learn many things that she should have.
One thing Leslie should certainly have understood was the need to create alliances – and she did! We saw her cozying up to several of her tribemates in attempts to put herself on the right side of gestating alliances. We also saw her get friendly with Jaime on the opposing tribe, and some of the other opposition members as well.
However, what we didn’t see was anything really solid. She didn’t make a “to the final four” or “to the merge” or even “to next week” alliance. She just made relationships and hoped that those would be enough to carry the day.
But the end of this rule specifically talks about the need to make alliances, not friends. And that is one place Leslie went wrong. It was all well and good that some of her tribemates affectionately called her “Mom” – but they wrote that down on the cards when voting her off!
Contrast Leslie with Courtney, who was mentioned as another likely target. Even though Courtney completely blew the immunity challenge for her tribe, the focus shifted to Leslie. Why? In large part because Courtney had allies who could help her out in that regard.
Part of the problem that stemmed from her friendships lead right into the second rule, which says not to scheme and plot too much and to keep your scheming secret. You might wonder how a person who didn’t scheme enough could scheme and plot too much, but a lot of it is in the perception. Just as when Lex turned on Kelly waaaaay back in Africa because he thought she was too friendly with the opposing alliance, Leslie was viewed in a similar light by some of her tribemates.
While Lex was wrong, Leslie’s tribemates were probably correct. Leslie obviously made some quick, good relationships on the other tribe. She even hugged them before leaving! This was supposed to be a kidnapping, and she acted like she had been struck by Stockholm syndrome!
Beyond that, Leslie talked about how there were “three Christians” on the other tribe, thus giving her own tribe even more cause to worry if she would align herself with the others if she made it to the merge. Of course, all of her blabbing about how great it was over there violated the part of this rule covering secret scheming. I don’t know if maybe Leslie really didn’t plan on jumping ship and that’s why she was so open, but even if that was the case, she needed to realize how she sounded and put a lid on it.
Another portion of this rule notes that players should “Never provide the enemy with information.” While it also says, “this one usually won’t get you voted out right away,” we now have a specific instance when it most definitely helped. She gave away a lot of information to the opposing tribe. While her own tribe didn’t know just how much she said, it was pretty obvious to them that she had blabbed. One of her tribemates even talked about how she had made him a target.
Moving to the third rule, we ask whether Leslie was flexible. In general, I’d say no. Starting at the Buddhist ceremony, we saw that even though she had been told it wasn’t a religious ceremony, she believed it was and therefore walked out. This showed her fellow contestants a side of her that was not flattering. She also repeatedly talked about Christian this and Christian that, including the Christians on the other tribe. This made it seem like she was only concerned about teaming up with others who share her particular belief system – again, rather inflexible. I do think she would have aligned with others, but her repetition of this made it seem like she had a one-track mind.
The fourth rule tells players they cannot allow their emotions to control them. We discussed earlier how Leslie tended to befriend people rather than make alliances with them. But those friendships did not stop her from making strategic moves – because she never had to make one! Her tribe was successful in the first two immunity challenges, so she was safe. When it came time for a vote, her friendships were not strong enough to make others in her tribe ignore this rule. They might have been sad about it, but they voted her off anyway.
Leslie did okay with half of the fifth rule, and not so well with the second half. She didn’t need to “pretend” to be nice, because she was nice. No problem there. But as we’ve discussed, she didn’t keep her beliefs to herself. She wasn’t preachy, at least from what we saw, but she made it clear to one and all where she stood and who she would prefer to stand with.
The sixth rule says players should not be too much of a threat. Leslie certainly was not a threat in terms of challenges and the like – quite the opposite. But she was viewed as a threat to jump ship if she made it to a merge or a tribal swap. She had quickly formed bonds on the other tribe and was not afraid to show it. Her own tribe had no choice but to take that into account.
Seventh is to avoid laziness. Not an issue here, so we’ll go directly to the eighth, which addresses how the tribe should vote. With this being the first vote, it was the appropriate time to get rid of one of the weakest tribe members. While there was some discussion of targeting Jean-Robert for his laziness and sliminess, he is still a strong force in challenges. The two main non-forces were Courtney and Leslie. While I think Courtney showed herself to be the weakest link, she had something Leslie didn’t: Allies. That made Leslie the most vulnerable.
Well, actually, Leslie made herself the most vulnerable. Although she is a huge fan of the show, she apparently did not learn much from previous seasons at all. It’s difficult to believe that anybody with a strategic bone in their body would walk around their own tribe talking about how great the other tribe was and how much they had in common with that other tribe.
But that’s just what Leslie did. She forced the others to take notice of her. Another member of her tribe was the weakest; still another was the laziest. But Leslie was the woman without a real ally. To make matters worse, she caused her tribemates to fear that she would have allies on the other tribe. This put her in the ironic position of scheming and plotting too little while appearing to scheme and plot too much. Combine this with her weakness and you have the reasons explaining why Leslie lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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