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Survivor: China – Delusions, Grandeur and Otherwiseby Ken Kellam III -- 11/12/2007
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When I was in the fifth grade, we once had an assignment where the teacher asked us to predict beforehand how we would do. If you guessed accurately or did better than you thought you would, you got a pretty good grade. But if you didn’t do as well as you thought you would, you got a lower grade for overestimating yourself.
Similarly, there is one person in China who has been overestimating his game play since day one, and continues to do so despite being ousted. Yes, I’m talking about Jean-Robert. If Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady were interviewing the poker player, she would no doubt say, “We like ourselves, don’t we?”
If he were in my fifth grade class, he’d probably give himself an A for how he did, but his actual grade would at best be a C. If you wanted to grade him based on how he did versus how he thought he would do, it would be closer to an F.
It seems as though being ousted from the game has done nothing to diminish his cockiness, and most likely, there’s no way he’ll ever be convinced that he’s not all that. But a closer examination of his time in the game, particularly the last episode, coupled with his RNO interview, shows the only person he’s really fooling is the one in the mirror.
His first delusion was that he had a chance of finding the idol, as he was the last one to know James had both of them. How many people watching at home couldn’t help but laugh as he climbed up the pagoda and looked for the Survivor version of fool’s gold? If this were a sitcom it would’ve had a laugh track, and it would’ve come in handy each time Jean-Robert made some unintentionally ignorant comment related to the idol.
Then there was his behavior after finding out from Erik that James probably had both idols. The dude may be world-ranked in poker, but in this game, he couldn’t sell a bluff if he life depended on it. First there was his assertion that he had come to the realization James was holding out on him. Of course, he forgot to add that he had a little prompting from Erik, because he wanted James to think he was smart enough to figure it out on his own, and thus was an intellectual force to be reckoned with.
But James wasn’t buying it, because Jean-Robert hadn’t shown that kind of intuition this entire game. He had no idea how much the ladies were creeped out by him, he had no idea that the others were withholding idol info from him, and despite referring to himself as the “local jerk,” he really had no idea how much his own tribe disliked him.
But not only was Jean-Robert’s bluff a bad one, he didn’t even realize how bad it was. When he said James should’ve known he’d figure it out (that James had both idols), James wasn’t fooled. The gravedigger might not have known it was Erik who spilled the beans, but he knew Jean-Robert wasn’t smart enough to come to that conclusion on his own.
But Jean-Robert wasn’t finished making a fool of himself. When asked who told him, he told James that only he (Jean-Robert) could’ve figured it out. But James knew the bodies he puts six feet underground would come back to life before Jean-Robert figured out on his own that James had both idols. Not only was Jean-Robert trying to pass himself off as smart and instinctive, he was portraying himself as being more so than the rest of the players, which was ironic given he was the last one to know about James’ possession of the idols.
What about Jean Robert’s assertion to James that “it cannot work out well for you if you don’t go with me”? I’m not sure whether this was desperation on the part of Jean-Robert, or if he honestly believed it himself. Most likely, it was a little of both. He was frantically trying to hold onto his biggest ally (or so he thought).
However, Jean-Robert had also made threats to Todd, and just as Todd wasn’t buying it, neither was James. In poker terms, it’s like trying to convince your opponents you’ve got a royal flush when you’ve really got a pair of twos, if that. If you can pull it off, more power to you. But in this case the bluff was so obvious and transparent – let’s just say that if Jean-Robert bluffed this poorly in poker, we wouldn’t have ever heard of him, because he wouldn’t even be close to good enough to qualify for all the televised tourneys he’s been in.
James went on to tell us he knew he couldn’t trust anything coming out of Jean-Robert’s mouth. Perhaps that’s one reason the others decided to withhold idol info from Jean-Robert in the first place – they knew he couldn’t be trusted.
Now, what about James’ assertion that aligning with Jean-Robert would be the worst move in Survivor history? To the contrary, it could have been one of the best. After all, who better to have sitting next to you in the final two or three? But since he knew his former ally now wanted him out, and knew about the two idols, it might well have been in the gravedigger’s best interest to bury Jean-Robert once and for all.
But Jean-Robert wasn’t finished making a fool of himself. In his closing comments, he said he loved the way he played the game. And this time, I actually believed him. I think he honestly thought he had a great strategy and it simply didn’t work out; then again, he could’ve been first out and he probably would’ve thought the exact same thing.
Then there was the comment that the others targeted him because they thought he was the best player in the game. This may be the biggest delusion of all, like the kid who thinks the others don’t want to play with him because he’s too smart/athletic/handsome/rich. In reality, they simply couldn’t stand him, and finally did something about it.1 2 Next-->
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