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Survivor: China – Why James Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/06/2007
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How ironic. Two people in the previous three episodes thought they had idols and didn’t. And the only person who did have an idol – two of them, in fact – decided not to use them. Obviously, the reason James was sent packing was that he didn’t use an idol. But that’s a discussion for another article – a Reality TV Hall of Shame article, in fact. Simply saying James lost because he didn’t use an idol ignores his entire situation and all the other factors involved. So that leaves us wondering, why did James lose?
Of course, we have a way to get to the answers by looking at all those other factors. We will do so by looking back at What China Survivors Should Have Learned and examining James’ overall situation.
The main rule of surviving on Survivor is to scheme and plot. James seemed to understand that, as he frequently talked about how he worked to keep his alliance together. But on the other hand, he didn’t really understand it, as he frequently talked about how he worked to keep his alliance together.
Allow me to explain. James knew he needed allies. He stuck with those allies even after he had been sent to the Zhan Hu camp, and one ally, Todd, helped him tremendously by giving him an immunity idol and telling him how to find the other one. He wanted his group of allies to make it to the final four. He knew they had to stick together to make that happen, and so he plotted to keep that dream alive.
What he failed to do, however, was prevent the rest of his alliance from plotting against him. He did not take into account the possibility that they would turn on him without giving him a solid hint that they were about to do so. And because he didn’t consider this possibility, he also refused to consider switching sides and working up a new alliance.
At least we know he didn’t violate the second rule by scheming and plotting too much. But nor did he keep his scheming secret, as everybody knew exactly where he stood. That allowed his allies to blindside him more easily, as they knew he felt secure.
Regular readers know what I’m about to say regarding the third rule. In big, bold letters, the rule says, “You cannot simply tie yourself to one alliance and hope that it survives!” As we just discussed a couple paragraphs above, James did exactly this. He latched on to the Todd/Amanda alliance and pleaded with people to keep it going. James needed to be playing this game for himself with the understanding that most alliances don’t last all the way to the final four. Begging wasn’t going to change that – he needed to see that the others would indeed bite the apple, and he should have made the first move.
The fourth rule tells players not to allow their emotions to control them. James was fine by this rule. While we saw that he didn’t take crap from people like Peih-Gee, we didn’t see it really affect his voting.
So we’ll quickly jump to the fifth rule, which says to pretend to be nice. Speaking of his disagreements with Peih-Gee, James certainly could have simply allowed her to prattle on or accepted her later apology. Had she been a more important player in his eyes, maybe he would have. But he just didn’t care what she thought. Since the coup came from within his own alliance, it really didn’t matter anyway.
One thing that most definitely did matter was the sixth rule. It says not to be too much of a threat. How big of a threat was James? Let us count the ways.
First, he had two immunity idols. That meant if he made it past this Tribal Council, he was at least in the final four. They would have no further chances to get rid of him until it was perhaps too late.
Second, just look at him! James is an obvious and huge threat when it comes to physical challenges. Once he got to the final four, there likely would have been more physical competitions, and he could have excelled.
Third, if he did make it to the end, James was an extremely likeable guy who was also probably the hardest-working member of the tribe. He fished, he cooked, he was up and working while everybody else was still sleeping. He had all of these things on his side if he had made it to face a jury – which meant he was one of the worst people in the game to have as your opponent.
That’s three pretty big ways that James was a threat. And three awfully big reasons that his tribemates had only this one last chance to reasonably get rid of him. Unfortunately for James, while they figured this out, he never did.
The seventh rule says to provide food and not be lazy. As I just mentioned, James was the hardest worker and the food provider. So that certainly wasn’t a problem.
To address the question of whether his tribemates voted out the right person, all we need to do is look back a few paragraphs. James was a huge threat and needed to be dealt with immediately. Even if it means somebody like Peih-Gee somehow makes it to the finals, so what? Anybody should have a better shot of being Peih-Gee than they would against James. He needed to go – now.
And really, that’s what it comes down to. As each week passed by, many viewers were surprised that James’ alliance hadn’t turned on him. He was a huge threat and needed to be taken out before he could use the immunity idols. Yet week after week went by and James stuck around.
Not this time, though. James’ supposed allies realized now was the last time they could have a legitimate shot at James. They deserve credit for that. But James needed to be thinking about how others were thinking. He should have realized that if his allies were going to turn on him, this was the time they would do it. But he didn’t. And that is why James lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: China articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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