Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor: China – Why Erik Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/12/2007
View Printable version of this article
Erik lasted quite a bit longer than I originally expected when the merge occurred, but he was eventually sent packing as the second to last remaining original Zhan Hu member. What could he have done differently to perhaps stick around longer? Or was he doomed no matter what? Why did Erik lose?
As we’ve done throughout the season, we will answer these questions by looking back at What China Survivors Should Have Learned. So let’s get to it!
Erik came to Survivor with some understanding of the strategy he’d need to use – but not a full comprehension of it. He admitted to me in my interview with him that he had not watched a lot of the show. However, he was smart enough to catch up on some seasons when he found out he’d be going. Still, this is like cramming for a test as compared to fully studying and understanding the concepts. It might work for a little while, but in the end, you need to have a complete grasp on the subject matter.
Erik figured he could just be his friendly self and get by. It did work for a while – he certainly was not a target when the likes of Chicken and Dave were around. But at some point, Erik needed to embrace the first rule by plotting and scheming.
Don’t get me wrong – Erik did make some attempts. He tried to get on the good side of Amanda and Courtney. He tried to convince Denise to jump ship. But as he said himself when he talked to me, he couldn’t push very hard because he had shown himself to be a different person. Getting more forceful at this point would have only caused people to pull away from him rather than listening to him.
Erik did make his best possible move in working on Denise. He gave her logical reasons that were certainly true. But he had several problems. First, if Denise switched sides, the best they could hope for was a tie. Erik told me he was confident he could beat Todd in a fire-building competition, but I doubt that was much comfort to Denise. If she had switched and Erik had still lost, Denise would have been in a horrible position (not to mention horribly uncomfortable) – she might have even gone before Peih-Gee. But now is not the time to talk about whether Denise was right or wrong; rather, my point here is that Erik needed to be able to come up with better enticement – or he needed to do it sooner.
Erik certainly didn’t need to worry about the second rule, which cautions against scheming and plotting too much. Indeed, given what he said, he seemed to understand this rule pretty well.
However, he could have done a better job of keeping his scheming secret. The way he and Peih-Gee cornered Denise in the middle of camp with the others watching ensured they would do everything they could to counteract his maneuvers. He should have found another way to talk to Denise privately.
The third rule tells players to be flexible. I think that Erik tried, but just wasn’t up to the task. Part of the problem is that the Fei Long really wanted to Pagong the Zhan Hu tribe. Sure, they took a couple detours, but the last four were determined to stick together. That meant Erik was forever labeled “Zhan Hu.” He tried to befriend them; he tried to get them to change alliances. He just couldn’t make it happen.
Erik’s actions also show he didn’t allow his emotions to control him. While he had become friends with Amanda and Courtney, if Denise had switched sides, I don’t think Erik would have had any problem getting rid of them after Todd. But Erik was never really in any sort of good position where he could have the luxury of worrying about emotions vs. strategy – he was busy trying to save himself.
Certainly, Erik did quite well with the fifth rule – except he didn’t need to pretend to be nice, as that was his real personality. As such, we can quickly move on to the sixth rule, which says not to be too much of a threat.
While Erik didn’t look like a threat in the same way as, say, James, he was perhaps an even bigger one. Indeed, this is the main reason none of the Fei Long want to abandon ship. It’s not because of loyalty or their plan to all go to the final four together – it’s because they know if they face a Zhan Hu in the final Tribal Council, they are in deep trouble.
Let’s say Denise had switched sides and Todd had gone home. If Erik had made it to the finals, he would have had several votes in his favor. We know he and Jaime were tight, so that’s one. Frosti would likely vote for him as well. A two-vote lead is not something a Survivor finalist wants to give up – especially if it’s a final three where you might be splitting votes with the other finalist.
Todd and Amanda were exactly correct when they were describing to their sisters how it would be best for them to take Courtney to the final three (presuming it stays three and doesn’t go back to two). The three of them tended to piss off the same people. Bringing Erik into the mix would only make matters worse for any Fei Long standing against him.
The seventh rule didn’t really apply here, as Erik wasn’t lazy and the core alliance probably wouldn’t have cared if he was. So we’ll jump to number eight, which discusses what the other tribe members should have done. And quite frankly, I think I’ve already pretty well gone over that. It was in the best interests of Todd, Amanda, and Courtney to get rid of Erik – they didn’t want him getting anywhere near the finals. Denise was iffier, but I do think from her perspective, this was the safest route to take.
I started this article by saying Erik lasted longer than expected – and he did. If Fei Long had done a true Pagonging, he’d have been gone weeks ago. But the remaining core alliance members realized that allowing Erik to stay any longer presented too much of a threat. If he were to make it to the end, he would have had a good chance of besting any of them in the votes.
Erik was on the wrong side. And to make matters worse, he was a really nice and well-liked guy on the wrong side. The ruling alliance could not take the chance that he might get to face the jury. Erik, quite simply, had to go now. And Erik couldn’t come up with any convincing reason to keep him around – in large part because there really wasn’t one. That is why Erik 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.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recaps and other info on this show at the Survivor: Fiji page, and take a look at our The Amazing Race 8 page and our Apprentice page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article