Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor: China – Why Todd Wonby David Bloomberg -- 12/18/2007
View Printable version of this article
Todd has been a Survivor fan for as long as there have been Survivor fans. This was his dream come true and he got to play it out on national television. He had a plan that he put into action and it actually worked. How did he manage to do that? Why did Todd win?
Throughout this season, we have looked at why 15 other players lost by looking back at What China Survivors Should Have Learned. Now it’s time to turn the tables a bit and use those same rules to figure out how Todd made himself a million dollars richer.
The first rule, as always, is to scheme and plot. This rule, like many others, came directly from watching the first master of the game, Richard Hatch. While we certainly don’t support Hatch’s behavior after the game (and inducted him into the Reality TV Hall of Shame for it), this doesn’t erase that he was a brilliant Survivor player upon which many have based their own strategies (for which we inducted him into the Reality TV Hall of Fame).
Why do I mention Hatch? Because Todd has been watching since the days of Hatch and built some of his own strategy based on him, according to what was said in Todd’s Early Show interview. And Todd obviously paid attention.
Let’s look more closely at this rule. In one part, it says, “From the very beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships.” That’s exactly what Todd did. He had an alliance with Amanda on Day 1. He brought in Aaron soon after. Courtney followed. Jean-Robert, James, Denise, and eventually Frosti – all were brought into alliances with Todd.
Another portion of the rule talks about how Rich Hatch and Rob C. planned for the types of people they wanted to align with before they ever got into the game. Todd did the same thing, as he explained in my interview with him.
Todd formed a solid core alliance and took it to the very end. That alliance served his purposes – they didn’t vote for him to leave and they did vote the way he wanted them to. They kept Todd around even though they should have gotten rid of him. He surprised even himself with his ability to stick around.
This is especially true given that a number of people thought Todd schemed and plotted too much, in violation of the second rule. Indeed, it sometimes appeared that he changed the voting target on a whim – though he later explained his reasoning. But the problem with saying he did too much of this was that it never caught up with him! The rule is there to prevent people from catching on and turning on a player. Todd managed to do what few players before him have done – he convinced people he was lying to everybody else but them.
The master of this was, of course, Will Kirby on Big Brother. But Todd did an admirable job as well, with each person he booted from Fei Long pretty much being blindsided.
That said, Todd really should have been gone, instead of Denise, at the final four Tribal Council. Amanda didn’t trust him and considered getting rid of him. She was right on both counts, yet she failed to act. Ironically, Todd was more honest to Amanda than anybody else in the game!
As for the other two main points in the second rule, Todd did a good job on these also. He kept his scheming secret and didn’t backstab until he felt he needed to, contributing to his ability to blindside people while still getting some of their votes in the end.
The third rule tells players, among other things, not to tie themselves to one alliance and just hope it survives. It might seem, at first glance, that this is what Todd did. But Todd was more like Yul. As this rule says:
[T]he key was that Yul didn’t just “hope” the alliance survived – he worked at it. He ensured everybody in the Aitu four was comfortable. … He subtly manipulated the situations such that nobody wanted to jump ship, even though it might have been a better option for some of them. He essentially convinced the others that they didn’t need that flexibility. So he convinced the others to go against this rule, thus using it to his advantage.Sound like anybody else we know? Yes, Todd did some very similar things, somehow persuading people that he was a better choice to take along to the final Tribal Council.
Besides, Todd did show flexibility when he needed to, such as when he switched from targeting James to going after Jean-Robert. Another example was when he wanted to target Frosti but made it clear he would go after Courtney instead if she didn’t stick to the plan.
Moving to the fourth rule, one thing Todd never, ever did was allow his emotions to control him. He came into Survivor knowing it was a game. He knew he was going to form relationships and have to vote those people out. He understood the emotional part of the game much better than, say, Amanda (who admitted as much in my interview with her). What more can we say? He did a great job.
Despite what we saw on TV, I also think Todd did well in terms of the fifth rule, which says to pretend to be nice. Yes, he made snide remarks to the cameras about people, but one thing at least one other contestant mentioned to me was that they didn’t see that side of him during the game. Indeed, Amanda told Courtney, in the final episode, that she feared Todd in part because he had forged relationships with a number of the jurors. You don’t accomplish that unless you know how to pretend to be nice. Todd knew he needed to make friendships and then stab people in the back, and so he played nice with them to their faces.1 2 Next-->
View Printable version of this article