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Survivor: Gabon – Why Crystal Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/12/2008
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Last week, with Corinne, we saw that even with a great strategy, personality traits can cause significant problems in the game of Survivor. Could that have been the case once again here, for Crystal? Or was there even strategy to begin with? Why did Crystal lose?
On this week’s episode, we were shown a couple of clear reasons that people turned against Crystal, and it would be all too easy to just point at those and say we have our answers. But over a month has passed with all of these players together, so you know there were more factors than just that! How to sort them all out? By looking through What Gabon Survivors Should Have Learned, of course!
The first rule emphasizes the importance of something I already mentioned above – strategy. It was something that, quite frankly, we didn’t often see out of Crystal. However, that doesn’t mean she was totally unaware of it. For example, Crystal did save Ken when Marcus wanted him gone. She took the information Marcus stupidly gave her and turned the tables on him by providing that plus more to Susie.
Alas, that’s pretty much all we saw from her in this regard. She formed a very early alliance with Ken, which is good, and then essentially followed his lead on everything, as she admitted in her interview with me. Even when she thought that going a different route might be better – such as casting her vote against Matty rather than Corinne last week – she put all her trust in Ken and did what he told her.
Ironically, by doing that and failing to vote out Matty, she helped spur the move against her this week. If she had followed her gut rather than her ally, she likely would still be in the game. Alliances are important, but you can’t follow them blindly even when your allies aren’t turning on you – you need to think for yourself.
Since Crystal didn’t quite succeed in the first rule, does that mean she did okay by the second, which says not to scheme and plot too much? Yes and no. She was fine with that specific portion, but there is another part of the rule that tells players to keep their scheming secret. Crystal’s alliance with Ken was obvious to one and all (which made Ken denying it in Tribal Council that much funnier). More specifically, the rule even says players have to avoid openly joining up into a duo. “Open partnerships are just begging to be split up.” So even though Ken made the obvious vote against Matty, the two of them were lumped together as a team and Crystal ended up paying the price.
The third rule tells players they need to be flexible. Crystal, under the leadership of Ken, did follow the part of the rule saying you cannot tie yourself to one alliance and just hope it survives – as seen when the duo switched to Bob and Corinne, though that obviously didn’t work out. Earlier, they brought in Kelly and then got rid of her, and then brought in Sugar (who obviously turned on them). And then they were flexible enough to try to turn the tables back on Bob when he showed himself to be a challenge threat. But again, from what we saw, that was almost all Ken with Crystal just following along.
The one time she had a real chance to be flexible was when Marcus offered her Susie’s spot in the onion alliance. However, Crystal was absolutely correct to turn that back at Marcus – she had no real reason to trust him, he wanted to oust her closest ally, and she knew that this would place her in an alliance with at least one person (Randy) who completely despised her.
The fourth rule talks about how players should deal with their emotions. Crystal certainly showed herself to be an emotional player, whether crying or yelling at somebody or flipping someone off from the voting booth. But I don’t think her emotions ever really dictated how she played the game. Several times throughout the season, she wanted somebody gone because she couldn’t stand them, but strategy (led by Ken) ended up prevailing.
I can’t say she did as well at hiding her true emotions, though, as dictated by the fifth rule. She did not do a very good job at pretending to be nice. When she was mad at somebody, they knew it.
Most of the season, Crystal managed to hang around despite this issue, as the others playing generally shared her opinions of those at whom she was mad, or at least wanted them gone. But in her final episode, her behavior finally came back to haunt her when she went off on Matty for no particular reason even though he was going home at the next vote. Everybody was on board. But Crystal just had to get the final words in – through yelling at Matty.
When Sugar saw how Crystal was acting, it rocked her world. It was the final straw in her determination that Ken and Crystal were not “good people” and thus did not deserve to win the game. Was it a good strategic move on Sugar’s part? No. But players cannot always assume their fellows will make good strategic moves – they need to recognize that some decisions are made for emotional reasons and guard against giving anybody any reason to turn on them.
At least Crystal didn’t have to worry one iota about the sixth rule, which says to not be too much of a threat. She was perhaps the worst challenge performer in Survivor history – and this from a former Olympic gold medallist! There really is nothing more that I can say about it that hasn’t already been said.
I should note that in my interview with her, Crystal claimed, “I was social threat out there. I think folks didn’t want to go to the finals with me because I would have won.” Honestly, I find that hard to believe. She probably believes it, but I cannot. This jury was not going to give her the win, period. So it is not a contributing factor here.
Our final rule looks at whether the rest of the tribe made the right decision in voting out Crystal. Professor Sadow has already gone into some detail about this in his Strategic Overview of Survivor column. My own thoughts are pretty similar – Bob or Matty were the biggest threats and needed to be ousted. I cannot believe Bob would have gone along with Ken’s idea of giving away immunity even if the entire rest of the tribe would have gone along with Ken, but if he had, they should have voted him out. Otherwise, Matty should have been the target. Despite what Crystal said about herself winning if she had made the final three, I just don’t see it as a realistic possibility. And that means she should have been kept around. Sugar ensured that there is no way she will win the million dollars.
Crystal had been in a super-tight duo since the beginning of the game, and was definitely the follower of that duo. If she had thought for herself and voted with her gut to get rid of Matty rather than writing down Corinne’s name, the game would have gone in a completely different direction for her.
Then, when the tide turned against them, just being in that tight partnership might normally mean a 50% chance of her being voted off. But her behavior and the way she made sure everybody knew what she was feeling titled the scales against her. Crystal didn’t need to let loose on Matty, but she wanted to get in the final word. Unfortunately for her, those were indeed among her final words on the game, because a lapse in strategy by her partner, the way she followed him almost unquestioningly, and her emotional outbursts combined to give us the reasons why Crystal lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Gabon articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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