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Survivor: Exile Island - The Rules Don’t Ruleby Ken Kellam III -- 02/13/2006
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By now, most of you know there are certain rules to be followed if you want to achieve success in Survivor. You probably also know that those rules are periodically updated, and that Shii Ann even famously alluded to those rules in her closing comments after being ousted from Thailand. By now, Survivor has been around long enough that anyone playing the game should be more than familiar with those rules. Yet to watch certain players on the tube, you’d guess they’ve never even seen the show. To quote Shii Ann once again, “Stupid, stupid people.”
Let’s start with Tina. It’s not often I discuss a player who has already been ousted. However, after I submitted my article on the debut episode, it came to light that Tina did no plotting, and by her own admission never even discussed Tribal Council with her teammates. As long as the series as been airing, Tina should’ve known how important politics are to surviving the game. There’s a reason Jeff Probst says, “To win the game, the players have to survive the conditions, the elements, and each other.” He should probably add, “Not necessarily in that order.”
Sue Hawk, part of the original Survivor alliance, said that to prepare for the game, don’t worry about books on survival, but instead focus on books which discuss game-playing and strategy. Time has borne her advice out more times than any of us can count. In addition, Jeff Varner from the Outback said at first he thought the game was about building huts, but realizes it was about building relationships. Mike Skupin from the same season said, “You can win the game of Survivor and not have a single survival skill if you have the right friendships.”
Mind you, the three people mentioned above were all from the first two seasons, so Tina had absolutely no excuse for being unprepared. Her work ethic would’ve been fine if this had been The Real World: Exile Island or even Gilligan’s Island. But even then, the others may have wondered why she never bothered to talk to them.
Tina asked what game Cirie signed up for, which at the time looked like one of the best quotes in the show’s history. But now it looks like one of the silliest, considering who it came from. In fact, I’m not even sure Tina signed up for a game. Rather, she seemed to sign up for an experience, and when you think about it, she never actually played the game, at least not the part that mattered most. In fact, by failing to plot and scheme, or even attempt to do so, she violated the number one rule for survival, and thus became the number one person booted from the game.
What about the latest bootee, Melinda? Well, she claimed she was dealt a bad hand, but she certainly didn’t play that hand too well. In a way, she violated the second rule about not backstabbing until you absolutely have to. Being that it was down to her or Cirie for the boot, she pretty much had to, but didn’t. She even said in her post-game interview, “When I went into the game, I was prepared to stab people in the back, but not someone who I had become so close to, trusted, and made a promise to.”
Maybe Melinda would’ve gone anyway, but she certainly didn’t do herself any favors. And you might also make the argument that she violated the rule about letting your emotions control you. She felt so bonded to Cirie, she couldn’t cut loose that bond for the sake of the game. It reminds me of that Far Side cartoon where a hunter is aiming his weapon at a bear, and the bear smiles and points to another bear. That’s what Melinda should’ve done. No, her life wasn’t at stake, but her tribal life certainly was, and she didn’t even try to save it. Melinda commented in Tribal Council that if she were the one to go, it wouldn’t be due to anything that happened in the immunity challenge, and she should know: After all, the previous immunity challenge had nothing to do with Tina’s eviction either.
What about Shane? Well, let’s start out by saying it’s a good thing he wasn’t sent to Exile Island, at least yet. If he thinks island life is monotonous, just imagine how he would fare alone for the next three days. Then again, he could yell, scream, and complain about missing his kid -and his nicotine - to his heart’s content.
Shane claimed the show is the stupidest thing he’s ever done. However, it’s not like he just entered on a whim. To even be considered for the cast, you’ve got to make a videotape, fill out a gazillion pages of paperwork, and on and on and on. In other words, it’s a pretty extensive process. It’s not like he just decided to visit Las Vegas on a spur of the moment. When he was going through the application process, did it ever occur to him how he might be affected by being away from his child for so long?
For that matter, did it occur to him how much he might miss his cigs? Maybe he should’ve practiced going cold turkey for a day or so at a time back in the States. Then again, a friend once told me that when he was trying to quit smokeless tobacco, he started eating more to fill the void. Shane has no such luxury on Survivor. Maybe he didn’t know exactly how addicting nicotine was. Well, that has obviously changed.
So far, Shane has been doing his share of plotting and scheming. Unfortunately, a lot of it is against himself. One minute he’s forming an alliance with Danielle, Courtney, and Aras, and the next he’s telling people he doesn’t want to stay there. Which is it? It’s almost like his theme song is the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” For now, he’s still in.
Shane is violating his share of rules, however. For one, the lack of nicotine has made him so crazy he can’t even pretend to be nice. He complains to anyone who’ll listen: His teammates, Jeff Probst, the camera. He even painted a bleak picture of camp life at Tribal Council. He’s also violating the rule about keeping your scheming secret, telling Melinda and Cirie that whoever doesn’t go now is going next. How does he know the tribes will be together that long? We’ve already seen one twist. If there’s another, he risks alienating Cirie as a possible ally.
Shane has also failed to heed the rule about letting your emotions control you. After all, he has made no secret of his negative attitude. When mental attitude is so important, how does that not drag the others down? Maybe in his case the rule should state, “Don’t let the nicotine (or lack thereof) control you,” or better yet, “Get rid of any serious vices before the game starts.” Judging from next week’s previews, Shane doesn’t exactly change his ways.
Aras, while not nearly as negative as Shane, is most certainly guilty of violating the rule about keeping your scheming secret, telling Cirie and Melinda one of them is going. Not only did this aggravate them, but it also didn’t sit well with Courtney, his own alliance mate. Might’ve been nice of his to include her in on the decision, instead of making it on his own.
Instead, Courtney has to wonder what other decisions Aras will make without consulting her. She may find being in alliance with him a bit unsettling and wonder if she can trust him. Courtney may have acted a bit flaky regarding the dead turtle last week, but she’s smart enough to know the importance of keeping your alliance together, and the importance of generating trust in those you’re aligned with. Couple that with the fact that she doesn’t appear to be a challenge threat, and she may just stick around awhile.
Well, so far we’ve seen poor game play from those ousted, and a couple of people who are still in it in spite of themselves. Will they so much as get a clue in the next episode? We’ll find out Thursday.
Ken can be reached with any comments, criticisms, or money orders at YourNextOfKen@aol.com .
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