Why Keith Lostby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
When you’re done reading this article, make sure you check out the other Survivor wrap-ups here: Surviving the Outback, Episode 14: Better Player or Better Person?, Why Tina Won, and Why Colby Lost.
Keith made it to the final three, but then was booted by Colby so he could bring the more “deserving” Tina along. As Bryant Gumbel would later point out, Colby basically gave up $900,000 to make sure Keith didn’t have a chance! What did he do to get so close but yet remain so far? As always, let’s take a look using my article about What Future Survivors Need to Learn as a guide.
To begin with, Keith definitely plotted and schemed with the best of them. He teamed up early with Tina and stuck with the Ogakor alliance while it was useful. Then they turned around and led a coup to rid themselves of the evil Jerri and, when the time was right, Amber.
All along, he knew that he had to get rid of the Kuchans, no matter how much he might have liked them. The alliance had to prevail, and so it did.
Yet with all of this scheming, he managed to avoid an overkill situation where he became known as a plotter and therefore would have been resented. He had one alliance and he stuck by it. He didn’t go around to others and try to overthrow his main alliance, though he did help remove the Jerri portion of it. When he did that, he made sure it would not come back to haunt him.
He also used a good voting strategy, getting rid of the weak first (except perhaps Kel, but going against the tribe on that one might have spelled an early out for him), then kicking off the strong amongst opposing alliances. All along, he kept his eyes on the prize and knew what he had to do and who he had to get rid of.
Similarly, he followed the fourth rule by not backstabbing until it was safe to do so. He didn’t really need to get rid of Jerri at that point in the game – at least not for any strategic reason. For sanity, though, it was a good move. But he waited to get rid of her until he knew it was safe to do so. And it (obviously) worked.
It may seem ironic given that Keith was the least-liked of the final three, but Keith did his best to pretend to be nice, especially early on. He tried to be nice to Jerri, who only wanted to fight and criticize. He was nice enough to Tina that she threw the first individual immunity challenge to save him. He pretended to be nice to the Kuchans as the two tribes combined, but then went back to his group to decide who should be booted first. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t keep up the pretenses long enough. He started fighting with Colby, and the others – who would eventually be on the jury – noticed his cockiness. This would be a major factor in Colby’s decision.
But he also avoided forming any emotional bonds that would hinder the way he played the game. Even the “bond” of hatred he felt with Jerri didn’t interfere until he knew it was safe to allow it to do so. He liked Rodger and Elisabeth, but knew they had to go in order to clear his path. He played the game and talked about how they would get together later when he cast his votes against them.
Keith came into the game knowing that the seventh rule was important – providing food wins allies. He brought a pan in as his luxury item, and was planning to whip up great Outback dishes to win over everybody’s stomachs. Unfortunately, as we know, it didn’t quite turn out that way as his early rice dishes flopped and Jerri took control. Later, he did do some work with fish and rice mixtures, but it really wasn’t what kept him around – the alliance was. Still, if he had been lazy or avoided cooking duties, he might have been left behind by the alliance. It might not have helped a lot, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
Keith was in the final three because Tina and Colby needed him there. They would have preferred Rodger, but couldn’t figure out a way to bring him along without risking a loss for themselves. He needed them to bring him along, and they needed him as well – until the end, that is. By all rights, Colby should have brought him into the final two because you don’t want a “nice” person in the final two with you, because you’re more apt to lose. Keith was viewed as being a bit cocky and overconfident, while Tina and Colby were more popular. So it would have made perfect sense to bring Keith along, to give the jury a distinctive choice. Colby chose a different route, and ended up losing himself because of it. He says he doesn’t lose sleep over it, but this is a column about winning, not sleeping. Still, we’ll get to him in a later article.
So, in the final analysis, Keith made it to the final three because of his alliance. He should have made it to the final two because of his personality flaws, but actually was booted by Colby for that very reason. He didn’t play nice quite long enough, and Colby decided to risk losing the game instead of bringing along somebody he felt was undeserving. That is why Keith lost.
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