Why Colby 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 Keith Lost.
Explaining why Colby lost may be even easier than the earlier discussion of Why Jerri Lost -- though for pretty much exactly the opposite reasons. Still, let’s take a look in accordance with my earlier article, What Future Survivors Need to Know.
Colby did many – indeed, most – things right. He was a great schemer. He hooked into the main Ogakor alliance early and rode it the entire way. Throughout the game, he made a number of side deals to get rid of those people – even inside the alliance – who needed to go. It began when Tina convinced him to turn on Mitchell, who was weaker than Keith and hurting the team. And he never stopped. He convinced Jerri and Amber that they were going to the final three with him, but all along he knew it wasn’t going to happen. When the time was right, he took out Jerri, and Amber was soon to follow.
Amusingly, in the Survivor II Field Guide, we see that the show’s psychologist predicted he “may not make it to the end because he’s insufficiently conniving.” Shows what they know.
On the other hand, to make it to the final two, you have to avoid being too conniving – you can’t try to plot with everybody or else everybody will know your game. Colby was excellent at hiding his double-dealing from Jerri and Amber. And once the main alliance was set, he never turned back, and so never had to worry about this part.
Colby also was good at sticking to a voting strategy. He knew the weak had to go first, and, indeed, that was the reason he first turned on his original alliance – to get rid of the extremely weak Mitchell. After the tribal merger, he acknowledged that he got rid of people like Alicia because they were strong competitors. He later would say, in the final Tribal Council, that he wasn’t happy about it and it was “shallow,” but he did it. And then, after the strongest had been taken out, he turned on those who were outside their alliance – the final “weakest.” The only mistake he made here is the most obvious one – getting rid of Keith instead of Tina after winning the final immunity challenge. As I said, you don’t want a nice person with you in the final two. But that’s what Colby chose to do. He did so knowing full well that it wasn’t the smartest play, and, as we all now know, it cost him $900,000.
The fourth rule is that contestants shouldn’t backstab until they absolutely need to. Here, again, Colby played it exactly right. He helped take out Mitchell at exactly the right time (when getting rid of Keith instead would have hurt the tribe), and managed to keep the rest of the alliance intact while doing so. If anything, he might have pulled out the knife for Jerri a little early (Amber could have switched to the Kucha side and challenged the rest of the alliance), but he played it well enough that it didn’t end up hurting him.
For following the fifth rule – pretending to be nice – Colby deserves to be an actor much more than Jerri. He managed to keep her convinced that he was on her side pretty much the whole time. If he can pretend to be nice to Jerri, he can play any role in the world. Now, for most of the people he dealt with, he didn’t have to pretend. He really did get along well with the others, except for Keith as their time together got longer. And he was so nice that he ended up giving away the prize. That’s why the “pretend” is in there, and why the follow-up to it is to not form emotional bonds.
He managed to avoid acting on any emotional bonds throughout most of the game. Though they later would say they tried to figure out a way to bring Rodger along instead of Keith, they knew Keith was necessary for the alliance, and didn’t let emotion enter into it. But somewhere along the way, Colby changed his mind. He let his friendship with Tina interfere with his desire to win. He let the emotional bond get in the way.
Certainly one thing Colby never had to worry about was appearing lazy. So I’m not even going to bother spending any more time on that one.
Like I said, explaining why Colby lost is an easy task. He had been debating with himself whether to bring along a person who would be easy to beat or to bring a person who would be deserving of making it to the final two. I have been kicking myself for not seeing that bit of foreshadowing, but until the final episode, he’d been leaning heavily towards winning. When it all came down to it, he decided to go with his heart instead of his wallet. He may have felt good about it and all, but this is an article about why he lost, not why he’s a good person. And his decision to play nice instead of playing for the win is why he lost.
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