Whatís Love Got to Do With It? Ė How Ten Seconds Cost Five People a Chance at One Million Dollarsby Jennifer McBride -- 11/30/2006
Normally Iím less critical of Survivors than the Reality News Online writers. After all, fans of the show have the benefit of a birdís eye point of view, hindsight, and a logical story arc provided by that Cook Island god, Mark Burnett. Nothing is quite as neat as the producers might like us to think. And it is a lot easier to think, given a full stomach and water that doesnít taste like it came from the back end of a parakeet.
But Candiceís decision to mutiny was mystifying, and the long-term effects have given proof that she really didnít have any plan. Ironically and unfortunately, her defection also dragged down the chances of her current allies Parvati, Adam, and Nate (and one ex-ally, Jonathan).
Of course, each contributed to the downfall with their own boneheaded choices, but they never would have had the opportunity to make so many obvious mistakes if Candice had just kept her feet on the mat. After all, stupid people have blundered into the top two before Ė and they will again. Instead, Candice threw it all away for a man best described as a frat-boy boor.
Or did she?
Was there any logical reason, given the knowledge she had at the time, for Candice to jump ship? Is there ever a reason for a Survivor to leap from a known situation to an unknown situation?
A Survivor should only switch tribes for one of two reasons: the obvious is if they think they are about to be being voted off; the less obvious is if an ally needs them.
Could Candice have thought that she was insecure in her own tribe? There may be reason to think so. After all, she said that Jonathan hadnít been solidifying their alliance lately. Instead, he had been focusing on Yul. She must have been aware that Jonathan considered her a puppet, and I can understand being angry that she was being taken for granted. From the footage, it appeared Jonathan didnít bother to throw her so much as a mackerel when it came to pre-mutiny strategic discussions.
Jonathanís conceit is understandable because he made the mistake of thinking that Candiceís mind worked the same way his did. Of course he didnít need to be constantly in communication with Candice, thus setting themselves up as an obvious duo to be split up. Of course she had to know that he would never logically prefer Yul to Candice since Yul and Becky were tied at the kneecap. Of course Candice would see that even if Yul betrayed Becky, in a jury vote he could still beat Jonathan because Yul was managing to make friends with everyone. Of course Candice couldnít find a better alliance partner than olí snake-in-the-grass Jonathan.
Ah, the oft-held mistake of believing that Survivors think rationally. Jonathan knew that Candice was allied with Adam Ė after all, he relied on Candiceís connections to get him in with Raro while she was on Exile Island. But he didnít realize that he just wasnít capable of competing with Adamís biceps for Candiceís attention. Given the friction between Jonathan and Adam over leadership in the early episodes, Iím amazed Adam gave Jonathan the marginally warm welcome he did.
Jonathan could only have expected to break into the Adam-Nate-Pavarti alliance if he brought something valuable with him. Candice brought her feminine wiles, but JonathanÖ brought a bunch of stinky fish. In this case, it was enough to save him from immediate extinction, but he would never have had to rely on his dubious skills in the first place if he had just paid a bit more attention to his partner. Then he would have known that she wasnít as close to him or as attuned to tribal politics as he thought, and he would never have taken the risk of switching buffs. At the very least, Candice wouldnít have disavowed him, and he might have had a better chance of displacing Nate in Raroís alliance.
So, given Jonathanís neglect, Candice could have reasonably believed that Jonathan was playing her. To what end? First, he could have been planning to vote her off at the next opportunity. Since several of her tribemates had been cultivating the idea that Jonathan was untrustworthy, the doubts might have festered. In that case, Candice could have guessed his motives a move earlier and switched her allegiance to Aquaman, Flica, and Sundra, all of whom probably could have been easily persuaded to break up the threatening duo of Yul and Becky. If the idol had come into play, the backlash would have probably been directed at Ozzy, who was perceived as the most threatening, while Candice secretly held all the strings.
But since Candice didnít even discuss that possibility with the others on-camera, itís logical to assume she felt safe. Equally, she must have been content with a non-leadership role. She probably thought that, even if Jonathan wasnít remotely trustworthy, she still came out ahead of Ozzy and Sundra in the tribal pecking order. And, come the merge, she had her original alliance to fall back on. So there was every incentive to stay where she was from an internal tribe perspective.
Candice should have realized that her allies werenít in danger, either. When spying on Raroís Tribal Council and watching Adam at challenges, she should have recognized a victorís body language. If he was falsely confident, there was little Candice could do about it. Since Raro had six players, the only likely way Candice could have saved him by herself was if the vote was going to split three-three, in which case, at best, Candice could have saved Adam the trouble of a tie-breaker. At worst, she would jump into a losing position and perhaps be sacrificed in his place. If she shared Jonathanís suspicion that Adam held the hidden immunity idol, surely she should have known that he would be safe until a knife in the back could make a difference.
So, strategically, there was absolutely no reason why Candice should swap tribes, even if she thought that her alliance partners were playing her. She dumped strategy in favor of happiness. I hope it was worth a million dollars, because she would have been a strong contender to win had she decided otherwise.
Candiceís stupid decision doomed more than herself, however. If nobody had switched positions, Aitu might not have had the same winning streak. Given a strong numerical advantage, Aitu might have even decided to throw a challenge in order to boot Ozzy, saving themselves a possible betrayal and a post-merge threat. Aitu also wouldnít have developed such a tight morale, a fire that helped lead them to win after win. Would they have tried so hard if they hadnít been the underdogs? What if they had chosen to throw the message in the bottle challenge? After all, the main players knew that they were safe. It wouldnít have been a smart decision, but then they didnít save Cristina when they had the chance a few days earlier. In the wake of the most recent episode, Yul may look like a genius, but he hasnít always made the right decisions.
If Aitu had ended up going into the merge short-handed because they threw one too many challenges, Candice would still have been protected from Pagonging by Pavarti and Adam, and she would have had a better justification for her betrayal if she had to face the jury. She could also make the choice to betray no one at all Ė and could have possibly been carried to the final two on a silver platter, with Adam and Pavarti sure votes in the jury. She might even have been able to protect Pavarti until the final five, as she would have been less of a challenge threat than Ozzy and would have practically guaranteed a Jonathan-Pavarti-Candice final three. Either way, Candice would be in a stronger position than she is now with more knowledge to act on. Her move left her without either of the options of an Aitu advantaged tribe.
The other alternative is that Aitu would have been left with an overwhelming strong advantage. If so, Adam and Pavarti probably would have managed to survive Raroís internal culling. If they hadnít, the disparate and dispirited Raro members who were left would have been easy to unite and desperate for leadership. If Candice didnít trust Jonathan, then solidifying an alliance with Sundra and Ozzy would have likely given her the votes to form a coalition of the wretched. She could hide behind her other alliesí physical prowess and clamp like a leech to whoever was strong enough to carry her to the end. Of course, if one of the survivors of the post-merge mess had been Adam, their attachment would have made her an obvious target, but Survivors sometimes show an odd reluctance to vote out couples.
With Pavarti and Adam secure at Raro, and Jonathan the tail to her dog, post-merge, Candice would have had herself an unshakable final four. She could have used her feminine wiles to convince Adam to throw off Nate for Jonathan at the end, as Nate was much more likable. Together, Jonathan and Candice could have forced Adam to ditch Pavarti to prevent a tie, and Candice could have thrown the final immunity challenge and be taken by whoever won. She would have had a good chance of picking up former Aitu votes by blaming Jonathan for their defection and a good chance of picking up Raro votes just by being a nice person.
Instead, Candice made a bad decision, and now, barring miracles, Jonathan is the only one of the four who has a shot of making the final two Ė and thatís only because he probably canít win against anybody. He made his own bed by choosing mutiny, but he obviously thought that Candice knew something that he didnít. Maybe she had found out that Yul and Becky were about to turn on them. So, because he was oblivious to how strongly she was attached to Adam, he trusted her desperation and stepped over.
Jonathan may deserve a slap on the wrist, but at least he had paranoia and his ďtrustworthyĒ ally as reasons to switch tribes. Candice relied on her river of hormones. If she had been that desperate for Adamís company, Candice could have at least tried to persuade everyone to step off the mat into a voluntary merge. What would the producers have done if they suddenly had to prepare a string of individual challenges? The look on Probstís face would have been priceless.
Ironically, her romantic gesture leaves her true love worse off. Out of anybody out there, Adam had a good chance of winning just because of his sheer number of remarkably solid alliances. Jenny, Candice, Nate, Pavarti, JonathanÖ Adam was an octopus with tentacles galore. Presuming Aitu cut Ozzy off at the next challenge loss, Adam would have been one of the strongest physically. Even if his allies had betrayed him, he might have been able to win immunity all the way to the end. Adam may be enjoying the attention of his tribal girlfriend, but if they had never met each other, he or one of the other original Raros could likely have been a million dollars richer.
Candice sabotaged herself and everyone she was close to.
If you havenít already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
Jennifer McBride is a journalism student at the University of Oregon. She is a rabid student of game theory and would apply for Survivor if she didn't have triceps tinier than Osten's pelican.
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