Survivor: Cook Islands – Why Candice Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/07/2006
When Candice was voted out, the reasons seemed obvious. But “seemed” is the key word here. Once she hit the interview circuit and the Survivor Insider recordings were released, we found that appearances do not always tell the full story. With all of this in mind, why did Candice lose?
Although we will use information outside of what we saw on TV, we will still go through it in the usual way, by looking at What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned to see what we can learn from both Candice’s actions on TV and her words later.
The first rule tells players to scheme and plot. According to Candice in her post-vote interviews, she knew this. She says she is a huge fan of the show and has never missed an episode. And she says she knew she had to make moves to survive.
This is sharply contrasted by the Candice we all saw on TV. That Candice never showed any inclination to this type of behavior. But as we all know, behavior can be edited out – it just can’t be edited in. So let’s take a look at what she had to say for herself.
Candice says she decided to mutiny because she felt unsafe in her Aitu tribe and thought Raro would be better. She “wanted to make a move to control my own fate in the game,” according to what she said in her RealityNewsOnline interview. Controlling your own fate is indeed a positive aspect in Survivor, and it would have been smart to do so. Unfortunately, Candice made some significant mistakes in analyzing her situation, as outlined by Professor Sadow in his Strategic Overview of Survivor Special article. In other words, she tried to scheme and plot, but she just wasn’t very good at it.
Which raises the question of how she did in terms of the second rule, which advises against scheming and plotting too much, says you should keep your scheming secret, and further proclaims that you shouldn’t backstab until you absolutely need to.
Wow. Candice was zero for three.
Let’s work backwards. The mutiny is where Candice blew the third part. She stabbed her entire tribe in the back by jumping to Raro. This included portions of what could have been a solid alliance with Yul and Becky. The fact remains that we saw nothing to indicate those two were planning to turn on Candice. And indeed, even Candice herself talked about how honestly Yul was trying to play the game. So it would have gone totally against his character to tell her she was an ally and then vote her out.
Even if she was totally dedicated to flipping against Yul and Becky, though, Candice should have – and could have – waited. She let her true colors be known too soon, to her detriment.
Ironically, part of the reason Candice felt she might be in danger on Aitu was that she failed to keep her scheming secret. Part of it was the fault of Adam and Parvati, her true allies who saved her from a possible vote by sending her to Exile Island. But that wasn’t the only indication of where her true loyalties were. She was far too obvious about the possibility of rejoining her original allies.
And then, once the tribes merged, Candice made it clear that she would not even consider turning on those same allies. There is a reason Yul approached Jonathan rather than Candice. The Raros might have called Jonathan a “rat” and various other terms, but the fact is that he’s still there and Candice isn’t. Her loyalty was far too obvious.
The overall concept of scheming and plotting too much encompasses both of these, and more. She thought she could leave Aitu, where she felt like she didn’t have much of a say in things, and move to the king’s ear in Raro. This turned too many people against her for her to ever have a serious chance at winning.
The third rule tells players to be flexible. It might seem at first glance like Candice embodied this through the mutiny. After all, she was flexible enough to abandon her tribe. But really, I see it as inflexibility. Candice was locked in with her original allies, and nothing – but nothing – would change that.
Let’s compare the way Candice acted with some of the others in the game. Candice hit it off with Adam and Parvati. They became allies and friends. No matter what happened in the game, Candice wanted to go back to them.
Jonathan, on the other hand, believed himself to be part of the same alliance. Yet he was always making other plans. He schemed with Jessica, he schemed with Yul, he schemed with just about anybody who would listen. Then, when he found himself in potential trouble after the merge, he schemed with Yul again.
And speaking of Yul, he has a tight bond with Becky, but otherwise has shown himself remarkably open to change. Ozzy and Sundra were supposed to be the next to go on Aitu. Yet when Yul found himself on a tribe of only four, with those two as part of the tribe, he immediately adopted them into his plan and his confidence. He knew they had to stick together, no matter what the plans might have been previously.
Those are two examples of flexibility that occurred this season. Candice exhibited none of this trait.
The fourth rule brings us to where we thought we would focus before Candice did all her post-show talking. It says not to let your emotions control you. From what we saw, Candice wanted to be with her friends, and that’s why she mutinied. But Candice says no, it was a ploy to make people think she wasn’t plotting their demise.
While I’d like to believe this, I simply cannot accept it totally. It seems clear that part of the reason she was allied so tightly with Parvati and Adam was friendship (and more, with Adam, though that apparently disappeared after the show). That friendship, I believe, blinded her to other possibilities. She was able to rationalize her decision to mutiny using strategy as a cover, but I think her emotions were at least partially responsible.
Fifth is to pretend to be nice. I don’t think Candice had a problem in this regard. Yes, she came down hard on Jonathan at the dinner incident, but she was already going home by that point, and she knew it.
Speaking of the dinner incident and jumping ahead a bit, the seventh rule says providing food wins allies and you shouldn’t be lazy. While Candice has said she doesn’t think she was lazy – just worn out – nobody can deny that Jonathan’s ability to feed the tribe helped him. It helped him make it to the point where he could turn on the Raros, and it helped him against Candice. It’s unclear just how serious Yul was about the possibility of voting off Jonathan instead of Candice, but one thing that I’m sure weighed on that thought process was that Jonathan was a giver while Candice was a taker.
Going back to the sixth rule, it says not to be too much of a threat. Frankly, at this point int he game, Candice was not a big threat. However, compared to Parvati, she was certainly the most dangerous when it came to challenges. Might as well get rid of her first.
So did the tribe do the right thing in voting Candice off? Hell yes! Even if they don’t trust Jonathan or don’t particularly like his behavior, he is a necessary evil. All of the Raros need to be gone before they can consider getting rid of him. Candice was just one of three.
In the end, I do believe Candice when she says that she was not just some lovesick dingbat who switched tribes to be with her sweetie (thus the reason she did not get entered into the Reality TV Hall of Shame). However, nor was she a brilliant strategist. Candice made numerous mistakes in judgment and decided incorrectly about how to proceed in the mutiny. She backstabbed too many people, too soon. She allowed everybody to know exactly where she stood, and that standing was determined at least in part by emotion. Candice had an alliance from the start and never left, making her completely inflexible at a time when she needed to be evaluating all of her options. That is why Candice lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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