Survivor: Cook Islands – Why Jonathan Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/13/2006
Jonathan had been playing a dangerous game on Survivor for almost his entire time. He darted from alliance to alliance, and back again, racking up enemies. Along the way, some of his fellow players also talked about how they found him obnoxious and unworthy. Which caused him to be voted out? Why did Jonathan lose?
The case of Jonathan being voted out is really a perfect one for this column. There are numerous causes that appear to have come into play, and it helps to dig into What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned to see whether one of those causes overshadowed the others or it was a combination of factors. Let’s take a look.
Jonathan certainly knew that the most important thing he had to do on Survivor was to scheme and plot. He knew coming into the game that he had to stay one step ahead of everybody else, even telling me in our interview, “If a move was going to get made, I wanted to be the one to make it. I did not want to get played. If I was going to think of something, somebody else was going to think of it, so I was going to do it faster.”
This meant that Jonathan was not going to wait around for alliances to happen, he was going to create what he needed. Since the first rule specifically says, “From the very beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships,” we can see that Jonathan was headed in the right direction.
On the original Raro tribe, Jonathan was in the majority alliance. On the merged Aitu tribe, he was in the majority alliance. After the mutiny, on the new Raro tribe, Jonathan was once again in the majority alliance. And when he flipped back to Aitu, he again put himself into the majority alliance. Indeed, Jonathan was in the majority alliance for the entire game, right up to the moment he was voted out by his own majority allies!
Also to Jonathan’s credit, he came over to Raro at the mutiny as the last person added to the tribe. Most of the others didn’t particularly like him. Yet somehow he lasted through one, two, three eliminations before the merge!
So if Jonathan was on top of the game to this extent, what went wrong? Well, that’s where the second rule comes into play. It says, quite clearly, “Don’t scheme and plot too much” and “Don’t backstab until you absolutely need to.” Jonathan had problems in both areas.
Let’s address backstabbing first – specifically, the mutiny. Candice previously gave her reasons for jumping ship. While they were not quite enough to land her in the Reality TV Hall of Shame, they weren’t necessarily very good either. Jonathan suffered from some of the same problem. He was – as far as he knew – closely aligned with Candice. He knew Yul and Becky were too tight to break up and he believed Adam had the hidden immunity idol. So he felt it was best to be with the idol and not with an inseparable duo. Thus, he knew he had to go to his original Raro teammates at some point. That point came sooner than he expected when the mutiny arrived and he made a quick, though he says calculated, decision to go with Candice.
Looking back, it was obviously the wrong decision, as Jonathan himself admits. As he told me, “I played such a careful, deliberate game,” until that point. He recognized that Ozzy was probably the next Aitu to go, and then Sundra. He would have been safe down to four. But he blew it. In his own words, “I played an endgame way too soon.” That’s very similar to backstabbing before he needed to, which also describes what he did to his Aitu allies.
Now let’s address the scheming and plotting too much. I’m pretty this is obvious to everybody. Jonathan was a known schemer on his original tribe and then on Aitu, long before the mutiny. Players I interviewed said things like, “Jonathan creeped me out” (Jessica), and described him as a “pushy used car salesman” (Cecilia). But as long as he was on their side, people didn’t seem to mind too much… until he turned on them.
Then Jonathan mutinied and left behind four rather upset people. It is amusing to me that the Aitus took out their anger on Candice, repeatedly sending her to Exile Island, while leaving Jonathan alone. It’s almost like his betrayal didn’t surprise them, while hers did. That says something about their impressions of Jonathan.
The mutiny was where everything went wrong. When Jonathan later found himself in the position of needing to jump back again, he really didn’t have a whole lot of choice. Yul blackmailed him into rejoining the Aitus (earning himself a Reality TV Hall of Fame Moment in the process). We’ve already briefly addressed this elsewhere, but just to drive home the point – despite what some people have thought, Jonathan really did not have a choice in the matter. He could not have lied to Yul and then convinced his Raro allies to vote out Becky because the Raros refused to believe him.
Besides that, Jonathan was pretty much guaranteed to get no better than fifth place if he stayed with the Raros. However, jumping to the Aitus meant the possibility for getting further – for example, potentially joining with Ozzy and Sundra to oppose the inseparable duo.
What is the point I’m trying to make here? That jumping back to the Aitus was not scheming and plotting too much. It was the right move at the right time. However, he had put himself into the position where he had little choice but to do that because of his poor decision to mutiny previously.
Still, whether we think rejoining the Aitus was the right thing to do, obviously his previous Raro allies disagreed. Adam and Parvati, in particular, believed he was scum for doing what he did – apparently forgetting that this is Survivor, not One Big Happy Family, and also forgetting that they themselves had backstabbed people who were supposed to be their allies (Brad, Rebecca, Jenny).
But let’s get back on track with Jonathan. We’ll move on to the third rule, which tells players to be flexible. I think we’ve established that in some ways, Jonathan fit that description – too much so, in fact. But when he returned to the Aitus, he was showing the necessary flexibility. Some players would have ignored or blown off Yul’s overtures – and been tossed because of it. Jonathan saw that it was the best deal he was going to get.
However, in other ways, Jonathan failed to be flexible enough. The rule specifically notes as one example, “when you are in an alliance of lazies, working hard may not be the best idea.” It is true that Jonathan wanted to show his worth to his Raro allies by feeding them, and I can’t fault him for that. But if he was going to do the extra work, he needed to keep his thoughts about it to himself rather than letting it slip that the rest of his tribemates were lazy do-nothings, even though that’s exactly what they were!
But sometimes, a player’s emotions get out of hand, and that’s exactly what happened to Jonathan when it came to the work he was doing. He let them know his feelings, though perhaps not as much as he would have liked. This went against the fourth rule, which says not to let emotions control you. However, this was a relatively minor violation as far as it goes.
As Jonathan told me, he tried to play a rational game. He didn’t come to make friends. He wasn’t hanging around in the shelter flirting and spooning and making goo-goo eyes. And he wasn’t hampered in his decisions by emotional attachments.
Unfortunately for Jonathan, some of the others did let their emotions control them. People like Adam and Parvati could not simply see that they had been outplayed. Adam called him a “cancer” who didn’t deserve to be there. Parvati whined about how she felt sick. They both needed to be smacked and told to get over it! But that really doesn’t have anything to do with Jonathan’s actions, so we’ll move on.
The fifth rule tells players to pretend to be nice. Jonathan obviously had a few problems in this regard. He said what was on his mind a bit too much and came across as too in-your-face for some of the people there. When he was gone on Exile Island, his supposed allies realized that camp was a calmer place when he wasn’t around.
Jonathan has a big personality, and he needed to dial it back. As we’ve already discussed, it’s one thing to work hard, but another to complain that everybody else isn’t. And then there was the auction, where Jonathan got a ton of food and kept talking about it, even burping obnoxiously. That’s a sure way to turn people off, even if they believe they should keep a person around for strategic reasons.
Sixth is to not be too much of a threat. Compared to the likes of Ozzy, Adam, and Yul, Jonathan did not appear to be much of a challenge threat. However, he was a threat of a different type. As he told me, the Aitus “perceived me as a threat – rightly so – I was not just going to let them take me to the final five and say, ‘Thanks for the ride.’ I was going to do what it took to stay in the game.” After all, the Aitus had already been aligned with Jonathan once and gotten a knife in the back. It probably didn’t take much for them to start thinking about the possibility that it could happen again. At least they know where Adam and Parvati stand (or at least they think they do).
Jonathan obviously did well with the seventh rule, which says providing food wins allies and players should not be lazy. While it was not the only reason, one thing that kept Jonathan around on Raro after the mutiny was that he was feeding them. If he had just been sitting around all day, he might well have been sent packing before the merge. There were other, strategic, reasons to keep him, but his fishing definitely didn’t hurt his cause.
This brings us to the question of whether the tribe did the right thing in voting Jonathan off. Obviously, Adam and Parvati did! But what about the Aitus? I was pretty vocal in my recap about how I thought it was the wrong decision, and I still stand by that (though I know some people disagree). Jonathan was a known quantity for Yul. Because he was a rational, unemotional player, Yul could count on Jonathan to act in the way that benefited himself the most. Now, however, Yul is stuck with Adam and Parvati, two unpredictable, emotional players who are determined to stick around, no matter what it takes. While Jonathan might not have been able to rally the troops against Yul and Becky because of the opinions others had of him, Adam and Parvati might actually be able to pull it off. Plus, Jonathan would have been a great foil in the finals before the jury! And having a calmer camp with more pleasant people is overrated, if that truly did play into the reasons for voting him out.
Time will tell if Yul made the right decision, and even if it was the wrong one he might be able to rebound, but I definitely think it was a dangerous thing to do.
As we’ve seen, Jonathan did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong – often at the same time! However, while his behavior did leave something to be desired, I think it’s a minor issue overall. Adam and Parvati didn’t seem to think Jonathan was so bad when he was on their side – it was only after he turned against them that he suddenly because this horrible person they described. This tells me it wasn’t really his personality that turned them against him.
So what was it? Jonathan schemed and plotted – but he overplayed it. He quite simply schemed and plotted too much and backstabbed too soon. The mutiny set the stage for his ouster, but he was overdoing things long before then, as previous players have told us. Nobody had a good feeling about Jonathan as far as the game was concerned. I suspect everybody feared he would turn against them eventually, and he certainly would have. But part of the second rule describes the likely end result of overdoing it: “In the end, nobody will trust you and they’ll turn on you.” That is exactly what happened here, and that is why Jonathan 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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