Survivor: Cook Islands – Why Becky Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/20/2006
Becky has found a place for herself in Survivor history, though one she probably did not want – she was the first finalist ever to receive zero votes. Yes, it’s a bit different because she was also in the first threesome to face the jury, but still – ouch. Let’s push through the pain, though, and determine what went wrong. Why did Becky lose?
Throughout the season of Survivor: Cook Islands, we saw Becky as the second in command to Yul – though some have said she was an equal partner. But when it came time for the first three-way vote in Survivor history, she was third by a long shot. How can we explain these results? Let’s take a look back at What Cook Island Survivors Should Have Learned, to see what we can dig up.
Becky appears to have come into Survivor with a pretty good understanding of what she needed to do in the game, and this includes following the first rule by scheming and plotting. The rule specifically notes, “From the very beginning, you have to start making alliances and cementing relationships.” And in her interview with me, Becky said, “I also knew the importance of finding people who you trusted. With 20 people, I knew I had to find some allies right away.” That alliance with Yul lasted the entire 39 days, and they never once considered turning on each other.
They did, however, turn on others as necessary and plot a course all the way to the finals. While Yul won, he has continually given support to Becky as one of his partners in the game. For example, in his interview with me, Yul discussed the voting out of Nate and noted that when he found out how there was the possibility of Ozzy and Nate starting to form an alliance, he “ran back to Becky” to talk about it.
Similarly, Becky talked to me about how, before the mutiny, she and Candice “would strategize and go back to our respective male partners,” even though that wasn’t necessarily shown very much on TV. She added, “I was behind the scenes making the necessary alliances to stay in the game.”
The problem may have been that she was too much behind the scenes and the jury didn’t know about it. As Adam told me in my interview with him, at the time he did indeed consider Yul the puppetmaster, but upon watching the show and seeing some things he hadn’t known about, he realized that Becky did have input he hadn’t realized.
But if Adam didn’t know about that input until later, then certainly most of the rest of the jury didn’t either. Candice might have, given that she conspired with Becky earlier in the game, but that’s about it. Yul was the public face of the alliance – for good or for ill – and Becky was stuck in the background even as she followed the first rule.
Obviously, then, Becky certainly followed the second rule. She didn’t scheme and plot too much, she didn’t backstab too soon, and she certainly kept her scheming secret! As we just noted, perhaps a bit too secret.
With that in mind, we can move on to the third rule, which tells players to be flexible. Many times this season, I have quoted the portion of this rule that says, “you can’t simply tie yourself to one alliance and hope that it survives.” And here I am repeating it again.
Yes, it’s great that Becky had such a tight alliance with Yul. She has a friend for life now. But we’ve said it in previous seasons – Survivor is a game and we treat it as such in these columns. So that means I have to criticize her game play here.
As I said earlier, Becky never even considered turning on Yul. That’s great in an ally, but if she wanted to win herself, she needed to realize that she could never do it against Yul. At some point, she had to break that bond if she had any chance of winning. But when I talked to her, she said she never even considered it. Mind you, she gave some good reasons, saying they both represented the same things and, “Turning on him would have been like turning on your family.”
But as I noted, this is a column about strategy in getting to the win – or not – so we cannot leave these stones unturned. It wouldn’t have been easy, both emotionally and in actually doing it, since he had the hidden immunity idol, but Becky’s only chance to win was to abandon Yul somewhere along the line and step up to claim his role as the brains against Ozzy’s brawn.
As it happens, this leads us directly into the fourth rule, about not letting emotions control you. I just quoted an important point from Becky a couple paragraphs ago – turning on Yul would have been like turning on family. And Becky has said that Yul’s friendship is worth more than money. However, this rule specifically says of the other players, “treat them as pawns in a game, not as potential friends for life.” As much as we might admire Becky’s sentiments, we cannot ignore that she broke this rule utterly and completely.
Also, I have to talk about Becky’s refusal to take the hidden immunity idol from Yul. I’m not convinced it was the right thing to do. Yes, the jury could have interpreted that as her riding on Yul’s coattails into the jury. But instead she competed in a fire-making challenge that didn’t really make her look any better! If she had taken the idol from Yul, she might have been able to make the argument of, “Look, I had him in the palm of my hands so much that he even gave up immunity for me! That proves I’ve been the master behind-the-scenes manipulator.” Would it have worked? At that point, I doubt it. But considering the outcome, it couldn’t have hurt her.
The fifth rule tells players to pretend to be nice. Despite what the editing showed us of Becky’s behavior towards Jonathan just before he was voted out, this really was not an issue. We didn’t see anything to indicate any players thought ill of Becky. Just as the jurors gave credit to Yul for his game play, similarly, whatever the Raros thought about being voted out, those negative feelings were also aimed squarely at Yul.
Sixth is not to be too much of a threat. Considering that the jury didn’t really give Becky any credit for her game play, it’s safe to say they didn’t feel threatened by it either. And as far as challenges, it’s difficult to be considered a threat when you’re playing against the likes of Ozzy and Yul (and Adam and Jonathan and…). Besides, Becky knew enough coming into the game that, as she told me, she didn’t want to show her strength in the beginning and risk putting a target on her back.
As far as the seventh rule, it neither helped nor hurt Becky. She was not lazy, but she was not a key food provider either. I do think the fire-making challenge hurt her because it implied she hadn’t learned a thing in the game, thus supporting the conclusion that she’d been carried, but considering that some jurors hadn’t gutted a fish almost the whole time they’d been there, I don’t really think it mattered much.
So now we arrive at the jury phase of the game. Becky found herself in a place where nobody had ever been before – among a final three making jury arguments. This was, frankly, bad luck for her. If it had been a standard final two, Becky would have had a chance. Specifically, there would have been one more immunity challenge. If Ozzy had won that the way he won so many others, then he could have gotten rid of Yul (and would have done so if he were smart), whose immunity idol would have expired by that point. That would have left Becky standing as the only strategic player left. Could she have beaten Ozzy? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know. But she certainly would have had a better chance.
Basically, she would have had that chance because, in that hypothetical situation, Ozzy would have done for her what she wouldn’t do for herself – split her apart from Yul. With Yul still in the game, she remained hidden in his shadow. While she was part of the Aitu conglomerate, Yul was the face of it and she had a lot to do to prove herself in front of the jury. She knew she had to do it, and I think she tried, but it’s difficult to convince people that what they believe they saw over 39 days was not really what they saw.
And that is the key. Becky chose to play the game a certain way. She was loyal to Yul – loyal to a fault. After it was over, she said she him winning was pretty much as good as winning herself. And in her eyes that may well be true. But when it comes to looking at why Becky didn’t win herself, we can see that her loyalty was the overriding cause.
If she did want to win, Becky needed to, at some point, step outside of the partnership with Yul and demonstrate that she was indeed a player herself. She needed to make public moves, not just have private discussions. And yes, she needed to turn on Yul. She may be perfectly happy that she didn’t do any of these things, but in the end, they are the reasons that explain why Becky 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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