Thursday, April 26, 2012

Survivor: One World 4/25 Episode Thoughts

Initially, I was going to dismiss Kim as a threat to the Greatest of All-Time throne (currently held by Parvati.) Her reward challenge choice was terrible. It showed a lack of foresight as to the consequences of her choice, and opened her up to a mutiny of sorts. But as the episode went on, I actually came to the opposite conclusion: if Kim wins, she is the greatest player of all time.

Let's look back to the reward challenge.  It was the same format of challenge from Marquesas which caused the first switch ever, only with the added bonus of having to tell people what their faults are. Initially I was thinking that we were going to end up with the same situation as Marquesas, but after Troyzan and and Tarzan were eliminated the apparent core group made sure to not just pick people off in the pecking order.  Where the disaster happened was at the end of the challenge.

Kim and Kat had a meeting of the minds prior to the reward challenge. It had been deduced that the challenge was going to end up with the winner having to choose others to bring along and share in the reward. Kim told Kat that she would bring Kat and probably Alicia along, if only to make sure that Alicia, Christina and Tarzan weren't together back at camp. Kat agreed, and everything was good.

Fast forward to the end of the reward challenge. Kim ended up beating Alicia for the win, which made choosing Alicia a lot easier. However, when Jeff announced that another person could join them, Kim veered off course and instead chose to bring Chelsea along, instead of Kat.

This was a mistake in two significant ways.  First is the obvious: Kim broke her promise to an alliance mate. At an absolute minimum it creates hard feelings between Kim and Kat. It leaves Kim on shakier grounds with Kat, and it could come back to haunt her at Final Tribal Council.

The second is that it exposed Kim and Chelsea to be a duo that will be going to the end. This shouldn't be that big of a deal, but if people were to decide to rise up against Kim, it gives them another angle to attack from. They can get rid of Chelsea as a proxy for Kim, and essentially put Kim in the Troyzan role. If we are going to compare Kim to Boston Rob from Redemption Island, Rob made sure to never tip his hand to show who was going to be going with him to the end, even though he had hand picked Natalie. It meant that they never thought of voting out Rob's closest ally and forcing him to play a bit of catch up. Kim has opened up a bit of vulnerability; it will be up to her to sure up that flank.

Kim also won immunity, which was big only because it meant that she did not have to worrya bout figuring out if she needed to play her hidden immunity idol. It let her come up with a plan to throw a couple of votes on Christina in the event that Troyzan had a secret immunity idol of his own.  What she couldn't count on though was her own tribe being unable to keep quiet.

The first offender was Sabrina, who told Christina that there would be votes going on Christina, and explained the reason for it verbatim. While it's nice to be honest with people when it comes to how the vote is going to play out, it is disastrous to do this when the person who you are being honest to has already been confronted with the feelings of the tribe that she is undeserving of being in the game, and has also been hinted at being at the bottom of whatever alliance she feels she is in.

Given this fodder, and a bit more prodding from Troyzan, Christina broke away from the group and voted for Chelsea, making the attack on Kim that became a possibility after the reward challenge. Fortunately for Kim and Chelsea, that was the only vote to be sent Chelsea's way.

Then Christina herself got into the act by shooting herself in the foot. She told Troyzan that she would be voting for him, but also gave him a vague notion of some sort of vote splitting occurring as well. Without too much prodding from him, she revealed that she would be the one getting the votes. Troyzan realized that this was a gift from the Survivor Gods - he had a possible out. All he needed to do was to find somebody to flip the vote and cause (at worst) a tie vote and then who knows? If it went to rocks then he'd be safe, and if it didn't then it means that somebody got jittery about going to rocks and there is a chance that they would vote Christina. Either way, no harm for him.

Christina, OTOH, seemed blissfully unaware that revealing that she would be receiving votes to the person who was on the chopping block could end up backfiring and cause her to go. All it would take is one extra vote, and her Chelsea vote would have been her undoing. It's not a "give up your immunity" blunder, but it was a pretty glaring one.

The last person who couldn't keep quiet was Alicia. During tribal council, Christina started talking about having her perspective change based on what was said at the reward challenge, but wasn't being too outlandish. She tried to cover for her apparent placing at the bottom of the totem pole by saying that people didn't make the effort to get to know her in the early going. When Jeff challenged her, Alicia couldn't let Christina's response stand and instead had to explain why everybody said she did not deserve to be there. This only reinforced the doubt that Christina was having, and put her squarely on the outside of the women's alliance. When the numbers are this small, you need to have as many people on board as possible. Ostracizing somebody will have the opposite effect and probably cause you headaches later on.

These three examples are why I landed on Kim being the greatest of all time if she wins this season. Kim is following the Boston Rob game plan, but she has a disadvantage that he never had. She has an alliance of people who are aware enough to understand what the plan is going forward, but who are not aware enough to realize that telling everybody in the world what your plan is will only help those who are not a part of your plan. Rob only had to deal with Philip Sheppard's wackiness; that only affected how others perceived Phillip. Kim has had everybody in her alliance (save Tarzan) basically pull a brain fart and reveal things that they shouldn't have. This is the sort of stuff that Kim can not control - most of the strategy information is revealed during conversations that are filled with emotion of some kind. And yet, she has managed to stay in control of the game, choosing who will go and when. It's a feat is unparalleled in Survivor history, and yet Kim is pulling it off, somehow ducking the negatives that end up being collateral damage in these blowups.

It takes a truly skilled player to control other players who seemingly have a bit of a clue. Thus far Kim has stood up to the task in a manner that no other player has ever been about to do. If she continues to the very end while still having her core three together, she will truly have made a case for being the best of all time.

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