Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Survivor: Caramoan Episode 13 Thoughts

I think that Cochran has played a great game this year, as you can tell by how I have ranked him in my power rankings. But tonight, he made a mistake that might end up hurting him.

Let's begin with what wasn't a mistake. The concept of targetting Brenda was smart of Cochran, regardless of how aware Cochran is of Dawn being close to Brenda. She was a threat to win the game, and just as importantly Brenda was a threat to win immunity and mess up Cochran's preferred final three of himself, Dawn and Sherri. It also wipes out the last strategic threat in the game, who could mess up his plans in many ways.

However it was a mistake to actually vote out Brenda at this vote. The one rule that I continually hammer home that you need to follow in Survivor is "Keep It Simple, Stupid" or the KISS Principle. In this case, the KISS solution to who to vote out would be Eddie. He's on the outside of the core alliance of 5 and voting him out doesn't affect your final three alliance of Dawn and Sherri. It also won't cause harsh feelings with somebody on the jury - Brenda getting voted out in final 5 would be understood, and not a problem for Cochran at all. But Brenda getting blindsided in the final 6? That's damage for Cochran, getting rid of Brenda right after she gifted him with a family visit and BBQ. It was unnecessary, and it seemed like Cochran did it mostly because it was a big play. If you feel as though you are in charge of the game (which Cochran apparently does), you don't need to have make a big move. Just stay the course and all will be fine.

There is also the risk that Eddie will go on an immunity run, and will carry that and a bitter jury to a win. That's less likely but still not something that I want to risk.

And with that said, if Cochran made a mistake, Dawn made an absolutely colossal blunder. Take all of the reasons why it was a mistake for Cochran to vote out Brenda, amplify them by a million billion times, and throw in a dash of "keeping Brenda makes you the swing vote in the final 5 and almost assuredly allows you to pick who you will go with to final tribal. It makes absolutely no sense for Dawn to drop the hammer on Brenda, and I feel like Dawn didn't put very much effort into keeping Brenda around. While this might have been a mistake for Cochran which might affect him in final tribal, this was 100% a mistake for Dawn that will 100% affect her in final tribal. She can not get Brenda's vote now, and she's probably going to get an epic speech delivered towards her at final tribal by Brenda. Dawn's best case scenario is that Brenda's speech does not impact the other jurors' votes. The worse case? It leads to Dawn getting shut out in final voting.

Reward Challenges - Are they worth it?

This week's challenge was the beloved Family challenge where the winner ends up having to choose other Survivors to get family visits as well, or have to give up their own visit to let everybody else get a visit. This time there was an added twist - there were second family members to visit for a barbecue. The other catch? Brenda, the winner of the challenge had already selected Dawn to have a visit from her loved one. So Brenda wasn't just having to choose to give up her visit, but also to give up Dawn's visit as well. Automatically this is a no win situation for Brenda. No matter what choice she makes, she is going to have people angry with her, and she's obviously besties with Dawn. If she chooses to keep the family visit for her and Dawn, she's a selfish person. If she chooses to give away the family visit, she's pandering for jury votes and pisses off Dawn. So what's she to do?

I have no good answer to this. It's a choice that I don't know that I could make if it was presented to me. I think that I would make the same decision as Brenda, but it would absolutely destroy me to hurt Dawn in that way. I would only hope that Dawn would eventually understand. And I'll be honest, there would be a lot of swearing at Jeff Probst and probably a tearful breakdown. But at the same time I think I would have another solution all together: just not win.

If you look at most individual rewards, you end up having to choose people to share it with you. Those choices only lead to creating strain on other relationships with people who feel that you should bring them to the reward. So why not just punt the decision and let somebody else get the angry attacks, especially if that meant that you could still reap the rewards? It just doesn't make any sense.

I appreciate the producers actually making the decision hard for people to make, but they might have swung the pendulum too far the other way. Next season will be interesting to see if there is a switch in strategy.

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