(WARNING! THIS WILL SPOIL BASICALLY EVERY SEASON OF SURVIVOR. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED)
Survivor is a fickle, fickle game. In the world of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting each other, sometimes even if you’re playing the best game out there, you can still and typically will fall just short of the million dollar prize. There are some common threads between the circumstances surrounding the r.obbed g.ods and (g.oddesses) of Survivor history.
The term Tall Poppy Syndrome makes reference to the tendency of people of notable standing in society whether that be through affluence, position in the media or other fame, to be targeted for attempts to “Bring them down a level” by discrediting or disparaging them. This comes into play in Survivor when someone who is perceived to be in control or a massive threat to win the game gets targeted, typically towards the end of the game when they tend to be more vulnerable as numbers dwindle.
A good example of this is Cirie Fields in Season 12: Exile Island, Cirie was orchestrating votes left right and centre from the very start, targeted at the first tribal council she managed to work her way into the majority and never let up, orchestrating a 3-2-1 vote using a plurality of votes to eliminate someone rather than an outright majority and eventually only going down due to a firemaking challenge, which for someone who was terrified of leaves, is pretty good.
This doesn’t always happen at the end though, power struggles happen all the time during the merge and even sometimes during the pre-merge. Players like Brad Culpepper in S26: Blood vs Water have been usurped very early on in the game and players like John Carroll in S4: Marquesas have fallen victim to their inability to count control over the game.
Like Max Bialystock, some players are subject to betrayal over their time in the game of survivor and this can lead to some upset members of the jury as their winning game is taken out from under them. They can be playing under the radar or controlling everything all along but these players were strong contenders before they got ousted. Players like Yau Man who orchestrate a deal that will see them to the end and to the win before getting shafted when they believed they were the most safe. Proving that in Survivor, just like in life, when you think you’re safest is actually when you are your most vulnerable.
I’m hesitant to mention this as Ian did ask for Tom to do this but in S10: Palau, Ian Rosenberger and Tom Westman had a final 2 alliance to essentially “Let the best man win” somehow, against all odds these two managed to work their way to the end of the game with Katie Gallagher staving off all opposition. Tom and Ian were so inseparable that when Katie fell off during the final immunity challenge you could be forgiven to have thought that it was the end of it and someone would jump in and Katie would go home. That didn’t happen though, in an unprecedented and unmatched final immunity challenge lasting nearly 12 hours the two battled it out until Ian finally says “Vote me out.”
So why am I writing about this in a section about betrayal? Well, two votes previous Ian had an opportunity to vote Tom out and the weight of this decision weighed heavily on him. Ian betrayed Tom in a way and Tom didn’t let him forget it, playing up his pain to the point that Ian was a broken man going into final immunity. Tom betrayed Ian just as Ian betrayed Tom, except Tom followed through and for that he was awarded the million dollars.
Sometimes it isn’t other players gunning for you or your closest ally knifing you in the back, sometimes you just get dang unlucky and to see a couple of examples of that we need to look nowhere else than perennial fan favourite and Survivor’s unluckiest contestant Cirie Fields.
Yes, not once but twice has Cirie fallen afoul of bad luck in Survivor. Most recently in S34: Game Changers but also in S16: Micronesia. To understand just how terrible S34 was for Cirie fans we first need to go back to S16 and the game that Cirie almost won.
Fans vs Favourites was going quite well for Cirie, in a controlling alliance wherever she went and in the final 3 having just convinced Erik to give up his immunity necklace and sitting pretty, it looks like Cirie is going to win finally after falling just short in Panama. Except the final 3 show up to what they think will be their reward feast only to discover that in fact, this season will be a final 2 and their final immunity challenge will be happening right there and then.
Cirie unfortunately loses this challenge and gets voted out, her final words show just how devastated she is and this raw wound would only have salt rubbed in with the advent of S34: Game Changers.
Game changers was going great for Cirie, having evaded being the target through the pre-merge by simply being on the immune tribe right up until the merge where after avoiding tribal council for 19 days, Cirie came to play. Corralling Michaela and buttering up officer Sarah Cirie was on track to a win. Then final 6 happened and by virtue of not playing a hidden immunity idol or the legacy advantage Cirie gets eliminated without a single vote cast against her this season and it’s a sad reality that Cirie once again leaves in unfortunate circumstances.
When they do
I would like to point out I said not always because every now and then the best players of the season face off in the final tribal council and the best example of that is S13: Cook Islands.
The combination of Ozzy and Yul the two best players on Cook Islands in Final Tribal council slugging it out was fantastic to see. The single best game Ozy ever played and he came within one vote of victory against one of the top 3 strategists the game has ever seen. Oh and Becky was there too.
Disagree? Agree? Hit me up on twitter @therihasspoken or catch me wherever you found this, it was probably posted by me! Feel Free to poke fun at my photo editing skills and I’ll see you next week if I don’t dislocate another arm.