Survivor Gabon: It was like Christmas Morning

Posted by: Erik Reichenbach  //  October 13, 2008 @ 12:09pm

Filed under: TV Recaps/Reviews 

Gabon's game-play strategies are starting to grow at an exponential rate. Last episode we had a small glimpse into the alliances that were beginning to solidify, but combined with a surprise tribal switch-up the season is starting to gain some steam. The challenges have yet to really impress (as they are extremely one-sided no matter what way the tribe members are divided) but I remain hopeful that in the future the Individual Immunity challenges will pit some of the alpha males against each other. Here's a quick recap of what happened this episode:

- Instead of a reward challenge there is a Tribal Swap.

New Kota - Marcus, Danny, Charlie, Corinne, Randy, Susie

New Fang - GC, Crystal, Ken, Ace, Jacquie, Kelly

-Sugar is odd man out and is sent to Exile; where she enjoys her own "Sugah Shack" filled with a bed and food. ("Sugah Shack? That is annoyingly cute").

-Kelly benefitted greatly from the tribal swap and is safe in an alliance with Ken, Crystal, and GC. Matty is extremely wishy washy.

-New Fang is DESTROYED in a boat-water-polo challenge. Marcus and Randy are MVP's

-Jacquie pleads her case, but worried about Sugar being on the tribe, the old Fang members and Kelly vote Jacquie out.

Who's in your Top Friends List?

It seems like Survivor took a social lesson from the high school yearbook this week by seeing who is the most popular in the tribes. Instead of a reward challenge Jeff announces we're going to be ranking the tribe. It was pretty interesting to see who is put where, especially considering what each of the members does within the tribe. Kota looked as if they judged their tribe entirely on physicality, placing the alpha dogs (Marcus and Ace) at the top and the least physical ladies at the bottom (Kelly and Sugar). Fang on the other hand looks like it judged its members based on likability, with Matty on top and GC, a physically fit guy, towards the bottom because of all the conflict he seems to create.

Despite how much I enjoy Randy's commentaries each week, I disagree that the ranking doesn't reveal something important. If anything, by ranking the tribes we can see what style of game people are playing and what possible influence they have on others. It is very important, and pretty much designates to everyone who the main targets are. Among those targets, Marcus and Ace appear to be the ones I would be aiming for.

Sugar wasn't picked (due to uneven numbers of people) and was therefore sent to Exile. She would be added to whichever tribe lost a member during the next immunity challenge and was therefore given individual immunity as well. On top of that, because she found the hidden immunity idol last week she picked the apple when at Exile and enjoyed the comforts that came with it. Sugar is living the high life.

"Fang" must be Gabonese for "Bad"

Yeah, Fang seems to be cursed with terrible challenge performance. I don't even think I want to mention too many details about the challenge, except I want the Fang tribe to give me back those five minutes of my life that I wasted watching the challenge.

Let's bring up some Warm and Cold Decisions

Right from the start of the episode we see that people are beginning to polarize into different groups and alliances. After returning from last episode's tribal council, Kelly is pretty pissed at Ace, and reveals during her interviews that Ace is her main priority.

One thing that always comes up when watching Survivor is the issue of numbers. "How come (player on the outs) doesn't team up with (players outside of the majority alliance) to keep themselves in the game and possibly vote out (strong dominant player who is targeting 'player on the outs')?" This situation is one I had heard many times from fans during Micronesia, and I am happy to clear this up for everyone.

Seeing as Survivor is an extremely social game, there are two approaches I have witnessed players taking when dealing with the forging of alliances: Warm and Cold decision-making. Warm Decision Making is usually done by cast-aways who are swayed by external factors, outside of the realms of the game, such as sexual attraction, friendship, or other emotional reasons. Some examples of warm-decision making include myself, Erik Reichenbach (giving up immunity in Micronesia), Yau-Man Chan (giving Dreams Herd the car in Fiji), Ian Rosenburger (submitting to Tom during Palau), and Colby Donaldson of Survivor Africa (taking Tina Wesson with him to the Finals). On the other hand, Cold Decision Making involves a strictly business attitude where motivations are based on purely strategic elements and involves any means necessary to make the right decision for yourself (including manipulation, lying, and betrayal). We've all seen players who do this, because oftentimes they end up winning: Boston Rob, Richard Hatch, and Johnny Fairplay to name a few.

As seen in these examples Warm decision making is usually strategic suicide and any Survivor willing to go for the million has to rely on a cold business attitude the majority of the time (in my opinion). That isn't to say; however, that Warm Decision Making has no use within the game. Every season there are some players cast who believe, and rely, on warm decision making and if you're planning on winning the game you might need to make some emotional decisions in order to gain trust or show you have some redeeming qualities. From my own experience, and obsessive fandom of the show, it's my opinion that a good winner is a politician who relies heavily on Cold decision making with a warm exterior. With this plan you have an excellent shot at getting close to the million dollars.

In a game that relies on Warm Desicion Making you end up not allying with a player (who can help you win the game!) simply because you don't like them or are more emotionally attatched to other players that can't strategically help you. This is the problem.

I am very happy seeing Ken, GC, and Crystal make the right cold decision by keeping Kelly around over Jacquie (you can argue with me about this if you want). This strictly strategic decision is in their best interests, especially considering Sugar being added to their tribe. Matty surprised me by going to Jacquie, and proves he's very bad at keeping secrets or more inclined to playing a Warm DM game. I have a feeling Matty will create a lot of conflict and confusion later in the game because of his inability to hide what he knows or hide what he's really feeling.

Next time: GC, Man of Mystery?

For the first time this season I'm happily looking forward to the next episode! This is good, the strategy is starting to pick up, elephants are moving into the camps, and people are becoming interesting. One of the highlights included Jeff Probst mentioning, "GC goes missing" and tribe members calling out to him.

Where did he go? Its time for a challenge! Oftentimes while in Micronesia I wondered what would happen if I just ran deep into the forest and skipped the challenge for a day, or if I got really badly injured way out in the ocean and died. Hopefully GC is just taking a nap or something.

Tags: survivor, gabon, tv, reality, erik

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Original Comments Posted (7)

Paul Little says...

I thought that getting rid of Jacquie wasn't the smart decision, cold or not. Obviously things are left on the cutting room floor (you would know that first hand, I'm sure!) but it seemed to me Jacquie didn't have any real connection or partnership with Ace and Sugar, and probably would've been loyal to Ken, GC, and Crystal over them just like Kelly.

The one thing I think is that, with Kelly still around, they could likely just keep losing. If you think you're outnumbered, or there are sneaky things going on with Sugar and the idol, it's irrelevant if you keep winning. Everyone will stay. Whereas if you keep losing, everyone will end up being voted out and the tribe will be decimated come the merge.

I guess I just think people play too much of an individual game too early on Survivor, and it ends up hurting the tribe pre-merge. Having a solid 4 is great when you have a tribe of 7, but if you only have those 4 at the merge, you're SOL.

Then again, maybe I'm just upset because I thought Jacquie was the hottest castaway this season. :P

Oct 13, 2008 10:49pm

erik says...

Hey Paul, thanks for the comments!

I don't think the old Fang members cared weather or not Jacquie had an alliance to Ace and Sugar, they may not have trusted her simply because she came from Kota. I know I wouldn't!

Kelly is different, in that Ken (and others) were able to recognize that she was an outcast at Kota, and is easily picked up.

I agree, you want numbers at the merge, but if those numbers aren't loyal to you (aka original Kota alliance members getting back together) I wouldn't want them around. That's where I'm coming from at least.

Oct 13, 2008 11:01pm

Adism says...

Hey Eric,

You had me until the Kelly endorsement! Argh, I really felt Jacquie had them when she got all teary (I know I clenched my manly jaw so as not to exude any emotion) and was convinced they would see Kelly as kind of useless. What would be the mentality for blocking off such an impassioned attempt at locking in a fourth? Especially as doing so badly at the challenge? What good is a 3 way alliance with a weak tribe when you get to the merge massively outnumbered and you get picked off easily anyway? It doesn't seem like they have many friends in Kota and Jacquie looked like she was willing to jump ship AND she was strong...

Eh, oh well.

P.S - Dude, I so wanted you to win.

Oct 15, 2008 8:46am

Ariana says...

Oct 15, 2008 12:36pm

Ariana says...

Um... I swear I'm not just trying to bump up comment numbers with blank comments. Oops.

Anyway, I'm with Paul and Adism up there; I think the Jacquie ouster was the worst possible decision they could have made at that point. But what I REALLY didn't get was why Matty and Jacquie didn't band together with Ace and win over Kenny (who seemed willing to switch) for a majority vote against Kelly. As has been stated, what's the point of a 3- or 4-person alliance if you're going to lose every challenge and have to start picking yourselves off anyway? Kelly is useless and obnoxious as HELL.

But then I don't think anyone in the old or new Fang tribe is quite all there. I couldn't stop laughing at the blankness in GC's, Kenny's and Crystal's eyes as they discussed their strategerizing skillz. They just have no idea how dumb they are. I can't wait to see them get picked off by the bigger, smarter, awesomer Marcus Alliance. (Though without Jacquie, they're going to have to do some scrambling post-merge.)

Oct 15, 2008 12:40pm

Paul Little says...

It's, of course, entirely possible that Ken, GC, and Crystal found out about the "Onion Alliance", and knew that she'd be gone with them post-merge anyway. Or, they just assumed she had an original alliance, which they KNEW Kelly didn't have based on the pre-switch polling.

I can see WHY they went with Kelly... I just wish they hadn't because I hate castaways who don't even TRY in challenges. And then call out other people for not doing well, too. (Actually, I just remembered why I was so shocked they voted out Jacquie -- Kelly specifically called out Ken and Crystal at Tribal, which I thought for sure was going to be the decision-maker right there. Why would they keep someone who was so willing to throw them under the bus?)

Really looking forward to this week!

Oct 15, 2008 6:56pm

robin says...

Thinking on the challenge... I think Ace did a superb job of 'looking' like he was working his butt off, when, in reality, I doubt he was as he wanted to lose thus getting Sugar and the immunity idol back with him!

Oct 15, 2008 7:09pm

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