SVNBob November 6, 2017 Share November 6, 2017 Another wall of text from me, this time about this season's merge episode. I thought a lot about how to talk about this one, and after thinking a while, I realized it boils down to a study in contrast between the two* kinds of Survivor players: rational (exemplified here by Aitu, primarily by Yul) vs. emotional (Raro, Adam in particular). Almost everything in this episode shows the difference between these two kinds of players. And instead of going through the episode chronologically, this time I'm looking at it from the most emotional/least rational to most rational/least emotional players. (Note: As in most aspects of life, no person is 100% one thing or the other. There is a spectrum of rational and emotional play, and every player's position on the spectrum can vary throughout the game. However, people do tend to be on one side of the spectrum over the other in the long term, and those tendencies are what I'll be referring to here.) But first a brief summary/refresher: tribes merge; Ozzy wins the IC, Yul flips Penner using the idol, and Nate gets booted. Adam is the least rational player. At the merge, he opines in a TH that now the Raros don't have to worry about things like challenges and strategy, since they have the majority numbers. He also categorically denies the possibility of Yul having the HII when Penner brings it up (after Yul showed him the thing), but also denies he has it. In a later scene with Candace before TC, he says that the game is "bananas" because it "makes you think"...then he makes out with her again. Yet before that happened, we see Adam trying to hook up with Parvati as well. (Say what you will about Parvati's flirty nature, especially during this game in particular, but she's not the instigator here and she's having none of it.) Nate is almost as emotional/non-rational, but not quite. He's the one most upset with Penner pre-merge trying to motivate Raro to work around camp and do things that might allow them to actually win for once. But he does say that the reason that he's comfortable with his alliance is that he, Adam, and Parvati are tight, and that Penner and Candace can't flip back because of the mutiny. He's also the only Raro we see try to make a back-up plan that involves using someone from Aitu, by trying to connect with Ozzy. Parvati's a way ahead of the guys here, but just a touch behind Candace. While the Raros were trying to decide between Ozzy and Yul as their target before the IC, Parvati's the one we see in a TH declaring Yul is the biggest threat because he's both smart and strong, so she was planning to vote for him to begin with. (Which is why I think it was very nice but also strategic of her to say to Yul that "Smart = sexy" during the challenge after he gets embaraased about going off on a tangent relating to the square-cube law and elephants not being able to climb trees. A simple sentence to partially court a jury vote, but I think she was also just trying to make him feel better.) She also doesn't think Yul has the idol, since he wasn't on Exile that long. I put Candace around the midpoint of the spectrum. Most of her rational play came from when she was on Aitu, but she's been mostly emotional since the mutiny and "connecting" with Adam. However she's still the first/only Raro Penner tries talking strategy with, and is the only one seemingly concerned that Yul wasn't apparently doing any scrambling post-IC. While here at the midpoint, I want to highlight one scene that clearly shows the big difference between the two tribes. After deciding on Raro camp for the merge location (based on Nate's initial recommendation, and Penner's seconding), the tribes head to that camp on a catamaran while enjoying the traditional merge feast, including the traditional merge booze. Other than Penner, emotional Raro takes the opportunity to get totally wasted, while rational Aitu remains comparatively sober. Just over the edge into rationality, we get to Ozzy. Of the Aitus, he's been the most emotional (as seen in his outburst at the end of the first post-mutiny challenge) and least rational (as seen by his "plan" to get rid of Billy.) In this episode, he recognizes what Nate is trying to do, but after Yul reveals the idol to him, Ozzy says he's going to remain loyal to the Aitu4. Not the most rational of moves, but not irrational either. Sundra seems a bit more rational than Ozzy to me. She's the one that's shown as most worried about still being down in numbers, both before and after the merge, until Yul tells her about the idol. And when he does that, Yul tells her the plan to flip Penner by using the idol. We don't see him do that with Ozzy. I take this to be because of Ozzy's more emotional position on the spectrum. With the remaining 3, it's somewhat hard to split them up. They're all incredibly rational players. I like to think that if I were on Survivor, I'd be a rational player like any of them, and not an emotional one. However, I do need to talk about Becky separately from Yul and Penner based on the events of the episode. Post-merge but pre-IC, Yul talks things over with Becky regarding the HII and who to approach to flip. They agree that Yul telling the rest of the 4 about the idol is a good idea, and that Penner, being a rational player, is the most likely to join up with them. It's a great scene that clearly shows the connection between them is about seeing each other as intellectual equals, as opposed to the strictly physical connection between Adam and Candace. Becky herself brings this up when asked about seeing connections at TC. She points out the showmance, but the others, starting with Nate, good-naturedly razz her about her and Yul being the closer connection. She says that it's a different kind of connection that doesn't involve her laying on his lap. Becky also has a really cute moment during the scene of Yul telling Sundra about the idol. They're standing in the middle of a path talking, and she's at the far end walking toward them. After they pause to look who's coming, they smile and go back to the talk. And then Becky, who knew that this conversation would be happening, starts strutting towards them with a huge smile on her face and pumping her fists into the air. In that moment, she becomes the excited little sister who no longer has to keep a secret from another loved one. As they say nowadays, totes adorbs. But now it's finally time to talk about my favorite segments of the episode. Yul and Penner discussing the game. Watching two rational players discuss possibilities and hypotheticals in a rational manner is a joy. What's also remarkable is how self-aware Penner is. On the first approach from Yul (right after he and Becky agreed to do it), the first thing Penner says is the episode title, "Why would you trust me?" He's well aware that he's Aitu enemy #2 (Candace's back-to-back trips to Exile show that she's #1), so trying to re-cross that burned bridge seems unlikely, assuming emotional play on the part of the Aitu4. But he does entertain the hypothetical of rejoining Aitu if Yul has the HII. After the IC, Yul does show Penner the idol. He only told Sundra and Ozzy about it, but Penner wanted proof before flipping, so Yul had to show it. More rational moves by rational players. Here's also where the rational threat comes into play. Yul basically says that unless Penner flips back to Aitu, he's the one that will be booted, and because of the power of the idol he's just seen. And since that's Penner's big fear, he's most likely to make the rational move to continue his own game. Penner follows this meeting with Yul by going to the Raros and tries to get them to entertain the thought Yul might have the idol, but they're convinced otherwise. I think I read somewhere a while ago that they had been trying to convince Penner that Adam had the idol, but he messed that up in this scene. Plus, Penner saw the idol in Yul's hand. Then the capstone of the rational play, with a bit of emotionalism in there. Penner decides to work with the Aitu4, but requests that Nate be the target for two reasons. The rational one is that Penner has the least trust in Nate, since they've known each other for the least amount of time. The emotional reason is that Penner believes Adam and Candace helped save him ever since the mutiny. Since it doesn't matter that much to the Aitu4 which of the Raros is voted out, they readily and rationally agree and Nate is thus voted out at TC. The demonstration of rational game-play between Yul and Penner is the textbook definition of "Game Trust" in games like this. This episode alone feels like it should be required viewing for all future contestants. (For all I know, Max did include it in his course.) * I'm also an advocate of the animal archetypes for Survivor players as discussed in this thread. The two do often correlate (eg: Foxes are mainly rational, while Bunnies tend to be emotional.), but there is a difference between the archetypes and the rational/emotional spectrum. 8 Link to comment
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