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Challenge "Logic": Strategy and House Alliances

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One of the things I've never understood in all the years I've watched this show (which has sadly been A LOT) is the logic and strategy these fools employ when deciding things like who goes into the elimination round, who to form alliances with, why form alliances at all, etc. 


This season, for example, I feel like Bananas or CT should've been voted in every single opportunity (and I love CT). If you want to win, it isn't about going against 'the best' in the final. It is about winning. I would much rather have run a final against Devyn than Laurel. I know that in doing that I would put a target on my back that they would vote me in, but they could only do that if they were still there. And while the odds are good Bananas or CT would beat out whomever drew the kill card, it isn't a guarantee. I also think that if CT or Bananas or Laurel were voted in with the logic of "I'm voting you in because you are the best and I want to win and if I can eliminate you early I increase my odds" they would have more respect of that logic than the "I'm voting you in to prove yourself or because you don't deserve to be here" or some other equally bullshit reason.  The three of them, in particular, seem to value the competitive nature of this whole thing more than the other BS. 

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I agree. I would have voted in the strongest players every single time I had the opportunity to do so. Like you said, there's always the chance the could win and return, but the more they go in, the more worn out they can get also.

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But if you make it to the final, that weaker player is on their own.  I think most people would be willing to take their chances & count on their own abilities to get them through eliminations/challenges before the final.  Then it's smooth sailing (relatively speaking) to get 1st or 2nd place.

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I think they do employ that strategy to a point.  Things like all the years they've dragged Paula to the end, only to get rid of her at the last second so she can't drag them down. They secure her vote to get rid of stronger threats, then cut her dead weight at the end.  The ones I've never understood are the Paulas and Dunbars who KNOW they're being used and play along anyway, even though they know they'll get dumped by their "friends" before the final.

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In cutthroat Paula got eliminated right before the final. The vote didn't even make sense cause Tyler and Dunbar were her friends I thought and that was enough to keep her out of the Gulag, but somehow Brad and Tori convinced them. She seemed quite bitter about that one.

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There have been others, too, where the only reason she made it was luck or how the wins ran between teams.  There has always been an underlying dump as many women as possible plan on any of the challenges that weren't divided by gender, and they've never said "all the girls except Paula."  They may have told her behind the scenes they didn't really mean her, but after seeing what they say in interviews, she's an idiot to trust any of them.


She's also really not THAT good.  She gets to the end by floating on her alliance to stay out of eliminations, not by winning them.

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Paula was NOT promised a spot on their boat in the Island.  Both she and Johanna were promised as much help as they could give to make it to the end, but they didn't even know how the boats were going to be divided until they were put on the spot after the last daily challenge, so that final boat deal was never made with her.  Eventually the boys assumed that they would be allowed to pick their boat, so the plan was always to have Kenny, Johnny, Derrick, and Dunbar in the final boat together.  This is why Abram gave his key to Dunbar when he left.  He barely knew Dunbar and was doing Kenny and Derrick (his teammates from Inferno III) a favor.  When Kenny made the deal with Evelyn the only person screwed over due to a promise was Dunbar, not Paula.  Paula was pissed because she thought that her friends would break their word with Evelyn for her sake, but they weren't willing to do that because it would have hurt their credibility in future challenges.  Paula has since milked that "betrayal" for all it was worth, including having Kenny's and Johnny's support in her first win in Rivals I, but the truth is that she basically made a mountain out of a molehill.

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As for logic on how to play the games. I think it does depend on what the format of the game. You probably also need an alliance. 


In most cases, I think they'd be better served to work out more and smoke and drink less.  It's kind of sad how many times we've seen someone lose a challenge or elimination because they were blatantly hung over and dehydrated.  It's the only part of the Island I'd like to see incorporated into the game again - instead of saving yourself if you have to, you must prove yourself by winning an elimination to see the final.  But, keep them straight 1v1, so there's no room for the alliance to throw a comp to let someone else win.


In all practicality, if they're going to keep shooting for this "hardest final challenge ever" ramping up each season, they could do a lot more if they ensured dead weight didn't get carried to the end for an easier win.

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But I think sadly drinking an allotted amount of alcohol is part of the appeal for these people. I don't think anyone would show up if they weren't allowed to do that.



It seems like the old timers tend to do the drink/smoke less and exercise more thing. I have read Cara doesn't drink at all. CT, Bananas, Laurel all seem to exercise more and drink less (NOW I know in the past that was not the case). As a grown-up (ie not 16 - 20something) that watches this show, it actually could be a good, legitimate show without the extra drinking/drama. Many of those challenges are difficult. It could be interesting to see what would happen if MTV cut out the drinking, both in terms of who would actually show up to compete and how the competition would be different. (I tend to DVR the show and FF through the drunken rambling fights that make no sense)


I think I've seen a request out there for an old timers vs newbies show. That could be very interesting if my theory about the veterans is accurate. 

Edited by joanne3482
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Good point. I'm remembering that moment from The Island when that random guy- Was his name Dan? He was always drinking/drunk/hungover on that challenge and the boys wanted to put him a challenge to get a key so Ev/KellyAnne wouldn't get it but he couldn't even stay sober for a day so he didn't do well. 


The problem is, I think, that no one would show up if there was no drinking, I think possibly the producers could do a "No Smoking" rule but that's risky as well. Back during one of the very first RW/RR challenges-it was an RV one, so I know it was OLD- the producers did a No Smoking challenge and if everyone on a team didn't smoke they got an extra thousand dollars or something. But I think sadly drinking an allotted amount of alcohol is part of the appeal for these people. I don't think anyone would show up if they weren't allowed to do that. 


Dan and Robin, "soulmates" in alcohol that year.  Dan came back in a later season on the wagon, talked a few times about how hard it was for him to not drink there, but considered getting through until he was eliminated without taking a drink a bigger victory than making it to the final.  I don't think he's been back, since, though.


When I was watching through the older season's a while ago, I noticed how different the shows felt when they were only about the challenges and not about the house drama.  Unfortunately, I think the politics forced their hand.  They have to show behind the scenes stuff to explain the politics, and when they don't have enough politics to fill every show, they have to fill that in with drinking and fight/drama.  Even on the island, they were living on bug-infested rice, but still had a never ending supply of alcohol. Maybe they should try an Amazing Race style season, keep them travelling enough that they don't have time to go out and get wasted every night, but can still have a few party nights when they stay in one place for a few days.

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