Survivor’s 20th season was?undoubtedly?it’s best because it showed the game of Survivor is still misunderstood by most people who play it, giving people who do a huge advantage. ? This season also asked (and answered!) some great questions.
Did Sandra deserve to win?
I think Parvati should have won, but Sandra certainly deserved to win. ?I like players who continually operate in their own best interests and even though Sandra rarely takes the long approach, she was the first person to figure out a viable “one more day” strategy. ?Sure, she let stronger players take the heat when her alliance lost out, but she was able to manufacture a split between Russel and Coach that saved her and Courtney for another week. ?Russel seemed to think taking Sandra to the end was a good strategy, because the jury wouldn’t vote for a previous winner. ?Like the previous season, he showed a total lack of understanding and respect for the jury’s opinion.
Is Sandra the best player ever?
No. ?I was ready to crown Parvati the all time best player until she lost. ?She seemed set up perfectly to take credit for at least half the decent strategic moves she and Russel made while reminding people how much of jerk he was. ?Her problem was that she misread the hero-centric jury who actually believed in their BS heroic code and held the villains to this standard. ?Parvati should have played up her challenge wins, especially when Coach gave her the opportunity to do so (now that I think about it, I don’t think Coach let anyone talk other than himself).
So why isn’t Sandra the best player ever after having won twice? ?My standard for great Survivor players is they always act in their own self interest (which she clearly does), ?could someone else do what they do, and how often do I think their strategy would work? ? Does she have unique talents or skills that make her strategy work better for her than anyone else. ? Probably. ?Here’s why she wins. ?Once she’s able to get herself past the first few votes, she’s simultaneously likable and unlikable. ?While everyone likes her, they assume others don’t because of her forward,?combative?personality. ?Her non-threatening physical ability allowed her to get to the final three in Pearl Islands, but it was the jerk factor in Johnny Fairly that caused Lil to take Sandra to the finals. ?Lil hated Fairplay so much she’d rather lose a million dollars just to make sure Fairplay didn’t have a chance at it. ?Sound familiar?
I thought Sandra flopped in front of the jury until I realized her lame attempts at expressing her strategy (“I tried to get rid of Russel every week!”) wasn’t her way of explaining the plan, it was a message to the jury that said, “It’s not too late to get rid of Russel.” ?But what happens if she doesn’t go up against a jerk? ?What if she went up against Yul, or JT, or Danni? Most of the other winners were likable people. ? Her strategy has no ability to pick her jury opponents. ?She’s been very lucky in her two seasons with Russel’s stink was all over Parvati and the jury didn’t perceive Lil’s return to the game as fair (Pearl Islands featured the only season where voted out Survivors were allowed back in via a special challenge). ?I don’t think it would work in most seasons.
Is Russel right that Survivor is fundametally flawed?
No/Yes. ?Jeff answered this perfectly by saying Survivor can’t be flawed because everyone is playing under the same rules, which include being judged by the jury from your own season. ?Past jury choices don’t mean anything and you need to figure out what your fellow survivors want to see and hear.
I think having a final 3 instead of a final 2 gave a ton more power to the jury and took a lot of strategic thinking out of the game. ?Now, when you get down to 6 you almost know who will win. ?In a final 2 no matter how?unlikely?you are to win, you only have to find one chump you can beat on the jury. This makes it interesting since more players have a chance to win.
Is JT really the dumbest Survivor ever?
No, Erik is still the dumbest. ?JT’s move at least had an upside.
What was the best strategic play this season?
In a season of great moves, these were the best:
JT busting up the vote split to oust Cirie
Russel giving Parvati the idol and ousting Tyson by getting him to waste his vote
Parvati handing out idols to Sandra and Jerri and getting rid of JT
Sandra engineering a feud between Russel and Coach
Russel convincing Jerri to vote for Rob
I have to give this season’s (and probably ever) best move to the Jedi mind trick Russel threw at Tyson and Boston Rob. ?The situation was hopeless. ?Russel built an alliance with Parvati and Danielle but was greatly outnumbered by the alliance of Rob, Tyson, Sandra, Courtney, Jerri, and Coach. ?Rob’s alliance planned to split their votes in case the hidden immunity came into play, but this made a three way tie possible and Tyson was worried he might be included. ?Russel casually suggested to Tyson that he might want to consider switching his vote to ensure that he stayed in, but of course, Russel duped him and gave Parvati the idol, making the vote 3-2 (4 votes for Parvati were thrown away) and sending Tyson home. ?It was risky, but that move moved propelled Parvati and Russel to the finals.