J. T. + Stephen = Formidable

Observations

If you have watched the latter season of Survivor, you no doubt have some opinions of the players and their stratagems.  Early on, I was impressed with the apparently authentic friendship developing between J. T. and Stephen and theorized to my bride that having someone inside the game whom you could truly trust would likely make you a serious contender for the finals.  Early on, we both gave J. T. the odds to win.

As the game progressed, it became apparent that this relationship — that no one has seen before inside Survivor — was making these two nearly invincible.  They navigated the first half of the game flawlessly, and then after the merge successfully overcame a 6-3 deficit — a seemingly impossible feat.  Every week after that, they and Taj knew exactly the right move to make.  They successfully split the Timbira 6 and then slew them one by one, in exactly the right order.   I have never seen such a Survivor juggernaut.

J. T. and Stephen were both great players independently, but the chances of a great player making it to the finals are still not good, maybe 1 in 8 or 1 in 10.  Together, I reckon those two might make it to the finals 5 or 7 times out of 10.

I do think they fell off a little in their end game because they both started playing from a position of fear instead of strength:

  • I did not think it necessary for them to dispatch Taj one council earlier than planned.
  • J. T. didn’t need to worry about taking Stephen to the finals, but he did do the right thing.
  • Had Stephen won final immunity, I would certainly have preferred to see him take J. T. to the finals.  Maybe, he would have done the right thing; no one can say.  In that case, you cannot say for sure whether he would have won the game or not, but based on the final vote, you have to say probably not.

In any case, the last two councils illustrated two closely related things.  First, they laid bare the ravages of greed (like they always do); second, they showed the keen eye why Survivor doesn’t quite work as a microcosm of real life.  In real life, one man becoming a millionaire does not preclude his friend from becoming a millionaire.  Indeed, that man’s success increases his friend’s chances of becoming a millionaire.  Sadly, in real life men often think they are playing Survivor.

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