[Note: This is another Perspective by Phat32. I'm just posting it for him, while he competes in the final immunity recapper challenge]
My father was fond of saying, “When in doubt, keep your mouth shut,” and oh how I wish that more reality-television contestants would keep this bit of wisdom in their back pockets, especially Tom, Caryn, Ian, Katie and Jennifer, the last remaining tribe members on Survivor: Palau.
By keeping his mouth shut, Aquaman Ian could have saved himself a ton of trouble with Katie last week. By keeping her mouth shut, Crazy Caryn may have been a member of the Koror Final Four (catchy, no?), rather than kickin' it with the Jury.
Boys vs. Girls
The inevitable boys' alliance vs. girls' alliance issue reared its head on Palau last week. It's not surprising, considering that with only five tribe members remaining, and with the end in sight, players will often latch on to any excuse, any characteristic, to form alliances—anything to get them to the vaunted Final Two. Old vs. young? You on one side, them on the other. Right-handed vs. left-handed? Over there. Those who have had chicken pox and those who haven't? We've got an alliance for you, too.
Tom and Ian knew that the question of a women's alliance would come up, and so did the women. This isn't a surprise or a revelation. If you can count to the number three (Caryn, Jennifer, Katie), you also knew it was coming.
Of course, the dilemma that Tom and Ian faced (aside from what to do about Ian's increasingly bizarre facial hair) is how they would overcome a women's alliance, should one form.
Ian had a “special relationship” with Katie that, this week of all weeks, should have been affirmed and reaffirmed, again and again, if necessary, like reassuring a junior-high school girlfriend with low self-esteem. (The comparison is not too far off the mark, in Katie's case.)
Ian—stupid, ignorant, idiotic, naive, luckier-than-he-deserves Ian—made a number of potentially fatal mistakes this week that could have (and very well should have) proven to be his (and maybe Tom's) undoing.
#1: The Reward Challenge
Why, Ian? Why?! Why did you choose Tom to accompany you on the reward? First, Tom couldn't have been more clear that should either of them, Ian or himself, win the reward, he should take one of the women with him.
And by taking one of the women, it wouldn't allow the three women to talk, strategize and perhaps form an alliance while they were together, out of sight of the men--which is precisely what happened when Ian chose to take Tom on reward.
If I had been Tom, the moment that I reached the private house and stepped out of the Corvette, you would next see me getting dragged off Ian as the camera crew tried to remove my hands from around Ian's scrawny neck.
Does Ian not know anything? Leaving Jennifer, Caryn and Katie behind is a little too much like your ex-wife and business partner meeting the current wife for a few drinks before a divorce. In other words, nothing good could possibly result from that meeting (for you, anyway).
#2: Coming under Questioning by Caryn
Yes, Ian, you were fat, happy and clueless as you strolled toward camp, dreaming about the Corvette, your scrawny self full of good food, your eyes filled with dollar signs as you thought about how close you were to those million dollars.
Still, it's not an excuse to be caught off-guard when Caryn intercepted you before you reached camp.
Let me put this in no uncertain terms: There are only a few occasions in your life where, if asked, you have no choice but to say, “Yes, you and only you. You're crazy to think I'm leaving you for someone else.” Your wife and your girlfriend are two. Your boss is another. Your attorney (especially in the middle of a trial) is a fourth. The business partner is another. And, finally, your Survivor alliance mate.
When asked by a Survivor teammate just what the hell you think you're doing and whether you have an alliance with others, you say whatever you need to say to smooth over that crisis, as quickly as possible, with as much acting skill and bluffing as you can muster.
Statements like, “I can't make you any promises” or even “I haven't decided yet” are the marks of death.
#3: Is this Survivor? Or Sweet Valley High?
In life, accidents do happen. You didn't mean to, but you're in a car wreck. You didn't mean to, but on your way back to your friends, you spilled a full cup of beer...on a truck driver. In Survivor, you ought to worry more about becoming Final Two than about making friends. After all, this is not friendship television; it's reality television.
Ian should never had made an agreement with Katie out of friendship, especially a friendship he is actually sincere about. (If that makes me sound horrible, so be it.)
I have mixed feelings about the way that he handled the minor crisis with Katie. Since he's already made the mistake of basing an alliance on genuine friendship, then he had no choice but to make overtures of friendship toward Katie to bring her back “in the fold,” as Tom would say.
However, having said that, Ian ought not to have made declarations such as threatening to quit if it meant saving his friendship with Katie, or whatever numbskull thing he told Katie.
Those sorts of statements are double-edged swords in reality television. On the one hand, it demonstrates to Katie how seriously Ian takes “their friendship” and that he can be trusted. On the other, Katie may have called Ian on it—if not then, always possibly later.
And if Katie were to call him on the carpet (or onto the grass mat, in this case), it would be very interesting to see how Ian would react.
Conclusion: If Caryn would have managed to keep her mouth closed for about two more minutes, Ian would have been voted off instead of her. And that's a $1 million lesson she's likely never to forget.