As the second part in our “off –week” mind-wandering about unsuccessful Survivors, the article collaborators of fluff, Paulie, Bill_in_PDX and LG turn our attention now to seven former contestants whose portrayal on the series represent the historical Seven Deadly Sins. If you missed part one of this three article series, please read Missed Opportunities as it introduces the series and explains why we are profiling somewhat “successful” contestants and not “one-show wonders” in this article. In researching for this article, we found the most examples in the Africa season of the show. Our theory is that because of the location and the fact that contestants couldn’t hunt or fish, and were shown just sitting around their bomas most all of the time, that the Africa season focused on psychology drama moreso than other seasons which had more moments of physical drama, and not just in the Challenges.
For anyone who thinks that the main flaw with the movie Se7en is that they didn’t use all seven deadly sins, this article is for you. For folks who have a wild-ass theory that Morgan Freeman was really the evil mastermind of that movie and killed Gwyneth Paltrow because Brad Pitt was the final sinner being punished, well, Paulie’s got a post about that somewhere in the Movies forum. For anyone not raised Catholic, the seven deadly sins are: Pride, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Wrath (Anger), Sloth, and Avarice (Greed).
Pride – John Carroll from Survivor: Marquesas
Registered Nurse John was a student of prior seasons of the show before applying to Survivor: Marquesas and he thought he knew what it took to win the show. He was part of the dominant Rotu tribe prior to the merge and had a solid 4 person alliance with Zoe, Tammy, and Robert. He was sailing into the final four with no chance for any opposition from the stray folks from his original Rotu tribe not in his “Final Four” pact and those leftover people from the Maraamu tribe. . . . until the tell-tale Immunity Challenge in which Tammy, Zoe, Robert and John arrogantly knocked off everyone outside of their little clique one by one with a chop of their machetes. John gave plenty of “I’m going to win this” confessionals, as did other “proud” contestants Richard Hatch and Silas from Africa. Up until this critical Challenge, however, no large mass of Survivors had ever turned against members of their original tribe until the “other” tribe had been Pagonged.
John had arrogantly remarked how Neleh and Pappy were “free passes” willing to help him to victory. How did John’s pride turn the course of Survivor history to make former Rotu “Love Tribe” members turn against him and his cronies? John forced a power play when he decided to boot his own tribemate Gabriel, rather than lazy ass outsiders Sean or Rob, as Gabriel failed to get on the same page of the “How John Carroll will win Suvivor: Marquesas” book. Pappy, Neleh and Kathy saw this from a distance while at the Maraamu camp, dutifully eliminating outsider Gina (whom folks wouldn’t have minded keeping around). John felt no need to “explain” Gabe’s boot to the returning “Rotu” Neleh and Pappy, but Kathy got her own version of the events from the Rob-father at the merge meeting. It took Kathy another episode to connect the dots, during which John made sarcastic comments that Kathy sharing her Reward Challenge Snickers bar was not going to change her destiny. The Immunity chop Challenge and an impassioned plea from Sean to take a look at what was going on were the straws that broke the camel’s back. Kathy, Pappy and Neleh joined forces with Vee and Sean to knock off John first and the rest of his alliance in order. Oh, how the mighty had fallen. John Carroll was completely surprised and fought back tears in his “final words” that episode. King Lear would have been proud of you, John.
Envy – Brandon Quinton from Survivor: Africa
The green-eyed monster of envy was unleashed in Africa, and it reared its ugly head when the “bead clique” Brandon, Lindsey, Kim P. and Silas decided to vote out Carl because he was a successful dentist with a nice car. Brandon was a bartender and former make-up artist who hadn’t really “found himself” career-wise, but despised people who were successful, particularly older successful men. While it could have been just an excuse for the Mall Rats because they didn’t like Carl or the oldsters in general, as a casual observer I’d say Linda was infinitely more annoying than Carl and less helpful in winning Challenges. Oh My Heck, I’d have voted against Linda myself just to be free of mandatory group hugs and Mother Africa sayings. This is a TV show, not a charity fundraiser. I’ve never understood why people vote for the “most needy contestant” to win the prize or most willing to donate winnings to charity, like Bunky’s determining factor in his Big Brother 2 vote. Even though Lindsey was ill from dehydration, the brat pack stuck together through a tie-breaker and gave “Carl is rich already” as their reason. Meow.
Carl wasn’t the only competitor in Africa that Brandon was jealous of, as he turned his back on an opportunity to overthrow Lex’ alliance of 4 (Lex, Kim J., Ethan and Tom). Brandon was the swing vote when Kim P., Teresa, Kelly and Frank tried to get his support to vote out Lex, but Brandon refused to vote on the same side as Frank (another adult male of whose success Brandon was jealous). He is quoted on the CBS website as saying: "I would rather be out of here in 3 days than for anybody back home to say that I had aligned myself with Frank in any way." This caused former bead clique buddy Kim P. to question Brandon’s motives, as no rational person would think that Brandon could finish any higher than 5th with that group who had been together since the beginning. Brandon’s final act of envy was his finale vote for Kim J. to win, because Ethan had truthfully answered that he didn’t think that Brandon deserved to be in the final 2.
Ethan, who was just 2 years older than Brandon, had succeeded where Brandon had not, and Brandon tossed a meaningless but spiteful vote for Ethan’s competition, even though he had already stated that he did not like Kim J.
Lust – Ted Rogers, Jr. from Survivor: Thailand
Despite the producers elaborately planned (and stocked with alcohol) merge meetings with single men and women from both tribes on nearly every season of Survivor, fans were treated with the closest thing to an intimate moment we’ve ever had when Ted got “all up on Ghandia” in Thailand. There are cameras everywhere. The footage will be edited to distill out all the juicy parts and then broadcast for everyone in the world to see contestants make fools of themselves (and discussed ad naseum at reality TV websites for years to come). What on earth would possess a married contestant to snuggle up with another married contestant and do whatever it was Teddy was doing? Maybe he was just dreaming about his lovely wife, but ish, it’s only 40 days, keep it in the holster, big guy.
First they were “tight” then they were “too tight.” Ted apologized and it looked like it would all blow over, but Ghandia later rejected Ted’s apology and tried to turn Helen and Jan against him. This divided the tribe on gender lines, but eventually Ghandia got the early boot from the game as the tribe couldn’t handle having them both around. Big Ted was more valuable to the tribe in Challenges and food gathering than scatter-brained Ghandia, who couldn’t figure out puzzles for multiple Challenges.
How did this cost Ted? Only Ted knows how much embarrassment and other problems this caused in his real life, but in the game it cost Ted an opportunity to really hold sway at a critical moment with Helen and Jan, who didn’t listen to him when he later tried to make a move to vote off Brian and Clay. Helen wasn’t completely receptive to this piece of knowledge and didn’t act when she could have to prevent Brian and Clay from taking the final two spots. Why wasn’t Encyclopedia Helen more receptive to this completely logical point from Ted, and why she didn’t work harder to convince Jan to vote against Clay? Because Ted raised his concerns during a rather “intimate” Reward Challenge in which Helen and Ted both showered, Ted moaned while getting a massage, and stumbled around drunk. Helen (who remembered that her husband of 20 years would be watching) was keeping a safe distance from a tipsy Big Ted, due in some part to her memory of the rift in the tribe caused by the brouhaha over Ghandia’s complaints about Ted’s lustfulness.
Wrath (Anger) – Lex van den Berghe from Survivor: Africa
Hell hath no fury like a Lex voted against! In a game of back-stabbing and double talk, where brilliant Challenge skills and surviving Tribal Councils will still not guarantee you a win with the jury, most contestants go to great lengths to not alienate jury members and avoid doing a touchdown dance when someone else’s torch is snuffed. Not Lex, however, who was infuriated that someone dared vote against him, unlike the seven other Survivors all who did his bidding and dutifully voted for Clarence. Lex was ENRAGED that he had received a vote and commenced a witch hunt that would do Salem proud.
Wrathful Lex was not terribly logical as he did not realize that Teresa was the likely vote due to her deal with Clarence for Immunity that episode. Lex’ specter of blame is cast onto Kelly Goldsmith, to whom he told: “I will cut the head off of whoever it is that did this. I'm gonna take them out. I'm gonna slit their throat!" Psycho-Lex made Kelly swear on her brother’s life that she hadn’t cast “the vote.” She swore, yet he refused to believe her. Lex then made the rounds and grilled everyone in a similar fashion. Mind you, at this point in the game everyone left on the tribe at this time is either a finalist or a member of the jury. If not for Brandon’s intense jealousy of Frank (see above), Lex would have been out that very episode. How did it cost Lex in the end. Lex’ tirade and interrogations alienated Kim J., who had the ultimate choice of whether to take Ethan or Lex into the finals with her. Kim J. noted that she might have had a better chance against Lex, but would rather lose to Ethan.
Nice going, hot-head. Next time try chanting “serenity now” or counting to ten before telling off everyone you are competing against.
Gluttony – Colby Donaldson from Survivor: Outback
Colby was an outstanding player who many viewers (including some of us collaborating on these articles) felt should have won Survivor: Outback due to his sheer dominance of the game, but why did he end up $900,000 behind Tina Wesson? An insatiable appetite for winning tough competitions.
Colby was a glutton for punishment when it came to bearing the weight of his tribe in group Challenges prior to the merge. He acted shrewdly to prevent Jerri from booting able-bodied Keith in favor of essentially worthless scarecrow boy Mitchell. Colby’s sheer strength kept the Ogakor tribe afloat despite falling behind in Immunity Challenge wins prior to the merge, as they huddled together for warmth in the shelter built under his huge Texas flag luxury item. Colby made himself essential and established his role as the dominant male.
And then came the merge, when Challenges shift from team to individual Rewards and Immunity. Colby failed to adapt to his competitor’s perceptions of strong Challenge performances in this new environment. Unfettered by slow teammates, Colby steamrolled over everyone else in almost every Challenge, winning more Immunity and Reward Challenges than all of the other remaining contestants combined. Did this breed some ill feelings? Tina wouldn’t admit it, as she repeatedly said “nothing but respect,” but Tina was playing a shrewd game and knew that it would be better for her in the finale if people viewed Colby as a Challenge Hogger. He wasn’t very skillful in downplaying his neat Rewards either, as he brought back trinkets from the trip with future jury member Jerri (making her look bad in the process), talked about his time eating beans with the Outback cowboys, and won a new Aztek and had the ever-so-memorable camp out with his Mom.
While Elisabeth was losing so much weight that she was becoming two-dimensional, Colby was eating better than the others and never let up on any Challenges even when it was obvious that he didn’t need Immunity. Case in point, he shot the final slingshots that knocked a vulnerable Elisabeth and her blue plates out of the Immunity Challenge, which likely lead to Elisabeth’s final Tribal Council vote for Tina. This “I need to dominate all of the Challenges” attitude rubbed enough jury members the wrong way, particularly competitive women Jerri, Elisabeth and Alicia. Much has been written about Colby’s choice of Tina (instead of Keith) for his final competition, but by not alienating even one of those young women, Colby would have won the season.
Sloth – Kim Johnson from Survivor: Africa
There are plenty of Survivors who have enjoyed a good cat nap once in a while. Gervase had a notorious penchant for the all-afternoon snoozefest, and Nick was (according to Colby) edited to appear lazy when he was in fact quite industrious around the camp. We know how much Burnett likes nature shots, so one season I fully expect to see repeated images of a sloth hanging from a tree branch by his toes. This was the hardest deadly sin to assign, as we are trying to find instances in which the deadly sin was detrimental to the contestants’ fate in the game. Not everyone votes like Hunter or Frank, so laziness is largely ignored by fellow contestants or at least not a determining factor in the person’s outcome. In Survivor: Africa it was particularly hard to tell, as they were forbidden from hunting (or fishing) for food, and sat around passively trying to avoid becoming lunch for lions and tigers and rhinos (oh my!).
So, why is Kim J. the sloth of all Survivordom? First, she did one of the dumbest moves in Survivor history and dumped out an entire jug of clean drinking water on the very first day because she was too lazy to carry it to camp (or to get someone else to help her with it). Dump, all over. You can’t boil the water until you have fire, and you can’t drink water without boiling it, and you can’t survive long in an African desert without water. Let’s dump out one third of our fresh water the very first day. Did others on her tribe resent this? Perhaps, but it was overshadowed at the time by Diane and Clarence’s Bean-gate. Did her tribemates forget about this? No, and as a result, Kim J. was also the “fourth” member of her alliance, the expendable one, and she was even told that by Ethan after she had almost single-handedly been responsible for a second Immunity Challenge loss due to her own poor performances in the highly physical Challenges.
Kim J. lucked out and they didn’t need to vote her off pre-merge, but she never stood a chance in her own alliance. As a result, they used her for her vote. She didn’t seize the numerous opportunities to switch over and scramble to make opportunities for herself (by aligning with Teresa, Kim P., and Kelly for the much speculated all-woman alliance or variations thereof with Frank) as she was rather sloth-like in accepting that she would be there as long as Lex and company allowed her to stay. She won the final two Immunity Challenges to stay in the game and pick the final 2, but she didn’t really stand a chance against any of the three men in her alliance with the jury, so she had already “lost” when she let the other tribemates who were less popular with the jury be voted off in succession without acting in her own interest.
Avarice (Greed) – Deena Bennett from Survivor: The Amazon
Although it has been said before, it is worth repeating here that discussions at the website (including in this article) relate to the characteristics and actions of the “characters” on reality TV shows, and not the real-life people. It is pretty clear “greed” is not typically a word to apply to an attorney who chooses to work as a Deputy District Attorney rather than going into private practice where she could earn probably three or four times her current salary. However, in Survivor: The Amazon, Deena had found herself in a position of power and liked it too much. She overplayed her power position and alienated her alliance by insisting that Alex be booted before Butch (and insisted on this even before Matthew had secured Immunity for the episode). Her thirst for power laid her grand plans in plain view and it backfired on her.
Some of her performances in the Challenges displayed this greed. During the merge Immunity Challenge, Deena was the first contestant in Survivor history to win the merge Immunity/Endurance Challenge and also get “bribe” food out of the same Challenge, as she struck a deal with Christy that not only got Deena Immunity, but also half of a bowl of pasta. This was a little more “greedy” than was in her interest in the game, because a couple episodes later we are treated to Jenna’s confessional about how Deena ate ice cream during Reward Challenges and still coming back to eat the tribe’s food. While I think Jenna’s catty comments were completely unwarranted, it demonstrates Deena’s perceived greedy behavior from her own alliance-mate. In her final episode, Deena could have eaten that icky bug, or at least tried, as she was the only person with the ability to prevent Matthew from winning Immunity that week. However, she didn’t even try because she already had her sights set on Alex and really was on a power trip as she wanted to break his growing bond with Heidi and Jenna.
Rather than taking out Matthew, the easy boot, or allowing her group to go after the next obvious target, Butch, she aggressively pursued Alex as the next to leave, thus alienating her alliance. Sometimes less is more.
We hope you have enjoyed the first two articles in this series. Look for the third installment coming soon.