|by Wanda Shirk
There are three challenges in every Survivor episode: the Reward Challenge, the Immunity Challenge, and the Ultimate Challenge — which is “Who’s staying in the game?” (or more precisely, “Who’s NOT?”) The first two challenges are of interest, but it’s the TC vote that matters.
Brian has been a student of the game since the beginning. He’s our Ivy-league man for the season, and he certainly has stepped up to the plate with his intelligence and Survivor-education right away by taking command before Yaxha’s first TC. As soon as he was aware that Lydia was a target, he acted with courage to prevent a wrong decision. He spoke out immediately, both to cite Lydia’s work ethic (and Morgan’s lack thereof) as a reason to keep Lydia and also to defend Lydia against “weakest link” criticism, noting that she was strong throughout the initial hike and that she hasn’t cost them a loss in any challenge. (Rafe was the tribe’s weakest link in the RC, but his name apparently did not come up as a nominee for dispatch.)
After speaking up to Gary, Brian took two further actions. He told Lydia to take action to plead her own case. Then he went to bat for her himself. I was glad the editors included his comment when he voted in TC: “I really scrambled!” That’s some insight. He’s not hanging back. He took a risk that his arguments would be heard, and they were. Now he has established himself as someone who has influence on others. He completely and virtually single-handedly turned the tide. Brian’s a guy you want on your side. At the very least, Lydia is now his loyal ally. The others clearly respect his opinion and reasoning.
As a schoolteacher with many students who watch Survivor, I want Survivor to teach good lessons. This week it did so. My juniors in American literature started the year hearing the words of Captain John Smith in Jamestown, “Whoever will not work, will not eat.” Jamestown was a real survival situation. There was no place for pretty people who wouldn’t pull their own weight with shelter-building and food-gathering. Sometimes young people are so used to being provided for that they anticipate that the welfare state (Bank of Dear-Old-Dad or Resources of Uncle Sam) will always take care of them. In a Survivor economy, everyone needs to work, and kids need to see that work ethic valued in their virtual lives on television screens as much as in their real lives at home and at school.
Lydia was a provider for her tribe. She belongs there. Brian is an exceptional young man to realize the value of an older woman’s resourcefulness. As a young man, he might have been able to make a reliable ally of “you-do-the-work-for-me” Morgan, much as Ian recruited Katie last season to be his pawn. I needed a Brian in Palau! A young man who champions the oldest woman on his tribe rather than someone his own age is unusually wise!
It’s rather early in the game to make projections on tribal leadership, but Nakum may have more of a power struggle on their hands (I see potential jostling between Judd, Brandon, and perhaps Blake and maybe Danni for leadership), while at Yaxha there seems to be an effort at consensus, with Brian taking a leadership role. Gary evidently doesn’t want to appear to dominate, especially since Danni has outed his quarterback background, and he’s fearful about how his tribe will react to the truth. How long can he continue the subterfuge? How understanding will the rest be when he can’t deny the truth any more? He’s too worried to lead strongly.
Newsweek’s Periscope page has a weekly “Conventional Wisdom Watch” with arrows up and down for people in the limelight. Wanda’s Watch has the up arrows this week for Brian and Lydia of Yaxha and Danni and Judd of Nakum.
Ah, don’t we love Thursday nights! The next one can’t come soon enough!
Visit Wanda on the World Wide Web at WackyWanda.com.