|by Wanda Shirk
“The brave may not live long, but the cautious do not live at all.” My hero for Guatemala, Episode 3, is Brandon Bellinger, for challenging us all with that great statement, made in the context of swimming with ‘gators. Certainly there are times when wisdom dictates caution, and I am not evaluating whether the swimming was wise or unwise. I do know that risk-taking is necessary for people to win at anything in life. Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” My tenth grade English teacher made us all memorize that line and stand up and recite it to the whole class. Hooray for courage and living on the edge!
I don’t know how Brandon or any of the Guatemala survivors prepared for the game. My preparation included everything I could think of and everything anyone suggested to me. That included literally dozens of things, ranging from swimming a mile three nights a week to using tooth-whitening strips to listing great quotations in a notebook for recall whenever appropriate, either in the “confessionals” or to inspire my tribemates. Brandon deserves credit for what was in his mind. It got there intentionally. I’m saying he’s smarter than he’s been given credit for!
That said, Nakum now gets a “thumbs down” from me for this week, in spite of having won both the RC and the IC. Margaret was right: they did a poor job of putting up the tarp they won. Nakum is acting like Ulong of last season, with Bobby Jon and Judd both complaining about someone providing input. I hear echoes of Vanuatu Rory’s, “I’m a big-ass man. I don’t need anybody telling me what to do.” Echoes of Ulong’s James: “We’re Americans. This is a democracy.” Democracies need leadership too, and those who offer suggestions don’t deserve immediate condemnation as dictators. I am sorry that the young men on the tribe are not appreciative of what Margaret has to offer.
Those who have read or studied Nash theory know that “L” tribes — Leaderless tribes — (Pagong from Borneo, Ulong from Palau) usually go down.
Meanwhile, what is leadership looking like at Yaxha? Gary is afraid to look like a leader, lest he look like a quarterback. Brian has provided leadership, but did we all see that dirty look Jamie gave him when he waxed loquacious in trying to pump his team before a challenge? Sparks flashed there; not good! Most of the tribe seems to think that Stephenie is a leader, but physical strength and athletic experience do not necessarily equate to leadership. The tribe did well when Gary directed them in the blindfold section of the reward challenge, but when they began to assemble the tent, they seemed to look to Stephenie for direction, and it wasn’t there. NOBODY came to the fore. We might wonder if Yaxha is ultimately leaderless as well — though they have rallied and voted as a unit at TC.
And speaking of TC — Yaxha made the right choice again. I had thought that Gary and Brianna might bond, since the bios show that they both have worked for evangelical Christian youth organizations (Youth for Christ and Young Life, respectively). Maybe Gary is so cautious about hiding his background that even that hasn’t come out, but I would have thought that at least one of them would have said something that the other would have taken note of so that they would have allied on something common and potentially very strong in their backgrounds. But apparently nothing could save Brianna from not playing more aggressively — or should I say from not playing at all — in the ball game.
Steph is focusing right now on athletic ability and whether her tribemates know the vocab, such as a pick. It should be noted people with athletic ability may be backpackers or swimmers or canoe-campers or hunters or other rugged outdoor types who are not familiar with all the concepts of team sports. To be sure, though, I’ll bone up on “picks” if I ever get a call back to Survivor! My preparation notebook for S-10 has advice on running, swimming, and log birling — those more individual physical activities that we have seen as challenge factors more often than team sports or ball games. Usually it’s individual strength, fitness, and agility rather than a team sports background that’s critical.
One thing for sure: Leaders aren’t whiners. A leader can explain in terms that everyone can understand. A leader gathers, unites, and inspires the group, doesn’t just criticize the less competent behind their backs.
When Nakum returns to TC, it looks as if Margaret’s head will be on the chopping block. They got rid of the oldest man, and I’d probably be willing to bet that the oldest woman goes next. Interesting, since Yaxha got rid of their two youngest first; both Morgan and Brianna were just 21. I’ve noted that when the castmembers are shown individually at the start of the show, Margaret is shown muddy, from the Episode 2 tug-of-war in the mud. I might be wrong, but I think if someone stays on the show longer, they might show more flattering pictures that could come as a person stays in the game longer. (My picture in S-10 on the introductory segment shows me with my hair all wet from the first swim to shore; I wasn’t there long enough for them to have had more attractive shots from other situations or interesting pictures from another challenge.) When I saw that the intro picture of Margaret came from early in the game, an episode two challenge, I said to myself, “She doesn’t make the jury.” Just a guess; I have no inside information. But I think it’s a reasonable prediction based on Judd and Bobby Jon’s criticism of her suggestions during the tarp assembly.
Although Nakum is ahead 5-1 in challenges, it’s still too early to assume that Yaxha will be creamed, ala Ulong. Can Brian continue to lead and inspire Yaxha, or are both tribes “L” tribes? We’ll wait and see.
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