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Why Brook Didn't Survive

This analysis of "Survivor: Vanuatu"'s latest episode is by columnist Greg Feltes of CBS station WBBM in Chicago, who offers weekly commentary on the popular reality TV show.

As far as a "Survivor" season premieres goes, the first episode of "Survivor: Vanuatu" was an oddity from the very beginning.

Now, I've blocked out the atrocious "Survivor: Thailand" from my memory, but I doubt that there was pig sacrifices and poisonous-tasting island "Tang" involved.

And that was just the welcoming ceremony! Then there was the result of the game itself. Unlike most players booted in the first episode, Brook didn't really make a fatal error. By all rights, it should have been Chris or Rory on his way home.

But the Winthrop, Mass., native still was taken out by an alliance in true "Survivor" fashion.

Why Brook Geraghty is gone:

  • The composition of his tribe. You do well in "Survivor" by quickly developing a coalition of people with whom you have a lot in common. Unfortunately for the 27-year-old Geraghty, Lopevi only had one other twenty-something to bond and work with. A tribe dominated by younger people might have been more prone to rash decisions, like getting rid of the guy who screwed up the first challenge or the guy who was somewhat annoying the first night. Instead, the older players wisely looked at the big picture to see who was more reliable down the line.
  • You know what they say about assumptions. Brook made the faulty assumption that everyone else would base their votes on the same logic he was using. It's all right to build a consensus, but you can't do it haphazardly. It was arrogant and stupid to call Lea over and tell him, "This is how we are voting." Lea is older and wiser. He was not going to get swayed by a 15-second pitch. It would have been much better to approach him more thoughtfully and slowly and articulate a credible argument.
  • Cockiness is not a good thing. Fair or not, when you are young, you face getting pigeonholed as a young know-it-all who doesn't know when to shut his mouth. It doesn't help if you are actually a younger know-it-all who doesn't know when to shut his mouth. It could easily have been the even younger John K. who got the boot, but he remained quiet and let Brook talk himself out of the tribe.

Lopevi Tribe Analysis

  • Brady, 33:
First impressions are critical and you couldn't help but be impressed as Brady went all Spiderman when he climbed up and got the rock on the first try. He could have been a braggart about it, but he acted as if it never happened, which also earns him points.

Brady is a FBI agent and was previously in the military. Only in "Survivor" could these be considered a detriment. Both occupations make you seem stronger than you are and tend to make you appear to be a potential leader, which puts a target to your back. Just ask Hunter from Season Four.

  • Chad, 35: The most captivating and interesting moment of the premiere was when Chad revealed his prostheses. This could go several ways. If he is ever directly responsible for an immunity challenge, no one will shed a tear before booting him. However, if he shows unexpected strength and resolve, he will earn much respect and a spot in an alliance very easily.

    The end game is where he will face his biggest problem. No one wants to face someone who overcame so much in the final two. Season Six's deaf survivor Christy learned that the hard way. Chad doesn't have the personality of a Rupert, but his story is more compelling. Showing some teeth and getting his hands dirty might take the golden boy stigma away from him.

  • Chris, 33: He didn't panic, make excuses or accept his fate. Those three things are a rarity among early immunity scapegoats. Chris absolutely bombed in the challenges, but he succeeded beyond all expectations when it came to keeping a level head. He correctly read the tealeaves to divine that Brook was the easiest of the young guns to target.

    However, Chris won't be so lucky if he causes another loss. No amount of humor can compete with utter desperation.

  • John K, 22:John didn't make that much of an impact either way (at least in his limited screen time.) Still, he is not in a good position due to the premium that is being placed on age and experience by his cohorts. He needs to be so physically dominant that they can't possibly get rid of him.
  • John P., 31: There were two Johns? You could have fooled me. It's hard to get a read on someone who barely appeared.
  • Lea, 40: I'll just copy and paste this for every "Survivor" edition because it's rock-solid logic when it comes time for procrastination:

    The one consistent trend in this game is that no one over 40 has won it. It is a combination of ageism (they will be dead soon anyway, so why do they need the money) and the fact that inevitably older players' bodies will fail them.

    That said, Lea obviously has a solid head on his shoulder. He didn't insecurely jump into the first alliance he was offered. He asked for time to think about his decision, which allowed him to make a much more stable alliance of like-minded people. Siding with younger players as an old man is a losing proposition.

    The occupation of Drill Sergeant doesn't scream flexibility. He can't act rashly or talk belligerently and expect to get away with it for too long.

  • Rory, 35: You can't sugar coat it or avoid it: Rory is the only person of color on his tribe and that's never a pleasant situation. I am not suggesting that his fellow teammates are racists, but you can't deny that race is a factor in this game. In fact, it might have led to his immediate isolation and alienation from the others on the first night, which is a never good sign.

    The only African Americans to make it to episode 10 in this game are Gervarse, Sean, Vecepia, Ted and Alicia. They did it by being non-confrontational, staying under the radar and remaining affable through it all. Rory doesn't look as if he is prepared to do any of those three things.

  • Travis, 33: The only notable thing we learned about Travis is that he can't swim very well. That can be a death knell if it causes an immunity loss. Otherwise, he has a certain hick charm that could position him as a younger "Big Tom."

    Yasur Tribe Analysis
    As hard as it is to analyze the guys, it is even harder to analyze the girls because they didn't have to scramble to boot someone and thus were given less screen time.

    • Ami, 31: She didn't really make that much of an impression. She has the biographical characteristics to go far, but that doesn't mean anything. Her apparent pleasant demeanor will serve her well in the inevitable cat fight between young and old.
    • Dolly, 25:
      She looks like the type not to be disrupted by her environment or afraid of hunting in the wild. Simultaneously, Dolly also looks like a dumb, blonde sorority chick. It's too early to say which Dolly will win out.
    • Eliza, 21: She looks too much like Jamie-Lynn Discala to succeed. Just kidding. Resemblance to a certain "Sopranos" star aside, it's evident that Eliza is playing the game hard. But is she playing it well? It's too early to say.
    • Julie, 23: She's another "young 'un" who didn't really make an impression either way. I will point that out there are more young girls on Yasur than there are young males on Lopevi, which serves Julie particularly well.
    • Leann, 35: Yet another woman who didn't really make an impression.
    • Lisa, 44: See note on ageism under Lea.
    • Mia, 30: Still yet another woman who didn't really make an impression.
    • Scout, 59: Did they really let Lillian play the game for a third time? And she's over 40.
    • Twila, 41: She was way too pushy and arrogant in the first three days where you are really locked into a persona by the other players. She needs to lighten up and play nice or she won't be around to pledge Delta Delta Yasur.

    Predictions for next week

    If the guys lose again, I see Rory going because they can't afford to boot another physically strong player if they lose twice in a row. However, I believe that the girls are destined to lose because things even out eventually. There likely won't be another balance task, which overwhelmingly favors the females. I think Twila or Scout are next to go.

    My current pick for a winner

    I have no clue. If I had to make a choice, I would go with Brady.


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