The Problem With ‘Keeping The Tribe Strong’ On Survivor
It's the motto of every ex-sportsperson, Olympian or personal trainer to ever play Australian Survivor -- 'keep the tribe strong'.
The battle cry that's rattled through every season of the game has come roaring back into All Stars, drawing a line in the sand between the physically strong and the more socially proficient players.
'Keep the tribe strong' is an equation that looks good on paper: strong players plus physical challenges equals victory, invitations to Survivor banquets and the ability to send your opponent to Tribal.
The motto is often preceded by the warning that, at the early stages in the game, a squad of muscular challenge beasts with Herculanean-like strength is vital.
But in reality, it's a strategy fraught with inconsistencies, loopholes and a whole lot of boredom, because if we wanted to watch a football match between fair-minded athletes -- we'd patiently wait for footy season (just kidding).
Survivor is a physically brutal game that requires a certain level of fitness, but the game isn't won on the field, as Kristie, Jericho, Shane, and Pia all know too well.
Using the art of ~persuasian~ please indulge us as we explain -- final Tribal Council-style -- why 'tribe strong' is a total cop-out.
The Athletic Players Are Given A Free Pass When They Drop The Ball
The first bone we have to pick with the 'tribe strong' ethos is that the sporty players are judged by a different set of rules than their less muscular counterparts.
Shonee and Michelle were openly chastised for their contributions to Mokuta's losses, even though many challenges include hurdles that aren't just strength-based and everyone can have a bad day.
Players like Lee and John have had some shockers at challenges -- and that's fine -- but when the Mokuta athlete's alliance, including Abbey, Lydia, and Zach turn a blind eye, the double standard emerges.
'Tribe Strong' Means You've Created A Roadmap Everyone Can Read
Guess what? You can't really pull off a blindside when you've got a rigid alliance that's always gabbing about strength whenever Jonathan La Paglia poses questions about the tribe's priorities.
The underdogs are the patient kings and queens of Survivor, who know flexibility, unpredictability and a decent rapport with everyone is key to moving forward.
It Stirs Up A Hell Of A Lot Of Resentment -- With No Way Back
The athletes' alliances are always the first to be forged and the first to crumble. Without the flexibility to chop and change a bit in your alliances, you're heading down a dead-end without a prayer.
Abbey, Lydia, and John made no secrets about wanting to vote Shonee off, and after her trip to Exile Beach, any chance of reconciliation with the athletes was well and truly gone.
This made Shonee more determined than ever to crawl her way out of the bottom, appeal to the former Vakamans and focus all her efforts on her enemies.
The Best Players Don't Discriminate
David Genat is arguably the best player to hit Australian Survivor along with King of the Jungle, Luke Toki. Both players are cunning but they're always on good terms with all their campmates, even if they'll write your name down with a smile at Tribal.
Despite being physically strong himself and of great assistance in challenges on All Stars, Dave knows that 'tribe strong' is a ridiculous way to play when you're focused on the long game.
He proved this in voting off Daisy early in the game, a challenge threat who was also in his alliance. Why? Revenge and a lack of trust.
Shonee made it to fifth place in Season 3 but has always been dogged by the echo of the 'tribe strong' mantra.
"I didn't think I’d hear it as much on All Stars," she told Jonathan at yet another Tribal where it looked like her head was on the chopping block.
"There are other types of players than just physical players. And yeah, I think it’s boring."
The cat with nine lives had the last laugh -- and a bit of fun along the way -- in convincing the original Vakama members to give Abbey the boot instead of her. Shonee used her exceptional social game to form genuine bonds with Mat, Brooke, Flick and Locky instead of approaching them at the last minute.
The Only True Strength Is In The Numbers
The early stages of Survivor involve fitting comfortably into the middle of the pack when it comes to challenges. Perform too well and you'll be labelled a threat and perform too poorly and you'll be accused of letting the tribe down.
Regardless of strength and skill level, a true Survivor player is nothing without their social game and their ability to put forward a convincing, yet subtle argument to remain in the game.
As Jonathan La Paglia wisely said after Abbey's torch was snuffed, "the only true strength is in the numbers".