Well, in theory - Pat Ferrucci's recaps

Tai and Aubry


There are some things, even when they’re predictable or mediocre, that never disappoint. For me, that’s coffee, my dog Coach, and Survivor.


And even this episode, one I would argue is the worst of the season so far, didn’t disappoint and definitely gave some new things to think about. While Kyle/Jason made his predictable, long-desired and much-deserved journey to Ponderosa, we now have better insight into the alliance remaining and how the players see each other.


But we’re going to discuss Tai today. The boot of Kyle/Jason was, as we all know, a long time coming. However, the manner in which Tai’s character continues to evolve, well, it hasn’t been predictable. And, I think, the best way to discuss Tai and everything else that happened this week is to talk about a theory of organization.


You see, a lot of scholars study organizations of all kinds. This makes sense, of course, because we want to understand what makes for a good organization and what makes for a bad one. And because all organizations are, sort of, unique, there are numerous different theories relating to how they work. We’re going to discuss Gareth Morgan’s organization as organisms theory. 


Morgan, a professor of management at York University in Toronto, believes the best way to discuss theory is to think of them as metaphors. So in his influential book, Images of Organization, Morgan discusses eight different theories, or metaphors, for how organizations could potentially operate.


I think we can examine how an alliance works by using theories of organization. When we as regular folks think of organizations, I believe, we think of companies. And that’s mostly what scholars study also. But, according to its definition, an organization is really just “an organized body of people with a particular purpose.” Isn’t that the very essence of an alliance?


The alliance, formerly


In this particular case, Aubry, Cydney, Joe, Tai and Michele have essentially been acting as an organization for the past couple votes. They’re an alliance, yes, but they’re also an organized group of people with a particular and like-minded focus that know they have to work together well to accomplish their goals. Like any members of any organization, these five certainly have personal goals, but know the best way to achieve those means working together, most of the time.


So now let’s get back to theory. I think the best way to describe an alliance on Survivor, the best metaphor or theory, is Morgan’s organization as an organism theory. This is based around the idea that workers have different needs that must be satisfied if they are to do their jobs in the most effective manner. The metaphor describes an organization made of people who act like muscles and organs in the body; they all do different jobs, but need each other to live.


We can clearly see some of this in the five-person alliance. So far, we’ve seen that Aubry and Cyd tend to make the decisions, Joe does the work around camp, Tai makes people laugh and owns advantages, and Michele, well, Michele is pleasant and easy to be around and owns a vote. Things have worked well for this alliance with folks taking on these specific roles. But this week, Tai changed things up and all of a sudden tried to nudge Cyd out of her role.


Cydney and Michele


For an organism to work properly, people need to know their roles. If, say, our brain started to do the job of our heart, well, things aren’t going to end up healthy. And that’s what happened here. Tai tried to change something up and the alliance started to crumble.


This is going to make next week fun. Once an organization feels a major shakeup like this, Morgan argues, it’s hard or close to impossible to return to working in the same manner. And for Survivor, as we’ve seen over and over through the seasons, once an alliance member does something unexpected, it’s rare the alliance continues in the same manner. So now the final five, all folks supposedly aligned together, will have to eat their own and Tai made sure it was going to be more interesting than ever. 


So we’re down to five. I feel like Aubry is the clear favorite right now, but let’s talk a little bit about all the remaining castaways.   


Dara Tribe

Dara tribe


  • 1. Joe —There was a moment, maybe 15 minutes into this last episode where all of a sudden this older, in-shape gentleman showed up on screen for a confessional. I started yelling at the television, “Who is this man? Who is it? I demand to know.” I was throwing things, cursing Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst to every god I could think of in the moment. And then, all of a sudden, a wave of calmness came over me and I realized, “Holy crap, that’s Joe. He’s a contestant.” So, yeah, for a fairly predictable episode, producers finally decided to introduce us to Joe with not one, but two confessionals. That’s unpredictable. He’s probably getting the boot this week, right?


  • 2. Aubry – I understand that Tai showed himself to be a completely clueless player this week, one that’s going to come back on the show again and make the exact same mistakes in the future. However, I also think Aubry missed a chance to actually to remove a threat. I know she may have upset Cyd by ditching Michele, but, at this point, it’s about the end game. Jason is simply way better to sit next to at the end than Michele.


  • 3. Tai – As any of you folks who’ve read me consistently this season know, I fell hard for Tai. He seemed like such a happy little man who refused to let negative conditions and the game get him down. But, honestly, I’m not particularly caring for his character any more. It’s always frustrating when people play badly, but I also feel like Tai is getting a pass where Scot did not. Forget Kyle/Jason who’s just acted horribly most of the season, but Tai and Scot both did crappy things at camp when they didn’t get their way and both tried to bully other contestants. Tai’s shown himself to be a selfish, whiny bully at times. Where oh where did the old Tai go? Come back, Tai, come back!


  • 4. Cydney – I’d be comparing Cyd to the great, great Kim Spradlin a little (only a little) right now if she just played a wee bit better of a social game. Sure, Cydney’s won challenges and set herself up wonderfully with alliances with basically everyone and some shrewd, behind-the-scenes maneuvering, but it seems like she’s let Aubry take too much of the credit. And, sadly, the way Cyd acts when she’s not getting her way is simply not going to be ignored by the other contestants. It also makes me worry she’ll completely suck when it comes to tough questions at Final Tribal, if she makes it there.


  • 5. Michele – Well, at least she showed a little spunk this week at tribal, but, come on, make a damn move Michele. What good player would have found out her name was on the chopping block and reacted by waiting 'til Tribal to make their case? Seriously? Michele even had a confessional talking about this as her plan. Why not make a move? Try to blindside Tai? She had Cyd and Jason, potentially. Do it. I just get all worked up about passive, almost comatose players. And when Joe appears in a confessional. Sorry, I can’t help it. I’m human. Or something.


OK, well that’s enough for this week. We’re almost done with this season, which has turned out far better than any of us thought, I think. So let’s sit back and enjoy the end game and talk next week. Have a good one.        

Pat Ferrucci Survivor 31 recapsPat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.