OK, I apologize in advance. Am I allowed to delay the theory talk for a second and complain for a minute?
I hope you said yes because that’s what I’m going to do.
This season started oh-so promisingly. We had a cast almost full of superfans; we had a bunch of compelling characters who seemingly came to play; we had some really cool challenges at the beginning of the season; and we really seemed to have very few boring cast members.
Well, the superfans seem to have forgotten strategy; many castaways stopped playing; the boring run of balance/endurance challenges started; and most of the boring cast members stuck around to the final eight. Oh, and I think we can safely say the Ghost Island twist is not so good… to put it nicely.
I hate to say it, but this season’s turned into Redemption Island II: Another Horrid Post Merge Season. People might have rightly blocked season 22 from their minds, but Redemption Island actually started really well… before it became a coronation for Boston Rob. The pre-merge game, before Russell got the boot, actually featured good gameplay and some interesting strategy. Then the merge came and, if you were me, you just wanted the season to end already. And I say that as someone who really wanted Rob to finally win a season.
This season is falling into that trap. At first, many of the castaways seemed to be playing to win. Now, not so much. At this point, it’s Dom and everyone else. You could charitably say that Wendell and Kellyn have played good games. But Wendell seems content to lose to Dom at final tribal and Kellyn’s strategy, at some point, devolved into screaming “Naviti Strong” over and over, regardless of how moronic that strategy might be at the moment.
So how do we explain such bad gameplay? We had what seemed like good players and then, for example, we have Kellyn and Laurel the last couple weeks? To me, we need to look at the theory of cognitive dissonance.
Well, you’ve probably heard the term before: Cognitive dissonance theory basically describes the mental anguish and indecision a person goes through when they hold two or more incongruous views at the same time. When two opposite views are in a person’s mind, they usually just believe the long-held one, regardless of evidence.
This theory tends to be applied, lately, in political studies. I’m not a big fan of talking politics here, but let me give you an example. You may have conservative views and that’s cool, but there are, according to studies and recent polls, a lot of people who think Donald Trump is an honest person. You might like some of his views, but everyone knows he’s a borderline pathological liar… except for a segment of the population. That’s explained by cognitive dissonance. They voted for the man, thought he’d make a good president and admitting he’s a liar would be too hard. So regardless of the evidence, they hold to that belief. Cognitive dissonance.
We can see that playing out with Kellyn and Laurel right now. Both came into the game looking like great strategic players. Both earned those reputations during the early game and even in mid season. But now? Well, they’re both hanging on to strategies that clearly aren’t working. With Laurel, deep down there is no doubt she knows she can’t beat Wendell or Dom, but she doesn’t care. She’s sticking to the strategy and probably thinks she can win… despite the evidence. Kellyn is even more frustrating because she’s wielded some power at times in the game but simply can’t get away from a Naviti-based strategy.
To us watching, we know they both are heading down a horrid path. And, again, I would argue, they know it too. But cognitive dissonance prevents them from acknowledging this inevitable ending. They’ve both had their plans for so long that they simply refuse to believe they’re not working. Despite every shred of evidence.
That, my friends, is the literal definition of cognitive dissonance.
OK, so let me take a moment and specificially complain about most of the remaining castaways now. Here we go:
And with that, let’s hope this post-merge game starts to pick up as we move toward the finale.
Pat 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.