Hindsight Bias Special Edition: How One Rock Can Cause An Earthquake

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Hey y’all… ish!

Update on my status real quick- still sick, still not writing on a schedule, but every once in awhile, you know… shit happens. Shit happens that breaks the foundation of time and space or something like that. Shit that, even when I’m getting worse at wording and sick enough not to leave my bed for 75% of the day… shit I just gotta write about. Last night was some of that.

Wow. Good goddamn. I think my first words after that TC were “holy fuck”. Well, it was my first post- I think my first words after it live were a mess of babbling to my parents that we HAD to watch this live I swear we had to it’s so epic (and possibly a nonexistent language after I was denied). That was not only expected, but fantastic- I can even jive with who went home even as I disliked that part. I haven’t been high on this season but it’s progressively gotten more tolerable- and last night felt like it got a whole new team of editors. I thought they were trying to work around a pretty mediocre cast, but nope- they just embarrassed themselves with how wonderful the “second” episode was- talk about a stream of 6/10s bombarded by a 11/10. This was like the Debbie episode from last season, in a sea of Witches Covens. I legitimately think it was that good.

Thing is, I’m not here to talk about the whole episode. I don’t have the energy to write about two hours, because I know it’d be 15k words from me (have you seen the intro for this? You know it to be true). Instead, I want to write about the Tribal Council, which is really what I bet everyone is talking about, when the episode really deserves better. Consider this an opinion piece, because what I want to talk about is my perspective on the… big decision.

Yep. Drawing rocks.

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History

Hot friggety damn, there hasn’t been a rock draw since it was conceived in Marquesas after the producers really got tired of the tie bullshit in Africa and wanted to stop that shit. The plight of Paschal, the loving moral judge #2 to Neleh (who was… actually kind of a creepy asshole even on screen, like a Southern Lee Carseldine who talked careers more than the Blue Collar tribe), who had never even received a vote but drew the rock defending Pixie, was enough to make many call it unfair, an assertion not helped by the other F4 ties going to firemaking. A “proper” rock draw happened in Blood vs Water, but it felt strangely watered down. It was spoiled on… basically everywhere, including TV, the person going home had the least edit of those drawing (like hell Ciera or Tyson were gonna draw it) and there was always RI to catch the one who drew it. Not only that, Katie, the mild mannered downright normal person who drew it, was already in a bad spot and visibly came on Survivor not hyper-concerned with her game- a proto-Jenn in that way and no other way.

However, this rock draw- I could sing of its love forever. Not only did it happen quite early at the F10, but it was between two new alliances, with both sides stubborn against each other and for themselves to go to rocks. Only one person doubted themselves, and tragically, it was she who would go. That leads me to do a mini-Autopsy on Jessica- oh how glad I am that the person who drew the chameleon death rock had a pretty solid edit. Not the biggest ever, but three of the rock drawers were Will, Sunday, and Bret, so I did NOT have good vibes about it. Instead, Jessica drew it, which was a shock to me. Jessica leaving, however, was excruciatingly sad- it was sudden to us, and to her, and she had the tears to prove it. Now that I think about it, so did a good handful of people- even the unaligned hardcore Jay. Her breaking down in her final words- not just crying, she literally couldn’t finish her sentence after that- was one of the saddest things in literal eternity.

That’s really it- the rock draw is random chance, it’s tragic, it makes people cry, and it’s a reaction to tied votes that came in because production pulled a sick-of-your-shit on players.

Now I’m gonna defend its existence.

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Why the rock draw doesn’t suck dick

Here’s the thing about a rock draw- I just about always think it’s the best choice.

First, let’s talk about flipping to avoid a rock- it never goes well. Either you’re with the alliance or you’re not. For those who participated in a tie vote and then flipped to avoid a rock, it just about never goes well. They always get relegated to the bottom. Jenna Lewis was the first at the F4, sacrificing her ally Rupert to avoid rocks, and she was quickly dispatched by Romber at the F3. Then, Ulong… did shit… but they’re Ulong, so I’m gonna skip them- they met their fate anyways. The next to do it was Fincher, but Galu all got picked off after that, starting with the very loathed Fincher. Cochran… haha, like you don’t know. Then after that was Vytas in the Brad vote. He survived after that due to a swap, but he was easily on the bottom after that at Tadhana. Flipping to avoid rocks never goes well- you could get your ass served to you on a silver platter right after.

That brings up Jessica- not only the recipient of the death rock, but the one shown as wanting to flip. Is that a message that you should always avoid rocks? Maybe on screen, but don’t buy the hype. Jessica 100% made the right move, because even though she drew the rock herself, she had a 50% chance of being in the majority alliance and a 83% chance of not drawing the rock herself. She defied the odds in the worst way possible, but I get why she did it, and thinking she should have voted Hannah is some very results oriented thinking.

Moreover, there’s been a longstanding call to remove the rock draw, decrying it as unfair. That may be what I disagree with most. The rock draw isn’t some random way to fuck someone over for the sake of big moves. It’s there to dissuade people against causing ties, by pushing them against a wall and giving them no control of their fates. No bad moves to condemn you, no good moves to save you. It’s saying, become a pariah, or risk elimination that isn’t your fault. Yet, at the same time, it’s the best move to make, in large part because your alliance is boned if you don’t. It’s selfishness over groupthink. In a game that’s selfish, for many that’s too far, because that move is far too self centered, and cuts the throats of everyone you aligned with- not just Hannah. It’s a scare tactic to get you to doom yourself so your fate is in your hands- much like the screaming interrogator doing anything for an answer to the location of your friends.

I love it and I hope it stays. In an era of Survivor that often is simplified, the death rock is simple in appearance yet insanely complicated.

Taking the risk

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The rock draw is a very bold move, and one I think is very courageous. I’ve already covered upthread what I feel is the bravery in drawing rocks, but therein lies something even crazier- the people drawing it were in some pretty new alliances. Sure, four of the five on Zeke’s side (sans Zeke) were all Ika Bulas that voted Michaela- time will tell if that connection had anything to do with it. While three of those on the other side were the closest allies on Gen-X, one of them was immune, and the other Jessica felt was the one who fucked her game up by opening his trap. I’m surprised that the Ika Bula four didn’t have at least one about to fold on Zeke, but I’m very surprised that the Gen X three didn’t fold on Hannah, who was new to their alliance. Most of all, I’m surprised that no one flipped despite there being fluidity in the alliances as shown so far, and no one willing to bet anything on the alliances reshifting. Maybe that’s because- even in a season where they’re all shown as fluid and willing to backstab anyone- they all have very solid alliances.

(Yeah, yeah, the NToS said Will could flip, but if he didn’t do it before the rock draw, I’d be amazed if he did it after).

That’s enough to make me congratulate all those who went to rocks- Bret, Sunday, Will, Jessica, Adam, and especially David. All of them had things telling them not to draw rocks- their children, their mothers, their youth, their age, and possibly a million other factors more pressing than personal. However, I’m going to commit a cardinal scene of RTV Warriors and praise the guy who has more airtime than half the cast combined.

Drawing rocks was big for everyone, but it was huge for David, and that can’t be denied. When we first met with David, he was cowardly, made alliances with everyone, but was willing to cut anyone. Him playing the idol on Jessica was him making a new alliance, and him voting out CeCe was him breaking an old one. David didn’t seem to change, just got used to the scenery. He still tried to get random strangers to trust him, he was still willing to cut people. He just was right when doing it, but being right doesn’t mean you’re acting right.

This episode… I’ll be honest and say the first part, where David “conquered his fears” and won immunity, it felt real, but very forced. I could believe that David had a shift and had those feelings about the game about becoming a better person, but I also believe it wasn’t brought up spontaneously- it felt more like the confessional team was asking David “so what about your growth arc?” early and often.

Then, the second half happened. What David acted like was probably me in an ORG before a big shift- excitable and willing to run one’s mouth. We also saw that anxiety as a whole is hard, if not impossible, to overcome, and David did no such thing- he was very hard on himself and panicked at the idea that he made the vote worse. However, he had a new partner in crime not just in the game, but someone who understood him- Hannah, who also struggled with anxiety and even had a full blown panic attack in Episode 6 while on the sidelines of a reward challenge. Hannah was able to see the signs and calmed him down, and I’m willing to believe that identification between them was what drew Hannah to his side, and David to defend her.

Let’s be clear here, as of now, November 25 2016, I don’t know why David, who told Taylor he’d cut anyone needed to get ahead, stuck to his vote and drew a rock for a new ally. Maybe it was guilt for his own mistake of running his mouth to Bret. Maybe it was his bond and identification with Hannah that made it personally hard to lose her. Maybe it was newfound braggadocio- him saying that he wasn’t about to get scared because Bret got loud- he wanted Zeke out and he was going to do his damndest. Whatever was the case, it made him draw a rock- something even the most confident people can’t attest to.

There’s been a lot made of David’s anxiety- most nastily this TC with Bret and Zeke both mocking it; a displeasure after seeing them encourage him earlier this episode. That in itself was nasty, but the assertions of him being weak because of it (according to Bret’s “waaaah, I’m crying because I have anxiety!” and Zeke chiming “are you gonna CRY, Dave?”) were proven wrong. Whatever you wanna say about David- there’s a lot you can say, and I don’t blame anyone for not being a fan- he gave very concrete proof, with no styling or controlled narration, that he is both willing to be loyal and to show some guts. Maybe after he lost Jessica he’s in a bad spot, as one would expect in a Purple Rock, but I gotta commend him for his choice. For everyone else, drawing rocks was a brave move, but for David, it was also unprecedented.

Wrapping up

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This is fantastic.

The death rock is one of Survivor’s best features, but in many respects it feels like an old fashioned one. The one in BvW almost certainly doesn’t happen if there’s no RI to catch them, and it was still buried by the worse parts of its era. Nowadays, with more mentions of voting blocs (or trust-clusters I guess) and an emphasis on big moves and strategy over character moments, there’s some genuine humanity in a rock draw. Even Will was able to get a good couple of moments in there, which really speaks to the rock draw. I doubt we ever get one again- especially with Jessica as a scare tactic which will cause a wave of Finchers- but I wish we would. I wish it was more often, because it won’t ever lose its power with regularity, but what was special about this one was how rare it is. I hope this pops a bottle on rock draws, but if it’s the last one ever, this is still a great way to send it off.

I’m not sure what- or when- I’ll write again in the future, but I hope this was a good piece as it was. It’s been awhile since I’ve professionally written- I just needed the right motivation.

-Cameron

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