Updated: May 15
"My length of stay on this island depends on how someone thinks of me or doesn't think of me"- Ramona It doesn't matter how much the game evolves, Survivor will always be a game rooted in relationships. Even as Survivor was finding its sea legs early on, the importance of building solid relationships was paramount. In a lot of ways, this made early Survivor more difficult to maneuver strategically.
I want to clarify that I am not saying modern Survivor is easier to play. That is far from the truth as the added layer of advantages and idols have muddied the strategic element of the game far beyond what was thought possible. But these advantages and idols also offer players more opportunities to shift the momentum of the game. In season one, social politics and tribal dynamics played the most important role in dictating who went home, especially as people were beginning to figure out a game strategy in those first few seasons. Flat out, if you struggled to assimilate or build relationships with your tribe, you were probably on the chopping block. Episode two of Survivor: Borneo, appropriately entitled "The Generation Gap", is an interesting case study of these social components of the game. On each tribe, two older men are on the outs, but how they handle their situations is vastly different. On Tagi, the tension between Rudy and Stacey continues to build. She doesn't take kindly to his bossy attitude or poor food edict. Rudy doesn't think Stacey is cut out for the survival lifestyle. At this point, neither feels like the other belongs in the game. They are Diet Coke and Mentos mints on Tagi, a mixture that explodes when mixed. Where Rudy sees great success socially this week is with Richard, a relationship that becomes vitally important as the game progresses. When Richard opens up to his tribemates about his sexuality, he receives varying from questions, to calling it a "lifestyle", and everything in between. Out of all of his tribemates, though, it is Rudy who is seemingly the most accepting of Richard. Though he does use some uncomfortable language- such as calling Richard "the homosexual" at one point in a confessional- Rudy cares more that Richard is an asset to the tribe than about him being gay. "Me and Richard got to be pretty good friends," he said before clarifying "not in a homosexual way, that's for sure".
On Pagong, B.B. is facing similar hurdles as Rudy with his younger tribemates. While Rudy willingly crossed the bridge with Richard to form a friendship, B.B. continues to burn down every bridge he can. "He demands respect" Greg expresses to the camera, "definitely feels the difference in his age and other peoples and doesn't seem to want to bridge that gap". B.B. is getting a reputation for being aggressive and his demanding personality is starting to grate his fellow tribemates. No one is willing to confront him out of fear of him exploding. Which is, of course, true, but we will get there in a second. After spending time complaining about Colleen last episode for her lack of work ethic, he turns his irksome tirades towards the rest of the tribe this week for not carrying their weight. He is particularly irritated with Joel and Ramona. "The laziest person is Ramona. I mean she just doesn't contribute anything" he said, before continuing "she probably hasn't worked more than 10 or 15 minutes in five days". It makes no difference to B.B. she is ill and cannot eat, Ramona's lack of work is draining on the tribe. B.B. thinks even less of Joel. "He reminds me of a guy where if you buy him for what he's worth and sale him for what he thinks he worth, you'd make a million dollars". B.B. has no problem making snide comments like this towards Joel, causing friction between the two. When B.B. uses the fresh canton water to wash his clothes, the tribe can take no more of his behavior. Joel and Gervase confront him about his actions. B.B. doesn't take too kindly to the tribe telling him what he has to do, especially since he thinks he works harder than anyone else. "This is not a democracy," he said. "I will vote on things that don't matter but things that matter and my survival and my comfort. I'm not going to vote [on that
The dysfunction gets to the point that B.B. tosses out the idea of throwing the next immunity challenge so the tribe can vote him out. Pagong has no interest in doing this, even if B.B. isn't their favorite person. Speaking of immunity, this episode featured the first-ever eating challenge. This ends up becoming a classic Survivor moment when Gervase is unable to eat a bug, losing the challenge for Pagong. When Gervase returns for Survivor: Blood vs Water, this moment is referenced when the show recycles this immunity challenge.
While Pagong didn't throw the challenge, B.B. does get his wish as he gets voted out second. Some on the tribe did consider voting out Ramona due to her physical state. But at the end of the day, B.B. wore out his welcome due to his temperament.
At the end of the day, it was B.B.'s abrasive attitude that cost him the game. Had he been willing to try to make better connections with his tribemates, he may have had a longer stay on the island. More importantly, it didn't seem like he cared at all that he was alienating his tribe. The following is a telling quote from B.B. about his game: "I think they find me probably abrasive, authoritarian. There's probably a couple of other adjectives you could throw in there that could probably work too." before later stating "I don't care. I'm not trying to win a personality contest". To be fair to B.B., there was a steep learning curve for this first group of castaways who were literally inventing strategy as they went. Still, the sole premise of the game is to not get voted out by the tribe. While providing for the tribe and working around camp can alleviate some of the dysfunction that comes from personality differences, being aggressive and abrasive will not gain you any favor. Rudy probably said it best in episode one when he indicated he was outnumbered by the younger tribe members, so it is his responsibility to try and relate to them and not theirs. B.B. didn't see it the same way. And in the end, his work ethic just didn't outweigh his negative attitude around camp.