At tribal council, Devens made a huge show of exposing Ron’s fake immunity idol and playing his own real one. Devens hit all the psychological sweet spots for the jury to think he was the big strategic player for that tribal. When Ron got blindsided at the end of the vote, the whole jury probably believed that Devens had masterminded it. That by seeing through Ron’s trick and playing his own real immunity idol, Devens had organized the vote so that Ron would be taken out.
But Devens didn’t even vote for Ron. He voted for Aurora, because he thought the blindside was going to be against her.
The actual hard strategic work that day had been done by Lauren and Victoria. They’re the ones who cobbled together an alliance with Aurora and Gavin to vote out Ron, without Ron ever seriously suspecting. They also astutely decided that Devens might have a real immunity idol, so it was better to vote for Ron despite Devens being the clearer target. They also managed to hide all this from Devens, and thus got him to waste his immunity idol when almost no one was voting for him.
The jury never found out any of this, though, because Lauren and Victoria didn’t say anything during tribal council. They just sat silently while Devens absorbed all the credit.
Why did they do that? Well, it’s not exactly breaking news that women sometimes silently let men take unearned credit for good results. Of course, men sometimes let their thunder get stolen too, but in my experience, there’s a tendency for women to do this more often than men. (I’m open to seeing any hard data showing otherwise, though.)
A lot of times, this can be explained by the credit-stealers being assholes. But Devens isn’t an asshole. He was just wrong. His machinations were logical, given what he knew, and he really believed in them. When I first started writing this blog entry, I was trying to make all kinds of comparisons between Devens and animal species that are mimics (like hognose snakes) or that get other species to do work for them (like cuckoo birds). However, none of those comparisons are accurate. (Plus, the hognose snake sometimes defecates when threatened, which didn’t seem to fit Devens very well. Though maybe that’s the real reason Lauren and Victoria didn’t challenge him.)
So if Devens was just playing the best that he could with the knowledge that he had, is the fault only in Lauren and Victoria for not speaking up? Some would argue that they should have known what Survivor was when they signed up. Even a cursory study of the format would show that it’s crucial to let the jury know that you are the architect of strategic moves. That’s Survivor 101. Yes, it’s frustrating, and no, it would not be all right in the real world, but this argument would say that the system is clear and thus ethical within its parameters.
That might lead other people to argue that the format of Survivor should be changed to make sure that people have their accomplishments recognized. I don’t know how this would be done, though. It would probably require changes that would significantly alter the feel of the game. Maybe the final jury should watch the episodes as they’re aired and only vote during the live last episode, instead of voting from the ignorance of Ponderosa or Extinction Island. Should each tribal council member get a chance to explain what they did after the votes are read? People get a chance to speak before the votes are read, but often they’re not being honest because they want to conceal blindsides. After the votes are read, the pressure might be off and people like Lauren and Victoria might be able to tell their true stories. That probably wouldn’t be too interesting to watch, though, so it could be edited out of the aired episode.
I honestly don’t know what the solution is. Now to be fair, I haven’t given Devens credit for finding that real immunity idol, even though he wasted it. That genuinely was due to his sweat and effort. Unless the producers are editing it out, no one besides Devens seems to be getting off their butts to look for immunity idols. As with the need to speak up at tribal council, it’s as if a lot of players have never watched Survivor before. Maybe that’s the real way we could fix this situation – every player has to watch at least three seasons of Survivor in a pre-game boot camp. Like athletes watching game films. Or zoo pandas watching panda porn to learn how to keep the species from going extinct.