Could Nick have played the challenge disadvantage against himself? A disadvantage against a single enemy player in an immunity challenge has little chance of changing the outcome. But if he had played it against himself, this could have caused cracks in opposing alliances, because people might have wondered why their allies weren’t admitting that they played the disadvantage. A crafty use of this disadvantage might have overcome Nick’s bad social game this season.
I’m reminded of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is misinterpreted as a simplistic believer in “might makes right.” But Hobbes thought that differences between humans (unlike other creatures) were never so great that they couldn’t be overcome. Like we see on Survivor, weaker people could team up against stronger individuals. Technology (like an immunity idol) could be used to overcome deficiencies. Weaker people could survive by being innocuous while stronger individuals were cut down by fearful rivals.
Because Hobbes thought almost everyone had a shot at winning with the right circumstances, he concluded that humans were fundamentally in a state of war against each other. (Not very different from Survivor.) The only chance for peace was if everyone was afraid of a government with more power than any other group. This government would then create a system that allowed people to go about their lives without worrying about attacks as long as they obeyed. The government might even be very oppressive, but the stability of knowing the rules would give people more peace of mind than not having any government at all. (Of course, even Hobbes might admit there are limits.)
Some people might argue that Jeff and the other producers are the Hobbesian government that provides rules and structure to Survivor, especially since they create ways for weaker players to win, such as advantages and immunity idols. However, the players on Survivor certainly don’t have any peace of mind about not being attacked. In fact, the producers are the people who brought the players to Fiji in the first place and created an environment that makes them war with each other. So the Hobbes analogy breaks down after awhile.
As a final note, one theory in opposition to Hobbes is the social contract, that government should be an agreement among equals to abide by a set of rules, often without a single power to enforce it. Contracts like these get created on Survivor all the time, but in the island’s Hobbesian environment, the incentive to break the contracts is so strong that they rarely stand up. Yet it’s interesting that even in a system where breaking social contracts is so actively rewarded, people still feel the need to make them.