Feature Articles return again this week with Canadian Ozlet, Colin Hilding and new Ozlet, Kristan Knarr, (from Pennsylvania in the USA), teaming up to bring you a debate article about whether Ciera played a good or bad game in Survivor: Blood vs. Water! In an article that is sure to split our readership, (and have Noah complaining), Colin and Kristan breakdown the moves that are viewed as Ciera’s “big moves” during the game and discuss whether they were actually that impressive or just pointless drama. Don’t forget to join in the conversation by leaving a comment with your opinion below!
In this debate, Colin argues that Ciera did play a great game in Blood vs. Water, defending her moves, whilst Kristan turns the tables, stating why she thinks Ciera’s moves were overrated and how she is the most overrated player since Russell Hantz graced our screens.
Colin: Ciera is without a doubt one of the recent Survivor characters that I underestimated the most in the early game. Based on her pre-game interviews, I had little hope that she would last past the first few episodes. She seemed emotional and unprepared for the game. Surprisingly I was impressed with her early social game, getting in with the men on her tribe on a personal level. It separated her from the other girls, who were obviously going to be picked off one by one. I was even more surprised at how cool and level headed she was. Even considering how differently she was playing socially from what I had expected, I was still certain that Ciera’s game would fall apart quickly on the physical level. She had poor performances in the challenges and never seemed overly concerned with her performance, leading me to believe that she’d end up as a target regardless of how strong I felt her social game was.
Kristan: Ciera found herself on the outs early in the game. She was on a tribe where the women were being targeted first by the all-male alliance led by Brad Culpepper. Smartly, she was able to stay quiet and let the men implode. She survived thanks to Brad turning on John and then Caleb turning on Brad. Post-merge, nothing really changed. She was a nice girl that never really did much in the game—just like many past Survivor’s. However, I was shocked to discover that fans were calling her “the best player to never have won” and “the best Blood vs. Water player.” I couldn’t wrap my head around these statements and still cannot to this day. Ciera seems like a great person outside of Survivor, but she is one of the most overrated people to ever play this game; I frequently referred to her as “the most overrated player since Russell Hantz.”
LYING TO KATIE ABOUT HAVING THE HIDDEN IMMUNITY IDOL
Colin: I always wondered when people “claim” to have an Idol why somebody doesn’t call them on it. Like everything that Ciera did, this was a gamble that could have backfired. What’s the worst that can really happen? If Katie actually did have it, Ciera looks a little bit foolish. That’s hardly something that can cost someone the game. Even if Katie did have the Idol, by Ciera claiming she had it instead it could have made Katie nervous about voting for Ciera in the future, since there may have been multiples. This reduces any target that Ciera may have had on her. What makes this move impressive to me is also what makes it risky; that’s how it takes a very skilled deceiver to pull it off. In seasons past when someone has claimed to have an Idol, their lies have always been very transparent. Ciera’s skills at deception were very believable, which is why I think Katie’s story crumbled so quickly. Survivor is a game where the perception of being trustworthy is everything. The fact that Ciera was never perceived as being a dangerous liar after this move is the most impressive thing about it.
Kristan: Lying to Katie was a cute attempt at doing something relevant – nothing more. This was one of many moves that had little to no impact on the game. Tyson was planning to vote out Laura anyway, knowing that Katie didn’t have the Idol; he himself already had it in his possession. So who really cares if Katie has the Idol or not when Laura is being voted out regardless? Yes, it was funny that she tricked Katie, but it was essentially just filler – irrelevant to the game. To make things even sillier, Ciera went back to Tyson, Caleb and Hayden and bragged about her findings. If this had been a great game move, she would have found a way to strategically save her mother. As we all know, it had no effect on the game whatsoever. Laura was still voted out and will bring me to my next point.
VOTING OUT LAURA
Colin: This has to be one of the most debated moves in Survivor history and there are differing opinions on it, even among those who played the game in Blood vs. Water. Did Ciera really have to vote out her mother? Laura was going home one way or the other. While it doesn’t seem like Ciera would have been in any jeopardy and her alliance clearly would have forgiven her for not voting out her loved one, the fact still remains that the power alliance of Tyson, Monica and Gervase was formed due to the fact that they had all lost their loved ones in the game and were playing on their own. Furthermore, the only strategy that was being played by every person on the season was to separate the pairs. Any pair was a threat and nobody on Blood vs. Water seemed keen on having pairs in the game together. One needs to remember that Redemption Island was still up in the air and based on the first round of Redemption, Laura had to be the odds on favourite to re-enter. By being willing to vote out her own mother, Ciera proved that when push came to shove, she would side with her alliance ahead of her mother. Guaranteed this would have carried some weight later in the game had Laura re-entered again. Had I been in Ciera’s shoes, I would have voted out my loved one as well. That gesture could work wonders to build future trust with her alliance. More importantly, there was no way Laura would have held it against her own daughter for making this move. Had Laura won at Redemption and re-entered the game, Ciera would have that trust with her alliance and had her mother in her back pocket in case she wanted to make a move. She lost nothing by voting Laura out, but definitely gained a little bit of extra trust from her alliance.
Kristan: Fans loved this move because they wanted someone, anyone to vote out their loved one. What would have happened if Ciera didn’t vote out her mother? That’s up for debate, but I don’t see it playing out any differently. This was yet another overrated decision that did not affect the game. I’d like to assume that Ciera voted for her mum in an attempt to prove to her alliance that she was with them one hundred percent. However, what impact did it really have? Tyson, Gervase and Monica were tight and planning to go to the Final Three together for a long time. They were simply using Ciera as a number at this point – and she bought into it. She tried to strengthen her bond to them by voting for her mum but in reality, Ciera was a number for the rest of her alliance and would be dropped as soon as they didn’t need her anymore. Whether she voted for her mum or not, nothing changed; Laura was still given the boot and Ciera was never part of the core alliance. Essentially, it just proved to her tribe mates that she couldn’t be trusted; if she was willing to turn on her mother, she would be willing to turn on anyone.
SHARING THE HIDDEN IMMUNITY IDOL CLUE
When Laura was victorious at Redemption Island, she gave the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to Ciera. While most other players in previous episodes had burned the clue, Ciera kept it and shared it with her alliance. Thanks to that clue, Tyson soon found the Idol.
Colin: With the clue Ciera had three possible moves. 1. She burns the clue as was the trend. 2. She keeps the clue for herself. 3. She shares it with her alliance. Burning the clue would have been a safe move and in the long run wouldn’t have cost her anything in the game. Keeping it for herself, even temporarily, would have been a massive mistake when you consider what happened to John earlier in the season. She chose to share it with Tyson, Monica and Gervase. I think there is an upside to this move and a down side. The upside is that she further gained the trust of her alliance, which we can clearly see was her top objection in the post-merge game. In that sense, I think it was a smart move. The closer it gets to the end of the game, the more paranoid everyone gets. For the sake of security in an alliance, there is really no negative to showing loyalty. The downside was that she probably assumed whoever found the Idol would share it with the rest of the alliance. This of course didn’t end up happening, as Tyson found it and kept it for himself. If Ciera had found the Idol, she could have made her eventual flip more secure, but simply keeping the clue her herself would have painted a huge target on her. I think by washing her hands clean of the Idol she gave her alliance another reason to trust her, which only helped her chances of making it further.
Kristan: Everyone knew that there was actually a Hidden Immunity Idol in play because Tyson had just played one during the previous Tribal Council. This made it crucial that it didn’t fall into the wrong hands. What does Ciera do with the clue as soon as she returns to camp? She drags Gervase, Monica and Tyson away from camp to read them the clue. Why wouldn’t she look for it on her own first? Her alliance already didn’t trust her completely and there were only six people left in the game. Why not buy herself a few extra days in the game instead of handing Tyson that advantage? Instead, Tyson found the Idol and could play more comfortably. Yes, Ciera was in an alliance with Tyson, Monica and Gervase at the time, but when you’re number four in a four person alliance, you shouldn’t be doing everything that you can to help out those top three players. Even before she knew she’d eventually flip on them, it was extremely naïve and foolish to share the Idol clue with the strongest competitors in the game; she should have been more worried about keeping herself in the game than keeping her untrustworthy allies happy.
SWITCHING HER VOTE AND FORCING A ROCK DRAW
When it came down to the final six, Ciera flipped on her alliance, claiming that she didn’t want to be fourth place. This forced a tie. When nobody was willing to change their vote, the players drew rocks for elimination. In the end it was Katie who was eliminated.
Colin: On the surface it seems like the choice to flip came one Tribal Council too late. Had she done it one episode earlier when Caleb was still in the game, the power shift would have been all but guaranteed, but I believe that would have been shortsighted thinking. I see Ciera as someone who was working harder on Jury votes than anything else. Had she flipped when Caleb was still in the game, would her position have really changed? Ciera’s main reason for flipping was that she knew she was only fourth in her alliance. By flipping the vote one week earlier, she still would have been fourth in a new alliance with the old Tadhana. That doesn’t improve her odds and it all but guarantees that she loses Tyson, Monica and Gervase’s votes at the end of the game.
Now considering the odds of elimination if she drew the wrong rock and was sent packing, was it worth the risk to turn on her alliance when she did? I think it was absolutely worth the risk. If it worked, she would be in the new majority alliance of three, which improved her position by at least one. Even by it failing and Katie being sent home, she lost nothing. Ciera was now in the minority with Hayden, but despite turning on her power alliance, Tyson, Monica and Gervase were still more concerned with eliminating Hayden. She had the opportunity to try and flip the vote and despite turning on her alliance, she was still their preferred fourth place. Drawing rocks is a huge risk, but it was a risk everyone else was willing to make, (including Tyson), who went on to win. I think the real question is whether or not it hurt Ciera. She took a chance that was worth taking. Had it worked and she made the finals, she would have gained a whole lot of respect from the Jury. The move didn’t mark a power shift after all, but based on her fourth place position, it didn’t hurt her one bit. She was always going to be fourth.
Kristan: Here we have the most overblown move that Ciera made all season. Sorry sweetie, but you’re three days late. If she was going to flip, last Tribal Council was the time to do it. She may have had a better chance of winning against Tyson, Monica and/or Gervase, rather than Hayden, Caleb and/or Katie, but the latter would have given her a better chance of even getting to the Final Three. Her chances were very slim of winning the final three Immunity Challenges and that’s what she would have needed to do to get into the Final Three with Tyson, Monica and/or Gervase.
At the final six Tribal Council, Ciera was still running blind. She defended Tyson, Gervase and Monica until Hayden convinced her to flip. If anything, Hayden deserves ninety percent of the credit for Ciera flipping. Had he not spoken up and reasoned with her as to why she should flip, she wouldn’t have. Hayden played hard. By flipping, all Ciera did was become Hayden’s sheep instead of Tyson’s. That should not be considered a big move by any means.
Furthermore, drawing rocks proved to be pointless. With Katie picking the wrong rock, Ciera and Hayden were still down in numbers. At least at that point she was able to frantically look for that Idol that she had a clue to… oh wait… never mind, she gave that to Tyson.
One can argue that if Tyson had drawn the white rock, it would have been a brilliant move. Guess what? It would have been a great move then, but that’s not what happened. You can look at any bad move in the history of Survivor and say that it would have been a good move if it worked out differently. Fortunately, we don’t see many people claiming that J.T. played the best game in Heroes vs. Villains or that Erik was the best player in Micronesia because their move could have been good. Why is Ciera any different? She shouldn’t be.
Colin: I have watched Survivor from the beginning and being Canadian, I have never had the opportunity to play. I’ve spent fourteen years dreaming about how I would play if I were ever cast on a Canadian version. Much to my surprise, by the end of Blood vs. Water, I found that Ciera was the player in Survivor history that I most identified with the game play of. I love big moves, but I love calculated moves even more. Voting out her loved one had no impact on her relationship in or out of the game with Laura, yet it instilled trust in her power alliance. She had the guts to try and flip a vote when it would have no impact on her position with the alliance she was planning on betraying. Ciera was a gutsy player whose moves just made sense to me. I’m not one who believes that you have to win Survivor to play the best game that you can play. Considering the odds that were against Ciera early in the game, she did nothing but impress me from start to finish. No move Ciera made contributed to her exit. She made it as far as she could in the game and never made a crucial mistake. Winner or not, those are the players I love to watch.
Kristan: Overall, Ciera seems like a great girl that played a very mediocre game. I appreciate that she laid low early on and then was a bit ballsy at times, but nothing about her game stands out as a great one. Each and every “big” move she made had very little impact on the game or actually hurt her own game by making her alliance members distrust her. Survivor is about results, not just moves. Good players produce results that fall in their favour. Ciera simply did not do that. It is one thing to root for the underdog, but it is another thing to glorify the pointless moves of now one of the most overrated players in the history of Survivor.
Who do you agree with? Colin or Kristan? Let us know by leaving a comment below!