Make Big Moves. Those were the words ringing in the ears of Jennifer Lanzetti when she stepped on to the scene of Survivor 32: Kaoh Rong. Either that or the bug that was in her ear. Going into the season Jennifer was a contestant that knew very little about the show. What she knew about the show, she had been told by her friend, Jonas Otsuji who was a contestant on Survivor 24: One World. Jonas, like Jeff Probst, would have undoubtedly told his friend to make big moves because of his regret of not making a move against the eventual winner of his season, Kim Spradlin. So when Jeff did his usual speech that he seems to do every year to the contestants before they go out on to the island and told them to make big moves, the thought would have been permanently ringing in Jennifer Lanzetti’s. What Jenny Lanzetti did not know then but probably knows now, is that making big moves is more likely to get you kicked off of Survivor then it is to give you a shot at winning the million dollars.
During episode 2 of Survivor Kaoh Rong, Jennifer Lanzetti was in no danger of going home. She seemed to be in the majority alliance, and was well positioned with both the men and the women of the tribe. But then it all went to her head. Before her team went to tribal council on day six, Jennifer tried to convince Cydney Gillon (on the far right) and Alecia Holden (on the far left) to make a move against the power players on the team, Kyle Jason and Scott Pollard. But Cydney was having none of it. She didn’t trust Alecia and like the two men, wanted Alecia to be the one going home. That day, Alecia should have gone home. She was at the bottom of the pyramid and was written off by almost all of her teammates but the moment the Brawn tribe got to tribal council that night, Jenny Lanzetti started to have a complete meltdown. Alecia, clearly knew that she was about to go home, so she desperately tried to point out that Jennifer was trying to make a big move against Kyle Jason. Unable to deny it, due to it’s truth, Jennifer started to lose control of her emotions. She stood on top of the bench and pleaded her case, begging her alliance members to take her back. But it was too late. She had been caught double-dealing and Jason no longer trusted her. The damage had been done and Jennifer was sent packing. After just six days out on the island, it was absolutely not the right time to make a big move. Making a big move should be done when you are in danger or someone you are close to is in danger of going home, not when you feel like shaking up the game for no reason. Jennifer’s downfall was trying to make a big move far too early on in the game and many who have tried to make big moves early on have suffered the same fate.
Jeff Probst’s “Make big moves” catchphrase arose out of back to back eye-catching performances from Cagayan’s winner Tony Vlachos and San Juan Del Sur’s winner Natalie Anderson but has since then has led to many capable players’ downfalls in the game. So that begs the question is making big moves really a plausible way of winning Survivor?Tony did it; Natalie did it. So why not? Well let’s explore why not. Becuase although Tony and Natalie are two of the greatest Survivor players ever and won the game in two of the most entertaining ways ever, they might be anomolies in the department of winners who made big moves and upsetting the balance of the game is absolutely not necessary to win. In fact, good Survivor players almost never need to make big moves to win. Good Survivor players make subtle moves, work day-by-day to survive each vote and then they persuade the jury into giving them a million dollars. Case and point, Sandra Diaz-Twine, the only two-time winner of the show.
Sandra perfected the under the radar strategy. On top of that, she remained loyal to the alliance in power, made one or two nifty moves when she was in danger of going home, survived each and every vote and then made a better argument than those sitting next to her as to why she should win the million dollars in both of her seasons. Through 78 days of Survivor, Sandra did not make a big move one time. In fact she only really made one move at all between her two seasons which was in Heroes vs. Villains when she saved herself by convincing Russell that Coach was trying to get him out, even though he wasn’t.
Even look at the most recent winner, Michele Fitzgerald.
Michele epitomizes the notion that making big moves does not win you Survivor. The bartender’s so called “big move” in Kaoh Rong was voting out her best friend who would have gone home that night regardless. Instead of working out strategies to blow her opponents out of the water, Michele made subtle moves to position herself in the majorty and built strong social bonds with several different people on the island. She even managed to stay in the good graces of scoundrals Scot and Jason, leading to her surprising victory.
If you look at all 32 Survivor winners, it’s rare to find one that made two or more big moves to win the game. Most commonly, you’ll find one’s that made zero big moves or only one big move to win. By my estimation these are the winners and how many big moves they made to win the game.
No Big Moves: 19/32: Tina, Ethan, Brian, Jenna, Sandra, Amber, Tom, Danni, Aras, Earl, Bob, J.T., Natalie W., Sandra (again), Fabio, Sophie, Denise, and Mike, Michele
1 Big Move: 11/32: Richard, Vecepia, Chris, Yul, Todd, Parvati, Boston Rob, Kim, Cochran, Tyson, Jeremy
2 Big Moves: 2/32: Tony, and Natalie A.
Tony Vlachos with his immunity idol.
As previously mentioned in Why Arrogance Never Wins On Survivor, Tony Vlachos is a once in a lifetime Survivor Unicorn, who would never be able to play the same way he played in Cagayan and win the game again. In Natalie Anderson’s case, the rest of the cast was so nonstrategic, that it was almost too easy for Natalie to do whatever she wanted and so she was easily able to make two big moves in front of the jury to help her secure the million dollars.
Natalie Anderson with her immunity idol.
Of course, the above list could change based on your own definition of what constitutes a big move, but by Jeff Probst’s standards, we can assume it means something that changes the balance of power in the game or something flashy that is done in front of the jury’s eyes, usually having to do with playing an immunity idol for someone other than yourself. So by Jeff Probst standards, only two winners in the history of Survivor had made multiple big moves in their quest to win the game. Every other winner has made 1 big defining big move or 0 big moves. So whatever, you think constitutes as a big move, the stats don’t lie. Making big moves does not win you Survivor. So for all you future contestants, try and ignore Jeff Probst when he tells you to make big moves because he’s probably only saying it because he knows big moves make for good TV. Instead, channel your inner Sandra Diaz-Twine and make very subtle moves. Or channel your inner Tony Vlachos/Natalie Anderson and wait until around final six, final seven to start making big flashy moves that change the course of the game, and you’ll do just fine.
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