All season long I had been preparing myself for a Michele or Aubry win. They were the only two players that I genuinely thought had a winner’s edit. So all season long I was waiting for Michele to come out of her shell, break free and make moves to show why she was being given the winner’s edit. But it never happened!
Aubry on the other hand, was masterful. She was the woman behind the curtains pulling all the strings in the entire game. She led a sequence of successive blindsides including votes against Debbie, Scott, Julia and to an extent Jason, before making it to the final five with numbers wrapped around her in all directions. In that time, she also made the best move of the season, using her superb social skills to convince Tai to flip on to her side. Michele meanwhile, was used as a number through every single one of these votes. At Final Tribal Council, Julia said that Michele had “been dragged along and used as a number”. This was absolutely the case. Throughout the course of the game, Michele was only used as a number for the better players to advance themselves in the game. But when Julia gave her the opportunity to explain why it wasn’t actually the case, Michele answered it perfectly saying that she put herself with a group of people that she felt like she could trust and then when she realized the only way they could trust her back was if she voted off her strongest ally, she did it. In this answer, Michele emphasized that she made a big move in voting off her strongest ally, Julia, even though it wasn’t actually a big move at all because Julia would have been voted off regardless of if Michele went along with the plan or not. But that is exactly what you need to do in those situations, lie and say it was a big move and tell everyone why. Michele absolutely was dragged along by Aubry and Cydney. But, she was allowed to be dragged along because of her good social skills. She was trustworthy, she was flexible and she was always open to working with anyone. When Tai blasted her at the tribal council at final six and used his advantage to incorrectly vote for her twice, she came back the next day and remained open to working with him, knowing that she was still on the bottom of her alliance. Cydney also knew that Michele was the one person she could truly trust in the game. Cydney always knew that Aubry was going to take her out and she knew that she needed to take Aubry out at some point as well. But she trusted that Michele would always be by her side because she always remained open to voting for whoever Cydney wanted to vote for, and always remained calm and relaxed even through the tough times in the game. Michele is also an incredibly likable person and likeability is absolutely essential to winning the game of Survivor. Michele happens to be one of the most likable players this season and it was key in her winning the game.
Amazing Social Bonds
Michele worked tirelessly at making strong social bonds throughout the game. She knew how Nick perceived her so she made herself appear dumb and incapable of making strategic decisions, playing to his false perceptions of her in order to keep his trust. When she finally became fed up with Nick’s antics, she actively worked to get Cydney to trust her so that she would have at least one more number on her side at the merge along with Julia, advancing her position in the game and allowing her to be part of the majority alliance once Cydney connected with game-master Aubry. After being left out of the Scott vote, she worked tirelessly again to ensure that she was still in the majority alliance and when they realized that they left her out because they didn’t trust Julia, she brought up the idea to vote out Julia, which is exactly what they wanted to do. After she votes out Julia, Cydney and Aubry completely trust Michele in the game and allow her to fully be part of the majority alliance. Perhaps this was her pivotal move in the game after all. Her amazing social bonds are absolutely what won her the game. Cydney felt closer to Michele than with Aubry, so she voted for Michele. Scott and Jason felt closer with Michele and didn’t feel betrayed by her like they did to Aubry and Tai, so they voted for her as well. Making strong social relationships and constantly managing them throughout the game was the most important thing that won Michele Survivor Kaoh Rong.
Michele Got Lucky
In the game of Survivor, there is always a lot of luck involved and although we can’t take away Michele’s great social game, luck was probably the biggest factor in her win. The best Survivor players make their own luck. Michele is not one of those players. If Beauty had lost a challenge, Michele most likely would have been the one to go, as she was perceived as the weakest one on the tribe. On the swap when she went to Chan Loh, she was also a likely candidate to be voted out as again she was perceived to be the weakest in challenges. On top of that, the whole Julia being exiled thing is what eliminated Anna from the game when Gondol lost that challenge, but it could have easily been Michele had Chan Loh lost.
The second piece of luck that Michele received in the game was Joe getting medically evacuated. Although this means that Aubry will be receving one more vote from the Jury if she makes it there, it also means that Michele’s chances of making it to the end just got far greater. All she had to do after Joe was evacuated was win a final four immunity challenge and she was in, and that was exactly what she did. But, at final five if Joe had not been evacuated Michele would have gone home had she not won the immunity challenge.
A Pivotal Jury Vote Off
Voting Neal off of the Jury proved to be a crucial move for her at Final Tribal Council. Neal would have been one more vote for Aubry, closing the gap back to 5-3, and in his final tribal council speech he could have absolutely swayed some of the people on the fence to vote Aubry’s way and could have decreased the gap even more. Also, after she won the final four immunity challenge and then the reward to vote someone off the jury at final three, it is really fresh in the minds of the jury when they are giving their speeches and voting and it gives them two more reasons to vote for Michele in the end as both of these things came right at the end of the game. Voting Neal off of the Jury absolutely was the right move to make, but I don’t know if we can go as far as to say that it’s the move that won her the game. In the scenario where this move wins Michele the game, let’s say that she doesn’t get to this, Neal goes up there and speaks and sways Debbie into voting for Aubry instead of Michele. Then we have a four-four tie when the votes are read and a tiebreaker is needed. This is probably mostly fan-fiction and it is highly likely that Debbie would not have been swayed by Neal and would have remained bitter.
The Final Tribal Council & A Jury Not Willing to Respect Aubry’s Game
At Final Tribal Council, Aubry was not really given the opportunity to speak about her game despite being the one calling most of the shots, the questions guided at her didn’t really give her much to work with yet she ran with it and had a good tribal council. But having said that, Michele was even better at the Final Tribal Council. Michele answered every question in a way that showed why she deserved to make it to the end of the game and highlighted why she deserved to win the game, two things that Tai and Aubry struggled with.
Up until Julia’s question, Michele was kind of ignored, but Julia’s speech proved to be the turning point for Michele in the night. As I mentioned above, Michele answered Julia’s question perfectly and outlined her one big move in the game, voting off her best friend and biggest ally, Julia herself, even though it wasn’t really a big move at all. She also made it clear why it was necessary for her and her game.
That followed by Scott’s speech about why Michele should win and then shouting “I’m voting for Michele” to win also probably severely helped her case to win because when someone makes a sweeping declaration like that, others naturally start to follow. After Scott’s statement, Michele still needed Nick and Cydney’s votes to win and the fact that she was able to get Cydney’s vote was actually incredible. I think in the end, Cydney felt a little betrayed by Aubry even though she did the exact same thing that Aubry did and decided that because Michele remained loyal to her and played a similar game to herself that Michele should be the one to win. In terms of Nick though, at the start of the night instead of asking the contestants a question he gave them advice, and his advice to Michele was that she needed to show her intelligence and show that what she did in the game had strategic merit to it. Michele did that really well and in her final words she went full circle to that idea and explained to everyone again why her moves were intelligent and strategic even though for the most part she was just a really good social player who wasn’t really all that strategic at all.
The Jury absolutely was bitter. In the “Jury Speaks” video, Jason and Scott are clearly closed-minded into thinking that Aubry didn’t play a good game. Going into tribal council, Jason and Scott were going to vote for either Tai or Michele and after Tai had a very bad performance, Michele secured their votes. Surprisingly though, Debbie was the most bitter jury member of all. As a former-brains member she felt betrayed by Aubry, who had made a stellar move against her, sending her to the jury. Debbie absolutely wanted a woman to win but clearly wasn’t ready to put her broken friendship with Aubry aside and vote for the person that actually played the best game, which was Aubry. Cydney was also a bit bitter as she didn’t really have enough time to process the way she got voted out of the game. At final four, Cydney voted for Aubry and Aubry voted for Cydney. When Cydney eventually lost the fire-making challenge, she felt betrayed by Aubry and so at final tribal council she was clearly going to vote for Michele and vote against Aubry. One of the most important factors in Michele’s game was the fact that the jury was bitter. This jury, when casting their votes, was perhaps more sour than any jury has ever been before.
All and all, Michele won the game of Survivor by remaining a sociable, likable player who was always open to working with anyone. She didn’t make any enemies on the jury, she didn’t tell any horrific lies, she was never in any real danger of going home due to her good social bonds, and when the time came to plead her case as to why she should win, she argued better than the two sitting next to her. Michele is a good winner of Survivor, but not a great one and not as good of a winner as Aubry or Cydney would have been. That being said Michele is still a decent winner of this game and playing the way she played, she could easily do it again. Closing out the season with a Michele win was not the worst result in the world and was a surprising and nice way to end a very good season.