Did the wrong person win Survivor 46?

During the final tribal council of Survivor 46, the jury voted Kenzie Petty as the Sole Survivor. An argument can be made that she wasn't who should have won.
SURVIVOR 46 winner Kenzie Petty (left), runner-up Charlie Davis (middle), and juror Maria Shrime-Gonzalez
SURVIVOR 46 winner Kenzie Petty (left), runner-up Charlie Davis (middle), and juror Maria Shrime-Gonzalez /

Moments after Kenzie Petty was crowned the Sole Survivor and winner of Survivor 46, Jeff Probst polled the jury to see who were the five that voted for Kenzie, and which three thought Charlie Davis had won. Probst also asked if any had changed their vote and several had. Their answers to why they did were disturbing.

Some of the jurors cast their vote for Kenzie because they connected with her on a human level. They could relate to her story of hard work, building up her own business by herself, and her being selfish by coming on Survivor.

Probst put Charlie on the spot by asking him how he felt about what he'd heard and about Maria, his closest ally in the game, who was one of those who changed their vote to Kenzie.

Charlie, visibly subdued, paused for several heartbeats, then answered very graciously. He said that there is one overriding truth and that was whoever got the most votes deserved to win. Kudos for taking the high road, Charlie, but that is a bunch of BS.

The game of Survivor is about outlasting, outplaying, and outlasting everyone else. Kenzie certainly outlasted everyone. Good for her. She outplayed others to some extent by winning two immunity challenges (even if she had to cheat to beat Maria - how was that NOT cheating). She was very social, kind, optimistic, and empathetic to others, but she barely did anything on a strategic level, and what little she did, failed. She even admitted during the final tribal council that she was just a number for several votes.

Charlie Davis deserved to win Survivor 46

Charlie wasn't just along as a number for votes. He and Maria were orchestrating the votes. Yes, there were blindsides after blindsides, with four consecutive tribals resulting in someone being voted off with an idol in their pocket. Charlie and/or Maria made ALL of those things happen.

Maria would have won hands down if she had made it to the final tribal. But she didn't. Charlie did and he was a big part in the planning and executing those same moves Maria made. Plus, he foiled her plan to eliminate him when he took out Q.

Charlie made two big mistakes that cost him with the jury - one specific mistake, and one in overall strategy. Specifically, he should have volunteered to make fire against Liz. That he didn't certainly cost him points with the jury and Kenzie played up the fact she earned her spot.

The other strategy is that he consciously decided to run the game as much as possible from the shadows as the puppeteer. He often deflected credit for moves to Maria and others. He would lead others to ideas or decisions in a way they thought it was their idea. We know from the edit and the confessionals that all of this was very deliberate on Charlie's part to keep attention away from him as a target. And it worked in that it got him to the final three.

Unfortunately, the jury wasn't privy to the edit the way the audience was. He wasn't able to properly convey to the jury just how involved he was in all of those game-changing decisions. All of this leads to another key point.

Shame on Maria Shrime-Gonzalez! She played a brilliant game and also deserved to win. This often happens on Survivor when someone is so good, they can't be allowed to make it to the final three. She wasn't permitted to go that and she made it to the jury. She was the only one on the jury who had any inkling of the game Charlie truly played. They were the closest of allies, and most of the players didn't know that for a long time.

She not only didn't educate the other jurors on his gameplay, but she stabbed her closest friend in the back and voted against him because Kenzie touched her heart with her final speech. Come on! She was upset it was Charlie sitting there and not her.

The biggest fear fans should have about this outcome is what could happen if the more modern players put too much emphasis on social play and strong, well-planned strategies fall in importance. Fans don't want to watch a cast full of social butterflies sitting around campfires being incredibly nice people with heart-wrenching backstories. They want good, strong, gameplay and strategies.

Kenzie played an incredible social game and she did it by being her true self. That is terrific. It is concerning, however, that a jury was swayed so easily by that social play and a great backstory, and didn't reward incredible gameplay. It's concerning because Charlie wasn't an ogre; he seemed to be well-liked by everyone. He assumed the jury would appreciate his strategy, but they appreciated Kenzie's beautiful nature and personality more. She really sold her final speech and that may have been the difference.

Maybe Kenzie Petty did deserve to win Survivor 46 afterall.

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