Although you might brush off my adoration for Charlotte So-Young "So" Kim-Gloor of Survivor: San Juan del Sur and Survivor: Worlds Apart fame as a creepy fixation, rooted deeply in whatever shred of heterosexuality I have left as well as some casual racism -- you're wrong. It's because I'm self-aware. The sooner you realize that she is easily a top ten contestant - not just for Worlds Apart, but of all time - then you can also be as enlightened as me. I'm not stupid. I know that she only lasted one episode, and so it's easy to brush her off as a first boot. But to dismiss her as an afterthought is a disservice to the glory of Charlotte So-Young "So" Kim-Gloor. So's game had lots of ups and downs, but her shining personality changed Worlds Apart for the better (though it's not like that's a hard feat). So is truly a Survivor legend.
Pre-ShowEditBefore we start with the Masaya tribe entering the view on the beach of Nicaragua, let's back-track. So was originally cast for Survivor: San Juan del Sur with her sister, Doo. Due to circumstances that have not yet been confirmed, her sister Doo was unfit to play the game. Since the season was Blood vs. Water, Doo's failure to pass a medical examination meant it was also lights out for So's experience. But the producers saw something. They knew that they needed her on the show. The temptress and iconic villainess herself was able to manipulate the producers into bringing her back. Like Tina Scheer, So is the only other person to drop out of a season before it began, and to be casted on the season after it. We all know that Tina Scheer is an amazing, complex contestant whose story tugged at the heartstrings of anyone who watched the first episode of Exile Island. In that case, why isn't So also an amazing, complex contestant whose story tugged at our heartstrings? That's right. She is. The best decision the producers made was casting So for the season after. They knew she would be a success. Maybe not in the game, but with the audience.
Glam EntranceEditMasaya enters the view. So rocks the yellow crop-top sweatpant look with ease. She works in fashion, so she's obviously going to be serving us a look. Fun tidbit, So had to actually quit her job in order to play Survivor. Meaning, despite being on the "White Collar" tribe, she was actually unemployed... The iconic, gorgeous and compelling she-Devil herself was able to manipulate the producers into putting her on the wrong tribe. When Masaya is instructed to select a tribe leader, Joaquin is selected - but the vampire of Nicaragua chooses to accompany him to make a decision. Not even five minutes into her arrival, and the S.S. So-tanic begins to sink. So explains in a cast video that she knows she'll be a target, so that "everything she says and does will be with a smile." Meaning this is still a hole she can dig herself out of. So wise.
Neutral BoxEditNow that the producers know the true power of So, they're forced to rig her out of the game. Joaquin and So have to make a "decision," which stirs a lot of controversy because their choice to go the deceit route was seen as dumb. Yeah, it's obviously important to build trust with your tribe, and going for the idol that early in the game probably isn't the best decision. But So knew this, and wanted to pick the honest box. Joaquin was being stubborn and didn't want to help the tribe, so why should she get the blame for that? Plus, we saw on Escameca that Sierra questioned Mike and Dan even though they went the honest route.
I think the best option for So at that point was to pick deceit, and then throw Joaquin under the bus back at camp by sharing the clue with everyone. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and being the angel + celestial being that So is, she just went with the lie. Which is where her game completely falls apart. If you can't be on board with So being a great player, then maybe you can get on board with her being an absolute mess with shades of J'Tia / Garrett / Drew. The neutral box was a pretty awful lie, even though I don't blame her for it (Joaquin let her do all the speaking). Then, to top it off, she blatantly looks for the idol around camp (which didn't help her story).
ChallengeEditAt the immunity challenge, So "Terry Deitz" Kim was the only reason that Masaya was in the lead. Carolyn and Tyler did nothing to step up, and probably hindered them. Joaquin couldn't solve a simple system of locks and keys. Neither Shirin nor Max could figure out what was supposed to be the easiest puzzle of the three. It was So "Kelly Wiglesworth" Kim who flawlessly handled the knots. This bonda fide triple threat was able to give Masaya a good thirty minute lead, and they still lost... then they voted her out. So should have been safe just for her challenge performance, but it became apparent from the beginning that no one wanted to think logically. So was clearly the strongest on that tribe in terms of physical strength. None of the Masaya women should have been targeted. Carolyn "internalized sexism" Rivera said that when they got back to camp, they knew that a woman would be going because they needed to be strong physically. Why does a woman have to go for that to be achieved? Was Shirin stepping up and So earning them a lead not enough? What did Max do? What did Tyler do? What did Joaquin do? Why has my life been a black hole devoid of any joy ever since So was voted out?
Tribal CouncilEditSo was willing to cut everyone's throats and play the game with no mercy, which was clear after the challenge. The first thing she does is mention Carolyn as a potential boot, and then back-pedal completely when Carolyn confronted her about it. On the surface, telling Carolyn "I don't know who I'm voting, but it won't be you" isn't bad - it's just that So's delivery matches that of a wet blanket. Then, at Tribal Council, she contradicts herself and tells Carolyn that... whoops, she actually is voting her off. What a star. She single-handedly made the first episode entertaining (again, not a hard feat in Worlds Apart, but still). I think what really rubs me the wrong way is that Carolyn had the unmitigated gall to comment that So "only untied a bunch of knots, anyone can do that." If anyone can do that, why can't you? Why do you have such a poor taste in allies? There's also the fact that Tyler praised So for her challenge performance, only to vote her out. Why not just tell her straight up that you're voting her off, instead of giving her false hope? And he knew that Carolyn had the idol, so if he was actually a good player, he would have tried to flush it. A common misconception is that Joaquin is the better "villain" in the So / Joaquin duo... though I hope everyone realizes that this is the same person who voted for two people on one parchment. That's really all I have to say about that.
Behind the ScenesEdit
It wasn't just what was shown in the edit, either. So was a powerful and influential temptress behind the scenes. Although it wasn't aired, Max didn't tell the other people on his tribe that he taught a course on Survivor. Who was the only contestant that recognized him? So Kim. She was the only person that knew Max was lying about his occupation, and had the confidence and determination to approach Max alone and confront him about lying. She told him that he should tell the other tribe members the truth, but that she wouldn't push it. She nudged Max to the right decision, and when they went back to camp, Max spilled the beans to everyone. This is important because she had the social skills to not annoy him about telling the truth, but made sure she got her way.
So's RevengeEditThe best thing about So is that she inadvertently got her revenge on the rest of the Masaya tribe. Max was the person that probably ruined her game the most, since he could have gotten Shirin on board to flip on Carolyn. It's not like he had no incentive, either. He had an alliance with So, Shirin and himself, but decided to ride it out with Carolyn. And then what happened? A swap, and So has more of a social game in her left thumb than Max does in his entire body. So when it came time to vote, Carolyn, someone who changes allegiances faster than she changes socks, blindsided him. Even though he voted to keep her just three Tribal Councils ago. How'd voting out So work out for you, Max? Then, Shirin. Another thing omitted from the edit was Shirin's meltdown after the challenge. Being a superfan, she was scared that she would be the first person voted out for her challenge performance. Was it Max that helped calm her down? It was So(cial game) Kim. And Shirin returns the favor by voting her out with a smile on her face and an overused, cheap pun on her parchment. Then Carolyn flips on Shirin at the swap - and no one wants to work with her at the merge because Joaquin slandered her name at the swap. Maybe Shirin would have been in a majority if she had voted with Soaquin? Not to mention Tyler, who had the opportunity to flush out Carolyn's idol, and is blindsided by her not playing her idol on him. And of course, Carolyn herself, got the ultimate punishment: splitting her second place prize money with a dead fish, and being rejected from Cambodia. I hope voting out So was worth it.
TwitterEditSo recently tweeted "#TeamWill," which definitely stirred a lot of controversy. I want to make it clear that I am in no way defending Will. That being said, Shirin and So aren't friends in the slightest and So has described her as someone who needs a lot of validation. Meanwhile, So is friends with Will and his wife. It's pretty obvious who she's choosing to support. I think the situation is a lot more complicated than what we saw, and So knows Will better than any of us do. I'm not going to blame her for having a different opinion over someone she actually knows. There's this picture of of "real people vs. Tumblr," on what's considered offensive. The "real people" side goes from green (which is the shortest bar, and isn't offensive at all) to red (which is the tallest bar, and is very offensive). The "Tumblr" side is just exclusively red - there's no gradient or variety. I don't see why we should drop any respect for So over one comment. There's varying degrees of what should make someone a bad person. People are complex and have different feelings and emotions and experiences. I've said problematic things before, and I'm sure most people have. I'm not going to hold that comment against her, because if I did, then I'd also have to hold Jenn's tweets against her. On Natalie Anderson's RHAP interview, she said that Shirin needs to "get over it," and she's someone who isn't even friends with Will. Still... it's just one comment, and she can be forgiven. That doesn't make her a bad person. If you dislike So for that comment, you have to hate Natalie and you have to hate Jenn and you have to hate everyone that's said anything even remotely questionable. Or maybe you can just be a rational thinking person that can distinguish what's actually a harmful comment or not.
SummaryEditSo has tons of untapped potential, and got a raw deal because of her tribe placement + an unfair twist. That being said, her one episode stint was really fun to watch unfold. Probst hyped her up as this seductive vampire that reminded him of Parvati, she had the highest flair count on r/survivor for the women, etc. Then, five minutes into the premiere, and her first confessional is about being a "boss from Hell" that has made every employee cry at some point. Her and Joaquin were just these "devils" running around the island thinking that they controlled everything (from the neutral box lie, to blatantly looking for the idol, to telling Carolyn that she wasn't a target, to telling Carolyn that she was outside of a four-person alliance at Tribal, etc). That kind of awful and erratic gameplay is really fun to watch when it doesn't work out (cough, Tony). It's great because I think So could actually be a good player if she got another chance, but in Worlds Apart? She's one of the best things about the season.
If you still can't believe me, then maybe these testimonies will convince you:
"So emits such positive vibes whenever she walks into a room. There's no doubt in my mind that she would absolutely crush a jury vote. She just needs to get there, first." - Malcolm Freberg
“She DEFINITELY had everything that it took - brains, beauty, a cunning mind...she could've easily been the new Brenda, and then some. But she was horribly screwed over by an even craftier ally-turned-burden in Joaquin, and also caught in the crossfire of bitter Carolyn. Bad circumstances made her look like an idiot, when I think she actually just might be the BEST first boot ever.” - Fedora Kid
"So has taken the torch from me as the best player to never win. It's obvious that no one is on the same level as her. The winner of that season himself needed six immunities to get there. The winner should have been someone with a strong social game, like So." - Cirie Fields
"When I met So, I was probably super awkward, but she greeted me with open arms and a wine glass in hand. She was super kind enough to give me an autograph, and even take a picture with me despite my shyness! She is truly a nice and outgoing person, willing to help bring joy to others!" - Sunslicer2
"The other contestants only voted her out because they were scared of her. They knew that she was either going to be the first boot, or the winner of that season. There's no middle ground with her." - Shane Powers
"So is definitely one of my favorite players ever. I think she got a bad tribe placement. She should have been on No Collar. She works in fashion, which is supposed to be creative. She intimidated the other contestants, which is why they ultimately had to get rid of her. I thought I was the unluckiest player for screwing up two Final Tribal Council's in a row, but that title belongs to her now." - The Amanda Kimmel
“The triple-cross frontside that Shirin and I orchestrated against So was so complex that editors and producers have admitted to me that they still do not fully understand the mechanics of the vote. That vote alienated, but at the same time weaponized Carolyn, turning her into the aggressive, impulsive cut-throat player you're seeing today.” - Max Dawson
If you’re still not convinced… then there’s probably no hope for you. But the producers have made it clear, time and time again, that they're interested in bringing her back. Her chances are good, too – she's an attractive, woman of color on a recent season who got voted out because she played too hard. They went to great lengths to bring her back for WA, and she was in contention for s34. It's fine if she doesn't return immediately - because when she does, she'll inevitably win and then tie Sandra's record of two wins on another season.
Count on it.