Like many of you, I was shocked to see Tuesday's show ending in a dramatic defeat of the "Untouchable TOM", who was known to dominate his opponents during his previous five consecutive landslide wins. To make matters worse, his defeat came at the hands of a mere housewife from Maryland; a description of which Trebek is quick to remind us at the completion of last night's episode [see post game wrap up when Alex comments on Megan's three day total as "Most impressive for a STAY AT HOME MOM"]. That being said, I revisited Tom's doomed 6th game to see if there possibly exists a better explanation for the uncharacteristically poor performance and ultimate downfall of the third best player to ever grasp the prestigious Jeopardy buzzer, sorry, signaling device. Sure enough, a second viewing reveals an alternative theory for Tom’s precipitous decline.
This is a story wrought with sex, scandal, and conceivably the last ditch efforts of a person trying to rid himself from the clutches of a lustful suitor. On the surface, this may seem like just a regular episode where a contestant’s loss is nothing but matter of fact, but beneath his composure , lies unbearable pain…if only Stone Philips were here to do a special exclusive for Dateline NBC.
Our story begins on the ides of March nearly a week before the game in question. It is then when a nubile Tom Kunzen begins a jeopardy win-streak the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time. For a greater understanding of the scale of these wins, here are the graphs of Tom's performance in the five games relative to the anomalous 6th game.
vs the uncharacteristic 6th game:
vs the uncharacteristic 6th game:
[graphs and stats are courtesy of our friends over at j-archive]
These wins (aside from 6th game) are so impressive that it becomes almost uneventful if not for the emerging side-story as Trebek begins developing a blatant man-crush on this tall, dark, and handsome geo-engineer from Florida. Given the numerous advancements and inappropriate flirtations that Alex thrusted upon Tom throughout his win streak as discussed earlier here and here , one cannot help but wonder if Tom’s guilt of toying with Alex’s fragile heart in order to gain an edge over his contestants actually drove him to do the unspeakable and throw his final match. Tom realized that the only way to salvage his chastity and rid himself of the shameful person he had become by prostrating himself in front of a lustful Trebek, was to sacrifice his jeopardy fame and fortune by purposely losing in final jeopardy. Tom knew that he would have to do so without arising any suspicion from the audience, from the judges, and most importantly from the longtime Canadian host. This self-sacrificing strategy, however, became patently obvious towards the end of the game when Tom uncharacteristically wages his entire bankroll of $18,800 in the Final Jeopardy round. This dwarfs his usual risk-averse bets of the previous 5 days of $600, $1,200 (despite being only person still in game) , $601, $4,000, and $3,801 respectively . While some would explain this striking difference in betting strategy on the mere fact that he was no longer in first place at the conclusion of Double J, I posit that this $18,800 wager was intentionally done. Moreover, we can tell from Tom’s body language that he purposely gave the wrong answer of Sari instead of Burqa and he very well knew it. Perhaps his final answer was another way of saying SORRY to the person he was hurting most if he were to succumb to his lesser self and continue to give false hope for any real relationship in exchange for a free ride to the tournament of champions; an apology meant for none other than your host, Alex Trebek!
I believe the painful decision to throw the match was made by Tom as early as the opening scene of this final game where he could no longer bear the reality of the situation. After all, a man can only take so much before the guilt of toying with another’s emotions for the starts to take over. I could only imagine that Tom’s ability to play the game was so hindered by his guilty conscience that his entire attention was overcome with the beating of Alex’s tell tale heart full of love. The straw that broke the camel’s back must have come when Alex Trebek showed his true feelings for Tom as he opened the show with the following statement:
“Thank you Johnny…. for the past week we have been enjoying the pleasure of Tom’s company, and he has been enjoying wining $133,000 dollars on our program , it’s a fair trade off!”
It was at this point where Tom could no longer play the role of harlot to the master of the Jeopardy house no matter how much money Trebek promised in return. There was only two thing left for Tom to do: to apologize and throw the game so that he could leave with his integrity intact. Tom was able to accomplish both of these tasks with a single word in his final jeopardy response, “Sari”.