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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 3: Switches and Turnsby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/04/2004
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Good old Mark Burnett edited the previous episode to make it appear that Eliza's switch in voting was sudden and unplanned. In fact, we see there had been some negotiation among the elders with Eliza, which returns us to the question whether Eliza made a necessary move or one that served only to shorten her time in the game, barring others players' blunders.
Logic comes down on the side that the move was suboptimal under any scenario. We must first understand that, given the objective game conditions, Eliza would put herself in a weaker position by having to jump ship on her newborn but current alliance. One theory as to why she would want to this is that she felt threatened by Dolly's indecision. Even if Dolly had pledged to the young'uns (who included the older Lisa) that she was voting against Leann (for a presumed five votes against her, counting Eliza), Eliza in later conversations with Dolly may have become convinced that Dolly still was indecisive and planning on voting for her; thus, she had to get rid of Dolly first before she was gotten rid of, meaning a vote with the elders.
But this scenario makes sense only if Eliza thought the elders were going to vote her out, which she would know they weren't if she had talked them about it all. Otherwise, Dolly's threatened behavior had no bearing on Eliza's fate unless the elders had tried to blackmail her by saying they were going to vote for her unless she voted with them against Dolly. To fall for that, Eliza would have to be fantastically stupid. If this had happened, Eliza should have just nodded her head yes, then voted for Leann anyway; either Leann gets the boot and, now in the majority, Eliza doesn't have to worry about crossing the elders, or it ends 4-4-1 and on a revote Dolly sees she was crossed by the elders and votes Leann to accomplish the same thing. That would have been a move of genius.
Another question is why would it have been a good move for Dolly to defect but not Eliza. The answer here is in timing, motivation, and perceptions. Dolly came to the elders bearing a queen-making majority, from a position of strength they would respect (assuming she stopped there, but continued vacillation would mark her as weak and too unreliable). Also, Dolly seemed likeable enough and she likely would have been welcomed back by the young'uns in the future because she was (too) honest with all with her uncertainty. The elders would sense this and try to keep her on their side.
Conversely, Eliza came more at the last minute, out of a position of weakness, conveying that she wanted to save her own skin, and was grating, from the perspective of the elders. By the young'uns, she would be seen only as a traitor. This reduced flexibility and naked (oops, better not use that word around Survivor hotties, never know where that will lead) obvious ambition would make her a pariah to both groups. Even if she didn't fear the consequences of Dolly's indecisiveness, her position in the game was different to the extent that she would be viewed differently than Dolly, and would be voted off at the first convenient moment.
Perhaps Eliza sensed that her panicked, ill-advised flop would be her undoing, because she quickly tried to reassure the young'uns that she really was on their side. Of course, she was merely re-creating her problem on a slightly smaller scale. If for some incredible reason that the young'uns came into a majority, Eliza also would be the first one they cast off. She brilliantly managed to convince her entire tribe not to trust her.
She also managed, against all odds, to make her own situation even worse. By her own hand, she willingly left a majority coalition in which she was very likely safe at least until the merge to join another coalition, her defection to which could not even guarantee that coalition could even come into a majority. Nothing like taking a sure thing and making into an even-money gamble, I always say.
Of course, the punch line is it was all for naught anyway when Lisa defected to the elders. This was a smarter jump than Eliza's a day previous because it gave her a chance to go with a sure thing and to avoid a slim but nonzero chance that she would be eliminated that night (through the Purple Rock O' Death procedure) and otherwise she had every reason to suspect she would be locked into the minority. That's because of the wages of Eliza's double-jump: if anybody would defect on the revote (necessary before invoking the PROD) to save her skin, it would have been Eliza jumping back to the elders, and the others would know that. In essence, she had to beat Eliza to the punch by defecting early.
(I am, of course, assigning some rationality to Lisa's move where heretofore she hasn't shown much of it, particularly in her post-vote comments on Survivor Insider. Nonetheless, just as in Eliza's case where we must assume panic or some other emotional response caused her to vote against Dolly because no good strategy could explain why she did that, in Lisa case we must assume she actually was thinking strategy because no other good reason would explain her defection, until we learn otherwise.)1 2 Next-->
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