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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 12: Finding the Finalsby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/03/2004
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If I may, let me wax literary about this episode:
Lo, Ami needed doing immunity nicely, gaining success to remove imminent packing-off. Doubtlessly young Eliza debated, but left only no decision, escaped. Finally, Ami knows excellence, born of others' better strategy.
Thus, Ami is gone. Her one-note "girls rule, boys drool" mantra could not compete with rudimentary but effective analysis by a boy, another whose personal sexual preferences (like hers) are boys, one who works in a field dominated by boys and… well, Eliza, who has perfected the knack of trying to avoid the obvious, optimal course of action. Amazingly, she seemed to seriously contemplate making the same move she made early in the game that, had not pure fortune intervened, would have taken her off a sure winning coalition and put herself at risk and possible booting.
Not only would a jump back to Ami and Julie have triggered the Purple Rock O' Death possibility, but it showed no forward strategic thinking. She must know that Julie would be far more likely to vote with her on things than Scout and Twila. Thus, with Chris solidly pledging fealty, she must have known that she will be part of a triad that then can take out the pair. Why throw away a near-perfect shot at the final three just because she likes Ami? But she pulled through for a second week in a row and made the wise choice.
Her constant wavering and unpredictability may have spurred Chris on to finish in the money in the reward challenge after she won and Ami placed. Allowing Ami and Julie to go with Eliza overnight might have put too great of a burden on Eliza's good judgment. Fortunately for his chances, his performance enabled him to stand watch during the reward, and his subsequent immunity win set the stage for Ami's departure.
Things have gotten simpler now, although different players must now have different strategies to get to the end game with a preferred opponent in front of the jury. Clearly, Scout and Twila will stick together, the latter because she can win against the former in front of the jury, the former because she has run out of females willing to take her to the jury, both because staying a duo makes them powerful. A dyad presents dangers if left intact at four, because then the same PROD dynamic will allow the dyad to control one more vote, and then the odd person out must win immunity or the dyad heads to the jury vote.
Surely, Chris, Eliza, and Julie realize this. Further, the dyad's best shot to keep the other three from uniting came when they had Julie back in camp while the others were off being rewarded. From what Mark Burnett showed us, the dyad made little if any effort to bring Julie into their orbit. That Twila did not try to rekindle good feelings that they had shared back in the days when they hung with the guys and Julie lay about naked may prove to be a pivotal mistake.
All three have a very vested interest in busting up Scout and Twila by taking out the latter, because she is a much bigger physical threat and is a more respected player that the jury might reward. Of course, were Twila to win immunity, Scout still goes and they achieve the main objective, but for all three, Scout is far more preferable for another reason.
Simply, at four, she becomes the key vote to go to the final three. She is the insurance policy that everybody wants to bring there to take in front of the jury. Since a 2-2 vote cannot be tolerated by all concerned, severe pressure almost certainly will cause three to unite against the fourth. And the crux on which all of this will turn in Eliza, who would be considered the second-most desirable opponent up against in front of the jury. The question then becomes, who will complete the final three?
Up to Eliza, that would be Julie. Even if Chris brought her aboard to save herself two votes ago, she feels closer to Julie and Chris is considered a greater physical threat (even if he hasn't shown it much to date) with guaranteed jury votes from Lea and Chad. Obviously in this situation, up to Julie it would be Eliza.
So Chris has to find a way to get Eliza on his side with Scout. He does have some influence with her, already promising to take her with him to the jury (but, no doubt Julie has or will make the same promise). His best bet is simply to spell things out for Eliza, that she has a better shot of winning against either him or Scout than against Julie, who no doubt would grab Ami and Leann's vote (because of her loyalty), and probably the two guys' due to their first-hand awareness of her assets and large tracts of land. Against Chris, she would start with at least three votes (Julie may not resent Eliza enough for her eviction, aided by Eliza with four left, if Chris were Eliza's opponent, to vote against her), and against Scout she might receive them all.
If Chris can do this and Julie gets sent off, he almost assures himself of winning the game. He would against Scout (getting all but probably Twila's vote), and with Eliza as his opponent, he starts with the guys and Scout and probably has a better than even chance of getting Twila's as well, or perhaps even Julie's since she helped him out when he was down and she might resent Eliza that much. For him, the real beauty is at three he will have brought with him two women with great antipathy towards each other which would discourage any last-minute uniting against him if he didn't win immunity. In short, at three remaining he's nearly assured of heading to the jury with an opponent he can beat.
To assist in pulling this off, after the immunity challenge if anybody but Twila wins, Chris must explain to Eliza and Julie that they must smash the dyad, to which they should agree readily. Then he needs to head Scout immediately and tell her he's taking her to the end but to ensure this Twila must go, to smooth over any hard feelings. Three days later, if Julie doesn't win immunity, he then must lay out his logic to Eliza, for strategic logic ultimately his is greatest ally, in that other players each maximize their chances for achieving victory by following his plan, a plan which creates a maximal chance for him to win as well which is higher than all the others'.
If Chris can pull this off, without unfavorable immunity wins interfering, he avoids women ganging up on him at four or three left and his performance will go down as one of the best Survivor games of all time.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 12 columns already posted:
Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport where he teaches, among other things, classes in international politics, international organizations, and diplomatic history. He has published in the area of gaming simulations in international politics.
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