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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 13: Bad Chris!by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/10/2004
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Bad boy, Chris; bad, bad, bad, Chris!
Even if Chris had made the right call in ousting Twila, he would have done it in such a ham-handed fashion that he would have seriously jeopardized his chances at winning the game (needing Twila's vote when in the finals, yet stringing her along). Still, he created more problems for himself by voting out Julie and, worse of all, his ham-handed way of doing that just begs the women to vote him out next.
Essentially, Chris needed to get off the pot. It seemed as if right up to the instant he had to deliver a vote he had not made up his mind. He should have done so immediately after Ami got the boot and been coy to Twila and Scout before voting the former out. Gamesmanship is respected; vacillating is not. Worse, by seeming so indecisive, it only drew attention to the fact that he was the swing vote. At four and fewer, arbiters not only are useless, they are dangerous, potentially messing up plans of alliances. The arbiter in this situation must break the alliance, and he choked.
By failing to vote out Twila, Chris cedes power to the remaining strong dyadic alliance, Twila and Scout, instead of creating a triad where he could be in the middle and mediate in a way that set him up for the win. With an unimpeachable position now, Twila and Scout can dictate the terms, inviting the lucky winner of a competition between Eliza and Chris to join them in the final three.
And logic makes Eliza the first choice of both Twila and Scout. Both dislike her, and both see her as much easier to beat in front of the jury than Chris (Scout's only chance to win, less than even money, is with Eliza as her opponent). Add to the fact Chris very openly has shown he plays all sides, and only stupid strategy by the women or his immunity win will keep him from going home the next tribal council.
(Don't think for a moment that a Purple Rock O' Death situation will happen. Why would Eliza, or Chris if the dyad is stupid, think for a moment of teaming with each other rather than the dyad to force a tie? In that circumstance, one of them would have to draw a rock with a 50/50 chance of going home since the new rule is receivers of tie votes are exempt from the draw and everybody else, even an immunity holder, is vulnerable.
[Although this procedure does abrogate the concept of "immunity." It might be better if the winner still retained immunity and, if that were the case, Twila and Scout could go up against Chris and Eliza, with whoever won immunity that person's dyad would take control of the game. Observe: say Eliza won it again, Scout and Twila vote against Chris, he and Eliza vote against Scout, Eliza has immunity, Chris and Scout are exempt, so Twila must go. That would solve most of Chris' problems, if he or Eliza won immunity. Note that only with four left would this definition of the PROD not discourage a tie vote in a one vs. one situation. If Mark Burnett wishes to change the rules as such, I'll be glad to take credit for it.])
Chris has backed himself into a corner where all he can do now is win immunity. But he still has a problem because Eliza would be voted out and the same dyad continues to run the show. Twila has a freebie win in taking Scout in front of the jury and, if she wins immunity, Scout is paralyzed from not taking Twila because she will need every vote including Twila's, and dumping Twila will cause feelings of betrayal that will rob Scout of any chance of getting four votes (which is why, in a perverse way, Scout would have been helped by Chris casting the deciding vote against Twila - it gives her perhaps the decisive vote to beat Eliza, if she could get up against Eliza in front of the jury with Twila on it not sent there by Scout), so Scout, knowing she'll lose, probably will want her pal to win it and will choose to take her. In essence, the only way Chris can win now is by winning two straight immunities and taking Scout with him to the jury.
As a result of this vote, it is almost guaranteed that either Twila or Scout will face the jury, and about 50/50 that both will. Twila particularly is in control of the game now, only having to avoid Chris to win it. Scout must hope that, after Chris' elimination, Eliza wins immunity and sends off Twila to have any hope of winning. The same holds true for Eliza with Scout, which means she wins only if she can win the last immunity.
It's unfortunate that, after playing demonstrably better than the others, Chris would make a monumental mistake at the end to make much more difficult his chances of victory. For that, he does deserve a reprimand like a misbehaving dog. True, the women have played like idiots at times but one must never assume the worst in his opponents. You must play to win and Chris has fumbled in the red zone, with Twila recovering and ready to race to the opposite end zone to put the game away.
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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