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Strategic Overview of Survivor: Guatemala, Episode 14: A Sight for Sore Eyesby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/13/2005
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We were warned.
She has a dangerous combination of beauty and the sporting life. Many of the guys will love her because she’s a babe who likes to talk sports, and being a past beauty pageant winner means you’re good at coming out ahead in catfights and at influencing judges. She doesn’t sound like she’s helpless out in the field but, if she were, she could find some guy to help her out and protect her. Final Four material, possible winner.
It’s just how she got there that was surprising. Even though she was on the wrong side of the numbers game, she managed to make herself the least-visible target (perhaps because she is a skinny football chic) and waited for the more-strategic players (Rafe, Stephenie) to come to her to eliminate the less strategically-endowed (Jamie and particularly the immature Judd). And she did create two opportunities on her own (most players never even achieve one), in engineering the puzzle immunity win by her judicious obtaining of and using of the clue and in convincing Stephenie to dump Judd.
She also likely took advantage of Stephenie’s misperception that Stephenie only could beat Rafe in front of the jury. More than one jury member had made it clear that they liked Lydia but did not respect her play and she would have had a Kukulkánian task to beat any of the other three. Lydia would have been of the least use to Danni because she was chummiest with her stiffest competition, Rafe.
As to why Rafe abandoned Lydia, it may have been a combination of two things. First, by the time the penultimate tribal council came about, he had secured commitments from both Danni and Stephenie that they would take him in front of the jury. Second, the audience never was shown such a similar explicit (as opposed to implicit) commitment from Lydia. In this game, you always must take the bird in hand rather than the two in the bush. With Danni wanting her out along with Rafe, Stephenie could not buck this tide even if she preferred to have Danni out (unless she was stubborn enough to gamble on the Purple Rock O’ Death), so Lydia was gone.
Even Rafe’s final gambit may not have been a total mistake. In the position where he may have felt that some jury members would have resented him for helping oust them, such a gesture he thought might solidify his notion of being seen by others with integrity which could get him some swing votes. It was not an improbable scenario, for he should have known that Danni had Gary’s and Bobby Jon’s vote sewed up, and Judd’s, Jamie’s, and even Lydia’s might be at risk. Still, his chances against Danni were probably no worse than 42 6/7-57 1/7 and, to repeat from many previous columns, you must never base your game play on the supposition that your opponent will make a mistake.
And Danni, just as she did all game, did not, taking Rafe’s gift and winning it all with her decision to send him off. Her impressive victory margin with the jury demonstrates that; Stephenie being the hatchet woman throughout and her “second-chance” status made her a very vulnerable jury opponent. (Note: this is starting to become an annoying trend, “sensitive males” at the brink of going in front of the jury with a realistic chance of winning standing down. Just stop doing it, guys.)
As long as I’m giving out notes, Jeff Probst needs to work on his math. Danni did not make a “500,000%” profit on her investment of $200 to win the crucial immunity to get to the million bucks. It was 499,900%. Recall that percentage change works by dividing the after amount minus the before amount all by the before amount (multiplied by 100, of course). Thus, having $100 and making $100 off of it is not a 200% increase as Probst implied, but 100%. I guess that’s why he makes millions and I don’t.
And finally, we’ve got a new entrant to make it a Top 15 Survivor performances of all time. It’s not Rafe – he may have given the game away by his helping Lydia out the door and releasing Danni from her promise. It’s not Steph – she wrote her epitaph when she let Judd and Lydia go (she would not have won against Rafe, despite her guess otherwise). Obviously it’s Danni, and she is going well up the ladder. She took advantage of every opportunity that came her way and created a couple of her own. She allowed others to lead and take the hits. She did not control the game throughout as in the two greatest of all time (Richard, S1; Brian, S5) but neither did she make any mistakes nor did she ever really have to depend upon luck.
She did have to win two crucial immunities to stay alive which neither Ethan nor Tina ever had to. Everybody else gets pushed down a notch. We witnessed the #5 game, to date, of all time, and a marvelous thing it was to watch.
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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