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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 3: Stiff Competitionby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/05/2007
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Besides discovering that the cutest panties being worn currently on this season of Survivor are those of Amanda and Sherea (and not, repeat not, Dave), this episode gave viewers information on the dynamics of Fei Long. There we find that while the most strategically astute player is Todd. Despite this, his position in the game is growing worse.
After their losses in both challenges that showed his two strongest allies were also the tribe’s weakest links, he felt had to submit to the will of the majority in voting out one of them. For him, Leslie was the better choice rather than Courtney because she was apparently getting chummy with Jaime at Zhan Hu, whose move to give her an immunity clue and to get her tribe to take her as a temporary kidnap victim paid off with two clues to the idol. Todd must have realized this was reducing her reliability and so he must have decided with the rest of the group to let her go.
This now creates a big problem for him. Dynamics around the vote revealed that Jean-Robert, James, and Denise appear to have coalesced into an alliance. Worse, Aaron seems to be leaning in their direction. For the long term, this is a big problem for Todd because while Courtney clearly will be their next target, he is likely to be next – Jean-Robert already has identified him as somebody not to toy with.
These events highlight a fundamental mistake Todd made when he began to cast about for alliance partners. Usually, it is a good idea to carry one weakling as their vote can make up for their inability to win challenges on behalf of their tribe or alliance. But two weaklings strains their worth and makes for more easy targets in your alliance. Whether he intended this, Todd got stuck with two weaker players.
And, even less fortunate for him, Courtney has made herself a very easy target because of her almost worthless physical abilities both in terms of challenge ability and in camp chores – as if her personality weren’t grating enough. It will be difficult for her and Todd to stop her ouster next. They can hope that the tribe wins a couple of immunity challenges where Courtney does not seriously detract from their performance, and then Todd can argue to Amanda and Aaron that Courtney should be carried a little bit more until a merge. Or, they can hope for a swap sometime soon. But if he loses her, Todd’s position will become very fragile.
Across the way, Dave continues to be a lightning rod although his position likely is secure until a merge breaks up his unit. The package deal he has got going will last as long as tribes remain separate as he is deemed on top of the totem pole as leader, but at a merge his importance deflates with no need for a leader and he is succeeding in irritating enough folks that they will want to stick it to him at first opportunity. To enlarge his chances like an expert swordsman he needs to deflect the coming blow by focusing attention on Sherea to try to slither like a snake out of the limelight. Otherwise at the merge his chance of winning will explode like a missile.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 3 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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