Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 4: Standing Firmby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/12/2007
View Printable version of this article
In this season of Survivor, it looks like getting kidnapped, being old enough to be eligible to be president, and confiding in Todd all together make for the kiss of death. It was a trend that Fei Long should have resisted.
True enough, Dave could have prevented letting himself down by emphasizing juicy bits of intelligence gathered from Zhan Hu from his bondage there. He could have gone to someone like Erik and talked about his part in potential alliances with the other guys, inviting Erik on board – even if the alliances didn’t exist. These actions would have made his position more secure.
At the same time, he never should have been in a threatened position in the first place. Dave was a prototypical “useful idiot” for his tribemates – ride him until a merge, then dispense with him. While they may have thought he had become contaminated by the others, that was a risk to take – or an opportunity for more enterprising members to take him on as an ally, see where he stood related to the other tribe at a merge, and then decide whether then to cut him loose.
In contrast, Sherea clearly was the inferior choice to keep. It wasn’t that she showed little in the way of aptitude; such a person can be a useful alliance partner. Down the road they are unlikely to be a threat yet can provide the only thing that allows an inferior player to be as valuable as any others – her vote. It’s that she was flashing her entire tribe index, middle, and ring fingers up exhorting them to read between the lines with her attitude that she needed to rest while they did work in order to be ready to go to challenges.
Give Jean-Robert credit, in whatever language you choose, while he may harbor the same strategy of saving his energy, at least he doesn’t tell the world, “I’ll rest up for challenges that I don’t do well in anyway, while you can work and grow weaker, increasing my chances of outlasting you,” which pretty much paraphrases Sherea’s explanation to anyone who can read between lines of her “saving up” rationale.
Instead, these knuckleheads choose to kick out the worker they can exploit and keep the weakling who exploits them, leaving five cute twenty-somethings. Every one of them except Sherea may yet decide she must go next, but if that’s any time soon, this group will be in real trouble. It would have the salutary effect of delaying any bloodletting among them which is why she likely remains the most endangered.
Across the way, Zhan Hu continues to get it together, with Todd getting another lifeline thrown his way. What is it about him that compels people as diverse as Christian advice-givers and washed-up models to trust him; only Jean-Robert seems aware that whatever it is that Todd’s got, it won’t be good for his opponents’ long-term game health. Still, Todd’s position is uncertain at best. He remains secure as long as it’s only Jean-Robert that seems aware of his potential, because with only one solid ally who also is the most threatened player on the tribe presently and thus may be gone soon, he might be next.
And it actually is Jean-Robert who is starting to get into a nice rhythm here. He’s finding a good balance of usefulness and irritation that have carried select past players very far – Richard all the way to victory, and Jon nearly so. He’s not particularly handy to his mates, but enough so to stand out in contrast to those who are less so, and obnoxious enough to lull players into thinking he’s a guy to carry close to the end that they could beat – unless he then turns the tables on them. He can start the process by acting on the notion that Todd is a threat and gathering forces to defeat him at the first available moment.
For his part, Todd must not stake everything on finding a hidden immunity idol. He must understand his position is tenuous and needs to expand his horizons beyond the unpopular Courtney, perhaps using the clues as leverage. If a Tribal Council comes their way, that may be the time to recruit a couple, Aaron and Amanda being the best bets, to take out Jean-Robert. The problem he faces is that Courtney is quite unpopular and perhaps no argumentation could save her. Unless they get close to a merge, losing her puts him in jeopardy and so then he would have to make a difficult decision: would he be willing to give up clues to recruit allies to save Courtney? After all, with gift clues in one hand “allies” just as easily could use the other to stab him in the back.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 4 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.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recaps and other info on this show at the Survivor: China page, and take a look at our Amazing Race: All-Stars page and our The Apprentice page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article