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Survivor: Redemption Island, Episode 3 Missing Intelligence Award – The Devil You Know…by Chris Harris -- 03/08/2011
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There are times when writing this column is harder than others. Times when I have to dig through a little bit to find a moment or two really worth discussing under the particular microscope of the Missing Intelligence Award.
Then there are those times when I scream at my TV because someone made a really obviously terrible decision, and writing this column is very easy.
This is one of the latter times.
I’m not going to yell at Zapatera for throwing the challenge. In general, I’m not sure throwing challenges is the best idea. The fact is, you never know what can happen in a vote, and as Stephanie pointed out -- part of what was the greatest display of clear game-thinking we’ve seen from anyone on that tribe so far -- you want to have as many numbers as possible for the merge. Yeah, you may have divisions within camp, but if the other tribe is strong and determined to take you out post-merge, you might just have to put asides your differences and align with your enemies.
That said, there was clearly thought put behind the move, even if it wasn’t great thought. Zapatera’s majority wanted Russell to go, and given Russell’s capabilities, he stood the risk of causing more trouble the longer he stuck around. If you really feel he’s that dangerous, then there is a certain amount of logic in doing what you can to get him off the island as quickly as possible. Not great logic, mind you, but logic nonetheless.
Likewise, one of this column’s readers pointed out that Ralph deserves serious consideration for the MIA. Ralph didn’t volunteer the fact that he was in possession of the hidden immunity idol, which meant his alliance believed Russell may have already found it. Certainly a reasonable assumption, since he obviously had a clue and has a fantastic track record for obtaining idols (whether in the jungle or from other MIA-worthy castaways). So Ralph’s alliance went for a split-vote approach that was bound to end in a three-way tie situation -- and you never want to leave things up to a tie situation if you don’t absolutely have to do so.
In general, it’s a good idea to keep your possession of the idol a secret. If you need to ambush your adversaries with it at Tribal Council, you can’t let them know you have it, and if they know you do, they might try to blindside you while you’re still holding it -- a fact former contestant James knows all too well.
Then again, sometimes people knowing you have an idol can work to your advantage -- look at people like Yul from Cook Islands or Terry from Exile Island, who were considered untouchable because of their idols. Typically, that approach is better in late-game situations, when numbers are smaller and there’s less opportunity to blindside, but still, Ralph letting his alliance know they didn’t have to worry about Russell holding the idol may not have been the worst thing in the world.
Then again, because there’s logic behind the idea of keeping your idol a secret, Ralph is spared from the MIA this week also. So are Steve and Dave, whose idea of telling Russell that “Francesqua” won the Redemption Island trial was pointless at best, and could backfire on them if Russell or one of his harem comes back into the game.
No, the unlucky MIA winner this week is none other than Julie, who had a golden opportunity handed to her on a silver plate -- and instead walked away with her mettle tarnished.
Why Julie opted not to side with Russell and his girls, I really don’t understand. From what we saw, she was processing the idea, and it seemed to be appealing to her for the right reasons. The fact of the matter is, she did stand a greater likelihood of doing well in the game had she joined Russell, at least based on the observable evidence.
For one thing, there are the basic numbers. If Julie joins Russell’s harem -- and she said she thought she could handle him -- she’s in an alliance of four. In order to control the game down the stretch, it would be optimal to have a fifth member, but even that’s better than being sixth in an alliance also containing Steve, Dave, Mike, Ralph, and Sarita, who all seem pretty tight right now.
But the real key is the old maxim, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” And Russell is only one of two known commodities in this game (other than Rob).
Julie has seen what Russell can do. The man has led alliances to the end of the game before -- twice. If you’re loyal to Russell, he’ll be loyal to you. If he finds you to be a threat, he’ll try to get rid of you. If he thinks you aren’t a threat, you’ll be sitting next to him in front of a jury on Day 39. It’s the closest thing to a proven track record you could ask for in this game.
In Survivor: Samoa, Russell held his original alliance of Natalie-Jaison-Mick together as long as he could. He jettisoned the fifth, Shambo (who joined the alliance much later), first -- and in large part because Brett started winning immunity, which meant Russell’s alliance had to start cannibalizing itself. When Brett won again, someone else had to go, and it ended up being Jaison (whom Russell had clashed with previously). Mick and Natalie, however, went right to the end with Russell, as he had pledged to them all along.1 2 Next-->
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