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Helen Continues to Have the Best Position on Survivor: Thailandby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 11/18/2002
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The next six days will prove crucial for the outcome of Survivor 5. As mentioned in my last column, Helen has the best position to set tempo and, after a mistake by Clay, now is really the time for her to do it. To review the situation: the Golfing Group (the duo of Brian and Ted, with Clay attached) represents the strongest current alliance. Trailing are the Chuay Gahn women (singletons Helen and Jan working together) and the remaining Sook Jai (Jake, Penny). Helen and Jan, but Helen in particular since she has a stronger bond to the Golfing Group, have the ability to set tempo by creating a wretched of the Earth (WOE) coalition by uniting with the remaining Sook Jai on the next vote (as in Survivor 4, recall: "when in Vegas, always bet on black") to attack the Golfing Group. Jake and Penny have no choice but to accept it. If they united with the Golfing Group - as junior partners after picking off the Chuay Gahn women they themselves - they would then be sent packing, barring fortunate immunity wins.
Interestingly, a horrible strategic blunder by Clay made this WOE combination even more likely. As Jake looked for cracks in Chuay Gahn, Clay sandbagged him by suggesting they were ready to toss out Ted. Having been burned once, Jake and/or Penny will be very hesitant to trust Clay again, so their trying to unite with the Golfing Group with the thought of getting Clay to defect right before endgame seems unlikely now (unless they are shrewder than they have let on).
This misstep by Clay improved Helen's already strong position. This is because when she goes for the WOE coalition in the next three days, after splitting Brian and Ted (let's say Ted goes since he seems to have aggravated more people), the one thing the remaining Golfing Group can do to prevent another loss is to try to convince the Sook Jai to defect to them because they can offer them same deal as Helen and Jan: heading into endgame two-on-two and letting the chips fall where they may on a tie-breaker (assuming that the Sook Jai would rather go with the devil they don't know, which is not as likely). Again, Clay's mendacity will make the Sook Jai more trusting of the older women instead.
These women then must make another move after taking out Brian (more of a threat than, and now on Helen's wealth-envy list with, Clay). Then, they have to split the remaining Sook Jai. Helen must swallow her envy and reel in Clay to take out the bigger threat and less-likeable Sook Jai, Penny.
This switch back is crucial because Helen and Jan cannot allow another two-person alliance going into endgame. If they can figure out that Jake may not trust Clay now, the boys may not unite as they must in order to have a chance to stop either or both of Helen and Jan from going to the finals. Thus, it is crucial that Helen and Jan make these moves in this exact order. (Of course, an immunity win by Penny would force Jake's ouster going into endgame, but odds still aren't bad that either or both singletons would want to take their chances on voting out the other and trying to win the last immunity challenge against the two oldest women.)
By following this strategy, chances are excellent that Helen (and Jan) head into the final immunity challenge. Clay would be the best person to keep, barring a Sook Jai immunity win. From Helen's perspective, she is likely to win a jury vote against untrustworthy Clay, batty (literally) Jan, or scheming Penny. Only Jake would give her trouble, so while she needs to carry him into the final four if possible, he needs to be gone in one of the next two votes thereafter.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Helen should have a decent head for tactics. Using that ability, by following these steps she'll soon have a million reasons to stow her wealth envy.
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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