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Survivor: Thailand, Episode 12 MVP: Strategy, Strategy, and more Strategyby Phil Kural -- 12/14/2002
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I must admit that I am a little confused. At this point I have no idea who has an alliance with whom and where everyone stands when it comes to who they want to be next too when it is time to face the jury. Brian is left with three people he knows trust him. Clay only trusts Brian, while Helen trusts Brian and Jan. Jan doesn't trust anybody but still feels close to Helen and Brian. Within this mess there is an MVP. My task was to root through this mess of alliances we are left with and figure out who this person is. Although it was a rough task this week I was able to identify someone. Also, we have an honorable mention this week who drove away in a new SUV!
Ted played the game hard this week. Actually, it was the first time many of the Chuay Gahn members were forced to play the game in a long time since they did not have any ex-Sook Jai members left to boot. Ted knew that something was up the second Brian tap-danced around his question about still going to the final two together. Brian, from that point on, knew that Ted was going to be the next to go. Ted showed some smart thinking by going to Helen and trying to figure out if he could change the votes. What I don't understand though is why Helen said the whole time that she was going to vote out Clay and then turned around and voted for Ted. Especially since during the whole reward challenge all she did was talk about how much Clay needed to go. Anyway, I am still going to give Ted an honorable mention. He did what he could to stay alive but ended up being the first one with whom Brian broke a promise. There will be more of them to come. On the bright side, Ted did win a new SUV and that is nothing to complain about.
The big award this week goes to Brian. Once again, Brian has shown that he knows how and when to make and break deals. MVP status has become a regular thing for Brian. How he has made it to this point with nobody realizing that he has an alliance with everyone is a little beyond me. Helen and Clay need to figure out where they stand when it comes to being in an alliance with Brian. It was a smart move on Helen to get rid of Ted though because knocking out the golfing alliance should solidify her with Brian the most. Poor Jan has to do a rain dance and pray for immunity or she will be the next to go. Brian even made it clear, in a very sly way, that the next to go would be Jan, and then Helen next, leaving him with Clay if everything fell the right way. Just watch the way he lists all his "cards." Quick thinking is what Brian does best. His strategy of alliance making, I feel, can be compared to Richard Hatch in a way. Brian knows that a core alliance is needed, but it is not necessary to keep everyone involved. He showed us this by getting rid of Ted. His vote to Ted was probably a subtle sign to Jan and Helen that they are safe and he is on their side.
This is where things are going to get interesting. Brian basically holds all the cards. Everyone will be looking to him when it is time to get rid of somebody. This assures him a spot in the final two. He is the only one at this point who I feel does not have to worry about getting voted out. However, I said the same thing about Erin when the final four Sook Jai members went to tribal council and look how that turned out. Even though he is an MVP, Brian needs to make sure that his tracks are covered. The last thing he needs now is for everyone to compare notes and figure out that he has made a deal with every one of them. I'm not so sure that Brian ever made a solid deal with Jan but he definitely has one set up with Clay and Helen. I doubt it would happen but if they figured that out it will be the end of Brian.
Helen and Jan need to take control of the opportunity they have been given. Since Ted is now gone the playing field is now level again. The two of them need to work together to figure out how they can advance to the final three or even the final two. Helen, like Brian, seems to be a definite for the final three. At this point it just looks like Jan and Clay are more disposable. The only thing to worry about is if everyone would rather keep Clay around because they know they can beat him in the finals. Although an assumption like that may be wrong. We have seen in past seasons where taking along someone you think you can beat may not always be the correct choice (see my article on the curse of the final immunity challenge winner). Just because someone is not likable does not mean the jury did not admire the way they played the game.
One episode left and four players to pick from. Many have chosen Brian to win the game, but others have picked Jan or even Clay. I think it may be Helen. There is no telling where this one is going. Brian, our MVP this week, seems to have the working advantage. If he can play his cards right, and let others eliminate his competition, he will be sitting pretty in the finals with a great chance of winning. So in the end it will all come down to either Brian pulling out a royal flush or watching to see if he folds. My bet is our MVP takes the game.
Phil Kural is a junior at Temple University, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any MVP suggestions.
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