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Survivor: Vanuatu – Advice for the Remaining 11by Jeffrey Clinard -- 10/26/2004
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In many of my articles – not just on Survivor, but on other shows as well – I often take the position of the individuals and reconcile them against the decision of the group. It's because in the reality TV shows I watch it is the combination of individual decisions that ultimately make a group decision. In a game of elimination, there is no "taking one for the team" because, ultimately, there is no team. Alliances and deals exist because everybody in them either benefits by their formation, or believes they will.
Sometimes decisions that may seem irrational make sense when the situation is examined from the perspective of each individual player. Certainly the political shift in the Yasur tribe indicates a different thought process than the simple "get rid of the men" philosophy that was the prevailing opinion before the episode. Remember, tribes don't make decisions – individuals make decisions.
However, the thought processes all vary according to the individuals. Rory, for example, had to be looking at his own short-term survival due to the political situation he faced at the beginning of the episode. His speech was cheesy, but it did convey quite a bit of information to the observant listener. First, he was open to a new alliance – even claiming to not have allies on the Lopevi tribe (not true, but a tactic). Second, he played on the weakness point of the Yasur tribe – challenge performance – and made an offer regarding camp and challenges, and lived up to it. Salesmen do it all the time – bringing around ties to match a suit, or socks to match shoes. The women, of course, were under no real obligation to live up to Rory's proposed end (keeping him around), but Rory's words ended up being prophetic.
Leann and Eliza failed miserably in the immunity and reward challenges, getting much of the blame for their loss. This caused them some needless worry about being jettisoned because of their challenge performance. Frankly, very few Survivors have gone home simply because they caused their tribe to lose a challenge, and those tend to be the first ones voted out, such as Sonja (S1) and Diane (S3). Still, perception is everything.
Scout may have suffered a double-whammy in the episode. Eliza was correct in pointing out that she had opted for the least physically-demanding task in the reward challenge (gatekeeping), and she was also put on dry land during the immunity challenge. While not directly responsible, her position indicated weakness in challenge performance. In addition, Scout was the one who drafted the teams and has been the leader. Ultimately, part of her loss of control over tribal politics can be interpreted as a vote of "No Confidence" in her.
Ami, however, is playing the deepest game of all. I can't think of anybody else in Survivor history who took an opportunity to usurp power like she did. The question is why she did it. The simple answer is that she was on a power kick. The more complex answer is that's she planning for the mid-game. Ami's biggest problem isn't making it to the mid-game, but having a large enough power base to survive the mid-game and make it to the end game.
Ultimately, the choices might have been to kick off Rory (Scout's choice), or Lisa (Ami's choice). With Rory gone, the Lopevi men would hunker down even more in a traditional tribal alliance – and they have the strength on their side for the challenges. A follow-up elimination of Eliza (if needed) cuts Julie out of her last ally. Twila has had an awful lot of time to bond with the men (who she said she gets along better with) as well. In other words, the scenario could have been a 6-4 disadvantage.
However, with the elimination of Lisa, and, as a follow-up, Scout, Yasur has a chance to pull Julie back in through Eliza, and a male (probably John) in with Rory. That's a six vote majority, enough to win a vote at ten people.
Of course, with either decision the dice are going to get thrown, but the fundamental difference between Scout and Ami is that Ami has to play for a win, and Scout can play for a draw. Ami should be at the top of the target list post-merge. She can't afford to merge short and play for time – she doesn't have it. Scout, on the other hand, has the extra time needed to wedge herself in a crack that may emerge. That is the logical reason for Ami to have made a power grab at this point.
As always, it's a game of individuals, and everybody needs to keep their eye on the game and what they should do next. It's advice for the remaining 11.
Lea: You have to make a choice of which members are going to be a part of your alliance at mid-game. It's time to plan for the mid-game, and that means making sure you can get the numbers. It's not four – it's six, and if you can get John and Twila in solid, you might be able to pull Rory back in. Start working up a plan with your partners, and realize that even if you want Twila in your personal power structure, you have to cut her if the others want Julie. Play smart.
Chris: You've done a great job at redeeming yourself at challenges. Keep it up, don't make waves, and work with Lea in everyday matters to keep your position in the alliance. You're off the hot seat unless you do something stupid.
Chad: Like Chris, you've done a great job at helping to win challenges without doing anything to draw attention to yourself politically. Your best bet is to ride for now, touching bases with the core alliance, and observing everybody to insure no power shifts are taking place under your nose.
John: Keep winning challenges. Your best shot at the game right now is to play until the merge, then start selling your vote right and left. To put yourself in the best position, you have to keep Lopevi from playing politics, while quietly trying to grab an ally, such as Julie. Until then, play for Lopevi, becoming a default member of the alliance while keeping your options open. You are in a great position to play for time if you don't make waves.1 2 Next-->
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