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Survivor: Vanuatu – Advice for the Remaining Sevenby Jeffrey Clinard -- 11/22/2004
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Anybody remember the first series of Survivor? Individual challenges tested things like balance, fire building, mud bathing, etc. – in other words, things connected with primitive tribal life or a hunter/gatherer survival situation. The rewards were also straightforward – immunity, food, home videos, etc. As Survivor played out, even in the first series, the game became less and less about surviving the elements or adapting to tribal lifestyles, but toward a cutthroat game of human politics. The ultimate power was writing down a name on a piece of paper – and the power structures revolved around keeping your name off of it.
The challenges in recent Survivors are still themed to site locations, and still involve things like luxury trips or native feasts, but half of them are blatant mind games which revolve around the most important aspect of the game – politics. Some are designed to reveal pecking orders, like last week's trivia/skull burning reward challenge, and others are designed mostly to give the producers an excuse to separate the players for some time. The intent is to both force new bonding dynamics and to prevent the players from keeping an eye on each other while they make plans against the people not present. This week's reward challenge split the groups into two groups of four, and provided just the opportunity for players to plot coups.
When Survivors plot strategy, they have to consider all aspects of the political situation. Who is tight with whom; who despises whom, and who will work together despite their feelings about each other? More importantly, for a change in power to take place, the coup plotter needs a majority of the votes.
Back after the tribe shuffle, Ami showed exactly how to pull off a coup when she eliminated Lisa with a 4-2 majority vote. Scout lost her leadership role, and since then the votes have gone the way Ami has directed them. This also has made Ami the person to target in any planned coup – people should get rid of the leadership first. This brings us to the other side – Scout showed us exactly how NOT to pull off a coup.
First, she targeted Eliza, who was pretty much unallied, though she's defaulted in favor of Ami's woman power alliance, for no good reason than that she didn't like her. Unfortunately, that's NEVER a good enough reason. The game is politics, not popularity, and people who don't care for each other should still work together when it suits their common interest.
Second, Scout didn't plan the coup in secret. Sure, the women talked big about getting rid of Eliza when the others were off at the reward – except it was clear Leann didn't want any part of the scheme herself, and probably ratted it out to Ami shortly after her return. Leann had nothing to gain by getting rid of Eliza (indeed, her position would have been hurt by it). An open plot just leaves the current leader time to rally their position and nip the coup in the bud. Ami has been the leader for a reason – and part of it is that she's respected by her followers. In other words, they'll fight back.
Third, the proposed coup was a risky scheme at best – the only votes Scout could have counted on was her own, and the two men (who had nothing to lose). Twila could have been pulled in with the right argument, but Scout failed miserably at that as well. If the best case result of tribal council ends in a tie, people get skittish. The glue that could have held a tie-vote alliance together was sitting on Twila's shoulders – immunity. Chad and Chris were lame ducks and should have jumped at a chance to become part of a majority alliance, and Scout was risking nothing but her position (which is deteriorating rapidly). A tie vote had a 4-in-7 chance of picking off one of the opposition females (Ami, Eliza, Leann, or Julie). Scout risked a 1-in-7 chance, and the men were already desperate, and should have been willing to risk a 1-in-7 chance each for the potential upside.
Indeed, Scout and Twila should have gone for control of the tribe as the odds were as good as they would ever be. The coup that wasn't instead has weakened the position of Scout and Twila. Ami, Leann, Eliza, and Julie still control the tribe, and Scout's attempt at a coup may have solidified the alliance, definitely removing Scout from any final four situation. Unless a crack forms among Ami's loyalists, Chris, Scout, and Twila are dead ducks.
With that, what is the advice for the remaining seven?
Ami: You've done a great job at controlling the vote and setting up your power base to get to the final four. With four votes, your gang can control the next few votes. I would suggest targeting Scout next. She's already tried to overthrow your power base once, and when there are five you will need somebody to get you a 3-2 voting advantage. I would strongly suggest you keep Chris around for that position, and make Eliza your final two partner. Leann and Julie are tight, and if you cut the deal with Chris now, you'll not only have his vote when you need it, but you will also soften your anti-male stance in the game, which is important for the jury. Finally, Eliza is pretty good jury bait. That's something to keep in mind.1 2 Next-->
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