Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 3: Power Playby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 02/17/2006
View Printable version of this article
Austin said it best, the immunity challenge was about the only kind of contest Casaya could win for immunity; I thought for a minute I had stumbled upon Olympic wrestling on NBC but then remembered it was the winter of 2006, not the summer of 2008. As a result, the struggle for power in La Mina came early, and produced winners – the two oldest men on the tribe.
To recapitulate the strategic situation on this tribe: the two younger women were vying with the two older men for the younger men’s fealty. Obviously, this put the strategic cards in the hands of the younger guys. Their best bet was to prevent as long as possible making the choice, to prevent making enemies that could find a way to overthrow them. Thus, Ruth-Marie was their natural target. The other two pairs would maximize their positions not only by getting the commitment, but getting it earlier because then it could bust up the losing dyad and essentially draw equal in strength with the younger guys that much sooner.
Therefore, the younger guys would have to push hard in both meetings with their potential partners for Ruth-Marie. The only reason that they should have capitulated and chosen somebody else (the eligibles apparently were Dan and Misty) was if the other duo was absolutely insistent on taking out a member of the other dyad – which was absolutely the correct strategy. Keep in mind, the objective of one set of the potential partners was to bust up the other set of potential partners there and now, a different optimal strategy than the younger guys’.
By doing so, this would force the choice on the younger guys. So when Terry and Dan were insistent on Misty, the option of stringing both pairs along evaporated for Austin and Nick. Since the women were advocating Ruth-Marie, she could be eliminated only by going with the women, but at the same time that would signal to the older men that they had been spurned. And by going along with the older men, that even more would openly signal their choice. Either way, if they had wanted to choose their optimal course by keeping their decision under warps, it was not possible any more.
The requests for booting also points out the differential strategic thinking abilities of the three pairs. If the younger men basically got talked into voting off Misty – that is, they didn’t really have a preference or they decided to go with the older guys regardless – it shows a lack of strategic thinking (that would not be indicated only if they went into negotiating hoping to eject Ruth-Marie, but found the older men’s resistance so strong that then they realized they would either have to acquiesce and join them or to attack them immediately). And the women certainly showed a great lacking of strategic thinking by championing the ouster of Ruth-Marie when they should have been arguing to break up the main threat. (Misty, at least, didn’t seem to sense the weakness of their position, so the Ruth-Marie vote request was not an exercise in putting off their potential executions. Had she sensed this, she also would have played up her bluff of finding the immunity idol, but it seems clear the men did not buy it in any case.)
It should be apparent that the older men played the best strategy. They forced the outcome early, to their advantage. The only slight risk they entailed was that if they had been the second choice and then gotten blindsided, by not forcing the issue (that is, going with Ruth-Marie exiting) they might have hung around into a merge, given the low quality of Casaya and that tribe’s likelihood of losing several immunity challenges in a row (it’s unlikely that another almost no-brains, all-brawn immunity challenge will be coming any time soon). But Terry and Dan seem to have read the situation right and knew to push it and to push it correctly – Misty definitely was the most dangerous person on the tribe for them in the long run.
In fact, the younger men probably made a mistake. True, they are now part of a powerful quartet that, unless they run into some really bad luck, should go deep into the game. But they probably are the junior members of the group, whereas they would have been on much more equal footing with the women. In the end, perhaps shaken by Casaya’s unexpected win, they figured Terry would be much better at getting them further than would Misty. That’s a legitimate concern, getting past mid-game: the problem is, he and Dan will be much tougher to beat in the endgame than would Misty and (especially) Sally. But perhaps they figured they’d cross that bridge when they found it.
It’s clear that Terry and Dan both have played excellently to this (early) point in the game. They went from being the weakest of the three dyads (because the other two were the most natural quartet) to the strongest. Further, Terry has shown he has both brains and brawn and is seen as invaluable by the others. But don’t discount Dan, because he can use Terry as a shield. Both have placed themselves expertly in the game.
By contrast… Casaya should be renamed “Straight Men” because they set themselves up to be the butt of so many strategic jokes:
Shane: “This is my thinking seat.”
Response: “You could have fooled me, I thought wherever you sit down, you’re sitting on your brains.”
Aras: “I have an alliance of three nutballs.”
Response: “Pot, meet kettle.”
Casaya: “Bruce, Bruce, he’s our man …”
La Mina: “Bruce, you’re fired” (oops, wrong reality show, but you know what I mean, he gets sent by La Mina to Exile Island after hearing Casaya gush about him – another solid strategic decision driven by Terry).
Just to reiterate, an unstable, strategically-retarded alliance is hardly better than one at all at this stage of the game and this should harm Casaya’s chances at winning most kinds of immunity challenges. I’m sure Misty will be driven crazy in the Loser Lodge by the steady stream of Casaya ejectees coming her way over the next couple of weeks.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Survivor: Exile Island Episode 3 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recaps and other info on this show at the Survivor: Exile Island page, and take a look at our The Amazing Race 8 page and our Apprentice: Martha Stewart page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article