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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 10: A Byzantine Labyrinth of Interlocking Loyaltiesby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 04/21/2006
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It’s too bad Bruce had to head out of the game this way. However, including the results of the reward challenge, it should clarify the contest.
Typically, the “beggar thy neighbor” type of challenge as it proceeds tells something about the power structures in the game. However, this one told us more at its conclusion rather than during its commission. Obviously, Terry would go first, and Bruce second. After that, the information that did get imparted reflected the in-flux nature of the remaining five; no one faction seemed to form and systematically eliminate another.
The reward trio and the (eventual) duo they left back at camp well may end up being the factions that separate after Bruce’s departure. That might be the sensible thing particularly for Cirie to do among the Byzantine labyrinth of interlocking loyalties. Let’s see, Cirie and Aras have made mutual pledges, Shane has said the same with those two but he also has pledged to Courtney. Cirie also hints she’s got something going with Danielle. And, of course, all but Cirie made a pact only minutes after the first mergers.
Of course, since Cirie was the latecomer it is in her best interest to try to connect up with as many people as possible, and this can be a winning strategy if she has the skill to pull it off. Bruce’s removal has reduced the instability inherent in a six-person group so a natural 3+2 or 2+1+2 coalition can emerge from all of this. Cirie can exercise power as being the third person that could float to any pair.
At the same time, she may also have become the most vulnerable because of Terry’s hidden immunity idol. Bruce’s very bad luck translates into Terry’s very good luck as he takes one step closer without having to burn the idol or win another challenge. If the ex-Casaya are smart, they must assume Terry has it and must plot a vote to control who leaves. This means four must unite to sandbag a fifth, throwing one vote her way so (assuming Terry does not win the next immunity challenge) Terry is saved and on the revote, he or she loses (unless Terry accidentally votes for him or her as well). The most logical four to form are the original four, leaving Cirie odd woman out.
If Terry wins immunity, then the crisis is advanced prematurely. Actually, this is what Cirie should hope for because then a 3+2 situation is most natural and she is likely to be in the three, whether it be with Aras and Shane or Aras and Danielle. This makes Terry next to powerless because the triad would knock the dyad into singleton status, and the triad still rules and will not break up until the final three unless Terry pulls off an immunity win string and/or can use the hidden idol if able.
But even if it gets down to the original four Space Cadets vs. Terry, he still is rendered powerless and can only delay a triad forming. Simply, none of this group will willingly bring Terry to the final three because they are afraid he will cost them a place in the final two (even as they know he would lose against all of them if they got there), so if he won yet another immunity here, rather than a 2+2 alignment forming that will use him to become a majority, they will fragment 3+1 and vote the odd member out.
Assuming, however, Terry can’t pull off win after win, the triad whose any one member believes they have the best chance against the other two members will form. Usually, that means one member who is jury fodder would be picked by two others but the unusual problem facing the Space Cadets here is there are two such members who, if brought in as a team, would jeopardize the third person’s chances – Courtney and Shane. They can beat only Terry and themselves – and that’s the problem; in a triad with them, the third person if he or she does not win immunity at three will be sent off by the winner, because those two know should know their best shot at winning is against each other.
Thus, the most natural, stable triad would be the reward-enjoying group, Cirie, Aras, and Danielle. It offers maximal security to getting to three and probably is optimal for those three as Shane and Courtney’s mutual dysfunctionalism draws them closer together. It seems to be something being sensed by the others, and they should take heed of it. But this would be thrown out of the window if Terry can be targeted next time, with Cirie the likely victim there.
Of course, with this strategy-impaired group, predicting what they will do regarding strategy is as difficult as predicting what Shane will do about anything. Hang onto your air-sick bags, the Space Cadets are about to go into orbit.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor articles:
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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