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Strategic Overview of Survivor Special: Candice’s Flawed Decisionsby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/06/2006
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All faithful readers of the Strategic Overview of Survivor columns, at the very least, should read the interviews of the latest victim, the “Insider” recap, and the “Survivor Live” recap here at RealityNewsOnline. Note that the regular SOS column appears within hours of the broadcast, and things that come out from the venues reported and analyzed ably by RNO writers can provide clarification or new information. Not because of any expectation that the snippets of information from the contestants (or, in one instance, from a host of Survivor Live who shall remain nameless but who, every time she opens her mouth, leads one to conclude her winning an edition was a total fluke) will tell us much useful about strategy, but on the rare opportunity that something interesting along these lines actually will surface.
Candice’s interview provides far more insight into the strategic machinations than most contestants ever will give – sometimes more than you’ll see in an entire series’ worth of interviews. It’s clear that she had thought through her position in the game quite thoroughly, and reading her thought processes and conclusions shows she’s got some native ability in this regard.
Unfortunately for her, just a few misconceptions on key points caused her to make some wrong decisions that led to her demise. What she was thinking and how she reacted to events reminds one of a few object lessons in understanding the strategy of the game, and what pitfalls to avoid. Observe that the mistakes noted are in order of severity, starting with the least first.
1. Mutiny. Candice said two considerations drove her decision to take off. Recall that contestants were given only a matter of seconds to decide, so very little thorough analysis could be achieved here. First, she said she feared a move might have been coming against her within Aitu. Second, she thought she would bring strength in numbers to Raro, not only to win challenges and keep her off the chopping block, but to reunite with putative allies.
Both suppositions turned out to be errors. Candice was well aware of Yul and Becky’s tight bond, but she seemed unaware of the sub-alliance structure. She and Jonathan also had a bond, but really only in his mind. She also should have understood how Ozzy was on the outs with Yul and her, which was natural considering collectively they were the three strongest players.
She should have known, given those dynamics, that Yul was just as endangered as she (her not knowing he had the hidden immunity idol) depending upon which two dyads would coalesce with each other against the third (Sundra by default moving into Ozzy’s orbit). With a little acumen, any threat against her could have been dispatched; indeed, if she felt threatened the reaction should have been to proactively plot against Yul instead of fleeing.
As for the other assumption, it was a fallacious one. It is the quality of the players, not the quantity, that determines who will win challenges. And she could not have been sure that anybody would have followed her to produce the presumed unimpeachable advantage. The mutiny easily could have left things at 7-5 which conveys a fairly unsubstantial advantage to the majority.
But it was 8-4 and let’s say it did work out and further let’s assume as a result Ozzy and Sundra got whacked while Brad was lost, and then the merge happened. It would have required a supreme juggling game over at Raro to prevent a schism among seven people, where losing three of them meant their joining with Yul and Becky would have found Candice on the short end of the stick again.
Her problem was, at the time of the mutiny, her information was far less complete about the Raro situation. Her huge mistake was in taking Nate’s word that Adam and he were “running” things and therefore she got it in her head that, because of her manipulation of the empty-suit Adam, she would be running things as well. (As long-time viewers should by now know, any time a player says he’s “running” things, it’s a sure sign he is not and will likely be voted out very shortly; by contrast, those who completely disavow that, like Yul, are really running the show.)
Lesson: the most advantageous situation for a player is one with which she is the most familiar, because it minimizes mistaken assumptions. Even if she felt threatened, her superior knowledge of her Aitu situation should have informed her that the quality of her tribe made it more likely to win rather than lose challenges, and that even if they were lost, she should have had greater faith in herself to manipulate the situation about which she should have been knowledgeable to her advantage.
Instead, by her departure she ceded control to Yul and Ozzy who now, instead of her using one to get rid of the other, by circumstance were thrown together so both would survive if that tribe survived intact. And that’s what happened because even down considerably, even with her departure, the mental and physical toughness of Aitu greatly aided by the Yul/Ozzy combo still exceeded that of Raro.
2. Flipping. Candice testified she never saw Jonathan defecting back because she thought that would work only once, that former allies would not accept back a defector, discouraging the defection. That view reflects an incomplete understanding of how the game works.1 2 Next-->
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