Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 10: It's Not About the Apple...by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 11/30/2007
View Printable version of this article
As we launched into this week’s episode of Survivor, this is what we knew:
The last point deserves some explication. We, and thus James, should have known that with three players going in front of the jury, there are three eliminations left where an idol can be used, and he had two of them.
He needed to get to that final four with at least two people he could beat in front of the jury. They likely would not include Amanda and Todd and maybe not even Peih-Gee and Erik (because if either makes it that far, they will receive brownie points from many jury members precisely for making it this far). They definitely would include the strategic ciphers of Courtney (whom the recently departed Frosti described as a model; maybe I’m just living in some backwater but I thought that it was thin, not anorexia, that was in) and Denise.
James also should have assumed that, as much as he might be jury fodder to Amanda and Todd, they wanted fodder of Courtney or Denise and not somebody who might win that crucial last challenge to knock one of them out or might lead an insurrection earlier, shielded by his idols. If given a shot and getting him at seven, he should have known they would try – and Amanda had the smarts to try it.
Thus, if you want to get to four with a group of your choosing, what you do at seven is to lead that insurrection by sandbagging them even as they may be thinking they are sandbagging you. Simply, James needed to go to Courtney and Denise and tell them he wanted to take them to the final three, and then go to Peih-Gee and Erik and tell them it’s time to rebel against (smartest choice being unless she wins immunity) Amanda, and there she goes.
In some fashion, depending upon potential immunity wins, Todd and then (preferably; if not, Erik) Peih-Gee heads out while James plays an idol each time. At four, he then hopes (and that is the operative word if he doesn’t then win immunity and especially if Erik does) sanity prevails and Courtney and Denise with him boot Erik. It is the only way James could win the game – or Courtney and Denise for that matter – and it would go wrong only if both Courtney and Denise sandbag him at seven, which, given their smarts, seemed unlikely.
It was that simple – outflank an attempt you should expect to try to get you by realigning yourself with people less likely to beat you in order to get in front of the jury, or against you in front of the jury, that will bring you to the brink of victory. (Confession: all of the above I wrote in the hour before the episode aired, except “and Amanda had the smarts to try it,” so sure I was that I would be explaining future moronic behavior.) Or you can be one of the greatest strategic morons in series history and let yourself get blindsided, richly deserving James of his exit.
Now we are led to believe that things get very interesting at six, as Amanda seems unhappy with her alliance. Whether she should defect is another matter. Todd would be her only real competition in front of the jury under her current alliance plans – if he even makes it, for her best play would be his ouster at four. Already she cleverly is planting the seed that Todd is calling shots and manipulating, even as she’s the one really doing it, which could lead to Courtney and Denise turning on him at that point. Against the likes of them she would win as decisively as Earl did last season.
In essence, she is thinking of trading them for (probably) Denise, Erik, and Peih-Gee at four, and by initiating such action she steps out from behind the curtain even as she tells everybody not to pay attention – putting an immediate target on herself. And either Erik or Peih-Gee could effectively compete against Amanda in front of the jury, given resentment that will have built against her by jilted erstwhile alliance partners. But if she turns and waxes Todd, unstable Courtney will go nuts and would be totally unreliable, and Amanda can accomplish the betrayal only with Peih-Gee and Erik’s assistance.
If this is going to happen, perhaps she needs to wait to eliminate first Erik or Peih-Gee. At five, the remaining one plus Denise can be used to take out Todd or (if he wins immunity) Courtney. If Todd goes at five, Amanda still runs the risk of going next at four. Of course, if Todd has his way, at four he would hope to use Denise and Courtney to oust Amanda. She’s a target either way, so it depends on who she thinks would be a bigger threat at four, Todd or Peih-Gee/Erik.
The thing is, eliminating Todd earlier probably gives Amanda a better shot to get in front of the jury but harder to win there. She can increase her chances of winning once there, but only by letting Todd get to four, which likely makes her less likely to get in front of the jury. It’s a tough call, and would really depend upon Amanda’s read of the likely swing vote, Denise.
At six, Amanda could bludgeon Denise into it by saying she’s going to force a 3-3 vote by going with Erik and Peih-Gee, leaving Denise the choice of safely being on the winning side or risking a tie. At five, if Peih-Gee or Erik has been sent packing, Amanda loses that ability. But if Denise calls the bluff because she realizes in a tie situation she is unlikely to be ejected, Amanda may get left to hang out to dry if then one of her new allies loses the tiebreaker.
Regardless, Erik and Peih-Gee’s stock rises noticeably if Amanda heads in this direction. At least one, maybe both, can make it to the brink of getting judged by the jury. And if Denise ends up as the swing vote, she almost certainly will make it in front of the jury. Finally, it becomes virtually certain that Todd and Amanda will not appear together in front of the jury.
But at some point, you have to play to win rather than not to lose. Just ask James.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: China articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
When not watching for strategic elements in Survivor, Jeffrey D. Sadow is trying to teach about strategies inherent in international relations, diplomacy, governance, political campaigns, and lots of other neat stuff as an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
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: China page, and take a look at our Dancing with the Stars page and our America’s Next Top Model page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article