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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 12: Please End This Seasonby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/14/2007
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Denise as a player had two central problems in deciding, for a second vote in a row, whether to evict Todd. First, she had to consider what to do about a situation where there were three players who could win – Amanda, Peih-Gee, and Todd in order of probability – and that two would survive the vote, meaning one would go in front of the jury. At that point, the vote became an exercise in trying to position the person she would most want to win even as she ended in second place at best.
But her second problem was far bigger in scope – her inability to realize that she cannot win this game and laboring under the illusion that somehow she could beat Todd. While he has made himself unlikable to the point that any player who showed some strategic skill would be taken ahead of him, Denise has shown none of that. She has played for a tie throughout this season, never daring to make a single strategic move that could have put her into position to win the game.
In a sport where a tie is possible, playing cautiously can do it for you. But if in other sports you don’t play to win, you can’t, and Denise’s undoing is she does not understand that. Even Jean-Robert, who dislikes Todd most of all, would pick him on the basis of some attempt at strategy rather than somebody who avoided making plays.
Understanding this misperception on her part explains the latest immunity vote and how the game will proceed. Amanda had a tough decision to make – she was more likely to beat Todd than Peih-Gee in front of the jury, but is more threatened at four against Todd rather than with Peih-Gee. This is because with Todd gone, Courtney clearly would have been isolated and Denise more likely to go with Amanda than Peih-Gee on any vote at four.
Perhaps Denise gave her the sense that she was not going to be swung away from Todd because of her erroneous notion that she could beat him, so Amanda understood this was an accomplished fate and the decision to eject the fifth-place finisher between he and Peih-Gee was made for her. While this meant the elimination of her toughest rival, at the same time it signaled to her how simple the game has become, and what she must do to win.
Succinctly, if Amanda wins the final immunity challenge, she wins the game as no contemplated rival can beat her in front of the jury. But it’s also all or nothing: if she loses, she gets ousted because of Denise’s misperception – Denise will think by getting rid of Amanda, suddenly she has a chance to win, and certainly Todd and Courtney will go along with that.
So, to summarize: Amanda wins the last immunity challenge, she wins the game. If she loses, Todd wins. Such a basic, uncomplicated endgame befits a season chock full of strategic zeroes, almost no decent strategic moves (and just one really good one), where a couple of players who might have trouble making the jury most seasons have a chance to win it, and not one but two strategic zilches make it to the final four.
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.
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