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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 7: Please Don't Teaseby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/28/2005
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Perhaps I’m just picky, or a raving optimist, but I keep waiting for some superior strategist to emerge from the now-merged tribes. Every week we get teased, but just as quickly as it seems somebody displays a flicker of talent, they snuff it out themselves.
Jamie showed he actually may have a strategic brain when he revealed he knows it would be good to stick close to Judd and bring him in front of the jury, because Jamie might then win with the first shutout in history. Then he went and expressed loathing of meeting with the other tribe and butted heads with Stephenie, an ally he’ll need, over the issue.
A related thing happened with Cindy. She must have known of the perilous position to which she clings in her present and the merged tribe. Of all people, she needed to start laying the groundwork for defection to the now-minority at a merge, particularly if it happened on equal terms. Instead, she also disdained an inter-tribal meeting, an episode she could have used to feel out their receptivity to her switch.
Danni is the most maddening of all, because she has shown more strategic spark than anybody left. When Amy had come calling for her preservation, the football chic immediately should have picked up on this and assisted the eviction of Bobby Jon. She should have figured a merge was imminent, and that initially down 6-4, or even 5-4 or 6-3, that physically strong allies no longer made as much difference in her future fate. It would have been better to keep a gimpy Amy for her vote and lack of individual threat.
Her fate, as well as Gary’s, Bobby Jon’s, and Brandon’s is now very uncertain. Cindy’s attitude about hanging with them shows she is not thinking strategically, or at least not well. Cindy either is dreaming, or thinking all of the others in her ex-tribe are strategically dense, if she believes at this merge a tempo move will be taken to slice off Judd in her favor before decimating the minority. Judd is a meal ticket to somebody else’s victory and will serve as a useful idiot far into the game. All things equal, the next of her ex-tribe to go is her and she needs to do something about it by making connections with the others. Only this way do any of them have a chance.
If Stephenie, Rafe, Lydia, Jamie, and Judd are in as tight as they seem, she must go probably to Lydia and attempt to blackmail her. Simply, she must say she is voting with the other four and that is that, telling Lydia that the only way Lydia may not be exposed to being voted off (through the Purple Rock o’ Death, even if her chance would be slim) is to follow her. That choice of potential partner is no accident: Jamie and Judd are too tight to be broken up and they think together they can get too far without such flipping, Stephenie is in the most powerful position in the group and would not risk that by such a move, and Rafe cannot be approached because of Cindy’s Plan B.
Which is, if Lydia cannot be swayed, then to go to Stephenie and build a case to have her swapped out with Rafe. He seems intelligent, likeable, industrious and not physically inept, and thus probably would be Stephenie’s biggest threat towards endgame. Stephenie may well recognize Cindy would be a reduced threat by comparison, but then it’s up to how tight this group seems to be for her decision. But if she could make this move, she should.
Were Cindy to take the first option, Danni and her boys then would have room to maneuver. For her part, Cindy would have to look down the road for her and Lydia to break up that bunch, optimally grabbing Gary and Danni (and they could expect to stay awhile, because even if one got betrayed by their new allies the other could jump back to her erstwhile allies, meaning one of them would be around for at least two more iterations past this point).
If Cindy takes the second option or does nothing, Danni and her boys are in quite a jam. Then, they would have to figure out a way of breaking up the other tribe, a tall order because of the clear sailing they have to the five. In particular, Stephenie, Rafe, and Lydia can jockey for position going into four with (preferably) Judd and they will not want to jeopardize this with anything else but first the elimination of the outsiders and then Cindy, or Cindy mixed in there somewhere. It is an excellent situation for all three and to abandon it would be an unwarranted gamble.
Since it seems unlikely the majority can be busted up without either Cindy’s overt opposition to it or melding into it, at most Danni and her boys may have just one member now with a shot to win, and that’s probably Gary. Rafe may well have a plan to sell to his allies in making Gary the last one gone at six (Cindy already dispatched), then approach Judd and Jamie to cut out Stephenie, but then (forgetting to tell the thick-necked twins) that he really means to save Lydia and then use her to lop off Jamie. At four, he’ll have two people he saved and the guy he wants to take in front of the jury to support him to get to the final two.
Whether Rafe is this clever remains to be seen, and even more mysterious is whether Gary himself could take advantage of the situation, as did Chris in S8. Still, it remains one of the few options where a present minority member can have a shot to win (again, assuming things are as tight among the majority as they seem to be and Cindy does not start any machinations).
Unless Cindy stirs something up, it looks like a Pangonging for better than a week, starting with the younger bucks, with Cindy’s ouster tossed in somewhere. Then maybe Rafe, or Gary, or somebody, anybody will step up with some superior strategic moves. It’s time to stop the teasing.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 7 columns already posted:
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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