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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 4: Pour, Pour La Minaby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 02/24/2006
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La Mina is the older of the two tribes and, as such, wisdom is its key asset. Slowly but surely, if it continues to abandon employing that advantage, this is going to increase the demonstrably weaker Casaya tribe’s power.
Sure, Casaya has been the beneficiary of two consecutive immunity challenges that discount strategy in favor of physicality, but both were narrow wins and the most recent one well could have been prevented by the use of somebody’s noggin on La Mina – Austin’s, as it turned out. To recount the situation, in dumping water, each tribe was on the same set of people, thus they probably had about the same amount of water in the larger container. Further, a fast pour probably got 90 percent of the water in, while a slow one would get in 99 percent.
Each tribe seemed to realize they were close to the tipping point, but La Mina had a distinct advantage: unless my eyes deceived me, Ruth-Marie, their person sitting that needed hoisting, is of slighter build than Danielle, Casaya’s designee. Thus it would have taken less water to get her weight up and no careful pouring was needed, being they were already close. Instead, Austin (and maybe Sally with him) didn’t seem to realize that and it may well have cost them the challenge.
This lack of wisdom produced an undesirable outcome, but another lapse of wisdom on Austin’s part – joined by all the other males in La Mina except for Dan – may prove far costlier in the future. Getting rid of Ruth-Marie in favor of Sally was, simply, penny-wise but pound-foolish.
At this point, the marginal athleticism of Sally over Ruth-Marie cannot make up for the astute reading Dan made of the situation, that Ruth-Marie would be more loyal and Sally is the type to jump ship when convenient. In addition, assuming Mark Burnett wishes there to be an equal mix of physical and mental aspects to challenges, the latter quality more likely will be stressed in immunity challenges of the near future. Here, Ruth-Marie’s experience could give her an advantage for the group over what Sally could contribute. Finally, down the road Ruth-Marie promised to be less of a threat than Sally due to her extra couple of decades of age; if the time comes where she needs ejection, the first physical immunity challenge would much likely put her in that position than it would Sally. At endgame, you want alliance members who are relatively easy to slough off, even if they need a bit of carrying until then because their most valuable quality until endgame is not their physicality or even mental acuity. It’s their loyal vote, and Ruth-Marie can deliver that just as easily or better than would Sally.
But, instead Terry and Nick listened to Austin rather than Dan and they unnecessarily weakened their squad. If they keep doing this, they aren’t going to give Casaya enough opportunity to blow itself up. Over there, Cirie to date is playing the best tactical game by not trying to keep the powderkeg together and is helped by La Mina’s inability to put it together enough to force Casaya into lopping off members. Time is on her side as strains continue to grow between Aras, Shane, and Bruce and Danielle, Courtney, and Bobby. If not arrested, the unraveling will give Cirie and Bruce a chance to make a majority, with the better combination occurring with Aras and Shane.
At least Terry has shown enough wit to keep his immunity idol discovery to himself. He needs to reveal it only when it appears his alliance is threatened by attack, and it is perfect that he has it because it is clear that if it comes to the remnants of Casaya and LaMina battling it out after a merge, if he does not win the initial immunity where Casaya is at a disadvantage, he will be targeted. The proper move at that point would be to gently goad the opposing faction into targeting him, and then his forces can oust who they consider the strongest of their opponents by all voting for that opponent, the vote which will become valid when Terry reveals he has the idol. This is a very strong advantage that he and his forces have if he has the skill to hold it close to his vest until the last moment, and then his allies don’t themselves prematurely let it out. (Of course, this may be figured out by Casaya if the send the next couple of people to Exile Island and there’s no clue waiting for them for the idol.)
But that moment may come sooner than he would like if he doesn’t do something basic: start relying on the wisdom that age and experience brings, and stop deferring to a tyro like Austin.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 4 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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