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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 4: Ripple Effectby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/06/2006
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It should be evident by now that the Aitu gang have a few more brain cells to rub together than does Raro, as they won two challenges on that basis. It’s only fitting that the apparently least apt Raro member on this account gets the axe as a result.
The ease at which J.P. got ousted, with only Nathan backing him up, makes for a natural response to J.P.’s observation “you got me good” appropriately, “like shooting fish in a barrel.” Being athletic can get you only so far, and a perfect example of that is during the challenge when Ozzy knew to run as far as he could into the water rather than swimming as J.P. did. Let’s see, even the fastest swimmers in the world (over 50 meters) can just reach 5 miles per hour which on foot you can reach in a light jog (even in water). You’d think playing some beach volleyball J.P. might have figured this out; maybe not.
Whether that vote was the best thing for the others beside him is another matter. The biggest loser probably was Parvati. She’s coming to realize that (most) males on the tribe aren’t that difficult to manipulate utilizing a little black bikini, and her best play would have been to eliminate the women first. What may have happened, given that even one of the presumably uninitiated into the plan to J.P., Adam, voted against him, word probably got out to all but J.P. and Nathan that the former was gone and she voted the way the wind blew. If not, likely she made a mistake. Either way, with one less guy to tempt, she’s worse off – especially since the guy she’s closest to, Nathan, was on the outside looking in.
Ozzy’s triumphing on brains as well as performing the immunity challenge’s most difficult role with skill, not to mention his fishing prowess, should give Cao Boi pause to think. At present depending upon the rules in force (more about that below), it is he and Jessica who could provide the balance of power in Aitu. The way things stack up now, he appears to be a fifth wheel hanging off the Yul-Becky-Jonathan-Candice axis. But an immunity situation where one of the axis is sent to Exile Island could give him and Jessica a chance to unite with Ozzy and Sundra to take control of the tribe, and then by extending hand of friendship to Yul sets up a quality quintet to go far in the game.
I must register a tremendous complaint on behalf of all those who value the strategic aspect of Survivor: how can you make strategic plans when the rules seem to change every day? A few days ago, the reward challenge loser designated for Exile Island does not participate in tribal council. In the latest episode, they do. It devalues the role of strategy when rules keep changing to hamper strategic thinking. It’s their show and they can do whatever they want, but the producers should beware cheapening the strategic aspect or they will lose viewers interested in that.
Yul, of course, should hesitate to flip for two reasons, that overall Ozzy would be a greater threat than Jonathan, and that he would have to cut loose Becky. But two compelling reasons to do so also exist, that Cao Boi is less of a threat than Jonathan and suspicion has become cast on Candice in terms of any double-secret alliance she has with members of Raro (Yul, having the one with Becky, ought to be able to sniff it out). The best of all worlds for him, however, is to cut Jonathan and Candice loose, keep Cao Boi and Jessica, and invite in the weakling Sundra for a quintet he can dominate, solving the threat Ozzy poses.
Regardless, this still leaves Cao Boi in the cat(sorry, booby)bird seat. As long as he can continue to lead Jessica around, they are the arbiters and look good heading into a merge from Aitu.
As far as Raro goes, it’s unclear what’s going down there except that Nathan seems to be in trouble. Parvati might be next on the list, since she seemed to fail the “girls rule” test presented in approaching the vote; the other four must suspect the only good reason she had to hesitate was her likelihood of manipulating male allies was greater than doing the same with females. She might even go prior to Nathan if they think they’ll need his brawn around a little while longer. In any event, matriarchal rule seems to have come to this tribe.
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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