Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 7: Profit and Lossby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 11/03/2006
View Printable version of this article
Another (new) episode of Survivor, another boot, and another suboptimal decision graced television screens.
For people in a position of superiority, an eviction chance presents the opportunity to strengthen your position. If you’re still in the tribal immunity challenge phase, it’s fine if the choice also helps the tribe and maybe your interests as well if at that particular time they coincide, but if there is any difference between the two, yours must come first. At least some members of the Aitu majority don’t seem to realize this.
At the very least, this sub-group includes Yul, Becky, and Sundra. It also may well include Candice, because she has a double-secret partner awaiting in the other tribe, Adam, meaning she can afford to lose the ally Jonathan. So, what do they gain from Jessica’s departure? Really, nothing; Jessica, without Cao Boi around to direct her, could become a loyal soldier, maybe even fodder in front of the jury. Yul diagnosed her perfectly: way too transparent for her own good, she would bring to an alliance perhaps the most valuable attribute besides her vote, complete and utter predictability. Strategically dense, open people constitute dream allies, easily manipulable and never able, if they can even do it, to launch a coup without tipping their hand.
Yet she gets sent off, instead of sending off the guy that really would aid their fortunes. That would be either Ozzy or Jonathan. Every day, Ozzy continues to prove he is a greater and greater threat to the majority. Jonathan is not quite the threat of Ozzy, but his Hollywood-like gladhanding and telling people what they want to hear has made the others believe him to be least trustworthy. Especially if your name is Yul, either would have been better to send packing.
Yul needs to be concerned with keeping a five-person group together heading into a merge. While he has the cipher Becky loyal to him, he needs to work on making fellow cipher Sundra the third leg of the stool. Candice he should be worried about in the long run but, at this time, she serves a useful purpose by being the person he can focus the other two against when it comes to endgame, assuming they get that far. His problem he knows of is Jonathan being allied with her; the one he doesn’t know about is Adam whose emergence could pose a problem.
At endgame, Jonathan would serve a more useful opponent to rally Becky and Sundra against, so Ozzy should have been his next target. Yul’s goal must be to split up Candice and Jonathan, but the latter may be easier to present as a threat to his cipher allies – and a threat he must present to them to distract them from realizing that he is the game’s biggest threat. Thus, he can afford to carry Jonathan awhile, so far as he knows.
Again, his position would have been improved had Jessica stayed, because if circumstances changed (such as revelation of the Candice-Adam connection), he could dump Jonathan and swap in Jessica into the alliance. The switching option (utilizing somebody else) has gone until well into the merge and thus now is much less predictable. He, Becky, and Sundra are losers in this decision.
Candice, however, may have profited. While she does have to keep Jonathan around and is likewise endangered by his potential shiftiness (such as a sellout of her by him at five), at the same time will stay loyal to her for a time, at least long enough for her to reunite with Adam (if he survives the merge).
Even ejecting Jonathan would not have been so bad of an idea. The one way in which he is more dangerous than Ozzy is in that shiftiness; at least with Ozzy you know what you get. What is predictable in many ways is easier to control, and it’s likely that once the merge came Raro might join the Aitu majority in wishing Ozzy gone, as they have witnessed for themselves his challenge prowess.
But Jessica should have been least likely to go. It’s not a bad error as they go, but the quicker you eliminate threats and the later you preserve useful idiots, the farther you are likely to go, and Yul, Becky and Sundra at the least failed to adhere to this.
Over at Raro, Parvati continues to build power through a winning smile, strategically placed garments, and gossip worthy of a socialite. To this point, she’s managed to sneak in disparaging comments about most of her remaining tribemates (obviously in the absence of the one her comments concerned), with Brad being the latest to receive that treatment. She can probably contain Adam and Nathan, while Brad is becoming increasingly isolated, Jenny has already been targeted, and Rebecca has become suspect in her strength. Her best bet is to protect the latter and go after Brad. If the merge happens sooner, Jenny can be brought in; if not, she can be sacrificed.
Her difficulty lies in overdoing this gossip tactic. Eventually, too much of it will lead to suspicions about herself. Nathan may be the one to catch on first so she must make shake her assets enough to keep him, and Adam, under control. At this point, she remains in the best position to consolidate power within her temporarily-rejuvenated tribe.
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.
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: Cook Islands page, and take a look at our Amazing Race 9 page and our The Apprentice page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article