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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 10: Defection PerfectionPage 2
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In reality, we know that, if it does end up with Yul, Becky, and Jonathan as the final three, that if Jonathan wins the final challenge he must take Becky with him, for it is his only chance to win. But Jonathan at best is an unsteady strategic player. Were he more solid, he would immediately have grasped Yul’s overture was the absolutely correct course of action to follow, but he would have feigned indecision to extract maximal concessions. (Or, perhaps more riskily, he would have sandbagged Yul but made sure the ex-Raro people voted against Yul, thus evaporating the hidden idol’s power, then flipped at eight. However, he would have had a hard time getting the ex-Aitu to trust him subsequently.) This suggests he could meekly take Yul with him if winning at three.
The stunning brilliance of the defector selection and timing of the idol revelation that led to the defection cannot be overemphasized. It not only produced the majority for Yul, but did so in a way that made him virtually invulnerable until the end of the game, maybe even preordaining his victory. It got Jonathan on their side generally, on his side personally, and signaled to the other players that Yul cannot be voted out until almost the very end. It demonstrates superior understanding of the precise value of a piece of information, leveraged it to its highest, best possible use by choosing to make it public at the exact optimal time.
To put the cherry on top of it all for Yul, in addition to gaining the majority and keeping the idol, he managed to disproportionately increase his chances at winning the game at the same time in another way – through subtraction of another player’s chances by engineering the ouster of the exactly correct person to send off, Nate. While Nate (as made obvious in his parting words blaming Jonathan’s strategic deception for his exit rather than his own inability to think well strategically born of self-deception) was a weaker strategic thinker than Candace or Parvati, his budding relationship with Ozzy would have given the Hispanic Brian more power in the majority.
When the ex-Aitu four brainstormed subsequent to the merge, Ozzy should have taken charge and said he thought he could have brought Nate into the fold. Perhaps had he done so quickly enough, any plans with Jonathan might have been abandoned. Suddenly, at five Ozzy might have held the upper hand. Even if he had not come over, Ozzy should have held out to keep Nate around, argued a better strategic player should be sent off.
Maybe Ozzy fully intended to do this once the Jonathan defection became a likelihood. We don’t know for sure, but maybe this was the reason why Yul wanted, as part of his incentives, to give Jonathan a chance to name a target. If Yul had noticed the orbits of Ozzy and Nate converging, it is possible he engineered this event to give him the precise legitimacy to put Ozzy into a position where he would have to let go of an ally (hoping that Jonathan would name Nate, perhaps even encouraging him to do so?).
With Nate around possibly at six, Ozzy could have led a revolt at six by voting off Becky (in the extremely high probability she would not be immune, but also meaning he would have to get Jonathan’s vote). Isolated, unless he then won immunity, Yul would have to sacrifice the idol while three of the other four (the males as a reward to Jonathan) would sandbag Sundra by throwing her a couple of votes to send her home at the same time. Then, Yul would have to win the remaining two immunity challenges. Instead, by getting rid of Nate now, Yul has forestalled this potential backdoor move against him.
The playbook is simple now for Yul. First, eject the remaining ex-Raro tribe in order of strategic smarts – ideally in the order of Candace, Parvati, and Adam, barring unhappy immunity wins. If (say) Adam wins it at six, Yul should have the firepower to eliminate Ozzy then (his two allies with his hidden idol should be enough to grab another vote). If immunity works out happily for the ex-Aitu group and one of them wins it at six, then Yul ought to be able to take out Ozzy at five, unless Ozzy wins immunity, then Sundra goes. He may run into problems if Ozzy then wins at four because then he must ditch an ally, almost certainly Jonathan.
This would set up a duel of titans at three, with the only other matchup in history rivaling it being Ethan vs. Lex in Africa and is something really worth rooting for. Regardless, I hope my Reality News Online brethren agree with me that we did see a Reality Hall of Fame moment in this edition, perhaps part of a run that is going to lead Yul to a Hall of Fame induction and one of the greatest seasonal performances in series history.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 10 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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