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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 11: Cool Hand Yulby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/01/2006
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Writing as much as I do I’m always on the lookout for better and more entertaining ways of expressing ideas. Watching tonight’s edition of Survivor I learned a new phrase that gave me a new, elegant, and extremely parsimonious way of referring to a situation where somebody with an abundance of a certain characteristic accuses somebody else of having even more of it. I used to use the phrase, “the pot calling the kettle black” to describe that situation. From now on, when I mean to articulate that thought, I’ll just write, “Parvati.”
Yes, her saying Jonathan was immature and she was twice as mature as he is the funniest moment on the series so far, topping even the classic “what do you call a Vietnamese with three dogs?” Even if she had said she was twice as immature as he still strains credulity because, in the way they have come across on the series, while Jonathan has seemed abrasive and sometimes clueless, immature he doesn’t seem to be. Parvati, meanwhile, is sending linguists on searches for new lingo to describe how desperately immaturely (best description I can come up with) she acts. Her frustration is showing as she finally comes to grip with the fact that her all-flirt, no-brains strategy probably isn’t going to make it.
Possessing the reverse of those qualities is Yul, whose main fault is he suffers from too much candidness. (Although he no longer suffers from Candice – absolutely the right move to boot her as she was the brains of the opposition and her ouster busts up in a demoralizing fashion her dyad with Adam.) He let slip some information others attempted to use against him about his feelings towards Jonathan, but didn’t let it rattle him. That includes ignoring entreaties to dump Jonathan at the next available vote, even if he heard a siren song (with a male basso) that he would get three ex-Raro votes if he made it in front of the jury if he orchestrated that.
To use another parsimonious, if not elegant, phrase in response, “bull….” First, what if it played out that Yul met Candice or Adam in front of the jury; yeah, right that one of the lovebirds isn’t going to vote for the other. Forget that, neither of them and Parvati would vote for Yul if any of those three made it against him. It’s a promise as empty as Parvati’s head (normally, I would have teed it up on Adam here, but he did win an immunity challenge that actually required rubbing a couple of brain cells together so he also won immunity against wisecracks), and Yul obviously knew it and that one must catch the ball before heading upfield with it.
Still, even his own allies at least broached the topic of Jonathan leaving early, if not now then soon. Yul must resist this as long as he can. He did basically promise Jonathan to take him in front of the jury and, strategically, he must protect him as long as possible. Feeling threatened on all sides, Yul will have his complete loyalty and, with Becky’s and with the hidden immunity idol, will be almost impenetrable.
Not that the minority three wouldn’t have wanted him to give in, along with one other – Ozzy. Of the four, he is least on the reservation at this point and, had Jonathan been sacrificed, his next move then should have been to defect. This is because he could argue with the other three that one of them would become sacrificed in order to set up a 3-3 struggle that would have chewed up Yul’s idol. At least then 75 percent of them would have had a 50 percent chance to gain the upper hand, which they gladly would have accepted since the only way one of them appears even able to get to the jury is by a string of immunity wins.
Ozzy’s chances aren’t much better without something like that happening, because at five he must win immunity or he is gone if Yul sticks to what he told Jonathan, taking him on the jury – so if he doesn’t get ousted 3-2, blowback from the use of Yul’s idol will get him. Yul’s (and Becky’s) job is never to give him an opening, and sacrificing Jonathan early would do that. Even ejecting him at seven is no good, because at six Ozzy and Sundra could combine with Adam and Parvati and, assuming neither Yul or Becky won immunity, each could pick up two votes while those two voted for Adam or Parvati; Yul would use the idol to save himself and then Becky could be ousted on the revote or tiebreaker. Your best action is simply never give your opponents, now and in the future, even a slim chance to change the game; just Pagong away.
Yul just has to understand that he must maximize the costs of defection to the end, which with two firm loyalties, no matter how annoying one is, and the idol he has great leverage to do so. If Yul can keep his strategic head on, barring a couple of Ozzy immunity wins, at three he is in tremendous shape to win it all. Just play it cool, Yul.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 11 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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