Survivor: Cook Islands, Episode 10 MVP - Yul Never Believe Who Wonby Betsy Wasser -- 11/29/2006
My title aside, I donít think thereís much suspense about this one: Yul is the Most Valuable Player for this week of Survivor. He made fantastic strategic use of the hidden immunity idol and really turned the game around. Letís review what happened.
The two tribes merged, which could have been bad news for Aitu, since they were still outnumbered. Yul decided it was time to use the idol to convince someone to flip. First, he filled Sundra and Ozzy in on his happy news. That was a good move on his part Ė he was about to spend some time cozying up to a former Raro, and his allies might have been worried if he hadnít explained himself.
Next, he chose the right person to try to sway. Yul might not have wanted to turn Jonathan. After all, Jonathan had already betrayed Yulís trust once by breaking their alliance and joining Raro. But Yul put aside emotions and focused on logic. Adam, Parvati, and Candice are all clearly close, with Nate a fourth in their group. Jonathan was someone that Yul already knew well, and the one thing he knew best about Jonathan is that he is a rational player, one who will do what he has to do to advance, emotions and friendship be damned. Players on Survivor talk a lot about trust, but the kind of trust that matters most is trusting someone to behave in a predictable way. Yul knew that he could rely on Jonathan to vote in the way that would work out best for himself.
Yul first approached Jonathan with a bit of a threat. As Darth Vader said to the Emperor, ďHe will join us or die.Ē That is, if Raro voted out one of Yulís buddies, Aitu would vote against Jonathan, bouncing that vote right back to him. With that threat in mind, the two agreed to talk again later.
At the immunity challenge, Yul did not win immunity. This, too, was a good play. I donít think he threw the challenge; hanging on to that pole looked really hard. But if he had won, things would have been a bit more complicated. Naturally, Raro would want to vote out challenge monster Ozzy, so Yul would have had to give the idol to Ozzy. As far as we know, Ozzy wouldnít have to give it back to Yul, so Yul would have lost that bit of personal insurance. Yulís strategy was much tidier this way.
After the challenge ended, Yul talked to Jonathan again and showed him the idol. He then told Jonathan that he wanted to take him to the final two, as it would be easier to beat Jonathan than anyone else. Thatís absolutely true, and because of that, it made perfect sense to Jonathan. Maybe Yul didnít mean it; maybe he really would stay true to Becky if it came down to it. But that doesnít matter right now. What matters is that Yul offered Jonathan something that made sense for both of them, and that Yul spoke Jonathanís language. He then offered Jonathan something more: to vote out Nate next. Yul didnít care who went next, and was happy to accommodate.
Yul could have used the hidden idol in a lot of different ways. He could have worked harder to win individual immunity, but then heíd have lost an ally. He could have decided to work with Nate instead of Jonathan, since Jonathan once betrayed him. But I think that would have backfired. Nate is very loyal to Raro (going so far in the last vote as to not vote for Jenny), and might not have agreed to it. Then Yul would have been forced to play the idol, taking away that bit of protection.
His plan wasnít perfect. Jonathan could have told the other Raros that Yul had the idol, forcing him to either give it away or say goodbye to Becky or Sundra. Or he could have agreed to join, but only on the condition that Yul play the idol. He could have arranged for the Aitu tribe to vote for Nate, the four other Raros to vote for Yul, then he himself vote for, say, Sundra. The tie would have forced Yul to use up his advantage. But Jonathan didnít do any of these things. The only reason I can think is that Yul offered him something really good: a spot in the final two. He allowed Jonathan to go from about a fifth place finish to second place, at least.
I canít wait to see the fallout from tribal council. See you then!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.