Survivor: The Amazon - Why Deena Is in the Perfect Positionby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 03/10/2003
From a strategic perspective, we may be on the brink of the most intriguing installment of Survivor ever. And, if she fulfills the promise she has shown to this point, Deena will be responsible for that. Back in its very first edition, grandmaster Rich put together a coalition within days that carried him to victory. In this version, we have another such coalition coming together almost as rapidly - the Hottie Harem in Jaburu whose original members are Heidi, Jenna, and Shawna. But they aren't the main strength of this group. It was Deena's wise decision to throw her lot in with this group. After Janet's departure, she had a choice - the Harem or the others. Jeanne appears to be a hard worker, JoAnna was too, plus her abrasiveness would be good to carry to the finals, and Christy, after a bit of whining, looked good to carry a load around camp, too - and was looking for allied support. In the short run, it may have appeared beneficial for Deena to bring this group together and to begin to eliminate the Hotties.
However, strategic long-term thinking dictated otherwise. Recall, the imperative of a minimum winning coalition, in an eight-person setup, makes (unless you're Brian in Survivor 5) the 2+1+2 alliance ideal - a senior dyad, a junior dyad, and a singleton (the senior dyad being the one the singleton is closest to). Once eliminating all other opposition, a dyad wins over the singleton, hopes to keep that singleton loyal, then ousts it and the member of the broken dyad to send themselves into the final vote (as opposed to the singleton becoming disloyal, creating a two-on-two struggle for supremacy in the final four, and potentially a PROD [Purple Rock o' Death] situation).
Yet it's not enough to find your alliance, you must also have it able to fight off any potential alliance from the other tribe as well after the merge. This would be a tall order for Deena because, making this Survivor series remarkable, a five-person alliance also has begun to emerge from Tamaqui. One dyad - Roger and Butch - clearly has coalesced, but the other three (Alex, Dave, Rob) act so far as singletons (beneficial for Roger and Butch, making revolt against them late in the game less likely). In essence, when she had a decision to make, she couldn't just look at the next week (assuming the merge happens within the week), she had to consider which four with her have a better chance of ousting any nascent coalition among the guys.
That would be with the Hotties, from the reactions from the younger guys at the challenges. Being that she's an assistant district attorney, needing to read well defendants, witnesses, and jurors, I give Deena the benefit of the doubt that she recognizes that the younger guys will have a weak spot for the Hotties. The Harem may get the opportunity at just a single tribal council, but if the Hotties work their charms, the Harem can gain the upper hand numerically and it's going, going, Pagong for Tambaqui. Additionally, the Hotties to this point have not impressed with their physical (as opposed to their physiques) or mental prowess. All this sets up Deena well for endgame with them in terms of her winning (or their not winning) immunities. Even better for her, she wooed Christy (who I think more guys would call "cute" rather than a "hottie") as the fifth gal into the Harem. No doubt Christy on the outside world has shown herself as gritty, but one would think that her inability to hear may cost her at a crucial time in endgame, giving an advantage to Deena. One may liken this situation to something I teach in my American Government class - our government was designed ordinarily to be weak; that is, no one part of our government can unilaterally impose the interests of those that control it over all others. Only when several or all parts combine can our government act powerfully, serving collective interests most of the time. Deena, by luck or design, has found herself in such a situation - the Harem is strong collectively, but most members weak individually. If Deena can ride this one to the end, she'll be up there in the pantheon of Survivor greats, close to the top with Rich and Brian.
Her greatest challenge, and opportunity, right now rests with Shawna. The situation reminds one of Sean's status in Survivor 1 - not a part of the alliance, but guileless enough to be used by it. She might set back group efforts over the next week (again, assuming a merge by then), but, from Deena's perspective, so what? If Jaburu loses an immunity, it gives Deena the chance to toss out her greatest rival, Jeanne. Even if they lose the next two (see below to understand who Deena ought to get tossed), that might not even be a disadvantageous situation.
Picture a merge after 18 days with the Harem minus Christy and the remainder of Tambaqui. Ordinarily, a 6-4 advantage probably would spell curtains for Jaburu. But if the Hotties go to work, they could peel off some younger guys, batting their eyes, shaking their you-know-whats, convincing the Young Lions that they want to take them to the final four. And the younger guys will believe it and think it's better to go up against the Hotties in challenges than the Old Lions. And the Hotties will know when to turn on the younger guys, this time not sexually but connivingly, knowing they have a better shot against Deena in challenges and (best of all) they probably think that if one of them got to the jury their looks would get the younger guys' votes even after jettisoning them.
In fact, a 5-5 merge (assuming Jeanne and Matthew, the two marginalized players, get ejected) would be somewhat boring by comparison. With two potential 2+1+2 groups, no one would be willing to risk a jump into the opposite sex's camp (although the Hotties have a much better chance of breaking up a Tambaqui 2+1+2 than vice-versa.). A PROD situation would occur and the loser of that faces a likely Pagonging. But at 6-4, there are many possible permutations. What if, for example, the two junior dyads (that is, the most endangered after a successful Pagonging of the other tribe) decided to make an early Wretched of the Earth (WOE) coalition and bring down a senior dyad member by a 4-3-3 count. Then what if those outside this group make their own WOE alliance and win the next vote 5-4? It could be a lot of fun watching and speculating.
Deena's next few moves are clear. For the next three days, she should try to form a junior dyad with Christy, giving Shawna the singleton role by default. If Jaburu does not lose the next two immunities (again assuming the merge happens after six are gone), she stays with it and hopes to Pagong Tambaqui. At endgame, however, she has got to get Christy dumped, as she would by then would be her greatest competitor, ally with Shawna, take out a Hottie (perhaps by PROD), and waltz to the jury with a sure win against Shawna or one of Heidi or Jenna. If Jaburu does lose the next two immunities, Christy must go and Deena will have to carry Shawna (frankly, Christy probably would win on sympathy against Deena).
This is why it is imperative that Deena not allow Shawna to go and (crediting Deena with enough foresight) was why she would not support a move to oust Shawna last time. She needs Shawna not only to hold together an five-woman alliance, but she needs to carry her for one or more critical votes in the end. If she can get Shawna through this rough period (using house mother skills that the other Hotties are too young and/or immature to have), she, rather than the other Hotties, will have Shawna's loyalty. Clearly, the superior strategic move was for Deena to ally with the Hotties and to expand the alliance with Christy. Unless something weird like falling into fires occurs in the near future, this promises an interesting next few episodes of Survivor 6.
PREDICTIVE MODEL UPDATE: The results of the predictive model created before the show began are demonstrating more and more that the sex-segregation scenario of Survivor 6 has produced a different set of dynamics than what we saw modeled along the result of the first five series. Predicted final four guy Daniel is gone but two of the five picked to be in the final four, Deena and Roger, are still looking like the top two choices to win.
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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