Transferring Immunity: Final Immunity, Reward, or Plain Blackmailby Jeffrey Clinard -- 04/10/2003
Last week I wrote an article suggesting a reason why immunity should be transferred... in a particular situation. Since then, I've had e-mails, suggestions, and ideas on why it might be a good idea to take off the immunity necklace and transfer it to somebody else. This time I examine all three reasons... and discuss the merits and pitfalls each idea suggests, but for the most part, immunity remains something that is almost priceless.
A) Bargaining immunity for a share of a reward challenge. If immunity and reward challenges were swapped, with immunity coming first and reward second, this might be a viable game option. The winner of immunity could then wait to see who wins the reward challenge and offer immunity as payment to share – as so many of the rewards allow a second person to come along. As it stands, neither immunity or reward victory is assured. Plus, anybody who has already agreed to give it up if won has no incentive to win it. A challenge like the mask game (The Amazon) or the coconut challenge (Marquesas) would almost assure nobody who offered it would be around to give it up. Only a person who is secure in his or her position should even bargain to give it up to begin with. In this game, Dave might have bargained his way into a promise, but would not have gotten the actual goods. Unless Mark Burnett reverses the order of immunity and reward, this option is non-viable.
B) Final Immunity. A few people suggested that giving up final immunity would be worthwhile in certain situations. The most common argument went back to Survivor 1. Richard gave up his chance for final immunity, and let Rudy and Kelly battle it out. Suppose he could have transferred immunity to Kelly if he had won it. The effect would have been stabbing Rudy in the back almost as certainly as if he had written his name down on a piece of paper. It would tip the balance of the scales of power. Besides, playing for a chance at $1,000,000 or a certainty of $100,000 is much more than most players can afford to risk.
C) This was the idea of my evil twin (okay, I don't have a twin, let alone an evil one), but it relates back to my previous article on transferring immunity. It is another case of political blackmail. In this situation, anybody who feels they are going to go (like Dave did in this episode, or a few in some previous versions) should offer up the simple bargain: Give me immunity, or I will NOT vote you the million dollars. Give it to me, and I WILL if I end up on the jury later anyway. It's a high-stakes gamble, and possibly a bluff, but it puts the person holding immunity on the hot seat. If they are secure in their alliance, giving it up buys them a friend on the jury. Not giving it up buys an enemy on the jury. I play a lot of Texas Hold 'em poker on the internet (for play money), and I've been chased out of a few high stakes pots (when I would have held the winning hand), and I've bluffed my way into some pots as well. It comes down to 90% of the time I don't toss in my chips unless I think I have the winning hand. However, having established that, when I DO toss chips into the pot, it makes the others think I'm holding something worthwhile. However, in Survivor, you play for high stakes on each gamble. The funny thing is, the earlier in the game, the less the immunity necklace is worth (unless you are the victim) to the holder of immunity. The later in the game, the stakes get MUCH higher, but more personal risk of loss or gain. So suppose Dave had blackmailed Jenna this time: give me immunity or I'll never vote you the big money. Her chances at the final two are still against her, but her risk in giving it up was less (they could vote him out the next time, or the time after, or whatever). So there is a chance to buy him another few days in the Amazon to plot some counter-moves.
Of course, the game gets worth less and less (to an individual) when more players join the game. Suppose Butch had made a counter-offer: give it to me, or keep it, and I'll vote for you in the end. Dave's offer is nullified to some extent; the more players in the game, the less each offer is worth (again, like Texas Hold 'em poker; the more players participate, the less the chance the hand you are holding is worth the entire pot).
It comes down to immunity becoming a case of political blackmail. I've always felt that the ability to transfer immunity was NOT designed to be to the advantage of the person wearing the necklace. It's designed to be a case of somebody else putting themselves into a position to demand, bribe, or blackmail the necklace away from the person wearing it. No player as yet has figured out the true value of the ability to transfer immunity, but it's only a matter of time. Or perhaps, it just might take an mind like my evil twin has (okay, mine) to truly appreciate the opportunities that the transference of immunity brings to the table.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his kittens, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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