Survivor: The Amazon, Episode 9 MVP: Strategy & Tacticsby Jeffrey Clinard -- 04/13/2003
Note to all: I'm filling in as guest writer for the MVP article for a few weeks. As such, it's up to me to declare who exactly earned the title of most valuable player (MVP) for this week's episode.
This week, it is harder than usual. Many players are being played, and others are playing hard. The trouble is, when somebody acts too soon to try to force a situation where he/she can win the game, it can backfire on them. Just ask Deena. She played too hard and too fast. Her attempts to convince the tribe that Alex was too big a threat went against her. The argument for it was good, but it was premature. At this point in the game, she should have been focusing on eliminating the players unimportant to the alliance, such as Butch or Christy. Instead, she played to eliminate Alex. Alex IS a threat to win immunity, rewards, and the game. But she failed to understand a key aspect of the game... don't backstab until you have to (it's one of David Bloomberg's rules). Once she openly declared herself willing to sell out an alliance partner, it put her entire loyalty situation into question. If she was willing to sell out Alex, why wouldn't she be willing to sell out the others in her alliance? Alex was willing to remain loyal. Deena wasn't. The situation flip-flopped, and Deena was voted out instead, a victim of her own attempt to control the game.
So who deserves to be the MVP this week? My answer might be a surprise to some. It's Rob. Why? Because he's shown an understanding of both the game both strategically and tactically in a way few others have ever shown. In every tribal council, he seems to know who is going home. Even when that person wasn't the one he wanted to leave (such as Daniel, when Rob wanted Roger to leave), he repositioned himself on the winning side.
He did so again in this episode. I can't give any direct testimony to his reason for voting out Deena (his secret alliance partner), though others have discussed some possibilities, so I have to examine the effect of his vote (and to some extent, the ones he controlled indirectly). First, we have to concede the fact that Rob knew Deena was on the chopping block. There is no other reason he would have voted her out. He understood it was either Alex or Deena, and decided Deena had to go. The fundamental reason to pick Deena as the victim was because voting out Alex would have shattered the Jaburu alliance. Heidi and Jenna would be on one side, Deena and Rob on the other. That would have left Butch, Matthew, and Christy as the controlling votes in the game, and would have left Rob out of position as a power broker. By repositioning himself in the Alex/Heidi/Jenna alliance, he remains in a position of power to eliminate the three people outside that group (Christy, Butch, and Matthew). With Deena out, but himself a member of the majority alliance, he keeps himself safe until the final four. Plus, he has his secret alliance partner, Deena, on the jury, in a position to vote him the big money if he makes the final two Ė and if she isnít mad at him for his vote.
An examination of the way the game has progressed has shown Rob is completely aware of the way the political power shifts in the game, and he's made the needed adjustments at each stage of the game to remain in control. Sure, he would have preferred to keep Deena around, but her own actions threatened his position, and he made the right move. Rob could have tried to talk her out of the foolish move to oust Alex, but Deena is too strong-willed for that. Once she made her decision, that was that. She didn't realize that taking that stand put herself in Jeopardy (I'll take classic game-show mistakes for $100 Alex). Once Deena did that, Rob got feedback to the political fallout that was going to occur, and cut his losses with Deena. The bonus was that his alliance with Deena was secret. He avoided being guilty be association. He may not have won reward or immunity, but he is playing a great game. That's why he's the MVP.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his kittens, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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