Survivor: Cook Islands – Advice for the Remaining 13by Jeffrey Clinard -- 10/25/2006
Cao Boi wasn’t the most strategic Survivor ever, but he did seem to understand the problem of the hidden immunity idol. He attempted to manipulate the vote so that the idol would be used and a power structure would be broken at the same time. It wasn’t a bad idea, but he guessed wrong as to who had the idol. He also failed to realize the dominant alliance had a vested interest in keeping their other members around at this stage of the game. Yul probably didn’t think that the voting scheme was a good idea because he’d lose an ally either way. Besides, even if Plan Voodoo had worked, Jonathan would not have produced the immunity idol. Cao Boi might have come up with Plan Voodoo 2 and gone after Yul next time. In any case, Cao Boi did Yul a favor. He seeded the rumor that Jonathan has the hidden idol. If somebody does try to force the idol out of the game, Jonathan will be the target. Yul keeps it and has one less competitor to deal with.
In some ways, Jonathan also benefits from the incorrect assumption. If people think he has the idol after the merge, they won’t vote for him under the assumption that the votes will ricochet. To get rid of the idol, players have to control enough votes to both eliminate the target and set up another person to take the hit. That’s quite difficult. If Jonathan continues to be tightly allied with Yul, he has an excellent position in the game. Post merge, a coup attempt against the Yul / Becky / Jonathan / Candice alliance would go after the strongest player. Yul might be that person, and the ricochet effect of the hidden immunity idol eliminates one of their conspiracy members.
I loved the reward challenge. While last time I said that Raro had strength on their side, I neglected to mention the men had the strength. In any case, both tribes were correct in their decisions to use their strongest women and weakest man to defend. None of the men were weak, and in a two against one situation, two men win every time. Even if the defense player gets a strong guy into a bear hug against the ground, the other strong guy has enough strength to drag them both if he has to. The better strategy is to try and tangle the legs of the attackers. For the women (at least among this crop of Survivors), the strategy is a bit different. A woman who makes herself and one of her attackers dead weight cannot be easily dragged by the remaining attacker. Candice defended herself well, starting with tight arm and leg holds on the mast. Once dislodged, she did not go quietly, pinning down Rebecca at one point, and Parvati at another. Sundra might have done equally well. We’ll never know as Candice put up such a fight that Aitu gained a huge lead and the Raro attackers (Parvati and Rebecca) were exhausted when they started on Sundra. They never even got Sundra’s legs dislodged from the mast by the time it was all over.
However, I’m bothered by the warning system involved when it came to rule violations. Choking, hair pulling, biting, punching, attacks on the groin, and attempts to injure, maim or disfigure were probably banned, and for good reason. However, while Probst issued three warnings (two to Cristina and one to Jessica), they were not strong enough in certain cases. Jessica pulled Cristina off the mast with a choke hold. She got a warning by Probst, but it was a good trade to get her off of the mast, which was Cristina’s primary means of defense. Similarly, using an illegal move to regain a position on the mast is a good trade, if the only penalty is a warning. I like warnings for actions that are illegal, but incidental, but penalties for illegal moves that are either deliberate or result in an advantage for the person who violated the rules.
Finally, Nate has been “kidnaped” by the Aitu tribe. I find it amazing the difference a label makes. Calling it a kidnapping makes it seem like the target is a victim. Jeff Probst could have told Aitu “I’ve got some bad news. One member of Raro is going to go home and spy on you until after the next reward challenge. The good news is you get to pick the spy.” I suspect that in that case, Aitu would have had a different reaction and possibly picked somebody else. The only difference between a kidnap victim and a spy in practical terms is the phrasing.
Two more Survivors were voted out, and the merge is getting closer. What should each player be doing to improve their position in the game? I have advice for the remaining 13.
Aitu: Nate is an interesting choice for a kidnapping victim. While picking Cristina might have done damage to the enemy politics, I can see where Nate makes some sense. The decision makers in the tribe are the whites and Asian-Americans. Nate is neither, so he’s neutral, and he’s also a male. That leaves the tribes unbalanced at four men for Aitu and two for Raro, while Aitu has four women compared to three on Raro. Sit Nate out if the challenge requires equal number of men, or if the tribe has to sit out people for balance. However, do not talk strategy around camp until he’s gone. He’ll go back with a better understanding of your tribe and may use that against you after the merge if you aren’t careful.
Candice: You did a stellar job in the challenge, putting up so much resistance that your tribe was able to haul two people over the line by the time you were finally dragged across the finish line. However, blowing the kiss to Adam wasn’t a very bright idea. Too many people might have noticed it, and unless you had told your alliance you were going to con Adam, they will read it the wrong way.
Jonathan: In a strange sort of way, Cao Boi’s failed scheme worked to your benefit. You don’t have the hidden immunity idol, but if people think you have it, it’s almost as good. Plan Voodoo’s spectacular failure should make the others more cautious in trying something like that again. In addition, when push came to shove, your alliance held. You have a great position.
Yul: You did a great job of keeping a poker face when Cao Boi proposed Plan Voodoo. He had made a big mistake in thinking Jonathan had the idol, and as long as he was around, there was always the chance he could decide you had it and form a new plan to take it away from you. I only hope you didn’t give the details of Plan Voodoo to anybody except maybe Becky, who knows you have the hidden immunity idol. Jonathan knows he doesn’t have it and might guess you have it if you gave details instead of just saying “Cao Boi goes home tonight.”
Sundra: Things look good. After getting the alliance offer in the last episode, you’ve just gotten the assurance that you are a full-fledged member. The others gave you the target, and you voted out Cao Boi with the rest of them. With two outsiders in the tribe, you are probably safe, and while you did a great job in the reward challenge, nobody really knows if you were just as resistant as Candice. If you are politically safe until the merge, it’s usually better for people think you might be strong rather than demonstrate it and remove all doubt.
Jessica: You have massive problems, and it all stems from your basic problem in understanding the game. Game strategists love players like you who wanted to hang out with cool people because they throw away the game in the process. You had your chance to be solid with the white / Asian alliance and you blew it. Now you’ve lost your only friend in the game and your fellow outsider Ozzy is pulling in ten fish an hour. You need to make sure your tribe wins immunity, or try to out-Ozzy Ozzy or you’ll lose the game.
Ozzy: You did a great job in the challenge because you assaulted the weak spot of the Raro men - their legs. While they yanked you off the mast without much effort, you had a lot more fight in you than they thought. You are also following my advice; political outsiders need to make themselves so valuable they are hard to cut. You are probably safe for another Tribal Council as you are a huge provider but vulnerable after that. Thus, you better work your tail off to help your tribe win immunity.
Becky: I give you a lot of credit; you are one feisty woman and stronger than you look. You helped dragged a couple of women and did a lot of the heavy lifting in the challenge. When Cristina had you down, you moved her closer to the finish line by rolling together. Right now you’re in a secure position as your alliance held up in its second test. With the past record, making the merge shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Nate (Kidnapping Victim): You should be overjoyed to be the “victim” of a kidnapping. Lamb shanks, bread, and apple cider were yours. In addition, you were the only person in the game who had protection from the vote. I advise you to be polite at the other camp, make friends, hang out, but above all, learn everything you can about their politics. I’d suggest you make friends with Jessica, as I peg her as the tribe member who has the loosest mouth. Remember, if you make it to the end, you need votes, and they will control some of them so there is no reason to make enemies while in their camp. However, despite your talk of being the fourth quarter crew, you must sit out of the reward challenge, or subtly insure Aitu loses no matter how nice the reward is. A victory under their belt is a great morale booster. When you go back to your camp, say it’s good to be home.
Cao Boi: What went wrong? Well, despite your claim, your eviction had nothing to do with your race or prejudice among the Asian community. Your problem was that you were an outsider who failed to take the deal offered by the dominant alliance, then made a huge error in judgment by deciding Jonathan had the hidden immunity idol. You had a good idea of how to force it out of the game, but you told it to Yul, who actually had it. Your outsider status, combined with Yul’s self-interest in not exposing hidden immunity, resulted in your loss.
Raro: You’ve lost two thirds of the challenges since the shuffle, and both of them were based on strength. Now you lost a strength-based challenge, largely because your women are not as strong as the ones on Aitu. You also blew it at Tribal Council; all of you should have made a pact to pass along false information as the Aitu tribe had your session as a dinner show. Even if they didn’t believe you were being honest, that was better than Aitu learning the truth.
Adam: I hope nobody was watching when you acknowledged the kiss Candice blew, as it puts you in a weakened position. If the rest of the tribe decides you are going to sell them out after you merge, you signed your death warrant. Still, you were quite diplomatic in shifting the blame for the challenge loss to Candice rather than your own tribe members. However, your confrontation with Cristina at the beginning of the episode marked you as undiplomatic. You have to tone it down when dealing with people or they’ll get sick of you and eliminate you.
Brad: I don’t think it was wise to suggest that pound for pound Aitu has a stronger tribe. It bruises the collective ego of your tribe mates for no good reason. You need to keep your vote against Jenny hidden. If the word gets out, you’re going to be hurt. You should only have voted her out if you had formed a solid new alliance where you had a stronger position. If any good came out of it, it might be that Jenny is now a natural target.
Jenny: I hate to say it, but I think you put up the worst fight among all the defenders in the reward challenge. Given that your name came up twice at Tribal Council (and might have come up another time if Nate hadn’t been kidnapped), your position is looking a bit more grim. Part of the problem is the women failed to keep control of the big picture, which was maintaining your female alliance. When Nate returns, there will be three members of each gender. You’re going to need to prove yourself at a challenge or at camp, or you’re looking like a target. Be willing to shift the target to Nate if he helps Aitu win the reward challenge, or at Adam for his attitude and flirtation with Candice.
Parvati: You keep making the same basic mistake of being reluctant to lie. Cristina wanted a second chance, and you simply said you didn’t know how you were going to vote. Next time, just say you’d be willing to give somebody a second chance, then vote them off anyway. All you need to do is to tell your alliance that you lied to her.
Rebecca: I’m quite interested in what your vote would have been if Nate had stayed and one of the people who voted out Cristina had been kidnapped. If you had voted for Jenny, you’d been in a solid four person alliance. If you were going to vote her out, you were wise to shift back to Cristina in order to avoid the tie vote. You’re still in a good position and aren’t in the immediate sights of anybody. Your position is fairly secure right now.
Cristina: What went wrong? Well, I give you credit for trying. You took advantage of the information you received at the last Tribal Council, and tried to make amends and get a second chance. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for the rest of the tribe to decide you had changed (or for somebody else to shoot themselves in the foot). Your elimination was only delayed an episode.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
Jeffrey Clinard has been writing about Survivor since the second series, and has published over 100 articles about the show and given advice to nearly 150 different Survivors on RealityNewsOnline. He can be reached at Realityfeedback@bookslv.com.