Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 1: Gender Issuesby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 09/15/2006
Well, maybe this season of Survivor will be a real treat for me, because it’s the first place they’ve competed where I’ve actually been – Aitutaki Island in the Cook Islands, a set of 80-odd islands as a country freely associated with New Zealand (hello to my pals on Raro at the RSA club; I’ll be back some day, as I promised and buy a round of Cook’s Lager). But, at the same time, reports that the majority of the cast was recruited doesn’t bode well for what we’re interested in – good strategic play. I guess we’ll find out.
In case readers couldn’t tell, the tribes were named after major islands in the Cooks. It’s kind of funny to me – the Raro tribe lost a chicken early and if you head out around Rarotonga outside of the capital Avarua chickens are a common sight; more to the point of the “social” experiment, the “black” tribe is named after Manihiki – home of the very famous black pearl, and the ones I brought back my wife loves.
But, being the first episode, it’s always hard to tell exactly what dynamics have been loosed upon the players. Still, it was apparent what dynamic caused Sekou’s ouster – sex. It would be hard to argue, setting Sundra (who by her profile may be the weakest player in the game) next to Sekou, that one seriously could think Sundra was a bigger asset to her tribe than he. Yet she survived because, as we learned long ago in this game, no matter how superior or inferior of a player one may be, it’s hard for a good player to win with bad luck, and its easy for a bad player to go far with good luck. She got lucky with the tribe’s gender ratio.
Some other random observations:
Jonathan already played himself into a disadvantageous situation. And (to phrase this kindly) I don’t think he’s got he capability of last season’s Terry, who immediately turned his sojourn on Exile Island into an advantage by finding the hidden immunity idol.
Candice already may be spreading her wiles on Adam. If she can lock him in as an unshakeable ally, she’s stolen a march on everybody else.
Cao Boi may come off as different, and obviously older than his Asian tribemates, but he seems to be doing the things necessary to negate that as problem area.
There are two sure ways for a quick exit (unless you have the luck factor as explained above) off the show: think you are more clever than you actually are and by acting more clever than you actually are. Billy is in grave danger of conveying the later impression.
The next episode ought to give us more detail by which to get a better understanding of the nascent strategy in this season’s edition.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 1 columns already posted:
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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