Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 6: Give a Man a Fish...by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/20/2006
It took a while, and hopefully it’s temporary, but this episode finally reverted to where recent seasons of Survivor tended to inhabit – unwise, strategically poor play.
Aitu committed two blunders. Yul would not have gone terribly wrong by accepting the 3/3 “voodoo plan” because it would have exited one of the biggest threats for him, Jonathan, who was not a problem anytime soon but potentially in the future. If observant enough, he might have noticed Candace’s flirting with Adam and begun to believe the haole threat existed (although it appears Jonathan knows nothing of Candice’s and Adam’s double-secret alliance, and certainly Jessica doesn’t), making Jonathan seem even less valuable.
His problem in taking this route, however, is that it would have knocked a prop out of his alliance, meaning he needed a replacement. Ozzy would not do because he is the biggest threat perhaps in the entire game to Yul, leaving just Cao Boi and Jessica. But neither would they do as they were a dyad; one would not align without the other, making the alliance too big.
At the same time, refusal to cut Jonathan loose did not mean Cao Boi, or even Jessica, should have gone next. Instead, by far the best target was Ozzy. Yes, he catches fish and is helpful in challenges. But, to repeat the maxim that ought to be burned into the minds of all players, when you have a knife at throat of your strongest enemy… and Yul’s group of five had the knife, their votes, ready to wield.
Instead, they took out somebody who they could have afforded to take at least a little farther, Cao Boi, or even Jessica, their only threat down the road being they are two votes; otherwise, singly, either is an excellent choice to carry. While this may constitute another reason to send one of them packing, it still does not justify allowing such a serious threat such as Ozzy to continue. Give a man a fish, and soon he’ll be voted off. Learn to fish, and you may become a millionaire; the Jonathan-Candice-Yul-Becky-Sundra axis doesn’t need Ozzy around just for that reason.
The other mistake came with the selection of Nathan as a temporary member, shielding him from ejection by Raro. Perhaps the choice of Nathan has some rationale, as the next episode may reveal, but on the surface it seems at best suboptimal. In a situation where a tribe gets to protect the member of another, you pick the most obviously weak person – if that person is revealed.
And, guess what? Cristina was demonstrated to be on the outs with her tribe. She needed protecting, for three reasons. First, weaker players should be carried until they no longer serve any purpose, as long as a stronger player not in your alliance gets targeted in their place. Second, removing obvious targets may cause greater damage to other alliances on the other tribe – even if you have no knowledge of any such alliances, you do know that the weak player does not belong to any so removing her increases the chance that an alliance must eat its own member. Third, even if you just have her for a couple of days, such contestant will be particularly vulnerable to your entreaties; since she feels like an outcast in her other tribe, this would be an opportunity to make her feel welcome and, if she survives to the merge, get her to join your side at the first chance.
Choosing Nathan seemed to have no good purpose and only gives a presumed stronger member of the opposition a chance to gather intelligence. But then, the remaining members of Raro whiffed on sending off Cristina, for the same reason – weaker members should be retained. Oddly, Jenny, who does not seem to be one of the more powerful members, was tagged as the other choice. Again, some attentiveness would have revealed the Adam-Candice connection which should make him a logical target (it’s not like they’re now winning even the physical challenges with him), even if operator Parvati would want to keep him for his manipulability. (Perhaps it’s only now becoming evident, however.)
Interestingly, a couple of players brought up the ethnic angle – and perhaps deservedly so referring to the haole threat. With Cao Boi’s departure, only whites now remain all intact. Consider that Jonathan and Candice have bonded, as have Adam and Parvati, and the previous link between Candice and Adam appears intact. Further, Ozzy still appears as the obvious target on Aitu, preserving Jessica almost certainly until the merge.
All five are likely to be part of that when (if) it happens. Candice may be playing a great game behind the scenes. She’s got a open partner – but one not trusted by others so they could be convinced at a certain point to dump him and keep her – and a secret partner. She would have to wait until Adam was threatened, probably not long after a merge if the Raro losing streak continues as seems likely, then make a move to dump Becky (rather than Yul because she should suspect that he has the idol) and then pull Adam into the mix, which will pull Parvati and Jessica can tag along. Next, Jonathan also would lose his spot, then his game life, creating a group of Candice, Adam, Parvati, Jessica, and Yul. The latter would then be put on the defensive, having to remain in the group to stay in the game but vulnerable with five, or even more, remaining (assuming he doesn’t pull a Terry-like torrent of immunity challenge wins).
Now that the threat has entered Yul’s consciousness, he must construct a plan to counteract it. He must not let Adam or Parvati survive long after a merge, if either makes it that far, and must protect Becky. Jonathan does not appear to have the wherewithal to think this far ahead or as strategically as necessary, while Becky and Sundra show no signs of being anything but ciphers ready to be used and thrown away, perhaps only he stands in the way of any such plan by Candice to come to fruition.
Of course, whether this scenario emerges depends upon happenings at Raro. Besides Parvati, the only other person that seems to show a spark of strategic thinking is Nathan. So far, with the exception of J.P., his preferred targets have gone, and now he has an intelligence-gathering opportunity as Aitu’s hostage. If he is smart, he’ll gather some, and, back at Raro, will understand that Adam and Parvati are the growing threat, meaning he will have to rally the others to counter that. Neither Jenny nor Rebecca has shown inklings of strategic thought, while Brad got hung out to dry on the last vote. The game is getting to the point where some interesting, good strategic moves may come in a flurry.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 6 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.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recaps and other info on this show at the Survivor: Cook Islands page, and take a look at our Amazing Race 9 page and our The Apprentice page. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!