Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 13: Yul and the Gangby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 12/15/2006
Lightning seldom strikes twice, as Parvati discovered in this weekís installment of Survivor. Jenna M. parlayed flirting and going skyclad into a million simoleons, while all Parvati got out of displaying her wares was the boot (not even any food). Yul and the Gang eliminated her quite properly because, even though she was no rocket scientist strategically, she looked like one compared to Adam and itís always best to leave the dumb ones for last.
But the most significant revelation came that Sundra has seemed to throw her lot in with Yul and Becky. On the surface, this would not seem optimal because she must realize both of them are better any almost any kind of challenge (I suspect endurance as well, the historic final immunity challenge) and so her chances against the two of them she must know in a final three are pretty poor. Odds would seem to favor her throwing in with Ozzy at five, providing that Becky does not win immunity, to vote for Becky after sandbagging Yul and Becky to vote for Adam, forcing Yul to burn the idol to save Becky, then pin their hopes on one of them winning at four and the other risking a tie-breaker with Yul.
However, Sundraís position seems hardly better facing Ozzy rather than Yul, if she even survived at four, so her posture makes sense. Neither could Ozzy really afford to defect at six to Adam and Parvati because without Sundra, the best that could be arranged is a tie, Yul gives the idol to the target, and the blowback vote still creates a majority for his side anyway. Any way she looks at it, if Sundra got to the final three she still would have to face one of the two titans. In retrospect, it makes the decision to have chunked Jonathan less risky.
Not to be lost in all of this are the good games Becky and Ozzy are playing. Becky has become like Ethan was to Lex, a steady partner contributing to strategy but staying out of the way. Should Yul fall, and it seems now that at three would be the only place that he could, she is well positioned to go in front of the jury and have a decent shot to win the million smackers. As it is, she is perhaps the most likely person to go in front of the jury. Ozzyís strategy was to provide well to worm his way into an alliance, where he could grow as a threat. (Note how this differed from Terryís non-strategy last season which was just to win challenges, which showed its weakness by finally failing him at the very end). He has done so, and probably would be the only person who could beat Yul in front of the jury.
Much as we might enjoy this ultimate clash of titans, it will never happen. Ozzy will get in front of the jury only if he wins the remainder of challenges, it now is clear. If so, Adam goes next, followed by Sundra (recall that the hidden immunity idol keeps Yul safe until three left). If not, he goes immediately, then followed by Adam and Sundra, provided they donít win immunity. Yul almost certainly can leverage the idol into having him and Becky in the final three; who joins them depends upon immunity wins.
It gets a little too tricky to call at this point because of the uncertainty of the jury composition. Great speculation abounded that the jury would consist of nine deciding among three; thankfully, with three councils advertised in the final episode, that canít happen. But that does beg the question of having 10 jurors and a possible tie. I suspect, on the final immunity challenge, whoever the winner picks to take to the jury with him will be allowed to disqualify one juror (to make the winnerís decision a little more complicated), so specific speculation is just too indeterminate at present even to attempt.
Yet, it is possible to rank generally the reception the remaining five would get in front of the jury. I think Yul leads the pack as he would have (depending on who heís against) probably the votes of Becky, Sundra, Ozzy, Jonathan, and Brad almost with certainty, with everybody else up for grabs. Probably only Ozzy could compete against him by picking up Parvati, Adam, Candice, and Nathan, and again would be competitive with the others, but would get at least of the few others if it is not Yul heís against. Becky also would be competitive because of the solidarity of Yul, Brad, and Sundra. Adamís probably out of it because while he would get Parvati, Candice, and Nathan, itís hard to see anybody else going his way against any of the others, and the same can be said of Sundra who would pick up few votes against anybody but Adam.
Again, it bears repeating that Yul has put himself in a position to leverage the idol to put him and Becky into the final three, so it almost is certain that one of them will be in the final. Given his challenge winning prowess, Ozzy is likeliest to be joining them and would have to be the favorite going into it. If he doesnít make it, Yul would be the favorite at three. Among those three, again without knowing exactly how the jury will look, itís tough to say who would win against whom in front of the jury, except perhaps to say Yulís chances would be best and Beckyís the worst, and it would be very unlikely to have the clash of titans, Yul and Ozzy, at the end.
That would be an immensely satisfactory final three, after suffering through the strategic dearth of the past few seasons.
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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