Possession is Nine Tenths


It's Thursday night, so that means Survivor.  I was happy to see the card tower-building challenge return.  I think it's one of the all-time best Survivor challenges.  There's plenty of drama as the towers crumble.  Each player can create and execute their own strategy without interference.  Nobody, a priori, has a better chance at winning than anyone else.  It requires a variety of skills: manual dexterity, spatial acuity, patience, and structural mathematics.  It's a great change of pace from the usual brute force, endurance, or pick-up-the-pieces-and-assemble-a-puzzle challenges.

Two people did incredibly stupid things tonight.  Spoilers safely voted out behind the jump.

Obviously, the biggest blunder was Amanda's.  She was smart enough to be on the lookout for the clue.  You could see it from the first moment we watched them at the museum.  She had absolutely no interest in anything the tour guide was telling them.  She was on the hunt.  She was sharp enough to spot Danielle stashing the clue.  She maneuvered into position and grabbed it.  And then she gave in to Danielle's hissy fit and turned it over!  Incredible.  Who cares who found it?  You're playing for a million dollars, and if someone didn't protect the clue, it's fair game.

Colby has completely checked out.  He was in his own little world watching the movie, seemingly never having thought of the possibility of a clue to the idol.  And even if he had, I don't think he would have cared.  He just sounded tired.  "It's your clue, you found it"?  What the hell?  That room should have been two Heroes vs. one Villain.  He should have backed Amanda, who while not exactly in the right, was certainly not in the wrong.  The fact was that at that moment, Amanda had the clue.  It was hers.

But she gave it up because Colby didn't rally to her side.  Just like that.  I don't get it.  If that was me, I'd have run off into the night with the damn thing.  Danielle was already an enemy, so Amanda had nothing to lose by sticking to her guns.  And caving in cost her the game.

Because someone else made the other huge mistake of the night.  Why, why, why would Candace flip?  It makes absolutely no sense.  The Heroes had banded together tightly.  If they got the numbers on their side, they'd have picked off the Villains one by one and Candace would be in the final five at a minimum, and likely even farther.  On the Villains' side, her prospects seem much weaker.  Didn't she see how duplicitous Russell is?  What in the world possessed her to think she could trust him?

Moreover, knowing that Russell had the idol, she was in the ideal position to manipulate events so that the idol got played (which, as it turned out, would have required nothing on her part).  Had she just stuck with her teammates, Parvati would be gone, the idol would be gone, and her side would be up 5-4.

If things truly fall apart in the Villains alliance as the previews suggest, perhaps things will work out for her after all.  But even if she gets to the final, does she think the people she flipped on will give her their vote?  I think her position would have been far more secure had she stayed with the devils she knew.

But that's what's great about this game.  The least interesting seasons are the ones where everyone plays the good little soldier.  This has been, by far, the most exciting, topsy-turvy season ever.  Nobody's a good little soldier here, and anything can happen.

I think the devil got rooked, because Burnett keeps squeezing more juice out of their deal with every season.


over and over the heroes seem to forget they are playing against villains.

Good analysis, Peter. I think you're missing one crucial point about Candace, though. It's precisely because she *can't* trust Russell that she might think it makes sense for her to flip.

From Candace's perspective, Russell might play the idol on behalf of anyone. Any Villain that the Heroes try to pick off might be protected. No matter how good the plan, there's a chance it gets thwarted, and she ends up worse off than before.

But flip to the Villains side, and the idol is in her camp. She's guaranteed to be on the right side of a 5-3 split (barring other defections, of course). It's not that unreasonable at all.

I agree with you that all things being equal, she'd be better off with a tightly-banded Heroes group. But as everyone has seen with Russell in the game, all things are never equal. He has turned the idol into a weapon, whereas previous players have seen it only as a shield.

I'm not saying she made the right decision. But I can definitely understand why she made it.

Always look forward to your reflections on the episodes. Reading your blog has become part of my Survivor viewing process.

I wonder if any of the producers, challenge designers, or game makers read them - because if they do, and take your notes to heart, you are making next season better as you make this season more interesting for me.

Ever thought of monetizing your insights?

Heh, I haven't really made my standard "pact with the devil" post this season (have I?), but, man... Burnett always manages to get "lucky," doesn't he?

And, of course, by extension, so do we all.

Are there specific rules governing possession and/or ownership? Are the biggest and strongest always right in this regard? If someone starts to present an immunity idol at tribal council, can someone else snatch it away before any proclamation is made and say "Mine!" Granted, this is an extreme scenario, but I hope my point is clear.

It occurs to me that my previous scenario involves an idol, whereas the actual scenario involved a clue. So, perhaps my analogy isn't as sound as I'd prefer.

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