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Thread: Palau Perspective (Episode 2): Where There's a Will(ard), There's a Way

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    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Palau Perspective (Episode 2): Where There's a Will(ard), There's a Way

    The Palau Perspective is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the tribes. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling?

    The second episode of Survivor: Palau was notable for its lack of major new alliances, radical shifts in power or memorable new friendships. Ashlee was ejected from the island, and Ulong dominated Koror in a reward challenge. Koror, though, responded with a strong showing at the second immunity challenge.

    The State of Ulong

    I'm a big believer in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. In a nutshell, Abraham Maslow's theory can be represented in the form of a pyramid. On the bottom, the foundation, you'll find physiological (food, water, sleep) and safety (stability and security) needs, which are then followed by love (sense of belonging) and esteem (recognition by others) needs.

    Under the Maslow model, physiological and safety needs should be met and/or must be met before one should attempt to fulfill love and esteem needs.

    So what does a six-dollar psychology concept have to do with Survivor? Well, everything. Notice how any tribe, past or present, attempts to build a fire, erect a shelter, forage for food and create potable water before the secondary concerns of individual tribe members, like forming alliances and proving their worth to the tribe (to avoid vote-off).

    Impressed by their own physical prowess, and kneecapped by a slew of personality conflicts, most of Ulong seems to fail in realizing that the groundwork for a self-sufficient tribe, the physiological and safety needs, has not yet been established.

    Yes, Ulong won the second reward challenge and secured fishing equipment, but with the Ulong work ethic, that's like handing a mountain bike to a couch potato. Witness how Ulong members took the fishing equipment, poked around a bit until they brought up a fish the size of a guppy, and considered that dinner...for eight. What was each tribe member supposed to do? Lick the fish and pass it along?

    Nevertheless, I think there's one thing that Ulong is doing "right," and that's who the tribe have targeted to vote off the island. Like voting in the game show The Weakest Link, a proper voting cycle in Survivor should consist of voting off the "weakest" first (ie those not contributing to the tribe or game). Then, when approximately half the originals are left, comes voting for strategy. ("Who is my ally? With whom would I look better standing in front of a jury?")

    The worst and biggest error that groups like these can commit when following "proper" voting is not to capitalize on those ousters. That is, since Ulong has rid itself of Jolanda and Ashlee because of their negative impact on morale, Ulong should work toward rebuilding and reuniting its members in preparation for future challenges. They should take advantage of that period following an advantageous ouster.

    Ulong is not doing that. They need to, lest its members take a third trip to Tribal Council in as many weeks.

    Of note: The Jeff/Kim romance will likely continue as a source of consternation for the members of Ulong. At this stage, when Jeff is collecting seashells for Kim and Kim is wondering what plants to harvest for home-brewed makeup, Ulong shouldn't be too concerned about what Jeff/Kim may mean in terms of alliances (After all, the numbers are still very much against them), but they will, anyway. In an atmosphere lacking outside stimulation, people will latch onto anything to worry themselves.

    Ibrehem fell so far off the radar in the second episode, I forgot he was still on the island. Stephenie has a fair grasp of Ulong dynamics but is not particularly skilled at influencing them (not for lack of trying). Bobby Jon is Gregg's "mirror" on Ulong. Both have been quiet, and it's generally unclear where either stands. In a tribe with no clear leader and no dominant alliance, that's not a bad strategy (if strategy is what it is). After all, why end up on a weaker alliance destined for nothing more than to be picked apart by a stronger alliance that emerges later in the game?

    The State of Koror

    The most alarming thing that the members of Koror had to face in the second episode was the loss they faced in the second reward challenge. What the members of Koror need to face is that not only did their opponents on Ulong own the challenge and completely destroy their effort, but also that the challenge was purely physical, and they failed miserably at a purely physical challenge.

    It's very likely that they'll have to face more physical challenges in the future, a daunting prospect for them at this point. To their credit, Koror learns quickly--they pinpointed Katie as a major contributor to the reward-challenge loss and sat her out in the (more important) immunity challenge in this second episode.

    If the previews for next week's episode represent an accurate accounting of events, then Katie is not only a physically disastrous player, but also an instigator of tribe unrest. In that case, keeping Katie on the Koror tribe is, frankly, untenable.

    If Katie continues to be the Koror gadfly, the members of Koror ought to consider a risky maneuver--perhaps the riskiest gambit in Survivor--throw an immunity challenge, and vote out Katie. The best and easiest way to make that work is to (1) try and ensure that most, if not all, of the other tribe members are solidly behind the idea and (2) try to make sure that the target doesn't discover the plan (of course).

    Another sign to me that the members of Koror learn from their mistakes and know their weaknesses came in the aftermath of the disagreement between Caryn and Tom. Caryn's dressing-down of Tom over leaving their original camp was badly timed and imprudent, even if it had a hint of truth to it. But rather than letting Caryn's outburst demoralize them, I was pleased when the members of Koror chose to try and salvage their missing flint, which seemed as if it had taken a one-way trip to Davy Jones' locker the week before.

    The retrieval of the flint and the subsequent first fire helped re-energize this tribe and put them back on the right track. This sort of perseverance impressed me; if Koror continues on a similar tack, here is a tribe that could continue to do well, despite physical challenges that may continue to confound them.

    Tom and Gregg need to be careful as they emerge as the tribe's strong backs that the others don't grow to perceive that as a threat (and infer a Tom/Gregg alliance, even if there is none) and eventually vote them out once they think Tom and Gregg's usefulness has come to an end.

    I'm curious to see if any alliances emerge or where some of the players stand as the contestants grow accustomed to island life and start playing more of the game as the third episode comes around.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

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    FORT Regular Teeny's Avatar
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    Nice analysis, phat! Very cool to read about the strategy/ psychological aspects of game play -- in addition to the standard re-cap, natch.

    I always forget about the possibility of throwing an immunity challenge - it's like playing the field with craps: should be used very rarely, but can occassionally reap huge returns when the time is right.

    Looking forward to this installment!

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    daydream believer oneTVslave's Avatar
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    Excellent analysis, phatster. I really enjoy reading your take on the game.
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    Leo
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    Good analysis, phat.

    The retrieval of the flint and the subsequent first fire helped re-energize this tribe and put them back on the right track. This sort of perseverance impressed me; if Koror continues on a similar tack, here is a tribe that could continue to do well, despite physical challenges that may continue to confound them.
    Having a bunch of almost-clueless folks on the other side doesn't hurt, either.

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    Can They Do It?? mrdobolina's Avatar
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    Thanks, Phat!! Nice analysis!!

    Where was Coby this week?? Did they even show him??
    "You don't own a TV?!? What's all your furniture pointed at?" Joey Tribianni

    It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.

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    FORT Regular jimothy21's Avatar
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    Good analysis all around. But I do have some points to make in response:

    In regards to Koror's physical ability. I think they are just as strong as Ulong, if not stronger! First off, while the first challenge was definitely physical in nature, there is still something to be said for balance, which is not entirely physical (thus women tend to do better in these types of challenges - note Angie). If the argument that the challenge was entirely physical is to hold, then it is easy to explain why Koror lost: Tom and Gregg were on the sidelines swinging the bags (which I don't believe had a major impact on the outcome). Thus Koror was playing the challenge with 2 of their 3 strongest people (Ian the other person) in a minimal role. Koror's physical attributes becomes more clear when looking at the IC, which I argue was the most physical of the 2 challenges. I mean, dragging a heavy box across the sand while underwater only using a rope? That is tough. And Koror DESTROYED Ulong, much more so than Ulong destroyed Koror in the first challenge (it was largely Katie's fault they lost so bad).

    As for the argument that Katie is the weakest player on Koror, I beg to differ. I think Caryn is the one who can possibly bring Koror down. She was obviously out of line complaining about the beach, and the editors made a note to show us Katie refuting what Caryn was saying (thus setting up the confrontation in the next episode). Plus, Katie is a valuable member of what I believe is a strong 3-person alliance on the tribe: her, Ian, and Tom. I mean, Ian picked her first, that is a big deal. Then she picked Tom. That is telling, i.e., they have some kind of understanding, or have developed one due to the picking (this has played out already when Ibrehem refused to vote for Ashlee over at Ulong based solely on her picking him). As far as I'm concerned, Katie may be in the best position on her tribe: aligned with 2 strong males who can influence people and win challenges (and thus be bigger threats down the road and get voted off first).

    As for your argument about Tom and Gregg, I would insert Ian into Gregg's place. These two are the powerhouses of the tribe: winning challenges, retrieving and making fire etc., with numbers to back them up: Janu, Katie, and possibly Jennifer and Gregg. Ian and Tom need to be careful b/c I'm sure Coby is on to them and is looking to destory that powerful alliance. Unfortunately, Coby is aligned with Caryn and Willard: two candidates for early elimination. He better hope a swap or some kind of shakeup occurs that will allow him to get the numbers on his side. As it is, he is in a bad position. Hmm, maybe he should have picked Angie in the first place!

    One more thing, I argue with the point made about Jolanda being the weakest member of Ulong. Sure, she was bossy and stuff, but she was strong and was trying to get things done. The only people who outright argued against her was Stephenie and Ashlee - it seems to me the others just went along b/c they didn't want to be targeted. Bobby Jon made a note that Jolanda has a lot of strength, that is why he didn't vote for her in the first place. Plus, in the 2nd ep right after James made the comment about the tribe being a democracy in Jolanda's absence, the editors showed us the tribe in a state of confusion and lethargy. Now, I'm sure those shots were taken out of context, but there is a reason they showed us that: Ulong possibly shot themselves in the foot (and the leg and the arm and the back) by voting off Jolanda. They are doomed at this point.

  7. #7
    ABE
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    Thanks for the analysis Phat and good job on the re-analysis jimothy21.

    It will be interesting to see how the Katie/Caryn dispute plays out in E3. If there really is an Ian/Tom/Katie alliance will it be revealed? Where does Janu fit in the alliance plan? (Tom picked her 4th for Koror).

    Can Coby conspire to get Jennifer, Gregg, Willard AND Caryn on his side? Or does any of this really matter since ULONG seems destined for a third consecutive tribal council?

    Right now I have a lot more questions than answers...

  8. #8
    Endlessly ShrinkingViolet's Avatar
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    Sounds good to me, Phat! I loved the psych refresher, too, and it's application to this game.

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    Throwing an immunity challenge.. Well, why not ask the members of Drake if throwing an immunity challenge is good. That sent em on a terrible tailspin from which they almost didnt recover. As much as Katie sucks at the challenges, getting rid of her isnt as dire as throwing an IC. She obviously is not going to dominate individual challenges (if she makes it to the merge) so why get rid of her now? Plus, they can sit out 2 people now, so I'd keep her & Willard out of the immunities and let em mess around with the rewards. Then, post merge, or even in a tribal shuffle, they can get rid of her.

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    Evil Slash Crazy Miss Filangi's Avatar
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    Of note: The Jeff/Kim romance will likely continue as a source of consternation for the members of Ulong. At this stage, when Jeff is collecting seashells for Kim and Kim is wondering what plants to harvest for home-brewed makeup, Ulong shouldn't be too concerned about what Jeff/Kim may mean in terms of alliances (After all, the numbers are still very much against them), but they will, anyway. In an atmosphere lacking outside stimulation, people will latch onto anything to worry themselves.
    Great analysis. They've already been marked, so chances are their days are numbered.
    If you go through a lot of hammers each month, I don't think it necessarily means you're a hard worker.
    It may just mean that you have a lot to learn about proper hammer maintenance.


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