Survivor: Samoa: The Tribal Chiefs Might Change the Game

There's this detail in Survivor: Samoa that's admittedly quite easy to overlook--I know I did, but upon double-checking, and realizing others haven't, you realize that this twist would definitely have an impact on how the game goes: tribal chiefs.

The press release announcing the show's cast puts it simply: "Without speaking, both tribes must immediately choose one member of their group to become their sole decision maker, their chief"--apparently a nod to local Samoan culture. Usually someone naturally steps up and becomes leader, without anything formal happening, and for the most part has been a pretty easy thing to do. And then they turn things around by designating someone who'll do all the deciding.

So come my questions--pretty basic ones, really.

The obvious question is this: how much power will the tribal chief hold? Does it cover everything, from how they deal with the Samoan conditions to how they play certain challenges, or is it just limited to planning for the challenges? While it's suggested that the tribal leader will pretty much have a say on everything, I have this feeling it'll be easily trumped, especially when it gets closer to the merge, at the very least.

Second, how long does the chief remain chief? Is it a permanent position, one that a castaway loses when he/she is voted out? Does it rotate among tribe members? Maybe when a challenge comes around Jeff could spring a surprise poll of some sort. Or, if the initial chief is voted out, for example, is somebody chosen again?

Then there's the matter of immunity. The tribal chief is solely responsible for deciding on matters of his/her tribe, but what's in store for that person? My initial thoughts went to something that's being done on The Apprentice: there's a project manager on both teams, and when a team loses, the head is automatically at risk of elimination, based on the idea of command responsibility. In this case, does the chief still get immunity? On group challenges, this wouldn't mean anything, but if the concept continues after the merge, it could be very important.

I mean, there should be a catch of some sort when you get to decide on everything. Or a privilege. The hidden immunity idol, perhaps?

And then there's the obvious matter of how this affects the game. Of course, it's entirely up to the chief how power will be exercised. Absolute or collaborative? Depends, really. The other thing that springs to mind is the possibility of a mutiny within the tribe. Whether this is allowed is a different question entirely, but seeing how unpredictable Survivor can be, one wrong move for a chief may spell the end of the game.

Basic questions, yes, but important ones, I reckon.

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