Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can
“Everybody with an immunity idol is considered dangerous.”
– Andria “Dreamz” Herd, Survivor: Fiji
Well, Jeff Probst – this is what happens when you cast a quitter. He quits again.
Wednesday on Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Colton Cumbie decided seven days in the game was too much for his delicate constitution. Things weren’t going perfectly according to plan, so he had a hissy and walked out. Na Onka and Purple Kelly in Nicaragua lasted 28 days. Osten on Pearl Islands lasted 19. Colton isn’t just a quitter – he’s the quittiest quitter.
The best part about the scene was the way Probst rained hellfire. “Colton is the guy who never should have got up off the couch,” he said. But Probst deserved some blame, too. “We brought back a quitter,” he admitted. There’s your problem.
Is there some way to find sympathy for Colton’s despicable move? Colton was pilloried after One World, not the easiest experience for a 21-year-old from a town with a population of 6,000. He thought he could rely this season on his woodsman fiancé, Caleb, but they were separated, and he was outcast by his tribe.
But Survivor is hard on everyone. As Probst suggested, Colton should have stayed home.
Colton wasn’t the only one self-destructing. At Tadhana, Culpepper was tired of losing challenges and being a target. So he decided to … weaken his tribe further, and make himself a bigger target?
Culpepper was stressed about John. John had a clue to the immunity idol, which he really wanted to share with Culpepper. But Culpepper worried that John didn’t want to share it enough. Just telling him and showing him the clue wouldn’t cut it, in Culpepper’s book. Culpepper wanted to look for the idol together, holding hands. And if John wouldn’t hold hands, he couldn’t be trusted.
The worst part was that John still had a loved one in the game – Candice. Unlike the rest of the tribe … no, wait, exactly like the rest of the tribe (except now Caleb) … John could have divided loyalties.
Culpepper won a special anti-Fishy for a move so self-evidently idiotic, it’s incredible any allegedly sentient human could devise it.
• Voting out John weakened the tribe, which is already 0 for 3.
• Culpepper eliminated his strongest ally, who was willing to share the idol clue with only him.
• Culpepper made himself a bigger target, by eliminating the threat of John.
• Culpepper alienated his allies, saying he wanted to be the one not to get his hands dirty.
Worst of all, Culpepper’s move introduced distrust. As Hayden said, “It’s been five guys since day one, and if we’re voting one out now, it could be like opening Pandora’s Box.” Hayden and Vytas were already considering taking Culpepper out. He was the one turning on people; he was the one gaming too hard.
In One World – Culpepper’s wife Monica’s original season – five loyal women made it to the end. The men, meanwhile, backstabbed each other, lost loyalty and fell apart.
Maybe Culpepper stopped watching after Monica was voted out?
I was genuinely touched when Tyson asked Rachel if she wanted to swap. “You have a better chance in this game,” Rachel said, and she meant it. Rachel won the Fishy this week for making the game’s ultimate strategic move, sacrificing herself for the benefit of her pair.
When Rachel lost the duel, Tyson asked her the most important question: “Did you have fun out here?” (She did.)
Tyson remembers that for all its stress, Survivor is still a game. And how brilliant is his cupcake belt buckle?
Right now, Tyson is in a perfect position, in the dominant alliance on the dominant tribe. That, however, is exactly where he’s been his last two seasons, too.