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.
“Even when you’re hungry as heck, hot as heck, emotions are high, you’ve gotta remember to keep that character cool. Like Cool Hand Luke. Just keep it cool.”
– Brian Heidik, winner, Survivor: Thailand
Survivor has really been an emotional roller coaster for poor Spencer. One minute, he’s exulting in the highest highs, contorting his body in jubilation like he’s just won the Game of Thrones as he celebrates a challenge win or an idol clue. The next minute, he’s stomping his feet like his brother was a guest at the Red Wedding.
Wednesday night on Survivor, we got to see Spencer at his best and his worst. On the one hand, he was subtle and calculating like the chess master he is. On the other, he was abrasive and angry like the young kid he also is.
The episode starts with the tribe coming back to camp and Spencer is pissed. Kass has just flipped on his alliance, and suddenly what seemed like a sure path to the final six now looks like a trail to the jury bench.
Playing With Kass
Spencer should immediately start placating Kass. Tell Kass that you totally understand why she did what she did, and now that Sarah is gone, you could move forward together. Instead, Spencer lectures her. “You talking strategy,” he mocks. “It’s an embarrassment.”
I thought Kass made a bad move last week, but I also blame the people in her alliance for letting it happen. A Survivor strategist needs to make his allies feel loved and keep their votes in line. Surprise – Survivor doesn’t cast two tribes full of socially well-adjusted accountants. If you can’t keep the erratic nut-jobs in line, the fault is yours.
Tony and Trish, meanwhile, do coddle Kass. They understand that Kass is allergic to pressure, so they don’t insist she be in their “alliance.” Instead they ask Kass who she wants to vote out and mollify her feelings of doubt about her move. “Are you happy with what you did?” Tony asks her. “That’s all that matters.”
Things turn a corner for Spencer when – jubilation!! – he finds the idol clue in his napkin at the reward feast. Spencer goes in search of the idol, but little does he know he’s being tailed by a ninja assassin.
I feel like this moment is what God intended Woo to bring to Survivor – his ninja stealth mode. I would happily watch an entire season of a different show where Woo just trailed people through the wilderness. How wonderfully awkward was that exchange between Spencer and Woo? “Where you going? Oh, just for a walk. You?”
Woo stumbled on the clue, and what ensued was one of the most madcap moments ever in Survivor – the entire tribe scrambling for the idol. Erratic Spencer once again swings on the mood metronome and now he’s pissed! He kicks the dirt and sulks. But then – joy of joys! – he somehow finds the idol while Kass is distracted.
“My position in the game is just on the brink of ecstasy and devastation all the time,” Spencer says. No kidding.
Spencer does apologize to Kass, and owns up to acting badly. It’s a step in the right direction. Give Spencer another season or two (and I’m sure CBS will!) and a little maturity to control his emotions and he’ll be a great player.
Before Tribal Council, Spencer begs Chaos Kass to flip back to Aparri. He doesn’t suggest using the idol, however, so flipping Kass would only ensure a 5-5 deadlock. At the vote, Morgan is sent home as a safe target.
The Fishy this week goes to casting director Lynne Spillman for gifting us this amazing group of contestants. On any other season, Tasha or L.J. would be standout characters, but here, even they fade into the background among all the big players and even bigger personalities. What a great season.