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.
“Don’t sink everybody else and yourself because you’re pissed off at one person.”
– Ken Stafford, Survivor: Thailand
Holy reversals, Batman! Wednesday night’s tribal council was one of the twistiest, turniest eliminations ever on Survivor. Two surprise idols were revealed! Votes were switched! A flopper flipped! It was the most bad moves in a single episode since Big Tom did his chicken dance.
You could practically see Jeff salivating at the insanity. But whence came the madness? How did Sarah – who thought she was in a “Sarah sandwich” – somehow get eaten alive?
The episode started with both tribes frantically courting Sarah, the swing vote between two groups of five. But Sarah thought that all the courting must mean she was a queen. She pulled her best Jennifer Lopez impression and went full diva.
She strung Tony along, insisting she hadn’t made up her mind. Then she demanded that Aparri vote according to her whims and target Tony instead of Jefra, or she’d flip.
This is wrong for so many reasons. Jefra is the perfect person to vote for when idols are in play. She’s not strategic, and as we saw from the Great Idol Brodown, nobody’s going to play their idol on her because they don’t see her as a potential target.
Meanwhile Tony’s been Sarah’s ally in Cops “R” Us and could work with her down the line. You want to have as many friends in the game as possible to give you options. Taking out Tony eliminates a possible escape hatch.
That’s not even the worst part of Sarah’s game. By stomping her feet and demanding her way, she infuriates Kass. When Kass tries to talk to her, Sarah calls Kass a bully, which sets Kass off even more.
Of course, Kass is playing pretty horribly here, too. She knows that the Aparri alliance needs Sarah’s vote. Why not just coddle her for one freaking day, then vote her off next?
Kass gives great sarcastic confessionals and she wears glasses, but let’s not forget that this is the person who saved J’tia and voted out Garrett after J’tia dumped out the rice.
Tasha does her best to reconcile her two feuding allies. But Tasha spends most of her time mollifying Sarah, and doesn’t pay attention to Kass. She probably thought that Kass, being a long-term ally and a grown-up, would understand the need to cater to Sarah for just a few hours. So Tasha ends up making Kass feel even more alienated from her alliance.
This is a great Survivor lesson. Watching the show, it’s easy to think that alliances are set in stone. But if you can’t corral the erratic egos of your allies, they could very easily turn on you.
And the Fishy Goes To
Trish wins the Fishy Award for switching Kass’s vote. While Tony was sure that he could make magic with his slick speeches and his immunity idol, Trish had slyly noted the brewing bickering between Sarah and Kass.
Trish twice suggested that she approach Kass. Both times, Tony shot her down. But Trish went ahead, anyway, and told Kass that if she wanted someone gone, the Solana 5 would make it happen. “Chaos Kass” was so frustrated with “Selfish Sarah,” she flipped over.
Notice the tremendous difference between the way Trish played the game and Sarah did? Sarah demanded that her wishes be obeyed and it got her out of the game. Trish offered Kass whatever she wanted.
At tribal council, Tony and LJ whip out their idols for each other in a triumphant flourish. But the Aparris can’t stop grinning as they’ve secretly targeted Jefra. What a roller-coaster! It’s the Solanas who had the last laugh. Trish’s plan worked. Kass flipped. And Trish saved her tribe.